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5 Characteristics of a Killer Internship

Mon, Feb 20, 2012

Internship Information

You are finally about to embark on one of the most crucial steps toward working in the field you’ve always dreamed of: becoming an intern. This is a necessary process, but it can also be terrifying and occasionally painful: interns work long hours, their employees often expect more than they can provide, and if they are compensated, it usually isn’t very much. So how do you even know where to start? Here are five tenets you should look for when applying for internships so you know that you’re getting the experience you need while you also enjoy the work you are doing.

Mentorship. Entering the workforce completely on your own is a scary prospect. Fortunately for you, future intern, the time when interns were thrown to the wolves with no kind of backup or support are over. Finding a quality mentor is the name of today’s game. If you are looking at internships, make sure to ask about any mentoring programs they provide. It isn’t just a question of “older and younger” any longer. Today, many businesses or companies will ask interns to bring the skills and qualifications they have gleaned to help out veterans who have been around for awhile, which, means your presence will be essential.

A place to learn and grow. If you’ve just finished your degree, say, while you working on a master of social work online, you want the chance to use your internship to actually try out the skills and theories you’ve only, up until now, been studying. You shouldn’t spend your internship sitting around watching others do all the work. Your time as an intern should offer you opportunities to learn as you work. You want to actually contribute and to get something back – in this case, an education – in the process.

Problem solving. You also want to look for a place that will afford you the opportunity to come up with solutions to problems, which is all part of the “learn as you go” process. Your internship should let you make mistakes so you can attempt to fix them. That’s the only way you’re going to learn, and what actually happens in the real world. Developing problem solving skills will be one of the most essential tools you will pick up during your time as an intern.

Loving what you do. If you’re going to invest a giant chunk of your life as an intern – and then the rest of your life working in the same field where you interned – then you’d better have some passion. Love what you do: it will get you up in the morning and keep you motivated, even if you find that your internship is a tad more stressful than you bargained on.

Payment. You should be compensated somehow for your time as an intern. Even if it isn’t money, you should be afforded the opportunity to network and build connections that will help you out once you’re in the real world. This isn’t a time for self sacrifice – you should be getting something out of this experience in the end.

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