Searching for a summer internship can be a daunting task. You can send in dozens of resumes and applications and only hear back from a handful and from that handful only interview with a few companies. With the career fair coming up and so many companies visiting campus take time to ask a few of these questions to get a better sense of how their internship program works and how you would fit in to all that.
What would my typical day look like?
You are going to be spending your summer here. You don’t want to miss the fact that you’ll be cold-calling 60% of your day when speaking to strangers gives you anxiety. Most of your waking hours this summer will be spent at work. Make sure you can see yourself like what you’ll be doing. Will you spend time in meetings or working independently? Will you be spending most of the day in a cubicle or is the position more hands-on? It’s a good idea to know what you’re getting into well before the first day.
How would you describe the company culture?
You can read the company website to get a basic idea of what the company is about. However, speaking to someone live about the company culture is much more valuable. An employee will be able to tell you what the practical implications of the company culture are. Maybe the company values a work-life balance, so most people work from home on Fridays. Or maybe the company’s culture is very professional and your dress should reflect that.
What is the structure of the program? Is there a structure?
Some companies have internship programs and some just have interns or an intern. There is a big difference between the two. An internship program typically entails regular learning opportunities specifically for interns or activities to help you network with other interns and with higher-ups in the company. Some programs may be rotational so you work with different groups throughout your time there. Other companies don’t have a formal program and interns work with their manager and one team throughout their time, without intern specific opportunities.
How many interns are at this location?
This question is important mostly because it is nice to have some interaction with your peers especially if you’re working during the summer and you’re away from school. Other interns mean automatic friends to eat lunch with. Having friends at work makes the days go by faster. Or maybe you want to be the only intern and get all the intern-directed attention, your call.
Who would I be working with? Are they remote or on premise?
The team you would be working with is a very important thing to consider. You will see these people more than anyone else, especially if you’re working full time. It is important to consider if you would prefer to be working at the same location as your team or if you don’t mind conducting most of your business virtually. It is important to develop relationships with those you work with so either way as an intern you need to make an effort to get to know them. Your team is your most important resource.
How will I be compensated?
Some internships are paid, and unfortunately some are not. It is important to know how you will be paid before starting. And if you are not getting paid can you get compensated for travel? Can you get class credits? Before accepting an internship offer you need to make sure that the compensation makes sense for you.
How often do interns come back as full time employees post-graduation?
This question is so important because you take an internship to broaden your job prospects post-grad. Getting a good job is the whole point of all this! You want to work at a company that may be interested in hiring you once you finish your education. It can also be a sign of how good an internship program is. If former interns want to come back it must have been a great experience for them.
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