Opinion: You don’t need an internship this summer

Don’t let your imposter syndrome make you fill a three-month break from school with extra work.


Kevin Wu

(Kevin Wu for WSN)

Molly Koch, Deputy Opinion Editor

As the end of the academic year approaches, it feels like every person I come into contact with asks me what my summer plans are. Excitedly, I tell them I’m studying away in Athens, Greece, before I’m met with what’s become a familiar question: “Aren’t you missing out on internships?”

After a long school year, summer break is a time for students to unwind. With the increasing levels of stress and burnout that college students experience, the break serves as an important lifeline for us to unwind and practice self-care. Many students face pressure to seek out an internship during the summer — but this isn’t the only way to make break worthwhile.

There are many reasons students might gravitate towards an internship over the summer. They might have financial needs or want to move forward in a competitive career field. Some students, however, may only feel that a summer internship is necessary because everyone else has one, even if it might not be the best option for their own mental health. Students who can avoid taking on an internship over the summer should consider doing so.

Hustle culture — the mindset that we must constantly be pushing ourselves to the limit with work in order to succeed, has become a pervasive idea. While this mentality may seem admirable, it can have negative effects on mental and physical health. Hustle culture glorifies overworking, and often leads to individuals feeling the need to constantly hustle and grind, which can result in chronic stress and burnout. According to a survey by the American Psychological Association, 91% percent of Generation Z adults experienced at least one physical or emotional symptom of stress, such as depression, sadness or lack of motivation. Breaks from our constant immersion in such a fast-paced world are integral to reducing these symptoms of stress.

The internship search process for college students can also be a frustrating and discouraging experience. Sending out countless applications and attending interviews for a limited number of hypercompetitive positions leaves many students with the feeling that nothing is working — especially when they get ghosted by prospective employers. In New York City, there is fierce competition for opportunities, or at least the most desirable ones — CNN, Goldman Sachs, The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Often, the process can be more daunting than helpful to students looking to enter the workforce.

Once you remove yourself from the summer internship search, you are able to take a break from hustle culture, which can be an effective way to alleviate stress and promote mental well-being. By unplugging from our laptops and iPads, we can reset our minds and bodies. By engaging in self-care, through meditation, exercise or spending time with loved ones, we can return to our work and studies with renewed focus and energy.

If you’re an ambitious student who wants to continue working your brain during the summer, classes are a great way to stay in the academic headspace. While summer classes may not provide the same level of hands-on work experience as an internship, they can be just as valuable in terms of skill-building and career development.

Early on in a student’s time at college, when career development is a less pressing matter, taking the time to recover can lessen the chance of burnout. Students are better served utilizing this time to focus on their physical and mental health, spend time with friends and family, and explore personal interests and hobbies.

WSN’s Opinion section strives to publish ideas worth discussing. The views presented in the Opinion section are solely the views of the writer.

Contact Molly Koch at [email protected].