Internship or die


Tessa Catalano ’26 is an English major with a minor in art history in the Joint Degree Program. She is also a member of Pi Beta Phi sorority. Contact her at

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own.

Applying for internships is not for the faint of heart. With the season of applications upon us, I thought acknowledging this tumultuous time of dealing with rejection should be addressed. Not only are we dealing with the loss of prospective job opportunities, but the wistful lure of one last summer of childhood is slowly dissipating. 

What do you do when the world is telling you to stop applying for internships, but your parents are telling you the opposite? How do you cope with the insatiable need for the ignorance of childhood and the seemingly mandatory thirst for a job, where you’re underpaid and overworked? These are the questions I keep asking myself as cover letter after cover letter litters my desktop and leaves me dreading the possibility of rejection. 

I hope I am not alone in this constant anxiety that colors my everyday life as I wait for my plans for the summer to come to fruition. I also hope I’m not the only one who unknowingly signed up for daily emails from Tribe Careers; though appreciated, they seem overzealous, with the onslaught of emails I get. Before cementing my summertime plans, I have to first cope with the daunting prospect that I don’t know where I will be in two months’ time.

Recently, nagging from parents and relatives, who seem to have a step-by-step agenda that will guarantee me a job for the summer, has been wearing me down. Yet, this article was not written to be a pity party but, in fact, quite the opposite. What job prospects may or may not lay ahead for me are in no way indicative of my success in life at this moment. Commiserating with friends has led me to believe that the wanton days of youth and restless summers filled with boredom and bike rides are not the hell that I’ve deemed them to be by shoving them into the box titled “rejection from internships.” I wanted to write an ode to a summer that might just be my last in the scheme of things. Having an internship is a great and useful experience, but working as a waitress in my hometown is too. 

It is so easy to compare your experience of rejection to seemingly everyone else’s experience of acceptance and say that a summer spent babysitting is somehow a failure. I argue that learning to cope with rejection is a skill that is as valuable as learning to put action verbs in your resume. Rejection, I am realizing, is a normal part of life that most of us will experience at some point, but responding to it becomes harder and harder as we become even more invested in the prospects we apply for. There can be just as much value in opportunities you didn’t imagine for yourself this summer. Coming to terms with a summer that doesn’t fit the mold of internships is a necessity as the rejections come rolling in. 

I can learn time management not only as an intern in an office, but also as a waitress juggling multiple orders. Each teaches a valuable skill, yet one is alarmingly undervalued with today’s standards of summers spent efficiently. Why is it that capitalism and its hustle culture have perverted our once lazy months of quintessential ‘summer’ jobs into markers of failure? These jobs supply as many employable skills involving teamwork, child-care, problem-solving skills and many others, so why let them go undervalued? 

Rejection should not color our experiences of summer as inefficient in terms of career trajectory; rather, they should be accepted as universal and as useful learning experiences. I will no longer view a summer spent back in my hometown as an unproductive use of time, but as a chance to relish a luxury I might not have post-grad. 

It’s so easy to get caught in the culture of needing to begin the first steps of your career as soon as possible. When companies want people with experience only, it’s easy to think the answer is that you must start now. Time spent outside of mercilessly hazing career goals is not something to settle for, but something to prize. It is easy to forget that summer has already become a relic of our childhoods.

If you have been dealing with rejection this internship season, know you are not alone and it will only make you a stronger applicant as you learn from your mistakes. Changing your perception of what rejection means is also an important part of learning to cope with setbacks. 

Rejection is a part of life, and I am realizing that I should be thankful for the grace that I have, in not letting that rejection define the kind of summer I will have. Embracing rejection is hard, but when the alternative is embracing the nostalgia of a childhood that is passing too fast, it becomes an easier pill to swallow. 


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