First-Years: Internships Don’t Matter


Victor Porcelli, Deputy Opinions Editor

I can already feel the righteous indignation — tinged with hope — of an army of first-years ready to defend what is commonly held to be true among all college students: you need to get an internship as soon as possible. Although I do not question the importance of internships, I do question the necessity and value of obtaining one for your first summer as a college student.

Due to the highly competitive nature of college admissions and job markets, students are under more pressure than ever to make themselves as marketable as possible. An obvious way of doing so is getting internship experience — and many believe it is never too early to start. Landing an internship as a first-year is hard for a reason: first-years tend to be unqualified. When I went to the NYU Journalism Career Fair, many of the desks stated they were looking for students that were at least going into their junior year. For internships that are more involved — and thus more valuable — having an extra two semesters under your belt can be extremely helpful and perhaps necessary.

Additionally, employers will not only be looking at the quantity of experience when deciding whether or not to hire someone, but also the quality. Oftentimes, due to their lack of experience, first-years have to be content with somewhat menial positions and will not always be able to even obtain an internship in their desired field. Such an experience may not be worth it. When employers call references, if they hear that you seemed uninterested and lacking in motivation — which, knowing the types of internships available to first-years, I would not blame you for — the advantage provided by that internship you did your first year can quickly turn into a weakness. Regardless, the value of these internships is questionable, making me wonder if the importance first-years put on them is misplaced..

There are other experiences that can be more worthwhile over the summer. For one, there is always the option of getting a paying job to pay for that infamous NYU tuition. Spending time with family or working on independent projects could also be more valuable than laboring for no pay at some small institution. Hearing from my friends and classmates, I know it is relatively common for NYU students to stay in New York City over the summer when they do find internships. This summer could be the last opportunity first-years have to spend time with family and friends from their hometowns. If that is the case, it is unclear if an internship is worth the cost.

I’m not saying that if you lined up an internship you think you will genuinely enjoy, you should drop it. What I am saying is that the conventional advice of “if you don’t get an internship, you’re doing something wrong” — a stressor for students — is simply untrue. I have witnessed and experienced the anxiety found in first-years wondering what they are going to do in the summer, and I truly believe it is unfounded and unnecessary. First-years: you do not need an internship . . . yet.

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Email Victor Porcelli at [email protected].