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Is It Time to Take a Look at Unpaid Internships?


What do you say about internships? Can a paid internship be as beneficial as an unpaid one in the long term or not? This article answers the question.

Internships are a great way of getting graduates into full-time jobs, and as employers reveal, the experience you get from internships is much more important than your GPA. But what happens when these internships don’t pay? Considering that students have to pay for their student loans – while they are still studying, what they need is an internship that gives them the right incentives. If an internship can’t do that, why should they choose an unpaid internship over a paid position at the university’s coffee shop?

The question is, are unpaid internships really worth it? Well, the National Association of Colleges and Employers conducted a recent survey to answer this, examining the correlation between internships and full-time employment once students graduated. The study results showed that hiring rates for those who went on an unpaid internship (37%) were almost the same for those who had not completed any internships at all (35%). On the other hand, graduates who had completed a paid internship were more likely to find employment.

See Also: 10 Things You’ll Learn As an Intern

What’s also interesting is the difference in the salary of those graduates who managed to get a job. Those with unpaid internships tended to take lower-paying jobs than those with no internship experience ($35,721 and $37,087 respectively). But, those who had paid internships managed to secure a job that offered them an average of $51,930.

people working in team Shutterstock

As you can see, there are many differences between completing a paid or unpaid internship. So, when searching for an internship, it’s not so much so about going after the money, rather than choosing the best internship opportunity as possible, one that can offer you good career prospects and hopefully help you land a job that compensates you the right way.

The only problem with this is that paid internships are hard to find. Most industries don’t offer paid internships because the market is so competitive. Also, because many students who completed internships never got paid by the employer and are now suing them to get their money, many companies have stopped offering internships.


interns working on pc Shutterstock

However, unpaid internships aren’t the real issue here. Since students are willing to take up nearly any voluntary work and basically work for free in an attempt to increase their employability, they should be given that chance. But students want - and prefer - to see their hard work paid for. Besides, they are not spending three to five years of their life in college so that they can work for free.  

See Also: Signs Your Internship Isn’t Working

So, is it time for unpaid internships? You tell me. Unpaid internships may not help much in terms of employability – compared to paid internships, but they can definitely help you get valuable experience, teach you important skills and expand your network. Depending on what you regard as a priority, you just have to think about you need the most and choose accordingly.

Of course, an unpaid internship is better than no internship at all. What do you think? Let me know in the comments section below.

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