You should seriously consider doing an internship at some point during college or shortly after you graduate. There are few better ways to learn valuable skills related to your study area and the workplace.
4 Benefits of Doing an Internship
Provides Work Experience: Interning is a great way to get real work experience in your major. Allows You to Learn About an Occupation or Industry: It will give you an inside look at an occupation. It can help you discover if the career you are considering is right (or wrong) for you before you expend more time and money preparing for it. Similarly, it will give you a glimpse into an industry in which you might want to work in the future. Strengthens Your Resume: With more and more people doing internships, employers are coming to expect to see them listed on the resumes of potential employees. As mentioned earlier, it demonstrates that you have relevant work experience.
May Lead to a Job Offer: While you shouldn’t go into it expecting more than a good learning experience and a chance to build your workplace skills, employers occasionally hire former interns for full-time positions. This is another reason to take the job seriously and make a great impression. Of course, it isn’t the only one. You want your performance to be excellent regardless of whether it will lead to future employment.
Will You Get Paid?
There are paid and unpaid internships. For-profit entities must consider interns employees and pay them at least minimum wage and overtime pay unless they meet certain criteria set forth by the Wages and Hours Division of the United States Department of Labor. To summarize, interns must receive training that is similar to what they would get in school; they must benefit from the experience; they should not displace regular employees; they are not entitled to a job when the internship ends; employers must not help; both parties must understand the intern will not receive monetary compensation (U.S. Department of Labor.
“Fact Sheet #71: Internship Programs Under The Fair Labor Standards Act, 2010”).
2 Reasons to Not Do an Internship
Financial Burden: College education costs are very high and rising each year. Doing an unpaid internship or with lower compensation than another job can present a tremendous financial burden for students who must pay their way through school or contribute to their living expenses. Your Job Provides Better Experience: If you are currently working in your field, your job may provide superior work experience to anything you can get from an internship. However, don’t discount the benefit of supplementing your employment experience by interning with a different organization.
How to Find an Internship
Consult Your College Career Center: Your college career center may be able to help you find an internship. They often have relationships with employers who will alert them to available opportunities. Career counselors or other professionals can also assist you with your resume and job interviewing skills. Career Fair: If your college hosts a career fair, you should not miss it. It will give you the chance to meet potential employers. Get on LinkedIn: Connect with alums from your school who may work for hiring interns. Use Internship and Job Sites: Use sites like Internships.com, Look Sharp, Indeed, and SimplyHired. Look at Company Websites: If there is a particular company you’re interested in, check its website’s career or employment section for opportunities.
Check With Professional Associations: You can often find openings on websites or in the newsletters of relevant professional organizations or trade groups.
How to Evaluate an Internship
Read the Description: While many internships exist to nurture budding professionals, others only provide the employer with cheap (or free) labor. Yes, a law prohibits them from doing that (see Will You Get Paid? above), but that doesn’t mean every employer adheres to it. Make sure you are going to get what you need out of an internship. Research the Company: Learn as much about the organization as possible. Doing this will not only help you decide whether the setting is a good one for you, but it will also make you a more knowledgeable interviewee. Ask Questions on Your Interview: You want to discover what you will do on a typical day. Will you perform valuable duties most of the time, or will you be occupied with fetching coffee and making copies? Talk to Former Interns: Learn about the experiences of those who went before you. Talk to students who have interned at the site you are interested in. Speak to your college’s internship coordinator, who may have kept a record of feedback or can provide you with the names of former interns. You can also consult your network.
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