Internships can jump-start your career or take it to the next level. But, doing a summer without pay is no small feat for most students and young professionals. So, if you think an internship is in the cards for you, it’s probably going to be very important that you choose the right one.
What do I mean by the right one? I mean the one that is most relevant, that provides you with the right skills and experience, and that will get you one step closer to where you want to go.
Here are my 5 key questions for deciding where you should intern:
1. What industry are you interested in?
Getting your foot in the door in the industry you’d like to eventually join as a professional is a great way to spend an internship. If you’re not sure what you’re interested in, this is a signal that you should be engaging in some self-discovery before you put yourself out there.
2. What experience do you want to gain?
If you want to take away great things from your internship, take the time to investigate all of the opportunities available for you. Not all internships will be rewarding. Some interns could be completing market research and analyzing trends at a top tier organization, while others may be stuck fetching coffee for their boss.
So, do some Google searches, browse company websites, and join some relevant LinkedIn groups (here’s a great one if you’re looking for an opportunity in Toronto). If you have questions about an internship description, don’t hesitate to contact the organization directly and inquire.
3. What are the potential connections that you would like to make?
Are you looking for a stellar reference for graduate school? Do you have it in the back of your mind that you’d like to join a specific company in your future? Take all of this into account as you’re browsing internship opportunities. If you find one that appeals to you, see if you can find out who the key players are in that organization as well as the people who you’ll be reporting to directly. If you want to really invest in your future, set out a plan that extends beyond your internship. How can you leverage the connections you’ll make during your internship in your future? If the answer is promising, send in your resume!
4. What types of organizations would you like to work in?
Do you prefer the tight-knight environment of a small business, or the dynamic culture of a large corporation? Are there specific companies that appeal to you? Make note of this.
5. What types of organizations do you have connections in?
The reality is that many students and young professionals get internships through their network. So, it’s always worth it to take stock of yours before applying online. Are you connected to anyone who could help you land an internship at an organization of interest? Don’t forget to check out your connections’ connections, because asking to be introduced to a professional in someone else’s network is always an option.
If you’re still unsure about where you should intern, one solution could be to reach out to someone in your network whose career-path you admire. If you can schedule a quick informational interview with them, you may gain valuable insights on the opportunities and resources available to you.
As always, if you have any additional questions, feel free to reach out to me in the comments section!