The Dreaded U Word in Internships

To intern or not to intern for unpaid opportunities


Natalie Borukhov, Contributing Writer

In today’s competitive job market, many students choose to spend their summer and free time working toward their future career. A lot of times, the money that students receive from these internships are spent on textbooks, supplies and personal expenses. But what happens when internships are unpaid? This is, in fact, the perfect opportunity to put yourself above all others.

Unpaid internships give you the freedom to look at all of your available choices. Not only do you see the type of work that a certain field requires, but you compare your interests to the various paths that are available. This way you can see which direction you want to go towards, post-graduation. Learning the ropes and ladders of a possible career path helps you eliminate what you do not want and gets you closer to your true passions.

En route to finding your true passions, connecting with supervisors, coworkers and possible mentors may open doors for future opportunities.

Networking strengthens your connections and allows others to recommend you to places where they think you would be a great fit.

Far too often individuals think about the present, rather than the impact on their future.

There is no such thing as overnight success. The most convincing reason for an unpaid internship is the opportunity it will provide you with once you enter the workforce. Many companies see your unpaid internship as a sign of hard work, that you will do anything to reach your end goals.

If it were you over an external candidate, there is no doubt that you would be the company’s first choice since there is already a relationship in place.

Companies would have to spend less time training you for the job because they already know you are reliable. Since you marketed yourself as an undergraduate, the number of job opportunities increases greatly.

Many do not see the true value of an unpaid internship and feel that companies cross certain lines because they know that students will do anything to get that perfect internship.

However,  I always look at the long term effects, rather than the current circumstances.

As I see it, if you can acquaint yourself with employers now, then you should not have an incredibly difficult time getting into the job market compared to the individual who decided to stay away from unpaid internships.

Knowledge is power. Although unpaid internships do not reward you monetarily right now, they are giving you the necessary skills and experiences to excel in the future.