An internship is a great way to gain insight into a field you are passionate about, to learn some basic skills in an industry you are interested in, or to explore different job choices. It’s also something you can add to your CV to show future employers that you are dedicated and enthusiastic about your career. The cherry on top is that diligent, talented and hardworking interns often get offered a full-time position in the company they are interning for – making the process of getting your first real job that much easier. So, with that in mind, how do you choose the right internship? Here are a few things to consider when an opportunity to do an internship comes your way.
It’s great to want to take on an internship in a prestigious company, but it must make sense. In other words, the internship should be located in an area or city that you would ideally like to live in once you’ve graduated. It could also be conveniently located close to where you currently live. It doesn’t make sense if it’s in an area you don’t want to work in, especially if you have to spend your full internship stipend (if you get one, that is) in the first week of every month just to get to work and back. Think carefully about the location of your internship and make sure it serves you and your future goals.
It’s incredibly important that you make the most of your internship and that means taking every opportunity to network with the right people. Find out if there are any opportunities for networking. Does the company attend or host networking events? Do any of the colleagues attend these events? If they do, you should make the effort to also attend and engage with important business people in your industry. If networking events are not part of the company’s culture, or if you don’t feel like you will have good enough opportunity to network with them, you might want to hold out for an opportunity that will really allow you to put yourself out there.
Another consideration when choosing an internship is the level of experience you will receive. What skills will you learn at that particular company? Will you get some good hands-on experience? Learning important skills that are particular to your industry as well as essential workplace skills (such as leadership, project management and people skills) is important for an internship.
While adding an internship to your CV always looks great, you’ll probably still want to know what each day as an intern will look like. What responsibilities will you have during your internship? What will your role entail? These are vital questions to ask because you want to make sure that if the company offers you a full-time position when your internship is done, it’s in-line with your future career goals.
Interviewers have a wonderful way of making any position sound great. That’s why it’s a good idea to see if you can get an honest opinion from someone who has been in your shoes. Try talking to people who have completed an internship at the same company and ask them as many questions about the internship as possible. Ask about the company’s values, the environment, the potential for growth and the intern experience as a whole. Based on those answers, as well as the other research you have conducted, you should have a good idea if the internship will be worth your while or not.
Internships typically don’t come with a big paycheck. In fact, many internships offer nothing (zilch – nada; perhaps coffee). Others may offer a stipend (almost nada) that you can put towards travel expenses, and now and then you might get one which pays enough to cover your monthly expenses (but these are few and far between). But even if there isn’t much in the way of monetary compensation, it’s important to keep in mind that many internships offer other perks – free training and discounts on certain products, for example.
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