The internships that you apply for in college can completely change the trajectory of your career. They can open doors for your post-graduate life that allow you to work for an amazing company and allow you to become successful.
Should I stay at the same internship throughout college? Unless you are 100% sure you want to be working for the company that gave you the internship, find new opportunities. There is no reason to settle and stay at an internship if it is not going to be the right fit for you after you graduate. The best option is to go after different types of businesses in your industry. You can go from a large corporate job to a start up company with 5 members, or vise versa. There is no rush to commit to one position, especially if you have the time and opportunity to try something different out. Internships are meant to allow you to learn as much as you can in a short amount of time from people who have been in the industry for many years and have more knowledge than you. If you spend more time running errands than learning, you should definitely find a place that will allow you to grow and be ready for the real world. Multiple internships also helps to make your resume more complete and will entice your future employers to see you as a well rounded individual. On average, recruiters spend 6 seconds looking at a resume when deciding if you should advance to the next stage of the hiring process. If you only have one or two positions listed on your resume, your can end up in the rejection pile very quickly.
There are multiple things that need to be taken into account when deciding if you should stay at the same internship throughout college.
Pros and Cons Of Staying At The Same Internship
One of the biggest factors that come into play when deciding if you should stay is growth. The first part is seeing if the company is going to continue to grow and be successful in the future. There is no reason to stay at an internship if the company you are working for is going to be struggling in the near future. You want to find a company that is going to continue to grow as you enter their team and allow you to move up in the hierarchy. If there is minimal amount of room to move in the company, you will end up getting locked into the same position and will not see any big jumps in your salary.
The second part is to see how well the company treats you as an intern. If you are not given the opportunity to make mistakes and take on large projects, you should look for an environment that will allow you to do so. I worked in a corporate IT position for 3 summers as a help desk assistant. I did not get the chance to handle any issues that could have helped me learn more about how to handle tough situations and I am not better than when I started.
After three years of interning at the same corporate help desk position, I asked myself “Should I abandon the opportunity to work at this company and find something that I will enjoy doing?” and it changed my career path. I joined a marketing start up three months before graduating college and I learned more in the first month of that internship than I did in the 3 summers at my first one. My bosses allowed me to take on huge projects and listened to my opinions, which allowed me to become way more confident. I am still working at the marketing firm, but they have given me the experience that I need to go work in any other business field without worrying about failure.
Getting paid for you internship is a huge factor in most college student’s decision making. While it is very nice to get compensated for your work, it should not be the most important part of your decision to stay. It is way better to not get paid during your internship and gain a lot of experience than get paid hourly at a job that is not beneficial to you. This issue is becoming less of a problem as companies struggle to find new talent and are willing to spend money to get the best interns, but it still exists. If the company does not have enough money to pay you as an intern, they will most likely not have the proper resources to train you and do not want to put as much effort into helping you grow. Once you are one semester into an internship, you can get a feel for how the company will treat you in the future. Education is much more important in the beginning than money.
Relationships and Networks
Growing your network in the early stages of your career is a very important thing to do. When you are stuck at the same internship, it is much harder to meet new people and build relationships. As an intern you rarely get to attend networking events and deal with clients. By working in different companies you are able to expand your reach and connect with a lot more people. It is hard to understand how important your network is in college, but once you’re graduated it is one of the most valuable tools to have. Your network can open more doors for you and allow you to bring business to your company, which will increase your compensation and value. You also learn a lot from other people who are trying to grow their network and their skills. Make sure that you are always going out of your way to meet new people and be a valuable asset for them and in return, they will go out of their way to help you.
When should I start applying for internships?
You should start applying for internships as early as possible. Having job experience is the biggest factor when it comes to recruiters deciding if you should be hired for a position. If you are able to have multiple internships by the time graduation comes, you will have a much better chance of landing a job that you will like. You will also get a much better feel for what type of job you will want to look for after graduation.
Where can I find internship opportunities?
There are three main ways of finding an internship: Google, your college job center, and your network. There are so many online opportunities that allow you to apply for jobs with a few clicks. Your college career center is a great way to get internships for companies that like the way your college teaches certain skills. Your network is the final way to find an internship. Ask your parents and their friends if they know about any openings that you can apply for.
Should I ever leave an internship early?
Leaving an internship early can be a very tricky situation. You usually gain a lot more experience in the second half of an internship because your superiors trust you more and will allow you to take on more challenging tasks. If the environment that you are in is harmful to your growth you should see if there is anything you can do to remedy the situation before formally ending your internship. You are there to learn and grow as a professional and if you are not doing so, find a company that will support your needs.