Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

Normalize alternatives to summer internships

Avery Thorpe

As my freshman year ended, several of my peers hurried to apply for summer internships. Having spent the spring as a legislative aide at the Texas Senate, I avoided these efforts, believing the previous semester’s opportunity had provided ample and invaluable experience. But when people learned I had not yet found a summer internship, their reaction included a degree of disapproval that was difficult to overcome. 

Amidst the flurry of activity, I also felt pressured to seek a summer employment opportunity. I intensified my search and eventually settled on a tutoring stint. While the role was unrelated to my major or pre-law aspirations, I agreed to the position since it paid well and conformed to others’ expectations. 

Although the gig proved functional, I couldn’t help but feel that another outlet might have made better use of my time. But changing roles midway through the summer — or worse, quitting entirely — felt even more unfathomable. So, although tutoring wasn’t my first choice or of much additive value, I dug in my heels to fit in with the crowd. 

Two semesters later, and with summer again on the horizon, I have resolved to take a different approach. Rather than treating a generic summer internship as an obligation, I plan to prioritize activities directly related to my desired career in law. 

This includes studying for the LSAT by working through preparatory books and consulting with peers and resources to prepare for test day. I will simultaneously expand my search beyond summer internships and explore alternative avenues such as legal fellowships, paralegal certifications and independent or guided research. 

Often, university life instills in college students the notion that they must find a summer internship to remain productive citizens and competitive job seekers. I, too, fell victim to this misperception. Yet automatically prioritizing a summer internship can preclude us from taking advantage of career-specific opportunities that might offer greater professional benefits. 

“People are really persistent with finding an internship, and that may have become their only focus,” said economics junior Priyansh Dhandha. “With that comes the trade-off of not realizing that there might be alternatives that exist in the form of research, doing some form of volunteering or attending speaker talks just to get a feel for what the industry might be like before even entering.”

That’s not to say that summer internships aren’t worthwhile. For certain majors, these internships can build field-specific skills that would only come from direct experience. They also have the potential to feed into well-paying jobs immediately after graduation. 

“In my case (with) economics, it’s really important to get some type of work experience,” said economics junior Peter Malapira. “It’s not the end all be all, but I think it’s super important. But for healthcare (and) sciences, getting experience and research could also be beneficial.”

Not every avenue necessarily requires a summer internship. Before committing to one, we must carefully evaluate whether a summer internship adds value to our unique trajectories. If the answer is ‘no,’ don’t be afraid to pursue a more applicable and less conventional endeavor this summer. Since no two paths are identical, tailor your approach to your personalized goals. 

Ultimately, our activities over the summer need not conform to people’s cookie-cutter expectations. By elevating extracurriculars of personal value, we can break free of the unconditional fixation on summer internships and better equip ourselves for individual career pathways.  

“Moving in with an open mindset of exploring new avenues can lead to a more holistic development and give you a wider field of view  on the road that lies ahead,” Dhandha said. 

Gokhale is a finance sophomore from Allen, Texas.

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About the Contributor
Mihir Gokhale, Associate Opinion Editor
Mihir Gokhale is a second-year student from Allen, Texas majoring in finance and minoring in economics and government. He currently serves as an Associate Opinion Editor and was previously the Texan's Associate Managing Editor.