Internships vs. Part-Time Jobs
Once you finish your last final exam, most of you want nothing more than to sprawl out on the beach and soak in the sun for the next three months. While you should certainly take some time to relax and recharge your batteries over the summer (you deserve it!), you should also look into possible internships or part-time work. Schools and employers like to see you stay (somewhat) active over the summer months, so internships and part-time jobs are a great opportunity to do that. The question is, which of the two should you pursue?
An internship is meant to give you an inside look into a specific career or industry. What separates it from a part-time job is that it emphasizes the learning experience above all else. Your supervisors understand that you are there to learn, so hopefully they will expose you to different parts of the organization and provide you with valuable advice and guidance.
Hours can vary, but internships typically align with the 9-5 work week. The predictability of the schedule gives you the chance to plan fun summer activities for the evenings and weekends. The drawback of internships is that many are either unpaid or can only be done for academic credit. That’s not to say that paying internships don’t exist, but they are usually harder-to-find and much more competitive.
Although internships might not provide the instant gratification of a paycheck, they can ultimately be more fulfilling than a part-time job. If you do a good enough job interning, the company will likely want to keep you around, and you will have an inside track on future career opportunities there. Even if you don’t end up at that particular company, employers are always impressed with students who’ve invested in their future, and are likely to favor someone who has an internship or two on their resumes.
If you are strapped for cash, then a part-time job is great option to earn some money and keep your student loan debt to a minimum. The paycheck is an obvious benefit, but a part-time job’s value goes beyond that as well. You can learn qualities that are essential (but also taken for granted) in today’s society, such as discipline and punctuality. Many part-time jobs are service-oriented, so you are also forced to develop one of the most important skills of all—your people skills.
While part-time workers probably get a little more input on their schedule than interns, their shifts are more unpredictable from week-to-week, which makes it difficult to plan out their summer. Also, although part-time jobs are great additions to your resume (especially if you’ve been promoted, they are usually less of a resume booster than internships.
There are internships that have job-like attributes, and there are part-time jobs that have internship-like attributes. It’s important that you research the positions that you are interested in so you know what you are getting yourself into. Whatever you end up choosing, just know that both internships and part-time jobs are wonderful ways to keep your mind sharp amidst your summer leisure!