Internship Guide: Qualities of good internships and how to find them
Qualities of good internships and how to find them
Hacking growth, building habits, and becoming super effective.
Internships are about growth
The best internships...
● Focus on education
○ Hands-on learning
○ Teach skills that can be used outside of the company
○ Knowledge that can only be gained in the field
○ Bonus: get educational credit! (sometimes required)
● Not focused on work
○ Interns are there to learn from them!
○ Provide opportunity to "shadow" employees
■ Anything resembling work must be supervised by
employee with relevant experience.
○ Entirely instructional, but learning can be hard work
A quality internship...
● Teaches the intern skills they will find
valuable for use in future jobs.
● Provides the intern with an environment to
soak up information on a variety of subjects.
● Challenges the intern to think and grasp new
A not-so-good internship...
● Requires interns to do busy work
(photocopying/etc) that is not educational
○ Internships should involve hard work - learning
● Does not allow interns to learn directly from
employees working in their area of interest
○ Red flag = intern's point of contact works in HR
● Uses interns for cheap or free labor
○ Red flag = company has more interns than employees!
Avoid internships that...
● Focus on discussing the duties and
qualifications potential interns must meet.
○ They should be talking about what they will do for
you (education), not the other way around.
○ They should be looking at your ability to learn.
● Make a claim that there may be a potential
job offer at the end of the internship.
○ Internships are not trial periods!
○ An internship where you excel could lead to great job
opportunities. Companies can make no guarantees
so be wary if they do.
Seems like many internships are ones to
avoid...so how do you find a good one?
Look below the surface...
● First, decide what you want to learn
○ Think about the companies that might teach you
● Many internships are posted on internship
websites (or submitted to your college)
○ But everyone looks at these offerings!
○ If the internship is remotely cool, the company will
be swamped with applications.
● Research on industry-specific sites
○ Many have sections about internships/jobs
Go beyond the postings!
● Some of the best opportunities aren't posted
○ Talk to people in your network (college, friends &
family) to see what might be out there
● If you want to intern at a company that
doesn't seem to be offering internships...
○ It never hurts to ask (politely)
■ They may like that you took the time to reach out
■ Tell them what you want to learn and why you
believe interning with them will help
■ You won't be placed in a pile of applications
Be creative, get cool internship
● I interned for the Life is Good Music Festival
○ Reached out even though nothing was posted
○ Learned about festival production
○ The internship lasted 4 days and was very unique
■ I would have never learned this much about
festivals so quickly in a classroom.
○ Bonus: I got to meet one of my heroes - Levon Helm
(drummer of the Band)
● My friend Yakov Vorobyev (President, Mixed in Key):
"I showed up at Bethesda Softworks office and told
them I'll do anything. It worked."
Paid vs. Unpaid
An unpaid internship can be amazing and
one that pays can be terrible. It's all about
what you could get out of the experience!
Do you need to intern?
● Only if you want to!
○ Is there some knowledge/skill you could only attain
from interning with a specific organization?
○ Note: some schools have internship requirements
● You could try for a job instead.
○ Startups value people with the skills to learn quickly.
○ Knowing everything before starting the job isn't
always as important as being adaptable.
○ Companies that give you a chance might also feel a
greater responsibility to train you.
● You could start something yourself
○ Consider if you really want to do this and why.
● Companies looking for interns should tell
you what you'll learn, not what you'll do.
● Internships are not jobs.
● Internships are about personal growth.
● Look in the less obvious places to uncover
the best opportunities.
Thanks for reading!
Julian Weisser, weisser.io
I write about hacking growth, building habits, and
becoming super effective on blog.weisser.io
Though not actively seeking interns, I’m always open to discussing the
possibility with those who have an interest in learning about biz dev, marketing,
and human behavior. I’m an information sponge and love to teach and work
with others who are the same!
Reach out with questions, comments, and more
@julianweisser or email@example.com
Bonus: A friend's alternate take
"My internship experience at (high profile instrument
manufacturer) was exactly what you described as a bad internship, but
was one of the coolest experiences of my life.
Even though I was scanning contracts all day for 2 months, my
supervisor would take me to shows and let me hang with artists that
came in. I did definitely have to do grunt work but it was okay because
he made up for it in other ways.
Also what you were saying about internships not being work - I
disagree - it's all about work. It's about working hard to learn new skills
as an intern.
My favorite part was when they treated me like any other employee,
they gave me responsibilities, and i learned a lot through that. You do
plenty of grunt work but it shouldn't be ALL grunt work. If you do
menial shit, make sure they let you do cool shit too."