The internship itself is a pretty new institution, so it’s tough to define any aspect of the experience as “traditional.” But until recently, it was almost always associated with summer, like lemonade, bad TV and the skinny dude from The OC.
Now, however, there’s a new movement to extend internships throughout the year — including during the fall and winter academic semesters. There are a number of reasons for it, but here are the four that we think appeal most to students:
1. Typically, year-round internships involve far fewer hours per week, so they still can be reconciled with your busy week. They also may offer less rigid schedules, so hours can be worked in between classes or occasionally rearranged around social events. Some year-round internships are even “virtual” — meaning they can be worked from your home computer.
2. Year-round internships generally give you a stronger chance of eventually being hired full-time. The format simply gives companies more time to evaluate your strengths and weaknesses. In a three-month or shorter term during the summer, students might just be getting the hang of work software or procedures when it’s time to go back to school. Employers may feel that they’ve spent most of the internship bringing their interns up to speed and haven’t gotten a steady read on how effective they’d be as full-time employees.
The year-round internship eliminates these concerns, and it also means you can be hired right out of college without missing a beat. That makes you more attractive than an intern who did a good job last summer — skills can lapse a lot in nine months.
3. You’ll have more freedom to explore a company or industry. With more time on the job, you have more time to decide whether it’s something you’d like to keep doing. After all, internships aren’t just a way to gain experience — they’re a testing ground.
Maybe you’ve found, after six months of interning, that accounting isn’t really your thing. You could ask for a transfer to, say, a human resources role. Your company is more likely to consider the move because your footprint on their weekly work burden is smaller than that of a full-time summer intern.
4. There’s often less competition for similar opportunities. Demand for summer internships has skyrocketed to the point where some employers feel confident that they can get quality candidates without offering compensation, even in the form of stipends. But that’s less often the case with year-round internships. Companies might consider less experienced candidates during fall, winter and spring that wouldn’t have gotten a response for summer positions.
In summary, year-round internships have several key advantages that their summer counterparts can’t provide. When you’re leaving voicemails from the beach on your friends’ work phones, you’ll probably understand what we mean.