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Entry by Valerie Petrey, Public Relations & Event Planning Intern, Purdue Liberal Arts Career Development

Most of us intern during the summer because it’s less stressful – no classes, club meetings, group projects, etc. However, with the workforce being highly competitive, it’s good to be open to the possibility of interning the semester you plan to graduate.

If you’re a December graduate and have time to spare, interning in the spring is a great idea because not as many people are applying to internships then. If you are graduating in May, like me, you should still consider doing an internship during your last semester. Last semester internships are your final opportunities to show employers what you’ve learned while attending college, and what you can contribute as a full-time employee at their company. Employers are more likely to hire someone they have seen working in action.

Whether you’re graduating this month, or in May, below are some important questions to consider before applying, interviewing and accepting/declining an internship offer.

Before Applying

  1. What companies are within my skill reach?
  2. Where are they located in proximity to my home and/or school?
  3. Can I afford to apply to both paid and unpaid internships?
  4. With it being my last semester, do I really want to devote 20+ hours to an internship?
  5. Will another internship help build my resume, and land me the job I want?
During Interviewing

  1. Does the company have opportunities for growth (i.e. is there a chance to be hired on full-time after graduation)?
  2. What would my daily tasks be?
  3. Would I have the opportunity to contribute to meaningful projects?
  4. Will I have the chance to network with a variety of professionals in my field?
  5. What are the time requirements (i.e. when will I be expected to work), and are they flexible with hours if I have academic conflicts?
  6. If there were no chance of staying on full-time after the internship, would they understand my job search and occasionally allow me time off to interview for full-time positions with other companies?

Accepting/Declining Internship Offers
*If you didn’t get to the questions below in the interview, it’s important to ask them now!

  1. What are the working conditions (i.e. will I have an office, be expected to work from home, provide my own laptop, etc.)?
  2. How many hours will the internship require? Will I have time to get another job if the internship is unpaid?
  3. Is it paid? Will I receive an hourly wage, a salary, stipend, and/or be reimbursed for living and travel expenses if I relocate or commute?
  4. How often are interns asked to stay on full-time with the company?
  5. Will I be able to handle the internship without giving up prior commitments, such as classes, clubs, part-time jobs and/or volunteer work?

If you are offered an internship position but have decided it’s not a good fit for you, make sure to call or email the person and thank them for their time. Remember they don’t want excuses, but an honest answer. They appreciate honesty and the fact you are mature enough not to waste their time. However, you never know if you might like to work for them in the future, so make sure to be polite and indicate that you would like to stay in touch about any future opportunities that would fit both of your needs. 

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