Section: Opinion

Summer internships: a tragic love story

By Annie Sheslow

It embarrasses me to admit how many times I have re-imagined my life as a romantic comedy. I daydream about my hip media job in some well-lit, colorful, impeccably decorated office. I replace my actual character flaws like forgetfulness or passive aggression with cute imperfections that would prevent me from finding Mr. Right, such as the fact that I just care about all my friends so much that I never have time for romance.

Only recently, however, did I actually experience an authentic romcom feeling when I was stood up three times by internship phone interviews. Through my groveling, brown-nosing emails, I believed I had entered into a holy contract with my potential employers. I figured they were committed to calling me from their New York office at 4 p.m. one Friday,  til death do us part! I put on a pencil skirt, stood in a power stance I learned from a TED Talk about the power of body language and stared obsessively at my silent phone. At 4:20 p.m., I realized I had been jilted — a fate normally reserved for the true-love-obstructing rebound a heroine turns to after arguing with her soul mate.

To paraphrase a quote from nearly every unlucky-in-love romcom protagonist, this is not how I imagined my entrance into adult life going. Desperate for even a hint of a plan for this summer, I pounced on the invitation to a phone interview. In romantic comedy terms, I misread the signals and leaned in for a kiss, only to be snubbed by a stubbly, handsome cheek.

I understand that by applying for unpaid internships, I place myself at the mercy of coffee-charged administrators looking for someone polite enough to stuff envelopes and take lunch orders. I realize I am a hungry alley cat of the job market following the sweet smell of networking promises on the breeze. As the near bottom of the employment food chain, a little respect could go a long way. Having to sell your worth to potential employers with the zeal of the next OxiClean spokesperson is awkward enough without having to fight for common courtesy.

Especially when applying to big name internships where applications slide off the crowded desks of overworked assistants, I find the balancing act between humility and confidence nearly impossible. How do I boast my way into a position only to sheepishly remind employers they’ve forgotten about me?

I know the cushy warmth of a Kenyon professor’s email is not representative of the harsh “Sent from my iPhone” bracing efficiency of the real world. I don’t expect similar encouraging vibes from potential employers, though I do welcome compliments about the soothing sounds of my phone articulation, or praise of my impressive typing rate of 77 words per minute.

All I ask is that internship coordinators give me the illusion that I am a valuable, paid member of their organization. Even though I know my importance as an intern will be a lie, I need to believe it — my poor, delicate heart just can’t take another trip down the aisle. is weary of giving me away, and the CDO is running out of funds for the chocolate fountain at the reception. Someday, my Tonight Show internship in shining armor will rescue me from this horror and we will ride away on a white steed all the way to Studio 6B. Until then, I guess I’ll be wishing at stars and sighing at hopeful Taylor Swift songs like the rest of us.

Annie Sheslow ’15 is an English major from Wilmington, De. She can be reached at


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