If you are looking to take a job after graduation, you might need to sacrifice a relaxing summer to take on some unpaid internships. Most internships these days are unpaid and employers are expecting you to have at least some internship experience before you graduate. While they are fantastic experience, there are some downsides to unpaid internships. Before accepting any offer, you might want to cover these bases and make sure the internship is right for you.
1. The Experience
Most of the time unpaid internships justify it by claiming they are giving you valuable experiences. While this is true, you need to make sure the experiences you are getting are worth not getting a paycheck. Experience is incredibly valuable before entering the job market, in fact most people cannot get a job without having at least a few internships on their resume. But if you are not doing something you love and are not gaining great experience, you might want to rethink doing an internship for no money.
2. The Networking
Will you be making valuable connections in this internship that can help you get a foot in the door later in life? Networking is so important when searching for a job, and internships can be a great way to make connections. If you are worried about not getting paid for an internship, think about all of the high profile executives you can schmooze with. It will definitely take some stress off of doing an unpaid internship.
3. School Credit
Most unpaid internships require that you do the job for school credit at your college. If your internship is not offering money or school credit, you may want to think twice before accepting. Not only is it incredibly unfair for you to work for no reimbursement, but I am pretty sure it is illegal. Ask your potential boss if he is okay with you receiving school credit, and if he or she says no, you might want to look into other options.
It is kind of common sense but if you are doing an internship, you are not able to take on a summer job, meaning you have no source of income. Make sure this lack of a job can fit into your budget. This is especially important if you will not be living at home during your internship. You need to factor living expenses, food, and transportation into your budget. If your parents will not be helping to support you, you might want to think about looking for a paid internship or taking on a small part time job on the weekends to make ends meet.
Recently there has been some controversy over interns working incredibly long hours, without pay. Conde Nast recently ended their internship program after a class action lawsuit from a group of interns who said they were worked to the bone without financial compensation. Some companies view interns as the runts of the litter who should be willing to do whatever it takes to make an impression, even if that means working from sunrise to sunset. While you should be willing to work hard, make sure that your employer does not expect you to sacrifice your health just to make an impression.
Unpaid internships are a great way to get your foot in the door and get valuable experience, but make sure the location fits into your career goals. If you want to eventually work in New York City, look for an internship in New York City. If you are going to do internships in your hometown every summer, employers will assume that you want to work there after graduation. By having a variety of internships in a variety of locations, you show that you are flexible and the thought of taking on a new city does not phase you.
7. Are There Alternatives
If you are still not that excited about taking an unpaid internship, look into the alternatives. Internships are great work experience, but there are still other things you can do to get experience. Work for the summer in an office in the mailroom. You still get to experience what goes on in the office, and you might get paid. You can do some volunteer work in a new country or even start your own summer company. Think outside the box when it comes time to find something to do in place of an internship. Future employers will be impressed by the creative alternatives you can come up with.
Unpaid internships are basically the norm in the working world these days. It is unfortunate that young college students are not getting paid for their work, but the experience they gain is incredibly valuable. That being said, unpaid internships are still not for everyone. Do you agree that these things need to be considered before taking an unpaid internship? What are some other things to cover before accepting an unpaid internship? Do you think it is fair for employers to not pay interns?