Op-ed: The struggle of choosing a summer internship

Darya Foroohar ‘20

 

Though snow can still be found on street corners and NYC students have been gifted a day off from school, summer seems to be just around the corner. That is, from the perspective of someone applying to summer internships. Countless opportunities present themselves to the eager student, whether it’s working for the district attorney or tutoring kids in the Bronx. There are so many, in fact, that it’s difficult to decide which one to commit to. And for people like me, who don’t quite know what they want to do with their lives, it’s a sea of choices that suddenly dries up when the deadline has expired.

Ever since I’ve arrived at Bard, I’ve been told I need to plan for my future. Teachers and students alike have stressed that I have to pick a few extracurriculars to commit to and participate in an interesting set of summer programs. Many of my peers thrive in this environment, having already applied for various internships knowing exactly what they want to do in the future. I look around and everyone seems to have a plan, perfectly decorating their resumes for future college applications. I, on the other hand, took one look at all these jobs, internships, and study programs, and decided to forget about them until absolutely necessary. If a summer internship is supposed to help you on your path to college, and eventually life, I should wait until I actually know what I want to do, right?

Now, this procrastination is coming back to haunt me, as deadlines have passed and I don’t know exactly what I’m going to do this summer. It is only March, and yet this window of opportunity is almost closed. Summer has turned from a carefree activity into just another product of meticulous planning on the path to a good university. Instead of thinking about which summer activity would be the most fun, I am trying to pick the one that would look the best to colleges without differing too much from what I have previously done. Listening to my peers and reading college advice advertised on billboards throughout Bard, I wonder how I can possibly compete.

I don’t want a bad summer internship choice to determine my future. I still don’t know my career path, and it astonishes me that there are people my age who do, people who are assertive and unafraid of commitment. I know I’m supposed to try new things, but I can’t help but hesitate if these “new things” have long-lasting consequences. Focusing on short-term necessities, like homework, clubs, and sports, has worked out for me so far, but I face the realization that this won’t work out for much longer. Planning for the future is a major part of growing up, and the fear of leaving childhood behind is what hinders me and stops me from picking a summer job in February.

Soon I will depart from the safe, controlled environment of Bard and start my life as an adult. I can no longer be consumed by fear and hesitation whenever I think of applying for an internship outside of my comfort zone. Bard is a place to think, yes, but I cannot just think about life inside Bard. Everyone around me seems to be growing up, so I suppose I must as well. The competition is becoming ever stronger, and I need to adapt to this reality- to learn to ride the wave of opportunities without getting pulled under.

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