A Diary of Internship Woes – Part One

‘Sally’ is a 20 year student at a leading Russell Group university, hunting down a third year placement

I have been to placement meetings; I have been armed with a handbook, and there is an online forum that shows upcoming placement opportunities yet it still seems like I’m fighting an uphill battle and I’m doing so all by myself.

I knew it was my responsibility to find a placement yet often I ask myself, as more and more people secure yearlong placements, is it about who you know or what you know?

The process is tough but not as tough as being caught off guard and so it is vital that you learn not only everything about the company but also yourself. That is before preparation of the famous ‘unusual’ questions deployed to make you think on your feet in an interview, but for me the tricky questions are self-evaluating and knowing what to include and exclude within tasks given to you.

What is interesting about you? Do I have one key trait that will separate me and show my passion?

It is only through a time consuming process of self-reflection that you find out if the placement is suited to you as much as you are to them.
I knew before I started applying that it would take a lot of time, but further issues have now surfaced. Such as will it affect my studies, considering I have more than twice the workload now? For every one application, just the first stage, takes three full days of work which is hard when you have to do reading before a lecture, go to the lecture, write up the lecture, read for the seminar – the process is time consuming.

It is not just the time taken to prepare for questions and knowing the company inside out but it is emotionally tiring, this emotional investment is what we are not told about. The further on in the process the more you want it. Yet the more rejections you get too the more you think maybe I should revert back to a three year course. I know people who have huge stress issues over what to do if they don’t get one. But for now, it is on to the next one.


‘Marcus’ is her concerned dad

As I contemplate the cost of all this my biggest concern is that Sally might lose the enthusiasm to obtain a degree and question its worth. When I went to university the state paid for all our tuition and accommodation costs. It never occurred to us that there was a cost! But the university experience gave my generation such confidence to try and tackle any job, to change industries – two or three times actually – and know that I’d learn how to learn. Today’s undergraduates have to learn how to cope with tens of reject letters, and that’s even before they’ve sat down to do their Finals. That’s not why I wanted Sally to get a degree.