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Always Read the Fine Print

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Always Read the Fine Print

We’re all familiar with the saying: “too good to be true.” I am an especially cynical person, so I am intimately familiar with the concept of skepticism. However, I recently had something of a lapse of judgment while applying for summer internships.

Handshake, a job and internship searching app for college students, often sends me emails about internships that it thinks I’ll find interesting. Usually, I don’t look too deeply into these suggestions. Most of the time it’s because I’m too busy with classes and work, but sometimes it’s because I’m just not interested in the internship or the location of it.

One day just a few weeks ago, I was absent-mindedly scrolling through my countless emails when I saw an interesting internship listing from Handshake. Several things about this listing caught my eye. The internship was based in Washington D.C., which is where I ultimately want to live. I would also get to go to journalism conferences, meet professionals who work in the area and I would get paid $1,000 per month. Even though I have been swamped with classes and work lately, I decided to apply. Everything seemed perfect. It was a paid internship in my major and in the city that I want to live in. The fact that everything about the listing was perfect should have been my first red flag.

I should have noticed the second red flag when the application for the journalism internship asked me several questions about my opinions on the Conservative Movement and to talk about my favorite public policy officials. I did think it was odd that they wanted to hear my opinions when journalists are supposed to be non-biased, but the temptation of $1,000 per month and the possibility of living in D.C. urged me to push forward.

After hours spent perfecting my essays, resume and writing samples, I was almost ready to submit my application. The only thing left was my cover letter. I looked back at the internship listing one more time to make sure I could include keywords from it in my cover letter. While re-reading the description, I came across the words: “looking for conservative journalists.”

These four words were the undoing of my entire application. As mentioned above, journalists are supposed to be non-biased. Of course, we are all humans with opinions, but a journalist should leave their personal feelings at home. Other than my discomfort over this ethical dilemma, there was also the problem of how I answered the essays in the application. I mainly talked about left-leaning politicians, not knowing that this application was looking for conservative responses. You can imagine how embarrassing it would be for me if I submitted my application the way it was.

This whole situation could have been avoided with one simple step: read the fine print. There was no mention of the conservative movement anywhere else in the original internship listing except for those four words, but it is still my fault for not reading it closely enough.

As busy college students, we often feel pressured to apply to tons of internships and jobs at a time. I know lots of people who send out the same resume and cover letter to many locations hoping for at least one response. I don’t think this is just because they’re lazy. We don’t always have time to thoroughly research each and every listing and toil over specialized applications when we’re also behind on homework assignments and sleep schedules. However, this method of mass applying can definitely backfire. I only hope that my embarrassing experience can serve as a cautionary tale to other burnt-out students looking for internships and jobs.

Copy Edited By Charlotte E. Shunk

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