Choosing Between Internships: What Factors Should You Consider?

An internship or job shadow is an integral part of any college experience. It’s a great way to get your feet wet and experience your career of choice in the real world.

Those who are on the ambitious side often apply for multiple internships in hopes of landing at least one for the upcoming summer. The amount can be staggering, but what happens when you wow multiple companies, and they all want to bring you on board? It sounds like a dream scenario — and it is — but it means identifying your priorities and making tough decisions about where to spend your time.

 

A few things to consider before you commit to one opportunity:

Paid vs. unpaid. This is a hotly debated issue. One side argues that interns should be willing to earn their keep and work for free in order to develop the real-world skills they’ll need to survive in today’s workplace. The other side argues that if you’re adding value to the company, which almost all interns do, you should be compensated as such.

Some say they’d grin and bear it if they thought the experience they’d gain at a particularly high-profile company would compensate for the lack of pay. It is absolutely a personal decision, but it’s important to note that your time is valuable and it does have worth, so you should never feel pressured to accept a non-paid position if it doesn’t make sense for you financially or otherwise.

Your commute. Perhaps you’re sold on one particular company, but you’ll end up spending more money on gas than you’ll be banking in your paycheck. It’s a quality of life issue, and you have to think about what you’re willing to sacrifice. Is the opportunity worth it?

Your experience. Which opportunity will allow you to learn real skills that will be applicable in the near future? If you’re choosing between two internships, and one will allow you to build media lists and get face time with clients, and the other means answering phones and schlepping coffee, it might make your decision a little easier. There can be value in doing the mundane, however, as it is often key to demonstrating a strong work ethic and desire to learn.

College credit. It’s important to distinguish whether or not the internship you’re excited about will include credits you can use toward graduation. Some companies simply don’t offer it, and sometimes your school doesn’t view that particular company or role as worthy of it. Sort that out ahead of time before you fall for something hook, line and sinker. Many schools require an accredited internship to graduate, so you don’t want to encounter any mix-ups on that front.

The bottom line is most students would do just about anything for the luxury of choosing between several worthwhile internships. So if you find yourself in this boat, just like any major life decision, it’s important to weigh all of the important factors and choose the one that makes sense for you at the time.

What other factors have played into your decision to accept an internship?

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About Erica Moss

Erica Moss is the social media and outreach coordinator for the Masters in Nursing program at Georgetown University, which has one of the nation's leading family nurse practitioner programs. She worked for five years as a journalist before transitioning to public relations and social media marketing. Erica has developed social web campaigns for clients like Wendy’s and Buffalo Wild Wings, helping to promote local stores and build brand awareness.

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