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I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again—getting a job is tough and getting tougher.
Nowadays you’re pretty much expected to get an internship every free chance you have while in college/university. With all that pressure, there is an upside to getting all that experience. The more internships you have, the more you can learn about yourself and what you want in your future career (p.s you should totally read why it’s okay to not have your life figured out in your 20’s here). If you’re looking for a sweet gig for the summer, interning at a large company can have its pros and cons.
I’ve held a corporate internship within the hospitality industry, as well as my current role as a Disney intern out in California. Here’s what I’ve learned since interning at a large company, and the pros and cons of performing in those positions.
Pros and Cons of Interning at a Large Company:
Competitive Pay –
One (for sure pro) about interning at a large company is that they won’t let you down in your salary expectations. Almost, [if not] always large companies will pay their interns…and a pretty decent amount as well. To be recognized for their internship programs, large companies are competing with each other, so when one company in the field pays their interns a certain salary, the rest follow.
Networking Opportunities –
Large companies = large networking opportunities.
I am actually way worse at networking that I thought I was (lol), and it took me 8 months into my internship at Disney to realize it. When working at a large company networking is crucial, especially if you are looking to get a full-time position in the future.
When you build relationships with your co-workers, your task of finding professional references/landing a position at your dream company becomes a lot easier. Unless you’re looking to get into academia, those folks you network with will vouch for your skillset.
And for all you introverts out there I FEEL U. I am not an introvert and networking is still terrifying.
Try setting up informational interviews with people you meet in your company to learn about their past experiences and how they grew their career to where it is today. If a spot opens in the future and your quick connection knows it’s perfect for your career endeavors, they’ll reach out, making your life hella easier.
Established Intern Programs –
One thing I really enjoy about interning at large companies is that they had well-established internship programs.
Interning at a large company should be more than filing papers and fetching the full-time employees their coffee. You signed up to learn about the workplace, and how things function in that environment.
My experience interning at Wyndham Worldwide was amazing because they had such a well-established “Wyntern” program. Activities and meetings were scheduled almost every day for summer associates with agenda items including meeting top executives in the company, group case studies, learning about different personalities in the workplace, etc.
Bonus points — there was usually free lunch…so clutch.
Amazing Resume Builder –
If I had a dollar for the number of reactions people had when I told them I work for Disney, I wouldn’t need to have this internship!
The reality is, working for larger companies is an instant resume boost. Companies like Disney, Google, Johnson & Johnson and more will immediately impress any potential employer. It also is much easier to explain your past experiences during the interview process since the mission of these large companies is universally known.
Full-time Opportunities –
Last but not least, I’ve heard through the corporate grapevine that if you want a full-time position with your dream company, the best way to get your foot in the door is through their internship programs.
Many companies hiring from within because you have shown a valuable work ethic and attitude. You have a character that meshes well with their company culture.
Large companies are constantly looking to hire for new entry-level positions, and will likely consider you if you work hard, and show promise. So, work hard and make a name for yourself!
*You might also like these resume writing tips to get your skills noticed by job recruiters! *
Interning at a large company offers the chance to earn a living summer wage, ample networking opportunities, and a sweet resume boost that may come in handy later during your full-time job hunt. However, there are some downsides to take note of while interning at a large company.
Competitive to Get –
The pay is competitive, but so is the chance to land the internship in the first place.
Let’s be honest with ourselves here… it makes sense that you would rather get paid for your work than volunteer all summer. It’s no surprise that thousands of college students are applying for one position.
During every single one of my paid internship experiences, probably half or more of my intern group had a parent, relative, or friend of a parent who already worked in the company.
You need to start thinking of all your relationships as networking opportunities. While it’s more challenging as a college student, it can be done! Although our own professional networks are much smaller, our parents [who have been working for quite some time] will have their own established network.
The best way to tap into their network is to keep them in the loop on where you’re looking. They might have connections you didn’t even know existed!
One thing is for sure, if you want to build your network you gotta get talking.
Not recognized for Achievements –
Another con about interning for a large company is that you might not feel like you’re being recognized for your achievements. People are noticing your work only to a certain degree.
Interning at smaller companies gives you a different vantage point to see where your work is getting utilized and why what you’re doing is important, whereas working for a large company can have you feeling like your work isn’t something that the company is depending on.
To give you a little example, I am 8 months into my sustainability internship with Disney (which I love!). Yet, when you think of Disney, the last thing that comes to mind is their sustainability goals and initiatives. You’re probably thinking of their amazing new movie that broke another box office record. OR your favorite childhood (or adult, no judgment) memory at one of their many Parks and Resorts.
*You might also like: My experience interning with The Walt Disney Company*
While I know my work is vital, working for a startup can go a long way in your sense of fulfillment and achievement.
There are pros and cons of interning at a large company as well as a small start-up. My advice for you? TRY BOTH! The best way to learn about working in your field is to try it out. See what works for you and what doesn’t. The best thing about internships is that they have an end date. So get out there, and keep exploring!
Have you held internships in a large company or small start-up? What was your experience like? Comment below!