Top 5 Characteristics of a World-Class Internship

It’s clear that far too many people in a hiring capacity – and those “experts” apparently influencing them – have lost sight of internships as education. Some even see interns as free labor.

Equally clear is that it is 100% up to you to make sure that the internship you choose is not only right for you – but is also in the “world class” category as defined by these not-as-hard-to-come-by-as-you’d-think characteristics:

The Existence of a Quality Mentor

The days when an internship implied “go-fer duty” in a dictatorial environment are gone; anyone who tells you different is stuck in the 1990’s – or before.

Mentorship is a critical element of any modern internship. And it may not just be advice from an older generation to newer. Many internships incorporate bi-directional and “reverse mentorships” – where the intern is tasked with bringing a workforce veteran up-to-speed on technology and social media, for example – is becoming more common.

A Dynamic Learning Environment

If you want boring, by-the-book tasks to perform every day, stay in class.

Today’s internships offer the opportunity to contribute in small-team environments where you not only learn, you also grow – and greatly improve your career prospects in the process.

The Opportunity to Create Solutions and Problem Solve

You don’t learn by watching others…you learn by doing (well, that and by Googling and then doing).

Make sure the company you’re about to invest significant time into will enable you to learn – by participating rather than spectating.

Passion (That’s All…Just “Passion”)

The best internships in the world are fuel for your passions. They give you a reason to get up in the morning, or work late. They inspire you to do more, learn faster, and become a champion of the mission.

If you – like so many of those complaining on Twitter about their “boring” internships – feel an internship will not serve as caffeine for your career, well…life is too short for a boring internship.

Compensation (in One Form or Another)

Compensation, like beauty, is in the eyes of the checkbook holder. Your situation is different than that of anyone else – and no one knows what’s more important to you, than you.

Compensation can come in many forms: wages, stipends, benefits, career enhancing opportunities, an incredible learning environment, an awesome resume marker, outstanding networking possibilities, the potential for a job…and much more.

If you aren’t getting something out of this experience that makes it worth your investment – or if you feel the company is taking advantage of you as some sort of slave labor go-fer – this is not the internship for you – and you have just volunteered for a miserable assignment.

We understand not every internship is going to have all five of these world-class characteristics. And we also realize we might have missed what might be most important to you. After all, there are no rules.

If you look for these characteristics as a starting point, however, your expectations will be better set – so will the companies you interview with – and the company you eventually agree to join!

This blog by YouTern CMO Joe Gagliano was originally posted by our friends at Classroom to Cubicle.


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