• Laura Hagen

How to Find the Right Internship for You

Updated: Jan 30, 2020

Internships have become more and more prevalent in recent years. They are a degree requirement for many colleges, have proven to be a cost-saving hiring tool for employers, and can be a useful way for individuals to gain experience and skills in a competitive job market. But because of their prevalence, it can be difficult to wade through the many internship options out there. There are many things to consider when applying for an internship, and this article aims to address the various factors one should consider. These include level of training, level of mentorship, overall company ratings, opportunities for personal and professional growth, potential for future employment, and whether it is paid or unpaid.

At Mindful Ways to Wellness in St. Petersburg, Florida, we have considered all of these factors in creating our Healing Arts Internship Program. The program director is passionate about providing a robust, in-depth 7-month internship experience. With the extensive training and educational background in various wellness fields that our CEO and clinical staff have received, we understand the importance of a rigorous program that prepares you for work in your field.

But whether or not you are in the wellness industry, we hope that we can share our expertise in order to help you find a quality internship that is right for you.

Why are internships beneficial?

There is plenty of healthy skepticism about internships out there, and it's good that the public is turning a critical eye to the practice of hiring interns; there are certainly exploitative practices out there. And just because something is popular doesn't automatically mean that it's positive or useful.

On balance, though, the right internship can be beneficial for all involved. Internships are a great way to get your foot in the door of an exciting company, to test out the waters of a field you may be interested in, and to gain transferable skills no matter where you want to go next in your education or career.

They've also become a popular way to gain college credit, with the additional benefit of hands-on, practical learning. You can gain insight into what does or does not appeal to you about an industry or career path, receive mentoring and expand your professional network, and experience personal growth as you overcome new challenges.

The benefits of internships have even been documented in recent studies. They have been shown to increase your chances of being hired right out of school, often by converting from intern to employee with the same company. (Crain, 2016). Findings also show that "internships provide students […] with a means of bridging the gap between career expectations developed in the classroom and the reality of employment in the real world" (Gault, Redington, & Schlager, 2000).

Alumni who complete internships before graduating also report "higher salaries and […] greater job satisfaction" than those who graduated with no internship experience (Gault et al., 2000). And, they end up feeling more prepared for the work they go on to do: "business undergraduates with internship experience reported better preparation in job acquisition skills and obtained their initial employment positions more quickly than noninterns" (Gault et al., 2000).

But advantages are also there for those who are no longer students. If you are considering a new direction, whether it's in a different area of your current industry or a total about-face in your professional life, taking on an internship may be the right move. In much the same way that an internship can serve as a trial run in a given field for a college student, it can serve the same purpose for adults at any stage of their life.

It's a way to dip your toe into a different field without having to give up your current source of income or even commit to paying for college courses before deciding it's what you want to pursue. And whether or not you decide to follow through with the change after your internship, you will have gained new skills, personal insight, and exercised your curiosity.

What to Look for in an Internship

However, not all internships are created equal. In the worst cases, interns are hired as nothing more than office grunts, hired to do menial work rather than be guided through significant tasks related to their field of interest. The key to any good internship is value - your work will provide value to the company, but it should also provide significant value to you.

Internships should first and foremost give you an opportunity to gain new, transferable skills that allow for professional growth. Your duties should provide insight into the broader context of the field.

For example, you may have to do data en