There are several things to consider when choosing the best civil engineering internship. The area of civil engineering you want to eventually work in is a very important factor to take into account. The responsibilities of the internship position and how the things you learn will help further your career goals should be considered. Whether the internship is paid or unpaid can be a deciding factor, as can the geographic location of the job.
If you already know the area of civil engineering in which you eventually want to establish your career, look for an internship position in that area. For example, if you are interested in designing and building bridges, seek an internship with an engineering company that provides structural design services or with a government transportation agency. When applying for work after you've finished college, having directly applicable experience in the area for which you are applying can help you get the job. To get a more well-rounded experience, try to find an internship that allows time in the field as well as in the office.
Civil engineering is a broad field with multiple subfields. If you aren't yet sure which area you are interested in working in, consider looking for internship opportunities in various areas during your school years to get a diversity of experience. One summer, for example, seek out a civil engineering internship opportunity at a university that performs research in the field. The next summer, get a taste of green engineering by looking for an internship with an environmental agency. Or consider an internship building dams for a water management company.
A very important aspect to choosing a civil engineering internship is what your day-to-day responsibilities will be. Look for an internship that will provide opportunities to perform actual sub-engineering and engineering work. You also might be expected to perform menial tasks, but a good civil engineering internship should provide an opportunity for higher-level work experience as well. You shouldn’t spend your whole internship holding the "stop" and "go" sign on a road construction project, for example.
Another thing to consider when choosing a civil engineering internship is whether it is paid or unpaid. For many people, a paid internship is more desirable, for the obvious reason. Paid internships also can be much more competitive than unpaid ones, so if money is not as much of a concern, consider unpaid internship opportunities. The location of the internship also can be a factor to consider. If it isn't close to home, consider whether the experience that the job offers justifies relocating for a summer.