You probably have an idea of your perfect internship this spring. Maybe it’s working for a fashion powerhouse. Perhaps you want to work for the Googles and Apples of the world. You could even want to work for a non-profit with a cause. The world is your internship oyster; whatever your interests may be, there’s something out there for you.

Before you commit to an internship this spring, there are five things you need to check off your list. No matter if you want to work for a celeb or the president, here’s what you should look for in the ideal internship:

Opportunity for advancement

Before you take an internship this spring, consider this important question: Will the internship provide you with an opportunity for advancement? Studies show that 61 percent of paid interns receive at least one job offer — a number that you should strive to be a part of. Plus, the chance to land a full-time job is especially important as you embark upon one of your last programs while you’re still in school and eligible to intern. This could be your final shot at gaining employment through an internship. You don’t want to take on just any.

In order to see if the employer will hire you after your program, you have to do a little digging. Check out what people are saying online, talk to past interns, and even ask your employer these questions directly:

  • What are typical rates of hire after an internship?
  • What do I have to do to continue working in the organization?
  • What traits to you look for when transitioning an intern to a full-time hire?

The answers to these questions will help you to navigate through your program a little better, as well as understand what you have to do to get hired in the end.

Competitive compensation

Pay is no joke. While internships have been plagued with negative stereotypes such as errand or coffee running, the fact is, internships are more than menial work. Your spring internship should provide you with an educational experience, as well as at least federal minimum wage. If you’re paid, you also receive the same rights as a full-time employee, such as protection against discrimination, sexual harassment, and arbitrary dismissal. (Unpaid interns are not seen as employees in the eyes of the law, and therefore do not have the same rights.)

Paid interns are not only happier, they are also more engaged with their work and have a higher chance at getting hired, with the median salary starting at $51,930. Not too shabby for an entry-level job.

Access to professional development

In the end, internships are supposed to be a learning experience. While having a big name on your resume is obviously a huge benefit, if you’re not learning much from a powerful organization, what good is it in the long-run? Plus, it’s what many professionals want as well: 48 percent want professional development through learning new skills. An additional 30.2 percent of young professionals want the chance to do real work.

Here’s what you should gain in your internship experience this spring: The chance to develop as a professional from company leaders, clients, co-workers, and even customers. This can be done a myriad of ways, from attending conferences to having one-on-one training sessions with your boss. You can also acquire important skills that can transfer to multiple professions, such as social media skills, marketing knowledge, content management system aptitude, and business development expertise. Picking up valuable tech skills, including HTML and CSS, will also help you to be more knowledgeable and stay competitive.

In addition, studies show that 47.3 percent of interns say they’re most interested in access to executives and mentorship during an internship. Access to leaders and managers helps you to learn more about the industry, builds lasting connections, and improves your workflow since you’re receiving constant communication from the people at the top.

Diversity

One of the best things an internship can provide is diverse options, both in the people that are employed by the organization and the tasks that you ultimately perform. If you’re lucky enough to secure a paid internship, that’s even better: Historically, paid internships are more attractive to diverse candidates, which means you’ll have the chance to work with awesome people from different walks of life.

Why is this a good thing? Because receiving knowledge from a variety of backgrounds, education levels, and overall experience will provide you with a more fulfilling program. Plus, it forces you to see how you can improve based on varying opinions from industry leaders.

Perks

When I say perks, I don’t mean lounging out in front of a fireplace or getting all the free food and drinks you want (although these are great). I mean gaining some additional benefits that can make for a more satisfying internship experience.

For example, 43.6 percent of interns would enjoy a flexible schedule, and an additional 13.7 percent want company culture activities. Location, size of team, project type, and the chance to attend industry events are great perks that can positively contribute to your well-being, effectively enhancing your internship experience. Keep in mind that perks like relocation or housing are typically given to summer interns. If you are looking for this benefit in your spring internship, you may want to re-evaluate your search or wait to take an opportunity in the summer.

While you should have an open mind before starting your spring internship, these five factors should definitely come into play. Do your research and use this checklist as a guide to see if your next internship can provide you with what you need.

What do you think? What are some other factors that can improve your spring internship experience?

It’s been a year of highs and lows. I decided to move to a new country for my research, I attempted to write a master’s thesis, I tried to find an awesome internship, and I tried to maintain a relationship. 10 Warning Signs that You are Going to Give Up

Featured photo credit: Portrait of young man in business training coursevia Flickr

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