As college students, we have all felt the intense pressure of finding the “perfect” internship within the time before you graduate. Across all majors, stress is put on gaining “real world” experience to build your skillset before you get that “big kid” job. At this point in our education, I think the majority of us long to be put in a position we are considering as a career to find out if we really want to go down that path. I was a waitress and although I loved the cash I was able to stuff in my pockets after a shift, I knew I didn’t want to do that the rest of my life.
Let me be honest. Finding an internship can be HARD and STRESSFUL. It tested my confidence and made me question my career path. I even questioned if I was good enough. There are countless available internships so I thought “this will be a breeze finding one.” But boy, was I wrong. It’s hard for me to admit, but I got rejected from a few internship programs. That doesn’t even include ones I applied for and never got a response. As someone who is a year away from graduation, without any experience in the field I’m pursuing, I felt defeated to say the least. Rejection can have a toll on your mentality. After feeling that over and over again, I got to the point where I expected to be rejected. What I realize now is that failure is necessary in order to succeed (cliché but very true).
“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” – Thomas A. Edison
Through countless interviews and rejections, I became a PRO at interviewing. Suddenly, I became so comfortable describing my experiences and relating it to the job description that employers noticed me. I didn’t do this by luck, though. Each rejection email was followed by me asking for feedback and how I can improve for future endeavors. I took this feedback seriously and started to prepare for interviews vigorously with sample questions and answers to practice with. I finally realized that I am qualified for these positions and these companies should want me on their team. I just needed to make the interviewer realize that.
I don’t think there is a perfect internship out there (sorry to break it to you). I say this because an internship should be about finding what you like and absolutely can’t stand. It’s about building connections with professionals that can teach you about the day-to-day life because they’re experts. It should give you a taste of what the real world is like while helping you grow professionally, as well as personally. If you don’t find anything that you love, then at least you know what you don’t like and can go from there.
After countless what I thought were failures, I finally got a win. I got an internship that catered to my needs and ended up being the perfect culture fit – C&A Industries.
Throughout this process, I learned I put wayyyy too much pressure on myself to find the “perfect” internship. Feelings of “not good enough” ate me up inside, and I had to constantly talk myself down from giving up on finding one. My advice to finding an internship is this:
1. You need more than good grades. – I have been on the dean’s list since my first semester of freshman year, but that doesn’t matter if you aren’t involved in other ways. Join campus organizations. Volunteer. It matters to employers more than you think.
2. Apply, Apply, Apply. – You don’t want to put all your eggs in one basket. (START EARLY)
3. Prepare – Interview – Feedback, Prepare – Interview – Feedback… – If you’re like me, you’re going to hate this, but you will become a pro, and it will pay off IF you take it seriously. If you are interviewing with no intentions of taking it seriously and just “winging it”, just remember someone else would kill to be in your shoes.
4. Don’t be afraid of rejection. – Odds are it’s going to happen at least once. It’s not personal and you have to look at it as an opportunity for you to improve. It’s okay to be disappointed, it means you care. Use it as fuel.
5. It’s not the end of the world. – I promise. Don’t put unnecessary stress on yourself to get the perfect internship. There are thousands of extremely successful people out there that never even attempted to get an internship.
6. Celebrate the win! – You finally landed an internship that aligns with you and your goals, so celebrate! You’ve worked hard and deserve it. Take a deep breath, and enjoy the moment.
Finding an internship should be a priority, but it should not drain your confidence. They are meant to be learning lessons, not burdens. So what are you waiting for? Go out there and find yourself an internship!
Katie Steuter is a Marketing major and a Finance minor at UNL, where she will be graduating from May 2020. At C&A Industries, she is one of our Summer 2019 interns who works with the Allied Division. When not at work or school, Katie enjoys traveling and relaxing by the water.