How to Choose A Summer Internship
When I was in high school and college, I used to cringe when people asked me if I was going to apply for a summer internship. In my eyes, an internship was something you did (for free!) to pad your resume, when in reality you spent your time making coffee runs and filing papers. How was that supposed to really help? No thanks, I’d take the retail job with the hourly pay.
Boy, was I wrong. There are some duds in the summer internship world, but the benefits of a great internship outweigh that. If you’re on the hunt for your vacation plans and are unsure how to choose a summer internship, here are the things you’ll want to look for.
Look for a summer internship in the field you are interested in.
Don’t pick an internship because your friend is doing it or you want to live in a particular city. Choose an internship in a field that you are genuinely interested in! Not only can you determine if it’s the field for you, you’ll start building professional relationships that can help you down the road.
Make sure there is a concrete plan and schedule for your summer internship.
Be wary of an internship that has no defined game plan. If you have no specific goal or aim, you may be twiddling your thumbs for most of the summer. When you’re researching or interviewing for opportunities, ask what a general day, or week, looks like.
Ask if you will get a mentor during the process.
Are you going to have a mentor to guide you through the process, or will you be one of 20 interns working in a department? This can be the difference between being a valued intern on a first-name basis with employees, or being a glorified Starbucks delivery person.
Check out testimonials from prior interns.
How did other people like the program? See if the company website offers testimonials. Ideally, link up with someone who has done the internship before and ask them how it went. Try to get some honest opinions and feedback from someone who has been there, done that.
Think about what you’ll have to show for yourself at the end of the internship.
Is there an overarching goal of the internship? Will your focus be on completing a project, networking, or learning about a company? Don’t pick an internship for the sake of filling your summer days. Think long and hard about the opportunity, and make sure you’ll have something to show for yourself when all is said and done.