Professional Development

Questions to Ask Yourself When Finding an Internship

Internships are an important part of your experience as you start out in your future career field. Not only are they great resume builders, but they also help ensure that you’ve found the correct area of expertise to pursue that will bring you enjoyment. 

As much as you want to make a good impression as you interview for internships, you should also check that an opportunity is fitting your needs in order to get the most out of it. Here are some questions you should ask yourself as you look for your dream role.

Is this the industry I want to pursue as a long term career?

While this one may seem obvious, it can be easy to lose sight of the purpose of an internship if you focus too much on simply landing the first position you apply for. If you’re curious about a certain sector of a certain field, hold out to find an opportunity in that area, don’t just settle in order to quickly get an offer. Internships are as much for you as they are for your employer, so make sure it’s exactly what you want, or at least will get you one step closer to what you want.

Will I be working under people I can learn from?

One great part about internships is the skills you can take from them into your first long term role. Especially relevant if it’s your first experience in the field, your bosses will act as mentors that shape the mentality you have at future companies as well. If you work with someone who values a close partnership and constantly wants to check in with you, it’s likely that that’s what you’ll get used to from a leader. On the other hand, if your manager prefers to be more hands-off and let you take charge, you’ll develop characteristics from that experience that you’ll take with you at your next job. Both leadership styles have their pros and cons, so make sure you’ll be working with a manager who fits your style and will help you develop the skills you want to hone. 

What new skills will this give me?

While there are skills that will be put into practice regardless of field or company (think teamwork or communications skills), look for an internship that offers you the chance to get hands-on experience with specific skills that will help you stand out in future job searches. Maybe it’s a specific platform that will put you at a more advanced level compared to your peers, or maybe it’s a certain niche topic you’ll be dealing with that will give you a unique set of knowledge. Either way, you’re gaining something that will help you get the attention of future employers and set you apart, which is always a desirable quality in a candidate.

What impact can I have in this role?

If you speak to anyone who loves their job, you’ll find that they’re usually drawn to the impact they feel they have with their work. Whether it’s for a certain cause that you’re passionate about, or it’s an opportunity to contribute fresh ideas to your field, having an impact will keep you engaged and wanting to continue your work. Look for an internship that will fulfill you, not just teach you.

What values do my team and company have?

You spend a lot of time at work, and team interactions make up a big part of your day. No matter how much you love the field you’re in, it’s difficult to enjoy your day-to-day routine when you don’t feel like you’re in a supportive environment. Ask thoughtful questions during your interview about team dynamics and company culture. These will help determine if it’s a good fit for your personality and preferences. Also, look for a recruiting process that emphasizes the group’s commitment to helping you learn—it’s what an internship is for.

Internships are an important and rewarding way to begin your career, and finding a great one will make you excited to continue learning and growing into your role. Always keep in mind that as much as you want to make your company happy with your work, they also owe it to you to meet your needs so you get what you’re looking for out of the experience. To learn more about getting started in fields like Product, Marketing, and Design, check out Chet’s microcourses for resources curated by leaders at companies like Google, Apple, and Netflix. 

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