Time is Short! View Internships as a Sprint…not a Marathon

You may be familiar with the expression “Life is a marathon… not a sprint.”

When it comes to completing your education, raising kids or building a career – that statement is probably correct. We probably shouldn’t expect to fully accomplish major tasks quickly – no matter how much effort we exert.

However, I would posit that the opposite is true for internships. They should be viewed as a sprint – taken on at full speed – as fast and as hard as you can.

This is no time to be content as a career couch potato, for a number of reasons:

It’s Never Too Late… or too Early

It’s already July… mid Summer! Maybe you’re thinking that although summer vacation still has several months left – it’s too late to look for a Summer internship. Or that it’s too early to start looking for an internship for the Fall.

On the contrary, it’s never too late or too early to look for internships.  NOW is always the perfect time. Why?

  • There are plenty of internships available year-round – not just in the summer
  • Many companies interview interns several months in advance of the internship start date
  • Finding the right internships can sometimes take longer than you expect

Graduation Will Be Here Sooner Than You Think

Perhaps you’re about to start your freshman or sophomore year in college. You have a few years before you enter the Real World – you don’t need an internship yet. Right?

All the more reason to start participating in internships now. Why?

Think of an internship as a tryout. You’re able to experience several companies and industries to see what piques your interest. The more internships you have behind you upon entering the real world, the clearer direction you’ll have set for your career.

In addition to a career direction, internships put you ahead of your competition. The current economy will take several more years to fully recover; even if you’re a freshman now, when you graduate the job market for emerging talent may still be very difficult. When an employer reviews resumes, they’re going to interview and hire the most experienced candidate. With several internships on your resume, you’ll be in a much better position to get hired.

Don’t Get Stuck With a Boring Internship

It’s true. Not all internships are magical wonderlands full of free bagels and exciting, congratulations-filled projects. Unfortunately, some companies still view internships as a way to accomplish menial tasks, and some supervisors don’t take initiative to mentor their interns.

If you find yourself “stuck” in an internship, take the initiative to build a better one! Why?

In all but the most oppressive professional environments there’s room to take initiative and create learning opportunities. Every internship, good or bad, is a learning opportunity. And in every internship, you have a limited amount of time – a few weeks or months – to accomplish your goals, and those of the company.

In the short time that you’re in any internship, take advantage of the resources in your office to create projects that help the company – and you. Create a branding campaign for example. Or analyze company processes and suggest to your supervisor ways to make them more efficient.

Greater Opportunity for Networking

Networking during your internship creates huge advantages for you – take full advantage.

Most important: develop relationships with potential mentors.

In most every office there are experienced professionals happy to develop eager, emerging talent.  Not only will a mentor serve to accelerate your learning. They also can be a valuable resource for both references and for finding future internships – and jobs!

You DO Have Time for Internships… Now More Than Ever

School is certainly time consuming; a class schedule to maintain, homework and tests, extracurricular activities – and a social life.

An internship will fit into your current schedule. How?

Most employers realize that an intern has existing obligations and a schedule to maintain, so most internships only require a small amount of time – usually around 10 – 20 hours per week. Quite often, your employer will happily schedule those hours around your school requirements.

Even better – more and more employers are engaging “virtual internships”. In these positions, you can work from anywhere, and most often you can create your own schedule.

Whether you are in school now, or you are a recent graduate, you’ll soon be entering the Real World. Internships on your resume will dramatically improve your transition into that new chapter in your life. Each individual internship covers a short time span… a few weeks or months. But there’s plenty of time to accomplish a lot toward your personal goals.

If you haven’t already, get started on your first, or next, internship. Let your competition wait to begin their internship experiences – while you sprint across the finish line!


About the Author: Dave Ellis, is an original member of the YouTern team and instrumental to its success… in fact, he’s so awesome there wouldn’t be a YouTern without him (and he might have written this bio himself). In his spare time, Dave volunteers, rescuing and rehabilitating sea lions and baby elephant seals. Follow Dave on Twitter!


This entry was posted in Internships and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.