Ah, well. Yes, I’m ashamed to admit it’s been months since I thought about this blog series. How did this happen? Honestly, I’m not sure. But let’s correct this error today with a short and sweet post on something very relevant to me and a number of my fellow graduated classmates: internships.
Yes, these days the word “internship” is everywhere; while primarily spoken on college campuses as students talk about preparing for life after college, internships have also come up as an option for people looking to avoid large employment gaps on their résumé. Which means, yes, internships remain a valid option for students after graduation.
For a number of graduates like myself, we’re currently making ends meet by working whatever jobs we could get, full or part time. A number of us further take up our spare time with either a freelancing business (if possible) or an internship, developing or honing one or more of our professional skills (i.e. marketing, blogging, ect.) in the hopes that this will help us get a better job in the near future.
The point of today’s short post is to remind readers that yes, unpaid internships are sometimes frustrating to deal with – they’re unpaid, which means they don’t pay for rent, electricity, water, or anything else. To look at an internship based on income makes it look entirely worthless. But I, a graduate with a fantastic family support system and the ability to move forward through life freely without a mountain of student debt to pay off (yes, I acknowledge that this does put me in a better situation than a number of my old classmates), encourage fellow graduates to think of them as an investment rather than a waste of time, for a number of reasons:
- It's a chance to network: Just like when you were a student, an internship in a field of interest gives you a chance to interact with people who work in this field. From there, who knows? They may know of someone who’s hiring. Their own company may want to hire people in the near future. Maybe you'll find a mentor at the company you're interning with. Either way, you now know more people in the area who similar interests who could potentially help you down the road. Friendships, business partnerships – who knows what may happen thanks to the relationships you made at an unpaid internship?
- It's more work experience: Yes, now just like in college, sometimes you just need a wee bit more experience to get that first job. For example, one thing I’ve noticed as I apply to jobs is that many require experience in Raisers Edge or DonorPro (I’m applying to nonprofit jobs and these are common fundraising database softwares). If I had never taken on my current internship, I never would have had the chance to work with DonorPro, and may not have gotten a number of job interviews because I lacked this crucial piece of experience. This is just one example of how sometimes, a little extra experience gives you the extra boost you need to get that interview, and then potentially that job.
- At the end of it all, you can confidently say, this is what you want to do in job interviews: Yes, even at graduation, sometimes we continue to doubt exactly what we want to do with our lives. One more unpaid internship before you begin your first "big kid" job may be a good alternative to actually getting a job, only to find out you hate it; remember, at that point, you'll either be miserable and stuck in this position while you continue, or you’ll end up quitting and starting your job search from scratch. Either way, the quick transition does not look good on your résumé, and this situation is worth avoiding if at all possible.
Hopefully, no matter what your individual situation, you can find a solution that helps you move your career forward. Did these tips help? If not, what sorts of information should I have focused on instead?