Don’t Worry about getting an Internship

Viewpoint editor Max Waller examines the perils and advantages of internships: "Have you got an internship this summer?  We all know that one person who has arranged fifteen internships, but my advice is not to worry if you haven’t got one yet."


Have you got an internship this summer?  We all know that one person who has arranged fifteen internships, but my advice is not to worry if you haven’t got one yet. If you are in first year, you DO NOT need to worry about internships.  The whole point of doing a four-year degree is that you have an extra year of study than you probably would have done doing a typical degree in England.  In the summer between first and second year, you should embrace this fact, and just have fun:  go on holiday, read lots of books, get a job, or learn a language.  There is no need to worry yourself with getting an internship.  You have got three more years before you have to start really worrying about what to do with your life, after all.

In second year, things start to get a bit more annoying (disclaimer: I am in second year).  People actually start talking about internships and work experience and seem to start to think about what they want to do when they graduate from university. The fact that that is still two years away is apparently not a good enough excuse for them not to think about it. Maybe they are on to something with their keenness —  there are certainly several relatively low-key things you could do to get the ball rolling with internships.  Give cold emailing a try or get in touch with a long-lost cousin over LinkedIn and see if they might offer you a cheeky few days of work shadowing.  You could even, if you are deadly serious about it, actually apply for an internship through an internship application process.  My own experience of this is that they are quite similar to UCAS —  they want to know why the job really matters to you, and why you see yourself pursuing it in the future. However, some companies require a little more —  some, for example, require you to make videos of yourself explaining how passionate you are about them.  If I was applying for an internship with Innocent, for example (“I don’t like swivel chairs in my drink either, which is why I am so ‘passionfruit’ about the product” I might say) that might be okay, but I am not.  My advice to any of my fellow second years who are in my position is:  don’t worry about it too much. You will be fine —  you have got next year, after all.

By third year, if you believe the hype, you must either be planning to pursue a career in academia or be getting an internship, because if you do not, you will find yourself unemployed upon graduation.    However, I am willing to bet if you spend your summer working in a shop, or volunteering, or maybe travelling or something, then you will be fine.  Only some super competitive careers, like law or consulting, need you to be doing an internship at this point. Yet again, however I bet if you were volunteering with a charity, or spending your summer observing court cases or something you would be fine.  You would probably learn a lot more useful and interesting things compared to an internship anyway. If you want to do consulting, you could hire yourself out at an astronomical price to your friends who want to get internships and advise them on how to do so. You would be the most experience person in the room come interview time.

By fourth year. Well. You now need to get a job. If you haven’t realised that yet I am very sorry.    You really should apply for a job. Having not interned for every single summer from the age of two you will be in a good position because you have experience of actual jobs.   You will have an excellent understanding of how much fun it is to have months and months of free time, and you will be an expert at idling away time. In other words, you are perfectly qualified for pretty much every single job out there.  From your degree you can demonstrate your amazing reading, writing, and researching skills (and don’t forget you know how to use a photocopier too.) If you do a science, then you have a slight advantage because you might know how to use a calculator, in which case something like accounting, or banking might appeal. Otherwise it might be worth visiting the Careers centre, or perhaps setting up a company.    But first, before you panic. Reflect on the fact that you can just do a masters. In which case –  see you next year.





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