Laura Houser

It’s the first week of April, and with less than four weeks of class left in the semester, and I’m beginning to panic.

As of now, I do not have an internship for the summer. I am a sophomore so I am chasing my first – a precarious and nerve-wracking position that is currently wreaking havoc on my state of mind.

I’ve made the calls, done the research, but still nothing. And I’m beginning to panic in fear that nothing will ever come. I fear that this summer will arrive and I will still be unemployed or at least lacking a position that I’d be willing to brag about in the newsroom.

The idea of internships has always held a certain aura of collegiate success. They are what we unskilled masses aspire to, the opportunity to use those long hours spent in lecture chasing down coffee and making copies. We’ve all heard the schpeel – internships better our chances of finding employment after graduation, especially in highly competitive fields such as, well, journalism.

Of course, I’ve worried long hours over my “perfect” internship – a pretty pie in the sky that involved a new wardrobe and an outlet for my anxious fingers, just jumping at the chance to write. However, the past few weeks have shattered that illusion. No, more than that. The past few weeks have taken a club to my dreams, leaving them to whimper in a bloodied pulp in a back room.

I can’t find one. Either I’m behind or completely inadequate. It’s probably the former, but for all accounts it’s beginning to have the effect of the latter. I can’t wait for classes to end, but the summer brings foreboding, white hot fear and a reality that I just don’t want to face.

I once had the opportunity to complete an internship – in high school, too. Despite my alma mater’s isolated location among the rolling cornfields of southwestern Ohio, there was an internship program that was apparently pretty reputable. As a junior, I was pumped. I applied, bought a power suit and interviewed with the director of the program – a happy woman who was really, really nice – the kind of woman who makes the outside world also seem really, really nice. She liked my power suit though. I took it as a sign.

A few weeks later, I received my letter of acceptance yet was faced with another conundrum. With senior registration around the corner, and my schedule packed with AP classes and soccer, it looked like an internship wasn’t going to fit. But I brushed it off. More time for those iconic senior classes like drawing and study hall, right? I was simple, sheltered, naive … and an idiot.

Now, nearly three years after I made that decision, I’m still kicking myself. Why, why, why!? Three questions I frequently ask myself in enraged moments of self-doubt. But I guess the milk has been spilt so long ago, and there really is no use weeping anymore. I’ve got bigger fish to fry – like my shaky plans for this summer. And all cheesy food idioms aside, mulling over the past will get me nowhere.

So I’m taking care of my backups. This past weekend I put in an application to Border’s (an absurdly long online process, if I may say so myself) as well as making a third attempt at Barnes & Noble. And yes, I said three times. Don’t judge. The excellent skills that I have picked up at King Library will likely go unheeded as well, with local libraries turning me away left and right. I swear, for an English major, I think I have literary leprosy.

I like to blame everything on Greenfield Plant Farm – a quaint establishment that has called me a faithful employee for the past four summers. I was the queen of the water hose, worked with pretty flowers and was the best of friends with all the staff who also worked at the small, privately owned yet successful nursery tucked away in a picturesque country corner.

As a model of a dedicated employee, I was a star student. Yet what good are flowers for an aspiring writer? I didn’t even have to talk to anyone, hidden as I was among the daylilies and rosebushes. I love Greenfield Plant Farm, yet it has marked me for life. What good am I as a newspaper intern with lowers in my employment history?

I don’t know much about other kinds of internships, but I hope that it’s like this for others as well. I hope. Otherwise, I’d feel awfully silly. It’s hard to go back, though, and figure out what I did wrong. I took all the classes, got the grades, became an editor at The Student. But that lady from high school was wrong. The world isn’t really, really nice. I’m finding that I’m lucky if the world nods in my direction.

Freshman bliss was a blur and now even sophomore slump has passed me by. This fall I will be a junior in college, a fact that I can barely wrap my head around. Deep down, I know my mom is probably right – I’m doing fine. I’ll survive. If the dream job doesn’t fall into my lap this summer, I guess there’s always next year.

And I guess, if worst comes to worst, I can always go back to Greenfield Plant Farm.

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