Staying Hopeful in the Endless Search for an Internship


In the spring, there are a good amount of things to be excited about. For some, it is the relief of above 40 degree days. For others, it might be the anticipation of a spring break trip. However, amidst all of the excitement, I can’t help but stress about one thing in particular: finding a summer internship.

The search for an internship always humbles me and makes me enter an obsessive relationship with the perfection of my resume. Will this attract a potential company? Did I include all of the keywords that will ensure a system will not automatically pass me by? Focusing on these aspects can become demoralizing, especially when you hear nothing back.

Over the last two summers, I have applied for about 30 internships. I only ever heard back from two — and one ended up being a rejection letter. Even now, I currently have no offers for the summer, and time is ticking. 

There’s a folder on my laptop called “internships” that is packed to the brim with countless cover letters as well as four or five copies of a resume. Also in that folder are 10 different application websites, where I have been frantically checking the status of my applications daily. 

At some point last year, I had to ask myself what I might be doing wrong. I always had everything the internship required and submitted my application months in advance. 

More often than not, the company did not want the cookie-cutter persona I presented myself as. I was the person who used every recommended template for a resume and the same five words to describe themselves, just as anyone else. 

It was an article by NPR that switched my thinking. I simply faded into the sea of applicants, and it didn’t matter how qualified I was. Someone else would always be as qualified as me or more. 

So, how could I stand out? I’ve learned my greatest tool for doing this is to have confidence. I’m a naturally shy person, and I’m sure many of the people applying for internships are as well. But when you are competing against thousands of applicants, you have to make it seem like you are confident, even if you’re not. 

As I kept applying, I would get more and more frustrated with the lack of contact the employer would give me. So what did I do? I started emailing them and reintroducing myself. I used my frustration to my benefit and started making my presence known rather than my generic resume.

Another important thing to remember is you don’t need a prestigious internship to be successful. My first internship was with a small group of writers for a sports blog, and I loved every second of it. I was able to improve my writing skills and do it in such a unique way where I was not restricted by 9-5 work days or rigid rules to follow. I still got to travel over the summer and enjoy the hot days on the beach as I wrote articles. Even more importantly, I met tons of people from across the country and all walks of life. I also learned how to network, something I never would have imagined being relevant to me before.

I’m sure someone has told you at least once that the best way to find a job or internship is to network; they are not kidding. Most of the people I network with, I barely know. We’ve exchanged names, similar interests and a shared love for sports teams or music. But that is all it takes for someone to remember you. That small positive memory someone has of you can change the game when it comes down to a company deciding between you and someone else. 

While my search continues, I’m a little more optimistic this year. I’m sure many people have been in my shoes and thousands more will be during this internship season. Hopefully, this time, I’ll have success getting an internship. Most importantly, I’m hoping it’ll be paid.