Hint: How chill your job will be is NOT one of them.
By Jasmin Suknanan, Stony Brook University
Congratulations, internship-hunting season is almost over and you’re this close to survival.
Summer internships are life-changing, resume-boosting, network-building opportunities to gain practical, hands-on experience in your desired field. Competition is fierce, more fierce than you might imagine. Although the end of the semester and the arrival of hot weather usually signals the start of Netflix-and-chill-at-home season, 97 percent of employers offer summer internships, according to Forbes, and you can bet your one month free trial that there are students looking to work their way into these companies, albeit just for three months.
Researching positions, applying to the ones that stood out and going through the interview process was stressful enough, but making a decision on which company to work for is honestly just as hard. You could find yourself stuck between acceptances for a variety of reasons, including the fact that you simply cast a wide net when sending out applications. By the way, if you only applied to four or five positions, you’re not casting your net wide enough.
If you’re one of the lucky few to receive not one, not two, but multiple summer internship offers and you don’t know which one to accept, here are five things to consider.
1. Is the internship paid?
I’m going to talk about this one first, because it’s always the number one concern of prospective interns everywhere. It’s okay to admit it. College students love the idea of making a little extra spending money. So, naturally, the promise of getting paid to gain experience in one’s desired field is an offer that not too many people — if any at all — can refuse.
Of course, you can learn just as much from an unpaid internship as you can from a paid one. I suppose the real question to ask here would be: Will the experience be worth the time and money I spend on an unpaid internship? If your commute to the office is forty minutes and you work two days per week, then unpaid experience is probably worth your time, especially if you’re able to squeeze in a second, paid part-time job on other days. But if you’re going to have to commute almost two hours four days per week, you might want to review your other options.
2. Can I receive school credit?
The question of whether or not your university will accept your internship for degree credit is sometimes the second concern. Usually, companies that don’t offer paid internships will arrange for interns to receive credit toward their degree program. If you still need to get this requirement out of the way before graduation, then this might be a question you bring up with your hiring manager.
Internship credit information is unique to every company. Be aware of any company pre-requisites that must be met before your internship is feasible for school credit. For example, at my school, although many Journalism majors find careers in social media marketing, a marketing internship is NOT considered acceptable for journalism credit.
3. Is the company well known?
This is usually the question that gets asked second, more so than the question above. Everyone has dreams of getting that summer internship with Google or Apple or Vogue before even getting their degree from college. Reputability is a huge deciding factor for many people when considering an internship. If I tell my mother’s cousins’ grandmother’s great-niece that I got an internship at Orange, will she know what the hell Orange is?
Working with a large company is often desired for two reasons: bragging rights among your classmates, and showing off to companies you apply to in the future. But there are some great benefits that come out of working with small companies, too. For starters, you may have more independence to take on more projects and assignments on your own, rather than just assisting your superior. A lot of people say they want meaningful internship experience, so this is an idea to consider before accepting any offers.
4. What’s the attitude of the company’s employees?
This is definitely a lot harder to figure out than the other points are, but it can make a huge difference in the experience you receive. You’ve probably read intern horror stories online about how interns dealt with snobby superiors and elitist attitudes in the workplace. The shitty personality of your co-worker shouldn’t be something that you have to concern yourself with over the course of your internship. If you don’t think a company’s vibe aligns with yours, then maybe it’s a sign that you should give this one the boot.
I know a lot of people will say that you’d have to be crazy to turn down a great position because you’re worried about getting your feelings hurt by office mean girls and jackass office jocks, but if you think that there’s a chance you’ll have more bad experiences than good ones at a company, this is a point you’ll really have to consider.
5. When do I start?
I know, I know, you’re just itching to hop in your car or on the train and get inside the office already. Pay attention to the start and end dates of each offer. If you’re still barely getting through finals week and one position requires you to begin work immediately, you might have to move on if the hiring manager isn’t willing to negotiate a different start date.
Take into account whether or not the company is able to accommodate for your schedule. I know, you’re the intern, so you have to be accommodating toward them, but also understand that you’re only human and you can only try to make so many things happen on your own. Got a family vacation coming up in late May? Consider picking the offer that begins in June.
All things considered, hopefully you feel more confident about making an informed decision about your summer internship. Congrats on any offers you’ve received, and go make your boss (and yourself) proud!