Career Advice

How Many Internships Should I Do? Everything You Need to Know

Get this: The job market is highly competitive. As a fresh graduate, it will be hard to land a full-time job. I mean, why would a hiring manager choose you over someone who’s already had plenty of experience?

This is why you need an internship. These programs allow you to gain practical work experience while you’re still studying. It’ll also link you to a company that might get you after you graduate (at least 70% of interns are given a job offer at the same company they interned with). 

OK, one question will no doubt pop up in your mind. “How many internships should I do?” I’m here to answer that. Plus, I’ll tell you everything you need to know about internships. So let’s go!

Read More: I Accepted an Internship, But Got a Better Offer…

Why Is Applying for Internships Important?

Here are 5 reasons why applying to internships is so important:

  • It will develop your skills. Internships are a great way to practice real-world skills in a professional setting. Here, you can strengthen your communication skills, as well as other soft skills. You’ll learn about business etiquette, too. When you get an actual job, all these things won’t be new to you anymore. 
  • It will help you pick your industry. Yes, some people knew what they wanted to be when they were 5 years old. However, many students are not yet sure what industry they enjoy. Well, if you join different internships, you’ll be able to discover what type of career field you want in the future. This is why it’s a good idea to do more than one program. 
  • It will give you an appealing resume. When applying for a job, your resume is the first thing that will be seen. If you don’t have a suit of skills and experience, the hiring manager will throw it away without another thought. An internship will allow you to place relevant skills and experiences you gained while you were an intern. With that, you’ll have more chances to secure an interview. 
  • You will receive valuable feedback. What areas do you need to improve? Where do you excel? You’ll never know the answer to these questions unless a professional in the field tells you about it. And that professional will never know unless you work as an intern there. This feedback will help you see areas for improvement and special skills that you can boast. 
  • You will be able to build a network. A network is crucial. This is because 54% of hires come from referrals and 46% of job seekers learn about an opening through connections. Well, if you’re in the work scene early, you can start to build your professional network now and take advantage of that later on. 

How Many Internships Should I Do in University?

The quick answer: 2 to 4 internships is the perfect number to aim for. In one survey, 65% of employers said that they expect graduates to have at least 2 internships under their belt

Here’s what the team at iBankingAdvice had to say about this:

Thanks to your first and second internships, you know the game. By your third to fourth internship, you hit the ground running. You have a better idea of what to pay attention to and what people expect from you.

What’s more, doing 2-4 internships can fit perfectly into your academic curriculum. If you go for four, you can do fall or summer internships for each school year. 

Say you decide to just go for two internships. Well, the first internship can happen between undergraduate and postgraduate studies. Your second one will happen during your postgraduate studies. 

All that said, you still may be wondering, “Is one internship enough? Do I really have to do more than one?” 

Well, if you’re able to land a dream full-time offer on your first internship experience, then of course it’s enough. However, that’s not likely (unless you’re extremely exceptional at what you do). 

The truth is that joining a single internship role is seen as the bare minimum. Sure, it might help. But it won’t stand out to future employers. 

Is There Such a Thing as ‘Too Many Internships You Should Apply For’?

Doing more than 4 internships is even better, right? Right? Well, not necessarily. This is because it can raise a few eyebrows on the employers’ part. 

One question that will pop up in their minds is, “Why didn’t this person already get offered a full-time job?” I mean, you’ve already gone through 4 internships. To answer that, they will most likely assume that you’re difficult to work with. Or, maybe you’re just not skilled enough for the job. 

Another thing. If you go with multiple internships that have a different career path, a future employer might assume that you don’t know what you want. If that’s the case, they’d rather pick someone who’s obviously very passionate about the industry or position. 

Moreover, doing a number of internships might make you overqualified for entry-level positions. Say an employer is looking to fill entry-level jobs with fresh graduates. If they see that you’ve done 5 to 7 internships, they might feel like you’ll be bored or uninterested in the position. In turn, they may skip over you and get someone else. 

OK, I’m in no way saying that doing more than 4 internships is terrible and you’ll never get a job. No, it may even offer you added opportunities since you have even more skills and professional experience.

However, it’s best to stick with 4 so that these assumptions won’t be hanging over your head. Remember, quality over quantity. 

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Applying for Internships

So are you ready to start applying for an internship? If so, here are a few common mistakes to avoid…

Mistake 1: Submitting your internship application a few weeks before the deadline

No, no. You should start applying early – much earlier. Check the internship application deadlines and send in your application materials at least 6 months in advance. 

Say you want to do a summer internship. You’ll have to send in your cover letter and resume in January-February. In the same way, if you want to do your internship during the fall, you need to apply as early as June-July. 

The Indeed team says: 

Not only does applying early reflect well on you and your organizational skills, but it also gives you more time to use social media, like LinkedIn, to network with people at the company and increase your likelihood of earning an interview.

Mistake 2: Sending the same resume and cover letter to every employer

I know it’s only an internship. However, the competition is still high. This means that you’ll need to stand out among the crowd. Hint: sending the same generic resume and cover letter won’t do the trick. 

Instead, you need to customize each application to every internship you apply to. Again, the team at Indeed gives us helpful career advice:

Review the job description carefully and look for ways to align your experiences with what the employer is looking for. You should also focus your cover letter on one or two relevant accomplishments the employer would be interested in learning about.

The fact that you took the time to craft your application carefully will show the employer that you’re genuinely interested in the position. This is how you can stand out. 

Mistake 3: Not reading or following instructions

Want to make a good first impression? Then it’s important to follow instructions in order to ensure you do the right thing. This will avoid wasting your time. What do I mean?

Let’s say, for example, the job description mentions that you should send your application through a provided form. If you ignore (or don’t read) the instructions and send your application through email or the website, then it won’t be considered. You just wasted your time. 

Another thing. Following instructions will show the employer that you have great attention to detail. This is a crucial skill that every employer will want in the workplace. 

Read More: How To Ask For More Work As An Intern Email Sample

Mistake 4: Applying for one or two internships and calling it a day

If you only send one or two applications, you may miss out on so many great opportunities. Not to mention, your chances of being considered for an interview will be very low. 

“So how many internships should I apply for?” I say apply for a minimum of 20 internships every two to three weeks (that equates to 10 or 6 applications per week). This is how many internships you should apply for to get an interview and hired for an internship. 

Didn’t get any word back? Don’t be discouraged. Continue sending in your applications. If you’re persistent, you’ll be able to find a good match soon enough. 

Mistake 5: Forgetting to follow up on your applications

Don’t just send applications then leave it until someone responds. No, it’s wise to follow it up. This is because, if you do, that will remind the employer about you. It may also give them the impression that you’re very interested in the position. 

One more thing. Following up allows you to confirm whether your application was received and inquire if the employer needs any more information. This is another great way to grab attention. 

Here’s more advice from the Indeed team:

Set up a spreadsheet or put on your calendar the dates that you apply to each interview and then schedule a time to follow up one week after applying.

Mistake 6: Not answering your internship questions 

You probably have a lot of questions about internships, especially if it’s your first time. Don’t leave them at that. No, you want these questions to be answered. 

To help you, I’m going to answer a few questions that you might have…

How many internships should I do in a year?

You can do as many internships as you want in a single year. You can even complete all 4 in one year. However, if you ask me, I’d say focus on 1 per year. This is to avoid burnout. Also, doing more than one might not fit with your academic schedule or internship duration. 

How many internships can I do at the same time?

Again, you can do as many internships as you want – as long as your schedule allows it. But if you don’t want to sway your focus, I’d say just do one at a time (unless you can fully commit to more than one). 

How many internships should I do in high school?

It’s totally up to you. However, someone from Quora says, “An internship in general is always a valuable experience to gain hands-on work, cultivate valuable skillsets, and apply what you know. In my eyes, though, an internship is important, but not imperative for high school students. It’s great to get one, but I don’t think you need one. For example, you could volunteer somewhere, and that can be just as valuable as an internship.”

Someone else in Quora gave their opinion. “Absolutely! Getting real work experience while you’re still a student is crucial, not only to developing your resume (for jobs or college applications), but also to your personal growth. Even if it’s an unpaid gig for one of your relatives – having them cart you along to their job is an excellent way to see firsthand just how things play out in the “real world”. Learning how to conduct yourself in a professional setting while you’re young is a good way to set yourself apart from the pack too.”

Final Words

“How many internships should I do?” The best number is 2 to 4. This will give you enough skills, work experience, and qualifications to challenge other job seekers. Remember, though, your internships shouldn’t be too much that it makes employers suspicious. 

Either way, make sure that you avoid the common mistakes when you’re applying for internships. This way, you can land your first internship and get started in the real world even before you graduate. 

About Author

Founder of With over 20 years of experience in HR and various roles in corporate world, Jenny shares tips and advice to help professionals advance in their careers. Her blog is a go-to resource for anyone looking to improve their skills, land their dream job, or make a career change.

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