The art of choosing an internship

Written by Angelynn Tan – a college student and an adventurous travel blogger.
You can read her adventures at TravelHolicMusings. Follow Angelynn on her Facebook pageher Instagram and her Pinterest board.

interns_wantedPhoto credits: internsdc.com

Most universities and colleges required students to complete a period of industrial training before graduations. To some, an internship period is no more than a hurdle to jump over, a nuisance set by the college administration. In actual fact, it couldn’t be further from the truth.

Some feel that internships detracts university life and put ill-prepared students in the cruel, harsh world. On the contrary, internships provide students the opportunities to test out the work field by applying university/college acquired skills. Internships also present opportunities for the students to dabble in their area of interest and to learn the demands expected from them. Many companies ask for the student’s internship experiences as these experiences represent work experience that future employers could look into and gauge the student’s compatibility to the job he/she applied. If everything works out, said intern could potentially secure a spot in the company, which basically guarantees a fixed income straight out of college.

Choosing an internship, however, can be a tricky affair. There are so many factors to consider before ultimately deciding. It doesn’t help that you’d have to fulfill a certain amount of hours for the internship and can’t leave lest you’re willing to start over. You have to decide if the nature of the company is compatible with you, whether there are allowances provided, so on and so forth. That said, it’s not going to be the end of your life if you chose the wrong company, but it’s going to be sufferable and annoying. On the bright side, you don’t have to stick around for long.

The wrong internship could mean different things to different people. For me, the worst kind of company a person could end up in is the ones that only take advantage of your existing skills and not teach you new ones. An internship should be a learning experience. Learning areas could be anywhere from learning how to make a good cup of coffee to managing an important event. There’s no learning goal in an internship- you are simply expected to learn everything. By gaining all of these skills, you’re increasing your value as an employee, and a useful member of the society.

grow in an internshipPhoto credits: fortlewis.edu

Another area of concern is the amount of allowance that the company pays you. As a psychology major, it’s a struggle to choose between something well paid but is most likely the experience I don’t care for or doing what I’m passionate about but pays peanuts if at all. Many of my friends took the high road, choosing internships that aligned to their interests and not being paid. But I was desperate for a paid internship. I needed financial support. How can I help others if I can’t even support myself?

interns_not _free_laborPhoto credits: thetab.com

To choose between reaping financial benefits and doing meaningful work is an enlightening experience in itself. There’s so much to be gained from both sides. The key here is to keep trying. As experience has taught me, monetary gains and self-fulfillment isn’t mutually exclusive. Present yourself in a professional manner and keep knocking on doors that you want to be opened. Do a lot of researchers on companies that might satisfy your need for personal satisfaction and a full tummy. I ended with an internship that matches my expectation and pays decently just right before the deadline to secure an internship. There’s no reason that you couldn’t. Keep trying and persevere.

But don’t sweat if you decide to choose the higher road. Although these companies don’t always offer monetary compensations, they would most likely offer other incentives to make up for it. My friend worked at a rehabilitation center that allows her to listen in to the extremely expensive workshops conducted by overseas experts. I had an employer cover my lunch expenses in exchange for my labor. You would have to make sure that you negotiate the terms of employment to the employer early in the recruitment process. It’s not good for the overall office environment or your happiness to grumble about your needs not being met later when you’ve started. Trust me, more often than not, you would need your boss’s reference further in life.

At the end of the day, an internship is an outlet for you to try living in the “real world” for a few months. Don’t feel pressured to join a company because your friends are going there. People have different priorities and therefore, would choose different paths in life. You have the right to do that too. After all, making new friends and learning how to network is one of the skills you would have to learn eventually. Don’t be afraid to put yourselves out there and rock the world!

Internships_connect_classroom_workplace

Photo credits: intranet.stockholm.edu

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