How do I Choose the Best Graduate Internship?

Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel

Choosing the best graduate internship means choosing an internship that most directly relates to one's field of study and, in particular, the one's niche within that field of study. Taking part in internships is a useful way to begin to learn the ins and outs of one's future professional field while also gaining on-the-job experience and making professional contacts. While an internship for an undergraduate may be less specific or geared towards a particular niche in a field, a graduate internship should be more focused, just as graduate studies are more focused than undergraduate studies.

Choosing the best graduate internship means choosing an internship that most directly relates to one's field of study.
Choosing the best graduate internship means choosing an internship that most directly relates to one's field of study.

Although some graduate internships are unpaid, it is quite possible to find a paid graduate internship. Many companies that offer internships to graduate students understand that the students are older than undergraduate students and have more financial responsibilities than undergraduate students. Furthermore, they are more experienced and can be more useful as members of the company, even if their time within the company is as short as one semester. Therefore, the ideal graduate internship is one that is both in the right niche of the right field and also offers at least a small stipend to compensate the student for her work.

Ideally, a graduate internship would be located in the student's city of residence. However, for graduate students attending schools that are located in rural areas or areas that are quite far from other cities, this might not be a possibility. In these cases, a summer graduate internship in another city might be a good choice. There are also some companies that offer online internships that are completed via telecommunication and involve regular phone conferences. These kinds of internships are great for graduate students who can't find the perfect graduate internship in their cities but want to complete internships while school is in session.

If at all possible, it is good for a student to look for graduate internship openings at companies that may have full-time positions open when the student finishes her degree. This is a situation that involves all of the stars aligning at the right time, but it is not an impossible scenario for a student who is looking at the big picture and considers a number of aspects when searching for internships. These kinds of internships are usually at large companies that have a chance of some turnover while the student is working there as an intern or at companies that are in a period of growth.

Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel

In addition to her work as a freelance writer for wiseGEEK, Diane is the executive editor of Black Lawrence Press, an independent publishing company based in upstate New York. She has also edited several anthologies, the e-newsletter Sapling, and The Adirondack Review. Diane has a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College and an M.A. from Brooklyn College.

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An ideal graduate internship is one that would turn into a full-time position after the student graduates. I know there is a lot of competition these days and the job market is not easy. So this is not possible all of the time. It's still a good idea to find out if an internship may translate into a real position beforehand though.


@Drentel-- Unfortunately, it is this type of networking privilege that reduces opportunities for many, bright, young people. It's getting to a point where people can't even get an unpaid internship without having connections. Now for someone who's made it into graduate school, that should not be the case. I personally find the hiring system based on favoritism repulsive. It's simply another word for discrimination.


I highly urge graduate students to only apply for paid internships. There is just no reason why a graduate student should have to intern for free, unless it's required by the degree for course credit.

If someone is in graduate school, they must already have a great deal of knowledge and experience. Most people try to do at least one internship during college for experience. And many have part-time jobs during the school year or summer breaks. So a graduate student is definitely qualified for a paid internship. Some people in graduate school actually have full-time jobs.


Working an unpaid graduate internship job can be discouraging, especially when you need money. However, as someone who hires applicants, I have to say that when an employer sees that you have some experience in the profession who are applying for then this makes a world of difference. Whether the internship was paid or unpaid, I am more likely to hire the person who has put in the hours in an internship.


When I was an undergraduate I had the chance to work as an intern for a couple of summers. Both positions were recommended to me by my professor who was also my adviser. The positions would have helped me get experience, and they would have looked good on my resume, but there was no pay involved.

Well, I couldn't afford to not make money during the summer. I depended on my summer income to cover my expenses during the school year when I was in classes. Hopefully I will be able to land a graduate internship that does pay at least a small income, so I don't have to struggle to make ends meet.


My daughter is in college, and she came to me the other day and asked me whether I could help her get an internship with some of the companies I do business with. I was happy she asked for my help because I want to see her succeed and like any good parent I want to help her reach her goals.

Internships at there best are a good way for young people starting out in a profession to get their feet in the door, but there are so many companies and individuals out there nowadays that aren't interesting in teaching interns or preparing them for future careers. All these companies and people want is free labor, or labor at really low wages.

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