What to Look for in an Internship

Internships are an essential aspect of early career development. They offer experience and job training which can help students and beginners prepare for a career in a particular field. When you are researching various internships, here are a few things you should they should keep in mind to help ensure you land a relevant, interesting and helpful internship.

Find Quality Companies Whose Mission Speaks to You

Begin by doing the necessary research. You want to ensure that the internship you find is one that will help advance your career goals and caters to your interests. That means you’ll need to give yourself some time to search well. Avoid scramble to get an internship at the last minute, because when you are scrambling, chances are you will take anything you can get, and this will not be nearly as helpful to you down the road.

Prepare by researching companies who work in intriguing fields you could see yourself working in. Don’t limit yourself too much by your major, a psychology student or media student can both work in business and bring something to the table. Hopefully your major reflects where you want to go, but this is not always the case. Some students find themselves three years into their major only to realize it may not be the direction they want to take. If this describes you, speak with academic advisors about the best course of action to make your courses line up more with your preferred career path, but at the same time seek internships that will help you move into that new job arena.

Once you have found companies that fit your career path well, research them thoroughly so that you sound informed on the business mission in case you ever receive an impromptu interview or opportunity to speak with someone at the company. Then find their HR page to see if they are advertising any internships already. If they are, follow typical job search procedures with submitting a full application with an original, well written cover letter, following up on your application, and sending thank you notes if you are awarded an interview.

Try to Find Internships That Offer Quality Experience

This can be difficult, as few internships are going to be advertised as ‘bringing coffee’, though in many large companies that will be what is expected. If you can, try find internships that list job expectations that will give quality experience. For example, some companies look for inters to assist with certain projects or help during particularly busy times of the year. These internships will give you quantifiable skills you can list on your resume.

If you do find yourself in a position where your main task is data entry or file updating and coffee fetching, use the time to work as efficiently, thoroughly, and professionally as possible. If you are able to finish tasks early, ask your supervisors if you can take anything off their plate such as email or letter writing, content creation, phone calls, or similar tasks that can help you get a feel for the business. Not only will this help you gain skills for your resume, it will also help you stand out in the company as a hard, competent, and enthusiastic worker. Many permanent jobs do grow out of internships when the company is extremely pleased with the intern, or at the very least you can gain great recommendations.

Consider the Workplace Environment

The workplace environment is another area that may be hard to predict before you enter the jobsite, but during interviews or conversations with employees try to get a feel for the environment. Is it extremely fast – paced or more laid back? Are people friendly and casual in dress and behavior or more professional? How does the apparent environment fit with your expectations and personality? If you have limited options for your internship, this may need to set this on the back burner, but if you have the choice look for an opportunity that suites your personality the best.

Internships are excellent opportunities for students to gain real-world experience before they finish school. They can present opportunities to gain business connections, recommendations, and skills that can be listed on a resume. Some are even fortunate enough to have an internship become full time employment. These are some aspects of internships students should consider when they are looking for opportunities to help them make the most of the position.


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