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Should You Go For an Unpaid Internship or Not?

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Internships play a vital role in understanding the applicability of the course you are studying at the university level and entering the professional world. Whatever subjects you study, skills and training you undertake during your college days come to use during internships. Besides, through internships, you have the capacity to experiment with several career options to get exposure to numerous careers that you can make in the future.

Hence, internships hold a vital position in a student’s life. However, the question of whether to go for an unpaid internship or not is faced by almost every college student. Let’s look at this matter from varied angles.

Benefits of Taking Unpaid Internships

Unpaid internships give you a sense of hold of your work. It makes you aware of how the work you chose will make you feel even when nothing is being paid to you in return. If you find the work valuable, and interesting and see a scope for yourself doing the same work in the upcoming years then you are going to rock your internship period.

As it is said, 

A job is how you make money, a career is how you make your mark. A calling is how you acknowledge a higher vision, whatever it may be.

Therefore, internships help in understanding the nitty-gritty of the industry you wish to get into, the work culture as well the overall makeup of the business. Hence, even if it is unpaid, you still get to learn a lot.

Besides, just like the benefits of any other task/job, the benefits of the internship depend on how well you make use of the time spent there. The best way to utilize your internship days is by honing your skills as well as observing the operations around you. Learn from other interns as well as other full-time employees. Work on building an effective network while learning from the feedback of professionals. Even when it is unpaid, it is your right to seek constructive feedback. After all, that’s how you’ll learn and grow.

The Drawback of Unpaid Internships

The drawbacks are closely related to the benefits. Because you are not paid for the service you provide as an intern, you might feel burdened and helpless at times. As you spend more and more time doing the work you love but are not paid for the efforts you make to give your best, you might feel drained and misused. However, this is quite natural. Human beings crave attention, validation, and rewards to keep moving forward. So, the biggest drawback of unpaid internships is they give you little motivation to go to work.

Other than that, there are not many drawbacks. After all, when you apply for a job and forward your resume to desirable companies, you will not mention whether the internship you have undertaken was paid or unpaid. It does not matter even when you are asked such a question in the interview, because it is your learnings from the internships that will matter to the company hiring you. Share your learnings with confidence.

The Unethical Part of Unpaid Internships

Well, from the very name it says that “you will not be paid for all the work and efforts that you put into the work you do”. 

So, of course, from a moral perspective, it is quite unethical to expect full-time work efficiency from an intern and yet pay nothing to them in return. Students across the globe struggle to find internships that give them a reasonable stipend to help them meet the cost of commuting as well as rent/food.

Besides, unpaid internships suit the privileged section of society who can afford to spend day and night working at an office and still not get a penny out of their labor. The middle and lower classes struggle to make their ends meet. Therefore, it is not unpaid for them, they pay a heavy price to get that “work experience” in their resume.

The overall concept of unpaid internship hence becomes a truly debatable one for students across the globe.

Should You Go For an Unpaid Internship or Not?

It’s up to you! Only you can decide for yourself.

Ask the following questions yourself before opting for an unpaid internship:

  • Can you afford the expenses of an unpaid internship?
  • Can you pay the house rent, buy clothes and food and cover the commuting charges?
  • Will you be able to self-motivate yourself every day?
  • Is the internship adding any value to your career goals?
  • Will it be worth it to spend so many hours at work?
  • Will you be able to leave quickly if you find the work unpleasant?

You need to answer these questions on your own and at your own pace. Understand yourself and your needs before opting for anything that demands your time, energy, and efforts!


Last Updated : 22 Sep, 2023
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