Internships: Say Goodbye to your Summer

Audrey Nelson

The summer is fast approaching and we, like countless numbers of students before us, are met with the conundrum of a lifetime: to seek an internship, or not to seek an internship.  Frankly, I would like to meet the first student who announced with glee, “You know what?  I think the summer between junior and senior year is an important time to sell your soul and commit to a serious, laborious internship.”  In fact, if I were to meet this individual, I might kick him squarely in his, uh, jaw… and question his motives.  Who said that working at a kid’s summer camp is unimportant?  Aren’t I making the world a better place when I teach a youngster how to swim, or show him how to tie his hiking boots?  Isn’t that more enriching than bringing coffee every morning to Larry, the Supervising Account Manager on the third floor who likes his files alphabetized, his lattes hot, and his coffee break uninterrupted by over-zealous college interns who are trying to network their way into upper management?

Once the summer internship topic is breached in conversation, the direction it generally takes with certain individuals is, “Well, I suppose I’m interning this summer because I’m taking my future seriously, and I hope to get some experience for my career.”  This is occasionally said with disdain, as if those of us who work at summer camps are throwing any hopes of future success out the window.  Because, of course, how could any summer job that is considered “fun” be a true resume booster?  Excuse me, but I’d like to think that by coming to Middlebury in the first place, I’ve already taken as many proactive steps as you in pursuing my dreams for the future.  Please don’t play that card in conversation; we both have the same hand, and I will call your bluff.

In reality, I think camp is where a lot of people would like to be for the summer months.  The whole “paying for college” thing has gotten in the way of so many students’ blithe summer lifestyles that they probably think they have no other choice than to snag an internship.  I’ll admit that the need to earn actual money over the summers has been bolstered by the ever-increasing tuition of Middlebury.  $47,000 a year has heightened the pressure of landing a decent job over the summer months, and I see several people with that in mind, begrudgingly shuffling to Career Services for those paid internship meetings.

Come on: we have plenty of time to be serious.  After graduation, doors will be opened and we will all have the opportunity to choose a job that works for us— or rather, to choose a job we can work for. So go ahead and commit to your summer internship.  But quit making smarmy comments to those of us who are counselors, returning to our “fun” summer camps.  And when you and I both land jobs post-graduation, I’ll be comfortable knowing that it wasn’t because I abandoned the chance to spend a summer teaching kids how to swim.

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