Whether you're going unpaid or you'll pick up a little coinage for your work, accepting an internship can definitely have its pros and cons. Sure, you'll score a great reference for your resume, but you might also be stuck taking your boss' cat to the vet to be dewormed if you don't set boundaries early on.
Wondering if you should work in exchange for experience? Check out why you should (or shouldn't) here.
Little Bit Awesome: Resume-Boosting Experience
Yup, it's true: When you participate in an internship, you might only be getting paid in hugs and jellybeans, but you're getting something even more valuable. When your resume is woefully blank under the "Experience" section, an internship can help you gain a few months' worth in a field related to your dream job.
Little Bit Awkward: Getting Stuck with Menial Work
Unfortunately, the experience you get might not always be pertinent to your career goals. Some companies treat interns as professional punching bags, sticking them with all the work the paid employees don't want to do.
Carefully vetting all of your interning opps and then making sure you'll be doing meaningful (and not menial) work before you sign on can help.
Little Bit Awesome: Connecting with Killer Contacts
One of the reasons that internships are highly sought after is because it lets you interact with the right people. If you're trying to bust into an industry, what better way than to become BFFs with the CEO? Connections and networking means that once the internship is over, you've already planned your next move and know who to talk to in order to get there.
Little Bit Awkward: Getting Stuck with the Label
Always being known as "The Intern" can make it hard for other colleagues to take you seriously. You're going to have to work to show coworkers and managers that you're more than just a coffee-fetcher, so they stop thinking of you as "The Intern" and start considering you part of the team.
Little Bit Awesome: Test Driving a Career Before You Commit
Before you, you know, dedicate your entire life and being to a career path, it's always a good idea to test it out. Internships are a low commitment way to decide if you really want to be a pastry chef before you put a ring on it.
Little Bit Awkward: You'll Still Have Expenses
Whether you're an unpaid intern (which, for the record, we don't believe in) or you score a stipend, your expenses don't stop just because you're not getting paid. Housing, food and all that other good stuff will still need to be taken care of, even when you're working long hours. What's more, some of the best internships mean temporarily relocating to an area with a higher cost of living, so you'll need to do some research and come up with a plan of attack for living expenses.
Little Bit Awesome: Flexible Scheduling
Some organizations can be pretty lax with internship scheduling, so you should be able to negotiate your own hours. That means having time after work to take on a second (better-paying) job or working on your own game plan for world domination.
Little Bit Awkward: Less Incentive
Real talk: Money is actually a great incentive to get a job done well. When you know you're being fairly compensated for your time and effort, you might be more likely to give 100 percent. Which means when you're getting next to nothing, you might find your resolve to be awesome just a little bit diminished.
Little Bit Awesome: It Could Lead into Full Time Employment
Companies LOVE keeping their interns around for full time employment: They're already trained and know the ropes in the organization. So don't be surprised if your summer internship totally turns into a full-time gig with regular salary. Show 'em what you got and interning might be a path to your dream job.
Yeah, internships can have their pitfalls. But in the end, if you're lacking in experience and connections, interning might be a boss way to get your foot in the door. Check to see what organizations in your area hire interns to find one that works for you and your goals.
By Jae — Santa's Helper
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