3 Reasons to Take an Unpaid Internship

by Rich DeMatteo on July 23, 2009 · 3 comments

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While I believe internships should always be paid (unless the intern acts as a trainee for most of the time), it’s hard to deny the benefits of a well ran program.  Putting aside some legal aspects of paid/unpaid internships, here are 3 reasons why I believe every student should take one, even if it is unpaid:

  1. Experience – There really is no easy way to say this.  Without some bulk to the experience section on your resume, an impressive college education alone might not cut it for a recruiter/hiring manager who is reviewing your credentials.  Entry level, college experience positions bring in a ton of resumes to recruiters.  If you’ve sent your resume in for a position like that you better either have a 4.0 GPA and have been the president of 23 clubs and activity boards, or have held an internship or two in a related field.  In my experiences in running a national internship program, hiring managers are much more interested in a student with previous internship experience, rather than a student who just has a solid GPA.  How many internships should you have?  No joke, take part in 30 internships if you can, it will catapult your career farther than you’ll ever dream.  On a resume there can never be enough internships.
  2. Networking – Internships (if ran correctly) give the intern a chance to work with people in all levels of the organization.  Along with the internship coordinator, the intern will have experiences with other interns, their manager or managers, other specialist in the company in the same field,, and various other employees not in the same field.  Saving those contacts and adding them to whatever social media site you prefer best will give you a nice resource when you’re job hunting in the future.
  3. Knowing what you like – If the intern doesn’t like the company or specific position, then they know to stay away from similar organizations and opportunities.  On the other side, if the company and position is a match then the intern can be on the lookout for other internships or full time positions like it.  If the intern is extremely lucky, the organization may decide to open up the exact position to the intern when they graduate (this happens!).  Nothing is worse than absolutely hating 40+ hours of your life each week, so use internships to give you a glimpse of your future to make sure your dream career, really is your dream career.
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