As a motivated freshman in college determined to get that bread, I commenced a hunt for a summer internship in March 2021 during my second semester. Searching for a three-month stint that would help me grow professionally turned out to be a more tedious challenge than expected, piling stress on top of already daunting deadlines and exams.
RELATED: Know Your Worth: How to Prevent Being Taken Advantage of at Work
Despite my dwindling enthusiasm and accompanying self-doubt during the process, I kept pushing forward and was eventually offered an internship at a communications agency. Trusting the process was key, and I hope to share some tips that kept me on track during this challenging time.
Learn from rejection
Over the semester, I applied to more than 30 companies via job portals and email contacts. I thought the worst that could come out of my efforts would be rejection, but what I received from the bulk of my applications felt even more grim: no replies. It felt exactly like being left on read by someone I really liked, except, it made me even more disappointed and doubtful of my abilities.
Looking back, I realized that it was in the silence that I found even more reasons to improve myself. I channeled those negative feelings into building a routine: I set aside an hour of my day to scroll through job portals and email potential future employers.
RELATED: 5 Ways an Internship Can Launch Your Career
To sustain this resilience, I told myself that practice makes perfect. With every rejected application, I sought to improve the next cover letter, phone call, and interview. By seeing each application as a learning opportunity, I viewed the process as less of a chore or source of stress. This helped me better manage disappointment and kept me positive during my search.
Be willing to pivot
While the rejections taught me that positivity and persistence are vital, being flexible is equally important.
After taking a public relations class during the semester, I was quickly taken by the creative and fast-paced nature of the industry. The experience helped me decide that a PR internship was what I wanted to pursue. Despite my conviction, most of my PR applications didn’t work out, and I realized that I need to explore options in other areas of communications.
I started researching advertising and marketing firms with the understanding that PR is just one of many arms of communications. The overlap between these industries might help me learn something, even if the job is not what I initially expected. Being more open helped me cast a wider net and eventually led me to an internship that gave me experience in many different areas of the communications field.
I cold-emailed companies I thought would be a good fit for me, and some of them responded. Many recruiters requested a longer commitment period than I was able to fulfill, but, but this still shows that initiative can translate into potential opportunities. The same initiative served me well in the later stages of my search.
Weeks of editing cover letters and trawling through job portals eventually landed me an interview with a communications agency. After a Wednesday afternoon interview with them, I was told that I would get a reply by Monday but never did.
I knew I presented myself well during the interview and spent hours wondering what went wrong. I even Googled to find out the proper way to check in, and this article gave me the clearest answer: I decided to send a follow-up email after a few days.
This initiative got me a firm yes from the agency. A minor issue caused a delay in response on their end, but I started my three-month internship almost immediately.
Searching for an internship is a valuable experience in itself
After a conversation about internship-hunting with my college friends of various majors, it seems like the pressure of internship searching is common, almost a rite of passage for many who are eager to get a taste of working in their dream industry.
After all, interning is one of the ways we can figure out where we belong in the intimidating, yet exciting realm called the working world. But ultimately, it’s okay if you do not get the internship of your dreams. Even in the process of searching for one itself, I managed to learn more than I realized and I hope this journey can be an equally rewarding one for you.