I last left off on my job hunt on a rather dim note in March. Since then, things have certainly looked up – landed quite a few interviews along with several offers. More importantly, though, I got to better understanding how to answer the usual interview questions, along with weighing the pros and cons of my offers.
For someone looking to get a start, I suppose any position will do (given that exposure to an industry is in itself a form of education). But when you’ve had quite a few internships and jobs under your belt, you are much more picky, and rightfully so. The purpose of internships, after all, is to gain experience and knowledge of the inner workings of a particular industry. While one may see any job or a “great company” as a résumé booster, it might not necessarily be so. Sometimes, it is just the status of being at a particular company that is being obtained, as opposed to honing transferable skills, which presents a large problem, especially when you’re at an interview explaining how your previous position has helped you. After all, how exactly will you explain that folding envelopes for the umpteenth time has greatly benefited you? The answer “exposure to company culture” only works the first couple of times, if at all.
When it comes to interviews, especially when you’re conducting them over the phone (as was the case with me being abroad), it’s your opportunity to ask questions, especially when you have a lot of offers on the table. For instance, ask for information on the specifics of your duties, the company culture, and structure of their internship program. You end up learning a lot about the position from these simple questions, which can weigh heavily in your decision when the offers roll in.
And sometimes, money is a bit of a factor. Some positions will certainly pay a lot more, and may fall more so into the category of summer job, as opposed to internship. If it is a summer job, don’t necessarily compare the wage with what internships are offering (which is often nothing or a relatively small stipend). Level with yourself – what is market rate and are you really learning anything? I was offered a position for which I was qualified but with paltry rates, and I did not stand to learn a lot, especially with the lack of structure in program. The position, which I ended up taking, though, had a bigger trade off in what I would be learning, which off-set the small pay (it was originally nothing, which is usual in publishing and social media positions, but some money was eventually found for me).
To sum up:
- Carefully weigh what you stand to gain from an internship, as opposed to blindly heading for whichever “name” sounds best
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions at your interview – you are the one will be working there (if offered a position, of course)
- Pay isn’t everything – but if you are getting paid, make sure that you are learning something if you are at a reduced pay
Image courtesy of sxc.hu