Choosing an internship can be as daunting as choosing a university. As you go through the internship search, ask yourself those same questions that you did as an eager high school senior: Am I going to fit in? Does it offer me the program I want? Do I see myself here in the long run?
I’ve been lucky enough to have three stellar experiences as an intern. This is not to say that I’ve loved every minute of every one. However, the takeaways from all three have helped me form better, more realistic goals for myself. I’ve learned many lessons along the way, but the one that sticks out to me the most is the importance of choosing an internship that is right for you.
Sounds like a no-brainer, but it’s much harder than it appears. Amongst the student population, New York City is often seen as the holy grail of public relations, putting an unnecessary pressure on students to migrate to the city every summer.
The allure of the New York City lifestyle and job market drew me in and hypnotized me, and it wasn’t until after I left, underwhelmed with my job and with $50 to my name, that I realized I made the fatal mistake of choosing my internship based on an unreal expectation.
New York City is not for everyone, nor is every industry. Below are three things that I have found invaluable to keep in mind while on the job/internship hunt:
1.) For an unpaid intern, New York City is not as glamorous or fun as you might expect – While a lot of museum and street fairs are free, restaurants, bars, shows, etc. are generally $10 to $15 more expensive than your college town. Smaller cities, such as Boston and Seattle, can be just as exciting and not nearly as expensive.
2.) Be honest with yourself about what type of industry is right for you – Taking a risk can sometimes lead you to your passions, but you can only go so far before running into trouble. Be honest about what type of person you are and where your interests lie. If you’ve never been interested in fashion, a fashion internship in NYC probably won’t be the best fit for you.
3.) The best clients don’t make for the best company – Just because an agency represents a famous client or brand doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a great place to work. Judge a company based on the caliber of interview, philosophy, and culture. This might mean doing more research than you are used to, i.e. getting in touch with past interns, but I guarantee it will pay off.
Kaitlin Daly is an English major at Boston University. She will be graduating in May 2011 and hopes to pursue a career in sports public relations. Please feel free to contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org, she’s more than happy to answer your questions.