Ninety-nine rejections and a single success: NU students share about their summer internships


Daily file illustration by Catherine Buchaniec

Finding an internship proved difficult for many students.

Megija Medne, Reporter

Kenny Davis, a Medill junior, said her journey to finding a summer internship was challenging. 

A seemingly endless amount of applications, numerous rejections, and postponed extracurricular pursuits describe her sophomore winter and spring quarters, she said. 

After being rejected from 99 internships, this summer, she said she is working remotely as a social media intern for the American Marketing Association. Davis helps AMA with their collegiate chapter, organizes social media posts, works with designs and learns to copywrite. 

“This is one of the first jobs that I’ve had where it doesn’t feel like a job because of how much I enjoy it and how much creative writing they give me,” she said. 

Davis, who began the application process in early January, described it as a discouraging time. She wasn’t alone in that feeling.

According to the National Survey of College Internships, only 21.5% out of 12,130 surveyed students reported taking an internship in 2021. And finding an internship this summer proved difficult for some Northwestern students.

Davis said she did not think she was going to end up with an internship for the summer. Davis said she did not have many hard skills she could put on her resume, especially since she did not have prior internship experience. 

Yet, she believes her nonacademic skills helped her land this opportunity. 

“Outside of Northwestern, I do a lot of content creation for my own personal branding reasons,” Davis said. “The way that I conveyed those experiences within the application process helped a lot because it showed that I know how to work with people.” 

While receiving multiple rejection letters was draining, she said her advice to students seeking internships is to keep trying regardless. 

“If I had stopped after I got my first 10 rejections, I would not have gotten the internship that I have now,” Davis said. 

Angela Guan, a McCormick and Bienen sophomore, has similar suggestions when it comes to finding an internship. 

She said the most important thing is to take “baby steps.” 

I told myself it’s easier if I inch my way up to the dream career I want instead of trying to make a huge leap,” Guan said. 

Guan is doing an engineering co-op for Hollister Inc., a healthcare company headquartered in Libertyville, Illinois. 

Guan is part of the manufacturing team at an engineering co-op for Hollister Inc., which makes items including medical pouches and catheters. Their goal is to make the production process shorter to allow the company to save money in the long run.

Guan said she feels lucky to have her internship, saying she got rejected “so many times.”

While applying to internships online might seem easier, Guam said she often would not receive any response to her applications. 

While Guam described her schedule as busier during the summer than it was during the academic year, the experience is very valuable for her. 

“In class, sometimes I wonder what I am going to do with this,” she said. “When I am working in an internship, I can see exactly what this is for.”

Real-life work experience is the goal that drives many students to seek summer internships. Brooke Scott, a sophomore majoring in radio/television/film studies, said working for LOOK Cinemas this summer allows her to gain a new set of skills. 

“At Northwestern, I feel like I am very much centered around the artistic side of film production,” said Scott. “I really didn’t know about the business side of the film industry.” 

Scott’s responsibilities include programming the daily show times, planning which movies to screen and working on box office predictions. She said her internship was worth the struggle, but Scott is not looking forward to go through the same application process next year. 

She recommends starting with smaller local companies that could provide a more personal environment. 

“A lot of people want to try to go for big production companies like Warner Bros. or Disney, but there’s a million other kids around the country also applying for those,” Scott said.

While the pressure of finding a summer internship is often present among NU students, Scott said the belief that “your last summer freedom is the summer before you go into college” is not necessarily true. 

“I didn’t realize how many upperclassmen hadn’t got summer internships,” said Scott. 

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Twitter: @_megija

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