Participating in an internship program is a common practice among college students and recent grads. Many students take their summer breaks to work in an internship abroad. Others take entire semesters to learn the ins and outs of different companies and industries.
Adding an internship to your resume is an excellent way to stand out from the crowd when it comes time to apply for jobs.
There are internships available in every industry, from business and marketing to teaching or photography. It’s important to consider your options when choosing an internship program.
The ideal internship is one that fits well into your personal and academic life, and aligns with your career goals. Here are 6 things you should consider when choosing an internship program.
- A Schedule That Fits Your Life
Every internship program has different requirements regarding the time spent working in the program and when you can begin. Some programs require a commitment of 12 weeks or a year. Others have flexible time frames, allowing you to spend anywhere from a few weeks to a few months working in their program.
It’s also important to research when the program is scheduled to begin. Some programs have predetermined start dates. Others allow you to begin whenever is convenient for you.If you are in school or working another job, you’ll want to double check the time requirements and make sure your ideal internship fits with your schedule.
2. Alignment With Your Career Goals
One of the greatest benefits of taking an internship is the impact it can have on your career trajectory. Internships often make the difference in receiving the job offer you are looking for.
In choosing your next internship, think about your long term goals. The programs you apply for should correlate with your career goals. For example, if you are hoping to work in marketing, look for internships within the marketing departments of larger companies. If your goal is to become a doctor, medical internships are a great addition to a med school application.
3. Mentorship Opportunities
As you prepare for your career, having a quality long term mentor is an invaluable resource. A good mentor can teach you new skills, provide you with critical advice, and can serve as an important networking connection as you progress in your career.
As you consider different internships programs, look for opportunities that include mentorship programs. You won’t regret the time you spend working with a career mentor.
4. A Passion Project
Your time is valuable. If you are choosing to spend your time working an internship, it should be something you are excited and passionate about.
As you consider internship programs, look for opportunities to do something in a field you are passionate about. Ask yourself, “Would I be excited to wake up every morning and go to work?” As with anything, you will learn more and be more effective as an intern when you are passionate about the work you are doing.
5. The Chance To Learn New Skills
The purpose of an internship is to learn and refine your skills. It’s a waste of your time and company resources to take an internship doing something you already know how to do.
Instead, look for opportunities that stretch you. Find a program that gives you opportunities to practice or learn skills that you haven’t already mastered. In an ideal internship experience, you’ll come away knowing more than you did when you began.
6. Cost V. Compensation
Each internship is structured differently when it comes to cost v. compensation. Some programs will require you to pay for your own transportation to and from work. If your program is an international internship, you may also have to find and pay for housing.
Other programs will cover your transportation costs. They may also provide meal vouchers and other benefits. Some programs even pay their interns a salary.
Before choosing an internship, evaluate your current financial position. Can you afford an internship that costs you money? Do you need to be compensated financially? Choose an internship that aligns with your current financial situation.
Internships are incredible experiences for personal growth and career advancement, but not all internships are created equally. As you consider the countless internship opportunities available in your field, consider the 6 things above to ensure you are finding the ideal internship for you!