Internships can be great real-world experience. For some industries, it’s expected students complete at least one internship while attending school.
As a student in need of experience, it’s tempting to jump into an internship without even thinking about it. However, this could leave you unhappy if it ends up not being beneficial or the right fit for you.
It’s important to think over any job or internship opportunity. Here’s what to consider before accepting an internship:
1. Is it paid or are there perks?
Most internships are unpaid. That is just something students have to endure to get into the door when just starting out, but still, it has to be difficult to stay motivated when working an unpaid internship. Some internships are paid or, if not, there are some perks such as free products or free entry to events. It’s important to consider this because you will be spending a lot of time interning each week. This is also time away from working a job or studying. If an internship is completely unpaid with no perks, it’s best to get school credit for the internship. This way, you have more motivation to do your best.
2. Will it be an educational experience?
By law, internships have to be an educational experience for the intern. However, recently unpaid interns are starting to come out and sue companies for exploitation. Before accepting any internship, be sure to ask questions to find out how you will benefit from the internship. Does the employer ensure that you will learn new skills? Does the employer allow you to receive credit for the internship? Will the employer be there to train, answer questions and help? Be sure to get the answers to these questions during the interview process.
3. Does it relate to what you want to do after graduation?
Although any internship is great work experience, it’s best to find an internship related to what you really are passionate about doing. This will help you stay motivated, but also help you get into the door and get your dream job after graduation. Employers are looking for the best fit for a position. Try to come as close to that fit as possible by gaining the skills and experience you need.
Accepting an internship is a big commitment. You are most likely committing 10-15 hours or more a week and accepting responsibilities an employer expects from you. It’s great news once you get an internship offer, but the decision on accepting it should not be taken lightly because the experience will help direct your career path.