Monday, November 16, 2009

The value of an unpaid internship

Are unpaid internships legitimate? It seems to me these companies are just trying to get cheap labor from college students.

1 comment:

USDCareerBlog said...

Thanks for the question.

There doesn’t seem to be much correlation between the quality of an internship experience and the rate of pay. Some industries and settings almost always pay their interns (e.g., engineering, accounting, computer science), others seldom pay (e.g., museums, theatres, and other not-for-profits), and others may or may not pay (e.g., marketing, finance, event planning).

So why would anyone participate in an unpaid internship? For the “real world” experience, the knowledge and skills derived, and the professional contacts established.

Every student has to consider his/her situation very carefully when seeking an internship. If you absolutely need the money to get by, then limit your search to paid internships. If there are no paid internships in your area of interest, you may want to work a part-time job while doing an unpaid internship. Or get a paid job during the school year, and an unpaid internship during the summer (or vice versa).

Remember that your primary goal in obtaining an internship is to gain real world experience in a field of potential interest to you. Internships often lead to jobs. Paid or unpaid - it’s the quality of the internship experience that’s of paramount importance.