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How to Choose the Perfect Summer Internship

Finding the right internship for you can be tricky. Location, pay and schedule are huge factors in finding one that best suits you. Depending on your major, there are a multitude of opportunities available to you. But finally selecting one can be harder than the actual internship. By this stage in the semester, you’ve probably written more cover letters than you have actual graded papers. Now you’re waiting to hear back. While you wait, take a look back at the ions of internships you’ve applied for and decide which factors will be most important in your ultimate decision. 

Here are a few aspects to consider for all majors who are searching for their dream (kind of) job. 

1. Decide what type of internship you want

Some internships are for credit, for pay or without pay. They are all part time or full time, too. You have to create the right combination for yourself. An unpaid, full time internship may not be feasible financially. You may need a part time without pay so that you can have a paying summer job, too. 

Also be wary of for credit internships over the summer. If your school doesn’t require an internship to graduate, you will be paying extra tuition money over the summer for the experience. Depending on where you attend college, that could mean up to an extra $4,000. 

2. Location, location, location

Where your internship takes place is huge. If its nice and close to home, you’re lucking out and get mom’s cooking all summer. But if you venture off in search of bigger cities and brighter options, you might not just be searching for an internship; you’ll be desperately searching for a place to live. 

Some internship coordinators within the company you’ll be working for might be nice enough to help you. But often times, you’ll be on your own in a new city. 

If location is your biggest consideration, don’t forget about looking for internships that allow you to work remotely. Sometimes you aren’t required to be in an office from 9-5 every day. If you can work from home, that might be your best option. 

3. People

Who you work with can make or break the internship. So take into consideration the people who conduct your interviews and professional correspondences. Do you prefer people who are very straight edge, business professional? Or do you want laid back, relaxed coworkers? The people you work with set both the tone and vibe for your experience. You also have to decide if the people you intern for and with will leave you with valuable skills to use in the future. 

Also, keep in mind who will prove useful to have in your networking arsenal. Esteemed professionals within your field are hiding in the framework of every company you’ve applied for. Make sure you seek out those contacts and use them wisely. 

4. The actual work 

Although this isn’t really up to you necessarily, you should be asking your contact at the company what a typical day looks like. Find out in advance if you’ll be making everyone’s coffee runs or if you’ll be doing work similar to actual employees. Understand the time committment that you’ll be making this summer. Is there overtime? Weekend hours? Don’t be afraid to ask your recruiter these questions.  

5.  What do you want to learn

Decide what skills you want to take away from this internship. Is there something specific you want to learn this summer? Many application processes will have you spewing to a recruiter about what you can do for the company. But make sure you ask what the company can do for you. This summer internship is a solid three months of your time; it should be used wisely. Make sure that whoever you decide to work for is as invested in your educated as you are. 

Deciding on an internship can be scary and stressful. Will you pick the right one? Will you succeed at it? There are a lot of unknowns when it comes to the internship search. Make it a point to learn everything you can about each specific internship so that you can make an informed decision. You deserve the best internship out there. 

University of Iowa sophomore majoring in Journalism and Engaged Social Innovation. Member of Alpha Chi Omega sorority. Hospitality newbie. Reader, writer, and wanderluster. At least that's what I want my business card to say.
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