Throughout second semester of freshman year I was anxious to find an internship for my first college summer. As a person who operates better under pressure and likes learning new things and meeting new people, I felt that the nearly three months of break would be meaningless if I could not be formally involved with some type of work. Yet I was unable to meet the requirements for almost all of the internship positions of interest. While I understood that it would be rare for a company to hire a college freshman with little to no professional experience, it was difficult getting used to limitations and rejections.
Fortunately, I had the privilege of being a part of ILR’s High Road Fellowship program. This program is unique in every sense; around 20 students each year are placed at a non-profit organization and take classes to learn about and explore the city of Buffalo, its economic and social issues and how community based organizations work to revitalize the formerly industrial city.
I learned so much about economic development, gained skills working in and out of the office, and was honored to spend time with great people throughout the two months of the fellowship. However, my summer experience is not representative of every rising sophomore. Although most of my friends also took part in some type of work or personal activity, after hearing about all the complaints they had with their work, I couldn’t help but notice that some seemed to be working for the sake of filling up their resume.
Summer break between freshman and sophomore year is probably the last time to actually enjoy a recess from studies and pressure before preparing for a career and future. Garnering unnecessary stress from a summer job is most definitely not worth it, especially if it has nothing to do with your future aspirations. Why go through all that hassle to partake in something that does little more than add meaningless words to your resume, if you didn’t actually feel accomplished? The time could be much better spent exploring personal interests by travelling, reading books, or meeting new people. Such activity can be equally, if not more, rewarding because they add on to the development of the self in a way that no other internship can.
The fact that so many rising sophomores take on a job during the summer demonstrates how pressured students are to start preparing for their careers at an early stage. In this competitive, resume-oriented era in which getting into the job market is becoming increasingly complex, many feel the need to simply keep doing something regardless of how relevant it is to their interests.
I wish that I too hadn’t been so apprehensive about finding work for the summer. Personally, I am happy with how I spent my time, especially the additional three weeks after the end of the fellowship I spent exploring my hometown. But I also needed to realize prior to my search for summer jobs that it is perfectly okay to just relax and spend time on personal development.
DongYeon (Margaret) Lee is a sophomore in the School of Industrial and Labor Relations. She can be reached at email@example.com. Here, There and Everywhere appears alternate Tuesdays this semester.