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Internship vs. a Job: Which is Best For You? 

Whether you’re a recent graduate, looking to explore a new career, or just looking to shake things up, you’ve probably thought about an internship or a job. However, finding out which is right for you can be challenging. In this article, we will go through the basic facts of what an internship and job are. We will then answer some common questions to help you decide which is best for you! 

We will go into greater detail about both internships and jobs later in this article, but let’s start with a brief description of each as our starting point!

What is an internship? 

An internship is typically a short term employment position in which people learn and perform a job. They may have very little to no experience doing that job. Internships may be paid or unpaid, and are common options among college students and young professionals (though anyone can usually apply for internships).  

Related: How to get an internship guide

What is a job?

You probably know what a job is, but we’ll talk about it for a second too! A job is a more permanent position in which you will perform one or more specific duties. Jobs will typically require you to have experience or an education in that related field. No matter where you work, some on the job training usually takes place. Entry level positions are sometimes options, but for the most part, you should be familiar with the work you are applying for. 

Deciding what’s right for you: Internship vs. job 

Instead of making a “pros and cons” list comparing internships and jobs, we compiled a list stating the basic details of each. One person’s “con” might be  another person’s “pro,” so we think this is the best approach!

Internship facts  

Typically short term 

Internships are usually not long term positions. They will usually last anywhere from a few months to a year and then be over. This means that they are common among people who are new to a career field and don’t have a full time position or for college students who may only have a few months at a time to dedicate to working full-time.  

May be paid or unpaid 

It is not always guaranteed that an internship will be paid. Some employers view internships as education and experience “payment” for any work that you do. If an internship is unpaid, it should be clearly stated. There are legal obligations that the company must follow to protect you from being treated unfairly. It’s up to you to decide if that is something that works for you.  

Related: What is a stipend and how do they work?

Typically require little to no experience  

One of the appealing aspects about internships is that they usually don’t require you to have experience. For students who are studying engineering, an internship in their junior or senior year is a great way to put what they’ve learned into practice without having to have had a job in the industry before. Lack of required experience, however, does not mean that internships do not get competitive. You should treat searching for internships the same way you would approach finding a job. 

Live in a new place 

While it’s not true that you’ll have to move for every internship, it’s not unheard of. College students may often choose to intern somewhere over their summers that is out of state. This is a great chance to live somewhere new and get work experience but have the comfort of knowing you will only need to be there temporarily. 

Don’t miss: How to find a job or internship with Handshake

Job facts 

Typically long-term 

When an employer hires new employees, their hope is that those employees remain with the company for an extended period of time. This doesn’t mean that you can’t work at jobs for short periods of time, but that time might be an important factor to keep in mind when applying for positions.  

Usually require experience or formal education 

While some learning will happen when you accept a new job, the bulk of your education will likely happen before, which means a lot of jobs will require a college degree in a specific field or related experience from previous jobs.  

Depending on the type of job you are applying determines whether education and experience are something a company can be more flexible with.  

Hourly or salaried pay 

A job will always provide you with some type of compensation for your work. Some workers will be paid on an hourly basis, while others may be paid a salary which is slightly different. A salary means that you will usually work a set number of hours each week and be paid the same amount. This is an important matter to discuss with a potential employer before being hired.   

Related: Finding a job or internship with WayUp

Can offer room for advancement 

Depending upon where you work, there may be a lot of room for you to grow as an employee and a person. Lots of companies these days try to provide training to their employees to keep them educated and engaged in the new things happening in their field.  

If your goal is to start at an entry level position at a company and work your way up, make sure there is room to do that. It will be notoriously harder in some jobs than others to do this. Be realistic with yourself about how long it might take and what you’ll need to do to advance. 

Also see: 10 tips for finding your ideal job

Usually provide benefits 

The last point we will make about jobs is about the benefits that come with a job. By benefits we are referring to things like insurance, childcare, and retirement plans. Each job will have different regulations, but typically, if you plan to stay with a company for a long time, they will provide you with some or a few added benefits. This is not guaranteed for every job, but is certainly common for full time employees that stay at one job.  

Also see: Top internships for high school students

Ask yourself a few questions

After reading through the above sections, you hopefully have a better understanding of the differences between internships and jobs. You may even be beginning to think about which is right for you. However, if you still aren’t sure, there are a few questions below that might help you make a choice.

Questions To Consider

Questions To Consider

  • Are you new to a career field or lack experience in a particular field that you would like to work in?
  • Are money and benefits something that are important factors in determining where you work?  
  • Are you looking for a permanent position or something that is shorter term?  
Questions To Consider

Key Takeaways

Key Takeaways

  • While internships are typically completed by young professionals during their college or early post-graduation years, they are something that can be utilized by many people when looking to switch careers or further their knowledge of a career 
  • Internships are about learning and gaining experience without having to commit to a long term job 
  • Internships are a great short term option for students who may not be able to commit to full time jobs  
  • When it comes to a job or an internship, one is not inherently better than the other, it is up to you to decide which is best for you 
Key Takeaways

Don’t miss: What is the average starting salary out of college?

Frequently asked questions about internships vs. jobs

What percentage of internships turn into jobs?

Studies show that over half of all internships turn into full time jobs. If an internship goes well, and both you and the company get along, there is a good chance that they may offer you a job after completing your internship. However, that is not always a guarantee and will vary from company to company.

Do you get paid more after an internship?

If you are offered a full time job after an internship, there is the chance that you will be paid more than your original intern salary. However, that isn’t guaranteed, and is something that you will need to discuss with your employer.

Is interning the same as working?

Yes and no, as this varies from company to company. Some paid internships will have you doing very similar work as regular employees. However, unpaid internships often assign interns completely different tasks than regular employees. There are many parallels between the two, but internships will focus much more on teaching you than the amount or quantity of work you produce.

Related: Tips for finding a job out of college