Spring is here and that means… companies are all over campus hiring for summer internships! Having a variety of summer jobs definitely gives you a great opportunity to test-drive different industries and job positions to help you figure out what you’ll want (or not want!) to do after graduation. Late last year and onto the new year, I’ve been in overdrive with the internship hunt. I’ve worked with a 6 Sigma department and a Performance and Technology team in the past, and this year I’m looking to explore technology consulting and forensics technology. This past weekend, I received a few offers and am left with the challenge of figuring out which firm would be the best fit for me. If you’re ever in the same dilemma, I’ve come up with some of my own criteria when choosing the right type of job and company:

→ → Job description. Is it something I’m genuinely interested in? Will I find the job challenging and exciting? At the end of the day, though, job descriptions are just that: complex processes put into words. The best way to find out about a job is to ask the people who do them everyday! Employees and staff members of all levels have helped me understand different roles in a company better than any catalog or internet search.

→ → Company culture. What are the company’s values? Just the same way no two people are alike, no two firms are the same, no matter how similar the core business is. Companies that value individuality, camaraderie and healthy competition between employees and teams are what I look for.

→ → The people. I think a great place to work would be around people who I can count on and who I can hang out with after work, at the end of a looong day. The people, their attitude, disposition and work ethic are essential… but it’s also crucial to find great people you can build lasting friendships with!

→ → Travel. Do you love it or hate it? In the technology consulting industry, there’s a lot of traveling involved. Know the geographical demands of your industry of choice and factor that into your decision. I personally would love the chance to live out of a suitcase for some months.

→ → Support. Many companies have established community outreach programs and internal support groups for ethnic minorities, women and other divisions. I find this to be a great resource, considering I’m part of niche groups at USC! The Society of Women Engineers, Information Systems Association and Repertory Dance Company cater to very specific interests and help make the large campus community feel smaller. I think it’d be awesome to have the same support groups within a large company. Mentorship programs are one of the most common, where a new hire gets paired with a Manager (or similar superior), who helps him get acquainted with the ins and outs of the company.

Finding the right fit goes both ways — the firm wants the most qualified candidate and each candidate should probe to see if the company is the right fit for him. It’s not easy but it’s one of the greatest learning (and growing) experiences you’ll ever face.