If you’re considering doing an internship, you could use the sets of questions below to consider important issues regarding your needs and rights as a practitioner in order to help you make an informed decision on whether it is worth it or not. If you know that you will be doing an internship or if you are already doing one, reflecting on these questions could help you make the best out of it or perhaps drop it altogether.
The questions are categorized into three aspects essential to a decent internship experience, or any sort of work for that matter: values, goals, and livelihood. An ideal internship would satisfy your needs regarding all three aspects. Life conditions push us to make compromises. You might find that, in order to secure your livelihood at the moment, you need to set your values or goals aside. On the other hand, you might find that an internship matches your values and learning goals but that the organization is not able to a pay you a living wage, so you might opt for covering your living expenses via some other means.
An internship should primarily be an educational experience and should not replace typical employment.
What do I care about? What causes do I support? What are my values e.g. regarding society and the environment?
What sort of organization am I interested in supporting? Are the values of the organization I will intern at aligned with my values?
Can I see myself reflected in the projects I will be working on? Will I enjoy the work?
Do the working conditions and environment of the internship support my well-being?
What are my goals and ambitions as a practitioner? Have I altered any of my intrinsic interests to conform to how things work in the field?
Why do I want to do an internship? How will this internship help me achieve my goals? Is an internship the best way to achieve my goals? If it is, then how can I ensure that my goals are met?
Will I be doing the sort of work that I want to do? Can I plan the internship with the employer ahead of time? Will I be receiving guidance during the internship?
If I am doing an internship to find work, am I certain that an internship will lead to employment?
What can I learn from other people’s experiences with internships?
Is the internship paid? Does the payment cover my living expenses? If not, how will I support myself during the period of the internship? Are these means of support available to others? Does the internship position exclude people based on their class?
Am I getting anything in return for my labor, e.g. benefits and mentorship? Considering the resources (e.g. time and effort, tuition fees) that I put into building my skills, is the compensation fair?
Are the required tasks similar to those of an employee, i.e. am I offering skilled labor? Am I contributing to undermining the value of artistic and cultural labor and education by offering free skilled labor?
Are the projects that I will be involved in for profit? Will I contribute to keeping the organization up and running? Why is my contribution not properly compensated?