Finding the perfect internship can be a daunting task but having internship experience can make you stand out and give you important insight into a particular career or company. Completing an internship can be very helpful if you are unsure about what type of job you would like to have once you graduate. There are a variety of factors you need to keep in mind when searching for an internship.
Pay: For many students a major deciding factor for them is whether or not the internship is a paid position. It would be awesome to be paid for the time and effort you put into your internship, and keep in mind that the experience that you gain may allow you to get a higher paying position after you graduate. If you absolutely have to be paid there are a variety of internships that pay, but there are others that don’t so you may be limiting your options by requiring pay. Legality issues around pay for interns has been in the news a lot of the past several years. Read up on the topic with information right from the source, the US Department of Labor.
Time: When thinking about internships you need to keep both your time frame and the amount of time you can put into the job in mind. Once you decide when you would like to intern (fall spring, or summer) you might also have a better idea about how many hour you can put in per week. You need to look for the perfect goldilocks setup: Don’t overwhelm yourself by taking on too much or miss opportunities by limiting your availability too much, aim for that elusive middle ground.
Location: After you have decided when you would like to intern this may also dictate which city you can intern in. However, if you decide to intern over your summer vacation you might have the chance to intern in a different city or state. Just keep in mind that if you decide to intern in a new city or state you still need to have somewhere to live and if you aren’t paid for your internship, paying for housing and meals could be an issue.
Company: If you have a company in mind that you might like to work for after you graduate see if they have an internship that matches your other criteria. If you do a great job while interning there, the company may offer you a full-time position after you graduate. Hiring someone who already knows the company and knows the policies and procedures can save them some money on training you once you are hired. However if your performance is less than spectacular they may not consider hiring you at all.
Field: If there isn’t a company that you like offering an internship that meets your criteria try to find an internship that is at least in the field that you want to go into. It might be fun to try something different or go to an exotic location. In the end, experience in your field is very important when companies look at your resume. Other than internships, gaining experience is difficult while you are in college. Other options to internships are: part-time jobs, on-campus opportunities, research, or volunteering for a community organizations.
Looking for an internship can be difficult but you don’t have to go through it alone. You can meet with one of our career counselors (if you’re a UMD student) for help in the internship search, ask professors, look on company web pages, and search internship web sites.
To get you started here are a few web pages you can use to start your search:
- best internships – 2012
- UMD Career and Internship Services – Internship resources
- Intern Spotlight