Internships and Anxiety Disorders

Hey guys,

I’m so sorry I haven’t been able to post anything for over two weeks. Last week was absolutely crazy. I started a new internship at a local nonprofit at the beginning of the week, and my brother graduated from high school at the end of the week. Not only that, I still had to find the time for my self-care routine. With all of these things going on, I had very little free time. In fact, I’m still trying to recover from last week.

Anyways, enough about me. Today, I wanted to talk about how to get an internship when you have an anxiety disorder.

If you’re a college student, you know that internships are important. They help you to get experience in your career field, and they can help you network. There’s a plethora of advice out there about how to get an internship, as well as the importance of securing one.

What are you supposed to do if you have an anxiety disorder? Can you even get an internship if you have an anxiety disorder?

Yes, you can absolutely get an internship; you can be successful in your internship as well.

Here’s how I got my internship:

When I was in Community College, I really wanted to volunteer with kids who come from hard places. I don’t plan on working with children for a living, but I’ve always loved working with children. My dream for a long time has been to adopt children from foster care after I get married, and I wanted to get experience working with kids who come from hard places. I also needed to find something to do outside of the house because at that point, I went to three places consistently: school, home, and church. I needed to expand my social circles.

I told all of this to my therapist at the time. She was very aware of my desire to adopt children. I brought this desire up again (for the millionth time), and she told me about a new residential program for women and children who had experienced domestic violence. She encouraged me to check it out and see if they had any opportunities that were interesting.

I looked on the website, signed up for an orientation date, and eagerly awaited the date.

Once I was there, I got a chance to see a bit of the grounds, get more information about what this particular nonprofit does, and hear more about the volunteer opportunities. The one opportunity that sounded amazing was being a childcare volunteer. I felt tremendous peace about this volunteer opportunity and about being involved with the nonprofit.

I was a childcare volunteer for over a year. It was hard at times, but it was also deeply rewarding. It opened my eyes to the struggles that others in my own backyard face. Unfortunately, it would not have been feasible for me to continue to volunteer while I was at my new university, so I had to stop.

I loved volunteering there, and I knew I would be back someday.

Anyways, fast forward to January of this year. Like many college students, I was looking to see what kind of internships would be available for this summer. Like I said, I loved the volunteering I did while I was at community college. I still had my contacts there, so I reached out to them to see if they had any internships.

Long story short, I made such a good impression on the people there when I volunteered there that they put together an internship for me.

To say that I was thrilled was an understatement!

I started last week, and I’ve been doing some miscellaneous writing for them. So far, it’s been a great fit, and I like what I’m doing.

For people that have anxiety disorders, trying to find an internship can be more difficult than normal. What if it didn’t have to be so hard? What if I told you that you can get an internship too?

Here are my tips for how to land an internship:

  • Start by volunteering at a nonprofit that you’re passionate about. Do you enjoy animals? Volunteer at an animal shelter. Do you enjoy books? Volunteer at a library. There are nonprofits that cater to every cause you can think of.
    • Volunteering will give you a low-stakes opportunity to get your foot in the door of an organization.
    • Volunteering will also help you to meet new people who are passionate about the same cause, which makes it easier to make friends.
  • Once you have a volunteer position, treat the position like you would a paying job. Show up on time, let the person in charge know if you can’t make it, work hard, and go above and beyond when you can. This will make you stand out (in a good way), and it will increase the chances of them helping you when the time comes.
  • Make sure you have a way to contact your connections within an organization. That way, you can touch base with them about potential recommendations, internships, etc.
  • I recommend that you stay in a volunteer position for at least 12 months before asking about recommendations or internships. I volunteered in my position for 15 months before I asked about my internship.
    • Be sure to maintain a strong work ethic during this time.
  • After at least twelve months have passed, contact your connections within the organization to inquire about recommendations, internships, etc. and see what they say.

I can’t guarantee that these tips will land you an internship, but they will increase your chances of landing one. Even if you don’t get an internship, you can still put your volunteer experience on a resume.

It may feel impossible to get an internship with an anxiety disorder, but it doesn’t have to be this way. If you want something badly enough, there’s usually a way to make it happen. Your disorder doesn’t have to stand in your way.

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