*From the archives of old posts and questions, specific situational questions are now answered in a more complete way (because ya’ll deserve that) through #DearTBC. Today’s episode comes originally from 4 More Answers To Your Not-As-Frequently-Asked Questions about being an intern.
It used to be a giant post, now it’s being broken down into multiple bits. This is a question about a person thinking about interning after college.
Read on to find out about 1 anonymous reader thinking about taking an internship as a graduate-in-waiting, and what Justine’s thoughts are on that.
I haven’t interned at all during college. I was supposed to this sem, but I got held up with other commitments. My friends who are in a similar predicament said they’ll be looking for jobs right away but I want to test the waters first. My plan is I’ll intern right before grad since it’s happening in late June and finals will end in early May.
Knowing my late-bloomer situation, what will the likely impression I leave with the HR? Will they think I’m overqualified? Or maybe I wasn’t able to get into any job that’s why I’m doing this? In essence, is there anything I should be concerned about when applying? Advantages and disadvantages of an older intern?
I’d like to think it’s a win-win situation since I’ll be able to give my full commitment, and if they like me enough, they could hire me right away into any openings they might have. Then again, that’s just me so I was hoping if I could get your input about this.
Justine: I’m super duper supportive of this idea!
Nowadays, there’s really no such thing as being too old to be an intern. There’s a rise of 30-year-olds and 40-year-olds in America interning. Have you seen the movie The Intern with Robert de Niro? Plus, MBAs abroad require you to intern to finish the program. What’s so weird about a soon-to-be fresh grad interning here? The answer is: nothing!
I also think this is an especially excellent idea if you’re looking to go into an industry or a company you have no idea about, because then it’s like a trial period for both you and the company.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s tackle this methodically.
Fit and Future Issues
Interning after graduating gives you something your batchmates jumping to the first jobs they see don’t have. Perspective.
You get to see if it’s a good fit for you, and if it’s aligned with what you thought it would be. Which means if you like everything – the bosses, the people, the office, the type of work – even after the trial period, you’ll probably stay longer than most other fresh grads they hire.
And it’s great for the company because they get a full-time intern, with more skills and a wider network than a regular college student. Who is also available for a full-time job after a few trial period months with them, which is another huge bonus.
There are almost no disadvantages here. The only one I can think of is that it’s not a normal situation, so you have to be clear with them and yourself on why you want to intern.
Are you ok to take on this internship even if there are no available openings afterwards? Is this just a way for you to pass the time productively while waiting for law school, med school, pilot school?
What’s your primary goal: to get transferable skills and experience or to get a job offer at the end? Whatever your answer is, it’s perfectly ok! You just need to communicate that in the interview and maybe even your cover letter, to avoid any miscommunication or potential heartbreak later on.
Your current trial period plan is infinitely better than signing a contract straight away with them, and getting stuck for 2-3 years (if there’s a bond) with a company you might not like that much. If you’re unhappy with your first job, you’ll be counting down the days until you can leave which doesn’t make you a productive member of their society.
And if you didn’t sign a bond, then you’ll be using the office wifi to find a hopefully better job you can interview for during your lunch hour. The months of searching while working halfheartedly will drain you. It’s a lose-lose for everyone involved.
I know all that will happen, because it’s happening everywhere as I write this. The problem most companies face nowadays is unmotivated young people, who want more exciting and more flexible jobs, instead of the drudge work that consists their day-to-day work.
That’s why there’s an exponential amount of fresh grads joining or founding startups and deciding to work as freelancers now. For the excitement. For the freedom. For the flexibility it gives.
I can’t stress this enough.
Loving your job is so important because you spend 40+ hours of your week there. I’m not sure what’s your reasoning for your interning plan, but if I were you, the fact that you get to test out the company with a limited commitment is the number 1 reason to do it.
Skill and Social Setbacks
There are so many questions I want to ask clarification for. How will you support yourself during this time? Are you going into a technical internship where you already were taught the skills you need? Is this an industry kind to young people or one that tries to squeeze the life out of them?
All these questions will affect your internship.
For starters, biggest issue I see is your parents being unhappy about your decision. They might not want to support you financially through this time. Worse, they might be expecting you to start supporting them financially ASAP.
They might find it an embarrassment that you’re choosing to intern, while their friends’ kids are settling into their first jobs. They might see this as you not committing to something, to you being immature, to you not taking adulting seriously.
I don’t know the specifics, but I worry that your plans might not be aligned with theirs.
You’re going to have to manage your parents. Suggest you explain the pros of this situation while downplaying the cons. I’m wishing you the best of luck; parents are nitpicks. I don’t tell my own what my plans are; they usually find out during Phase 2 or when I’ve failed.
Also, don’t compare yourself with your friends during this time. You’re doing you. These are what’s in your best interests. Just keep at it.
Back to the support issue, you might be working for little to no compensation during the internship. So you need to plan for that too. How will you reduce living cots? Do a remote internship or 2 days work from home internship? Explore your options with your employer!
But who knows? They might pay you a pretty OK wage. Not a real one though, that would qualify for taxes since you’re an intern. Then again, you might not care. I’m just very money-oriented, so this is my biggest issue. Living expenses.
In terms of being overqualified, I don’t think that they’ll think that of you, if you’re coming in with all theory and no application experience. (This is what ADMU equipped me with, maybe other schools are different. But this is the perspective I’m coming from.)
If anything, they might find you underwhelming for a graduate, especially if you’re coming in with no technical skills or expertise they can rely on. You’re literally someone they have to train from scratch. And then you’re going to leave with those skills. In Filipino culture, that annoyance might manifest in them teasing how little you know. Chin up if that happens. I’m pikunin by nature, so I know how difficult that is.
I also think you might not be doing high impact, fun work at your internship. They will probably make you do the tasks they don’t want to do (that’s usually why people hire interns). But that’s totally fine, you’re in it for the experience.
Remember to make yourself available for projects happening around you that you’re interested in, or better yet recommend some that you can spearhead. All for the ~experience~.
What they will be expecting though, is that you learn faster and are more committed to the internship since you’re already a graduate. Less hand holding, higher expectations.
Your learning curve will be steep, precisely because you’re a fresh grad about to enter the workforce. They expect you to be ready to become a productive member of society (or a cog in the machine). So, be prepared for them to treat you like a newbie employee, especially if you didn’t make your workload and scope clear from the beginning.
And yea, some people might think “they’re interning because they can’t find a real job”. But isn’t that why you’re interning? To help you find a job you like, that you find interesting and engaging, and ultimately that is something you want to work on for the next year or 2?
Pros of interning as a graduate:
- You get to see if that company is a good fit for you and if their culture is something you want to be a part of.
- You’ll see if this industry in general is something you want to be a part of, and want to grow in.
- They get cheap intelligent labor from you for a few months.
- You learn some skills that you can take with you to any job you choose at the end of your internship.
- You learn more about yourself and what you can and cannot handle.
Cons of interning as a graduate:
- Your parents might be unhappy.
- You need to find financial support while you intern.
- You might compare yourself with your friends and feel bad.
- You’ll have to work hard to upskill in your < 3 months in the role.
- People might think “they couldn’t find a real job” about you.
Looking it over, the cons of doing this look biased but I really can’t think of any. All the ones I came up with are about keeping up with the image we have. But if you don’t care about that and instead care about having a meaningful experience, then you’re ok.
In the end, it’s a win-win situation. IF you’re fully prepared to dedicate yourself into learning everything as quickly as you can. And you keep track objectively if this is something you want to keep doing. Don’t trust your memory of your day-to-day feelings!!
I suggest you keep some kind of journal or tracker where you write the highs and lows of working there. Use that to evaluate the experience at the end.
Keep your eyes peeled, and trust your instinct about whether the place you’re interning at can become your permanent job. And if it doesn’t work out, great! Now you’ve saved yourself time and given yourself perspective. Go out there and intern somewhere else. You’ll find the place for you soon
So, good luck!
So, a big problem I’m seeing is you’ll intern for no pay. What if you could see how much the pay was before applying? I know 1 place that you can show you the pay before you even sign up. Fair warning, I’m super biased because I love their platform, and I think they’re doing amazing work in revolutionizing the university-to-employment world with their trial period employment offering.
Zestagram is an internship to employment platform for fresh talents. Over 80% of the matched interns were hired by their partner companies.
Sign up now at https://www.zestagram.co/ to find your best matched companies in as little as 7 days.
In case you have no idea where you are, welcome to The Border Collective, where any question you’ve got on internships, resumes, or careers in the PH can and will be answered. I’m Justine, founder and writer of all things here.
#DearTBC is a slot for really specific career-related questions that you’re worrying about, but you’re not quite sure who you can turn to. We answer in-depth so that anyone else who’s never wondered but wants to know, will know what to do next.
If there’s something you want to ask but never knew where to send them to, drop them in The Border Collective’s Google Form or ask.fm. Being a kid myself, I’ve probably gone through the same situations. And at the very least, I can tell you what NOT to do.
Content Partnerships, Plugs, or Business Deals? email@example.com
Email your proposal and a summary of why that’s relevant for TBC’s audience. Don’t worry, we don’t charge money if you’re student-run, just social media x-deals, just like we did in our features for MSE Summit or the APEX Challenge.
Support TBC? facebook.com/TheBorderCollective
If you want to publicly support us + get brownie points from us, like The Border Collective’s Facebook page!
Hope you read something useful, til the next time I write something, bye~
Join TBC’s private email list to know the best resources for
- Figuring out what your dream job is
- Making the right connections without coming off as a user, an idiot, or a soulless drone
- Acing every interview, getting an interview anywhere, & then some
- Reading and applying Western business and management books here in S.E. Asia
- Knowing which podcasts are worth your time, and which are just filled with fluff
- And much more
Most of my advice is very different from other career “experts”, since I actually tried and tested it myself. And because, you know, I’m a Chinese girl in the Philippines who tried out for almost every multinational here, while building contacts up in the startup world.
So, expect it to be very contextualized for Asians, women, and // or millennials // Gen Z-ers.
PS, do not sign up if you’re lazy, a whiner, or an entitled brat. There’s nothing useful in here for you.