Five Common Internship Myths Debunked
Internships aren’t just about making copies and getting coffee for the CEO. Employers expect interns to come in to the job with relevant skills and the ability to help grow the company. Because internships are widely misunderstood—and increasingly important in landing a job—we put together a list of five common internship myths. And we’re here to debunk them.
1. Internships aren’t as valuable if they’re not completed for credit.
If you complete an internship for credit, it will be included on your college transcript. But other than that, a credit-earning internship isn’t any more (or less) valuable than any other kind of internship. And you certainly aren’t required to flag an internship as “not for credit” on your own resume.
When it comes down to it, employers are simply looking for candidates who possess the relevant skills and experience to do the job—people who already have exposure to the field and know that they’re interested in the industry. Credit or not, an internship will pay off.
2. Unpaid internships shouldn’t be included on a resume.
Your resume is a place to showcase any relevant experience you have, whether it’s coursework, co-curricular activities, community services, or volunteer experiences. Unpaid internships are just as valuable in terms of learning skills and gaining experience. If anything, they show an employer that you’re willing to put in time to grow as a worker, even if you’re not being compensated.
Just remember: unpaid internships don't lead directly to job offers as often as paid internships do (source).
3. If you want your internship to be completed for credit, it must be unpaid.
Credit and compensation are unrelated. College credit is granted by the academic institution (i.e., your college) and it doesn't prohibit employers from paying interns a fair wage or stipend. In fact, colleges generally encourage employers to pay for work completed, whether it’s for credit or not.
If you do multiple internships—which we highly recommend—you might consider completing one or more for credit during fall and/or spring semester; then you can do your not-for-credit internship during summer break.
4. There’s no difference between a fall/spring internship and a summer internship.
If you’re not completing the internship for credit, then this one’s true—employers won’t discriminate based on when an internship was completed. But if you want credit, there might be a financial difference for you. Colleges usually require that students pay tuition for summer internships for credit (the amount will depend on the number of credits received and the costs associated with credit at a particular college). On the other hand, internships completed during fall or spring semester are usually rolled into the regular tuition. Of course, you’ll want to check with your school first to be sure.
5. It’s better to get a summer job than a summer internship.
You might think a summer job looks better on a resume—it’s “real” work, not an internship. But usually, summer jobs end up being more entry-level: think cashier, lifeguard, server, camp counselor. Generally, internships will allow you to do more meaningful work and will usually include some sort of valuable supervision or mentorship.
Moral of the story? Do your research before deciding on or ruling out a certain type of internship. There’s a lot of talk about internships, and you want to be sure you’re making an educated decision for yourself before diving in.