Internships after College – Good Experience or Pointless Exploitation?

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In a difficult job market, many college grads might be considering taking a non-paying internship to use the time to work toward their career goal rather than taking a non-related job. However, not all internships provide useful experience. Often, an intern find himself or herself doing menial tasks that teach them nothing about the field they hope to enter. A close look at types of internships can help a grad decide whether an internship is the right choice.

 

Financial Concerns

Often the first consideration when considering taking an after-college internship is whether the student can manage finances without a full-time paycheck. Most internships are unpaid or only offer a small stipend. After taking on the burden of college debt, this may be impossible for some students. However, parents may be willing to continue to support the student if the likelihood of finding work in his or her field is slim. Many areas of study require an internship for completion of the degree’s requirements. This is a somewhat different circumstance than a voluntary internship and is often considered part of the academic expense. The student should have a frank talk with parents about financial considerations to determine if additional part-time work can help with the financial burden.

 

Limits on Tasks

Students taking an internship position often find themselves doing a multitude of low-level tasks that can be boring and pointless. Though they may be in the general environment of their field of study, the internship may not provide any exposure to the real work of professionals engaged in the field. This can be extremely frustrating and can lead to a series of internships, all hoping to find experience that is never actually provided. The student should discuss the types of tasks they will be given as well the hours they will be expected to work in advance of accepting the position. If there appears to be a problem with the task descriptions for internship, the student should probably look elsewhere for a more fruitful position.

 

Valuable Experience

If the student can manage the financial strain of no or very little pay and works with a company that is concerned about providing a rewarding experience for the student, an internship can provide many benefits. The student will learn a great deal about the actual work environment in their desired field. They will make important professional and social contacts that can help in acquiring future employment. In addition, the student will be able to hone his or her work skills, interview skills and have valuable experience to put on a resume.

 

Road To Employment

The company where the student serves an internship may even his or her work so much that they offer full-time employment. This outcome may or may not be the desired result for the intern,  depending on whether he enjoyed the work environment and whether the work inspired them to look into other areas of their field of study. Regardless, the experience of interning provides valuable contacts and experience to launch students onto paths that can benefit their future careers.

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