Updated: Feb 17, 2021
As college students search for opportunities to gain real-world job experience and earn extra spending money, many may wonder whether a part-time job or internship is the way to go.
A report by the National Association of Colleges and Employers found that students who had paid or unpaid internships received job offers more frequently than those who had no internship at all. An internship can give you access to experts in your desired field who can later provide you with letters of recommendation and job referrals.
While a summer lifeguarding job or a part-time position at your local coffee shop might not be directly applicable to your career goals, it does help pay the bills. A paid position can help offset college and living costs, and skills learned from a part-time position can still benefit you later in your professional life.
When deciding whether to pursue an internship or part-time job, ask yourself what you need more — money or experience? Are you able to commit time to both an internship and part-time job?
If you can find a paid internship in your field of study then you can satisfy both needs at once. Paid internships can offer an entry-level hourly rate, as well as résumé-worthy experience. The only problem is that paid internships can be competitive, making them harder to find and get.
Before you start searching for paid internships, make a list of 10 companies you would love to work for after graduation. Interning at one of your dream companies might give you an advantage when you apply for a position after graduation. Many large corporations have dedicated resources for students looking for paid internships and post-grad opportunities. For example, those studying business or marketing can apply for Discover's paid internship program.
The key is to apply early and often. For internships that remain open all year long, try applying each semester to increase your odds of acceptance. There are several websites devoted to internship searches, such as Internships.com, WayUp.com and Youtern.com.
Should you pick a part-time job, unpaid internship or paid internship? If you're looking to boost your résumé and gain deeper career experience, then an internship could be the right path for you. But, if you need help paying for expenses or want extra spending money, then you might want to consider a part-time position or a paid internship.