One internship isn’t quite like another, and the same can be said for your individual needs as an intern. What seems like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for one student or recent graduate may be a nightmare for another. This is why identifying your needs before your internship search is so crucial.
With spring internship season right around the corner, it’s time to start searching for the best internship for your needs. After all, according to a recent survey by my company, 32.6 percent of students start looking for an internship more than three months before their chosen internship season.
Here are a few questions to consider to help you uncover the best internship for you:
1. What kind of overall experience are you looking for?
Because more than half of students rank gaining professional experience as the most important aspect of an internship, it’s important to get to the bottom of what kind of experience you’re seeking. If you’re looking to gain experience in a variety of different roles, you may consider seeking out a rotational internship program. Or maybe you’re just looking for an opportunity that provides you with several immersive projects to help you really fine tune your skills.
Simply looking at an internship listing isn’t the best way to get a 360-degree view of the experience you’ll be gaining. Scour social media and blogs for insight, or reach out to the human resources manager, recruiter, internship manager, previous interns or even your college career services center to learn more about the internships you’re seeking.
2. Is there any specific training you’re seeking?
Maybe you’re looking to master a certain program used in your industry or step up a certain technical skill. If this is the case, make sure you consider whether the internships you’re looking at can accommodate you.
Many great internship programs offer students the chance to gain hands-on training in a variety of settings, be it in seminars and workshops or just through the guidance of an amazing team of professionals. Take this into account before sending out your resume.
3. Would access to a mentor be beneficial?
During your internship, you need someone who is not only going to act as your manager, but as your mentor. And to be quite honest, not every intern manager is up to the task of mentorship.
While your mentor doesn’t have to be your direct manager, try to dig deeper to learn more about mentorship at the organizations you’re interested in. The company may have a formal mentoring program, or perhaps they can hook you up with company alumni for an informational interview or coffee meetup.
4. Can you afford an unpaid internship?
Forget about financial assistance from your family or student loans. Be honest with yourself about whether you can afford the out-of-pocket expenses that come along with an unpaid internship. Factor in college credits, transportation, food and housing costs. Most students and recent graduates can’t afford an unpaid internship alone, and they shouldn’t have to.
Forget the notion that experience alone is worth more than money. At InternMatch, we believe every intern deserves to be paid. So even if you think you can afford an unpaid internship, remember that you, just like any other employee, shouldn’t be barred from fair pay for fair work.
5. Are you interested in a specific type of company or corporate culture?
From big-name corporations to fresh startups, there are several different organization sizes and corporate cultures to consider when seeking an internship. Maybe you have a passion for nonprofit work or the innovation of the tech sector. Whatever the case, it’s best to focus on internships in areas that match your goals, values and interests.
Keep in mind that not every internship program is going to be the same. Each industry, organization size and company culture requires different personality traits, skills and experiences.
6. Do you have a busy schedule that requires a flexible internship?
If you’re juggling a part-time job or a full class schedule, there are still ways to make an internship work for you.
Seek out flexible virtual internships to fit into your busy schedule. Employers in a variety of industries are open to virtual opportunities these days. This way, you can work from home, campus or a coffee shop while still gaining valuable experience for your resume.
7. What other perks would be a selling point?
While you may not have access to the famed perks of tech giants like Google and Apple, there are still some noteworthy perks you may be craving.
Maybe you crave travel or free housing during your internship. Maybe you want unlimited vacation days, an on-site gym, catered lunches or the ability to bring your pet to the office. These little perks could mean a world of difference if you’re moving to a new city during your internship.
8. Do you want access to leaders in your industry?
Sometimes locating your ideal internship comes down to being interested in working under industry experts you respect.
If you know of industry thought leaders from whom you’re interested in learning, consider seeking out opportunities at the companies where they work. Try engaging with these thought leaders on social media to introduce yourself and get your foot in the door. Who knows? You may even snag a killer recommendation.
During your search to find the best internship for your needs, it’s best to consider a variety of options and truly question what is and isn’t important to you. Best of luck finding your spring internship!