An internship can be one of the most important building blocks in a college student’s career development. Internships give a unique opportunity to learn by doing in a setting that gives direct exposure to seeing your college classes unfold outside of the classroom. Many of the life skills that are important for your career, can only come from getting real world experience.
But not every internship opportunity is created equal. In this article we’ve highlighted some of the best practices to select the internship that best aligns with your career goals and future. We also tap into some of our internal resources who share their insight and how they suggest navigating through the sometimes overwhelming and daunting process of finding the “right” internship.
1. What do you hope to get out of your internship?
Starting with the end in mind will allow you to be intentional as you are evaluating each opportunity. While there are many things to consider when selecting an internship such as location, industry or size of company; one of the most important questions to ask yourself is: Is this internship program relevant to my career interests and long-term goals?
Below are 3 reasons why you should make this a top priority:
- You need experience to get experience. Employers want to see that you have experience outside of the classroom and an internship is a great way to fill that gap.
- You will be making connections and building relationships with professionals in your industry. These new connections are the beginning of your new network. Sometimes it is not just about what you know…but also who you know!
- What better opportunity will you have to test drive your chosen career? Experiencing a summer working in a company’s fast-paced, high-demand marketing department may give you confidence that you are on the right career track or it may give you the insight that you need to redirect. Either way, you are one step closer to making the most out of an internship and paving a successful path for your career.
2. Has the internship been clearly defined?
Imagine starting an internship and realizing there is no real plan or clear set of responsibilities for you?
A great way to avoid this is to ask well thought out questions throughout the interview process that will give insight into how interns are valued and the role they will play within the organization. Remember asking questions demonstrates you are invested and serious about this opportunity.
- Have you hired interns on this team in the past and if so, how did their work impact the business? Hearing first-hand how previous interns were able to make a difference and see their work impact the bottom line of an organization should give you confidence you can do the same.
- What kind of projects will I be working on as an intern? Knowing this information will ensure the work you will be doing is relevant to your career interests.
- What are some key characteristics you have seen in your most successful interns? The answer to this question will allow you to compare these qualities with your own strengths and weakness giving insight into the fit of this internship.
3. Do your homework We know…more homework :/
There are endless opportunities for you to learn about a company. From checking out the company’s social media presence to viewing their Glassdoor page- this can give you great insight into the company culture. If the employees look happy and engaged, this could be a good indication of what your internship experience could be.
Additionally, ask yourself- does your personality fit in well with their culture? Do you share similar values, and will you thrive in this type of environment? A great way to evaluate this is thinking about how you felt throughout the interviewing process. Did you feel comfortable and was it easy to build a connection with the people you met with?
4. Who will be responsible for your internship experience?
It can be intimidating and overwhelming to start something new. The type of training and support you receive as an intern can greatly reduce the amount of time it takes for you to get acclimated.
Finding an internship that offers a mentorship program is an excellent way to ensure you will have the support and guidance needed to get the most out of your internship experience. A mentor will be there to help overcome any obstacles that may keep you from having the most beneficial experience possible. They will often help make introductions, show you around the building, and most importantly- where the good snacks are kept!
with that said…
In the end, you know what they say; “You get what you put in”. It can be easy to find an internship but finding the “right” internship takes hard work and planning. When you invest the time into truly understanding what the ideal internship looks like to you and follow these easy steps, you’re guaranteed to kickstart a successful career.
At Curate Partners, we dedicate time, energy and resources into understanding what makes an internship desirable to upperclassmen like you. Through continuous communication with our interns, we’ve developed a program that is engaging, challenging and mutually beneficial to both parties.
Once you’ve found your match, you should expect to experience a sense of belonging, excitement and maybe even some nerves (and that’s perfectly normal!). Remember- You are in the driver seat, so start exploring your opportunities!