Are You Ready for an Internship or a Full-Time Job?

Early in your career is a great time to take risks and learn. It’s expected that you ask questions because interns are encouraged to explore their interests to supplement classroom knowledge. It is an opportunity not just for career development, but also for personal development. You can cultivate skills necessary in many roles and understand what your passions are.

But how do you know when enough is enough? How do you know when you’ve maximized the benefits from internships and are prepared for a full-time position? As a recent graduate, my personal experience transitioning from internships to a full-time position helped shape my thoughts on when a recent graduate is ready for his or her first full-time role.

Here are five factors to consider when deciding whether you should pursue another internship or a full-time role.

1. You Know Exactly What You Want to Do

Choose the internship:

If the questions, “what occupation are you interested in pursuing or what is your idea role,” strike fear in the pit of your stomach, consider exploring internship opportunities. Most college students just spent four years taking classes supposedly related to the career they hope to pursue. But, let’s be honest, maybe you don’t really know what you want to do. Choosing to accept an internship after college provides the perfect time to explore and try out new skills and projects.

If you relish the opportunity to work on projects not directly related to your role or to converse with people in other departments to see what piques your interest, internships are a great opportunity.

Choose the full-time position:

If you have exhausted your desire to jump from small project to small project and had previous intern experience during your summer years of college to find your passion, you may be beyond your intern days and prepared to devote yourself to your niche. If you’ve already tried out different roles in your chosen field and have a well-defined sense of your likes and dislikes, you’re ready to commit to a role designed to allow you to specialize and experience a greater depth in your projects.

2. You’re Ready to Put Down Roots

Choose the internship:

With an internship offer in another city, you can use the opportunity as a trial run to experience life in a new location you’d like to explore. My internship in Seattle provided not only a trial run with my chosen career path, but also allowed me the ability to explore the surrounding area and see if I could picture myself there long-term. You may work forty hours a week, but you’ll also want to immerse yourself in a surrounding that is interesting.

Choose the full-time position:

If you know the state or city where you would like to live and are ready to put down some roots, this is one sign that you’re beyond the days of short-term planning and prepared to accept a full-time offer.

3. You Found The Perfect Company

Choose the internship:

Do you enjoy working in smaller companies or larger companies? What is it you liked working at a smaller company as opposed to one that is larger? What about working at the company made you the happiest? If you can’t answer these questions, an internship is a chance to try out a company and experience different company cultures. (And if you are in the generous San Francisco Bay Area, a chance to sample different snacks!)

Choose the full-time position

If you’ve been able to experience various companies and you’ve found the perfect match, then it is time to settle down with a full-time offer. Wherever you choose to work, ensure that you can envision yourself as a part of that team and are surrounded by people you would want to work with. In order for choosing the full-time position to be the best option, you should be confident in understanding what it is about this company that best meets your needs and leads to a fit.

4. You’re Ready for Responsibility

Choose the internship:

Many internships do not give you the responsibility or the sense of belonging associated with a full-time position. If you still feel in the stage of in-between, not yet ready to relinquish college and accept the responsibility associated with adulthood, an internship is a chance for you to have more supervision and receive more frequent feedback during each stage of your work.

Choose the full-time position:

Those prepared for the responsibility that is associated uniquely with a full-time position, deciding on benefits, and establishing a sense of belonging, should look for full-time positions. If you are prepared to accept the consequences and take ownership of both your triumphs and your mistakes, without such a close supervisory relationship, your next step is the full-time role. If you relish the thought of staying the course to revise and follow-up on the results of your project, as opposed to an internship where you may end before the long-term results and benefits of the project are visible, a full-time role is the right fit.

5. You Hate Uncertainty

Choose the internship:

If the idea of continuously meeting new people and changing situations excite you, and you haven’t yet resolved the factors mentioned above, another internship might be the right next step.

Choose the full-time position:

If the possibility of searching for another internship every couple of months keeps you awake at night, your goal should probably be to secure full-time employment. Uncertainty is daunting. While a full-time position can provide more security, an internship has a definite end point, which means you will re-enter the job search.

Even if you’ve enjoyed the change, new projects, new people, and excitement of your past internships, don’t worry. You’ll still have the opportunity to continue to learn, grow, and meet new people in your full-time job.

Once you’ve established your passions, what makes you happy and your goals, your first full-time position creates a foundation on which to build your future. If these indicators are present, it’s time for life after internships – now to conquer the world!