32 percent of graduates with internship experience found full-time employment immediately after college (as opposed to the 21 percent of students who weren’t interns), according to CareerBuilder.
But maybe pursuing an internship this summer is financially unrealistic? Maybe a part-time job fits your immediate needs better?
To help determine the best choice for you, here are the pros and cons of internships versus a part-time job during the summer break:
- Gain experience in your field: Employers expecting interns to come in with a limited understanding of what it’s like to work in your chosen field. Get the most out of your internship by taking advantage of every learning opportunity presented to you. You’ll be doing yourself a disservice to wait for your employer to hand you everything you need to learn on a silver platter.
- Networking opportunities: Finding good references is hard. Develop a good working relationship with your boss and all your co-workers. Ask people to be a reference for you before your last day. Maintain contact with them after you leave the company. It will be easier for them to provide an accurate reference to your future employer if they feel they still know you.
- Makes your resume stand-out: Hiring managers are impressed when you feature an internship on your resume. It shows you were willing to go beyond the classroom and sought additional learning opportunities. Some interns only list where and when they interned on their resume. Be sure to include the specific, measurable accomplishments.
- Job offer: Treat your internship the same way you treat a regular job. Arrive on time, demonstrate your willingness to exceed expectations, and approach your boss for more responsibilities. As your internship comes to a close, ask your employer if they have any full-time openings. This demonstrates your desire to continue working for your boss even after your internship is finished.
- Earn college credit: Some colleges accept internships as a way to earn college credit. Talk with your advisors and future employer to learn if this is an option for you.
- Short-term income: If you’re lucky enough to snag a paid internship, you know your cash flow is going to dry up once your internship is over. Worst case scenario, you get hired for an unpaid internship. Unless your parents are helping you financially, your unpaid internship means you’ll also need to find a job to pay for your expenses. If you’re concerned about how you’ll pay for your internship, consider getting a job on campus during the semester and save everything your earn to balance your limited income while interning with your expected living expenses.
- Menial tasks: While you can expect to do mind-numbing tasks at any job or internship, some employers rely on interns to handle the jobs no one in the office enjoys. Before applying for an internship, research as much as you can about the company’s internship program. If you can’t find any information, ask the hiring manager in your interview what your responsibilities will be while interning. Only accept internships where you can truly benefit.
- Viewed only as “the help”: Once you’ve been identified as the intern, it’s hard for some of your new co-workers to view you as an equal. On your first day, make an honest effort to talk to every person with whom you will be working. This will help them see you as a member of the team instead of that quiet person who doesn’t seem to care about getting along with their co-workers.
- Consistent income: The phrase “broke college student” is all too real. Working while in college is necessary for most students, a job offers you the consistent income you need to cover living expenses and maybe even occasionally hitting-up Dollar Draft Night at the local popular bar.
- Opportunity to work your way up in a company: Some jobs that start off as “college jobs” turn into your first “real” job after graduation. Talk with your managers to learn about opportunities for advancement once you graduate.
- Treated as an equal: Having a specific job title other than intern helps co-workers understand your responsibilities. You’re also not viewed as the kid who’s only in the office temporarily. Make sure you maintain your co-workers’ respect by acting like a professional while you’re at work and not like a “typical college student.”
- No set end date: Having a permanent job eliminates the stress of finding employment at the end of an internship. As long as you’re a hard worker, you can feel safe knowing that position is yours until you decide to find a job elsewhere.
- Hard to find a full-time job in your field without experience: Hiring managers are looking for candidates with the most experience. Make sure you are gaining relevant experience even if you didn’t pursue an internship. Take on more responsibility by acting as the leader for group assignments in class or at work. Volunteer to run a small, local nonprofit’s social media accounts. Be creative in making your own opportunities to gain the experience your future employer expects.
- Don’t get the chance to experience working in your field before you graduate: You could steer your career in many directions, regardless of your professional field. Experience in your degree is the only way to find out if you’re starting down the right career path. Internships offer you the opportunity to learn what interests you most and helps you narrow your job search.
- Entry-level jobs in your field require degrees: The entire reason you decided to go to college was to get a job that requires an education. Don’t assume you will find that one mythical part-time position in your field before completing your education. The odds are against you.
Of course, here’s the win-win scenario; the “AND” approach:
Focus your search on a paid internship that meets your financial needs and provides the experience you need to get a job after graduation!
For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at HeatherHuhman.com!
About the Author: Heather R. Huhman is a career expert and founder & president of Come Recommended, a career and workplace education and consulting firm specializing in young professionals. Follow her on Twitter at @heatherhuhman.