Until recently, graduates from college or university were all but guaranteed employment in their field. However, now more than ever internships have become the next step for recent graduates, with many interns being paid little or nothing in exchange for experience and networking opportunities.
When the time comes to accept your internship, take a look at Placement’s guide on how to respond to an internship offer. Make sure you have considered the financial and legal implications of an internship and how it will actually benefit you in your career progression and fit around your life.
If you are thinking about taking an internship, it is important you are sure that it is the right path for you and your career. Take a look through these 6 things to consider before you accept that offer:
- Can you afford to take on an internship?
An internship can be a valuable way to gain experience in a field, however, it is important that you have considered the financial side of things. Since most internships are unpaid or at least paid at a very low rate, you will need to be in a position where you have money saved up for rent or you are able to live somewhere rent-free for the duration of your internship. This could mean moving back home with your parents or relying on a partner for a period of time to take on the financial responsibility of the home. Whatever the situation, make sure you properly work out how much money you will need to budget each month to get by and whether this is feasible on an intern’s pay.
- What are the benefits of taking on this internship?
Will taking on this internship lead to reliable job prospects, or is an internship the only way to break into your industry? Can this internship provide me with quality references and recommendations? Will there be networking opportunities? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then the internship is likely well worth your time. You should also consider the other benefits offered to you by the company, for example, some companies will house and feed interns during the week to take the financial pressure off, or some can provide extra qualifications or guaranteed jobs within their company at the end of the internship period. Take a good look at the benefits of an internship before you accept it to better understand what you will gain from it.
- How long do you plan on staying as an intern?
Is this your first internship? If you already have the skills and qualifications needed to get a paid job, then perhaps you should be looking for a job rather than an internship. Try not to get stuck in the cycle of endless internship programs and instead work on building your skills and working your way up the ladder.
- Do you understand the legal implications of an internship?
It is important to note that if you are taking on an unpaid internship you may not be eligible for basic labor protections, particularly in America. This means that you will not be protected by the law in the case of any discrimination, harassment or bullying. Although this may not be an issue to everyone pursuing an internship, it is still well worth being aware of.
- Have You Thought About Your Other Options?
An internship can be a fantastic way to gain entry into a particular industry, particularly if you have no prior working experience in the field. However, an internship is not the only option. Of course, it comes with a lot of benefits, namely experience and a solid network of established industry professionals, but there are other ways to make your mark professionally that are not working 50 hours unpaid a week. For example, you could take on a retail or hospitality job to make money and spend your off-time working on your portfolio and profession yourself, or you could look for college courses or jobs that can guide you into the industry without the internship stage. Whatever you choose, put your career progression first, there’s no wrong answer!
- Do You Know Who You Will Be Working With?
Find out who you will be reporting to, is this person experienced with training interns or is this their first time? Find out if you will be the only intern or if there will be a group of you. Have the people you have spoken to in the process so far seemed friendly and welcoming? Make sure that you will fit in in the environment you will be joining and that you will get on with everyone you’ll be working with. This is especially important if you are hoping to receive a job offer at the end of the internship.