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Students share thoughts on finding internships, balancing coursework at U.

As coursework becomes more rigorous later in college, it can be difficult to balance an internship with classes, some students say. – Photo by Luke Southern / Unsplash

As the University enters its third week of the semester, some students are now pursuing internships to complement their academic repertoire. Three upperclassmen shared their experiences navigating their internship searches with their course schedules. 

Reem Esseghir, a School of Arts and Sciences senior, is in the BA/MD joint-degree program and conducts research through the Aresty Research Center. She said that trying to find a research position was difficult.

“It was really hard,” she said. “(In my first year), because everything was remote, I didn’t know what research was ... so I didn't get to applying until my sophomore year.”

Esseghir said that prior to applying, she volunteered at a lab to build her skill set and determine whether she was truly interested in research. She thinks that STEM students particularly face toxic forms of competition when it comes to internships and research.

“(STEM students are) always doing a million things,” Esseghir said. “If you look at their schedules, everyone is always trying to get straight As in the hardest classes but also trying to maintain some sort of volunteering, some sort of research, some sort of extracurricular work ... It’s all incredibly cutthroat and competitive.”

Haya Siddiqui, a School of Arts and Sciences junior, is majoring in public health. While she does not have an internship currently, she said she knows that she will need one eventually as a requirement to receive her degree.

“It’s part of the requirements as a public health major to do an internship your senior year in a public health setting,” Siddiqui said. “So, I’m thinking of doing something that overlaps with both.”

She said she feels a lot of pressure to find an internship when it is constantly spoken about by those around her. She would like to have a better balance between thinking about school and internships to avoid over-exerting herself.

Siddiqui said searching for an internship position has been more difficult than anticipated, particularly because she feels there is a lack of guidance from the University on the matter.

“It’s hard to find something ... that you want that fits the criteria you need,” she said. “It’s kind of disheartening when it takes a while, but ... eventually you will find something.”

Fatima Akhtar, a School of Engineering junior, is looking into research in gene therapy or prosthetics as her future career. She said she is currently applying to internships to help her achieve these goals down the line.

Akhtar said the process of seeking an internship has not disrupted her coursework because she allocates time in her day to dedicate to job searching.

“I have found a good deal of internships, and I am applying,” she said. “I actually haven’t done any internships yet, but I’m looking forward to doing my first one.”

Though, Akhtar also said that she sometimes finds it difficult to have confidence that she will feel prepared to enter the workforce after college. She said that since her coursework has become more rigorous as a junior, she is struggling to feel ready to add an internship into the mix.

Despite the struggle, Akhtar said she would tell her younger self not to stress out excessively and that she knows she will eventually get the hang of it.

“Now, I think back and say, ‘Why was I so stressed?’” she said. "Because this time goes by, naturally you prepare better, you have a better environment ... You get a better adjustment of it.”

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