Education is an asset on any job search, but it – like any single piece of your application materials – can only get you so far. Whether it happens at the start of a career, months before college graduation or during a period of transition years down the road, at some point you’ll need to earn relevant, hands-on experience.
Thankfully, there’s never been a better time to be looking for an internship. More and more companies are opening up these types of opportunities, and some have even developed entire programs devoted to their internship candidates.
With so many opportunities to earn experience, it is important to know what to look for when deciding where to take on an internship. Experience is great, but devoting your valuable time to an activity that’s irrelevant to your career goals can disrupt your progress.
Here are some tips for finding the best internship to fit your needs:
When it comes to internships, “more” doesn’t always translate to “more successful.” Whether you’re still in classes or working full-time, adding an internship to your plate can be extra stressful. Before pursuing any internship opportunity, make sure there is room in your schedule; you’ll need to be able to devote yourself fully to learning a new organization and picking up new skills!
Even if the work is time consuming, many internships may consist of work that is irrelevant to your career goals. In some cases, these roles present an unrealistic example of the actual day-to-day work being done by professionals in the field. Do your best to find a position that exposes you to the skills you will need to be using day-in and day-out in a given position.
Please note: While it’s important to do relevant, impactful work, the truth is that you may need to put in some time and training before tackling industry-specific work in any position. It is always important to communicate openly with your employer about your role, expectations and goals in an internship.
Opportunities for Advancement
In the end, you may be looking at this internship as a way to get your foot in the door at a company, and this can be a great goal! Many companies do offer a pathway to full-time positions through internship programs. Keeping a long-term mindset in what many see as a “temporary” position can add quality and stability to your work. However, it is important to note that transitioning immediately into a full-time position is not a guarantee. Which brings us to our final internship element to look for…
An internship may expand your skill set, teach you valuable industry lessons and even land you a full-time position, but the most important thing you can take away from these positions are real-life connections. Whether it materializes in the form of a reference letter, or just a casual conversation about life in a certain industry, the connections you cultivate are truly invaluable.
With that in mind, do your very best to treat every internship as a golden opportunity. Your time in this role may only be a few months, but your career can be positively impacting for years to come. In the end, it is not how many internships you’ve held or how much money you’ve made, but the quality of the lessons you’ve learned along the way.
Do you have any internship tips? Share your stories below!