The Ups And Downs Of Being A Summer Intern

The beginning of a new school year usually means getting ready for the cooler weather and thinking ahead to new classes and surroundings. Many have just gotten done being called “intern” and are starting new. But, for more and more people, September and October means it’s already time to start thinking about the next summer and summer internships.

It really depends on your major, school requirements and general desire and ability to work for free or cheap, but at least for me every summer of college has been taken over by interning. For some, I’ve lived at home, others I’ve travelled, and sometimes I’ve even doubled up on workloads to make it worth the time and rent.

Interning, for many, is a privilege they cannot afford or for others, not at all a priority. And while I have about seven under my belt, I still have an insane love/hate relationship with interning.

On the good side, I’ve found much of my love for the craft when I intern; I’ve found out how much I love startup companies, the theatre press and how much I adore New York. I’ve met amazing mentors and editors and generally have no horror stories to speak of. Internships mean that at the beginning of the year, I get to apply to all kinds of companies and when I interview, hear what all sorts of places have to offer. It also means that I get to explore, meet new people and find out for a bit of time what I like in a workplace and city.

I’ve had an amazing time living in New York City for two summers. I’ve seen a million Broadway shows, explored and worked my ever-lovin’ ass off. I’ve had a blast so far working and experiencing New York in the summertime.

But, there are downsides. Going into college, I basically had to acknowledge that I had no more summers left. I had my first internship interview my fourth week of college and each summer have worked full-time as well as either had a second job or side internship. I’ve missed important family events, been so tired that I want to sleep as soon as I walk in the door when I get home and been so poor from unpaid internships it truly scared me.

I’m sure people have had it worse; I’ve heard some real horror stories in my day, but the truth is, it’s always a little bittersweet knowing you’re only needed and wanted at these jobs for a short amount of time. It’s a tough place to be in.

It’s not easy to basically give up your childhood and sense of freedom in one fell swoop. For me, summers have now been marked by what job I have, not by ice cream trucks and cookouts with my family. Swing sets and pools have been replaced by happy hour and ice cream out the container on my apartment kitchen floor. Vacations do not exist anymore and I basically go from finals week to starting a full-time job within days.

Sound familiar? Summers interning have prepared me for the real world, in a way, for better or for worse. I know that in the real world, I’ll have even more crap to worry about and that, especially then, I will not have summer vacation.

But, despite this, I recommend summers interning (for ethical, paying places) to anyone who can. I wouldn’t trade my summers schlepping around exhausted for anything. But, I wouldn’t mind just a little time in the sun.

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