Summer Internships- Choices or Cramping Choices?

Posted on July 4, 2011 in Education

By Ateendriya:

Summer internships are part-time or full-time job opportunities, often unpaid, offered to students as a sort of work experience. Usually lasting about eight to twelve weeks, they provide a real insight into what it’s actually like to work in a particular job or career field, albeit for only a short period of time. The concept of summer internships has become extremely popular in the last few years, and what started as an early work experience in the field of one’s choice, has now become a sort of necessary qualification that almost every college student seeks.

But the catch is that while previously it used to be a matter of interest and exploring of options for the future, it has now been reduced to a way to add points to the resume. What’s most disturbing is the mindless leveling that this concept of summer internships has introduced in the student community. It no longer matters where you are applying as an intern, or whether you even want to; the rat race has lodged into the minds of all, and not without justification, that it’s a thing that cannot be avoided.

Many might object to the fact that I call this rage about internships justified- after all, it is not technically compulsory, one need not do it if they so wish it. But when we look at the practical side of things we’ll see that the importance attributed to internship experiences when, say, a company that seeks to hire, is exceptionally high, and in most cases a mandatory criterion. In such circumstances, students are forced to frantically seek out internships in their 3 or 4 years of college.

But since not everyone can get what they might want, many end up with internships that least appeal to their interests. Not only does this lead to frustration in the students- doing what one doesn’t enjoy is nobody’s idea of fun, after all- but it also affects the quality of work of the intern. Even if these students somehow breeze through the monotonous weeks, what reflects on their resume is not an experience of working in something they were interested in or are good at, but something they did only for the sake of the CV.

This vicious imposition of sorts has not only robbed people of their individuality but the most important point that most people fail to see is the fact that at the end of the day everyone has basically the same qualities on their resumes. Almost everybody has an internship to their name and it would make no difference if no one were to have that quality on their resumes at all. The only difference made is that a large number of students, in a frantic attempt to secure their future, end up not doing things they may have actually wanted to do. How many times does one hear of a college student just spending the summer pursuing their hobby?

Another interesting thing to note here is the way in which many students obtain their internships. Of course many of them apply officially, but an equal number get accepted at places where they have “contacts”. In fact, when asked what they plan to do about an internship, an overwhelmingly large number of students- and this I say from personal experience- reply that they will manage; they have “contacts”. Some manage even better- certificates without having worked at all is not unheard of. When the reality is this, can one actually call this unsaid need to have a certificate declaring that one has worked as an intern, a good thing?

That said, it is true that there are many who apply for summer internships of their own accord, in fields that truly interest them and get accepted based on merit alone. But these people are few and getting fewer by the day. For most, an internship is a thing required to be done because the circumstances demand it and not going with the flow seems to damage their worth somehow. While it cannot be denied that the concept of summer internships is a marvellous one, the hype attached to its worth is a kind of levelling that will create a student community devoid of any individuality- all cast in the same mould, their merits identical to each others’. And this, needless to say, is not something any society should aspire for.