Why it’s OK to not have a fancy summer internship

Frances Yang/Staff

As summer kicks into full gear, it seems like every UC Berkeley student is preparing to start a prestigious internship at Google, Goldman Sachs, CNN or elsewhere.

If you’re one of them, congratulations! You should be proud!

But if you’re like me and have chosen an alternative path for the summer, it’s easy to feel inadequate compared to our high-achieving, highly employable peers.

But not having a glamorous summer internship is not the end of the world, and in fact, it opens up many possibilities for ways to spend the summer. If you’re feeling down about not adding “Software Engineering Intern” to your resume, read on to learn to come to peace with it and make the most of your summer.

It doesn’t say anything about how qualified you are

It can be incredibly frustrating to read a rejection letter from your dream internship that states, “Your application was impressive, but because of the large applicant pool, we are unable to offer you the position.” But understanding the truth behind those words is important. You could be just as qualified or skilled as the candidate who got the job, but there are only so many spots. Not landing a perfect internship doesn’t define you, how talented you are or how successful you will be later in life.

Chances are, it’d probably be boring

Sure, lots of internship descriptions say you’d be doing real, hands-on work, and for some of them, it’s even true. But from what I’ve gathered from my own experience conversing with friends, nearly every internship with any employer involves some degree of grunt work. Why spend your summer withering away at a desk when the beautiful summer weather awaits outside?

You can make real money

Because of a demand for work experience and resume boosters, many employers get away with offering college students unpaid internships. This summer, instead of drafting reports or writing press releases for free at an internship, you can earn some cold hard cash working a part-time job while still building healthy professional relationships with your supervisors. Instead of blowing money on transportation costs to get to the office, you can actually grow your bank account with spending money or save up for the future.

Travel! Volunteer! Visit family!

Does anyone else feel nostalgia for the times when summers were meant to be fun? As UC Berkeley students, we burn ourselves out throughout the year, and during the summer, we deserve to take a break and actually fill our lives with things we enjoy. Take advantage of the open months to go somewhere in the world you’ve never been before, or find fulfillment and happiness by volunteering at your local animal shelter.

Your future won’t fall apart without one

Failing to secure a prestigious summer internship won’t actually prohibit you from achieving success later in life. Sure, interning at Apple might make it easier to get a job there later, but not doing so just means you’ll have to be persistent and resourceful during your job search. If you fill your summer with other things such as volunteer work, traveling or working part time, you’ll still come away with talking points and resume builders that you can use to your advantage. There are many ways you can use your internship-less background to help you land a job after college.

There’s plenty of time to work later in life

But there’s only so many summers during college when you can actually invest time doing things you enjoy or care about. Once you graduate, it’s rare that you’ll have three whole months to spend however you want, so make the most of it now.

There’s no one path toward success, despite the clamor around summer internships making it feel like there is. Summer internship or not, you can still be competitive in job or grad school applications if you set your mind to it. You’re still a student at the No. 1 public university in the world with lots of potential, and no intern recruiter can take that away from you.

Contact Hannah Nguyen at [email protected].