6 Common Misconceptions About Internships

Whether you’ve had five internships or none, there’s one thing we want to set straight: There are some common misconceptions about them. Some claim internships are all making coffee runs and copies while others brag about the glamorous behind-the-scenes work they get to be a part of — does it really go one way or the other? We've talked to Rachael Bozsik, CEO and Founder of The Brand Girls, and former interns to figure this out. Before you start judging internships by their covers, let’s break down some of the common rumors there are about them.

1. Interns don’t do anything worthwhile

We’ve all seen the movies where the intern is running around taking coffee orders and making copies. But the world of interns has changed a lot. Although you may be asked to do the occasional task nobody else wants to do, that won’t be the majority of your role (unless it’s specified when you apply)! Internships are all about what you make of them. If you seek out opportunities to help and share your ideas, you’ll be trusted with bigger tasks and appreciated by your coworkers.

2. Paid internships are better

We know — unpaid internships are tough. You’re working as hard as you can and they aren’t compensating for anything — but does that mean you shouldn’t accept an unpaid internship? Rachel Popa, a junior at Roosevelt University believes collegiettes should have open minds. “I found that working as an unpaid intern was a lot more rewarding and I felt and knew for a fact that my work was appreciated,” she says. “When I was paid, it felt like those who ran the internship saw me more as an employee than an intern who had room to grow.” In addition to this, just because an internship is unpaid doesn’t mean it won’t be a great experience. If it’s a company you love and a role you’re interested in, give it a shot! Your resume will thank you. If you aren’t in the financial position to take an unpaid internship, you can find strictly paid internships by filtering your search.

Related: 5 Ways to Turn a Negative Internship Around

3. Internships will always turn into jobs

Although an internship can turn into a job, you by no means are guaranteed a permanent position. Even if you get an internship somewhere you wouldn’t necessarily want to work, like Madeline F., a senior at Oregon State University, you can have an awesome experience. “I interned at an apparel showroom and though it wasn't necessarily what I want to do after college now, it was a fun and low-key workplace,” she says. You don’t have to intern in your respective field of study — internships are all about figuring out what you do and don’t like! “Whether it's to work towards a dream job or to learn about the industry in general I think interning can be a great experience, regardless of the bumps along the way,” Madeline adds. If something unique comes up, it may be worth it to take the opportunity.

4. Your boss won’t notice you

We can’t stress this enough — internships are what you make of them. If you sit at your desk all day and don’t seek out opportunities, you may go under the radar. But if you’re actively sharing your ideas and asking what you can do to help, your experience will be much better. Interns can’t just sit in the corner and play on their phones all day. If you want real experience, you have to work for it. Sit in on meetings, talk to people in your workplace and ask questions — you’ll be thankful you did.

5. Your role is set in stone

Internships are often very different, and it’s up to you to decide what you want out of it. If you want to work more hours or take on a project, let your boss know! “I ended up working less hours than I thought as well, so I would really recommend students be clear about their expectations to get the best possible experience,” Madeline says. During the interview, it’s totally okay to ask, “What types of tasks will I be taking on?” or “How many hours will I be working per week?” You want to get as much information as you can before accepting a role! And if the internship isn’t turning out to be how you thought it would, it’s important to talk to your supervisor and let them know what you think you’re missing.

6. Your internship needs to be with a nationally recognized company

We all have companies we dream of working at, but don't be crushed if you don't land an internship there! "Google, NBA, E!, Prada — if you have not been lucky enough to land an internship at a major national organization there is NO need to fret," Rachael says. "When it comes time to apply for a full time position companies are looking for two important things... transferable skills and personality. You can absolutely build out a list of both hard and soft skills anywhere from a Fortune 500 to mom and pop business. If you are in the PR industry you can build transferable skills with media pitching, press releases and media advisories in any sort of space." Take this advice to heart, and don't be upset if you end up interning at a smaller company!

Internships can be fun, hectic or boring — but you’ll never know until you try. Just keep in mind that what you hear from someone about her internship isn’t necessarily true for everyone. Seek out internships you’re interested in and once you’ve landed one, make the most of your time there. And most importantly, don’t let these misconceptions steer you away from what could be an amazing opportunity.