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.

Right?

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.–