Internship or not to internship…that is the question.

When looking for that first job after graduation, one of the biggest questions first time job-seekers ask is if they should look for and accept an unpaid internship in the field of study they wish to pursue. Unfortunately, there is no definitive answer since each situation will have its pluses and minuses. There are a few rules to follow to help make the decision, get the most out of the internship and the most experience for your time spent.

1. Your primary objective is to get a job in the field of study you have chosen to follow. If the company you are considering interning with has a history of hiring interns (and all you have to do is ask), then that would be a good sign.

2. If the company has an internship program or job description with a definite timeframe and responsibilities, then that would be a good sign.

3. If the company offers you some form of compensation, travel expenses,  public transit, lunch per diem, letter of recommendation upon completion, bonus incentive…(anything), that would be a good sign.

4. If the internship will give you a better understanding of your field of study, contacts and networking opportunities, that would be a good sign.

5. None of the above? That would be a BAD sign.

Ask questions and learn the signs…after all, your time must be spent moving your career forward not working for nothing. Choose carefully.