Double-dipping for internships

August 2, 2012 at 9:18 am | Posted in Intern Advice | Leave a comment
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Coach Susan Sandberg

Susan Sandberg

During this hot summer with its relentless heat waves, you may think of double-dipping in terms of large ice cream cones. But The New York Times identified a new meaning for double-dipping—taking multiple internships at one time.  In its recent Education supplement, writer Cecilia Capuzzi Simon explored the question of how many internships should a student undertake.  Here are what some of your colleagues at other colleges and career insiders in the industry are thinking:

  • Columbia College in Chicago:  The goal of any intern should be to “make yourself shine” and absorb as much as possible about the field, says Jennifer Halperin, internship coordinator at Columbia. Students are idealistic and professionally naïve, and may think doubled up is doable, she says. But a student who is worried about rushing off to the next internship, or who is behind on class assignments because of a demanding schedule, can’t be the person a supervisor “turns to in a pinch” or trusts with additional responsibility. “You end up impressing nobody,” she says.
  • Pace University:  “We wouldn’t approve two,” says Maxine Sugarman, director of career services at Pace. “Students should be going to class.”
  • CM Communications:  “The more you can learn, the better,” says Meghan Fitzgerald, an account executive at the Boston public relations firm, who recently hired an intern who was doing two at once (but only after the student cleared it with her). Still, she says, a long list of internships, especially from different fields, can suggest that an applicant is professionally adrift, or indiscriminately taking on internships to appear impressive.
  • Lauren Berger:  Known as the self-titled “Intern Queen” who completed 15 internships, Lauren now feels that 15 is “ridiculous.”  She says, “It’s not a matter of how many internships, but the quality.” She believes students can obtain what they need—professional direction, first-hand knowledge of their field and solid references—in two workplace forays over the course of a college career.
  • Conde Nast Publications:  Double-dipping is not allowed at this company. “It’s important to focus, and part of the benefit is building relationships,” says Jacqueline Ladner, associate photo editor for Teen Vogue, who hires four interns a semester (from some 200 applicants)  in her department alone. “We take internships very seriously.”

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