Late February and early March mark the time of year when there is an influx of posts on the Wellesley FAQ Facebook page by stressed first-years asking if their lives will be ruined if they fail to find an internship. As a current upperclassman, and someone who also applied to many internships during my first year, I’m here to tell you that you will be okay.
The pressure to find an internship after your first year is certainly understandable. As the cost of college rises, and concerns of un- or underemployment among college graduates grow, there has been an increasing focus on career planning and experiential learning during college years. Wellesley College can often feel like a pressure cooker, and it is easy to fall into the trap of comparing yourself to other people. With so many people at the College doing impressive things, not doing similar things can make you feel like you’re behind.
With that said, there are plenty of meaningful ways to spend your summer that aren’t an internship, depending on what your priorities are. You can work a job you enjoyed from high school, which honestly probably pays better than any internship you’ll get. Even if it’s not directly related to what you want to do after you graduate, valuable and marketable skills can still arise from itYou can learn transferable skills, which Career Ed will be able to help you articulate and put on a resume. You can learn what you want out of a job — do you want consistency or flexibility? Do you prefer interacting with a lot of people or working alone? Do you like working with children, or in a nontraditional environment? These are all things that almost any job can teach you.
You can also prioritize spending time with your family and friends, which shouldn’t be discounted. Many of us moved far away from home to attend Wellesley College, and the first year can be a time of a lot of homesickness. The summer after first year is a great opportunity to spend time with the people you care about, because before you know it your breaks get busier and busier. As someone who did spend two summers in a row away from home, I regret not prioritizing this time when I was still an underclassman.
The summer after first year is a great time to emphasize rest. Wellesley’s semesters can feel like a sprint that drags on for 15 weeks, so allowing yourself to rest as much as possible is important, and no less valuable than a prestigious internship. It’s easy to feel burnt out after an intensive experience during the summer and then quickly returning to Wellesley’s academics.
Of course, if you really want a specific internship, or you need one to get a job in a certain field, go ahead and apply. But please don’t feel like it’s your only option. You have many more summers to get an internship, and even if you never get one at all, there are many ways to do experiential learning or explore different career paths without them. In a society that heavily values people based on career, don’t fall into the trap of centering your life around only that. There are so many things more important in life than having the perfect resume.