Should You Intern as a College Freshman?

Updated: October 28, 2019

You’ve just moved into your first-ever dorm room. You were elected a student representative. That first test was tough, but you got an “A.” Plus, that first school football game was incredible—and your team won. You’re on a roll, so now’s the time to check out the internship situation at your school. Although you might not be ready to take on an internship in your first semester, it’s never too early to explore your options for the future.

First semester

Your first semester is going to be a period of transition. An internship is a commitment, in terms of both time and energy, so you might not want to tackle one right away. However, you can plan for what lies ahead by visiting your campus career center. They’ll be able to tell you what internships will be available to you as a second-semester freshmen, during the summer of your freshmen year, and beyond. You can work with a career counselor to learn about different fields, internship locations, pay, availability of academic credit, foreign language requirements, and housing assistance, too.

Like many freshmen, you may be uncertain about your major. Spend your first semester evaluating potential majors and related internships and jobs. Additionally, consider whether you see yourself working for a big corporation, small company, or nonprofit. Start an internship journal to keep track of your likes, dislikes, lessons, and aspirations.

Second semester

It’s the second semester of your freshman year, and you’re a bit more settled. If you have the capacity, you might want to consider a virtual internship. With a virtual (or remote) internship, you can intern from the comfort of your dorm room. Alternately, you can explore your options for the coming summer. Before making any plans, review your budget to see if you can afford to take an unpaid internship or not. At the same time, revise your resume and draft a general cover letter that you can customize for different internships. 

Some schools limit your internship credit, so now’s the time to check how many credits your school or department permits. If there’s a limit, you might want to save your internship credits for later in your college career. Also start thinking about whether you’ll want to intern in another country down the road. If so, you may want to register for a language course or two in preparation.

More options

Post-freshman year, you can continue to explore, learn, and try new internship experiences. You may want to try out a few different types of companies throughout your college career to determine which environment is the right “fit” for you. Internships really help you rule out what you don’t want in your career, as well as show you what you do want.

It can be helpful to network with other students who have completed internships to hear about their experiences. You can then make a list of all the internships you’ve learned about and rank them according to your level of interest. That way, when you’re ready to apply for an internship, you have a good starting point. You want your first internship to be a great learning experience, not an overwhelming one. Then, be sure to check Chegg Internships and visit your career center regularly for new opportunities!