A recent opinion piece on USA Today College, titled Skip the internship, go to camp, suggested that you gain more valuable experience by being a summer camp counselor than you do by participating in internships in your desired vocation. The author’s argument is that most companies simply use interns to do the mundane tasks that full-time employees would never do, such as making copies and fetching coffee. He says that most interns only do work that is “wholly unrelated to any sort of day-to-day task that full-time employees fulfill.” You can read the article here: http://www.usatodayeducate.com/staging/index.php/blog/opinion-skip-the-internship-go-to-camp
Now, here are our thoughts on this subject…we couldn’t disagree more. While you can learn some valuable skills from being a camp counselor, it isn’t going to help you nearly as much as an internship at a great company in your desired field. While, yes, interns can be required to do some pretty mundane tasks, it also allows you a lot of experience (if you choose your internships wisely). When you interview, ask your potential employer what kinds of tasks the interns perform. Also, find others who’ve been interns at the company before and talk to them about the internship. Ideally, you want to find an internship that will give you experience actually doing the work your field requires and trust me, there are plenty of those out there!
Also, being a camp counselor isn’t going to help you land a job as much as an internship in your field will. If it comes down to you (who spent your summers as a camp counselor) and a candidate who did multiple internships and gained valuable experience in your field of work….who do you think the company will go with? And we’re not ripping on being a camp counselor in any way…Felecia Hatcher worked as a camp counselor and found it to be a valuable experience because she was considering becoming a teacher. However, it was her internships at radio stations and PR firms that really prepared her for a career in marketing and becoming an entrepreneur. It’s up to you to demand more out of your internship if you feel like you’re not getting the most out of it.
Look back at our recent blog post, titled Are College Internships Really Worth Your Time? for more information on finding scholarships, including links to some fantastic resources. And for tips on interviewing for scholarships, internships and jobs be sure to check in with our blog weekly. We also post helpful tips on our Facebook and Twitter pages.