Posted September 23, 2013 by

How to Choose an Internship

How to Choose an InternshipSince internships are usually a once-in-a-career event, and they often consist of a few months of underpaid (sometimes unpaid) labor, the best time to complete an internship will usually take place before you officially graduate and need to support yourself.

Most well-planned careers begin with an internship that takes place during the summer between a student’s junior and senior years of college. And since you’ll want to step immediately into working/interning in June, this means the search for the right opportunity should start during the winter and early spring of your junior year. Here’s how to set the wheels in motion:

1.  Start with your college’s (or high school’s, if you’re still a teenager) career placement office. Visit the office in person and describe your major and the kind of opportunity you’re looking for—and be specific. If you’re lucky, you’ll be pointed to a list of company names and internship opportunities that are perfect matches. If you’re left on your own, there are probably plenty of binders, folders, websites, and bulletin boards there in the office that can lay out your options and show you what’s out there. Companies often send opportunities directly to these types of offices hoping that enterprising students will find them there.

2.  Check your university event calendar and look for the next scheduled job fair. Sometimes these happen in the form of big events that are impossible to miss, involving rows of display tables set up by companies in a gym or under a tent on a lawn. But sometimes recruiters come and go under the radar. Go searching. Don’t expect recruiters to seek you out from across the quad.

3.  Apply for every opportunity that seems like a reasonable match. As long as an internship “opportunity” isn’t an obvious scam (ignore any organization that seems fishy or wants you to pay for the glorious and exclusive chance to work for them), it won’t hurt to submit a resume. It’s best to have multiple options.

4.  When you start receiving interview invitations and offers, it’s time to become more discriminating. Make sure you know what you’d like to get out of your internship experience. What kind of industry exposure are you looking for? What kinds of skills would you like to learn? Focus on what you have to contribute, but don’t lose sight of what you want.

5.  Keep in mind that non-profit organizations may be less likely and less able to pay you, but the experience they offer may be more valuable, the work you do may be more rewarding, and the opportunity may offer higher levels of responsibility and exposure. Beware of a “competitive”  internship for a giant for-profit corporation that could easily pay you but chooses not to.

6.  Before you accept any offer, answer two important questions: Exactly how much will you be paid (in money or course credit)? And what kind of work will be expected of you in return for this compensation? Notice how employers respond as your ask this. Watch out for those who express outrage at your impertinence and expect you to grovel for their approval. Lean toward those who are open, honest, respectful, and who treat you like the professional adult you’re trying to become.

LiveCareer (, home to America’s #1 Resume Builder, connects job seekers of all experience levels and career categories to all the tools, resources and insider tips needed to win the job. Find LiveCareer on Youtube and visit LiveCareer’s Google+ page for even more tips and advice on all things career and resume-related.

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Posted in Advice for Candidates, Career Advice, Internships | Tagged Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,