It’s February, and the pressure to find something meaningful to do in your second summer in college couldn’t be any higher. It might feel like another summer relaxing would be wrong. But if you don’t find a cushy internship, it’s not the end of the world.
Sophomores are in a weird limbo where it’s time to start considering their professional futures, but the fact that we are underclassmen makes our prospects a little bleak. As if the struggle for summer employment wasn’t already daunting enough, scrolling through UT job boards and seeing a red X for “not qualified,” based on major or age, makes it even worse.
Because spring recruitment is already so terrible, it is best to take a step back and realize that you’re not even halfway through college yet. Once we come out of the other side, chances are that things will have worked themselves out. Currently, the employment rate for college graduates in the United States is 88 percent. Anything less than 100 percent may sound distressing, but that is much better than the 69 percent employment rates for those without any college experience. You don’t need an internship every summer in order to have a successful career. Just by being here at the University of Texas at Austin, we already have a competitive edge.
Alyssa Gonzales, a public relations and sustainability junior, says it is all too easy to fall victim to the social pressure to “be busy.” Just because your friends are interviewing and setting up big plans to work across the country doesn’t make you any less qualified if nothing falls in line.
We’ve worked hard to attend such a competitive school. With attending UT also comes fierce competition when it comes to applying for anything, be it positions on campus or in the workplace. Gonzales, who is also a peer educator at the Counseling and Mental Health Center, said to, “Never compare your behind the scenes to someone’s highlight reel. We can be our harshest critic because we typically only see others’ shining finish.” Each student has their own niche skill set. We shouldn’t compare our own recruitment process to any others because it’s just incomparable.
It’s important to remember that a summer internship after your second year of college is not do-or-die. College is not just a means to get a job. It’s a time to study, make friends and develop yourself. Instead of constantly frustrating yourself, make sure to take time and enjoy the years here, and trust that once we leave UT, we will be fully functioning members of the workforce.
To no one’s surprise, Forbes listed drive, discipline and purpose as the key qualities in a company’s most valuable employees. These are things that one can get from experiences other than an internship. There’s nothing wrong with working a traditional job, as long as it aligns with your future goals. Working at a hospital, being a professional’s assistant or studying abroad all demonstrate the same key workplace skills that are integral to any company. Even volunteering for a cause that you’re passionate about could give you a unique skill set and fulfill the need to work.
When you ask recent graduates in the workplace “what prepared you the most for working?” they will most likely tell you that you learn everything on the job. Not interning every semester until you graduate won’t make you any less of a qualified employee. There are countless ways to develop useful skills and boost your resume; don’t let the search for an internship take over your college experience.
Jackie Le is an accounting sophomore from Plano.