If you’ve just graduated from college or are looking to start a new career, you might be wondering whether you should take an unpaid internship in your hoped-for field.
There are significant downsides and potential advantages of taking an unpaid internship.
Read on to learn more about the pros and cons of the infamous volunteer position you might take as a brand-new graduate.
The Benefits of Unpaid Internships
One of the pros of unpaid internships is that you can use them to learn about a new field and make crucial contacts.
Without the pressure of a paid gig, you can use an unpaid internship to explore new things, learn about your interest in a given industry, and discover your passions.
You can also meet a wide variety of people at all levels of your industry that you might not meet in your first months or even years at an entry-level paying job.
Another benefit of an unpaid internship might include college credit. Many colleges and universities will allow you to use a summer internship, or even an internship during the school year, as a work study or for class credits.
This means that you can learn on the job while working towards your degree at the same time.
The Downsides of Unpaid Internships
The negative side of unpaid internships starts with, of course, the fact that you don’t make any money. Depending on your financial situation and current budget, this can be a minor setback or a complete non-starter.
You might have to save up for a while before you can take an internship, or you might need to take a paid part-time job alongside it, which could lead to burnout and far too much stress.
Secondly, the idea that an internship will lead directly to a job is mostly an outdated one. Many companies with devoted internship programs don’t have any job openings available, especially not entry-level ones.
And once you’re seen as an unpaid internship at a given company, it might be hard to get them to see you as a professional ready for a full-time position rather than a trainee.