How Many Internships Are “Enough”? 4 Important Considerations
Summer is finally here… another school year ended. With the changing season come summer internships.
You may already have some professional experience from several internships. Or perhaps you’re exploring internship options for the first time… maybe even as a recent college graduate! In any case, it’s likely you’ll consider one of the most common internship-related questions…
By the time I look for my first real job, how many internships should I have on my resume?
The simple answer: there is no absolute “correct” number. However, successful job searches by recent graduates show that the more internships you have behind you, the bigger head start you’ll have over your competition.
Before you go planning to complete a double digit number of internships, there are some important considerations to make:
Your Time Frame
If you’re starting your internships early in your college career, good for you! You have plenty of time. Even if you only fit one internship into your schedule per year, by the time you graduate you’ll potentially be far ahead of most of those competing against you. More than one internship per year, and you’ll have even more internships with which to “Wow” a recruiter in your first job interview.
You need to act now. You may want to consider an internship per semester, (or one every other quarter), instead of only waiting for the summer intern postings.
Regardless of when you start your search, consider incorporating virtual internships into your portfolio. These are often more flexible than in-office internships, requiring a smaller weekly time commitment. You typically perform your duties on your own schedule – and save significant time as there’s no commute involved.
Internships are a very important part of your career skill development. But remember that they’re just one component. Your school work, social engagements, and personal health activities (like getting enough exercise and sleep) should also factor into your decisions regarding internships.
Be careful not to get in over your head. As your school work starts to ramp up, mid-terms and finals loom, simultaneous internships or those with large time requirements may become an overwhelming burden. Remember two points: 1) your employers count on you to fulfill your commitments and work to the best of your ability, and; 2) the reputation you build in these positions carries well through the early part of your career.
Your Development Plan
Before you commit yourself to internships, and to help you develop and maintain a steady course for your career, be sure to create an Intern Learning Plan.
Use the plan to map out potential “complimentary” internships – those that enable you to develop different skills that build on each other. For example, perhaps in your last internship you implemented a company’s social media plan. You’ve now mastered that skill, so perhaps your next internship that complements your existing experience now centers on social media analysis or strategy.
No recruiter in the world will look at your resume and say, “Oh… yeah. Your experience is tooperfect for this job. I want someone who I’ll have to train more.”
On the other hand, your resume doesn’t need to display every excruciating detail of each and every internship. Summarize your experience by soft skill and major accomplishment, and then simply list your different internships by title, company and time frame. Keep your internship experience impressive, by keeping it simple on your resume and relevant to the job for which you’re applying.
Internships provide invaluable experience with which to explore career directions, and to begin building your career once you’ve set a course. But there’s no magic number… no exact “too many” or “too few” internships.
Our advice: focus on quality over quantity; on the internships that will give you the best experience and on the internships that will catch a recruiter’s eye – and get you a job.