It’s a tough job market out there and that’s something all job seekers are definitely feeling – specifically recent graduates. With the lack of full time opportunities presenting themselves, the newly graduated are turning to post-grad internships.
For companies, it’s a great opportunity to get someone in the door who is eager, mature, and has a degree… for less $ and comittment than hiring someone full time. For the recent grad, it’s a way get some additional experience under the belt and to build a more compelling resume (helping to solve the issue of “can’t get a job without experience, can’t get experience without a job”).
A recent NYTimes article covered this concept – but almost read more like a cautionary tale as it described the post grad internship to be a vicious cycle that’s hard to escape from.
Like other 20-somethings seeking a career foothold, Andrew Lang, a graduate of Penn State, took an internship at an upstart Beverly Hills production company at age 29 as a way of breaking into movie production. It didn’t pay, but he hoped the exposure would open doors.
When that internship proved to be a dead end, Mr. Lang went to work at a second production company, again as an unpaid intern. When that went nowhere, he left for another, doing whatever was asked, like delivering bottles of wine to 27 offices before Christmas. But that company, too, could not afford to hire him, even part time.
So when it comes down to it, should you do a post grad internship or not? I thought I’d share my thoughts on the pros & cons.
- When chosen strategically, a post grad internship can help you gain experience (build your resume) and become a better qualified candidate for those full time roles out there. Spending time in any internship will help you learn new skills as well – skills that may be necessary to land a great full time job.
- Interning (whether while in school or after) will help you build your network – one of those connections could end up helping you get your foot in the door somewhere else.
- Despite what the NYTimes says, I’ve seen post grad internships (or temping roles) turn into full time ones. It’s definitely not 100% of the time, but it happens. I also think companies are willing to be very upfront about the likeliness of this happening. When you’re interviewing for post grad internship, just ask. It’s not going to be a surprise that your intentions are to find a full time home eventually, and even though they might not know for sure, I think most people will give an honest answer (ranging from it happens all the time to you never know but as of now it’s not likely).
- It will give you a chance to prove yourself. Perform well in a post grad internship and doors will open. If not at the company where you’re interning, you might just find an introduction to a company that is hiring.
- There will be little to no pay. In most cases I’d expect some pay given the crackdown on unpaid interns lately but I wouldn’t expect it to be too much. In more expensive cities, it could be tough to get by on an internship paycheck (though I guess some pay is better than no pay!).
- It can take time away from your full time job search. As we all know, time is precious and the job search is time consuming. Working 40 hours a week at a post graduate internship may not leave too much time over for job searching and interviewing.
- Along those same lines, when you’re committed to something and are trying to do a great job, it can be hard to put yourself first. Missing that job fair or networking even because you’re scheduled at your internship, could result in missing out on some opportunities.
So what’s the bottom line? I think if you’re applying for full time jobs and not having any luck, a post grad internship is not a bad route to take, as long as it hits the below criteria…
- It is in the field or function that you eventually want to work in – that way you can build your resume and learn relevant skills that will help you later.
- There is some possibility of it becoming full time – remember, just ask! And if there isn’t a possibility, but you still feel you want to do it, make sure the company is willing to provide some flexibility so you can job search and interview as needed.
- You will learn and be challenged. Most growth experiences are good ones.
Anyone had a really positive or negative post grad internship experience? Would love to hear in the comments.