Undergraduate Blog / Career Development

Do you even want an internship?

You have finally made it to Babson. You start your first semester, and before long you overhear people talking about summer internships. All of a sudden it dawns on you–it’s September and your peers are applying for internships that do not begin until May of the next year. You immediately log into Handshake and start anxiously pressing “apply” on every open position you see. Fifty applications later you ask yourself, “Since when did I even want an internship this summer?” Don’t fret, you aren’t alone.

In my experience, business students feel an unusual amount of pressure to get an internship compared to most other majors. Business as a major is more popular now than ever before. Having to differentiate yourself from other business students has never been more important. The weight that business students place on getting an internship and the efforts by many business schools to strengthen resources that help students get internships reflect this newfound obsession with internships. Such an environment encourages students to seriously consider getting an internship, however, in some cases I believe that it makes an internship seem mandatory instead of compulsory and leaves students asking “why did I even want an internship in the first place?” There are many ways to stand out as a business student. Getting an internship is just one of many. The only way that you can ensure that you have a successful internship experience is if you carefully reflect on what you hope to get out of a summer internship.

So you’ve decided an internship is right for you. Don’t make the mistakes that I made when searching for the right internship. During your internship search, don’t allow your search to be overly influenced by company reputation, pay, size, or geography. Just like searching for a college, making a decision on the basis of a name, a brand, a location, or size is arbitrary. None of these factors are very accurate indicators of how successful you will be at a place. Instead, allow your search to be guided by your own interests and goals, what you specifically want to get from an internship, and what you believe to be the most valuable thing you can contribute to a workplace.

Be thoughtful, communicate your value, and above all be yourself. Speak confidently about what you have to contribute. Communicate and prove your passion and allow your search to be guided by shared values, missions, and goals. Getting an internship is difficult and the competition is fierce. Your odds of success increase drastically if you let your internship search be guided by your own interests, skills, and passions as opposed to what would superficially appear most impressive. Be honest with yourself and what you hope to get out of an internship experience. And above all, recognize that having or not having an internship is not likely to make or break your career.

Happy interning… or not,