Internships are a learning experience. By participating in an internship, you may find a permanent job upon graduation, or find a major better suited for your career goals. They could be a requirement of your college curriculum or something you choose to do. If related to your major, an internship may apply as credits towards your degree. Regardless of your reasons, internships come in a variety of flavors.
Are you interested in a specific industry niche? You can search for internships in Social Media, Communications, Marketing, Advertising, Banking, Business, Real Estate, Software Engineering, Human Resources, Information Technology, User Experience, Entertainment, Sports Management, or countless others. For almost every major, you can probably find an internship.
You might have a particular type of business in mind. This could direct you to internships at a zoo, accounting firm, advertising agency, ski resort, internet company, music label, television network, government agency, real estate firm, fashion label, retail store, cruise line, energy company, airline, winery, casino, farm, event firm, magazine, theme park, video game company, and many more. There could also be a company where you would love to work. Companies like Apple, Twitter, Home Depot, Southwest Airlines, NBC, FBI, and the list goes on.
There are organizations that provide a service to help you find an appropriate internship. You provide the type of business, for example, finance, and a choice of cities. They find an internship suitable to your preferences. A company that provides this placement service is InternshipFinder. Again, using finance as the example, you could end up as an intern with the financial giant JPMorgan. JPMorgan maintains offices in more than 50 countries and sometimes there are internship opportunities available abroad. Most internships take place during a 9-week summer program, on U.S. soil and abroad, where students range from rising sophomores to graduate students. Companies pay interns a competitive salary and some make nearly $15,000 for the summer, plus benefits and housing stipends.
Internjobs.com– a national database of internships for students and recent graduates
InternWeb.com– college students seeking internships in a variety of career fields
CollegeRecruiter- job placement and internships
Dream Careers– Leading Internship Program for college students
Internships are a valuable way to network. The old adage of whom you know can be more important than what you know. Being an intern in a large corporation exposes you to a wealth of employees at different levels. You learn about corporate culture, communication, professional behavior, and office politics. You may spend time with upper management who can recommend you for hire upon graduation.
Internships give you a taste of a particular business (ex. advertising) or company. After your internship, you realize this is what you want to do or decide this is not for you. You are assessing the job and the employer is assessing you. Is he/she a person we want working for us? Many employers see internships as a way to find highly qualified entry-level employees who are right out of college. Students who participate in internships are able to gain a competitive edge over other students who may apply for the job in the future.
According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), 65% of the surveyed companies offered jobs to their interns and 79% accepted. In 2014, NACE also reported that 97 percent of responding employers plan to continue hiring interns and pay roughly 98 percent of them. The survey results showing average hourly wages for interns at the bachelor’s degree level is $16.35 and $22.50 for those with a master’s degree.
Summer job vs. Summer internship
This is a personal decision but there are factors to consider. If your summer job is necessary for financial reasons, then you may opt for this. However, the internship may pay less (if anything), but the long-term benefits could outweigh the lower pay. Depending on the job, working during the summer allows you to build core skills such as communication and other interpersonal skills. The summer internship may lead to a permanent occupation. On the other hand, you may land in an internship that is more grunt work than a learning experience. The type of summer job and the place of the internship will influence your decision.
Alternatives to Internships
You could do an externship. An externship is more like job shadowing. Typically, they only last one or two days, although some may last up to a few weeks. This means that externships can easily occur over school holidays or during days off. The short time period means that you can participate in many externships and gain valuable and insightful knowledge about your potential career path.
This could involve a ride-along with a police officer if law enforcement interests you. Another option is to visit the company where you would love to work. This will confirm or dash your desire of working there. Spending a day or even hours in a company is a great way to gain experience, build your resume, and establish contacts.
Apprenticeships are another way to obtain work-based training and see what the job entails. Most apprenticeships are in the skilled trades like plumbing, electrical, pipefitting, or carpentry. However, you may be able to assist in surveying, for example. Individuals thinking of enrolling in a particular trade at a community college may seek an apprenticeship. Furthermore, apprenticeships do not require your enrollment in school or seeking higher education.
Internships are available from computer science to journalism. Your participation in one may lead to a fulfilling career or take you on a completely different career track. They are definitely worth further research.
A recap of some of the pros and cons: