Monthly Archives: January 2014

How NOT to choose an internship site

Depression. young attractive woman with an awful migraine

Photo courtesy of iStockphoto

It is that time of year again! Spring interns are happily learning the ropes of their new “job” while those interested in a summer internship are looking to be “hired.” So, a few words of encouragement for those seeking an internship experience.

As the current internship coordinator for our Public Relations program, part of my job is to make sure students complete the internship application. One question on the application asks students to indicate his or her future goals in the area of public relations. Ideally, what students want to do will align with the internship sites they place on the application. Key word–ideally. Of course there may be instances where what a students wishes to do is not available in the immediate area (e.g. Entertainment PR, International PR, etc.). Despite, students should still look for an internship site that will offer transferable skills, not just one to complete for credit sake. So, as you are on the hunt for the “ideal” internship below are some ways to NOT choose an internship site.

1. Choosing a site based on name alone. 

Of course some organizations are more well-known than others; however, this shouldn’t be the only reason to accept a site. A well-known organization name is not always synonymous with a structured internship program or ideal/acceptable experience for your degree program.

2. Thinking your experience at a site will be the same as your friends experience. 

You will be walking into an active job site–things change. The people may have changed, the clients may have changed, and, of course, you are not exactly like your friend. It is always ideal to hear others experience, but do not assume your experience will be exactly the same.

3. Relying on the internship description alone. ASK Questions!

An internship description is a general guide with respect to what the site supervisor anticipates you will accomplish. Things change. Ask your potential site supervisor about specific projects they are currently working on and projects they think may come later on during your internship experience.

4. Accepting an internship because it is available.

There are times when this will work in your favor, but do not always count on it. If, after talking with the site supervisor, you do not think the potential site will offer transferable skills for what you want to do, then do not accept an internship offer from the site. However, you will not know if the site will allow you to build any transferable skills if you do not ask. Inform the site supervisor of what you would like to do to determine if there are activities you can participate in at the site in your desired area. So ASK! You may be pleasantly surprised.

What do you think? Do you agree with this list or are there others I have missed? Let me know in the comments below.



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