There was a time when interns were around to fetch coffee and answer phones. But these days internships have an entirely different scope. They’ve become an important part of getting a job. Here are some of the reasons more people than ever are interning:
- Students and recent grads need experience in their field
- People in career transition are seeking experience in a new area
- Job seekers want to fill the unemployment gap on their resume
- Interning can offer a foot in the door at a target company
- It’s a great way to network with people in your field
- It allows you to try a field and see if you like it and are good at it
The key to a great internship is to have clear goals and make sure both the intern and the company share those goals.
- If you are interning in order to get skills in a new field, be clear about exactly what skills you hope to develop. Target an internship where it’s clear you’ll get support in building and using those skills.
- If you are interning because you think it would improve your resume, be specific about what it is you want to show. Simply listing that you interned at a company is not nearly as impressive as having areas of ownership and achievement. Define a specific outcome such as demonstrating a new skill or being responsible for a new success.
- If you want to intern in order to get a foot in the door, consider whether interns are ever hired at the company and whether the company is growing to the point where new positions are likely. If not, do not take an internship there with high hopes you will be hired at the end of it.
- If you want to network with others in your field, be sure the company you are targeting has good contacts and be sure you will have access to them. Are interns integrated into the company or segmented into their own department? Do leaders in the company welcome and mentor interns, making themselves available to counsel and network with them?
- If you are looking to try out a new field, make sure the internship will give you hands on experience in your area of interest.
You may find it helpful to talk with others who have interned at the company. Determine if their goals were met and if the internship provided them the springboard to success they were hoping for. You can find past interns by asking the company or by looking for them on LinkedIn.