Are Unpaid Internships Worth It?

Unpaid internships are constantly the centerpiece of a lot of controversies and there are a few good reasons why they come under such heat.

It is true that unpaid internships are not for everyone and there are many that will protest being given nothing to do work for a company that can afford to pay you, marking unpaid internships as a huge barrier to social mobility.

However, there are two sides to every story and there are a few benefits to unpaid internships as they can offer valuable work experience to people who need it, especially if you are a student or a graduate and need work experience to get into a high paying job. 

There are a lot of questions about unpaid internships, some of them along the lines of why do they still exist, but are there any benefits to doing an unpaid internship?

And should you consider doing an unpaid internship? This article will explore the advantages and disadvantages of doing an internship that is unpaid.

Should I Consider An Unpaid Internship?

It all depends on the circumstances that you are in. A lot of universities and colleges offer internships to students to do alongside their studies.

This is a great way to get a first-hand look at the industry you are hoping to go into and can give you the relevant experience and connections needed to get a graduate job right after you graduate.

However, if you aren’t studying and having an internship that is unpaid will affect your income alongside a full-time job, it becomes more of a difficult situation. Here are some advantages and disadvantages to doing an unpaid internship.

Advantages Of Unpaid Internships

The biggest advantage that is present when doing an unpaid internship is the experience and connections you can get in the industry that you are doing your unpaid internship in.

They are a good way to start building your professional network, developing the relevant skills needed to work in that field, and getting feedback from professionals that are working in that field.

They can also be a good way to simply see if you like the job or not, if you are unsure whether this is what you want to pursue as a career, if you do an unpaid internship, you can experience firsthand what it will be like to work in the field and therefore make a decision on if it is for you.

Many careers and jobs that are high-paying also need some sort of experience to be able to land a position.

An unpaid internship is normally the ground level when getting this experience and because of its disadvantages, can be easy to obtain if you are struggling to get other forms of experience in the field.

Unpaid internships are mainly targeted toward students for this reason, they are a great way to boost your CV so you are able to get a job right after your graduation.

Another advantage of doing an unpaid internship is that a lot of unpaid internships will lead to paid roles in the company that you are working for.

If there is an opening, the company is much more likely to hire someone who is already trained and working there than they are to hire someone outside of the company as it will cost less for them.

Disadvantages Of Unpaid Internships

There is one big disadvantage to an unpaid internship, it is unpaid. Most of the time it is a lot of work and when you aren’t getting paid for it, it shows. Some unpaid internships can even cost you money and end up being a massive drain on your resources.

A lot of people who are in unpaid internships have to work full-time jobs on the side just to make ends meet, and therefore have this internship taking up the majority of their free time while giving nothing financially back.

Even students who are working part-time jobs to support themselves have to do unpaid internships and it can have a massive impact on mental health.

As mentioned previously, some companies actually make you pay to do the internship, with some companies requiring up to $1000 to do work for them. If you have any, even minor, financial issues or time issues already, you should not consider an unpaid internship.

We would recommend that you shouldn’t take an unpaid internship that requires you to pay the company either unless the costs are covered by a college or university.

Unpaid internships can be a great way to get experience for a certain company or job, but unless you have the time or money then they aren’t really feasible.

This brings up an issue of class when it comes to these companies, since doing unpaid internships will get you a better chance of getting a job, and you can only really do an unpaid internship if you have the financial backing, it segregates lower classes from getting jobs at said company.

The Bottom Line

When it comes to unpaid internships, the decision is really based on your particular circumstances. However, we do recommend that you always try and find other ways to get yourself experience before resorting to unpaid internships. 

Paid internships can be much better, not only for you but for the company you are doing the internship for as well.

Being paid isn’t just a reward for your hard work, it will also motivate you to do a good job as you don’t feel like you are being exploited for your work, you will feel like part of the company and therefore care about how the company is doing.

If you aren’t being paid for your work, it will ultimately matter less if you are let go or not.

There are some unpaid internships that only last a couple of weeks, these can be beneficial and won’t have as much of an effect on your finances and time as a full-time unpaid internship.

Although unpaid internships can give you a wide range of experience and connections, it is always important to think about your other options, you can also try and negotiate a wage with the company, and we recommend doing this if you are doing an unpaid internship.

Jamie Willis
Career Specialist at BecomeopediaHi, my name is Jamie Willis, and I have been helping students find their perfect internships and education paths for the last ten years. It is a passion of mine, and there really is nothing better than seeing students of mine succeed with further studies.

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