Catherine Chadwick
October 2018

Is An Unpaid Internship Worth the “Pay(n)”?

Getting through college is tough. It’s expensive, there’s tons of pressure to do well, and often very little personal time to cool off. With minimal work experience also then comes the question: will an unpaid internship be worth the effort?

Pros:

  • There’s little room to say you wouldn’t gain experience at an internship, paid or otherwise. Snagging an internship in the desired industry is a solid foot in the door, for the particular company if all goes well. Depending on who you talk to and what industry you’re looking to work in, they might also say an internship is a necessity.
  • That hands-on experience an internship will provide is often stuff that can’t be taught inside of a class, or at least not taught well. However, like a class, some unpaid internships will give college credits, once completed. While not giving any pay, not having to pay for those credits earned by the internship could certainly sway a few people to give it a shot.
  • Expanding a social network through the internship is another pro. It’s hard to get anywhere in an industry without knowing someone, even if they only know your name and face.

Cons:

  • With unpaid internships being a sort of norm now, they may seem unavoidable. Which is hard on most people’s finances. When most people have to have some sort of financial assistance to attend college in the first place, they likely won’t be too keen on spending time doing work for free when they could probably be getting a paid job elsewhere.
  • Some experts would call an unpaid internship illegal because they say it exploits the workers by not having to offer them benefits but still has them doing a regular job. To have a legal unpaid internship, the company offering it has to follow certain definitions and guidelines. To avoid accidentally running into a company doing less than savory things, some people may just want to avoid unpaid internship altogether.
  • An unpaid internship doesn’t guarantee a job later on, which is one thing. But when compared to paid internships that do get someone a job, on average the paid intern started off with a higher salary.

Whether the unpaid internship is worth it will be up to the individual, but with these bits of information, deciding on whether or not it is worth it may be easier.


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Catherine Chadwick

Catherine is a long time local of the North Bay Area and lives with her two cats and many reptiles. She graduated from the local junior college, with degrees in English, Natural Sciences, and Social & Behavioral Sciences. Her interests vary frequently, which lends themselves to her ever-evolving writing. Working at a couple of departments in Ameritech Financial, she has seen much of the processes that go on and aims to lend her knowledge to those around her. She is easily reached by direct message or email.

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