When you’re faced with the decision of taking a paying job over an unpaid internship in your field, it is worth considering whether the short–term paycheck will be more important than the long–term investment that interning can provide. While some internships are paid, many are not, which might lead a person into feeling as if the internship would be of no value because they would have nothing in their bank account to show for it. However, a college job is usually taken for just a short or fixed amount of time while an internship is more of a long term investment in your future which could lead to a permanent and exciting full–time career. A part–time job done well could certainly lead to a promotion, but internships hold certain advantages that you just won’t find in regular employment. Before deciding on taking a short–term job or promotion, consider these long–term advantages of internships and which would be in your best interest.
Advantages of an Internship
- You will have the opportunity to network within the company and develop relationships with those who may be able to help further your career. With a good work ethic and job skills, you’ll have an edge over your competitors.
- You get a firsthand look at what working for a particular company is like.
- You may be able to gain compensation, if not financially, perhaps in the form of school credit or a living allowance if the internship is in another physical location.
- You will receive hands-on training to give you professional skills and experience that will prepare you for full-time employment at any company.
- You have the opportunity to be observed and evaluated on-the-job by potential employers within your internship site.
One important difference between a job and an internship is that an internship is mainly focused on teaching you the skills necessary to work in a specific role at that company. There is often a structure in place that introduces interns to the organization and trains them to learn the job through a proven system and with professional supervision and evaluation. The intern experience is all about learning and training under the supervision of professionals in the field, receiving feedback and constructive criticism along the way. A job may offer a short training period but will typically require you to work independently from that point on.
If you currently have a part time or short–term job that you enjoy and is in your field of interest, then staying with that employer may make the most sense to you. Perhaps it involves research in a subject that you feel invested in and that you are learning a lot from. In this situation, a steady paycheck and the experience you are gathering may facilitate a decision to stay. However, if you’re not interested in working at your current job permanently, an internship elsewhere can give you the opportunity to try out other potential employers and let other companies get to know you.
Earning money to pay the bills during college is certainly important to everyone, but don’t forget to step back and look at the bigger picture. Many part–time jobs, while they might be fun and perhaps offer certain fringe benefits, probably won’t provide you with the necessary training, experience, and potential full–time job offer that an internship would. Also, keep in mind that securing an internship is just the beginning.
You’ll still need to approach it as if it were a permanent, paying career choice. Securing an internship is by no means a guarantee that you will be offered a permanent full–time position by the organization.