Relevant real-world work experience can mean the difference between getting and losing the job of your dreams. It is a leg up on any competition that is solely banking on their diploma. When you are just starting out and are as green as they come, internships are a great gateway to gaining this much-needed experience. Here are some guidelines to help you suss-out the best internships to lead you down the Lady Boss path, rather than a total time-suck which turns you into a human coffee machine.
If you are looking to invest your precious time in a company, it is paramount that you are clear about what exactly you are investing in. Take the time to research the companies you are interested in. Spending ten minutes surfing their website is not sufficient! Really delve in, do not simply look into the company and its products, learn as much as you can about the business as a whole. Who are the major players? What is their background? What is the company’s reputation within the industry? What is the latest on them (recent events, stock price, news headlines, etc)? Before you can ever accept an internship you have to put in the time and research what you’re potentially signing up for, to determine if that is the best move for you as an individual.
Don’t lose sight of the big picture
An awesome internship is usually just the first small step in a line of many which will lead you to your Boss Lady future. While a summer internship might feel small in the grand scheme of things, it is important to not lose sight of the big picture, specifically where you stand in this big picture. Ask yourself “where do I want to end up?” and then “where does this internship take me?” Through answering these questions you will be able to determine if the company’s values, ideals and business trajectory is aligned with your own.
Time is money
We have all heard this phrase before, but have you ever really stopped to think about what it means? Hollywood has had it flying out of the mouth of a dismissive older gentleman in a business suit for years now making it seem related to greed or extreme wealth. When in reality it is simply a reminder that time is a valuable resource. Your time matters- how you choose to spend that time and where you choose to invest it also matter. While most internships are unpaid, they all promise to pay you in experience. Understanding what that actually means to the company should be at the absolute top of your list before you ever begin working. Getting a front row seat and hands on experience in a field that inspires you is a priceless commodity for someone starting in any business. It is an experience that will pay itself forward by ultimately giving you the necessary skills and background to be paid for this type of work in the future. However, while you are on the quest to find your perfect internship it is important to remember that not all internships are created equally. Not all companies have comprehensive internship programs that are tried and proven effective for their participants. It is your job to make sure that you are applying for an internship with a company that respects the value of the time you are giving them.