Is is a good idea to have more than one internship?

Chapter 8

People doing cross disciplinary work, or those with more than one field of interest, may find themselves in the position of wanting, or needing, to do more than one internship.

This is relatively rare, at the moment, but it's becoming more common as multiple degrees and multi-skilling become the norms in the workplace and in career paths. Internships are so useful, and so necessary, that they're really part of the furniture in some career paths. They're practically built in to some qualifications, and aren't easy (or advisable) to avoid.

Other people may find that they need to do more than one internship because either the one they did was lousy, or they didn't like it, or they've changed career paths in mid-stream.

The rule of thumb here is that you need to manage your internships realistically. You'll find that most colleges do have a pretty well mapped out series of requirements for internships, and that doing two internships isn't normally required. Some, ironically, require students to do one internship for double degrees, but don't give credits for it.

(Although it can happen that two are required. A college in Singapore does in fact require two internships for a double law and accountancy degree.)

The issue here is practical. Doing more than one internship, on the face of it, is a good move, adds to the skill sets, and does provide good material on the CV.

However- It can also play havoc with your time management. The courses are well structured, but structuring your own time, with a degree or two on your hands as well, isn't necessarily easy.

You need to organize yourself for any internship, but if you've changed course, or are already using up a lot of time on your studies, you really have to pin down your time usage.

Need we say that if you're playing catch up with your internship because of changing direction, you also need to be absolutely sure your internship is going to deliver what you want.

If you've had to pick up another internship, for whatever reason, remember our check list.

The good news

The positive side to doing more than one internship is that you do get extra experience, skills, and some solid, useful, material for your CV. This is training, regardless of the qualifications angle. Even people not doing degrees will do internships, on that basis.

Internships can add a lot of depth to your career, and even help start a new one. If the commitment of time and effort is viable, they're a good potential asset throughout your working life.

One of the more common situations is people doing multiple internships across a range of careers. The usual reason is because one career choice didn't pan out, or because they dropped out of the original internship, for whatever reason.

If you find an internship has turned you right off a career path, you at least know you haven't been wasting your time, and that you could have wound up with a really poor career choice.

The unspoken value of internships is their warts and all effect. The use of time might seem added punishment. But it's better to spend a few hours learning what you don't like about a job than to spend the rest of your life having to do the job and hating it.

Even later in your career, and later in life, you may find internship opportunities which can be useful.

Independent internships

Interestingly, some second jobs or outside careers also relate to internships, some online.

Remembering what we said about online scams:

If you can find an internship which is bona fide, and can deliver accredited results, your second career could suddenly become a good second income stream. That's worth looking at, because your skills become more valuable, too, with the added credentials of an internship.

A lot of outside the day job work does require qualifications to earn more money, and if you can't get the necessary credentials while working, the internship is an option that might well do the trick for you.

Just make sure that you're doing what you need to do to get those credentials.

Pick and choose.

Be as choosey as you can, preferably, because it's your life and your career.

This is your suggested approach:

  1. Quantify the value of the internship: does it deliver more income, add to your skills and experience, and give you some useful additions to your CV and job applications?
  2. Make sure you can do it with minimum fuss. Is it workable? Can you do it, without creating major upheavals and disturbing your income stream?
  3. Where does it take you? Are there definite opportunities?
  4. If this relates to a special personal interest, you probably have enough knowledge to be very sure what you want from an internship. Is this it, and why?

If you can find a good, practical, use for an internship, no guesswork involved, go for it.