- Do it for the résumé: When it comes to building your résumé, good grades no longer carry the same weight they used to. Particularly for college graduates, grade inflation has lowered the value of A’s and B’s in the eyes of employers and caused a shift toward internships and work experience as the best measure of an applicant’s qualifications for any given job.
- But also do it for the experience: Beyond the résumé, internships have a lot of benefits for students just graduating college and parents returning to the workforce. Here are just a few to look for as you begin your internship search:
- Discernment: Interning as a technician doesn’t help you if you want to be an accountant. An internship should be an opportunity to see what the daily life of an accountant (or physician, teacher, etc.) is really like and a chance to learn some skills that might be useful to you should you choose to apply for a full-time position later.
- Experience: The technical skills are just the tip of the iceberg when you consider the soft skills (teamwork, communication, problem-solving, etc.) that an intern acquires. You’ll be better equipped for your next job and the hiring manager will know it.
- Networking: Building good relationships with your employer and co-workers will help you build a network of connections that you can use later on during your job search. Your future self will thank you.
- Mentorship: This is a chance to learn what it’s really like working in your field of interest from a person who does it for a living. Inside tips and tricks, advice, reality checks, you name it. Seek mentors. Again, your future self will thank you for the wisdom you gleaned from a mentor during your internship. (Additionally, if you like your internship, don’t write off the possibility of transitioning into full-time employment at the company. These kinds of conversations and transitions happen all the time, so be not afraid to ask your mentor about the future of the company.)
A few final notes:
- Everyone jokes about the stereotypical intern working for free and fetching coffee. It doesn’t have to be that way. Watch out for these three red flags to avoid internships that will be a waste of your time. There are internships out there that will stretch you with mentorship and leadership and learning opportunities, and will also fairly compensate you. Don’t settle.
- Intern coordinators have written about what they look for in interns. It’s worth taking a look before you apply so you can put your best foot forward, with confidence.
- Finally, for moms (and dads) looking to get back into the workforce after a period of childcare, check out “returnships,” the funky new twist on internships that help you refresh old skills and catch up on the ones you missed while doing the all-important work of child-rearing. Path Forward and iRelaunch are handy tools for you in this process.