Internships are a very controversial topic in the post-grad business world. Are they worth it? Is doing an unpaid internship just an excuse for slave labour?
I think that an email I received this morning sums it all up. One of our amazing past interns just landed a dream job in Toronto, and we couldn’t be happier for him here at Proforce. Hearing about how positive his experience was with us really sheds light on the impact that a well-structured internship can have on someone’s career.
As someone looking for an internship, it’s very scary because you are kind of throwing yourself blindly into the belly of the beast and have no clue what to expect. You certainly hope your time will be well spent and that you will learn valuable lessons that will further your career and that you can utilize what you learned in school.
With an internship, anything can happen and we have certainly heard some horror stories out there, such as:
The “get me coffee” internship:
Less common these days, but definitely still alive, this internship masquerades as a super cool opportunity, but it’s all a facade! You are promised amazing growth and instead asked to pick up dry cleaning and sandwiches. You end this internship with not much more than an extra line on your CV and killer espresso-making skills.
The “drowning in paperwork” internship:
Also dreaded. This happens when a company takes on interns short-term, to do all the paperwork that everyone else doesn’t want to do, and the most “hands-on” thing you end up doing is pushing buttons on the Xerox.
The “broken promises” internship.
This one is extremely common. Also known as the “impossible-unicorn” internship, it sounds too good to be true-and it is. This internship is characterized by about 1000 promises that you will do super cool things and you essentially end up doing other 1000 things that are either too boring to name, or completely unrelated to the initial job description. This happens often in companies where they lack structure, haven’t taken on an intern before or are simply unprepared…or dishonest.
So how do you avoid choosing the wrong internship?
Answer: Do your research!
Ask around, snoop, check out the company reviews, ask to be put in touch with someone who has completed an internship at the company and benefitted from it. If the company cannot give the name of 1 person who has successfully completed the internship something is fishy.
How do you know if an internship is right for you?
Answer: You can’t knock it ‘till you tried it, You can never be 100 percent certain if it’s the right one. Just remember what YOU want to gain from the experience because you will be the one putting in the work.
If I’m stuck in an evil “waste my time internship” do I leave or stay to write the experience on my resume?
Answer: Depends. This one is tricky. The same way name dropping looks good on some resumes, you have to play your cards right. If it’s a means to an end and you can handle clipping someone’s toenails for a paragraph on your CV… then go for it. Just remember that your time is precious and that an internship where you learned nothing is an absolute waste of time. If you are stuck in an epic waste of time internship – WALK AWAY – you don’t owe the company anything.
Paid VS Unpaid
Unpaid internships – despite their not-so-great-reputation, can be of extremely high value – and should not be pushed to the side. I have heard of AWFUL paid internships and of unpaid ones that brought so much to the table. The reality is that, some companies simply do not have the budget to pay interns but bring such high value in what they teach, that they trump a paid one that specializes in ordering bagels.
Conclusion: be picky with the internship you select because they can be a wonderful experience for growth, or a horrid waste of time.
For additional information on the Internship Program offered at Proforce Personnel, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.