A Teen’s Perspective: The Internship Debate

how to be an intern

A Teen’s Perspective: The Internship Debate

Ever wonder how to get an internship and why they are so important?

I have been doing internships since high school, and I am currently in college. It is never too early to encourage your kids to take internships. To put it simply, they give you a competitive edge in this awful job market. Internships are a great opportunity to get work experience and to network. In addition, many companies actually tend to hire from within, so having an internship gives you a greater chance of getting a job not only because you have an added experience on your résumé, but because this company knows you.

I have had so many great experiences as an intern. I have learned a lot, was able to exert leadership, made friends and met extraordinary individuals. I also did a lot of networking, which is vital for finding a job in this market. Networking is also important because you can learn a lot from individuals who have already been through it all.

how to be an intern

At this point, it is almost required that you obtain some sort of internship prior to entering the work field. There are individuals who have graduated from college who are still stuck taking internships. They want to see experience, and the only way to get that experience is by becoming an intern. The issue is that most internships are unpaid. These organizations use our ideas without paying us. I read an article recently that encouraged companies to hire younger employees because we are experts in social media, how to target younger audiences, etc. We are fresh blood, and to be honest, we are assets. The thing is, they DO acknowledge that and understand that. But instead of hiring us as employees, we are interns. As such, we do not always receive the credit we deserve and we are not paid for our valuable ideas or work.

Although you do make connections and learn quite a bit, so many internships fail to meet educational expectations. Employees are busy getting their own work done, and do not always have time to commit to provide constructive feedback for the intern, or to oversee a project that an intern is completing. We aren’t trusted to do anything on our own, which is understandable. We do not have experience and we are there to learn. But because of this, we do not always get the experience that we are promised. The best internships are the ones in which we are assigned projects and are able to complete them, and the supervisor is attentive and provides constructive feedback for us to use for improvement. Those do exist, but you need to find them!

There is so much pressure to consistently have an internship, that I feel like I cannot get a job to make money. So many other students are also in this situation. We are paying more for our education than any other generation, yet we are expected to take unpaid internships. If we thought we would have trouble paying off hundreds of thousands of dollars in loans before, try paying them after having to work multiple summers unpaid. No wonder so many students in my generation return home after college. We have the most experience out of any other generation due to pressure to do internships, but are the least prepared to go into the work field and join the real world. Why? Because, well, we just can’t afford it.

The most obvious issue is that there are people who just cannot afford to take an unpaid internship. Some of these people take them anyway because they feel like they have to. The good news is that so many schools and organizations provide grants for internships so that these students can afford to take internships, since they are so necessary in this day and age (although those grants would be more helpful in paying for the exponential growth in college tuition). But these are limited.

Because internships are so necessary, it isn’t even as special if someone obtains an internship as it used to be. Anyone can get an internship anywhere. There are obviously internships that are more competitive and prestigious, but just having an internship isn’t even enough for you to stand out anymore. Again, the most tangible advantage is making connections.

Despite all of these issues with internships, there is not much we can do about this right now. The best thing to do is to encourage your child to apply for an internship. Here are a few things to make sure your child is doing during the internship:

 

1. Dress professionally. You want to show that you are serious about what you are doing, and you want to look like you know what your doing. Appearances do matter in the workplace! First impressions mean a lot.

2. Always smile, be friendly, and go outside of your comfort zone. The more people know you and like you, the better. Network. Get to know the people you work with.

3. Never say no. If your supervisor asks you to do something, do it, even if it is outside of your knowledge or comfort zone. You will be learning something new, which is always a bonus. Just don’t be afraid to ask for help or take constructive criticism!

4. Put those cell phones away. I know you are glued to them, but it looks very unprofessional to have your phone out. It makes it look like you don’t care, even if you do.

5. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about something you are unsure about. It is better to ask than to make a mistake.

6. If you have nothing to do, ask your supervisor if there is anything else you can do. Sometimes, they are not even aware that you have nothing to do. It also makes you appear eager and excited about what you are doing.

7. Don’t rush! Check over your work. It is all about the quality of your work, not about how quickly you can get it done. You obviously do not want to take too much time completing a project, but don’t ever send something in haphazardly! When there are multiple typos, it can seem like you do not care. Always submit your best work and show that you are dedicated to what you’re doing.

8. Write reflections and seriously think about your internship as it progresses. Re you getting what you want out of it? If not, consider speaking with your supervisor. Is this still something you will consider pursuing in the future, based on your experiences as an intern? Internships are your chance to test the waters. If you do not like what you’re doing, take your next internship elsewhere, or in a different area! Speak to individuals from other departments at your internship. Learn what they do. Make connections. Maybe this is something you would be more interested in doing in the future?

 

Remember, Miss O and Friends has internships for your daughter! For more information on how she can get involved, click here.

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