Internships are great opportunities for students to learn about potential professions and for employers to find potential new employees. An internship can entail many different things, though. Positions can be full-time, part-time, or just a few hours a week, and an intern can be paid, unpaid, or partially paid for their time. Some organizations offer interns a salary for their work, while some may offer an hourly wage or weekly stipend. There are also many unpaid internships that may or may not give students the opportunity to earn course credit, instead of a paycheck. If you are in a situation that allows you to take on an unpaid internship, it is often a good idea to open your search to include these types of opportunities. The main benefits of having an internship typically do not include money. Unpaid internships can often times be less competitive to obtain with the same type of pay off.
Here are some benefits of pursuing both paid and unpaid internships:
- Professional Connections- By interning, you get the opportunity to meet many people in your field of interest that you can hopefully add to your network. These individuals can also serve as references or future employers.
- Exposure- Most interns will gain exposure to real-world problems that are not found in textbooks. Interns may also get experience working in an office setting or out in the field in their chosen profession.
- Evaluate a Prospective Industry- Internships give individuals a chance to see if they like a certain industry or company before committing to full-time employment. It gives a “try before you buy” type of experience.
- Increase in Self-Confidence- After completing an internship, many individuals feel more prepared and are more confident entering the work force.
- Learn Strengths and Weaknesses- Even if your internship doesn’t require an evaluation- ask for one! This is a great opportunity to learn more about what you do really well and areas you can improve on in a safe environment.