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In Defense of Not Doing Anything Over the Summer


This guy looks like he’s having a terrible summer

If you are a student at Columbia University, you were probably admitted because of your success as a K-Pop star? hard work, dedication, and overall overachieving nature. When your high-school classmates were watching and live tweeting the new episode of Pretty Little Liars, you were writing your AP Language and Composition essay. Or maybe you were even writing someone else’s. Either way, you did your time and made it into Columbia University. And now it’s just like high school, all over again. Not mentioning the gossip and drama (we don’t have a clique problem at this school), students at Columbia push themselves just as hard as in high school. Few students leave the safe bubble of campus, despite all that New York City has to offer.

So why, during your break from classes, would you want an internship?

There are different reasons people offer for applying to internships over the summer or for spring break. These reasons have varying degrees of acceptability. Do you find yourself watching Two Broke Girls for money-saving tips, (and quoting it incessantly)? Okay, take an internship.

But many students feel obligated to compete for a spot at a prestigious company, which is an unacceptable motivation. Yes, internships will look good on your resume when you graduate college, but sometimes, focusing on the here and now is a little more important. Take a break. Spend time with your family. Have you already forgotten what they look like? And do you remember your high school friends? See them before your 10-year reunion, just in case one of them has gotten better looking, (chances are, no.) Go to the beach, read a non-assigned book, or just feel bored. You deserve it.

And if you really would like a job for the summer, don’t be afraid to work as a college student. Someone needs to work at the fast-food restaurant or fold clothes at the mall. These are low-stress, easy alternatives to internships. You don’t have to skip classes to try and finish the application. And while rejection from J.P. Morgan is devastating, you probably will not cry if Dunkin’ Donuts doesn’t hire you. (Or actually, maybe you should cry. Rethink some life choices. And then eat some ice cream).

So relax Columbians. When you receive that next email, reminding you of upcoming internship applications and resume revisers and interview practices and presentation guidelines, breathe easy. You don’t need that stuff, not just yet. What you need is some R&R (or D&D if that’s your thing. Which is totally cool, everyone has that phase).

The opposite of summer times via Shutterstock



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  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous Can’t wait for the poor kids to chime in on this one

    1. CC14 says:

      @CC14 Jesus…I hope to god that you are a first year so this school can kick some awareness into you before you go into the real world and say shit like that.

      1. the worst part is says:

        @the worst part is THIS school probably won’t.

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous D&d is not a phase.

  • To whomever wrote this article says:

    @To whomever wrote this article THANK YOU.

    1. but in all honesty says:

      @but in all honesty You could have added a LITTLE more substance to this argument.

    2. to whomever actually used whomever says:

      @to whomever actually used whomever ^^THANK YOU

      1. to whoever used whomever incorrectly says:

        @to whoever used whomever incorrectly whom is dead and you don’t understand the grammar you prescribe

  • Are you fucking kidding? says:

    @Are you fucking kidding? Not all of us can major in Art History and live of our parents’ fortune for the rest of our lives. To whomever wrote this: get a job.

    1. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous right? didn’t the spec just run this post last semester? the hippy dippy girl with the videos?

  • CC '14, undecided and proud says:

    @CC '14, undecided and proud ^ written someone who has not tried to an internship that requires 2-3 internships as experience.

    Allow me to ammend your argument.

    In Defense of Doing Something FUN Over the Summer

    Friends, comrades, I am here to tell you that there is a world outside banking. And no, I know what you’re thinking, it’s not consulting. It’s not even research or working in a lab! At Columbia we tend to think that if you’re not a scientist or pre-law or pre-med or pre-banking (we should really start accepting that that’s a thing) or pre-academia, you’re going to be unemployed for the rest of your life and that is simply not true. There are tons of people working in jobs they love that don’t fall into any of those professional categories. People in all kinds of media jobs and tech start ups and super interesting non-profits.

    I, for example, have no idea what I want to do for the rest of my life but I know it’s not one of the aforementioned things, or at least not right away. I have spent the last three summers doing incredibly fun things that look good on a resume, pay enough to survive (plus a little help from parents and school, but more on that later) and that I actually enjoyed.

    For me, those things included writing for a website that reports on small business affairs, doing research for a news radio show, and doing insanely fun project management stuff/techy app making stuff for a big entertainment company. I was not particularly qualified for these positions but I made it clear that I would work hard, learn fast, and be fun to have around the office.

    A good internship will give you an amazing network for references, new skills, and a better idea of where you want to go in life. A shitty internship will help you cross a few potential careers off your list, teach you patience, and make you value happy hour more than anything else in the world. Either way you’re spending a summer meeting new people, having time to explore the city that you’re in, and hopefully making a bit of cash.

    Once you leave the realm of pre-professional internships, the application process is much more relaxed: deadlines are later, the interviews more casual, and a bad GPA or lack of experience is not prohibitive. What’s really fun is that you can do some research on what a fun job for you might be, find someone who’s doing it, and then ask them if they need someone to help. A lot of media/start-ups/non-profits don’t have formal internship programs, but are perfectly happy to hire a college kid for the summer for minimun wage.

    So calm down, breath, and explore the parts of lionshare outside of the pre-professional fields. That’s where the fun is. I promise!

  • Watch my Rotor Blades says:

    @Watch my Rotor Blades Was that a Mean Girls reference?

    I’m a fan.

  • Lol says:

    @Lol “Take a break. Spend time with your family….Go to the beach, read a non-assigned book, or just feel bored. You deserve it.”

    This should be followed by “realise in the summer of your junior year that you’ve never had a job/internship related to your major. Panic because you have no idea how to start looking for said internships. End up jobless after graduation.”

    Seriously though, I think that a month or so of summer should be spent relaxing, unwinding, etc etc, but telling someone to “do nothing” for an entire summer is probably the worst advice you could give them

    1. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous I mean, if it’s just ONE summer I don’t think it’s a big deal. I don’t think the overall takeaway is “dont do anything ever” but more like “just chill for a minute”

  • CC'13 says:

    @CC'13 I like the ‘take a chill pill’ advice I hear behind this, but the reality for a good part of this campus is that if we don’t get internships, we don’t get jobs. The world outside the ivory tower beckons, and while we may be interested in self-development and becoming a person, recruiters/admissions officers are looking at us as numbers and resumes. We definitely need perspective on the way we may approach it, but if I can say ‘you really don’t get my story’, like I just have, the advice loses some of its (very necessary) steam.

    1. Forget the world outside the ivory tower... says:

      @Forget the world outside the ivory tower... …try getting into a PhD program without summer research/etc. on your CV

  • GS '13 says:

    @GS '13 If you want any hope of working in your intended field post-graduation, you best have some experience in it. It’s too much of a risk to hire someone full time who has little to no experience. If you really don’t want to work an internship in a field that you’re interested in, then at the very least take it on during the school year. Seriously, most of us have no class on Fridays. If you do, please re-evaluate your course selection.

    Also, working in an internship can tell you whether or not a chosen field is for you. I held off on working in a lab until last summer (had 2 summers as a backpacking trip leader at Jew camp in the meantime), and only did it because I felt obligated to do it as a pre-med. I had no interest in biological lab work, or so I thought. Then I found a position at UBC (Vancouver) doing microbiology work in a neuroscience lab, and now I realize that I was stupid to avoid it. I want more practical research experience, to the extent that it’s more likely I’ll go for the PhD rather than the MD.

    You like finance? Get an internship. You like medicine? Get an internship. You like science? Get an internship.

    Now, while you’re still in college, is the time. No one wants to have graduated and have to do unpaid work to gain practical work experience in their field………

    1. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous “It’s too much of a risk to hire someone full time who has little to no experience.”

      That’s such an obvious point that I never realized before. Great one liner for people who complain about internships or older relatives who don’t know what they are. Thanks!

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous Forget whether or not it’s good, preprofessionally, to do nothing all summer. I honestly can’t see the allure of loafing around for 3-4 months. Sounds awful. 

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous Every time you pat yourself on the back for getting into Columbia… God kills a kitten.

    1. Anonymooose says:

      @Anonymooose If you don’t work your ass off once you’re at Columbia, there’s really no point of you being here. You’re just wasting your potential.

  • CC'13 says:

    @CC'13 yeah, service jobs are “easy, low stress alternatives” to internships…have you ever actually had one?

    1. Also CC '13 says:

      @Also CC '13 From someone who’s had both service jobs and professional internships, yes, service jobs are easy and low-stress compared to the kind of internships most Columbia students get. Service jobs can definitely be monotonous, tedious, and stressful (particularly with all the COMPLETE LUNATICS that everyone inevitably ends up dealing with), but it’s a completely different, and, well, less stressful kind of stress. At a service job you don’t really have to worry about how well you’re doing it. Impressing your boss isn’t going to get you a letter to law school. All you have to do is show up, do your job in a reasonably competent manner, and get paid. There’s no stress about who to ask for recs, whether you’re doing as well as the last intern, and whether this is going to make or break your entire future.

      1. CC'13 says:

        @CC'13 I’ve also had both service jobs and internships, and I see your point, but I still don’t totally agree. When I do a job, I fucking do it and do it well, I don’t treat them solely as sources for recommendations. Also, service work was a period in my life, I had multiple jobs–I DID need the recommendations of previous employers. The job climate is crazy, even in service I knew I needed to bust my ass because if I didn’t work hard enough, there was someone else who would.

        Also, I think it’s that kind of mentality, that blue collar jobs are easier than white collar ones (as much as I hate to phrase it that way) that leads to the holier-than-thou attitude that’s so rampant at places like Columbia. My coworkers when I had those jobs were adults, who would most likely be working in service their whole lives. And that work is stressful and difficult, customers getting in your face, getting on your hands and knees to scrub the floor, moving heavy stock. That kind of labor is emotional and physical. And because we don’t value that work as highly, they got paid shit, and most of them had to work two jobs. At least lawyers get to sit down while they work.

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous Do language immersion. They’re chill but also useful.

    1. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous Useful, but I wouldn’t agree it’s chill. It’s stressful and you feel trapped inside a child’s ability to understand/speak a language. Otherwise known as the immigrant experience.

  • this is sick says:

    @this is sick Drinking and driving kills people, thats not funny at all. fuk urself

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