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What to Look for in a Summer Internship

By: Will Franke

It’s that time of year again. The spring semester is sprinting towards the finish line, and you’re trying to set your plans for the summer. If you have already found something, great! You’re in a pretty good spot right now. If not, then that’s okay, too! Some deadlines have come and gone, but tons of employers are still looking for interns. Finding an internship can be daunting, and there are a million-and-one things to consider before accepting an offer, finally getting that weight off your shoulders. Here are a couple things to remember as you go through this process:

1. Remember to be grateful. I hope you get your dream internship – I really do. Getting an offer for your perfect summer internship is an amazing feeling. But maybe you won’t and, believe it or not, that’s okay! More often than not, what you’re doing matters more than what company you work for. You might dream of working for a Fortune 200 company, but what if you end up getting coffee for your supervisors all day? On the flip-side, you could be running social media at a company you had never heard of before. Which would you say is more valuable?

2. Location, location, location. I always look at summer internships as a way to dip my toes in the water of wherever I’m working. Not only the company itself, but more the city, as well. Last summer I was set on living my dream by working in Europe, so I fixed my crosshairs almost exclusively across the pond. While I had two of the best months of my life working for Bus2Alps in Florence, Italy, I learned that a small Italian city wasn’t for me in the long term (call me crazy, I know). This summer, I will be going to New York to see if I can survive a giant American metropolis. If there’s anywhere in the world you’ve dreamed of living, remember that summer internships are a terrific way to explore it!

3. Paid or unpaid. Let’s do a hypothetical. In my right hand, I’m holding $100, and in my left, nothing, and I tell you that you can take whichever one you want. Odds are, you’ll take the money, and I don’t blame you. Money is always better than no money, especially if you’re moving to a new city for an internship and have to worry about things like surviving. But, does this mean you should never take an internship if it doesn’t pay? This depends on a lot of things, most of them will be personal and unique to you. If you have the money (be it from parents, scholarships or money you’ve saved up) to afford rent and other expenses for the summer, then you shouldn’t completely shut the door on an unpaid internship. Whether its paid or unpaid, what’s most important is that you’re making good connections, learning, doing meaningful work and being appreciated for it.

So, there you have it – Will’s top three things to consider when finding and accepting an internship. Of course, we all have our own preferences, so these aren’t necessarily more important than what you’re looking for. If there’s anything you shouldn’t do, I’d only say don’t take the first thing that comes your way out of fear you won’t get anything else. There’s lots of time left, so don’t feel like you need to accept the first place that shows interest in you.

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