Accepting an internship is a leap of faith: a career move that will either leave one feeling satisfied and accomplished, or alternatively, that they have taken a hop, skip and jump back to square one. It is without doubt that some internships are better than others. As strongly as I believe that one can strive to make any intern period beneficial, some positions allow more freedom and professional growth than others.
A friend, who I admire, very much stressed, “You have to be exclusive with your talents.” As much as I would love to delve into every opportunity presented, one has the right to be selective when agreeing to intern. Internship applications are a mutual selection process: they choose you, just as much as you choose them, so choose wisely!
Deciding which internship may be best for you can be simplified with the help of friends who have prior intern experience. I, for example, accepted two of my past internships because of peer recommendations. In both instances, my friends raved about their experiences, as well as the opportunities presented to them through their internships, laying the groundwork for me to follow in their footsteps.
When application time rolled around, their former workplaces topped my list of desired positions. It was comforting to reach out to classmates for advice during the interview process, as well as throughout my actual internship, knowing that they were equipped with the knowledge needed to answer even the tritest of questions. I believe George Eliot best sums up the phenomenon of peers helping other peers professionally: “What to we live for, if it is not to make life less difficult for each other?”
If one of your classmates has an exciting intern experience, don’t be afraid to reach out for guidance. They too were once in your shoes and will surely be happy to offer suggestions when applying for a similar, if not the same, internship. Seasoned peers offer invaluable insight that can only stem from first-hand experience. I know I’ll be forever grateful to those who aided me. These women were my mentors and continue to be role models. They inspire me, and I admire them. I only hope I am fortunate enough to return the favor someday.
I strongly suggest finding a trustworthy peer or friend to be a professional mentor. The benefits of having a mentor are not limited to internship purposes; true friends will help you flourish and grow to better yourself and your job skills. If you have doubts about the value of mentors, Network Solutions’ “Women Grow Business” blog offers note-worthy insight: http://womengrowbusiness.com/2011/03/why-you-need-a-mentor/
I encourage you to stop hesitating and start asking questions. Acquire application knowledge and be armed with wisdom from those who interned before you. Keep dreaming, keep achieving and don’t let fear hold you back. -Catherine