The student newspaper of Washington and Lee University

The Ring-tum Phi

The student newspaper of Washington and Lee University

The Ring-tum Phi

The student newspaper of Washington and Lee University

The Ring-tum Phi

W&L students confront competitive summer internship market

As summer approaches, students share insights on competitive summer internships and post-graduation uncertainties
Camille Ramos, ‘26, Laura Murambadoro, ‘26, Jane Hulsey, ‘25, and Geena Ravelo, ‘27, prepare for careers in law by visiting New York City on a Career and Professional Development trip. Photo by Joci Chavez, ‘27

Summer internships are more competitive than ever, according to national studies. But many Washington and Lee faculty and students are not worried.

“Knowing W&L, and how wonderful and responsive our connections are, it will all work out. I will get a job some way or another,” LeAnna Baker, ’26, said.

Internship postings in 2023 were down 14.7 percent when compared to 2022, according to an Indeed study, which created more competition for limited positions. And according to RippleMatch, a job recruitment platform, 57 percent of Gen Z individuals say they aren’t confident in finding an internship or job that meets their standards.

But many Washington and Lee students say that the active alumni network, career resources and liberal arts education are helpful tools in securing summer opportunities.

“I had heard for so long about how great the alumni network was,” said Ben Bankston, ’25, an economics major. “[Now] I have so many great interactions in consulting.”

Bankston stressed the importance of being open to making new alumni connections in the search for summer opportunities. “To somebody who is worried about having a bad experience, what do you have to lose?” he said.

Molly Steele, dean of career and professional development, agreed that networking opportunities—including alumni speaker events and information sessions hosted by companies in various industries—are riskless.

Outside of these events, about two-thirds of the student body schedules individual career and professional development appointments annually, which offer help with resumes, internship searches and preparing for interviews, Steele said.

However, not every student reports satisfaction with the Career and Professional Development office. Foster Harris, ’24, published an op-ed in the March 10 edition of the Ring-tum Phi that criticized the office for not having a politics portfolio.

“When I reached out for advice on how to get a job on the Hill, in D.C., or at least in the policy world, the office’s usefulness came to a complete dead end,” Harris wrote.

Students across different majors experience different obstacles when applying for summer positions.

Applicants in the financial field are often hired about a year in advance, which means they must organize their plans and application materials early.

Bankston was accepted into his 2024 summer consulting internship at Bain & Company in August of last year, he said.

But science and humanities-based positions often do not hear back from employers until the beginning of spring, leading to stress regarding making last-minute summer plans.

Jessica Clark, ’25, just accepted a research position in quantum physics at Oklahoma University on Thursday, she said, leaving just three months to prepare.

“That’s just the nature of the way those industries operate, not necessarily the students that are applying for those opportunities,” Steele said.

But Steele said timing isn’t everything.

Majors in the Williams School are employed at the same rate as the majors that are in the humanities, she said. The class of 2023 outcome survey reported that 95 percent of students were employed or in graduate school six months after graduation.

But only 42.7 percent of students recorded that their current positions directly related to their major field of study, according to the Office of Accreditation and Institutional Research.

These uncertainties surrounding future opportunities cause some underclassmen stress when thinking about the future.

“As an English major, we have a lot of different opportunities that are presented to us, and we don’t know which path is ours to take yet,” Kaia Beadows, ’27, said.

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    Jeffrey Lawson Class of 68Mar 13, 2024 at 2:35 pm

    I attended the Five Star event this last weekend at W&L and visited the Career Center and was uncertain about how comptrehensive the Center addressed each student plans for life after graduating from W&L. I have initiated a program at Clemson for female athletes that garentees that each athlete after she defines her major, will enter a comprehensive program which willl guarentee that she will get into graduate school or a business career of her choosing.