Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Internship Vs. Volunteering


Most people tend to confuse these two words. Internship is something that you do to acquire skills that will benefit your professional career. For instance, certain college majors require students to do an internship. The primary goal of that internship or practicum is to present the real world to those students. Internships can either be paid or non-paid. Before accepting any internship position, it is important to inquire about its quality. One of the best ways to collect useful information is to talk to both current and former students who are familiar with that program. As a college student, you will need to be careful on whom you ask for information. You should try to find at least five students who can give you unbiased feedbacks about the program that you are interested in.

Often times, I observe students trying to get an easy way out of their internship. These students usually report late to their preceptors and are usually the first ones to leave that office. As an intern, you need to show your supervisor that you are interested in being there. Make yourself available!


Merriam-Webster defines volunteer as an individual who voluntarily undertakes or expresses willingness to undertake a service. Financial reward is never a primary goal of volunteering. One can however be refunded for expenses such as traveling, housing and meals. A volunteer normally puts the welfare of others before his or her own. Although volunteering is about making a difference in the life of another individual, a volunteer inevitably receives some valuable life experiences.

Whether you are an intern or a volunteer, you should make it your priority to gain as much experiences as possible. As a college student, when you are applying for a job or to graduate school, the interviewer will be interested in what you have learned; not what your supervisor did. A recruiting manager will mostly be interested in how your skills will benefit her company. For graduate school, the program director will need to know how your skills will benefit that program.

 If you are interested in becoming a medical doctor, it might be in your best advantage to volunteer in a health related field such as a hospital, nursing home or a low-income health clinic. If you aspire to become a lawyer, I do think that a shelter or a non-profit human rights organization is a great place to start.

If you are responsible for securing your own internship, you will most likely come across some agencies or websites that promise to find and place you in the program of your dream. Choosing this route can however be very costly. I tell students to avoid the middleman because you can directly contact the coordinator of any programs that you wish to apply to.

Hope you enjoy this post!

Wedlin Sainval, M.S.M.S.

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