May 5th, 2023, 09:00 AM

Is Nepotism the Key for Landing Internships?

By Ayah Shayeb
AUP students share their thoughts on whether internships are given based on skill, connection or pure luck.

Ahhhhh. It's the most wonderful time of the year!

No, not Christmas, don’t get your hopes up; it's internship season.

Around this time of the semester, students are searching for and applying to internships far and wide. Whether as a university requirement, a chance for entry level experience or as something college students can add onto their CVs, the demand for internships has always been high. 

It's not the lack of internships that is the issue, on the contrary, there are so many available positions to apply to that the options seem endless and you think you’re bound to land at least 1 out of the 30 you applied for. The problem at hand is whether you actually land one of those positions; that's where the question of how one lands a interview position can be raised. 

The debate of the internship search lies in whether having connections, talent or a mix of both will allow you to secure an internship.

“Connections are always good,” said Olesksii Holubar, a first year student at AUP, ending the statement there and refusing to add more. 

In some circumstances, obtaining an internship can be made significantly easier by having a strong network of contacts in a particular industry. Students who have established relationships with companies through networking events, parental connections or additional opportunities have advantages when applying for internships.

“From personal experience, I have landed positions in internships through familial connections that I believe I would not have otherwise necessarily been chosen for,” said Fanny Tluszcz, a senior at AUP who has had internship positions multiple times before. 

Alejandra Plasencia, also a senior at AUP states: “I think it's a much easier path to receive internships if you have the right connections within the industry in general.”

Many students believe that nepotism plays a large role in landing specific internships: “You’re more likely to be chosen with these nepotistic ties over someone who may be just as qualified; maybe even more so than you are,” added Plasencia.

There are instances where students will use their familial ties to acquire roles without putting any effort into their resumes, portfolios or interviews. This can leave students with a lack of connections feeling defeated in their chances of landing an internship, despite any hard work or effort they put into it.

While it may appear as such, internships aren't always based merely on connections. Employers also prefer interns who possess the knowledge and credentials necessary to successfully carry out their job tasks. 

“I think connections definitely help, but when it comes to an internship that's creative, it requires a portfolio of what you can provide in that position. Your work will then speak for itself and that's when connections won’t really matter anymore. I got an internship this past fall without any connections involved. I simply had an interview and sent them my CV,” said Yasmeen Roundtree, an AUP senior.

Candidates for internships can prove more competitive if they have fitting coursework or experience, such as involvement in extracurricular activities or relevant work experience. Additionally, internships can give students the chance to develop their skills and acquire crucial experience, both of which can open up more job opportunities in the future. 

Other students believe internships are based on luck and skill. AUP senior Olivia Rouse found herself "being incredibly lucky when it comes to internships”.

“I had someone reach out with an opportunity and I said yes and went ahead and pursued it. It ended up working out for me! So I always just try, apply, and what's meant for you will work out.”

Despite the fact that it might appear that there are many internship openings, it can still be challenging to get an spot for a number of reasons. On one hand, there can be a lot of competition among students for a small number of jobs, especially in high-demand fields like finance, tech or media. Given the intense competition, it may be difficult for students to stand out and land an internship.

Omar Turk and Caleb Stangl, AUP's junior and senior respectively, give the perspectives of both worlds, factoring in both luck, skill and connections.

“I think it depends, because you can apply and find internships anywhere. However, for the higher quality internships, you need the connections. Luck does play a role as well. Being in the right place at the right time makes a difference. Putting yourself out there makes a difference,” Turk said.

He goes as far as stating that, “You don't necessarily need a degree as long as you know what the market needs. You’ll make money and get the position if you’ve got it in you.”

Stangl continues by expressing how important connections are for the heavily sought after positions, inputting the luck factor. 

“I think connections are critical to obtaining an internship in a more desirable field of work. Other internships that are not as sought after are achieved more through luck than pure skill because internships are usually with an organization that requires a recommendation letter that typically comes from someone already connected with the company or organization.”

Additionally, some internships may have specific prerequisites or requirements, which increases competition and makes them harder to get. Candidates who have already finished relevant courses, have displayed certain skills through extracurricular activities, or have prior internship or work experience in the industry may receive preference from employers.

While landing an internship has been a struggle for many students who put in constant work in applying, there is also the undertone of skills that must be present to be accepted in any position. 

Do not let the objective of internships relying on connections discourage you from applying to a position you know you will be fit for. Maybe you’ll be lucky, or a certain skill set will catch that one organization’s eye. It’ll be hard, but it won’t be impossible.

So, good luck with internship season folks! May the odds be ever in your favor.