Should you take an internship near or far from home?

Interning over the summer is my favorite part of college.  It gives you more time to dedicate to making money, networking, boosting your resume, and making a name for yourself in your field of interest.  Interning is also generally short-term employment which leads to it being relatively low commitment–not in a sense that you don’t have to show up for work, but more that it’s not a big deal if you don’t love what you’re doing, because you’re only working there for three months over the summer.

There are a variety of aspects to consider when analyzing an internship offer, and one of the most obvious is where you’ll be working.  Some students prefer to intern near home, and others specifically apply to openings somewhere far away.  There are benefits and drawbacks to each, and I want to inform you guys thinking about interning next summer and beyond about which situation is best for you!

For reference, I lived at home during my first summer of college to take classes and run The Candid Closet.  My second summer, I did a research internship at Texas A&M in College Station, TX.  This summer, I took another research internship at the University of Washington in Seattle, WA.  Each has been different (especially working pretty far to very far away), and I’ve gotten a general idea about what both situations entail as well as information from friends who’ve interned before.

The Benefits of Interning Near Home

Unless your parents are charging you rent, chances are you’re pocketing much of the money you make from working without worrying about rent, meal, or laundry expenses.  Also, this situation simplifies transportation to/from work.  At least this summer, it’d be a huge hassle to have driven my car to Seattle all the way from Pennsylvania, but if I lived near my parents, I could use my car or ask them to drive me on their way to work.

When you’re living at home, is you’ll probably have childhood friends and family who are also home for the summer that you can reconnect with.  Home is familiar–you don’t have to worry about adapting to somewhere new, so it can ease the process of adjusting to your new job.

The Drawbacks of Interning Near Home

Living at home might not be the most adventurous and exciting way to spend your summer.  Also, you may feel like you just got an independence downgrade from when you were on your own in college.  Depending on family dynamics, you may keep a schedule you wouldn’t normally make for yourself or be exposed to unnecessary family drama.  It may be difficult to readjust to answering to someone other than yourself, like you likely do in college.  Ultimately, I think it’s a practicability for independence tradeoff.

The Benefits of Interning Far From Home

Exploring somewhere new is exciting, and it’s one of the main reasons I haven’t applied to internships near my hometown.  When you’re on your own, you’re learning how to take care of yourself in a way you wouldn’t think of at home.  It helps you to grow and develop self reliance and resourcefulness.

In my case, Interning far from home let me visit new places I wouldn’t otherwise think to see (and get paid for it).  I’ve made friends from all over the country and networked in person with spectacular people I would’ve otherwise only known online.  My weekends gave me the chance to explore this new area and take on that part-time tourist role (which is a lot of fun).

The Drawbacks of Interning Far From Home

Things can definitely get more complicated and expensive than being at home.  Exploring somewhere new can cost money, and even if your program is paying for your travel and apartment, you often still have to cover your own meals and transportation around town.

If there’s an emergency, being far from home means you’re likely dealing with the situation yourself–something you might not feel ready for.  There’s also that initial, uneasy feeling you get when you’re somewhere totally new–in my hometown, I knew which sides of town were safe and which to avoid.  When you go somewhere you know little about, you might unknowingly put yourself in danger just by walking down a particular street, simply because you don’t know better.  Danger can take many faces, and it might be one you hadn’t recognized until you’re in trouble.

In my experience, interning far from home was an excitement for convenience tradeoff.

Ultimately, though, wherever you take an internship, it’s going to be a great experience for you.  Where you’re working during the summer is a temporary thing, and if you go somewhere and decide you hate it, you’re not required to go back! 🙂



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