Summer internship season is in full swing. Whether it’s at a startup or a corporation, all students dive into an internship with similar goals — to acquire skills, spice up their resumes with work experience and, ideally, land a full-time position.
In today’s competitive job market, internships have become the norm and are considered one of the best ways to get your foot in the door. But when you find yourself fetching coffee or tidying up a storage room, you start to question whether it’ll pay off or not.
Don’t let your effort to gain real-world experience become a waste of time. After all, nobody wants to work for nothing. Here are six signs that your internship is worthwhile.
1. You have real responsibilities.
Think about the day-to-day duties at your internship. Have you taken on meaningful projects that make you feel like you’re making a measurable impact ? Or are you locked in the mail room, twiddling your thumbs and counting down the hours until you can clock out? If you find yourself in the latter, think twice.
We know interns are on the low end of the totem pole, which means administrative or grunt work can be part of the workload. But if you spend the majority of your day making copies, dropping off boxes or mailing letters, you may want to reconsider how valuable the internship is to you and your career.
2. You’re learning new skills.
Companies shouldn’t be the only ones benefiting from an internship. You want to walk away from your internship with more skills and knowledge under your belt to prepare you for the inevitable job search and help you succeed in your field.
If you’re gaining actual insight into your industry, or improving skills such as problem solving, then you’re on the right path. This can include anything from mastering a new program like Photoshop or Google Analytics to brushing up your communication and teamwork skills.
3. Your coworkers are willing to act as mentors.
If you are surrounded by supervisors and coworkers who are willing to share their wisdom and expertise with you, then you’ve lucked out.
Coworkers who genuinely care to help you progress can be difficult to find. Having a mentor who guides you and gives you constructive feedback will help you grow professionally, and allow you to advance in your career path more quickly.
4. You’re treated with respect.
It’s a good sign if, instead of being called “the intern,” you’re called by your first name. You feel like you are treated as a fellow coworker and that your opinions and contributions to the company are seen as valuable.
Interns may get the short end of the stick sometimes, but no matter where you work, the company should have a culture that respects interns.
5. Working makes you giddy.
It’s one thing to show up to your internship, do your assignments and leave. But it’s another thing to become invested in an organization.
You’ve landed a worthwhile internship if waking up before noon isn’t a problem, and after clocking out, you find yourself brainstorming ideas and consistently checking your work email from home. You enjoy telling your friends and family about your day at work, and you realize you wouldn’t want to spend the summer any other way.
6. Your internship offers perks.
Being a college or graduate student gives the phrase “it’s the little things” a whole different meaning. We’d be lying if we said perks weren’t a huge bonus in the internship experience.
Maybe you get to attend exclusive events, hang out with Jimmy Fallon every day, get free drinks at company happy hours or have an office kitchen stocked with unlimited coffee and snacks.
Whatever the freebies are, they’re a good sign the company where you intern is interested in keeping you happy.