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Voices_SummerInternships_NazeefaAhmed
Graphic by Nazeefa Ahmed

The struggle of finding a summer internship as a student in Calgary

By Marvellous Chukwukelu, May 2 2024—

I sent out my first application for a summer 2024 internship in early October last year. In the seven months since then, I have learnt and created projects in four new programming languages, joined two more job sites, and sent out a staggering 478 applications for an internship  — a number only eclipsed by the number of part-time jobs I applied to before getting my current role. The situation above is the reality a lot of students have found themselves in while looking for an internship this year. 

Looking for an internship offers no breaks. Positions close almost as quickly as they open and, if you get into the habit of waiting too long, you will often find the door shut before you even have the chance to apply. This means that for many students, finding an internship is not just about figuring out what position is right for them but also about finding a way to balance their regular coursework with the hours that finding the right position demands. At first glance, it might seem obvious which way they should lean. After all, it is very reasonable to assume that a university student should always prioritize their schoolwork. However, as the job market gets increasingly competitive, more companies now prefer to emphasize technical experience over formal education. This means that while a minimum GPA may still be present as a benchmark, experiences like internships and co-ops have become the best way to stand out among a sea of applicants. 

Most internship offers are sent out in late February and during the month of March. This means that for most students who are actively seeking internships, their LinkedIn feeds and Discord groups are flooded with the news of others who have received offers. For many, this period represents hope as it gives them some sort of reassurance that their own opportunity is just around the corner. For some, this does come to pass.

 However, for the many people who find themselves unsuccessful at this stage, a certain kind of desperation starts to set in. For me, that happened towards the end of March when I realized that the number of search results I was getting was far less than what I had become accustomed to over the last few months. That sudden realization put me into overdrive. Rather than trying to get roles that aligned with my potential career interests, it suddenly became a game of throwing everything against the wall to see if anything sticks.

As someone who has been applying for one position or the other since January of 2023, I can tell you that it is exhausting. Yet, that exhaustion doesn’t quite cover the far-reaching mental effects of such an extended job search. As days morph into weeks and months, students who are yet to be successful in their search face heightened levels of stress and anxiety. Rejection after rejection also takes a toll on their self-esteem. This burden is compounded by the fact that they are still students who have to juggle demanding academic coursework with their search. The pressure can be overwhelming and for many, may result in depression.

To those who have secured an internship for the summer, congratulations! Your hard work has gotten you here and I wish you nothing but the best as you embark on your learning journey this summer. 

To those who haven’t, I know what I am about to say may sound like it is coming from a broken speaker but I assure you that this is not the end of the world. I know it feels like a significant setback but that is all it is, a setback. Don’t let this setback become a dream killer. Keep persevering and keep chasing your dream career. I know I will.


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