Internship Dilemma

This year, I applied to 6 internships and jobs and only managed to get contacted by one of them. I know friends who applied to 10 and didn’t get any. I know kids who have amazing portfolios and great talent who simply cannot get an internship. So we must ask ourselves why that is: what are we doing wrong?

The questions on every high school student’s mind are: where am I going to college? Will I get into the college I want? Or what career path will I follow? Maybe some of those are just me, but I’m sure all high school students still think about their future. These days, the future can be anything. There are so many job opportunities and different education paths, but how will we achieve our goals? How can we achieve our goals when we don’t even know what they are? Well many of us think that we can figure this out through experiences and lessons. But those experiences often come in the form of internships and jobs, which have become highly competitive. This year, so many amazing kids couldn’t get internships to gain experience because of the competition in our tightly packed city. Most kids are all wondering how they are going to move up this ladder of opportunity while internship spots have been getting more rigorous every year. It seems almost impossible to acquire any sort of work that can help you with your career goals in the future. 

At the moment there doesn’t seem to be a clear answer to this issue. 

As New Yorkers and high school students, we have faced our share of competition. The high school application process was extremely challenging and stressful. Personally, I thought I was done with these applications until I applied to college, but I was sorely mistaken. I do admit I was late to the game when it came to applying to internships. I started in September when I should have begun in August. This set me back, but I still found numerous interesting and exciting opportunities available. Though these slowly started to slip away when I realized the competition was the entire city. Many internships, like the New York Times journalism internship that I’m sure many newspaper club members would be interested in, have acceptance rates lower than 0.5 percent. I had to compete for one of four spots when over seventy amazing applicants were standing right beside me? Yes, I am bitter about not getting in myself, but I still know so many people who deserve a spot and are just not getting it. This article is for other students like me who are wondering the exact same thing. Where am I going in life and how do I get there? I have attempted to find an answer: creating your own experiences. There are so many different fields that could be explored if you just put in the work to learn about them. Even an internship or job is just another room we are stuffed into. I want to stop being held down by our limited opportunities and start challenging how far we can think. Ellie Sun started the Earth Guardians branch in Manhattan and this was an amazing opportunity that she created for herself. She now leads an entire group of teens helping to raise awareness against climate change. She can speak to politicians to make actual changes in policies. This is a lot more than you can do in an office internship.

I initially wrote this article to try and inform others that they are not the only ones who didn’t get into any program they really wanted to. But seeing it now, I realize that I want people to know that internships are not the answer to anything. They won’t always help you figure out what you want to do, and you can always figure that out on your own. I do admit jobs and internships might look good on a resume. They set you apart from others and I am not saying that they give you zero skills, but I don’t think kids should freak out because they haven’t had one. You cannot artificially manufacture an experience in life. Strive to actually learn about who you want to become.