Since my senior year of high school, I buried myself in internships and opportunities to freelance for publications. I held 12 different positions throughout my time at nine different organizations. I learned countless valuable lessons — all of which I will carry with me for the rest of my life.
But was it necessary for me to have that many internships?
It was far from easy juggling at least four college courses each semester, the homework that came with each of them and an internship that I usually spent more than 25 hours a week at.
A large part of my motivation to pursue internship after internship was the need I felt to fill an 8 ½ by 11 white sheet of paper.
For every student who wonders about his or her chances of landing a job after graduation, the number of internships may seem crucial. However, I don’t believe any student needs to complete 12 internships or really any more than three to think they have the best chance of getting a job.
Set a goal of completing three solid internships at different companies and within different departments. As an intern, you have the unique experience to learn new skills and get a taste of different positions so you can make a better decision on what career you want to pursue.
Use the internships to give you a well-rounded experience. Spend one internship directly involved in your major and the other internships in fields you think you may be interested in.
Since we are judged by our resumes, we often think that the quantity of our experiences is more important than the experience itself. The number of internships does not define you. The things that your internship supervisors say about you do define you.
In my last year of college, I applied to an internship at a newspaper and was waiting to hear back on whether I received the position. I received a call from the recruiter who informed me he had contacted my previous internship supervisor.
“They thought you were the best thing since peanut butter,” he said before offering me the internship.
In that moment, I realized that he was more impressed with what my former supervisor had to say about my work than he was with the fact I had an internship in New York City.
For the past five months, I have had the chance to look back on what I made of college and ask myself: “Did I make the most of it?”
If I answer the question in terms of working hard and making the most of seeking opportunities that would eventually lead to getting a job after graduation, then yes I did. I did more than enough. If I answer the question in terms of enjoying the last four years of youth by attending every football game, then maybe I didn’t.
No one asked me how many internships I had. They asked me what I did in those internships.
My internships shaped me into the person I am and got me where I am today. There are one or two internships that I probably would not have taken if I had the chance to go back, but I learned was what I was capable of handling.
At times, my classes suffered because I chose to take on multiple internships and freelance opportunities. You have to ask yourself what you are capable of handling.
Remember that you are a student first. Don’t focus on how many internships you complete. Instead, you should focus on going above and beyond your internship duties so that you leave with high recommendations.
If for some reason you want to set a record of how many internships a student can complete, then go for it. However, if you complete 12 internships and fail to have a supervisor say you were the best intern or provide any kind of high recommendation because you may have spread yourself too thin, then what have you accomplished?