How to decide if you should accept an internship

Consider these questions as you decide whether or not to accept an internship.

Consider these questions as you decide whether or not to accept an internship.

If like most college students you’ve spent the majority of your spring semester (aside from studying) applying for summer internships, there’s no question that you should be thrilled if you are finally offered one! But how can you know if having an internship is right for you? Ask yourself these questions as you make a final decision about your summer plans:

Is it paid?

Not all internships are paid, and if you are financially independent, an unpaid internship could be a deal-breaker. Even if you are given hourly wages, it may not be enough to not have to work a second job. Before accepting the internship, sit down and take a hard look at your budget to make sure it’s financially doable.

What will be expected of me?

You likely read the job description when you applied for the internship, but the employer’s actual expectations may differ slightly, so you’ll want to do a little more research before accepting a position. Look thoroughly through the company’s website and see if you can find any information about its internship program on LinkedIn. This is also where talking to former interns can be extremely helpful.

Do I know any former interns?

If you really want to know what an internship will be like, you need to talk to current or former interns. Ask them to take you through a description of a typical day, what the workload is like and how flexible the hours are. If you have questions you were uneasy about posing to the interviewer, these are the people you should ask. If you don’t know any of the interns personally, see if you can connect with them on LinkedIn or Facebook.

Could this lead to a permanent job?

Even if an internship is unpaid, if there is a great likelihood that it will lead to a full-time job in the future it may be well worth it. Searching for a post-graduation job will be your next great task as a college student, and the networking opportunities that come with having an internship in your desired career field can be invaluable.

Will I learn relevant skills?

Some interns spend their entire summers making coffee runs and fetching copies. That would be a waste of your time and skills, so make sure that your internship experience will be a valuable one. You want to come away from your summer having learned something and your internship should sharpen your skill set, not dull it.