Last Updated: Dec 3, 2015
Internships are the perfect opportunity to dabble in a variety of careers, gain experience, and spruce up your college application in the process.
For example, students aiming for competitive programs such as pre-med find that practical experience (be it interning or even just shadowing a doctor) can set them apart from hundreds of other applicants. But internships aren’t just for ambitious pre-med students. They come in all shapes and sizes—you might end up doing anything from advocating for the rights of low-income families to learning how to code—and because of the variety, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t get an internship, regardless of your future major.
And for those students who don’t have such a clear idea of what they want to major in, internships are an even better opportunity! Experiencing the day-to-day life in various professions can help you decide what you want to major in, or, at the very least, they may help you decide whether or not to pursue an interest on a professional level.
But no matter what you want to major in, there are certain things any aspiring intern should keep in mind.
“Come with lots of thoughtful questions,” advises Nida Ghanchi, a junior who spent the summer shadowing physicians at UPMC Hamot medical center in Erie, Pennsylvania. “It shows that you’re interested—and you’ll learn a lot more than you would by keeping quiet. Appearance is also a big part of it, so make sure you dress the part.”
“You should have an open mindset,” says Nishaath Quaiser, who worked with elementary school students as part of an in-school internship. “Working with kids took a lot of patience on my part, but I learned a lot about how to deal with different types of people.”
The easiest and often the best way to snag an internship is through your own connections. Ask adults you know (parents, relatives, neighbors, etc.) about internship opportunities at their workplace. (If their jobs seem interesting to you, all the better, but you can find valuable internships at practically any company.) Search for organizations within your community too and find out about programs they offer for students.
Otherwise, looking for internships online is also an option: on social media websites, such as Twitter, some users are constantly posting information about a wide variety of internship opportunities.
Remember, internships are all about taking chances. If you’re willing to give it a shot, you could end up having a great time, making connections that may come in handy in the future, and even end up deciding what you want to major in.