Key Qualities of a Good Internship

A young man working as an intern for an experienced tailor.
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Finding a great internship is what most students strive for; but how do you know if your internship is a great one if you're not sure what type of experience it is that you want, or if you haven't established any goals to know what you hope to accomplish? 


A great internship provides the knowledge and skills required to become successful in a specific career field. The most amazing internship experiences are those that prepare students for the work they hope to do after graduating from college. Employers seek employees who have the experience required to start out in a new field.

Employers also welcome new employees who have already had exposure to the field and understand the type of work they will be doing once they are hired. Employers spend a great deal of time and money on training their new employees, and they know that they can eliminate a lot of this time by hiring someone with previous knowledge and experience.

The Importance of Interns Being Teamed with a Mentor

Interns who are teamed up with a mentor within the company are most likely the ones who will best learn about the organization’s culture and what it takes to be recognized by the company’s management team and ultimately to become more successful on the job.

In addition to the knowledge and skills employers look for in new candidates, individuals who get along and understand the organization’s culture are often seen as top candidates for any full-time jobs that open up. Often employers feel that they can teach the basics of an entry-level job, but they can’t make a new employee fit into a culture that’s already been established.

Compensation Isn't Necessarily Reflective of a Great Internship

Although most interns would prefer to get paid, the fact that an internship is paid does not always qualify it as a good internship. There are many amazing unpaid internships in the nonprofit world that provide great experience and exposure to the field.

Although the Department of Labor's Internship Guidelines is becoming stricter in requiring for-profit companies to pay their interns, the fact that your internship is paid does not make it better than other internships where pay is not an option. If you are set on getting a job in the nonprofit world, real-world experience may be required to get hired for full-time although the chance to get paid to learn in these types of environments is rare. In this case, it’s important for students to identify their personal goals before they make a decision that they’ll only accept a paid internship.

The Chance to Make Professional Connections

Internships that provide opportunities to meet a large number of professionals currently working in the field are those experiences that give students the chance to make important professional connections that can last a lifetime.

Since networking is considered to be the #1 job search strategy, the chance to meet professionals both in and outside of the organization where you're interning can be most valuable as you begin your job search as you get closer to graduation. Take the opportunity to discuss your future goals with professionals in the field in hopes of including them in your own personal network.

Additional Benefits and Perks

Internships that offer a good salary, benefits, and perks are often seen as the dream internship that everyone strives for. There are many organizations that pay interns quite well in addition to offering them many benefits that full-time employees have including health and dental. Some organizations offer a variety of perks, such as concert tickets, networking receptions, gym memberships, plus much more. An organization that offers these types of benefits to their interns also offers great benefits to its current employees.

By creating internship and individual career goals, you will be able to find the right internship for you. One person's perfect internship is usually not the same for other individuals who have their own set of personal goals and expectations.