Thursday, September 20, 2012

When should you take an unpaid internship?

I've had many students ask me when it is okay to take an unpaid internship. Or rather - when is it really worth it to work for free?

Obviously anytime an internship is paid it's a huge bonus - but pay should be just that, a bonus, not what you look for first.
The goal of an internship should be to gain valuable work experience and make connections in an industry you think you'd like to work in one day. 

So below are the questions to ask yourself when considering taking an unpaid internship:
  1. Does this company have a good reputation?
  2. Would you really want to work at this company one day?
  3. Will working at this organization enhance your resume and help you get a job you really want after college?
  4. Are there people who work at this company that you want to meet?
  5. Are there skills you could get at this internship that you couldn't get anywhere else?
  6. Will this internship teach you a lot about what you want to do with your life? 
  7. Does doing the work described in the internship sound interesting to you?
  8. If you spent time doing this unpaid internship will you still have time or resources to cover your necessary expenses?
If you can answer yes to most of these questions then you should absolutely take the unpaid internship. It is going to give you much more than money. 

If you answered no to most of the questions, then keep looking for an internship that would really encourage your professional growth and give you a great return on your time and effort. In short, choose internships that excite you. 

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