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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Opinion: Why is it so difficult to land an internship?

Why+is+it+so+hard+to+get+an+internship
Photo by Nick Youngson CC BY-SA 3.0 Alpha Stock Images
Why is it so hard to get an internship

Starting in March of last year, I applied for over 70 summer internship openings around the country.
I landed zero of them.
Could it be I botched my interviews, didn’t meet the specific job requirements or wasn’t as qualified as other applicants? Maybe. However, I have another theory. Indeed, HireAggies, LinkedIn, Google and playing email roulette with employers doesn’t work.
I say this because 77% of employers are using job aggregators to post openings, according to Smartjobboard. In stark contrast to the labor market’s strong reliance on online job aggregators, another survey showed 85% of job seekers found their most recent job via networking.
It’s quite obvious that the methods and systems surrounding the internship application process need a dramatic makeover.
Between the all too familiar cycle of viewing job listings, tweaking your resume, writing a cover letter and figuring out different ways to respond to the copious amounts of application questions, the process can be incredibly draining. This is of course without even mentioning what has become a necessary step in application limbo: following-up.
Following up has now become commonplace for students even wanting a simple acknowledgement that an employer has received their resume.
Again, I understand this may appear as some Generation Z tirade who hasn’t yet ‘earned his chops,’ but hear me out. Most employers don’t even reach out to say that you’re being considered or that they’ve reviewed your application. If you’re lucky, you may get an automated response something along the lines of “we’ve received your application and will be in touch if we find that you are a good fit for the position.” That’s it. Unsatisfied? So am I.
I could count on two hands the number of automated emails I received last spring when applying for internships confirming my application was in the process of being reviewed. Even worse, I’m not even sure if I received more than five emails from actual people wanting to follow up!
This phenomenon is called job ghosting. That’s right, ghosting is no longer limited to the person you met at Northgate last night.
Job ghosting can be observed when an employer has posted a job listing and appears as though they’re ready to hire someone, just to back-out unannounced. In fact, job ghosting has become regular practice in the wonderful world of where internships go to die, along with your hopes of ever obtaining one.
Around early June, when it was clear I wasn’t going to be interning in Nashville or Chicago, I made peace with myself knowing that I was going to instead be living with my mother for the summer. Don’t just take it from me, according to a survey conducted by Indeed, 77% of job seekers have been ghosted by an employer.
It’s typical to apply for a summer internship role on Indeed listed as “urgently hiring” and see the same posting categorized as “still active” months after the fact. It’s not unusual for employers to hire someone and forget their job listing is still live. However, this isn’t just a problem stemming from employers’ bad habit of not reaching out to internship applicants or forgetting to remove a listing. It’s very simple: there is a missing link between employers and potential candidates. Somewhere in between the process of posting a job listing and actually hiring an intern, there is a disconnect, and it stems from our collective blind faith in online job searching tools that frankly don’t work.
When Indeed, LinkedIn and Google streamline the application process, they’re actually doing us a disservice. By taking on what used to be the responsibility of the applicant and bringing the jobs straight to us, these platforms are bypassing what has now emerged to be the most important aspect when searching for an internship. Furthermore, it’s no surprise convenience is what also makes these websites so popular.
By taking on the work of finding internship listings for you and even encouraging the use of tools like Easy Apply — which automates much of the application process — employers are overloaded with applications from far too many candidates.
Chances are if you’re seeing a listing in your feed, so are hundreds of other applicants. On one hand if the applicant is qualified, then that’s one more person you have to beat out for the position. On the other hand, if they’re unqualified, it only took them 10 minutes to apply. In either scenario, it is still another application an employer has to sort through. These websites are failing on their one promise to get you a job by advertising the same one to thousands of other people.
By submitting to the convenience of these websites, you’re allowing yourself to be lost in the wake of applications. Only making matters worse, Glassdoor reported that on average, corporate jobs receive 250 applications per opening. Of these 250 applicants, only four to six will be called for an interview.
It’s not that individuals aren’t fit for the positions they’re applying for, it’s that they can’t make it past the technology that’s claiming to aid them.
You’re sacrificing the ability to stand out in favor of submitting dozens of applications. This causes students to divert and settle for internships or summer jobs back home which is often not as promising as an internship elsewhere.
By not conducting your own research, you’re missing out on establishing a presence and making contacts at a company you might actually have a shot landing an internship with. My advice? Stop wasting your time submitting tens, if not hundreds of applications no one will actually lay eyes on. It’s an exercise in futility that leaves you with a false sense of hope.
“Surely if I applied to 50 internships on Indeed this past month I’ll at least hear back from a few.” Wrong. Stop lying to yourself and placing false hope in these platforms whose one goal is traffic. Go to the company’s respective and independent websites and apply for internships there. While you’re at it, try to find the emails of a few employees who work there. Start by saying hello and go from there. Tailoring an application to a singular company and mentioning the specific job components they offer will yield a reply more so than a run-of-the-mill Easy Apply application sent in by you and 50 others. Drop the outsourced job aggregators and start speaking with company representatives.
As crazy as it sounds, by condensing your search and spending more time on a list of fewer companies, you’ll actually have a greater chance of success, at least that’s been my experience.
Benjamin Barnes is a telecommunications junior and opinion writer for The Battalion.

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About the Contributor
Bj Barnes
Bj Barnes, Opinion Columnist
Benjamin Barnes is a Telecommunication Media Studies senior from Rochester, Indiana. Barnes' has been involved with The Battalion since his junior year and plans to start his own media group following graduation. If he's not writing, he's most likely watching a Texans game or at the gym.
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