The true value of an internship comes from the effort that you put into it. Nevertheless, there are certain characteristics that you should look for in an internship opportunity to ensure that it is worth your time and effort. Just because you have a college degree, or will have one soon, doesn’t guarantee that your career will get off the ground.
You need to set yourself apart from the crowd. An internship can do that if you carefully select your position. Backing up the knowledge that you learned in college is essential. The best advice when seeking an internship is to get suggestions from other professionals. Never look for an internship in a field in which you are not interested in working. By doing so, you are wasting not only your own time but the time of the people for whom you are working. Instead, seek a positive experience that will include the following factors.
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Although money shouldn’t be the sole factor when choosing an internship, it can be a deciding factor, especially if you need the means to support yourself during the summer between terms. Every little bit of income helps when you are in college, however, Policygenius says the unpaid internships in some circumstances can even be illegal. Even if you’re only earning minimum wage, paid internships are a way of indicating that the company for which you are working values your service, not to mention that it gives you a better chance of moving into a permanent position.
An Opportunity to Learn
One of the main purposes of taking an internship is getting an opportunity to learn skills in the field in which you want to work. WayUp notes that you won’t learn everything in school. The best way to do so is via on-the-job experience. A viable internship should give you the opportunity to apply the skills that you have learned in classes while also allowing you to learn more. Avoid internships that merely want to use you as a means to accomplish busy work that no one else wants to do.
A Mentorship Opportunity
Many successful people in any given industry will point to one or more mentors who helped them during their early years. Having the opportunity to connect with people from whom you can learn is invaluable. When interviewing for the internship, try to discern whether you will have such an opportunity. A built-in support system for interns is a key indicator of whether this is possible. Once in the position, gravitate toward individuals who are willing to help you in your career. Learning from people who have an expert level of understanding about the industry or career in which you are interested is one of the best ways to advance yourself.
Matching Career Objectives
Working in your field of study is a way to test out whether your chosen career really fits with who you are. By working at your internship, you should be able to discern if you truly like your career objectives and goals or whether you need to shift your focus.
The ultimate goal when looking for internship opportunities is to assess whether you will get something positive out of the experience that will help further your education. An internship should be a stepping stone to a full-time position in the near future.