Internships 101

Should I Intern as a College Sophomore?

Internships are one of the most valuable ways for college students to gain professional experience and exposure to new industries. In fact, an internship can give you a significant leg up in a number of ways, including building your professional network and helping you develop new skills. If you’re entering your sophomore year, you may be wondering about the pros and cons of doing an internship while still an underclassman. For example, will you have time to balance a packed class schedule with a part-time job?

Here are some things to consider when deciding whether to intern as a college sophomore.

Identify what you want to learn.

Getting an internship solely as a resume booster isn’t bad, but it isn’t ideal. Internships are a fantastic way to get career clarity and exposure to industry networks, so having a goal in mind will help guide your search to a meaningful internship.

Maybe you have a burgeoning interest in PR, but you’re not sure if that’s what you want to do after college. Or perhaps you’re trying to decide if an office job is for you or if you want to dive into other creative pursuits. When you’re clear on what it is that you want to learn — about a company, industry, or about yourself — then it’s time to dive into the internship search.

Be honest about your other commitments.

In order to decide if interning as a sophomore is right for you, it’s essential to think about your time commitments and to be realistic about how much time you can devote to an internship. When doing this, be sure to take into account your coursework and extracurriculars as well as the additional time needed to study, exercise or hang out with friends. Once you have an idea of your availability, you’ll be able to make an informed decision without running the risk of overextending yourself.

Assess your financial situation.

One of the most important factors when determining whether to take on an internship is to assess your financial situation. For example, if you currently need extra income to support yourself during the semester (or the summer) then you should be focusing only on paid internships or part-time jobs. On the other hand, if you have financial support from other sources, then you might consider taking an unpaid internship if it will offer you great exposure or invaluable work experience.

Regardless of whether you decide to do an internship during your sophomore year, it’s important to remember that internships are meant to be opportunities for learning. Think about your circumstances, how you want to grow and what skills you want to build, and make a decision that seems right for you.

Next, get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as How Do I Get a Job in Another City or State? and find answers to common interview questions such as Tell Me About an Accomplishment That You’re Most Proud Of.