The summer between junior and senior year can be a big one for jobs and internships. We’ve always known that. If you know where you want to work, it’s the summer when you can get your “early decision results” back from life and return in the fall with a job offer. It’s every class you’ve ever taken, every experience you’ve ever had boiled down to an application and a few rounds of interviews. You are once again asking the world to review your worth and see if you measure up. With these big life choices looming, and the post-grad uncertainty moving from “distant future” to “closer than we think,” I can’t blame my cohorts for wanting to get the golden internship and come back from the summer, career on-lock. Well, it’s getting to be that time when those early decision applications are due, and all of us can feel the weight of our summer decisions heavy on our shoulders.
It’s easy to get wrapped up in the frenzy; recently I was getting down on myself for not having call-days (“call-day”= the third round or so of interviews when the company flies you in for an in-person interview and grills you for hours, common in banking) — I’m not even a econ/accounting/finance major, nor do I want to work in a big city… of course I don’t have call-days! So Forum readers, I’m hoping to steer you away from this all-or-nothing mindset and hopefully relieve some of the anxiety around summer plans. I want to offer a new lens to approach your summer. Just like E.D. is good for some people and not others, the job-offer-internship is just one approach to the summer – and to life. Here are a couple other aspects to take into consideration:
I recently looked at my resume and found that most of my experiences have been in the governmental realm; makes sense, I am a Gov major, after all. Then I started to think; I really have no idea what I want to do once I graduate. Sure, I’ll involve myself in Vermont government someday, but not anytime soon. I don’t know how or when it happened, but now I’ve unintentionally pigeonholed myself into just one sector. Once this realization set in I started to look at this summer as an opportunity to explore other interests aside from government. Why shouldn’t I be able to sample every dish before I choose my meal? The more you enable yourself to try different experiences, the better you know yourself, your interests, and your abilities.
Big v. Small
To continue the college-application metaphor, remember that companies are like schools, and big ones and small ones both have their advantages and drawbacks. If you work for a big and well known company, you’ll have the benefits of a more defined and structured internship experience. You may be able to have a more specialized experience in which you can really develop in your own specific niche. If they routinely have interns, they will know how to use them and will set clear expectation, and you get to put a recognizable name on your resume. While this is true, remember that small companies have their perks as well: a smaller company may allow you to be involved in many different aspects of the business, giving you more experience, a larger skill-set, and maybe more responsibility. If you don’t know your specialty yet, a small company could provide you with much needed variety.
Who says you need to have an internship at all? While griping to my mom a few weeks ago about not knowing what to do, she said to me, “Why don’t you get a job you’d enjoy, like leading bike tours or something?” That comment completely blind-sided me, and I realized, right, a simple, enjoyable job is an option too. Until that moment, I had never even considered anything other than an internship. This may be the last free summer we have, where we can do something fun just for the hell of it – be a camp-counselor, work at the beach, etc. There’s no shame in taking that last summer before adulthood, throwing pragmatism to the wind, and doing something purely because it will be a blast.
Location, Location, Location
So you don’t know what you want to do, but do you at least know where you want to be? We all have bucket lists of the different cities or countries we’d love to live in someday. This summer, check one of them off your list. You’re a college student with few strings attached; moving about the world is only going to get more complicated from here on out. Start your summer search by picking a place you’ve always wanted to live and from there find out what’s available in the area. Check out the city websites that are put out for people new to the city, and see what exists. There is very rarely “nothing to do” in a place. If you think there’s nothing to do, you have not dug deep enough.
The most important thing, CMC, is to remember that there are a million paths to success and the golden internship is but one. Use your summer to learn, travel, and enjoy yourself. Countless opportunities await, all you have to do is be open to them.