4 Things to Think About Before Accepting an Internship
1) To accept or not to accept
If you have already been hired for an internship and have time to think about it before accepting, think long and hard about whether or not you want it. This was one of my biggest mistakes when I was hired by my first boss. I rushed into the internship because it was the first offer that I received, only to find out later that it wasn’t right for me but that it was a year-long commitment. If your acceptance is implied in your application, make sure that you let the employer know that you are still considering the offer or try to find out all of the details before you apply. I have learned from that year that one wrong internship can be worse than no internship if it is not right for you, your plans, or your career.
2) Who is your boss?
Whether or not you choose to work in your internship location after the internship is over, you will be spending a fair amount of time with the people working there, especially your employer. It is important that you understand each other and can cooperate effectively. A good way to find out who the people are is by meeting them (if you can) but especially by asking about them. It is a good idea to ask coworkers a general question about how the work atmosphere is and see what they say. Then, mention what it is like working for the employer to get a feel for how he or she assigns tasks and reacts to different things. However, be sure to get a few opinions because one person’s bad day could be a bias.
3) What do you get out of it?
One of the reasons why my year-long internship hadn’t been the best choice was because the company was leaving the city and needed my help with loose ends. I did not have room to grow because my boss had just assigned me all of the tasks that needed to be done rather than assigning me those that would fit my interests and skills. Also, the internship would not help me to receive a full-time position with the company because the company would no longer have positions after it left. When you are writing a cover letter for an internship, you need to think about what you can offer the company. On the other hand, when you are deciding whether or not to accept an internship, you need to think about what the company can offer you. Will you learn new skills? Will this internship significantly add to your resume?
4) Where is it?
My last internship was located in the most dangerous place on campus: right across the street from a gang-ridden neighborhood. To walk from there to my dorm for a semester was absolutely terrifying. What’s more, the building was virtually empty during my shift, so I had quite a bit of anxiety about working there. Where you work is more important than you may think because the environment plays a large role in employee productivity and efficiency. The work conditions have to be optimal for employees to succeed, so if someone does not work well alone, a solitary environment would be a poor choice to work in. In fact, employees who feel lonely and disconnected are more likely to lose motivation and efficiency according to a study by Ozcelik and Barsade.
You can find the study here: http://proceedings.aom.org/content/2011/1/1.124.short
Whether the internship that you are considering is a month in duration or a year, you want to get the most out of your time, so make sure that it is the right one.
image credit to Jacki Hart