Narrowing Down Your Internship Options

Whether you’re a freshman or a grad, it’s never to late to look for an internship. However, with job boards like Handshake and LinkedIn being filled to the brim with opportunities, it can be difficult to find one that you like. Each one is different in its own way, but with some guidance you can weigh your options seamlessly. Ask yourself the following questions:

Paid or Unpaid?

Unfortunately, according to this College Internship Study, 60% of student respondents cited paid/unpaid status as the main deterrent when choosing an internship. So evaluating the cost-to-wage tradeoff value should be your first step. Analyze the internship and ask yourself these questions:

– How much does it pay?

– Do I have to relocate? If so, will I get free housing or will I have to rent? How much does it cost to live there?

– If its unpaid, what is the value of the internship? Will I learn anything or is it something I already know how to do?

You have to consider all angles when determining the value of the job. Ask questions from different perspectives for your pros and cons lists. In other words, make one for if the opportunity is paid and one for if it’s not. Handshake has a great article with more things to consider as you evaluate payment.

Will You Learn Anything New?

The topic of payment will help you narrow down your option. Now, its time to evaluate the value of the internship itself. Ask yourself what exactly the opportunity is and how it will help you during your career.

– Will you learn skills you already have, or will you gain new ones?

– Will the skills be useful for your career?

– Does the internship have anything to do with your career in the first place?

Asking yourself these questions and make sure that you’re happy with the answers. For a more general list of skills to evaluate, read this article from CollegeRaptor.

Does the Company Sound Like a Good Fit?

Now, you have to see if the company fits within your values. What does that mean? Simple! Is the company someone you want to work for, or not? This step can look like a few different things:

1. Doing your own research. Look into the history of the company and see what they stand for. What are their brand values, and do they value things you do?

2. Set up an informational interview. These types of interviews are ones that you set up specifically to learn more about the company, and are typically less professional than regular interviews. Indeed has a great list of questions to ask.

3. Reach out to current/past employees. Ask them about the role, what they learned, and how the company treated them during their time as an employee.

No matter which route you take, make sure you consider ask these questions:

– What is company culture like? Is there a community/network, or does everyone fend for themselves?

– How do they support their employees? What are the benefits and what do they provide to prevent burnouts and ensure employee happiness? (Ask yourself if this is important to you.)

– What kind of company are they, and do their processes fit with you? For example, are you an environmentalist applying for an internship at an oil company? If yes, don’t apply there.

This might seem a little overwhelming, but at the end of the day it’s worth it. You’ll finish the process with a internship that’s perfect – or close to it! You just have to know how to look. If you need some more help, reach out the MU Career Center to speak with a Career Specialist. If you prefer to go at it alone, check out our Career Scoop blog for more articles about the career world.