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Developing Internship Goals


Teenage boy sitting in office chair, looking away
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Before checking out the internship listings online or contacting employers about potential internships, make sure you make a list of goals and establish what you hope to gain from doing an internship. By skipping this step you may find yourself in an internship where you are unhappy and one that is not related to your future career goals or aspirations. On the other hand, an internship is a time to explore different career fields especially if you are unsure of what you want to do after graduation.

Why Do You Want to Do an Internship:

Internships will provide experience to see if a particular industry or career is the right choice for you. By doing several different types of internships, students can compare different career fields and better understand where their skills and interests are best suited. For example, if you are a business major and interested in marketing and advertising, you might want to get an internship in both of these areas to find out more about each one and learn about the duties and responsibilities of each job.

What Do You Hope to Gain From an Internship:

Internships offer experience and a way to see what it’s actually like working in the field or industry. An internship will provide relevant experience in a field to include in a resume as well as providing you with professional references and networking contacts.

What are Your Specific Career Interests & Goals:

Perhaps you are interested in pursuing a career in your major or minor and you want to go out and try it out before committing to a field. You may be interested in pursuing something totally different than what you are studying in college. Remember, organizations make their hiring decisions based on college performance as well as any co-curricular, professional, and volunteer experiences of the applicant.

What Type of Work Environment are You Looking to Do:

Are you seeking a large Fortune 500 company or a non profit agency in which to work. Think about the type of environment where you thrive best and what culture you will find yourself feeling the most comfortable. Smaller companies often provide new hires with an opportunity to learn many facets of the business as well as a chance to move up in the organization rather quickly. On the other hand, if a company is too small their may be little room for upward mobility or you might enjoy the exciting challenges and teamwork which are often a part of the large corporate culture.

Where Do You Want to Intern:

If you are planning to do your internship during the college semester, you will need to find an internship in close proximity to your college. During the summer months you may prefer to find an internship close to home to avoid having to pay for housing and personal expenses or you may be interested in moving to a place where you plan on finding a job after graduation or someplace totally new where you’ve always wanted to live.

Are You Looking to Do a Paid, Unpaid, or Internship for Credit:

Although there are a significant number of internship that pay (and some quite well), there are still many internships that are unpaid. If you are looking to gain experience in a non profit agency, there usually is not money available to pay interns to work for the summer. Sometimes employers who offer unpaid internships require interns to do their internship for credit.

What are Some Internship Alternatives:

Transcript notations and 1 credit internships have recently become more popular since they do not require that students pay a large sum of money to do a summer internship. Some colleges even allow students to do internships for credit during the summer and have those credits awarded in the fall semester (and rolled into fall tuition) as long as total credits for the semester are kept under 18.

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