I’ve spoken with many a college student who had a tough time narrowing down his or her opportunities for internship positions, so here is a blog to help you with that decision. Let’s face it, if you put the word out early and apply to multiple positions, you may be accepted to more than one and have some choices to make. One could argue that’s a good problem to have (certainly better than the alternative), but how do you make the best choice?
The answer is in the question itself. I remember interviewing many prospects who weren’t sure what they wanted. Of course, this is fair and not everyone knows what they want, but realizing you don’t know is the first step to answering the question. To reference Shakespeare, you have to “know thyself” before you can “to thine own self be true.”
Ask yourself, what is the most important result you want to get out of the experience? What motivates you? What you would be doing if money was no object, and is there anything relevant to that in the choices you have? (There may not be, but it’s at least a valuable exercise.)
Of course, I have heard many stories from students over the years about how their internships turned out not to be what they expected—both on the side of exceeding their expectations, as well as not living up to them. Really, we can’t pretend the decision can be made up front with all knowledge of the actual experience. All you can do is get as much information up front as possible, and then act accordingly.
So, without further ado, here is my two cents along with a few words of wisdom. First of all, whenever I have a difficult decision, I mean really difficult, I give it the 90 year test. I narrow it down to two choices, and then decide which of the two I will be happiest with when I look back on it at 90 years old. That’s the right answer for me. Admittedly, there may not be any one “right” answer for internships, but I’ve always felt good thus far about the decisions I’ve made when using that process.
If you don’t find that relevant or helpful, however, here’s another suggestion. At the end of the day, there’s a simple measurement. (FYI, this is the same measurement I use for hiring!) How do you know when it’s the right internship for you? If the internship enables you to get better at something you would be doing anyway, you would be a fool not to take it. Now that’s a decision you’ll likely be happy with at any age.