Career Advice

Five Internship Myths Debunked

Myth #1: Interns are meant to complete menial tasks around the office, such as fetching coffee and making copies.

An internship is meant to be a learning experience for the candidate; it’s a chance for a student, young professional or career changer to gain business experience in the industry. Interns have developed skills through previous work experience and education – and signed on to an internship hoping to refine those skills and learn additional ones by completing real, meaningful work under the guidance of a seasoned professional.

Myth #2: Pay dictates the quality of the internship program.

Yes, some unpaid internships should be illegal (especially full-time unpaid opportunities). But just because it’s unpaid, does not mean it will be a bad experience. In fact, I would argue that pay doesn’t correlate most of the time. Think about it, have all of your highly paid jobs been your best experiences?

Myth #3: A company should hire an intern instead of a full-time employee to save money.

Interns are a great addition to any team. They can provide a fresh perspective on business decisions, problems and new projects. They can bring additional skills and knowledge to the organization. However, they are still new to the industry and shouldn’t be expected to take on tasks that usually require a full-time employee. They also need a dedicated mentor—someone to guide them through the internship period. If the organization isn’t willing to do the work, they should hire a full-time employee instead of dumping the work onto an inexperienced intern.

Myth #4: Internships at “big name” companies are often the best experiences.

Startups, small businesses and lesser-known companies offer internships, too—they just might not be as highly publicized as other programs. While a “big name” company might sound impressive, smaller organizations often provide more opportunity for one-on-one mentorship and skill building than a large organization does.

Myth #5: I have to accept an internship—even if I can’t afford it.

You have a choice whether or not to take an internship. If you cannot afford it, see if you can work in a part-time paid job around the internship. Before you apply to a position, consider all of the factors at hand to determine if it’s feasible for your lifestyle: location, hours, pay, duration, etc. If nothing you’ve found fits into your criteria, consider writing a proposal to intern at a local company or one you could work for virtually (from home).

What other myths would you like to debunk about internships?