What Makes an Internship Good?
It’s a known fact: good internships are essential for aspiring professionals in nearly any field. The right internship can set you on the path toward career success.
In science and technology fields, that’s doubly true, as internship experience can be a way to bolster technical skills, add valuable lines to a résumé, and, ultimately, land an ideal career opportunity.
For STEM students, good internships matter. But here’s the big question: what, exactly, makes an internship “good”?
Let’s take a look.
Consider the Context
First, it’s worth noting that what makes an internship good naturally varies based on context. A good internship in computer science will naturally look different than a good internship in medical research. Additionally, your goals and objectives will determine what qualities a good internship should have.
That being said, there are three main criteria that all good internships share.
Any good internship provides the opportunity for meaningful work.
The antithesis to this, of course, is the classic stereotype: the intern relegated to perpetual menial tasks, hired simply to be at the beck and call of employees who have better things to do than get their own coffee.
Unfortunately, though, the stereotype is also the reality for many interns, even in the STEM fields.
Some companies treat internship programs simply as a means toward cheap labor. They’re not looking to provide meaningful experiences as much as they’re looking to simply get tasks done.
Good internships, though, always offer meaningful work opportunities. Whether that means offering real contexts to perform research, providing training to learn new skills, or simply giving the chance to be a valued part of a team, good internships should make you feel valued and give you the opportunity to deliver value.
How can you tell if an internship will offer meaningful work? Ask questions.
During the application process, ask:
- What a typical day will look like
- What responsibilities will be included
- How previous interns have grown during the program
- What a successful internship would look like
If your objectives align with the answers, then there’s a high chance that the internship will be good for you.
Additionally, a good internship should offer growth opportunities.
This will flow naturally from the ability to engage in meaningful work. If you’re getting meaningful experience, you’ll naturally experience growth. But it’s important to be intentional about pursuing growth, as well.
Growth opportunities might include:
- The opportunity to practice a valuable skill
- The opportunity to receive training in a valuable skill
- Access to a mentoring program
- A chance to participate in performance evaluations and receive feedback
You should be able to finish an internship with the ability to articulate what you’ve learned. Every good internship provides a context for growth.
Chance for Lasting Professional Connections
Finally, a good internship should offer the chance to make lasting professional connections.
Establishing connections is arguably one of the most valuable benefits of interning, because the reality is that the world is relationship-driven – and careers (even in STEM fields) often are, too. If you’re able to develop lasting professional connections at an internship, you’ll be able to put them to use as you pursue career opportunities down the line.
Now, keep in mind: the chance for connections is enabled by both your initiative and the context of the internship. Interns should pursue relationships (there are a variety of tips on how to best do this but suffice to say that taking initiative goes a long way). However, good internships provide a context where there are natural opportunities to develop relationships.
How can you tell if an internship will offer this chance? Ask about the company’s current relationships with previous interns.
So, a good internship should offer meaningful work, growth opportunities, and the chance for lasting professional connections. Those are the essentials. Many of the best internships often include other perks, too – things that are nice-to-have but may not be make-or-break.
- Compensation – Yes, it’s nice to be paid for internship work. But an internship doesn’t necessarily need to be paid to offer good experience; for instance, credit-bearing opportunities are unpaid.
- Extra benefits – Things like free meals or company trips can be fun and offer valuable chances for connection.
- Access to top executives – Some internship programs involve presentations to company executives, or the chance to interact in some capacity. Those are valuable experiences.
In the end, there are a variety of additional perks that can make internships stand out. But it’s important to make sure that the primary elements of internship value are present when selecting an opportunity.
Looking for STEM Internships in Frederick?
Internships are valuable opportunities for young professionals – and, for STEM students, there are plenty of incredible opportunities right here in Frederick!
If you’re searching for a STEM internship in Frederick, get in touch with us. At Frederick CREST, our mission is to provide a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM)-focused research and education hub in Frederick. Part of that involves connecting internship candidates with exciting employers in science and technology.
Apply today and add your resume to our hub, where you can be matched with STEM internship opportunities.
You can find a good STEM internship, right here in Frederick. We can help.