Summer is arguably a student’s greatest dilemma.
For most, it’s the only time of year where you don’t have classes, assignments or exams – so, do you cram a year’s worth of fun into those months or use your precious time gaining workplace experience?
Well, as it turns out, you may not have to choose.
You don’t have to commit to a season-long 9-to-5 in order to gain valuable workplace competency. Options like part-time internships and externships allow you to balance on-the-job experience with much-needed time off.
And, that’s not the only common misconception about working as an intern. Get ready to have your mind blown – here are five other things you may have gotten totally wrong about summer internships:
1. Summer internships never land you jobs
While it’s not guaranteed your internship will secure you a full-time gig, many companies offer pre-placement offers (PPOs) to interns. A PPO is like the employment version of a backstage pass – it lets you “skip the line” of job interviews and competitor candidates by saving a full-time position for you to assume after graduating.
Even if you aren’t offered a PPO, though, interning over the summer will do wonders for you in the future job market. Internship experience is the single most important differentiating factor for employers when deciding between otherwise equally qualified candidates, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers.
In short, there’s a good chance your summer internship will set you up for success in one way or another. And, if you don’t believe us, ask the co-founder of Instagram.
2. You won’t get to do anything worthwhile
If you’re a TV or movie buff, you might believe all interns do is make copies and fetch coffee. And, we’ll be honest, you might be asked to do busywork every now and again. But that’s far from the whole story!
The specific responsibilities involved in your summer internship will vary depending on the company and position. However, many internships nowadays allow you to organize celebrity events, conduct photoshoots and even support meaningful initiatives.
3. Summer internships aren’t as good as job experience
They’re not worse; they’re just different. Whether a summer job or a summer internship is better for you depends largely on your personal circumstances.
For example, a summer job may not be related to the industry you want to go into after grad – but they might help you gain universally transferable skills. A summer internship is a better option for networking in your chosen field – but the application process can be more competitive.
Only you can decide what’s best for you.
4. You get no say in your internship experience
One of the major benefits of summer internships is they’re as much a learning experience as they are a job experience. So, in that sense, you absolutely get a say – what you take away from your internship experience is up to you. Sit in on meetings whenever possible and contribute your ideas where you can to soak up the most of your summer.
And, even as an intern, there’s no shame in asking for what you want. If you want to spend more time on a particular project or working in a specific department, let your supervisor know! The worst they can say is “No.”
5. Summer internships are only worth it if they’re directly related to your program
It’s totally worth it to complete an internship in a field adjacent to your program!
For one, branching out slightly from your program’s focus may help you get a better idea of what you do (or don’t) want to do with your education. Second, related sectors often use many of the same foundational skills. For example, a marketing internship could be super useful to an aspiring journalist because both disciplines require strong writing skills, strategic use of digital media channels and understanding your target audience.
Now that we’ve set the record straight, the next time you set foot in the workplace, you’ll have a whole new perspective.
Summer internship you wanted never got back to you? Don’t stress – you’re not alone.