Even at the best of times, looking for an internship is hard work. In a competitive market, the search inevitably contains some rejection – and a great deal of uncertainty as often, recruiters won’t even inform you if you’ve been rejected. Managing your mental health whilst on the hunt doesn’t just mean looking after yourself – it also boosts your chances of landing the dream internship. After all, you need to approach every interview with positivity and energy to leave a good impression.
Here are seven pillars of maintaining good mental health throughout your internship hunt, from personal to professional tips. Read on to make the internship of your dreams a reality.
Give yourself a schedule
Building a schedule can have a profound impact on your productivity, motivation and correspondingly your mental wellbeing whilst you’re engaged in the internship hunt. Don’t make it 24/7, but rather carve out parts of your day for concentrated energy on applications. For example, build a morning routine around a heavy breakfast, CV tweaking and firing off applications.
Set expectations and goals
Writing down your goals – for example, to apply for three internships on a given day – gives you a physical record of what you’ve achieved. Even if you don’t hear back from these employers, the hard work wasn’t for nothing. It can also show you how your CV is changing over time, as you add additional skills you’re gaining at university.
Set your standards
Just because somewhere is hiring, it doesn’t mean you have to apply. The pressure to land an internship – any internship – can grow exponentially whilst you’re at university, sometimes because friends and housemates might be applying for them. This can lead to a scattershot approach, applying endlessly to roles for which you’re barely qualified, or interested in.
Set yourself a high standard for the internships you’re applying to – roles that fit your skills and interests. Every application will teach you more about the process of landing your dream internship, and you’ll limit the rejections by only applying for roles you’re genuinely qualified for.
Make time for self-care
With all the focus going onto your professional life, it’s easy to lose sight of your personal needs. Self-care is essential for recharging your mind, preventing you from hitting burnout in the midst of a hectic university schedule. Self-care shouldn’t just be about optimising your mind for the internship hunt, it should also be an escape from those pressures.
Demarcate time for self-care in your schedule and indulge in a way that suits you. From hill-running to having a drink with friends, make the most of the me time.
Reach out for help
In this life, there isn’t anything we should have to go through alone. In the professional sphere there are many recruiters and careers counsellors who have themselves made a career out of supporting those searching for roles.
“On an individual level, personal connections are often invaluable in accessing job opportunities not widely advertised,” says Allan MacGregor, a business blogger and editor at Ukwritings and Revieweal. “Start networking across your local and digital networks – you never know what might come up. These individuals can be valuable for helping you find new openings, but also as an outlet for venting your thoughts and feelings.”
Gather feedback from recruiters
Our overworked brains need answers – and when they don’t get answers, they make them up. When you’re rejected for an internship, it’s easy to start spiralling into negative thoughts such as “Maybe I’m just not good enough”. However, more often than not, the reason you failed to get a role turns out to be logistical or about the strength of other candidates rather than your weaknesses.
Get as much feedback from recruiters as you can – not only will it stop your mind from imagining worst-case-scenarios but it can also provide you with key information needed to grow as a candidate, and maybe even secure the next internship that comes around.
Don’t lose sight of who you are
When you’re searching for an internship, the hunt can quickly become all encompassing, but expending all your energy on something where failure and rejection are in-built can be demoralising. Finding other outlets and activities is vital to help you keep a positive outlet, maintaining your identity even in the face of challenges.
Volunteering is another valuable way of spending your time, and can also bolster your CV and help you build new skills whilst you’re searching for your perfect internship. Never lose sight of who you are.
Let’s go to work!
Good mental health is a launching pad for everything else in life. Once you find the confidence and enthusiasm that comes with self-love, you’ll be strutting into interviews ready to leave an impression. And a positive attitude helps you keep on applying, even when it seems like all hope is lost. From self-care to schedule planning, we hope these tips help you land your dream internship – and to look after yourself in the meantime.
Elizabeth Hines has worked as an online recruiter for high profile corporations, before going freelance and pursuing a degree in counselling and creative writing. You can read more of her work at Simple Grad.