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For college students, an internship often marks the first step into the professional world. It’s an exciting (and sometimes nerve-wracking) period that can set the stage for your career or lead to a host of new opportunities. When it’s finally time for you to begin searching for internships, it’s important to consider what makes an internship worthwhile. To get the most out of your internship, you’ll want to understand what sets apart a great internship from a not-so-great one. Knowing what to look for and what questions to ask during the interview process is key.

Apply for Internships On Your Desired Career Path

Internships are all about collecting experiences in the field or position that you want to get into. Think about what you’re studying, what your interests are, and what kind of career path you hope to pursue post-graduation. You’ll want to seek out internship roles that meet these criteria. The right internship for you may not necessarily align with your major, and that’s ok. Not every tech internship, for example, is limited to just students with tech-focused majors. You shouldn’t limit yourself, either.

Choose An Opportunity that Encourages You to Contribute

Not only is an internship meant to serve as a learning experience, but it also should allow you to demonstrate your skills. That means that a good internship opportunity will expand your skill set and enhance the abilities that you already have. During the application and interview process, find out what duties you will be performing and what work you’ll get to participate in. Don’t select internships that won’t let you get your hands dirty with real work.

Find Someone Who Can Become a Mentor

A major part of any internship is the professionals behind it. From senior leaders to entry-level team members, who you meet at your internship matters. These individuals have first-hand experience in the industry you want to be in, so they can bring much value to your experience. If you’re looking for a mentor, an internship is an easy way to find one. Just make sure the opportunity is open to fostering those kinds of connections first.

Select an Option With a Positive Work Environment

Ask anyone in the professional world and they’ll likely say work environment is one of the top factors they consider when looking for a job. You should do the same when searching for an internship. How do current and past employees view the company? Will the company respect your role as a college student and the responsibilities you have to uphold? Take the time to research these questions on job review sites or directly ask these questions during your application and interview process. Upstanding institutions will be forthcoming.

Accept a Role that Could Turn into a Full-Time Job

Not every internship opportunity leads to a full-time job. That being said, companies are investing in new industry talent when they offer internships. Many like to keep that investment within their organization if they can. It’s always a good idea to ask a company what their goals are for the future, including if they are looking to add to their team. You’re putting your time and effort into their company, so it’s worth seeing how much you can get back from it.

Now that you know what to look for in an internship, it’s time to start your search. Job boards, search engines, employer websites, campus career services, and networking events are helpful resources. We work with local college students across Western New York. If you’re interested in student tech opportunities, You can also contact us directly to learn more.