Discussing interns and internships are what I consider an “annual” topic. Every year at about this time we talk about interns, or rather, the folks who like to present a job as an internship in order to get away with hiring free labor. So let’s talk about what internships are, why they are necessary and why they are not free labor.
What is an internship?
An internship is a job one takes, usually working for a business, corporation or the government, in order to gain experience, build up a reputation and learn from the best. The focus is on the job training, rather than monetary compensation. Most interns are in college and work in this capacity in hopes of having a very good job lined up upon graduation.
What are the benefits of working as an intern?
In addition to the aforementioned on the job training, many interns can earn college credits, a small stipend, important business contacts, the promise of employment and references. In short, the ability to advance their careers. Interns don’t work for free. They gain something valuable in return.
Why do so many jobs offer internships, when they’re not offering anything in return?
Because these so-called employers feel that by offering a non-paying job as an internship rather than what it really is – getting something for nothing – they’ll look less like an ass. “Working as an intern” sounds a lot better than “working for free”, doesn’t it?
Questions to ask when applying for an internship
A job churning out web content from home all day every day, for an employer you contact once a week via email, isn’t an internship. Other than turning you off from writing as career, what can it possibly offer in return? Before you accept an internship, ask the following questions:
- What will I gain from the experience?
- How will it benefit my career?
- What kind of on the job training will I receive?
- Will I receive college credit?
- Will I receive the promise of a full time, salaried position after I graduate?
- Will you act as a mentor and offer me guidance?
- Will you introduce me to others who can act as mentors and offer guidance?
- Are these clowns just looking to get free labor?
If you browse Craigslist, you’ll find plenty of opportunities for interns, but many of these jobs aren’t. Remember, internships offer something in return. Job experience is more than writing web content. A true internship will attempt to teach you all you need to know about your chosen profession or major. A true internship works in conjunction with your school so you earn college credits and recognition for your efforts. Before accepting an internship, research the opportunity thorougly. If it sounds like someone trying to get a whole lot of something for a whole lot of nothing, pass.