Student Life

Navigating Internships

Everything you need to know about interning opportunities.

Shreya Thalvayapati, Student Contributor

January 15, 2020

Navigating Internships
At any stage in your academic career, internships are a great way to spend your time. They are opportunities that have a myriad of benefits, and even if a particular internship doesn’t meet all your expectations, you will still have learned something. Though finding a purposeful internship can be hard, using the right resources can give you a considerable head start. Here I will discuss the primary benefits of internships and give you some tips that you can use during your internship search.

The Benefits of Internships

Depending on what you are looking for, you can apply for an internship that is paid, or one that is unpaid. While paid internships have all the learning benefits along with the monetary value, bear in mind that they are hard to come by, especially for high school students. Fortunately, unpaid internships are also extremely valuable for students. Here are just some of the benefits. 1.) Internships give you valuable experience in areas that you are interested in. This one is pretty obvious. Internships allow you to test the waters in careers that you are looking at. By giving you the opportunity to observe people who are already in the field, it allows you to determine whether or not you can see yourself doing the same things as them on a daily basis.
Internships also help you assess whether or not you are in the right field. If you take an internship in your current major and end up not liking it, then it may be an indicator that it is not the right career path for you. On the other hand, taking an internship in a different field that you really love may encourage you to switch majors and consider an entirely different career. There is a caveat to this, though. Don’t rule out a career path entirely just because the internship is not 100% exciting and fascinating. Of course, if you find an internship that is trilling the entire time, it will push you in the direction of finding a similar job. But even if you get an internship that has some boring aspects, keep in mind that you are only scratching the surface of the career. It is normal for interns to do mundane jobs because the experts probably won’t trust you (yet) with the most important jobs. While internships allow you to get a sense of what a career will look like, they very rarely allow you to experience every single aspect of that career. 2.) Internships allow you to connect and network with people who have similar interests as you. When you are surrounded by people who like the same things as you, the chances that you will meet them or connect with them later in life, goes up significantly. This is why it is important to make and maintain relationships from the internship. Who knows, you might meet one of your friends from the internship when you are working on the same project, or you may even create the next big company with them!
3.) Internships, especially ones that you have to apply for and ones that are selective, are a valuable addition to your resume. When you are looking for jobs that are in the same career field as your internship, the interviewer will see that you are capable at what you do and already have some experience. This increases your chances of getting the job. Given these benefits, if (and when) you land an internship, try to get these things out of your time there to make the most of the opportunity: learn as much as you can, make meaningful connections with people, and add it to your resume!

Getting the Internship

I remember writing almost a year ago about how when I was looking for an internship, I spent an entire month staring at my computer screen having absolutely no idea what I was looking for. And it was true—Finding the internship that is right for you can sometimes be a time-consuming process, so you need to be patient and keep looking. Fortunately, there are some things that can help speed up the search process: 1.) If you know some of your older friends have interned in the past, and you have similar interests as them, it will not hurt you to ask where they interned. I gave this tip a year ago and it is still one of the most valuable ones I can give you today. Having an idea of how people you know spent their past summers might at least give you a place to start your search, if not finish it. 2.) If you are passionate about working for a specific company or organization, don’t be scared to contact them directly and see if you can apply for their internship program (if they have one)! When you are applying for the internship and are going through the application process, your passion will shine through; the company staff will be more inclined to accept you as an intern! That being said, if your dream company if not located near your hometown, try to find a local company or business that have career paths that interest you. Try to call the human resources office about internship opportunities. Even if they don’t have a structured intern program (small/local businesses often don’t), they may still be able to customize an internship experience for you to job shadow an employee for a week or two! 3.) Ask you teachers and guidance counselors for recommendations. Your teachers know you. If you provide them with more information on your interests, they might be able to give you ideas as to where you can intern. It all comes down to using all the resources you have. Don’t be afraid to contact people, friends and mentors alike, to help you out. Now go out there and get an internship that you like. Learn as much as you can and grow your passion. Good luck!

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