If you’re reading a blog post about internships, you might be interested in getting one. If that’s the case,, the biggest thing I have learned is that it is best to take initiative as early as possible. Santa Clara is located right in the heart of silicon valley. As a result, we have all kinds of great companies who come to campus. I remember as a first year Google came to campus and had a presentation specifically for first year undergraduates where they showed us what we could do over the next couple of years to make ourselves competitive candidates for internships. This doesn’t mean you have to go to every event, and base your life around getting an internship. Instead, keep your eyes out for opportunities to learn more about the things you are interested in, since after all that is what college, and internships, are all about. Internships are an opportunity for you to determine if a career path is right for you.
I have found work after each summer of my Santa Clara career thus far. For the positions I held after my first year and sophomore year, I found both positions at the Santa Clara career fair (if you think going to the career fair as a first year is silly you might want to reconsider. I got a job and my friend who I went with is interning at Apple this summer). The first was teaching java at iD tech camps over the summer. Here I found that I loved teaching, but wasn’t very good at managing kids. The next summer I worked as a business analyst intern at Cisco. I found that I really enjoyed using software and software based tools to solve business cases. But often found my myself wondering how these technologies worked and realized that I was more interested in the technology itself. In both cases, I gained valuable skills and learned more about myself.
Having a jesuit education means reflecting on what these experiences meant to me. If I just threw them on my resume and said forget about it, then my Santa Clara education would have failed me. Instead, it forced me to ask what these experiences told me about myself, and about the next steps I wanted to take. For me, this meant realizing that I wanted to be on the more technical side of things. I worked to get a Software Engineering internship, and sent in over a hundred applications for such positions. I got denied and ghosted from over 80% of the places I applied to, but in the end I was able to get a Software Engineering internship at amazon. Moral of the story there is that when you apply to internships, you are going to get rejected at least once. I learned that rejection doesn’t mean that I’m not smart enough or good enough, it just means that the position wasn’t the right fit, and that's okay.
If you are in the humanities and thinking, “ok great, but you’re in computer science, silicon valley is all tech and business internships so…” then I have a story for you. Last summer, while I was riding the high of having my fancy tech internship, I ended up talking with this girl who was a communication major at Santa Clara. She explained that she was working at ebay and how it was super fun. She then proceeded to tell me how much she was making working a job where the main project she was working on involved building an exhibit at LegoLand and I was thrown into a bucket of hubris as I realized that she made more than I did. What I took from this is that regardless of what you study, it is important to know that companies will recognize and honor your value as an employee and provide you with compensation and valuable work experience.
TL;DR Internships are useful for discerning your career path, no matter what your major is. Getting them can be hard, and everyone hits a wall at some point, but they all come out of it ok. If you really really want one, take the initiative and good things will come your way, eventually.
Ryan Lund is a Student Ambassador at Santa Clara University, class of 2020. Learn more about him and his involvements, along with the rest of our student ambassadors, here.