It's the middle of March, I’m wrapping up my Junior year at the University of Portland, I don’t have an internship. My housemate, also studying marketing, has had one lined up since February, while my housemates in engineering had summer internships thrown at them when there was still snow on the ground. Nobody seems to know when I should start applying, but something’s telling me I’m late. This sucks.
I’d applied to a handful of internships, some rejected me outright while others canceled their programs altogether due to COVID-19, which had also caused UP to move online for the rest of the spring semester. While isolating I slogged through every internship site I could find and applied as much as I could, but hear me when I say I had zero belief that I’d land anything. Weekly emails from Ziprecruiter were piled up in my inbox, reminding me that I probably ought to resign myself to another summer of temporary minimum wage work. (I wonder if Zara would hire me back on?) Things were grim.
I had an idea to create some kind of product/service/experience with some friends who were in similar positions, framed by COVID, so we’d have something to show for our last summer besides facilitating a positive customer service experience or whatever. To brainstorm I took to Instagram and asked “what are positive aspects of quarantine?” I got the usual responses: reading, cooking, more time with family, but also something out of the ordinary. @nebslymedia asks me what I’m reading. Random, okay. I do a little digging and discover that they’re a marketing and PR agency in London. I ask if they’d consider bringing on an intern; two weeks and one hastily assembled portfolio later I’m signing an internship contract. Thankyougod. They assembled a six week program to give me a primer in every area of marketing, from PR to branding to sales. I’m not being hyperbolic when I say that this one random interaction saved my last summer.
What's the takeaway here? COVID had a huge impact on this year’s internship crop, from postponement to online interning to outright cancellation. It's normal and totally okay to feel hopeless, but feel hopeless and do something. I applied to between 20 and 30 internships and none of them even emailed me rejection letters; the internship process is a black hole you throw effort into. Nonetheless, you should do it. I’m not saying you’ll wake up one day with agencies in your DM’s, but applying is a valuable practice in personal branding. If it isn’t an internship, think of what else you could show employers and say “Yeah, I self-started and made a meaningful contribution to this when a global pandemic killed my internship opportunities.”
Down the line, some of that effort you threw into the black hole could come to bear fruit, but you’ll never know if you don’t wake up and do it. Making a professional website is a good place to start (mine is www.saintttdom.com). In the words of Ernest Hemingway “Get up and bite on the nail.”
About the author: Dominic Triolo is a self-described problem solver pursuing a degree in Organizational Communication at the University of Portland. His interests range from storytelling and cooking to rock climbing and skating. You can find him on Instagram @dominic.triolo and on LinkedIn.