How To Think About Internships

Every student has heard the word internship. It’s one of those things that you’re supposed to do, but what is it and how are you supposed to approach it?

Interns work with companies all over the globe to get a sneak peak at what different professions and businesses do. It’s a learning experience designed to help you develop practical and applicable skills in a specific business niche while gaining real world experience. It’s a wise thing to do before you have to face a competitive job market.

Every internship is different, so take the time to research and explore your options. Do this way in advance. Apply to lots of companies so you can choose the internship that is best for you – the one that meets your goals, expectations, needs, and interests.

The first step in this process is to ask questions…

Why Do You Need an Internship?

Most students complete an internship to gain valuable work experience or to earn the necessary credits they need to graduate from school.

As an intern, you will have a unique opportunity to learn skills, work on projects, ask questions, expand your network, and explore your career options.

Treat it like a job and take advantage of any and all training and advice. Plus, you might even get to collect a paycheck.

You may have heard that life is all about who you know. When you intern, you will have the opportunity to make contacts that can help you in your job search and provide you with references.

An internship may be the first professional position that you can add to your resume – a document that accompanies every job application. Plus, if you do a good job, you may be offered a permanent position when you graduate.

How Internships Relate to College Majors

One focus of internships is to enhance your academic knowledge. Choose an internship that relates to your major (most universities will require this if you are seeking credit).

During your internship you will see how your major applies to real world work places. It will help you decide how to use your major to thrive in your career.

How to Choose an Internship

Find an internship that excites you in an industry that relates to your major and with a company that you may want to work for.

Are you interested in a specific industry niche? You can search for internships in Social Media, Communications, Marketing, Advertising, Banking, Business, Real Estate, Software Engineering, Human Resources, Information Technology, User Experience, Entertainment, Sports Management, or countless others.

Or maybe you’ve always wanted to work at a specific place? Consider internships at a zoo, accounting firm, advertising agency, ski resort, internet company, music label, television network, government agency, real estate firm, fashion label, retail store, cruise line, energy company, airline, winery, casino, farm, event firm, magazine, theme park, video game company, camp, museum, fitness center, bank, and the list goes on…

You also get to think about location. Do you want to work close to home or school? Or do you want to pursue an internship in a big city like New York or San Francisco? Maybe you want to gain international experience in London, Tokyo, or Rio de Janeiro?

Is your dream to work for a specific business? Did you know that there are internships with Apple? Facebook? Twitter? JPMorgan? NOLS? Norwegian Cruise Lines? NFL? NHL? MLB? Humane Society? Peace Corp? Home Depot? BBDO? Young and Rubicam? Harley Davidson? BMW? Garmin? Marriot? Nintendo? NBC? MTV? CIA? Random House? Northwestern Mutual? Sirius XM? Verizon? Teach for America? Southwest Airlines? In fact, almost every company has internship opportunities.

Internships are your opportunity to pursue your interests and link them to your major. Decide what interests you, where you want to work, or what you want to do, and then seek a cool internship with a company in that niche. has lots of good info to help you with your search.

Pros & Cons of Interning

It’s important to weigh the pros and cons of different internships – perks, location, pay, company, job description, etc. The most important factor is to find internships that appeal to you.

You may have to go through interviews, write essays, or submit portfolios. The internship application process is like a job hunt. Be proactive.

Consider the following… Some companies pay interns well, others don’t pay at all. Where do you want to work? Does the company reimburse you for relocation or housing? Some internships offer cool happy hours or office game rooms. Some allow you to work hands-on; others make you do their clerical, grunt work.

There’s a lot more to consider than just a company’s name. Find out what’s expected of you and how it will benefit you. It will make a difference on where you decide to intern.

Final Decision

Remember most internships will get you college credit and some may lead to full time work. Find one that interests you and do your best. Internships are stepping-stones to finding a full time gig, plus they look great on your newly updated resume.

Ultimately, it is up to you to choose the best internship. Approach it as you would a full time job – send in lots of applications, weigh the pros and cons, and accept the one that is best for you.


How Interns Help Employers