New York City, NY — A growing number of students feel overwhelmed with the expectation to have multiple internships throughout their college career as more students now seek fall or spring opportunities — in addition to the summer when most usually are interns.
As students face many demands, from paying college tuition to taking exams, they also have the added pressure of securing an internship to gain experience outside the classroom or find a post-graduation job.
Yet, many feel the pressure has grown from having one or two summer internships to having five or six internships before graduation, like sophomore Jade Bahng, a marketing student at the University of Southern California.
“Even starting as early as my freshman fall semester, I felt pretty pressured to secure an internship for the semester, or at least in time for the summer,” said Bahng, 19, who is currently at her fourth internship. “I felt that I would be falling behind if I wasn't working over the summer.”
While Bahng believes the pressure she received had a “positive effect” on her, she does think “there’s a greater pressure to have had multiple internships.”
With all the pressures college students face, they are gaining unnecessary stress that is taking a toll on their mental health. In a recent report that surveyed more than 2,400 college students, “66% reported experiencing stress and 51% reported feelings of worry "during a lot of the day," according to the U.S. News & World Report.
Chieh-An Chen, a senior at the University of Texas at Austin, said there is a need to hold internships at top employers like Fortune 500 companies.
“All of my friends are super talented, and they have all interned at very competitive companies like FAANG and more,” Chen said, who’s had three internships so far. “It’s just the imposter syndrome in my head.”
Kelly Deschaine, 23, a recent graduate of the University of Maryland, often received emails from colleagues at her school asking where she was interning for the summer.
“Everyone was just expected to be employed and interning at an engineering firm for the summer,” she said. “My peers would start applying and interviewing for a summer internship almost a year out from the actual internship timeline, which was super intimidating to me my first year or two of school.”
Having two internships throughout her college career, Deschaine doesn’t think students must have one every semester as it is “more valuable to be well-rounded, rather than who can collect the most internships.”
“There is never going to be a perfect road map to guaranteeing a job as soon as you finish college because this is not a perfect world, and I think students should also lean into any kind of edge or passion they have,” she said. “I put my TikTok account information and my research project in my resume and that’s what caught the eye of the company I work for now, not my internship experience.”
Kailyn Rhone, (she/her) is from Florida, but is an NYC-based journalist covering education, technology and culture. Follow her on Twitter @onlykailyn.
Edited by Nykeya Woods.