Welcome to the club of people who dread being asked, “What are you doing this summer?”
You’ve already heard every nice piece of advice that exists, in which you get over your disappointment and are proud you even applied. You shouldn’t have to get over it. In fact, don’t. Let it break you apart. Realize why you wanted that internship. For your resume? So you don’t spend another summer as a lifeguard? So you can brag about how talented you are?
All are valid answers, but the way that our society hypes up “internships” discounts all the other things you can do that build character.
Blindsided by the appeal of an internship and the satisfaction it would give me to boast about my coolness, I asked an admissions officer at Kenan-Flagler Business School which of two internships would be more impressive.
She asked me, “Which one will allow you to have more of an impact?” and my mind went blank. Noticing I hadn’t thought about that, she said, “I’d rather see someone work at an arts and crafts camp and make a difference in someone’s life than work at a big name firm and do mindless tasks.”
Disappointment can be constructive if you use it correctly. Redirect your energy from feeling sad and rejected to finding something to do with your summer that could likely end up being better than an internship.
Stay in Chapel Hill and get excited about your school all over again as you see crowds of future Tar Heels stroll through. Take summer classes and get that annoying gen ed out of the way. Work, work, work, work, work. Learn something new — take tennis lessons or guitar lessons, or go camping enough times that you become an expert.
After I tasted rejection from a dream internship, I stayed up until 4 a.m. trying to figure out what I would do with my summer. I thought about the things that I do during breaks and the things that get me excited to go home for a weekend. I came up with: hot yoga, summer classes, learning how to cook from my mom so I don’t starve in my apartment next year, picking up my old guitar again and writing that book. Doesn’t sound too horrible, right?
Think about what you have to offer, and don’t feel ashamed to say that you’re working at Chick-fil-A this summer for the third year in a row. There’s plenty of time for you to get that perfect internship. Take of advantage of how young and vulnerable you are. Whether you’ll be learning how to deal with angry customers as a waiter or learning how to deal with hyperactive children as a nanny, it will matter.
Do something that gives you a story to tell.