Welcome to the real world!

The 10 Stages of Being a Summer Intern

By Alexa Campbell, Corporate Communications Intern, Publicis Health

Every year in the United States, scores of soon-to-be and/or recent college graduates get a taste of the so-called real world by going through the annual rite of passage known as the Summer Internship. Unlike typical part-time gigs that teens and 20-somethings pick up during summer break—i.e., lifeguarding, scooping ice cream, or serving food—internships at legit companies often can be make-or-break opportunities, resulting in coveted real-life work experience or even leading to real job offers.

Like all major life changes, the experience of seeking out, landing, then completing a summer internship can be a roller coaster ride. Here are the 10 stages that all interns go through on our summer internship journey.

Stage One: The Pre-Hire Thirst

Ask any young adult who’s new to the intern job market and we’ll tell you that the thirst is real. Rather than spending our free time scrolling through Facebook or Reddit, we’re on Glassdoor and Indeed, applying to random internships in random places. Because we gotta quench that thirst.

Stage Two: The Interview Nerves

Precisely when we’ve landed an interview, our brains go blank and conveniently decide to take a little break because it’s summertime, after all. Answering even the simplest, softball interview question is a struggle. Like, what’s my name again?

Stage Three: The Hire

After we’ve landed the internship, we immediately go to our LinkedIn profiles and post: “I’m so pleased to announce that I will be interning this summer at a Super-Cool Company. I’m looking forward to broadening my professional horizons and learning more about Business and Stuff.” There’s a template for this kind of humblebrag, right?

Stage Four: The First Day

Every intern on the first day of work: *Walks into the office wearing our Sunday Best because we are unaware of the company dress code and we want to be as extra as possible.*

Also every intern on the first day of work: *Walks into the office scrutinizing every other intern, checking out vital stats like which way their hair is parted, what brand of shoes they wear, and comparing their every atom to see how we stack up against each other.*

Stage Five: The Time Someone Ate Your Food

This one pretty much speaks for itself.

Stage Six: The Meeting Where You Nod Accordingly and Act as if You Know What’s Going on

Especially for interns in the fields of healthcare, financial services or pretty much any business, it seems as if old-timers like to use business-slash-office acronyms to describe virtually everything to throw us off. It’s easy to get CAWGO (confused about what’s going on.)

Stage Seven: The Time That You Face-Planted Outside of the Office on 34th Street in Midtown Manhattan

Oh wait, was that just me?

Stage Eight: The First Monday When You Just CAN’T Even

This is also the same day when we realize that waking up early on Monday mornings for a full week of work ahead isn’t just during a summer internship, it’s a glimpse into the Rest of Your Adult Working Life until retirement.

Stage Nine: That Moment When You Finally Get a Grip of What’s Going on

Channeling our inner Andrea Sachs, we’re no longer walking into meetings as apprehensive interns, but instead strutting our stuff as confident, fully contributing members of our teams. Coincidentally, the moment that we hit our stride is also the same moment when our internships are coming to a close.

Stage Ten: Denial

During the last week of the internship, we start to deny that the end is near. Partly because there’s still so much work to do before leaving, but mostly because we know our invaluable summer experience has led to tremendous personal and professional growth — and we don’t want to let go.

Whether you’re going right back to school, bumming around for a bit, or re-entering the fray and applying for a full-time job, summer internships inevitably have to come to an end. But no matter what happens outside the doors of the company where we spent a few weeks or a few months, we’ll carry with us what we learned during our summer internship for the rest of our careers.


Alexa Campbell is a 2018 Corporate Communications Intern at Publicis Health in New York. She is a rising senior at the University of South Carolina pursuing a degree in Journalism. Alexa is passionate about writing creatively, the Gamecocks, and her wiener dog, Lizzie. When she’s not at work, Alexa can be found binge-watching Queer Eye, fan-girling her favorite star, Shawn Mendes, or eating an entire pint of Ben & Jerrys in one sitting. Connect with her on LinkedIn.