The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: The Pros and Cons of Internships

Posted by: Taylor Williams - March 13, 2014

The Pros:

Experience. The primary reason to ignore earning little to no income during an internship is the knowledge of gaining actual work experience in a field you’re interested in. You’ll receive first-hand experience in a business-setting, putting you one step ahead of the game come the post-graduation job hunt.

Resume Enhancer. Employers are more likely to hire a graduate with the word ‘internship’ highlighted on their resume than those without. Taking an internship shows work ethic and a dedication to your career which employers find appealing.

Interesting. Due to the variety of tasks and projects you’ll be involved in as an intern, the work will never be dull.

Career Compass. As an intern, you’ll likely work with a variety of people in a number of different departments, helping you hone in on what you do and do not want to pursue in your career after graduation.

Networking. You’ll amass a decent rolodex after completing an internship, including a number of professionals who can help point you in the direction of a job opportunity or further connect you with the people who can.

Job Offer. It’s entirely possible upon completion of your internship your employer will offer you a full-time paid position, and while in some cases it may be a long shot, it is always a possibility that an internship can blossom into something more.

The Cons:

Unpaid. Most internships pay little or not at all, making it difficult for those without a wealthy benefactor to justify the opportunity cost of wages earned with paid work during the time period of the unpaid internship. This point is particularly poignant for those acquiring a sizable amount of student loan debt upon graduating.

Inequality. It is likely an intern will not be seen as an equal member of the staff due to the unpaid status. It is also difficult to shake off the label of intern when interacting with co-workers, even if an intern is offered a paid position at the conclusion of the internship.

No Focus. With the volume of tasks divvied out to interns and the varying nature of those tasks, it can be difficult to find a focus and goal throughout the internship.

Menial Work. The tasks assigned to interns are generally basic, low-skill duties, which rarely utilize the progressive skill level of the individual. While some internships provide an atmosphere for interns to put their specialty to use, most interns will acquire knowledge and experience relevant to their expertise by observing the paid professionals around them.