We all know that internships are a great way to gain real world experience and prepare ourselves for the workforce. However, for many of us, knowing where to begin and choosing the right internship can be a challenge.
Before getting started, take a mental inventory of what you are looking for in an internship, what values you hold, what areas and skill sets you’d like to improve, and what you would like to accomplish at the end of your internship. Now that you’ve taken inventory, here are a few tips for what to look for when selecting your ideal internship, and how to make that process a little easier!
Fulfilling job tasks
Most internship postings include a job description that outlines the various day-to-day tasks you’ll be performing. Read the job description carefully to get a general idea of what you would be doing at this internship. Do these tasks align with the mental inventory you just took? Will these tasks allow you to achieve your end-of-internship goals? Will you be working on an ongoing project, or will each day bring on something new? Feel free to contact the internship coordinator with questions. Figure out whether the job tasks excite or bore you, and what you’ll be able to learn from the experience.
Happy former interns
Comb through your network to find out if any of your friends, classmates, or boyfriend’s sister’s lab partner’s flatmates have ever interned for the companies that interest you. If so, reach out and ask questions! Your real-life contacts will be able to provide more information than a company’s official internship description ever will. Ask about the company culture, the type of work you will be doing, and anything else pertinent to your decision. Chances are, these people will be happy to help you, and they can fill you in on how things really are at the company you’re planning to intern for. (If you don’t know anyone, consult the almighty Google! You may be surprised at how much you find.)
Supportive working environment
You may be able to get an idea of this once you interview for the position or talk to former interns. A supportive working environment is key to a successful internship because it allows you to volunteer for the tasks you want, ask questions, and shadow as many departments as you like. A great supervisor or internship coordinator will provide positive and constructive feedback on your work, serving as a mentor and allowing you to grow in your career. I still keep in touch with some of the people I interned for, and it has been extremely beneficial in my professional life even after I graduated from university!
What are some of the things you are going to look for in your next internship? Let us know in the comments below!
Photo: Flazingo Photos / Flickr
Valerie Moses is a marketing and PR professional who lives in Orlando, Florida. When she isn’t with friends or attempting a new healthy recipe, she can be found at her lifestyle and college advice blog, So It Must Be True.