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What to Look For in a College Internship

College internships are as much about what they can do for you as what you can do for them. Think twice before accepting one that doesn’t offer the following.

The college internship may not seem like a particularly attractive proposition on the surface. Move to a strange location for no money. Do grunt work in an industry you’d like to one day work in. Go home even more broke than you were before. 

We certainly get it if that doesn’t sound like the perfect way to spend a summer or semester. Still, there are many benefits to a college internship. You just need to know where to apply and what to look for. In the following article, we’ll be discussing the 7 things that every student should look for before taking on the responsibility of one. 

These include building high-level networking contacts, cross-departmental training, exposure to higher-level problem-solving, long-term job opportunities with the company, face-time with the boss, good enough accommodations so you can afford to live without a salary, a fulfilling work environment, and a fun place to live. With all of these factors in place, you’re sure to find an ideal college internship that enables you to enjoy the present and plan for the future.

Building Your Network

Anyone who has spent any time in the workforce knows how important it is to have a network to help you find employment after you graduate. If you don’t already have one, consider boosting your network skills. Networking can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, you have to serve as a talker; dwelling on people and talking about you will pay off if you can engage with and mentor others. On the other hand, budding social-media-savvy individuals may wish to avoid occupational cold pitching. Here’s what you do instead:

The internship market is competitive. You need to apply early so you can start showing your potential employers what you’re capable of. Therefore, it’s important to actually apply for the job you want as soon as possible. First, determine which company will be hiring and apply directly for the job. Make sure to send a cover letter and resume that clearly demonstrate your skills, past experience, and potential. Never delay applying until you receive a response or you’ll have to start all over again.

Recruiters will use resumes posted on public LinkedIn pages to search for additional candidates, so reaching out to executives at the companies where you want to intern ahead of time is never a bad idea. Make sure your profile highlights your accomplishments and professionalism. 

Cross Training

Cross-training is important because it’s the best way to learn the different facets of a business. If you’re the only person who can do a certain task then you’re the only person who can do that task. The more you know about how things work, the better you’re going to be able to put things together. By learning a little bit about everything, you can master everything. It’s important to build a broad base of knowledge in order to be a well-rounded employer.

If you want to be the best, then you have to learn from the best. If you want to become a better writer, you have to read the works of great writers. If you want to learn how to be more charming, then you have to study the traits that people find most charming. So it goes with a college internship. It should allow you to learn from the best.

Exposure to High Level Problem Solving

Every intern knows they’re going to be asked to do a certain degree of coffee brewing and gophering for the regular employees. But every college internship program owes you a little more. This especially is true since a large number of them don’t pay a formal salary. 

You’ll learn the most in a college internship if you’re given the chance to solve problems, not just answer phones and make copies. You’ll also learn more if you’re placed in a role that’s directly related to your major and interests. 

One of the best things about internships is that you’re usually given a lot of freedom to experiment and try things out. Any internship that doesn’t treat you with the same level of respect as they would their employees is not worth your time. If your employer doesn’t respect you, then they’re not going to show you the work ethic that you’re going to need to succeed in the real world.

Long Term Job Opportunities

If you are a college student, internships are a great way to help you to find a job after you’ve graduated. If you can get an internship with a company you want to work for long-term, then you can use it as a way of getting your foot in the door at the company.

Internships are a great way to open two job channels: inside the company and inside the industry. Internships give you experience inside the company so that you can figure out if you want to work there, and it gives you experience inside the industry so you can figure out if you want to work in that industry.

If you’re still in school, internships are a great way to get your foot in the door. Internships are a great way to learn the basics and to get to know the ropes, but they’re also a great way to get to know the people who will be in your industry after you get out.

Face Time With Bosses

Getting face time with the boss is an important part of building a relationship with your boss. It shows that you are proactive and that you are taking the initiative to learn more about your job. It also shows that you’re willing to put in the extra effort to learn more about the company beyond your desk.

A boss’s time is valuable, but meeting with you should be a priority because you are possibly the future of their company, and that should be important to them. They should want to know how you can help them achieve their goals, and you should want to know how you can help them achieve their goals.

The point of an internship is to learn from a professional in your field. If your internship is preventing you from learning anything, you’re not getting the most out of it. If your internship doesn’t allow you to speak to a senior professional in your field, it’s defeating the purpose of the internship.


It’s important to remember that a college internship is designed to be an introduction to what working life is going to be like when you graduate. It’s not meant to be a way to make money or pay your rent. Once you’ve been offered an internship at a company and have accepted the position, it’s important to negotiate the compensation package. 

You’ll want to ask your potential employer about the compensation package for your internship, which could include such things as a stipend, living stipend, or housing allowance. The bottom line is that college internships are an excellent way to get some real-world experience while also earning credit toward your degree. 

If you’re tempted to take an internship with zero compensation, then try to plan ahead. Ask your employer for suggestions about living expenses in the city where you’ll be staying. Save enough money where your basic expenses will be covered for the time period of your internship at the very least.

Company (and) Culture

Company culture is an oft-discussed topic, but it’s one that’s mostly talked about in the abstract. However, when you’re a college intern, you’re right there in the thick of things and you get a firsthand experience of what company culture really is. 

There are two types of culture in college internships: good and bad. Internships at big companies tend to have good culture because they go out of their way to make interns feel welcome, but at smaller companies, the culture can be very different. 

Ideally, you want a great experience. That doesn’t mean you’ll get it. And if you don’t get it, don’t fret. It’s still a learning experience. One that will serve you well as you go out into the workforce and start taking full-time jobs. 

Your College Internship Plan Should Be A Benefit

College internship programs are there to give you a taste of the real world. They’re also there to help you move your education along and position you for a great start to your career. If they’re not doing that, they’re not doing their job. Look for college internships that cover all the bases we’ve presented here, and you can’t go wrong. Good luck in your search! 

[Featured Image by Vista College]

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's work appears regularly here at 4tests.com and across the web for sites, such as The Inquisitr and Life'd. A former high school teacher, his passion for education has only intensified since leaving the classroom. At 4tests, he hopes to continue passing along words of encouragement and study tips to ensure you leave school ready to face an ever-changing world.

Website: http://aricmitchell.blogspot.com/

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