Time for internships

By Claire Baldwin

May is fast approaching, the flowers are blooming, the sun has finally warmed up, and we know that there are only one or two more snowfalls left: but do you know what you’re doing this summer? It is quite difficult for most of us to enjoy spring because looming overhead is that long expanse of school break known to most people as the summer. But this is the U of C, where stress doesn’t end when summer rolls around, it simply translates from midterm anxiety into “how does the boss like the coffee” anxiety or, perhaps, “will I even have a boss to get coffee for” anxiety. Like I said, we’re getting into May, known in the internship world as crunch time. (OK, so I made that up. I’m not really in the know in the internship world, but it sounds like something the big scary CAPS people would say.) Students race to check their mail, e-mail, voice mail, cell phone messages, pagers—they know that they might’ve gotten that really awesome job, but how will they know if they forget to check one of their nine million forms of communication?

So back to my new favorite catchphrase, “crunch time”—this is the time of the year when you begin to think about offering up your eventual first born to the Metcalf people. Friends, look at yourselves; it’s sad, and I’ve been there. I too have congratulated a friend who stole what should’ve been my Metcalf—that bitch. I was so much more qualified than she was—sorry, momentary lapse into my own personal experiences, but I’m over that somewhat trying day because I’ve learned to look at summer internships in a new light. Yes folks, I am proud to offer up some brilliant advice on how to get the summer internship of perhaps not your greatest dream, but of an at-least mediocre one.

First and foremost, it is most important to get an internship in a field of interest. My dear friend, fabulous roommate, and summer intern guru, Maya B., has long stressed the necessity of working not at the job that pays best, but at the one that fulfills you on all levels. When I informed her that, basically, I just like to shop, and asked how I could utilize this skill, she seemed momentarily thrown, but then told me that I should get back to her in a few days and she would know what kind of internship would fulfill me. Hey Maya, I’m still waiting. But the girl does have a point, why spend your summer filing away some stockbroker’s notes in a semi-air-conditioned office, just because it pays well and looks good on your resume—oh, that’s the point. Alright, let’s just pretend that the boring jobs never pay well and never look impressive on a resume, because that makes them much easier to turn down. So my first point of advice is this: take a job you like, or if that doesn’t work, take a job that stimulates just one neuron, but pays ridiculous wads of cash.

So you’ve found that dream internship. OK, at least you’ve found a decent summer internship that you’re actually qualified for, and now you just have to get it. I’ll sum up the resume process very simply—embellish: a few extra A’s here, a volunteer experience there, who’s really going to know? Just don’t write that you’ve won, say, the Pulitzer; apparently they can check up on that kind of stuff. Assuming your resume is accepted, you move on to my favorite part of the summer internship process: the interview, where the strong devour the weak, or where the cute kids triumph. Girls, don’t be afraid to show some leg. Boys, open those top few buttons; those older female executives sometimes aren’t as old as you might think. But my other ab-fab roomie, Jon, has just informed me that summer internships are not best attained through the filing of sexual harassment charges, and as he’s quite knowledgeable, you might want to consider his advice instead.

After my brilliant interview suggestions, there’s no way you’re not getting several internship offers, or at the very least a date with one of your many interviewers, but now you’re faced with the quandary of too many offers. No, my friends, this is not a dream world, and my tips may not be U of C-sanctioned, but I’m pretty darn convinced of their persuasive capabilities. So now you have those numerous offers, what do you do but negotiate? Start with salaries and then move into hours of work, vacation time, etc. Location is also important. If they’re offering you a ten grand internship to work twenty hours a week, but in the Yukon (where the mosquitoes are as big as the moose), perhaps you should explore that other offer in D.C.

So, U of C students, there will be no more worries, tears, or therapist visits, if you follow all, some, or better still, none of this advice. I have offered you all of my pearls of wisdom, but it is up to you to utilize them. If somehow, in a ridiculous twist of fate, these brilliant tips don’t result in a job with Solomon, Smith, Barney, don’t fear picking up the phone, calling home, and asking Mom or Pop if they might know anyone who’s looking to hire. But that, of course, will never happen, your internship is as good as had if you simply adhere to my advice.