Details to Consider Before Accepting a Summer Internship

By Julia Dunn on April 18, 2017

Congratulations! After all of those applications, recruiting individuals to write your recommendation letters, and perfecting your resume, you have been offered a summer internship.

But wait — don’t accept it right away!

Although you might be very excited for the opportunity, give yourself at least a day before formally accepting the offer. You’ll want to consider all aspects involved in the offer before making a hasty decision. Here are some key details to consider before you hit “reply” to accept the internship:

1. Will it advance, complement, or widen my skill set?

Students tend to gravitate towards positions that fit their skill sets, which makes lots of sense — but it’s most advantageous to pursue positions that will also diversify your skills or add to what you already know.

If you’ve spent the last year working a marketing job focused on making outreach materials like flyers, social media banners and the like, you won’t necessarily gain a bunch of newer skills by accepting an internship that has a job description nearly identical to your present or past job descriptions.

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A good rule of thumb? Take an internship that matches your strongest skills, but which will still challenge you and require expansion on these skills. This way, you’ll feel confident and capable enough to produce great work, but won’t be bored or stuck in a static position that isn’t actually teaching you what you don’t already know.

2. Is the position paid or unpaid?

Unpaid internships tend to only work for students who have enough socioeconomic privilege to be able to accept them. If you’re a low-income student with minimal to no family financial support, you’ll want to consider whether the internship you’ve been offered will support you financially.

If not, and you still really want the internship, you’ll likely realize the need to get a part-time job in addition to the internship. In that case, you’ll want to make sure you’ve understood the schedule you’d be following for the internship so that you can look for side jobs you could schedule around your open hours.

If you really need to make money this summer, you wouldn’t want to accept an unpaid internship that could potentially put you in financial danger if you didn’t have another job lined up. You only have so many hours you can work each week in summer before you burn out, so also make sure to factor in time for self-care. A part-time internship and a part-time job could equal 40-hour work weeks that leave you without time to relax and actually decompress from the school year.

3. Where is it?

Transportation can be one of the largest barriers to being able to work an internship. If you’re offered a position that requires you to start working at 8 a.m. but you live across town and don’t have a car, you’ll need to rethink whether you’ll be able to actually access the internship office. You should consider public transportation or the cost of driving to the internship each day (if you have a car).

4. Is it flexible?

You might want to take a fun weekend trip or two this summer or fly across the state to a friend’s graduation party. If you’re offered an internship with rigid hours and little flexibility, factor this into your decision — you may miss a little bit of summer fun (not all of it, but maybe some) if your internship is built with no wiggle room in it.

5. Does it really interest you?

If it didn’t, you probably wouldn’t have applied for the position in the first place — but when you receive an internship offer (and especially when you receive multiple offers), you should reevaluate the reason you applied. If the internship duties don’t excite you at all, you probably shouldn’t accept it. If you applied to internships that are paid but don’t have anything to do with topics and fields you enjoy, weigh the positives and negatives to see what you’re actually sacrificing.

Knowing these considerations, make a list of the most important qualities you’re looking for in an internship. What do you need to prioritize? What are your criteria? Identifying what’s most important to you logistics-wise will help you determine whether to take the internship. Another way to decide? Imagine that you just turned down the offer, or that you weren’t offered the internship, and pay attention to your initial emotional reaction to it. Did you feel relieved when you imagined turning it down, or did you feel upset?

If you have a strong negative reaction to the idea of not having the internship, it could mean you should take the position. It’s worth congratulating yourself either way for the effort you put into your applications and interviews – internships aren’t always easy to land! Even if you turn down the offer, you’ve still achieved success, and you certainly deserve a celebratory ice cream trip or a dinner adventure with friends.

By Julia Dunn

Uloop Writer
I am a graduate student in the Creative Writing MFA program at San Jose State University. I specialize in creative nonfiction writing and poetry, as well as composition studies.

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