Unpaid Internships - Are They Worth it For Students?

Most students can agree that the best internships for college students are the ones that pay. However, paid internships can be very difficult to come by. Instead of ditching the intern scene and getting a job, students should seriously consider the benefits of accepting an unpaid intern position.

Internship Value #1 - Practical Experience

One of the main reasons that students look for internships in the first place is that they are seeking experience in their field. Working without a paycheck may feel like a waste of time, but the payoff will come down the road when the student graduates and enters the job market. They will have a leg up on many other candidates who are recent graduates because they will already have practical experience in the field.

Internship Value #2 - Increased Professional Network

Another benefit of internships is the relationships that students form and the lifelong connections that they can make. No paycheck could match up to the value of these important associations. The people that a student meets during an internship could provide valuable advice and letters of recommendation as well as assist with networking and the job search when the time comes.

Internship Value #3 - Insider Info On Your Chosen Career Path

Many students use their internships as a time to determine whether or not they truly want to pursue a career in a given field. In addition, as interns, they usually get experience in various aspects of whatever industry they are studying. This is a great way for them to narrow down a very broad field and discover what the best specialty within the field might be for them.

Unpaid Does Not Mean Worthless...

Just because an internship does not offer a paycheck does not mean that there are not other tangible benefits. In most fields, there are several perks that come along with being an intern, even if they are not monetary. A student who interns with a public relations company could find themselves constantly invited to events such as sports games or concerts. An internship with any company that provides a product will most likely lead to tons of fantastic freebies.

Many students shy away from unpaid internships because they think it is a waste of time to work for free, but that is simply not the case. Many professions actually require candidates to work for free before they can get a job, such as teachers who must student teach before receiving their license. An unpaid internship is a great way to gain experience while making valuable connections and it might even result in a few fun perks.

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