August 20, 2017

About Those Internships

Posted in compensation, Internships, Job Search tagged , , , , , , at 7:03 pm by Yvonne LaRose

Events such as end of semester and graduation were upon us when this post was started on May 19. Here we are approaching the end of August but the truths for seeking summer internships, and internships in general, is not history – it’s perennial.

It’s a time for reflecting on what we have as we jettison into doing things to actualize our future. It’s a time to do real world things to gain expertise and efficiency. And it’s a time to apply theory and principal to actual practice.

But what about that internship? What about negotiations for the first real job, or better yet, turning that internship into an offer of a permanent position. Time to think about what compensation should be negotiated, both for the internship and for the offer that could result from it. Also critical is to remember that this is basically a contractual relationship. There needs to be an exchange of consideration from both parties. So while there may not be an actual exchange of cash, there is some exchange that’s occurring in these types of relationships.

There are many reasons for seeking an internship. Perhaps it’s being used to see real-world application of the principles taught in a class. Yes, you’re still an undergraduate (or an advanced degree student) and not yet eligible for the real opportunity of a full time position. Does it make sense to work for free? Yes, and no.

No Monetary Reward Today, But Experience

If your working is being done for some type of fraternal, non-profit organization, then you won’t be charging for your services. In fact, you’ll be gaining practice and fine tuning your abilities so that they can be marketed in an organization that is revenue based. And you’ll be seeking the ability to use that volunteer experience as a resume entry. You’ll want to derive a reference from some of those with whom you interacted. You may even want to take away a work sample, if that’s possible. (Remember to get permission to use it. There may be proprietary issues involved.)

While there is no real financial reward for the engagement, there are other rewards in addition to the skills that are fine tuned and the contacts that are gained. There is also the reward of having company with like-minded individuals, opportunities to learn more about the industry or special interest associated with the group, being associated with an organization that has some form of prestige, and maybe the reward of being recognized for your work.

Hands-on Experience for a Grade

Some internships simply are not paid. However, they provide precious real-world experience. The compensation, in this scenario is credit for a class or units earned toward qualifying for graduation. The intern isn’t collating sets of copies from the duplicator; they aren’t fetching lunches or coffee for someone on the full-time staff. They’re actually involved in handling some aspect of the tasks involved in producing the end result. This is what the job will be when the student steps out of the university campus. This will be the realization of what the professor was talking about for all those hours of class time. This will make the difference between earning a grade of C or acing the final exam. This unpaid internship is done instead of taking a course on the subject.

Paid Internships

Let’s face it. A summer internship in another state means there are expenses that will necessarily be incurred. There’s rent and utilities, food allowance, transportation costs, household expenses, wardrobe maintenance, and those oh so essential toiletries. While being an intern in the big city is fantastic, someone has to cover those expenses or it simply won’t happen. Find out what the allowance is for the intern. Will the company provide intern housing or a housing allowance?

Research what the going rate is for an entry-level person in that position. (You’ll need to know this at some time in the future so that you’ll be up to speed when it comes to salary and benefits negotiations.) This is also the time to learn what the seasoned folks know – how to negotiate. This is the time to start honing your knowledge of what’s happening in the industry. This is the time to start pulling on the uniform of the career you’re about to begin.

Which Type Makes a Difference

There are many types of internships but they’re all learning experiences intended to create a better worker who can hit the ground running. Although there will be areas where you’ll be green, make certain you’re doing critical thinking as you go from entry-level to becoming better qualified not only for the job but for the career.

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