What to Look for in a First-year Internship

Ambitious college freshman, this post’s for you.

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The Real Question

Before you even begin your internship search and seek advice on what opportunities are available, ask yourself — what should you be looking for in a first-year internship?

The top things to look for in a first-year internship:

(In order of what you should consider least to most)

1. Recognizable name (or lack thereof)

Many college freshmen unfortunately get stuck on this. You might have a few dream companies in mind or been thinking you have to land a gig at the brand names frequently discussed at your college.

2. Company size

It matters less than you think. As a college freshman, your best chance at having the most opportunities is applying to a range of companies. So apply to Google if you want but also apply to startups working on products you’re excited about.

3. Interaction with other interns and leadership

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4. Location

5. Alignment with main career interest and vision for your own future

Speaking of priorities, you can get a head start on a lot of people by figuring out if what you think you are interested in for a career is or is not what you really want. This is the least risky time to test your main career interest, and no better way to find out than to try doing it for 2–3 months.

6. Flexibility to explore interests

Let’s face it, you also likely have more than one interest you are looking into. For example, you could love coding but also are interested in product management. Maybe you even have an interest in working in sustainability or social impact.

7. Responsibilities

8. Team, team, team

9. Applicable skills and experience

This first-year internship can allow you to start developing and implementing skills that you may have been taught in class but never were able to practically apply.

10. Impact

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