Saturday, January 4, 2014

Why Another Internship Might Not Be the Answer

I believe in working hard. As much as possible, as often as possible, until you just can't anymore. 

Past readers of Locked Out might remember that at one time in my life, I was doing 3 internships at once. Phew. I can honestly say I would probably never do that again, especially while working at a deli full-time. The experience was valuable, but it was pretty exhausting. 

I also believe that in the long run, more internships doesn't necessarily translate to more experience, at least for employers. I know what you're thinking, Michelle, that's literally the opposite of what everyone is told everywhere! You're right. It is. Because they're wrong. 

More internships does not always equal more experience, nor does it guarantee you to appear more hireable.

Internships serve a few key purposes.

Firstly, they provide entry-level candidates with experience, while allowing a company to, essentially, get free or low-paid labor... without the commitment of actually hiring anybody.

Secondly, they provide entry-level candidates with networking opportunities.

And thirdly, they are a great way to figure out if you really want to do something.

For those reasons, internships are great. However, internships are not great because they are often unpaid or very low paid; they have an end date; and they're kind of getting, you know, dime-a-dozen.

As I looked for my first "serious" job post-college, I took on way more internships that I should have. If an internship was offered, I applied for it and if I was offered it, I took it. I have about 10 internships on my resume at this point. For some businesses, that looks great: while I worked at a deli and a car dealership, I was still focused on writing, marketing, and social media. That's awesome. To other businesses, it can definitely make me look flighty and like I couldn't get a job otherwise. Not-so-awesome.

The point is: sometimes, another internship isn't the answer. If you're looking for a job post-grad, and you're struggling, you might think taking on another internship will get you more experience and/or get your foot in the door. You're totally right! But you also might be piling just another name onto your resume. It's important to think about what you want to do before taking on another internship.

Since I'm in the realm of writing and social media, I'll stick to that field, because it's what I know. When it comes to writing, another writing internship really isn't the answer. You should reach out to websites you love about writing for them, but you should do that as a writer... not a potential intern. The great thing about writing is you can build your portfolio without a boss. Starting a blog or writing for a local website might be more beneficial than tacking another internship to your resume.

That doesn't stand true for all fields of interest, but it's definitely something to think about.

What do you think? Do you think the benefits of internships post-grad outweigh any potential risks?

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