There are many factors and hoops to jump through when trying to find your dream internship. Here are some questions you need to ask yourself that will help you find the internship that is going to give you invaluable experience and set you up for early career success. What do you value more: money or experience? Thankfully, unpaid internships are starting to become obsolete, which is good because you deserve compensation for your work. You are not reading this article to make the most money, you are reading it to get the most out of the experience. You need to sit down and figure out what you need to live and any position you find that meets that requirement should be considered if it could give you the experience of a lifetime. Sadly, a young professional in debt is the norm these days, so get the experience that wont dig you in too deep of a hole but will still make you happy.   How well can you remember a coffee order? The stigma of internships is that you will be running to get coffee and make copies all day. That may happen every now and then, but in order to actually learn from your internship, you need to work for an organization that values you for more than just their caffeine fix. You owe it to yourself to ask what kinds of tasks you will be performing BEFORE you accept the opportunity. If you are going to be spouting out words like “venti” or “latte” more than real work, you should just go work for Starbucks because at least they can help pay for your education and they value their employees.   Are you willing to live away from your parents? The worst thing you could do for your professional career is only look in one location for a position. This goes for full-time careers as well: If you will not compromise on where you live, you are saying that you are okay with settling. Especially when it comes to internships, you need to be willing to take a position in a new city for the limited time you are with the company. Is it more important to you to be living with your parents where you can occasionally go to the bars with your high school friends (let’s face it, you aren’t going to see them as much as you think anyways) or are you going to be adaptable while exploring a new city and commit to growing those relationships via calls and text?   Are there any additional benefits? If you are split between opportunities and can’t figure out which to go with, I suggest the Boy Meets World Jelly Bean Decision making process. Where are you going to meet people that will help you in the future? Where can you get offered a full-time position? Which company culture is more your style? Do you get to travel? Will you be allowed to go to any conferences? Does the company help pay for certifications or additional training/education?   Are you missing anything? Are you reading this and thinking “this is great and all, but I can’t even find a position to even use to consider these questions!” Searching on Indeed.com or Monster.com is a good place to start when looking for internships. Once you know the kind of field or position you want, then exhaust all efforts in finding the specific company that is best. Reach out to managers on interesting companies on LinkedIn and ask what they offer (keep in mind they might not be hiring, but saying that you respect the company and are curious about what kind of positions are available could earn you brownie points for later). Talk to your parents and other adults that you are close with as they might know someone that knows someone that owns a company you would be perfect for.   A note about Career/Internship fairs: Most of the time, companies pre-populate a form for what positions they are looking for at the event. Many times, the internship or job they are looking for doesn’t apply perfectly to the options given on the form, so they are forced to select a generalized field. If you are interested in a company (because you were prepared and did some research before arriving at the fair), don’t be afraid to walk up to the booth and talk about what your interests are and inquire about all the positions they have. You may find that they were looking for you and didn’t even know it.   Once you have thoroughly weighed your options, it is time for the real hard part of the process: Being offered the opportunity. Tailor your resume to the job opening without spelling or grammar mistakes, show up early to your interview dressed appropriately, talk to everyone politely that you meet (especially the receptionists), keep a positive attitude and a smile on your face at all times and practice interviewing before the real thing.]]>

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