Every summer, waves of students crash onto the thinning beaches of the internship market. The supply and demand for internships is heavily skewed toward demand, so getting one can be downright impossible. What’s more, unless you’re lucky enough to live in one of the major hubs of your field, the big name organizations or companies won’t be in your area. Traveling for these internships could be a hassle, so how do you know if it’s the right move for you?
When Opportunity Knocks
One of the main advantages of going somewhere to intern is the exclusive opportunities in that location. For instance, Devlin Murphy, Political Science and International Studies double major at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, took an internship over the summer in Washington D.C. “In my case,” Murphy said, “the location of my internship is what made it attractive. Washington D.C. is one of the two major hubs for international power within the United States. I plan on moving here when I graduate, so making friends and getting a feel for the city was invaluable for me.”
Cater to Your Field
Emily Van Haren, Software Tools Engineer at Apple, had a similar experience while interning with Apple in California. “My degree is in one of those industries that seem to be more focused in certain areas of the country. I wanted to get the most worthwhile experience from a company that was at the top of the industry, so I found a company in one of those high-demand areas,” Van Haren said. So if you must, follow the work wherever it leads you.
Remember What You’re There For
You should never travel just to have a location like “Cupertino, California” or “New York, New York” on your resume. “Location doesn’t hold as much weight as the name of the organization,” said Erica Ely, Program Director at University of Maryland’s Career Center. “Having Google on your resume is more impressive than New York whether you’re working for them in Mountain View, California or Ann Arbor, Michigan.”
Is the Money Worth the Mileage?
Many high-demand internships don’t pay because they don’t have to, so how are you going shell out rent each month? First things first: seek out scholarships to help. “The program I was involved in had some scholarships,” Murphy said, “but I still paid roughly four grand by the end of the summer, plus the wages I lost because I couldn’t work at my usual job in Wisconsin.” You have to ask yourself if the experience you’ll gain is worth the money you won’t.
Living expenses aren’t the only bill you’ll face; transportation is a monster in itself. “One downside to working away from home for me was not having a car,” Van Haren said. “I ended up riding the city buses every day for work and the train on weekends.”
An out-of-state internship is a trial run to test the waters and consider whether or not the area might appeal to you in the long-term. The short-term experience (free of rent agreements or long-term employment contracts) can lead into a more permanent career if you end up enjoying the area, corporation and work. “I was able to get a full time job in the same role upon graduation,” Van Haren said. “Since I have graduated and returned to Apple, I’ve found that a lot of my experiences from the internship were helpful when readjusting to this area and the work environment.”
Think before you book that ticket. But if it works for you, you have nothing to lose.