If you are on the hunt for experience in your field as a student, you will quickly find that many internships are unpaid. While taking an unpaid internship can seem like a stressful idea while in school, in some situations, an unpaid internship could be the right choice for you.
First, consider the company and position compared to your own career goals. In some fields, the biggest players are companies where it is notoriously difficult to get a foot in the door. An unpaid internship at these companies may be one of the only opportunities to have a chance for a full-time position later on. Industry leaders may also offer a valuable education in the field and a recognizable name for your resume. This does not mean that the only way to break into a bigger company is to take an unpaid internship – many big players offer paid internships – but in some cases, that may be the easiest way to get started with a particular company.
Training and Experience
At the same time, an internship does not have to be with a bigger company to be successful. Small companies and start-ups can offer hands-on training in your field. Sometimes, with a smaller company, interns get more control over projects than they would at a larger company. Like larger companies, many smaller companies use the internship period as a trial for full-time employment, and hire past interns full-time. A smaller company may be a better fit for you, and like their bigger counterparts, the internships may be paid or unpaid.
The most important part of an internship is the benefits you will get from the experience. What duties and responsibilities will you have? Will you be able to tackle large projects with tangible results? Will you learn new skills? Will you be able to meet valuable connections? All of these factors can be part of your internship experience – the internship being paid or unpaid is only one piece of the puzzle.
At any company, an unpaid internship may be a valuable stepping stone. Once you decide where you want your career path to go, it becomes easier to see whether or not a particular internship opportunity aligns with your goal. Think of your internship as an investment in your future, and try to follow the path that will help you reach your eventual goal.