Answered by Dana, Hiring Expert at ManpowerGroup, on Wednesday, December 31, 2014
I would carefully examine the paid internship, and determine if it entails any strong transferable skills or experiences which could reinforce your education and help you land a better job in your field later on. Sometimes an internship looks unattractive or incompatible with your degree, but that’s just on the surface, and the actual role is rather rich in learning and growth potential.
The trick is to have an in-depth conversation with the recruiter or the Hiring Manager, or possibly a professor, to figure out if you can pick up enough knowledge at that company to make it worth your while. Be practical! There might be crossover between this role, and your dream job. Right out of college you may have to take a job that isn’t 100% perfect, but does get you closer to your target position, and sets you up for successful candidacy in a year or two.
However, if the paid internship is wildly different from your intended profession, and you think it will throw your career too far off-course, then I would shy away from it, no matter how great the temptation to start paying off your school debt.
If you can’t build up transferable skills and experiences that your dream job or company will ultimately value and reward, then it’s not the right path to take, unless financial considerations are great enough that you need to earn money immediately.