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Busting Internship Myths

Michelle Lowry

Internships are the first step towards a future career, but they come with a lot of misconceptions. In movies and television shows, interns are usually depicted as a frazzled young person saddled with the job of taking coffee orders all day, but that stereotype is far from reality. We’re here to bust the myths you’ve been fed about internships.

Myth #1: Interns are always unpaid.

Believe it or not, this is often illegal. For example, the Massachusetts Department of Labor Standards has specific rules on how interns must be compensated for their work. Generally, interns either need to receive minimum wage or academic credit. In rare cases an intern can be classified as a “trainee” and work for no compensation, but only if the state determines that their training is equivalent to what they would receive in an educational environment. Long story short, any internship in the state of Massachusetts must be beneficial to the intern, either monetarily or academically.

Myth #2: Internships don’t teach you anything.

It’s true that many companies and organizations use interns for low-level work, such as filing, data entry, or preliminary research. However, that doesn’t mean the work is unnecessary. On the contrary, interns are often responsible for essential tasks that full-time employees can’t take on. Everyone has a role in keeping a company running, interns included! One of the biggest benefits an intern can receive is simply exposure. Even if an intern spends most of their day shredding paper (like this writer did at their first internship!), they’re doing it in a business environment where they can learn information from and network with those around them. That experience alone can be incredibly valuable to someone preparing for their first full-time job.

Myth #3: Internships are insanely competitive.

While internships within specific industries or organizations can be selective, there’s an infinite number of businesses in need of interns. To find the right internship for you, leverage your social media skills and personal connections. If your college professor doesn’t know of any available internships, maybe Mom’s friend Susan’s daughter does. Attack your search from every angle- Google, Handshake, LinkedIn, Indeed, ZipRecruiter, Facebook, and more. Even if your first internship doesn’t perfectly align with your interests, it could help you get one that does. The important thing is to start gaining experience and connections!

Ready for your first internship, or even a full-time job? Check out our opportunities at Barton! We have 10 nationwide offices in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Florida, Arizona, Texas, and Nevada that are constantly growing, and new positions are available daily. Visit us online or call (855)895-3550 to learn more.

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