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Top 10 Questions to Ask Before Choosing an Internship

If you’re new to the internship process, you may not know where to begin or what kinds of questions you should ask before starting your search for the perfect experience. Lucky for you, we’ve come with a list of 10 questions we think are right up there with the most important things you should consider when deciding on the kind of internship you’d like to apply for. Take a look at our top 10 questions to ask before choosing an internship below so that you’re ready not only for the internship search, but for the moment you’re deciding which of your top choices you should choose for your internship experience.

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  1. When do I want to be an intern?

    Most internships will last either a semester or a summer. It’s up to you to determine how much time you’re willing (and able) to take off from school to take on an internship, and when you’re able to take that time away from your academics. Summer internships will be more competitive, as more apply for those.
  2. Can I afford to take an unpaid position?

    Unfortunately, many internships out there, especially those in the communications and arts fields, are unpaid. You’ll need to ask yourself then whether you’re able to take on the added expense of an unpaid internship, as you probably won’t have time to hold down a full-time paying job in the meantime.
  3. How independent am I?

    Depending on the position, you’ll either have a lot of guidance or a lot of autonomy when it comes to your internship experience. If you know you’d like a bit more freedom, consider internships that come with some room to make that experience your own. If you know you’d like more guidance, and perhaps a mentor, find positions that would offer you that.
  4. Will this experience help me down the road?

    Outside of the obvious benefit of padding your resume, the right internship can also be your foot in the door of your chosen industry once you’ve graduated. The people you meet while at your internship may also be good contacts to have once you’re out there on job market looking for a paid full-time position.
  5. Do I need an internship related to my major?

    An internship can either reinforce your interest for your chosen field of study or could serve to give you some experience in an area you had not considered before. While you should certainly look for positions related to your major if you’re sure you’ll be sticking with that post-graduation, if you’re not sure, it may make sense to broaden your search.
  6. What have former interns said about this position?

    While an internship may seem great on paper and even better during an internship interview, you may not get an honest assessment of the experience until you talk to former interns. If the internship provider balks at the request, talk to your college’s career center; certainly there’s someone from your school who has worked with that provider in the past.
  7. Am I willing to look beyond my city, even state, for an opportunity?

    Depending on where you’re attending college, there may be better opportunities elsewhere in terms of internships, especially if you live in a college or small town with fewer internship providers. Think about whether you’d consider internships outside of your campus bubble; the competition may also be less fierce elsewhere.
  8. Does this opportunity come with any additional benefits?

    Some internships will offer a modest salary or stipend. Others may offer mileage or travel reimbursements or insurance outside of a traditional paycheck. Think about what would sweeten the deal for you and what your priorities are when looking for an internship.
  9. Do I need academic credit?

    Some internship providers will only accept applicants looking for college credit in exchange for their work there, especially if the experience is unpaid. Your college may have similar requirements for internships, so make sure you do your research to know whether you’re eligible or interested in an internship that offers academic credit.
  10. What kinds of responsibilities will I have at this internship?

    This is an important question to ask, even before you meet with the internship provider at an interview. Unless you’re just looking for any kind of experience to pad your resume with, you probably want to know what you’ll be doing day in and day out at your internship, and whether the job fits with what you’d like to do after graduation.

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