Speaking from experience, an internship right out of college was NOT what I wanted. I had done internships in college to gain experience. I paid my dues, studied hard, got excellent grades, several degrees, honors, the list goes on. I was ready to jump into the workforce full strength.
When I found a job I liked after graduation, they offered me a 3-month internship to start out. At the end of the 12 weeks, I was to be evaluated and possibly extended a full-time offer. I hated the uncertainty of it. I hated the idea of being a meager intern straight out of college. I really didn’t want to take it.
And yet, the job sounded like a perfect fit. If the company felt confident enough to offer me an internship, why not just give me the full-time job? I struggled for days over the decision. Finally, I accepted. And guess what? A year later, I’m still there.
Don’t get me wrong, there were things I hated about it at first. Primarily, the pay. It was significantly lower than a full-time salary. I also hated the title and the impression it gave. And I hated that after all my time and effort, I may not have a job at the end.
Eventually, though, I started to realize the benefits of the internship. I began to understand why the company chose this process to hire new grads. And I’m here today to share some of those insights with you:
An internship is a cultural test run… for both parties.
You probably knew this already, but never understood how important this is. Organizational culture is one of the most important intangibles that drive a business. One wrong pieces and the whole structure could come crashing down. Internships are a way for you to test out your fit with the organization, but also for the organization to test you out.
What if the job description doesn’t match what you’re actually doing?
You can put things down on paper, but that doesn’t make them true. A job description is someone’s best effort at putting your position into words, but the actual work you do may vary from the description. The last thing you want to do is find this out after you’ve been sucked into a full-time job. An internship is your time to test out the job and see if it’s what you expected.
Are you actually qualified for this job?
We never know how prepared we are for the real world until we’re in it. Internships help the company determine if your qualifications match what is required by the job. Sometimes, this might not always match up and that’s okay! It’s better to go somewhere else and get experience than waste time in a job where you’re in over your head.
As I said before, I really didn’t want to take an internship out of college. But actually experiencing it made me realize how valuable it is as an experience. Don’t disregard a job just because it starts out as an internship. It may turn into something great for you.
What was your internship experience like?