Are You an Intern-for-Life?

We’ve all heard of “students-for-life”. You know, the seemingly professional students still working toward their next degree – stuck in academia – instead of getting a real job.

So with our new economy, are we starting to see a wave of “intern-for-life” types – those who are on their third, fourth, even fifth internships? Multiple internships are certainly encouraged as a way to build one’s professional experience, and to develop a career direction. But are some recent graduates using internships merely as a way to avoid the workforce?

Here’s a short test to determine if you are currently serving as an intern-for-life (Note: if you are still in school… the answer is no. You can never have too many internships!)

Question 1: During your current internship, or since your last internship, have you actively and passionately pursued your job search?

That’s it. One question. And a simple “yes” or “no” will suffice.

If yes, good for you. There is little danger of becoming an intern-for-life.

If no… well, all is not lost. Mostly because you clearly understand that an internship is not the end-game, but a major, and positive, step in your career development. And, you certainly realize that the best time to look for a “real job” is when you are actively working in your internship opportunity, expanding your sphere of influence, and networking like Ashton Kutcher.


On the other hand, if you let out a huge “Thank God!” when you secured your internship, and haven’t worked on your career plan since… trouble may be ahead. Another bad sign: if you’re already looking forward to your next internship – without having tested the job market with your new-found skills, influence and resume – there is a strong chance you’re going to the Dark Side.

Of course, very few will cross the line into the “intern-for-life” category. And many, undoubtedly, feel a series of internships are much better than being unemployed or under-employed. And we agree.

However, please remember that an internship is a crucial, almost mandatory, stage in your career development. Every career expert will tell you: do not treat the internship as a break from your future, and do not allow an internship to serve as a delay in your entrance to the workforce.

Avoid “intern-for-life” status. As your internship progresses, be sure to take the time to update your resume, complete your Linked-In profile, and most important – leverage your new networking contacts and mentor relationships.

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  • Protoboard

    I work in Barcelona, Spain for a big multinational firm. I’ve been an intern here, full-time (40 hours a week, in a kind of undercover way because that’s not ‘too’ legal) for over 3 years now.
    I don’t know if somebody’s keeping the score around, but 3 and a quarter years is pretty high. There are 80 interns all over Spain working for this Co. and I’m the eldest.

    –The ‘Senior’ intern.–