Are Internships Worth It?
If, a few months ago, you’d have asked me that question I’d have said “Yes, absolutely!”; Now, having experienced it, I’d say “Yes, but make sure they’ll have you doing relevant and challenging work”.
There’s really nothing worse than being an intern, knowing your place and respecting that, and then being asked to do something that anyone could do, rather than being asked to do something in your specific field.
Over this past summer I worked as a marketing intern for a very large UK outsourcing company. During my time there I expected to learn something, be challenged and, most importantly, I expected not to be someone’s bitch for two months. In reality, I was asked to do a few things which have no value to my degree, career or development as a person.
Over the course of the summer I said many times that if it weren’t for the fact that I’d have had to pay my bursary back to the University, I’d have quit. Other than looking good on my CV it hasn’t benefited me in any way. I wasn’t challenged; I didn’t really do any relevant marketing work (other than updating the master database) and I didn’t whatsoever enjoy my time there.
I really don’t want to be so negative about a good opportunity but, in reality, there was nothing positive about my internship other than the bursary I received from my University. That, at least, helped me avoid going into my overdraft over the summer!
In general, I still feel that internships are worth it. Just make sure, before accepting a position, that they definitely have work for you to do which will A) Span the course of your internship; and B) be relevant to your degree/career goals. Otherwise, to some extent, you’re wasting your time. I’d especially recommend not taking an unpaid position; not only will you potentially struggle financially over the course of the internship but you will feel as if you have no reason to work if you don’t enjoy your job.
If you’re considering doing an internship to support your education, please bear in mind my experience. Not all internships are worth it, some will ask you to work unpaid and some will treat you like shit. Do your research, and maybe ask someone at your institution for help if you’re unsure; most higher educational institutions will have careers teams on hand for you to make the most of.