Always an Intern, Never an Employee

“What do you plan on doing in the future?” I asked an interviewee.

“I think I am going to go back and get another internship,” she replied excitedly.

The interviewee had been an intern three times prior, yet her goal was to snag another internship. It makes me wonder: When do internships begin to hurt instead of help?

I am not suggesting that undertaking internships will hurt you, but I am suggesting that the former question be further probed.

NACE published a survey on July 25, which reported that only 37% of unpaid interns found a job after graduation. The unpaid interns and those who never participated in an internship differed by 1% while 60% of paid interns were hired after graduation.

This statistic is important. It reminds unpaid interns that the question, “How much were you paid at your last job?” is a deciding factor for more than half of U.S. employers. Of course, this is a double edged sword because the majority of employers see you as intern material until after the first year of graduation – maybe even two.

I believe that the wage question only matters if you are still inexperienced after three internships. Employers know that no one is going to put anything bad about them on their resume; and so, they’re going to ask to see your portfolio. This is a critical moment for a former intern who just landed an interview for a career.

Most interns I’ve spoken with said they did an internship(s) to make connections and snag major-related lines on their resume. That’s fine, but if they only ran coffee at those internships and then designed a full resume of bullet points that never did, but should have been doing during their internship, well, they’re screwed.

It’s important to be picky in your internship search. Anyone can post an internship, but not everyone will provide you with a quality experience. Make sure you get those portfolio pieces. I don’t care how well-known the company may be, make sure you learn something and make sure you walk away with more than just something to paste on your resume and the phone number of a really cool person.


Lauren  is a journalist with a marketing mindset, and the founder and CEO of Freelanship, a web-based startup that will transform the world of internships. She has written for publications across Florida, including: Central Florida Future, Orlando Examiner, Orlando Sentinel, Orlando Weekly and Sun Sentinel. Currently, Lauren and her team are a part of StartUp Orange County, an early startup accelerator program in Orlando. Connect with Lauren on Twitter: @LaurenHolliday or on LinkedIn.

Related posts:

  1. Which Type of Employee are You?
  2. Start Off Your Career on the Right Foot
  3. The Right Post-Graduation Move: Internships

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