"I've had the experience of being in some of my superiors' shoes, and it helps to know where they're coming from," says Gabe Izsak, a 34-year-old attorney who completed a year-long internship with the Chicago-based public relations firm KemperLesnik to transition into the sports marketing field. "Having been in a more senior position prior, I can see how to better tailor what I'm doing in order to make us both work at a more efficient level."
Package it right
Ideally, an internship will directly lead to a job with that employer, but even if it doesn't, walk away with some good references, job experience and, if possible, a title other than "intern" on your resume, Lansky says.
"You see 'internship' and you think 'child'; not really child, but young person, doesn't know much yet," she explains. "As always, it's about marketing. Without lying about it, you want to dress it up to be as responsible and impressive as possible."
If you're part of a formal internship program, Fishman Cohen says to list it as such on your resume. However, if your role was less formal and your internship supervisor is OK with it, listing a generic title such as "contract role" along with the department you interned in lets future employers know that your work was temporary without letting on that the salary wasn't as high as that of your previous jobs. Also remember to stress in future job interviews that the work you did while interning was a strategic part of your overall career plan.
An internship, says Fishman Cohen, "is an excellent way to demonstrate to an employer how serious you are about wanting to return to work," she says. "But a lot of it is how you tell the story."