Sybil Low by Sybil Low

Oliver Wu, a junior at the University of Michigan, shared with Newsweek his unique journey of applying to 456 internships before finally securing a position. This story is just the tip of the iceberg which is the increasingly competitive nature of internship applications among college students.

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Key Takeaways

  • Oliver Wu engaged in campus life and a computer science major, applied to a staggering 456 internships over four months while balancing his studies and extracurricular activities.
  • Despite facing numerous rejections and feelings of burnout, Wu remained focused and utilized his time effectively, practicing technical interview skills and staying motivated.
  • His relentless pursuit paid off with an offer from Ford as an enterprise technology intern, which just proved that the only way to land an internship was to stay determined and persistent.

Oliver Wu’s journey to secure an internship is a testament to his exceptional time management and dedication, qualities increasingly essential in the modern job market. As an active member of the University of Michigan’s community, Wu’s commitment extended beyond his academic pursuits.

Juggling a demanding course load in computer science with active involvement in extracurricular activities, his story mirrors a growing trend among college students who are acutely aware of the competitive job market awaiting them post-graduation. The Handshake survey underscores this point, noting a significant shift in students’ job search strategies, including starting their searches earlier and casting wider nets. This proactive approach to career planning is becoming the norm, not the exception, for college students nationwide.

A Vision for the Future

In an interview with Newsweek, Wu shared his professional aspirations, stating,

“I would love to use my skills to develop solutions in sustainability and environmental protection.”

Wu’s openness to the evolving landscape of the tech industry, coupled with his desire to make a meaningful impact, demonstrates a forward-thinking approach to career planning. His focus on gaining practical industry experience during his college years further illustrates his commitment to preparing for a successful tech career.

The Application Marathon

Starting his internship search, Wu displayed remarkable diligence and strategy. He combed through online job boards, methodically applying to roles that aligned with his career goals and personal criteria. He leveraged his network for referrals, optimizing his chances of success.

Wu’s dedication was most evident in his daily routine, where he managed to submit up to 20 applications on his most productive days. He even organized a special spreadsheet to track his applications and monitor the progress during the whole process.


Replying to @IceMelon Internship application tracker! #fyp #foryou #cs

♬ original sound – Olie Wu

However, this pace was not without its challenges. As his academic responsibilities intensified, Wu had to adapt, balancing his time between applications and studies. These, unfortunately, are just typical realities many students face in the pursuit of professional development alongside academic excellence.

Staying Positive in the Face of Rejection

Perhaps the most formidable challenge for Wu (as well as practically for any student stepping on such a path) was maintaining a positive mindset amid a sea of rejections. He candidly shared that,

“The hardest part was staying positive and working hard, despite having hundreds of rejections. I did not want to feel regret that I could have tried harder, so I made up my mind to pursue this with everything I had”

Wu attributes his resilience to his religious faith and a profound belief in a higher plan, stating, “God has a plan for me.” This faith not only provided him with emotional support but also helped him stay focused and persistent. Furthermore, the process involved a substantial number of interviews and technical assessments, which, despite the stress, contributed significantly to his professional development and understanding of the interview process.

The Moment of Success

The culmination of Wu’s arduous journey was marked by his acceptance into Ford’s internship program. This moment, as Wu described, was one of immense relief and joy. He recalled the moment he received the news, saying,

“I felt like a massive weight had been lifted off my shoulders.”

His decision to share this milestone on TikTok, a platform popular among his peers, was a way to inspire and encourage others facing similar challenges. Wu’s success story became a beacon of hope and a testament to the rewards of perseverance.

Wu’s Advice for Aspiring Interns

In reflection, Wu offered valuable advice to others embarking on similar journeys. He stressed the importance of networking, acknowledging that it was an area he wished he had focused on more. Wu’s advice encapsulates the essence of his experience:

“Take a deep breath, and relax, this is a marathon, not a sprint.”

He advocates for patience, persistence, and the importance of developing a robust professional network, emphasizing that success in such endeavors is often a long-term commitment rather than a quick sprint.

Oliver Wu’s story is a powerful reminder of the dedication and resilience required in today’s competitive job market. His journey should serve as inspiration for those striving toward their career goals. You can make it after all, even if it seems that you have too many failures already.


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