Choosing the right internship for you

You’ll be amazed at what you can learn from the right internship

Internships are super important for your career development. Not only will they help you discover what you do and don’t want in a career, but they can also tell you what your strengths are, and the skill areas you still need to develop. The right internship can also give you valuable experience that will increase your marketability for a full-time job.

Internships can also lead to full-time jobs! Sometimes employers use internship programs to screen for candidates who would make valuable full-time employees in the near future. That said, we think it’s important for all students to have at least one internship prior to graduation to keep up with an ever-increasing competitive job market.

Should you choose a paid or an unpaid internship?

We all have bills to pay, and sometimes it’s necessary to choose the option that will provide the greatest financial rewards. But will this option ultimately help you prepare for your future career?

When it’s time to choose between a paid or unpaid internship, the first step is to assess where your financial priority lies. Is it pertinent that you make money, or are you more concerned with building your resume and skills because you lack experience?

It’s common for larger, for-profit companies in the corporate sector to offer great internships that are paid. But if you’re interested in the nonprofit sector, or if you want to work for a smaller business, unpaid internships are usually the norm due to a lack of funding. Keep in mind, however, that internships in these fields also provide strong, well-rounded experiences.

If you do find an unpaid internship with an organization that you’re excited to work for, you can always look for a part-time job. You can also apply for scholarships or grants to pay for living expenses while working an unpaid internship.

It depends on the industry and work you would be doing, but the money is out there. Websites like  finaid.org are good places to start to look for funding.

The difference between an internship and a part-time job

There are a lot of things you can do with your summer. Study abroad, take additional courses, find an internship, or work a summer job. Many people wonder what the differences are between summer jobs and internships.

Summer jobs and internships can be interchangeable because you may be completing the same type of work and you may be lucky to find a great paid internship.

The major difference between a summer job and an internship is that an internship usually requires a substantial educational component and a substantial project.

Many internship programs provide regular seminars and rotational assignments, allowing interns to understand all aspects of the company’s operations and where they may prefer to make their career. As an intern, you might also be able to contribute to a major company project, which gives you more experience to add to your resume and talk about in future interviews.

Choosing a part-time job instead of an internship

Many college students pursue internships during the summer when they have more time on their hands. But if you do decide to forego an internship for a well-paying summer job, always take your future career in consideration.

Is this a company you would like to work full-time at in the future?

Which types of skills are required of your future career, and will this summer job allow you to develop those skills?

Will you be developing “transferable skills,” such as communication, time-management, leadership, and organization? All industries seek these "softer" skills in their candidates.

While you are working in this summer job, be sure to volunteer, job shadow, conduct informational interviews, and attend networking events to meet professionals working in the industry that you’d like to make a career in. We also know that networking is the most common way to find a job, so it’s never too early to start!

Need help finding an internship?

Career advisors are great resources to help you find internships, build experience, prepare you for the job search, and weigh your options.

If you would like assistance with any career-related needs, visit the Career Development Center or your school’s career services office and they would be happy to assist you!