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Home » Unemployment, Workplace Finance

Speed Interning: Unconventionally Brilliant!

Last updated by on 5 Comments

I’m not a big fan of extreme job hunting tactics, even during challenging times (like the Great Recession) when fierce competition makes it extremely tempting. Outside of potentially showing your creative side, some of these strategies can also make you look pretty desperate – sometimes pathetic. Employers want to know that you want the job, however, they don’t want to know that you’re willing to take ANY job.

Have some self-respect! You can be creative and stand out from the crowd without whoring yourself out.

One idea that I caught wind of the other day that I really liked and did not reek of desperation was “speed interning”.

What is Speed Interning?

Speed interning rapid succession of internships with as many employers as possible – kind of like speed dating, but with less of the after-guilt (I would imagine).

Maeghan Smulders, a recent grad in Calgary, tried speed interning at 10 employers who gave her a job offer upon graduation. She actually received 29 job offers (not sure how she pulled off this feat) before interning and used that as an opportunity to give her favorites a test run with a series of short (as short as a week) internships during the summer.

Whether you get 29 job offers or just two, this is a great way to give your potential employer (and other future employers) a test run to see what the culture is like and shadow those who are doing a similar job to the one you have been offered.

This strategy really got my creative juices flowing. I think it could serve an alternate, but equally effective purpose.

speed interning

Using Speed Interning to Get Job Offers

Why not use speed interning as a differentiator to get job offers?

As I highlighted the other day in my best interview tips post, as an interviewer, employers want to know that you are adaptable and that you push yourself. Additionally, I often find that it is really difficult to separate yourself in a pool of competitive applicants. What better way to do that than through a series of rapid internships? Particularly for entry level positions, that person is going to stand out in a crowd of grads with zero, one, or ambitiously two relevant internship experiences.

Most employers would LOVE the no-risk opportunity to give you a try without bringing you on board as an official employee. It is very expensive to do the paperwork, set up with benefits, train you, and give you an income only to find out in 3 or 6 months that it’s not a good fit.

If you get in the door, they have a chance to get to know you and they feel vested in your endeavor. You’re more than a few steps ahead of the competition at that point.

Keys to this Strategy Working

I think there are a few things that are key to making this work:

  1. Fore-go Compensation: You must be willing to do it for free – and I’d encourage you to proactively volunteer that with a statement like, “I know that this may be a little unconventional so I would like to assume the responsibility by being willing to fore-go compensation for the internship.”
  2. Set Expectations: You must stipulate what you hope you and they can both get out of the experience. If you just go in for a week, sit at a desk, and run a few copies, you will not get much from the experience and it might actually hurt your chances of getting an offer. Set yourself up for success.
  3. Follow-Through: At the end of the internship, present what you have learned from the experience and your next steps, whether they be outlining your internship timeline and next steps, or whether you are convinced you’d like to work for them and why.

Other Positives from this Strategy:

Another thing I like about this is that if the employer really likes you and knows that you’re not desperate and have other options, it is very likely that it could lead to a higher salary offer from them than what you would otherwise be offered because you could go elsewhere – giving you the leverage.

This strategy also gives you an opportunity to see who you would be working with and if it will be a good culture fit for you. This is VERY important! You can’t really figure this out in an interview or two – as everyone is putting on their best face. It’s much harder for everyone to put on their best face for you for a week or two. They will eventually have to let down their guard.

Speed Interning Discussion:

  • Do you think this strategy could work? Why or why not?
  • Do you have other ideas that could increase your likelihood of getting a job offer? Please share!

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I am G.E. Miller, & this is my story. My goal is financial independence ASAP. If you share that goal, join me & 7,500+ others by getting FREE email updates. You can also explore every post I have written, in order.

  • Melanie says:

    Wow I really like this idea. It’s brand new to me, but it could actually work for my situation. I’m employed already, but another organization is courting me…I wonder if I could spend a day shadowing someone. Maybe it’s worth a shot! Thanks for the idea, G.E.

  • Her Every Cent Counts says:

    This is a good idea, but how many companies will really let you do this? It was very difficult to find any internships (let alone ones that last a week) after graduating from college – most internships require you to pay for college credits to partake.

  • Paula @ Afford Anything says:

    I mostly found companies that required certain timelines for internships. They have to take the time to train you and get you acquainted with their office. You can’t be productive in your first week — or really in your first month.

  • Quinn says:

    Interning is a great idea, but sadly, speed internships seem unrealistic to me. It’s hard enough for students and recent grads to find internships (paid or unpaid) that I doubt many companies would be open to doing this.

    Even if you offer to work for free, the company still has to go through the hassle of having a current worker guide you around for a week and teach you about their job. It’s a commitment that will likely hurt their productivity, and since the intern is only there for a week, it’s not like they will be contributing much to make up for the loss in productivity.

    Sounds like a win-lose situation to me. Kudos to any company that is willing to help people out with internship programs though.


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