This last fall semester, I had an unpaid internship on top of 15 credit hours. This internship took up about 15-20 hours of my week, while I also had a part-time job and was a full-time student. Was it the best decision time management wise for me? Definitely not. However, I wanted to talk about this decision career and experience-wise. The pros and cons of this internship and what my advice would be.
I won’t name the company by name, but it was a small business. Maybe 50 employees. It was a small business that had started up around four years ago and was mildly successful. At this point, I did want an internship to see what it was like and how I could move forward in my career with that company or with recommendations from that company. As I was onboarded and given projects throughout the semester, it was more doing a lot of work and not a lot of guidance like an internship program I had originally thought it was. Not that it’s necessarily a bad thing, but with an internship program, I feel like a schedule and program should be in line for the students. This gives a lot of students an easier learning experience and a lot of hands-on experience with the lead of a company behind them.
The good thing is the great amount of experience I got. It was a lot of real-world work with clients and meeting their needs when they weren’t totally sure what they wanted. Terms used in my field are easier to say what you want when clients don’t know what specific techniques are. Communicating that with an inexperienced person or someone not as knowledgeable about how my field works. That’s a skill I’m glad to have learned, but I also could have learned that by just talking to others about what I do. I learned to get much more comfortable with the software program I was using, though I wish I had learned more about my industry. This knowledge would benefit me later in getting a career and employment with other companies with higher prestige.
While the experience was great, I felt like an employee not being paid. I would say to look out for paid internships that will guide you through their company and give you more insight into how their company relates to the rest of the industry.