While seeking out internships in your local community or browsing online for something a bit farther from home, there are several things to take into account. Landing an internship is a wonderful feat and will leave you feeling accomplished and ready for the working world, but what if that internship doesn’t turn out to be the hands-on or ideal experience you had expected? It’s a good idea to weigh and measure your options before you jump into something to make sure it’s not only going to put you in a good place for your future, but that it’s also going to give you the true working experience you need before pursuing a professional career.
In the past, I have overheard friends and family members discussing college internships that they were initially excited to be a part of, only to find out they weren’t going to get to do the kind of work they’d pictured. One ended up doing filing work for the secretary of a law firm at which they’d hoped to be shadowing and learning from one of the attorneys. Another was able to assist a professional, but only by making phone calls and running errands for them. Neither were able to try their hand at the important aspects of the job.
Before applying for an internship, considering the work a company or agency does and deciding if that’s something that would put you farther ahead is really important. If you want to work in web design, for example, and apply for a design position at a greeting card company, chances are you are not going to gain as much experience as you would at a design agency that specifically makes websites for clients. It may boost your abilities as a designer and enhance your knowledge of what it’s like in the working world, but it wouldn’t actually accentuate the specific skills you’re trying to master.
Another thing to consider is making sure you have options at hand. Don’t just apply to one place. Apply to quite a few, and when you begin to get calls for interviews start to narrow down which positions would best situate you for what you want to do after school. Once you’ve nailed your interviews, don’t hesitate to ask the employers questions as well. Make sure that you are going to be put to work, and ask about hours, payment, deadlines, and anything else you may have questions about. It is so much better to know what you’re getting yourself into before you dive in.
Be smart, be confident, and don’t settle!