What Students Should Look For in a Summer Internship

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We’ve run internship programs, researched some of the top opportunities, and can remember what it was like being interns ourselves. There are certain things that every student should know before deciding how to spend their summer. There are too few college summers to waste any time on a bad internship.

Here’s what you should keep in mind:

Learn Something. Whether students like to admit it or not, two factors end up trumping the rest when it comes time to make a final decision: money and prestige (for your resume, of course). We’re all for paid internships. Work hard and earn some money; we all know that living isn’t free, especially if you’re in NYC. But does the $10 an hour you’re making compare to a summer experience that could shape your lifelong career? For some people —  yes — without pay a internship simply isn’t feasible. But if you’re lucky enough to be able to think long term, then a summer education is what you want. Find a company or mentor willing to teach you about what their job is really like. Don’t spend your summer making coffee runs and trips to the copy machine… if you can help it.

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Try Something New! So you’re gunning for a finance job at a top tier company and you need to lock up as many finance internships as you can before you graduate. But are you positive it’s the perfect career path for you? It’s not really important how you answered that question because you’re 21 and haven’t experienced a fraction of the alternatives. You may be right, but you’re fortunate enough to be a part of a system that let’s you test the waters before diving in. After all, do you really want to marry the first person you date? Maybe… but play the field somewhere in between.

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Build Your Resume AND Your Network. We’re definitely not downplaying the importance of a good resume builder. Make sure that during every project and task of your summer internship you’re thinking about how to translate that into a line on your resume. How you spin your experience is as important to your next job as the experience itself, playing to the bullshit artists and expert schmoozers out there. But it’s all about building a strong network. Your resume will evolve and summer internships will get pushed off the page (for those of you with that annoying second page, consider this a callout). The connections you make will benefit you time and again throughout your career. Be conscious of that. Meet as many people as you can and stay on your A-game at all times. Don’t be afraid to grab a beer with your boss! Chances are he’s buying…

Still looking for the right opportunity? The SquadUP Summer Fellowship Program is accepting applications until May 9th. It’s a unique educational introduction to the NYC startup scene. Get involved!

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