12 Reasons to Take Unpaid Internships

by Rich DeMatteo on January 10, 2012 · 1 comment

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Do you want to know who was heavily against unpaid internships in 2008?  Oh, that would be me.  And what do I mean by, ‘heavily’?  I guess I mean that I flew across the country to  San Francisco just to inform certain department managers that interns were to be compensated for their work.

Sure, I flew out for many other items of business, but ensuring that interns received their green is really all I can remember from the trip.

But times and workforce situations have changed, and so have I.  My outlook and beliefs are now drastically different.  While I still believe that companies should pay interns for work performed that benefits the company, I see infinite value for students performing internships.

12 Reasons to Take Unpaid Internships:

1. Experience:  You are nothing without experience.  This is becoming more of a fact as competition for jobs grow.  Want to set yourself apart from your peers?  Gain experience…now!

2.  Your Resume:  Sure, this kind of fits in with #1, but it needs to be mentioned.  Your resume needs to include more than your high school job, GPA, and computer skills.

3.  Learn What You Like:  Take a few internships to discover your career interests.  Trust me, this isn’t as easy as it seemed during career day.

4.  Learn What You Don’t Like:  This is probably more important than #3.  Crossing career options off the list should make you smile, because it will help you focus in the long-term.

5.  More Money Later:  Rack up the years of experience and you may have a higher possibility at making more later.  Remember, an internship is an investment!

6.  Lose Your “Rookie” Title:  Wether you work in an office or virtually, the “work day” experience helps you feel like less of a “rookie” at your first job after college.

7.  Connections:  Your boss, co-workers, clients, and other interns SHOULD be eternal friends and referral sources for you.  Make sure you manage your network with LinkedIn.  You should even connect with company employees you haven’t met or worked with directly.

8.  School Credit:  Most schools will offer credits for internships.  No kidding, you’ll learn about 10,000% more in the work environment than you will in a classroom.

9.  Find a Mentor:  You never know who might end up wanting to take you under their wing.  Be a sponge and learn as much as you can from anyone willing to share.

Seriously, what else would you be doing?

10.  What Else Would You Be Doing?:  Honestly, what would you rather be doing?  Drinking?  Partying?  Dancing?  You’ll have plenty of time for all of that!

11.  You Have Time To Kill:  If you plan your college career correctly, you can end up with a pretty free last year of college.  I mean, that’s what I did anyway.  Fill up your free time with an internship.

12.   They Are Easier to Find:  Let’s face it, there are more unpaid internships available than paid gigs.  Companies are also quicker to pull the trigger on something unpaid.

Remember that an internship should be seen as an investment.  If you can grab a paid internship for a great company then go ahead and do so.  If not, then rack up a few unpaid internships for all of the reasons above.

Am I missing anything?  Tell us about your favorite internship.  What made it so successful?



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