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#68 So, Where Will You Be Going for Your Summer Internship?

March 13, 2010

It’s that time of the year again, for the procrastinators, at least. You just waved February goodbye, scrambled to finish a couple more essays, hastily flipped through your lecture notes and sat for your midterms (which you were sure it’s gonna flop big time but would end up okay anyway), and then it’s suddenly mid March. WHAT, wait a minute, allow me to digest that information. It’s halfway through MARCH already??? It seemed like yesterday when I penned down my new year resolutions for 2010 (truth is I’m still on to the first draft).

In less than three months, summer will roll around…and you think, oh yeah it’s fun times ahead. For college students like me who are in their penultimate year, it would be more like stressful times await. Especially when every lunchtime conversation consists of a question that starts like this…

“So where will you be going for your summer internship?”

Gulp. Slow, agonized smile. Reply, “Erm… I’m still looking.” The fact is, you have been THINKING about it, but you just never got around to sending out your incomplete resume. You have also routinely avoided networking sessions organized by the Career Services office because you are confident that you’d be able to find something on your own. Something you truly like. I mean, those internships offered by the university are often so insipid and mundane-sounding right?

Well, there would come a time when beggars can’t be choosers. Because I have been putting this search process for long enough, I am finding it an increasingly difficult and stressful business to land an internship at such short notice. I have barely eight weeks left to find myself something decent, let alone something I’ll enjoy.

With such the abysmal economic situation out there, it is no wonder that most companies are willing to hire UNPAID interns to fill in the gaps left by the employees they woefully retrenched/fired. And nowadays it seems like any kind of shitty job could qualify as an internship too…. well, of course, as long as a silly and desperate college student in need of one is willing to undertake the thankless task. I’ve seen a restaurant trying to hire more wait staff by dubbing it a ‘management role’ where one needs to ‘occasionally wait tables to gain customers’ feedbacks and valuable experience’. I’ve seen a (ahem) renowned designer brand hiring “sales executive interns” where they have to handle cashiering, customer queries and basically be a salesgirl.

I mean, I understand that college students would practically work for free or even pay out of their own pockets to get an internship, but seriously, a word for the companies out there, have a heart and please do not exploit our need by advertising some random job as an internship when you don’t guarantee proper training for management-level roles that are befitting for a graduate. We may be willing to work in Hollister’s and Gap arranging merchandise on the racks and shelves or wait tables or shelve books in a public library for minimum wage, but when we graduate, we expect to get a job, or hell, we dare to dream big, a career, where we can actually earn enough to pay off our mounting college debts. Not asking for a lot I hope, just hustling to survive.

So, after all the digressing and dodging the bullet, where am I going for internship? I have no idea, seriously. I have been writing cover letters, trying to change them up a bit so in any vague chance the recipients compared notes, it won’t seem like I did a cut-and-paste for every email and letter I send.  I have polished up my resume and ready to send it out. I’m even on a program that initially promises to help the candidates source out for internships but it seems like it might fall right through because it couldn’t find companies with sufficient placements for all the candidates. Local internships look flakey (the kind where you know for sure you will be exploited and sent to do photocopying and chai walla-esque work), yet overseas internships are expensive (what with applying for working visas, placement fees, accommodation…plus the exchange rate!! >_<) and there is no sure way of ensuring that they are credible unless they are from huge known companies with a secured application portal.

Yet, with so many obstacles and time constraint between me and my dream internship, I remain hopeful that I will find something that suits me and yet within my budget… and make sure that I spend the upcoming summer meaningfully. While at the same time juggling my studies and work of course. And if all else fails, I wouldn’t really mind putting myself in a hammock at a beach in Thailand and watch the sun set over the horizon.

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