Trying to get an internship is the worst
This article might be the reason why I’ll never get one.
Across all years of your Cambridge degree, the word ‘internship’ will never cease to strike fear into your soul, stir up feelings of inadequacy and send you spinning into a spiral of despair.
Whether you’re a wretched third year who’s considering plunging into another year of dreary academia just to stave off unemployment, or a sharp-witted, keen fresher who wants to get LinkedIn creds, the internship plague brings people of all ages and all walks of life together (except if Daddy’s got it sorted for you, in which case fuck you).
You see, the awful thing about this whole internship palaver is that you start off with so much hope. You’ve got a CV with CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY put prominently at the top and you think, this is going to be a breeze. All these firms want me and my 13 A*s at GCSE. Oh, my sweet summer child – how wrong you are.
The first hurdle – writing a sickly, moist cover letter proclaiming your ‘passion’ and ‘enthusiasm’ for what is essentially a soul-sucking corporate job. Your company of choice may even ‘invite’ you to take a numerical test or two, as if it’s a privilege that you’ll be subjected to highly elevated cortisol levels for an hour as you attempt to analyse graphs, tables and numbers. ‘You may want to revise some basic concepts from GCSE’, some companies advise at the bottom of their email. They might as well tell you to complete Part I of the Maths tripos for preparation.
Frankly, I’d rather be flamed by my DoS and eat Caius hall for the rest of my life* than have to answer these completely irrelevant questions, with about a 3 second allowance for each one. This is the first of many times that you will wonder why you didn’t do maths, NatSci or engineering instead (but then you’ll realise it’s because you actually want to become an interesting, cultured person).
If you’ve managed to bullshit your way to the group interview stage, congratulations! You get to sit with a group of smarmy London uni gits who have done a million spring weeks before you, and futilely attempt to get a word in edgeways as they all compete for the interviewer’s attention, reminding you of rutting deer at mating season.
Inevitably, the first rejection letter will come through. Then another. And then another, until you feel like Harry Potter in the letter scene of Philosopher’s Stone (but you’re headed for the depths of unemployment hell instead of Hogwarts). By the time you reach Lent, you won’t even need to open an email to know that it will contain soul-crushing disappointment. Soon enough, the words ‘unfortunately’, ‘regrettably’ and ‘There were a high number of applicants this year’ will be enough to trigger you into becoming a sprawling mess.
As your list of prospective firms dwindle from about 30 to 1, the sense of desperation seeps in. You’ll eventually swallow your pride and apply to far-flung startups in zone 10 or an NGO in Timbuktu which offers no flights, accommodation or pay (because who needs money as a student, amirite). During this frantic time of bashing out incomprehensible cover letters, each one more effusive than the last, you can cheerily tell all your friends who have blagged Goldman Sachs and Slaughters’ that you’re just ‘spreading the net out’.
Throughout this #struggle, don’t forget to stalk people obsessively on LinkedIn – it will do wonders to your self-esteem as you realise so-and-so single-handedly implemented a composting toilet scheme in Ghana, took part in a North Korean peace delegation and designed Rihanna’s Met Ball gown, whilst you are still clinging onto your Grade 4 flute and that one article you wrote for your shitty school fashion magazine.
So to all my fellow students out there going through all this – know that you are not alone, you’re all brilliant, and seriously, internships are not the be all and end all.
Chances are that your friends will hate their jobs eventually anyway.