You’re in college, you got your classes set, and now what? Internship time! Obviously internships are a great way of getting to know your field, but many students end up being stuck as coffee drones doing the most menial task that company X couldn’t outsource. Listen, I’ve been there, and I’ve seen the light…not all internships suck! Along the way I’ve had a couple of internships, and I’ve found some basic guidelines to review before accepting an internship.
What are the hours and location commitment of the internship? If they want 20 hours a week of unpaid work, this might literally bust your bank account in a month. Chances are that any internship requiring this much time will actually pay you, but be weary of anyone who wants to pay you 20 hours a week in experience. Unless your working for a major brand, industry leader, or personal hero, skip out on the extra hours and find something that won’t sour your experience. In addition to time, another consideration is location. In 2005 Thomas Friedman declared the world was flat, and this applies to internships! Make a list of people or sites you wish to work for, and began crafting an email where you tell them specific things you can do for them. This will get them interested and give you room to negotiate an ideal virtual internship! If you can’t figure out specific examples of how you can help, then at least list specific skills you can bring to the table (sorry but listing “energetic” is too generic, list specific skills you had to work at to obtain).
The best internships will outline how they want you to progress through the program, and lead up to tasks that carry more responsibility. Seek out these positions! The act of carrying something (at least in part) on your own is great experience for when you have to do it in the real world. The best internships hired you because you stood out, and they will give you responsibility because you’ve proven that you can handle the work. If you can’t land a stellar internship first go, then start out low, then progress to the ideal internship (this skill alone is useful for the real world).
What will you be learning?
Time to be brutally honest. What will you learn as a result of this internship? Make skills/experience do you want to have? And will this internship fill it? If not, start searching other organizations that will teach you what you want to learn. The approach isn’t the same as school, where your forced to learn certain things. The internship should be focused on your personal need for education.
Also look at these factors when determining which internship is best for you. Remember that your a committing a significant amount of time to these positions, so part of the process should involve you interviewing them! Find out exactly what they need, and make sure it’s an experience you will value!
David Cristello is a recent graduate and Manager of Business Development at Go Financial Aid, a company that consists of financial aid consultants who seek to help students maximize their FAFSA, CSS Profile, and financial aid packages. In his spare time he enjoys reading, skateboarding, drumming, rock climbing, and social work.
I am reading Understanding Nutrition