Summer Job or Summer Internship: What’s More Valuable For Rising Seniors?

For some, the distinction between the two words “job” and “internship” is interchangeable or at least one of semantics: isn’t an internship a job? Yes and no. For many students an internship implies gaining experience that may support their future career while a job means making money. That’s not to say that all internships are unpaid, but many are. A junior just told me she wanted a job, not an internship. Here are some pros of this choice:

Greater Monetary Rewards

While some internships are paid, many aren’t. Students who are saving for college expenses or contributing to tuition costs, alongside funding their active social lives — which may involve maintaining a car! — often want a paycheck. To negotiate your value in the workplace, to ask for a raise, to learn to work harder if you want that extra bump in tips or as a bonus are just some of the lessons learned in hospitality, retail, summer camp, waterfront, education, human services, among other industries.

Greater Real-Life Experience

For all my students who’ve had jobs, the impact of working alongside colleagues who are full-time employees and usually older than a high schooler, is enormous. The stories students share of friends they’ve made “on a shift” who need their job to pay their bills and support their families have been eye-opening in a way that no classroom experience can simulate. The “job” essays that these students pen convey a growth moment like no other.

Greater Responsibility

Though some internships allow students to focus on one field, say, biomedical research, and gain hands-on experience that could change their college major or even their college list, quite a few, however, are shadowing opportunities where a student doesn’t shoulder the “buck stops here” pressure of the employer/employee. One student told me the supervisor he was assigned to explained that “it’s easier to just do the work myself” than to delegate. Conversely, a job with a specific description and task list provides a student with an opportunity to “own their role.” This heightens a student’s sense of making an impact which is very beneficial in terms of personal development and mental health.

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