An internship can be one of the most valuable experiences an aspiring professional can undertake. Not only does an internship look great on a resume, reflecting your interest and dedication to a field, it also provides you with irreplaceable actual experience in the field, fosters long-lasting and crucial contacts with established professionals, offers the opportunity to test the waters before embarking on a full-time career, and gets you away from the academic side of learning your trade.
While being an intern may help get your foot in the door of that ideal organization, often times that six-figure salary will have to wait. Most internships are not paid at all, or offer a very modest stipend, and those which pay at a salary level are extremely competitive. You must consider the cost of living and transportation along with the idea of learning the inside scoop of the organization. Grant money can be secured to fund internships, which can alleviate the financial drawbacks.
Many internships will also require a percentage ofyour time to be spent on routine clerical duties along with the tasks you may be hoping to accomplish. While clerical duties will always be less than 50% of your job, consider your willingness to stuff envelopes before beginning. Nonetheless, an internship is an invaluable experience, and one which can be highly negotiated with your supervisor depending on experience and need. Likewise, your responsibilities will certainly grow as you devote more time to the organization.
There are several guides to internship possibilities, but you may simply want to contact the organization you are interested in and go from there. Most groups will gladly take on a free worker! Opportunities to volunteer your services extend beyond an internship within an organization. You could easily travel to the country of your choice and work with any number of organizations, generally in development work, health care, or English language training. While the benefits mirror those of interning, the costs can be prohibitive, as many groups require you to pay your own way, and most pay you nothing upon arrival. If it is feasible for you, however, volunteering your efforts to help those less fortunate, establishing lasting friendships with people in other cultures, and watching the progress your efforts can produce will almost certainly be greater than any financial compensation you may desire.
Sources and Resources
- Washington D.C. Semester in International Affairs – a full semester internship program in Washington, DC offered through the Division of International Studies. U.S. based but internationally focused.
- CALS International Opportunities (College of Agriculture and Life Science) – Internships through the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
- Go Global! – A Web site listing various international internship, volunteer and work abroad opportunities. Most listings are not associated with UW-Madison.