I got in quite late to the summer internship game. You could see people scrambling for CV clinics and after-hours dinners with associates desperately trying to get that business card to use on their applications. The whole process seemed quite inhuman – a game that was constantly being played between graduate recruiters and students that weren’t really sure what they were getting themselves into. The promise of quick money, security and a lifestyle to match was dangled like a carrot in every presentation I went to.
And then I would walk out and see other students protesting about the real state of affairs: the falling pay of lecturers, the lack of a minimum wage for low paid staff and food banks becoming more prevalent in the surrounding areas. It created a terrible inner-turmoil.
I am not a particularly empathetic person, although I am trying harder to listen. It’s easy to get sucked in by false promises and fancy titles. Even being at Warwick is drastically different to what I expected and it looks nothing like the prospectus. I am no fool. I wasn’t expecting miracles, but maybe I was looking for something that would make more of an impact, especially when the world for many of us is just beginning. Are the next 10 years of my life just about setting up the next 30? Would I really be brave enough to go against the tide of things, to really push myself to take a risk?
The short answer is no. A frankly honest and emphatic no. The truth is, the reason that many of us feel the need to source and strive for these opportunities so early on in our lives, is for the very real fear that we could end of with nothing. After spending all of this money, the countless hours putting together essays and assignments, as well as the constant struggle that is dealing with one of the most emotionally fragile periods of our lives…we could go back home to our loved ones “supposedly” empty handed. Progression can be a positive step in the right direction, but a shackle around the ankle if we don’t climb high enough.
And the world is just waiting to drag us down. You don’t have to stare at your phone for long to see how difficult life is for other people that you have never met. Dodging ignorance and explosives at every turn, in the most remote parts of the world, just to get into school praying that it isn’t targeted by a militia. Education is not a struggle for us. We are the privileged ones. The overachievers. We don’t get things wrong or make the wrong call. We do better than our friends, and achieve more than our parents because of their sacrifice. And still, we complain that the world isn’t big enough – that another firm rejected us, or we simply couldn’t secure the job we wanted.
I am spoilt. As are many of you. I was very fortunate, after much effort, to be able to secure a placement for this year – I am so grateful that I played the game and won. An achievement that I did not think I could realistically get to. But I haven’t forgotten the struggle or the understanding that it was a challenge. A part of me is extremely frightened of going into the world of work – the idea of actually stepping into the next stage of life.
Though I know one thing for sure. That there is more to life than a job. And a career is built around the people that benefit from your generosity and not the other way around. It seems the richer you get, the less you value the wealth you actually have – because you forget what richness is. Spend 10 or 12 weeks living in that flat, making your mark on wherever you are going and really push yourself to succeed.
But realise that real success is giving back. And when you finally have the power in your hands, don’t keep it all to yourself. Share it. Never forget how lucky you really are.