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10 Questions to Ask Before Accepting an Internship

Internships are an incredibly way to gain valuable experience, learn something new, and make new friends. Having that bullet point on your resume can be a huge advantage in future job hunts, and can also give you an idea of what you might want to be when you grow up.

But, before you accept that internship that looks great on paper, there are some questions that you should always be sure to ask before making a commitment! Getting these things out of the way before will help you in the long run so that you aren’t set up for disappointment or have unrealistic expectations about what you’re in for.

So whether it be via email, phone, or during an in-person interview, make sure you get answers to these 10 questions first:

1. When does it start/end?

Obviously, you want to know when you’re expected to start, and how long the internship will run for. Knowing the duration of the internship will also help to give you an idea of whether or not the pay is reasonable, and if it’s worth your time. For example, if an internship for a position that requires a lot of training is only 6-weeks long, it might make you reconsider another option that is a bit more valuable for your time.

2. Do interns often get offered full-time positions?

Knowing whether or not this could lead to a full-time position will give you an idea of company culture. A lot of companies prefer to promote from within, and knowing whether or not you can expect to grow with the company can also help you choose the best internship for you to avoid bouncing between companies too much.

3. Will I be working with other interns?

Some of my closest friends are people I did internships with, and while having one-on-one attention can also be great, it is definitely nice to know how many people around your age you can expect to have around! Post work happy hour, anyone?

4. Are there opportunities to continue working part-time during the semester?

Similar to question number 2, knowing if there’s an opportunity for you to stay onboard after your official internship date can be a big deciding factor. Also, knowing that you’re already thinking long-term could give you bonus points with the company!

5. Is there any programming/events for interns?

On my first coop, there weren’t any specific events for us, but we were invited to the annual holiday party as well as a gala, which my fellow intern and I had an amazing time at. When I participated in the Disney College Program, there were several fun events planned for interns, and they’re some of my favorite memories from the program! Knowing if they have programming for the interns can sometimes help you to gauge how many interns they’re planning on having, and how much value they place on you enjoying the whole experience.

6. Is this a paid internship? If so how much does it pay?

Pay is one of the first questions on most people’s minds, and for good reason. While some internships might be hourly pay, others might offer you a stipend instead. And others might be unpaid. Don’t discount unpaid internships, if you can afford to, because they can still teach you some really valuable lessons. This question can also be a great segue to ask about transportation and housing costs and reimbursement if your internships requires you to relocate.

7. What type of professional training do you offer for interns?

Many times, companies will organize some training programs for their interns that aren’t only for the purpose of job function. At Disney, participants could register for seminars in a variety of topics, like Event Operations, Marketing, Animal Sciences, and Human Resources. They also frequently held career development events. Knowing if the company wants to invest in you and your professional development is a great feeling and could expose you to something you didn’t even know you were good at before.

8. Do you give recommendations or referrals?

One of the most appealing outcomes of an internship is the prospect of getting a great recommendation or referral out of it, but keep in mind that some companies do not offer them! Make sure you know this going into it so that you don’t make it to the end of an internship you worked really hard at, only to find out they’re unable to provide a recommendation or referral for school or for a future job opportunity.

9. Is the schedule flexible, and are reasonable accommodations made for other commitments?

Don’t assume that every company is understanding of your personal schedule, and it’s important to know how to request time off or rearrange your schedule should you have a medical or family emergency. You wouldn’t want to start an internship and THEN find out that your sister’s wedding is the same weekend as their biggest fundraising event, so be sure to mention any of these things prior to accepting.

10. Do you offer college credit?

If you have to maintain a certain number of credits, or if you’re trying to graduate early, it’s always important to know if you can get college credit through your internship experience!

Hopefully, many of these questions will be answered through the job description, but sometimes they aren’t. If you have a question, ask! Internships are incredible experiences, and knowing what you’re in for by getting these questions out of the way is one of the first ways to assure that yours will be as amazing as possible.




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Tuan Ho

Tuan Ho

CEO & Co-founder of ScholarJet. I talk about the future of education, diversity and inclusion, and entrepreneurship.

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