Which internship do I go with?
April 30, 2018 11:05 PM   Subscribe

I'm deciding between two very different opportunities. Having angst about which to go with.

I'm deciding between two very different opportunities for the summer internship in between years at grad school. I'm in a generalist program so I can go in many directions with my degree.

The first opportunity:
A high level strategic role within a startup of 13 people. Pros: I'm excited by the responsibility and would be working closely with CEO. I really like the people. I would have great work life balance. In a location I like. I also like working inside companies. Cons: I see myself in this role, but concern is that it is in an industry that I have very little interest in working in the future in. I also am going to be utilizing skills I have learned, so I wouldn't be learning anything new. It also seems low on resources and I get the sense it will be difficult to get a lot of things done.

Second opportunity:
Working in an investment firm. Pros: I would be learning a new skill set. It's also a top tier investment firm, so I would be learning from the best of the best. It's broader in scope so I would learn more about different industries. Cons: I don't think I see myself doing this kind of role out of school. It seems like a very intense role, with not much relaxation time. I don't understand the full scope of my project (while I do at the first place). I also got a very negative first impression of my future manager (but it is on the basis that he does not smile much, and seems harder to relate to...I've also been very wrong about first impressions).

Third opportunity:
Also an investment firm, but much smaller and doesn't have as great track record. I get a sense it is more chill, and the people are much nicer.

They're all very different....help me! I could also just not go with any, but given that I need to figure this out within a month makes me concerned and I need to pay the bills.
posted by pando11 to Work & Money (5 answers total)
Internships are about connections at least as much as they are about getting a taste of a particular job experience. If you were deeply interested in what #1 was doing, I would say go with them. But since you're not, #2 is probably best for your overall advancement. Take it. See if you can stand the environment. If you decide you can't, you'll be ahead of a lot of your classmates in figuring that out.

(I don't think there is anywhere you can go in finance where people are reliably even decent, much less nice.)
posted by praemunire at 11:17 PM on April 30, 2018 [6 favorites]

Agree with praemunire. If you've been offered an internship at at top tier financial, take it. That experience will stand you better when you are young enough and strong enough to stand the work load and pace and it will help you develop your network in ways which the others cannot. Regarding your manager-- it's an internship. You will survive, and likely learn something.

Choose your internship based on learning potential + network. Quality of life and relaxation is something you can worry about in your actual job, assuming you think you can handle the stress. If for some reason you know you cannot, then use a different calculus.

From your choices, I would say 2, 1 and 3 as a last choice.
posted by frumiousb at 11:49 PM on April 30, 2018 [5 favorites]

If you're talking about CS type work, find out what technologies the investment firms are actually using. Many financial institutions have significant lag when it comes to adopting new technology.

Do be careful with poorly scoped internship projects. I've seen many people walk out of them with As and some money but no real advancement of their real world experience, because the hosting company didn't really know what to do with them and gave them some busywork or a pointless and uninteresting project just to give them something to do.
posted by Candleman at 1:58 AM on May 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

You are young, you can figure out if you actually like the high pressure or not, and an internship will let you know if you want to ever work in the financial industry while also fairly compensating you.

I work in finance, and I take major issue with this statement in a prior comment: (I don't think there is anywhere you can go in finance where people are reliably even decent, much less nice.) I have always had mostly decent and nice colleagues, and I genuinely enjoy working with my colleagues in every role I've had. There's always a few assholes (as in any industry), but I don't think you should hold someone not smiling enough at you as unwelcoming or unfriendly.
posted by larthegreat at 8:40 AM on May 1, 2018 [4 favorites]

Another vote for #2. It's a new skillset to explore and the prestige is a definite plus. This is a valuable learning experience -- it's short term, and if you love it, it's a great start. If it's not for you, then you're ahead of the curve in finding the best kind of work for yourself, and you have great talking points for interviews for years to come.

I'm also dumbfounded by the weird comment above about finance people. I've worked in several different industries and when I worked in the financial sector, my colleagues and clients (across multiple cities and countries) were typically hardworking, straightforward, circumspect, and fair -- on average more so than other industries I've experienced.
posted by mochapickle at 11:10 AM on May 1, 2018

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