Ah, the sweet torture that is internship application time. Remember when you thought merely attending college was enough to ensure you’d get a good job after graduation? Those were the days. Internship applications are the new college applications, folks. Pretty much every college student can commiserate with the stress and pressure that comes with needing to secure a killer internship every summer.
But what we don’t talk about enough is the financial privilege associated with doing an internship. Many internships are unpaid; of the remaining that are paid, only a few offer a salary above minimum wage. Not only that, but now you have to secure summer housing and figure out how to pay for food not on a dining plan. Not to mention transportation costs, business appropriate attire, happy hour networking sessions…
Boro understands how easy it is to get swept up in internship mania. But we also want you to stay financially healthy over the summer and be able to support yourself on whatever budget your job allows. Check out some questions to ask your employer, your advisor, and yourself before accepting the internship offer.
Questions to Ask Your Employer
1. Is the salary negotiable?
This can be a tricky one. Most companies have formally structured internship programs with a set pay. Get a feel for the company before asking this question. If you think it’s appropriate, go for it. You never know unless you ask. Even if you aren’t comfortable asking, definitely check out questions 2 and 3.
2. Will travel expenses be reimbursed?
Whether you have to drive or take the train to your internship, transportation costs can add up. If your employer can offset those costs, that can instantly save you hundreds of dollars for the summer.
3. What are the office amenities?
In other words, what are the perks? What’s the office culture like? Many internships offer free coffee, snacks, breakfast, and even some intern lunches! Food and coffee can get sneaky expensive - those $16 Sweetgreen salads and $6 Starbucks are incredible for your tummy, but not so much for your wallet.
Questions to Ask Your Advisor
1. Will this experience enhance my learning and preparation for a career?
Make sure the internship is worth it. If the experience doesn’t add anything to your identity as a future job-seeker, why put yourself through the financial (and mental) stress of living that intern life? Make a pros and cons list to go over with your advisor. Do some research on your professional inspirations: what experiences did they have before landing their dream job?
2. Are there any paid research positions on campus?
Summer research can be an incredible alternative to interning. Many professors conducting research over the summer at universities hire undergraduate students as assistants. Moreover, some colleges offer grants for you to conduct your own research. Make sure you are aware of all the opportunities around you. Bonus points if your apartment lease on campus extends through the summer!
3. Are there any alumni in my field I can connect with?
One of the biggest benefits that college offers is the networking opportunities. Take advantage of any alumni outreach program your school has, and try to find alums working in your prospective fields. They’re great people to get advice from, and you’ll already be bonded over your love for the alma mater.
Questions to Ask Yourself
1. How much will all of this cost?
Make a spreadsheet for yourself. Calculate your monthly salary (if applicable), then ask yourself: Will I have to pay for rent? Can I live at home? How will I eat? By figuring out the math of it all, you can take away a lot of stress and ambiguity from the whole process.
2. Is this really what I want to do?
Take a second to check in with yourself. Are you really excited about this internship? Do you think it’s a valuable experience? Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to take any internship that is offered to you automatically. It’s okay to say you need time to think about it. In fact, that shows employers that you are thoughtful and considerate - a trait everyone wants in their employees.
3. Is this the right choice for me?
Sort of similar to the last question, but with a key difference. Don’t be afraid to hold out for the internship experience that is both exciting to you and allows you to support yourself financially. Moreover, never underestimate your own creativity: you can build a summer experience that works for you, like seeing if there are any part-time job openings at interesting companies. Bottom line is, you have options: give yourself a chance to pick the right one for you.
Let’s make summer 2020 the best summer ever, professionally and personally.
If you need a little more of a buffer in your budget this summer, you can get up to $2000 of borocash and pay back over 1-12 months. Choose your terms on the boro app now.