Don’t panic about your (lack of) summer plans just yet
For the past three years, I’ve spent the spring panicking about my summer plans. Would I get an internship I liked? Would I spend the summer at home groveling under a blanket for three months, armed with a bowl of popcorn and my friend’s brother’s mom’s Netflix account? Would my plans this summer, or lack thereof, determine—gasp—the rest of my life?
This spring is different. I’m graduating in May. I should be freaking out about finding a job. And for some reason, I feel strangely calm. I think it’s because every internship I’ve gotten has been unexpected and last-minute, coming at a time where I assumed I would end up being unemployed for a summer. I spent so much time worrying about the right steps to my career path—whatever that means—getting upset when things seemed bleak and then watching something miraculously work out. It’s lulled me into a weird sense of security.
If you’re still solidifying your summer plans, don’t panic. I know this might sound unwarranted coming from an English major who doesn’t have postgrad plans yet. I might have a job next year. I might not. I might move under a bridge and become one of those troll security guards (Bridge trolls? Troll bridge watchers? Whatever). I don’t know. That being said, I feel like I’ve learned a lot in the past few years. For what it’s worth, here’s some unsolicited advice:
1. It’s not the end of the world if your expectation doesn’t equal reality.
It happens. Sometimes, you get a picture in your head of where you want to be over the summer, and you cling to it. You put so much weight on getting that one internship or being in that one city or getting into that one program. You’re sending out a million applications, hoping for a response. In some cases, it works out! In others, you don’t get a response, and it feels like you’ve wasted your time. It’s stressful when things don’t work out the way you want them to. But if it’s any comfort, the world won’t implode if you don’t get your dream internship. It might actually end up being for the best. The summer after my sophomore year, I poured my soul into an application for an internship that I had set my hopes on. When I was rejected, I was devastated. Two weeks into the summer, I found a not-so prestigious internship in my hometown, which I wasn’t excited about. From that, though, I met really cool people and ended up having—wait for it—the best summer of my life. I’m kind of embarrassed about how upset I was when I didn’t get the first internship. Even if you get rejected from everything, save yourself the melodrama—I wish I had.
2. Try not to compare yourself to the people around you.
Yeah, I know. This one’s hard. It’s frustrating when the people around you have already solidified their summer plans because you want to be happy for them, but you’re also stressed out about figuring out your own business. Maybe you haven’t heard back from anything yet. Maybe you haven’t even started applying. And that’s OK—you can still work out your own goals and timelines for applying to jobs individually without feeling like you need to share with the class. Everyone has their own individual path; you shouldn’t feel pressured to be on the same wavelength as everyone else. The internship (or summer job, or program or whatever it is) that’s right for you isn’t going to be the same as what’s right for the person next to you. Why even bring them into the equation? In the words of endearing dude-bros everywhere, “You do you.”
3. It will work out, even if it doesn’t seem like it.
I admit that this sounds like something on a Hallmark card. But it’s true! There’s no such thing as the “right” path. Getting that one dream internship isn’t going to make or break your life. If you get the perfect internship, great! If you don’t, that’s also great! I mean it. Figure out what you want from your summer, what you have to work with and how you can turn that into something that’s valuable to you. Since I already sound like I’m mom-splaining to you, I’ll just go ahead and add this last part: just have fun. The worst thing that can happen is that you have too much fun, and your fun involves lighting stuff on fire for some reason, and then you light a bunch of important stuff on fire and everyone gets mad at you. That’s not so bad, is it?