What are Students Looking for in a Good Internship?

Posted by Jaime Reynolds on Mon, Apr 9, 2012

Sana BakshiThis guest post is by Sana Bakshi.  Sana is currently a sophomore at Emerson College and serial intern. Her passions include social media, marketing and business. She prefers to keep her thoughts under 140 characters. Follow Sana on twitter @sanabakshi.

It’s that time of year again! No, not the end of the academic semester, finals week, or even spring. It’s the time of year when every student, professor, or adult is asking college students, “So, what are you doing this summer?” Lately, my answer has been the dreaded: “I’m waiting to hear back about internships.” But the more I think about this question (and my answer), the more I realize the importance of a good summer internship. Any employer can rattle off the good qualities of an intern, but if you ask a student what the qualities of a good internship are, things get a little bit fuzzier.

The first thing that pops into my head is “experience,” which I assume is pretty obvious. But no one wants to be hired for an internship, with the promise of a life-changing experience and then sit around the office playing Tetris all day. Been there, done that. Besides, isn’t that what general education classes are for? As an intern, my role should be indispensable. Otherwise, what’s the point? A company should look to hire one intern, who has full days, rather than 3 interns who have kind of busy, but sometimes-pointless days. Doesn’t this work out for both ends?

Secondly, as an intern, I should be responsible for my work. Say I am in charge of coming up with a brief for an advertising campaign. Not only should I treat that brief as my responsibility, but I should also be held responsible for the completion and content of said brief. As a student, the most valuable experience I can recall is realizing the gravity of the work I do in any given situation. Classes are all well and good, but when applying theories to real life, their successes and their failures is what creates an experience. If I fail to complete a project, no one should swoop and save me, just because I am an intern. Yeah, I’m pretty far down on the corporate food chain, but I’d like to be held responsible for my work, whether it’s commendable or not.

Lastly, I believe an intern should be as involved with an organization as possible. While many students treat internships as interviews, looking to impress and eventually have that internship turn into a job, we also see them as learning opportunities. Is this a career we would want to pursue or a field we are willing to enter? Show us the inside scoop, so come graduation time we can make an informed decision about what we want to do with the rest of our lives, or at least where we want to start.