Internship? or Not!

Internship? or Not!

What will I do this summer?  Should I catch up on rest?  After all, it has been a rough semester.

Should I complete an internship?  If so, what kind? Where? How will I obtain the needed experience to ensure that I have the skill sets that companies are looking for when I graduate?

Does this sound like any of the conversations you’ve played over and over in your mind?  Well, great! This simply means that you are a conscientious individual who realizes the impact decisions have on your future.  Just note that you are not alone.  Many students are asking these hard questions and are weighing the cost of their decisions. From the halls of high school, to the cafés on the college campuses, we are expected to made hard decisions at many points in our lives.

Need help deciding? Here is some advice.

Applying for that internship just might be the answer.

Internships are great ways to learn about a company, gain valuable knowledge, and network with industry professionals and meet colleagues.  Taking the step to secure an internship gives you a competitive edge over other candidates.  You will gain real life experiences that employers are looking for to manage their businesses successfully.  Moreover, most internships are for a short period of time, normally 8 to 10 weeks which gives you the opportunity to really decide if that is the right career choice for you.

Maximize Your Opportunities

As a student, it is important to maximize every opportunity that you have to ensure your seat in a competitive career marketplace.  The end result for students that spend time training their minds is that they want to get a great job with great benefits.  When you walk into the meeting room for your interview able to articulate knowledge you received from your internship, employers will see that you are serious about your future.  As you are aware, during these economic hard times it is important to take full advantage of internship opportunities.

Remember, college days will come to an end. In fact college days are simply a hyphen between two dates and when that time is up, you must be ready for the real deal.

Here are a few tips to find the ideal internship opportunity:

  • Decide what type of job will make you happy. Narrow down your interest and streamline your search.  Conduct some research to familiarize yourself with the organizations that are industry leaders in your area of interest.  Social media sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and Flickr as well as the company’s career page could play a tremendous role in understanding the culture of a company.
  • Utilize your career services department on your campus. Companies contact the career services department to look for students.  Your career services counselor can assist you with your resume and mock interviews in preparation for your initial interview.  They can also assist you in identifying the company that fits the profile that you have in mind.
  • Identify the time frame, whether a spring or summer internship.  Most companies offer a summer internship, however others do offer spring internships.  Sodexo is an example of a company that offers both spring and summer internships. Some will offer the opportunity for you to work the entire spring semester, but you must decide what will be best for you.  Keep in mind that you may have to relocate for the best opportunity.  Remember the hard questions that we spoke about previously.
  • Be open to “non-paid” internships. The experience that you will gain and the people that you meet may prove to be invaluable.  Consider the opportunity as an investment in your future and don’t delay.  Send your resume off and follow up with the contact person accordingly.
  • Apply to more than one internship to give yourself some options. Pursue all internship opportunities of interest and hopefully you will get an offer or two!!

Internships? Yes, they can only benefit you as you progress in your career.


Derren is the Manager, Diversity Recruiting for Sodexo which is a leader in integrated food service and facilities management. He is responsible for managing the Sodexo Future Leaders Internship Program as well as executing diversity sourcing initiatives for both campus and targeted experienced hires.

Related posts:

  1. Maximize Your Internship Opportunity – Vol. 3
  2. The Importance of an Internship
  3. So, You’ve Got an Internship. Now What?

3 Responses to “Internship? or Not!”

  1. avatar Facebook User says:

    Derren another good post. In the tips section I like the advice to initially take a step back and reflect on where you think you will be happy. Internships are an ideal way to explore new industries and stick your foot in the water when trying to get a good understanding what a professional career looks like. If you ask any professional how they ended up in the position they currently hold it is almost never a straightforward trajectory, so it really is important to use an internship as a means to explore the type of work that will make you happy (not mention landing a job means working at a location for at least 40 hours a week and often for many years so take advantage of short term internships).

    This also ties to your last piece of advice about applying to a lot of places. It is a tough job market and so many people find their calling in an office they would not initially expect, so keeping an open mind and trying to open as many doors as possible certainly helps too.

    Nathan Parcells

  2. avatar Facebook User says:


    Great post with much needed information for young professionals early in their careers. I would appreciate a clarification on your bullet point ‘Be open to “non-paid” internships’ that more clearly defines a legal “non-paid” internship.

    The NY-Times published this spring an article, The Unpaid Intern, Legal or Not that identified many of the legal and ethical challenges for-profit organizations have by being approached with an offer from someone who is looking for experience.

    There are opportunities for interns to acquire experience legally without compensation. The American Institute of Architecture Students worked with the American Institute of Architects to help clarify the law for professionals and interns in the architecture profession. According to Gregory Hancks, “Individuals may volunteer services without contemplation of pay to not-for-profit organizations for public service, humanitarian, and personal objectives but not as employees”. This is important to architectural interns do to the specific criteria to become an architect. Mr Hancks provides in his article direct references to the US Department of Labor’s website to help interns understand the law.

    Every intern should recognize their unique talents they bring to any organization and respectfully value those talents. It is always disheartening to hear that someone has abdicated their self-worth under the belief that unpaid is the only option.

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