5 Common Myths About Internships

Wed, Aug 29, 2012

Internship Information

Every year, innumerable eager students and workers head excitedly into the wide world of internships ready to learn valuable skills and hopefully come away with important insights. While an internship is a fantastic way to pick up training and experience that will help you climb the career ladder as fast as you can, it’s important to make sure that you avoid some of the following misconceptions. There are a few popular wrong ideas about how internships work and/or what they entail, and they’re preventing many from fully enjoying the benefits of this special type of work experience.

An Internship Is a Waste of Time

This is the absolute wrong attitude to have. If you’re looking to earn your salt in the working world, a can-do attitude is what’s going to get you as far as you can go. Avoid thinking an internship would be a waste of time, or isn’t worth yours, for whatever reason. Those that are smart can use an internship to break into an industry in a serious way. When you work an internship, your foot’s basically halfway through the door — it’s up to you to sell yourself to your potential employers, convincing them with your performance that you’re worth the yearly salary you’d like them to be paying you.

You’re Guaranteed a Job.

Before you get all excited about having an easy three months or so of internshipping before you automatically get hired onto your dream job, understand that there’s two sides to every coin. An internship can be a great stepping stone into a position at your favorite company, but this is contingent on you and your performance. Lazy, unproductive interns get their college credit and get shown the door. If you’re hoping to get a paycheck every two weeks, you’re going to have to seriously motivate your employer to sign his name on it.

Interns Are Protected in the Workplace

Turns out, interns aren’t technically employees. It’s important just to understand that this puts you in an odd legal gray area, in terms of things like harassment in the workplace. Hopefully you wind up working at a place where everyone is treated fairly, but there are plenty of horror stories about interns being unable to legally protect themselves from seriously unprofessional behavior at work.

Hey, Anybody Can Be an Intern!

In the interest of not mincing words, we’ll put it plainly: being an intern can be rough. This is part of the reason it can be such a great way to earn yourself a full-time job, but it’s also the reason that it’s not for just anybody. Taking an internship in your chosen field should mean that it’s something about which you’re truly passionate. After all, you’re going to be spending your days doing whatever it is for basically free. If the experience isn’t almost enough of a reward for you in and of itself, then you might want to re-think your internship. Is it indicative of your overall career path? Do you need to re-think that, as well? Make sure you put a good amount of thought into your internships, because your college years are valuable, and the ideal internship will wind up being the beginning of an excellent career.

An Internship Is a Job

No, internships are not jobs. You’re not technically an employee, once again, and in most cases you don’t get paid. Now, it’s mostly illegal to have someone work for you completely without pay. Even volunteers are compensated in some way. Be it college credit or a minimum hourly wage, an internship will be somehow compensated for their efforts, but it’s also an easy way for an employer to find some work that can be ditched if it doesn’t work out. If anything, you’re under more scrutiny as an intern. The job is the end goal.

The good thing is that internships exist in almost every industry. Whether you’re looking for work at criminal justice schools or software engineering companies, you’re almost guaranteed to be able to find an internship in your profession of choice. All you need to do is excel, and convince your future employer that you’re worthy of that salary.

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