Internships are great, no arguing about that. Unpaid internships are great, too. Except for the fact that they are unpaid. And college students need money. Yeah, I know what you're about to say, and I fully agree with it: everybody needs money, even Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk. But the college students' need for money is something special. Paid internships give them a chance to gain valuable practical experience, build their resumes, and pay their bills (at least partially) at the same time.
There's just one major catch: any internship is quite a time-consuming endeavor. That's why apart from such an essential question of where you see future career, you must also understand when it's best to start an internship so that it wouldn't get in the way of studying and ditch your academic performance.
To Start or Not to Start Is No Longer a Question; It's When to Start
Back in the day, internships were seen by the vast majority of college students as the first step towards building a career – after they realize or choose which career they want. Obviously, this was the reason why students were starting internships close to college graduation.
Nowadays, however, the world spins faster, careers can be started earlier, competition is much tougher. Plus, earning money while studying became much more common, be it for paying for tuition or just making ends meet. To this end, starting a paid internship seems an optimal option for reaching several goals at once.
So when is the best time to start a paid internship for a college student? For better or worse, there is no universal – right or wrong – answer to this question. The thing is, everything depends on your vision of the future as well as your current and expected study load. Learning is your primary goal in any educational institution, so if you're considering an internship, first make sure that it wouldn't get in the way of studying and you have enough time to combine both activities. Also, factor in that paid internships are usually more prolonged and imply more responsibility; terminating it prematurely would cause more harm.
Based on all said above, it's safe to conclude that starting a paid internship during the first semester in college is not the best idea. First and foremost, settle your timetable and extracurricular activities. Once you've put together a workable schedule, you should thoroughly think about the general direction of your future career – in case you haven't done it already. As Lauren Bartlett, Walmart Campus Recruiter puts it – find your passion. Yeah, I know, quite unoriginal, but soooo true!
Done? Then paid internship opportunities for the half of the academic year or/and summer are waiting for you! Start early, weed out what you don't like, and narrow down your interests, so that by senior years you had a clear vision of your future and significant experience under your belt!
Best Places to Find Paid Internships for Freshmen
It goes without saying that the best places to look for and apply for paid internships are corporate websites of companies where you want to undergo an internship. Yet, this approach only works when you already have a clear vision of what you want to do in life and have a career outline. Another self-evident option is checking job listings on your college's website or alumni network. Alternatively, you can broaden the search field by using these websites:
- Google Careers for Students
- The Student Conservation Association
- Global Experiences
How Paid Internships Can Benefit You
Undergoing an internship requires much time and a lot of effort. On the other hand, it could bring you many benefits, namely:
- Let you earn money to cover your tuition and other costs. It's not uncommon when paid internships provide potential financial compensation comparable with part-time jobs (and some even higher!)
- Help college students decide which academic field they want to explore. Till the moment you will need to select your major, you can take several internships in different areas and conclude which one resonates with your expectations and aspirations the most.
- Provide hands-on experience in the chosen area. In this context, learning by doing is still the best way to gain develop practical skills for the future career.
- Let you gather unique materials and data for your research project, thesis, or dissertation. As a result, you can come up with previously undiscovered insights and establish yourself as a seasoned researcher in the eyes of your teachers.
- Give you a chance to find a mentor and hence, make better choices in both studying and life.
- Provide tons of opportunities to build relationships with working professionals and develop a network of valuable contacts.
- Let you enhance your resume with relevant experiences and skills, as well as good references and recommendations from field professionals.
The bottom line here is that starting an internship – preferably a paid one – is a great idea from all points of view. It's just that you must carefully consider when is the best time to do that specifically for you. And once you decide, remember two things. First: manage your time wisely and get paper writings help if you find yourself pressured for time. Second: even internships that factor out careers you were considering are useful as they help you find the right path.