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.