“Definitely get an internship before senior year; that’s the best time to do it.”
I cannot tell you how many times I heard that statement. Starting my freshman year, it was ingrained in my mind that I absolutely, positively had to get an internship, preferably between my junior and senior year.
Well, I didn’t.
The spring before that ever-important summer, I lived in Istanbul, Turkey, for a study abroad program. My focus was on weekend trips to Spain, exploring new neighborhoods in the city, and baklava. So much baklava. The idea of an internship seemed too mundane, too real, compared to the life I was currently living.
It wasn’t until I got back to America, settled in at home (a place I lovingly refer to as “Nowheres-ville, West Texas”), that I realized the mundane was exactly what I’d gotten myself into. It became more and more clear when the social media frenzy hit. When the Snapchats and Instagrams of my friends’ fabulous lives in fabulous cities started flooding my phone and heightening my insecurities.
Because what was I doing while they were in New York City or Los Angeles? I was working a minimum-wage job watching kids all day. Sure, I made money, but I felt like I was also losing time. Another fun fact about my summer: My main forms of social interaction involved children and my family. I saw one friend from high school, and zero friends from college. I was, in a sense, in solitude.
I know I’m not the first person in the world to get FOMO. I know we’ve all felt that pang, that tingling of not being included, of missing something. But isn’t it so much worse when you don’t even know what you’re missing? When it could be a million different things, or even your own future, and you have no clue?
So I started to panic. What if not having an internship this summer hindered me from getting a job after graduation? What do I say when I get asked, in an interview, “So what did you do with those three months?”
What did I do? What did I do?
Personally, I’d like to say I grew. I know, I know, that sounds ridiculously cliché, and it’s a point that’s been made numerous times, but really and truly, that summer, I grew. I learned that there are so many different options after college besides going straight to an office job. I realized how unhealthy my last “relationship” was. I understood so much more about what I deserved out of life. I understood then, and now, that it will be OK. It’s all going to turn out OK.
The overwhelming, suffocating feeling of self-doubt had been closing in on me ever since I had gotten home and started to think I wasn’t good enough for an internship, that I didn’t deserve one. I knew people who were interning at multi-million dollar co-operations, who were writing for well-known magazines, who were out there living their lives. What was so terribly wrong with me that I wasn’t?
Nothing was wrong with me, and nothing is wrong with me. So I spent my summer differently than most college kids—that doesn’t necessarily mean that I’m a failure. I was able to do so much in my summer: I was able to read, just for fun; I wrote; I found new music. I realized that I’m a late bloomer, and that’s OK.
It’s OK to not get an internship. I promise that everything will still be all right. So don’t get an internship, and spend your summer babysitting or lifeguarding, reading or binge-watching “Scandal,” but take time to figure yourself out. Or do get an internship, one that really speaks to you and what you want to do with your life. Whichever you choose, you will still graduate, and you will still find a job after you graduate, and you will still bloom into the bright, beautiful, luminous flower that you are. It just might not happen in the same way as it does for everyone else. But, I’ll tell you a little secret about the biggest lesson I learned this summer: Being different is way more fun.
Korey is a senior at Syracuse University, with a double major in English and Anthropology. That being said, she is (kind of has to be) an avid reader, writer, and overthinker. She will forever maintain that Taylor Swift is a genius and that tea is better than coffee, and has no problem admitting that her dog is her best friend. She hopes to one day become a published novelist, and also own a miniature pony.