Are Internships Worth It?

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When exiting high school and entering college, many items come to mind and one of them is an internship. Many colleges and universities require internships but often they are questioned. The main question people ask is are they worth it, and rightly so. With the way professionals progress and jobs are obtained, an internship may not be necessary. Regardless, this article will go over the high points of internships, which can help you decide if an internship is worth it.

One of the first decisions you’ll have to make is to obtain a paid or unpaid internship. While each can vary in benefits and drawbacks, here’s what you should consider for each.

With an unpaid internship, you’ll need to consider the position worth your time. If you’ll be filing papers and getting coffee for the office, that may not be the best allocation of your time. Not only will not be getting paid but you’ll also lose out on earnings. Also, take time to understand if this will get you closer to your larger goal of obtaining a job or position. The idea is you learn skills that will make you stand out from the competition.

Flipping to the other side of the coin, if you are looking at paid internships you’ll still want to consider the same factors of the unpaid internship but you’ll add the element you’re earning an income. If you are seeking an internship simply because you must, then being paid to file papers may be enough for you. However, if you can couple being compensated for your time and learning viable skills, it’s a win-win situation.

Internship or Mentorship?

Another factor to consider when deciding between an internship or no internship is can you fill your time with a mentorship instead. Mentorships are a working relationship between someone who’s been in your chosen field for quite some time and is accomplished.

While an internship can be a cheap way for a company to use you to complete useless tasks, mentorships are usually found through networking and hard work within your field. Mentorships can be more valuable than an internship and will likely last longer. Should you find a mentorship early on and have proven yourself to be ambitious and useful, your mentor can open up the door for an internship that can lead to useful skill development.

Forced Internships

Lastly, with many universities and colleges requiring internships it can begin to dilute the usefulness of an internship. If you have a wave of individuals flooding the market because they are required to obtain an internship, there’s more supply than demand. While there is the right intention with required internships, it may not be practical for some. 

Overall, the question of are internships worth it is complex but it can be summed up as follows. If you are able to gain tangible skills that can be taken with you to future jobs or careers then yes, an internship is worth it. Should you find yourself filing papers and getting coffee, then that is a waste of your time and should be allocated elsewhere. Ensure you take time to complete your own due diligence and find what gives you the best competitive advantage.