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Put on the pin stripes (May 1998)

I had hardly been on campus long enough to unpack the laundry that I washed over Christmas break when my roommate, with the look of a true believer in his eyes, asked “So what are you gonna do about a summer internship?” Before I had a chance to answer, I broke into a cold sweat. Then I mumbled something about being ahead of the game because I had already purchased an interview suit this past summer. My roommate, who had spent his entire break writing and rewriting his résumé, looked decidedly unimpressed and then motioned to his closet, which contained at least two bona fide, Brooks Brothers, blue-pinstripe, give-me-a-job-please suits.

Early January marks not only the beginning of the incorrectly-named spring semester, it also signals the beginning of what I like to call internship season. Like fishing season or hunting season, internship season is a yearly phenomenon. It descends upon campus in the early winter and does not end until the end of April or early May, when employers hire their summer interns. During this time undergraduates are busy trying to secure a summer internship—as Malcolm X might have put it—“by any means necessary.”

The simplest way to go about finding an internship is to visit the Undergraduate Career Services office. UCS is a one-stop internship superstore. There students can learn how to write a better résumé and schedule interviews. They can also search through big red binders full of information considered so valuable that each page has an electronic sensor pasted to it—so that like a pair of jeans at the Gap, the pages will set off an alarm if they are removed from the room.

While all of this is convenient, UCS does have its drawbacks. For one, every internship-hunting student looks the same during interviews under UCS’s fluorescent lights. Also, applying through conventional channels like UCS denies the applicant the chance to work any angles. If there is one thing I have learned in my three summer internship searches while a Yale student, it is that Yalies like to work angles.

This strategy comes in a number of styles, though the most common are to ask a friendly professor to help or to write all the people your parents ever worked with or met at a cocktail party. I’m pretty sure that a scientific study would indicate that the use of this approach to internship hunting has increased directly in proportion to the number of computers on campus.

By now, internship season, along with flu season, has faded from campus. Happily, my friends and I all ended up with something to do this summer. Unfortunately, there is precious little time left to recover from internship season before I put on that pin-striped suit, start the internship itself, and get a sneak peek at the rest of my life.

Sandy Christopher ’99, a junior in Morse College, will be an intern at Time magazine this summer.

Filed under 1990s
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