The Pros and Cons of Multiple Internships

Over the last few years in my work with internships, I have noticed a trend: Students working two internships during the same semester. A couple of weeks ago in my comeback post of sorts, I touched on this very idea. When the question came up on Twitter last week, I knew it was something I wanted to cover more in depth.

Lose your sleep before your decision, not after it

If the opportunity arises to complete two internships simultaneously, give it serious thought before blazing ahead. Here are some of the pros and cons, from my perspective, of taking on more than one internship at a time.

Pros of Multiple Internships

  • More Experience. Obviously, the message that more experience before graduation is not only beneficial but a necessity is being received loud and clear. We’ve been pushing this message to students as early as freshman year, and the media has done it’s part to make the importance of internships well known, too. Career-related experience makes you more marketable and employable. You certainly don’t want to waste time during your college career and miss out on the opportunity to build skills and background in your field.
  • More Networking. Every internship comes with the opportunity to build your network: new co-workers, new supervisors, new clients. If you are a good intern, the relationships you build at your internship site can pay off big time. Co-workers or supervisors feel more confident referring you for jobs, either with their organization or others, and they are more likely to want to help you with your job search.

Cons of Multiple Internships

  • Diluting the Experience. I question the quality of each experience when someone is working two internships at one time. For example, an internship where you can put in 20 hours a week is going to offer the opportunity to work on more in-depth projects and allows you to build stronger relationships with co-workers. If you have two separate internships, each only 10 hours a week, it is going to limit how much you can do at either. This is the same argument that has been made against double majors.
  • Sacrificing Quality. Two internships, full course load, student organizations, maybe another part-time job – it’s a lot to juggle. At some point, something is likely to suffer. And if a lack of focus and hard work hits one of your internships, it can lead to trouble. For your internship network to be beneficial, they need to have a good impression of you as an intern. Plus, it’s difficult (or should be difficult) to talk about an internship experience in future interviews when you know you did a sub-par job.

What do you think about working multiple internships at one time? I’d love to hear your opinions!

Photo by Scott McLeod

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