Most people avoid the topic of summer internships like the plague. It’s easy to feel a sense of imposter syndrome or worry that you’re behind after scrolling through hundreds of your peers’ posts on LinkedIn announcing their impressive plans for the summer. Nevertheless, I wanted to describe my experience going through internship recruiting season for the first time to let people know it’s okay if you don’t have an internship for this summer yet. Though rejection can certainly be demotivating, it’s important to keep persevering and believing in yourself.
As an English major with a minor in Journalism, I started my recruiting journey in early December by going to my minor advisor. Since this was my first time recruiting, I was scared and apprehensive of taking that first step, so I held off trying to apply for internships for as long as I could. At my long overdue initial meeting with my advisor, I was told that most big-name journalism companies finished their recruiting process around November, so starting out I was pretty late to the game. There was still some sliver of hope though, as they also told me that many smaller name publications were still recruiting. However, even now, I can’t help but wonder what might have been if I confronted my fears earlier and didn’t delay the recruiting process out of avoidance. So, for those wanting a summer internship in the future, I suggest talking to your advisor as soon as possible to see when you should begin the application process to maximize your chances of landing your dream internship.
From there, I decided to look at LinkedIn and other career sites to start applying. As I expected, there were some journalism internships still accepting applications, but as the weeks progressed they started getting harder to come by. Luckily, as an English major with some experience in human relations and social media marketing, I had a couple of other career opportunities besides just working in journalism that I could apply for.
I decided to start applying to any internship I could envision myself doing in the future, like communications and social media intern positions. Since I knew that the number of people who get interviews was really small relative to those who apply, I decided to submit my application to anything that interested me, even if I saw it as something “out of reach” or located somewhere far away from California. One of the best pieces of advice I received from many of my friends was to apply to anything and everything that you might be interested in since you never know who will end up granting you an interview.
When I first started interviewing for positions, I was absolutely horrible. The last interview I had was during my freshman year for a work-study job, so needless to say my interviewing skills were pretty rusty. It also didn’t help that my first interview was with a really big company and I didn’t do much preparation beforehand since I had a midterm that week. When the recruiter asked, “What do you know about our company?”, I panicked so much that I looked her dead in the eye and said “Not much to be honest.” I’m still super embarrassed about it. If you ever need some reassurance that you aren’t as bad as you think when it comes to interviewing, feel free to think back to my blunders for comfort.
Over time and with more practice, I got used to interviewing with recruiters. The intimidation I originally felt gradually subsided, especially since most of them were pretty friendly. I also noticed that even though I was interviewing with different companies, each one asked very similar questions, just tweaked slightly depending on the specific company and its goals.
I also noticed that I ended up getting a lot of interviews in the communications industry, something that surprised me since I didn’t think I had much experience in that field. Talking to one recruiter though, she mentioned that my resume did in fact include a lot of experience that signaled I was skilled in communications, even if it was hard for me to see at first, and listed specifically what she saw in my resume that interested her. So, even if you don’t think you’re particularly qualified for a certain role, don’t be afraid to still submit your application and see what happens!
When it came to the final round of interviews, I was nervous to say the least. For a small handful of companies, I got to the third and final round which usually involved an hour to an hour and a half long interview. There were some companies that I fell in love with during this time, especially once I got to know a little bit more about the work I would be doing there and the goals of the company.
As of right now though, I still only have one offer for a virtual unpaid internship alongside a handful of rejections. I know, you probably expected me to finish this article saying I got a huge internship at a big-name company for the summer, but not everything has a happy ending. Ultimately though, I’m not too bothered about what has happened during this recruiting season.
I was able to talk to a myriad of awesome people from different companies and learned a lot about what it’s like working in the journalism, communications, and social media fields. I also learned a lot more about myself in the process and the different paths I could take after graduating.
I still have a little bit more time before I graduate, with opportunities to get internships in either the fall or spring semesters. I hope through hearing a little bit more about my journey, other juniors who are going through similar experiences will be inspired to keep going and know they’re not alone in grappling with rejection and disappointment. Remember that we still have a lot of time left here at Berkeley to grow and things usually work themselves out in the end, even if we can’t see it at first.