Tips From an Orange County College Consultant: 5 Things to Think About Before Doing a Second Internship
Many students will be excited to have the opportunity to work as an intern while they are an undergraduate. Although many internships are unpaid, they can provide valuable work experience and help students get a foot in the door with their favorite company. The first time around most students will need enough elective units that they can justify spending part of their summer without getting paid. However, taking a second internship the following summer can be subject to different circumstances. Perhaps the student no longer needs the units or maybe they simply need to earn some money to subsidize the cost of ever increasing post-secondary education. Whatever their personal circumstances might be, it’s prudent to think about several things before agreeing to a second internship (READ: “Unpaid Internships: Weighing the Options”).
1. Will this internship provide additional work experience?
Some students may be seeking a second internship because they learn that their original choice of major was not a good fit. In this case, an additional internship in a new field may provide experience valuable enough to be worth the effort. Spending a month or so working in the field is a great way to determine whether or not a specific career goal is a good idea. If a second internship will provide an entirely different skill set upon completion, it may very well be worth it paid or unpaid.
2. Is the internship paid at minimum wage or above?
Another thing students should ask themselves is if they will earn any money over the summer. If the internship is a paid opportunity at minimum wage or above, it sounds like a good idea. Students who need to make money could either make it doing something they find especially dry or while learning valuable job skills. Paid internships are a good option. Unfortunately, the majority of undergraduate internships are unpaid. In this case, would a second internship in the same field really help the student? If they can still get college credit they actually need or if they are making excellent career connections it may be worth it. However, if it’s simply a repeat of the first summer, it might end up being a poor use of time.
3. Can the student use it as part of a special project with their school?
Students entering specialized fields may be involved in special projects such as independent or collaborative research. If working as an intern can somehow contribute to this project, it might be a very interesting experience overall. Because each student’s situation will be unique in this case, they should ask themselves the following questions. Will their supervising professors support their internship as part of the project? How will they describe or justify their internship within their research paper? Will they receive relevant credit toward their degree? Because there are so many variables when it comes to independent projects it’s a good idea to get something official in writing from the school and the company before proceeding.
4. Is this internship a temp to hire position?
Some internships can serve as a temp to hire position. In this case, a second internship might be an excellent idea. If a company is interested in a student who will be graduating in a year and they want to offer them an opportunity to get their foot in the door prior to graduation, they may offer a temp to hire position. Although most of these come after graduation, some companies will recruit students in high demand fields. Having a full time job secured before graduation would be excellent for any student; however, it’s important to look at the fine print in these types of situations (READ: “Why You Should Study Abroad”).
5. Can the student get important information in writing?
If a student is considering a temp to hire internship or a second internship, it’s important to make sure they get any important information or guarantees in writing. A company that says they would like to hire a student upon graduation but isn’t willing to put it in an official offer may not be in a position to follow through. Verbal agreements generally aren’t worth much and are undocumented. If a student is truly taking on an internship because they feel they will be hired upon completion, they must absolutely have some sort of written job offer, even if there are contingencies, in writing and signed by a representative of the company authorized to make such a promise. If this is not the situation it’s better to think about taking the internship on as part of college credit or choosing something else to do over the summer.
Want more advice on internships, college, and your career path? Enlist the help of one of our experienced Orange County college consultants. Call us today for details.