What is the “Right” Internship?

You may have seen articles or heard your professors talk about securing the right internship. But what does that really mean? It’s different for everyone, but here are a few important points to consider when deciding whether an internship is the “right” one.

It provides you the opportunity to learn new skills. The point of an internship is to learn new things – about a career, about an agency, about you. Your internship should be a safe space for you to try new things and get feedback and advice from your supervisors. An internship that doesn’t get you outside your box a little to experience new things most likely isn’t the “right” one.

It lets you use your existing skills. For some organizations, especially non-profits, interns are a great way to get free labor. Finding an intern with great technology skills, for example, saves an agency from paying someone to redo their website or get them started on Twitter. Using your skills to the benefit of the agency is a great way to feel like you’re a productive member of the team and not just “the intern.” A note of caution, however: this shouldn’t be the only thing you’re doing (see point above about learning new skills!).

It points you toward (or away from) a certain career path and/or provides connections. Completing your internship should give you some insight into the career you want – or don’t want. Perhaps the internship you choose is exactly what you thought it would be and confirms your career plans. That’s great. But your internship can also provide a great learning experience about the type of career you don’t want – and that’s okay! Isn’t it better to take a one-semester internship and find out you hate that job than to get your degree and start a career only then to discover that you hate it and have to start all over? Sometimes internships point you in a new direction instead of confirming your original area of interest and that’s a good thing! Internships can also be a great way to start building your network and making connections in the field. You never know who you will meet or work with today who could help you tomorrow.

Additional Resources:

I Hate My Internship Now What? – Huffington Post

About Elissa Mitchell

Elissa Thomann Mitchell has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Evansville, two Masters degrees (in Human and Community Development & Social Work) and a PhD in Human Development and Family Studies from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She is currently an Assistant Professor at the University of Illinois Springfield in the Department of Human Services. Dr. Mitchell’s research focuses on the resilience of at-risk youth, and she is particularly interested in social support and its contributions to wellbeing.  In addition, she is interested in the personal and professional development of students, particularly in relation to internship and practicum experiences. She served as the TA/Instructor for the internship course at UIUC for three years, helping nearly sixty students secure and successfully complete their internships.

, ,

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply


Career Skillet is an online educational resource designed to help students with skills that will help them successfully transition from student to career roles. Please review this Privacy Policy and Disclaimers periodically as we may make changes and updates without prior notice. We will post a date at the bottom of the page, so our audiences can see when the page was most recently updated.

Privacy Policy

We may use information from the Career Skillet site for program improvement or educational purposes (for example, presentations at conferences or publications in journals). Information that we may obtain from the site about you include:

  • -Manage your participation in events, promotions, or research you sign up for on the Career Skillet site.
  • -Analyze trends and statistics regarding visitors’ use of the Career Skillet website (for example, the pages visited, the most popular content, the types of information that our visitors share with others, how long visitors spend on the website, the types of questions visitors ask).
  • -To comply with legal policies and industry standards


To ensure that Career Skillet visitors receive reliable and accurate information, part of our model is to include comments, authored articles, summaries, and other types of content from contributing authors. Career Skillet assumes no responsibility for documents posted by users or contributing authors although we will make every attempt to block or delete offensive material or any information that conflicts with the goals and mission of Career Skillet.

Contributing authors come from various backgrounds and were invited to contribute to the Career Skillet websites because of their expertise. The contributing authors are not responsible for the information posted by other authors.

Career Skillet will link to other websites. These links are provided as a convenience to visitors. Therefore, these links should not be considered an endorsement of the other website, and Career Skillet is not responsible for the content on the third-party websites. Although we are selective and only generally reference articles, infographics, or other materials on third-party websites that we believe is of quality, when you link to third-party websites, you do so at your own risk. If Career Skillet links to information on your website and you would like it removed, or you believe that Career Skillet is violating your website’s copyright policies, we ask that you notify Career Skillet in writing of a copyright infringement click here. If we remove or disable access to content in response to a copyright infringement notice you sent, we will make every attempt to notify you.

If you wish to use the content on the Career Skillet website for another website or online resource of similar nature, we ask that you do not duplicate our original content and that you list the Career Skillet name and provide a direct link back to the Career Skillet website. Please notify us and tell us how you are using our content.

For Questions, comments, or Advertising inquires please submit the following form and we will contact you back as soon as possible.

Your Name: *
E-mail Address: *
Subject: *
Message Details:  

*=required field
[php] include('mathcaptcha.php');[/php]