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Internships, how do they work?

MeStudyStuffMeStudyStuff Registered User Posts: 386 Member

What is the difference between internships that pay and others that don't?

Do internships usually last for a certain amount of time or can they change drastically depending on the internship?

Other than "work experience" what can a student gain from an internship? School credit always available?

If there is a specific company that I'd like to intern for but they don't currently provide internships, what can I do about it if they are willing to start? Are there any forms or procedures between a company and my school that needs to be worked on to "create" an internship?
Post edited by MeStudyStuff on

Replies to: Internships, how do they work?

  • chriswchrisw Registered User Posts: 1,585 Senior Member
    Internships are temporary positions designed to give students industry experience. Some compensate you with college credit, some give you a stipend, some pay hourly, and some pay the same as the companies pay first year employees.

    Several friends of mine have earned over $20,000 in their summer internships, so you can gain that. Credit is rarely offered for paying internships though.

    As for that last question, talk to career services at your school.
  • polarscribepolarscribe Registered User Posts: 3,232 Senior Member
    If you're doing real work, you should be paid - under Federal law and common sense. Unpaid internships are only allowed if essentially the whole program is training you. If you are producing real-world work product that's used by the business, then you should be earning a paycheck.

    Unpaid internships at for-profit companies (as opposed to volunteering for a cause you support) are crap for two reasons: One, you're doing work for free and two, the company has no vested interest in you. If they don't have skin in the game, in the form of paying you, then what incentive do they have to make your experience meaningful and useful for both parties?
  • MeStudyStuffMeStudyStuff Registered User Posts: 386 Member
    Thanks for the help!

    As far as the length of internships, I thought internships were usually run during regular semesters. But I just had a conversation with someone who was doing one during the fall last year. Any info on this?

    ChrisW- Can you give me a bit more insight into what kind of internship your friend was doing? Just curious
  • chriswchrisw Registered User Posts: 1,585 Senior Member
    Internships can run for any amount of time, but most people think of summer internships as full time and school year ones as half time or less. Some are for a semester, some a summer, some a year and some two years. As for the types of internships that make serious money, petroleum engineering and investment banking are the ones through which I know people making 20,000+ in a summer. Don't expect that kind of money...it is exceptionally rare.
  • commentcommentcommentcomment Registered User Posts: 733 Member
    The average internship you find will most likely be 10-15 an hour.
  • intparentintparent Registered User Posts: 29,551 Senior Member
    Some fields have a lot of unpaid internships (politics, for example). Regarding getting credit, check with your college. A lot of them have various programs/ways to get credit for an internship during the school year. A lot of students take internships for the summer, too. That is tough if they are unpaid, though, unless you can live at home. Although my daughter's college will provide a stipend to students with unpaid internships in many cases.

    Check the websites of organizations you are interested in for info on internships (often under "employment" tabs). Use your college counseling office. Ask people you know if they know of any interesting ones. Older students can be a good source of tips, too.

    One key to getting an internship is to be organized, apply early, and apply often (I mean, for lots of them). Some internships have very early deadlines; my daughter is at the Department of State this semester, and she applied early last summer for that internship starting in January (they have security clearance steps that make the process really long). She is planning to stay in DC for the summer and intern somewhere else, and made up a spreadsheet back in Sept/Oct with target places to apply. She listed the deadlines, references needed, paid vs unpaid, etc. Then systematically applied to the top 20 or so on the list. She had an interview this week for one, and is continuing to apply for more until she lands something. Luck favors the prepared, and I would be very surprised if she does not find a good position :)
  • MohinaKunduMohinaKundu Registered User Posts: 70 Junior Member
    chrisw, what are some high paying internship/summer jobs besides investment banking and petroleum engineering?
  • chriswchrisw Registered User Posts: 1,585 Senior Member
    Consulting pays well, as does basically any large company in any industry. Restaurant management, accounting, IT, any engineering. That said, internships are overrated. I waited tables every summer, made a killing each time, got to live next to the beach and am about to start my career in consulting. Never had any internships...never got blackballed by companies for it. Woot.
  • polarscribepolarscribe Registered User Posts: 3,232 Senior Member
    I thoroughly disagree that they're "overrated."

    I have one month left in a six-month internship with the USDA Forest Service. When it ends, I'm taking a month off and then returning as a salaried employee through the summer. After that, I'm going straight to graduate school in the field, thanks in part to recommendation letters from my supervisor. My internship has been immensely valuable.
  • chriswchrisw Registered User Posts: 1,585 Senior Member
    Didn't say that they weren't helpful, but I did say that they are overrated. I firmly believe that my decision to decline an unpaid summer internship in favor of a paying job was a good one and that it really has had no adverse effect on my career aspirations. Not to say that internships aren't great... I am sure that I would have had an easier time finding a job if I had a summer position at Bain or McKinsey or BCG, but it wasn't any kind of major crisis having not done one of those premier internships. In other words, people shouldn't freak out if they don't find an internship; it ain't the end of the world
  • soccerguy315soccerguy315 Registered User Posts: 7,239 Senior Member
    if your preferred field requires a security clearance, internships can be huge. They are fairly difficult to obtain, so if you can get one from an internship, it is very helpful.
  • oldfortoldfort Registered User Posts: 21,017 Senior Member
    IB internship was paying 70K prorated (at every firm), I don't see how they made 20k+ in their internship. Is this kind of like the size of fish you caught on your fishing trip?

    Unless an internship is educational and you are not doing the work that's normally performed by regular employees then it is not legal for an internship to be unpaid.
  • polarscribepolarscribe Registered User Posts: 3,232 Senior Member
    chrisw: I agree that unpaid internships are awful.
  • chriswchrisw Registered User Posts: 1,585 Senior Member
    Both people I know who had the 20k+ worked their internships in California. One worked for an oil company, making a standard $5,500 per month, plus a $1,000 monthly housing allowance and a $6,000 signing and relocation bonus (starting salary for the position is in the vicinity of $95-105k, but this was a summer-after-sophomore year internship so it wasn't a prorated first year salary); the other explained that for his internship, which will require upwards of 80 hours per week, CA labor laws require companies to pay temporary employees overtime wages, so even though his base salary would be somewhere around $18,000 + bonus, his overtime actually doubles his salary (apparently young FT associates in this office seriously envy the interns since the interns make a crazy amount more for their time than the associates). Plus, considering that I am not super into internships, why on earth would I want to embellish classmates' salaries!

    Also, it is incredibly easy to find internships that don't pay... I would argue that most political science internships are unpaid, and they have people lining up to get the "experience" so it is unfortunately common to find unpaid positions. It kinda sucks since the companies/agencies just say that your compensation is experience. Terrible.
  • intparentintparent Registered User Posts: 29,551 Senior Member
    If you are majoring in a field in high demand when you graduate, you can potentially skip the internship route and wait tables. Finance, accounting, engineering, fields like that. But in many fields where the job market is more competitive, you can gain valuable experience that can set your resume apart from other candidates. And in some cases, end up with a permanent job offer (like polarscribe). And some unpaid internships are interesting and even fun.
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