Tips for a life-changing internship experience

During college, it’s a good idea to use your summers to get a taste of what you might do with your degree once you graduate. This past summer, science majors looked for jobs as lab assistants, premeds helped out at hospitals and econ majors practiced counting out stacks of hundred-dollar bills in preparation for their future consulting jobs. As a history major, of course, I was a cashier at Safeway. But I also had an internship, a potential first rung on the career ladder, a sturdy step on the stairway to employment heaven (otherwise known as “not starving to death in the gutter”). How did I achieve such success? And how can you do the same?

Getting an internship looks intimidating. If you’re like me, you’ll be relegated to searching job boards for relevant positions, clicking through endless lists of nearly-identical positions with companies whose names sound almost exactly the same. But don’t worry—not unlike Jesus, I suffered so that you won’t have to! Just follow these top tips for internship hunting, and you too can launch a not-very-lucrative-but-surely-fruitful career in coffee-fetching!

1. Be mysterious

You probably don’t know exactly what you want to do with your career, which is fair. What the career counselors won’t tell you is that companies don’t disclose what they want to hire you for either! Sure, the internship may be labeled as “marketing,” for instance, but it could be that the main thing you’ll be “marketing” to future employers is a role that actually had you filling in Excel spreadsheets all day (not that I would know anything about that). So it’s best to be as vague as possible about what you’re after and what you’re willing to do—that way, you’ll look attractive for a wide variety of roles, not just the ones explicitly advertised. For example, my resume, under “work experience,” just lists the word “guess ;).” Isn’t that terribly alluring?

2. Be optimistic

The job market looks foreboding! Clicking through Indeed and LinkedIn, you’ll soon find that every role you want has 257 other applicants who all speak seven languages, are professional astronauts and are somewhere between a New York eight and 10. How can you compete with that? Well, just remember this jJob mMarket sSecret: Those 257 people, the ones you see on every application, are the same people every time. That’s right! There’s an apartment building somewhere filled with these weirdos, all of them furiously applying to 18 internships per second. If each of them can only do one internship every summer (not a given, considering that they probably don’t need to sleep either), you’re bound to get whatever is left over! If you have the option, I find that filling in spreadsheets is a very edifying Internsperience™.

3. Be accepting

Remember this: The “job market” is misleadingly named. Rather than being a way to match people to careers for which they are qualified, it’s actually a complex social experiment started by psychology grad students at Yale 1957 that continues to produce excellent results, as well as Nobel Prizes. So don’t take things too seriously! Maybe one job doesn’t hire you. Maybe several dozen don’t hire you. Don’t let all this rejection impact your self-esteem. It could just be something silly working against you, such as you forgetting to change the name of the company on the last 50 cover letters you cut, pasted and sent in! In hilarious moments like that, all we can do is throw our heads back and laugh, and laugh, and laugh and laugh and laugh and laugh ha ha ha ha ha HA HA HA HAHA HA AAHAHA HAAH

…Oh, would you look at that! I’ve just gotten an email. Not to brag, but I now have an interview lined up with one of the biggest spreadsheet-filling-in companies in the western United States. If I can do it, so can you— I hope you find a splendilicious internship this summer, everyone! Until next time!

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