5 Reasons You Shouldn't Accept an Unpaid Internship

There are pros and cons to an unpaid internship. It is not just about the money, there is a lot more to consider ! Learn the truth about internships.

Many students aren’t willing to compromise for an unpaid internship and prefer to go for the cash. Others say that they don’t mind working for free since they get what they need out of the internship anyway – work experience and that’s all they need at the early stages of their career. But, the latter group is usually only forced to settle with this decision because – let’s face it who doesn’t want to get paid for what they do?

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

The truth is unpaid internships have both their advantages and disadvantages. But, if I am going to help you come to the right decision, here’s why you shouldn’t accept an unpaid internship.

1. You Will Get Less Benefits

Sexual Harassment of Female Colleague

Apart from not getting paid, you also don’t get the same benefits as paid trainees. As an unpaid intern, you have no protection against discrimination or harassment at work, which isn’t exactly providing you with the ideal workplace condition. As a result, companies that offer unpaid internships often take advantage of students. And instead of educating and training the interns to improve the job market, they are actually damaging it.

2. You Deserve More

worried employee

With unpaid internships, there are many things you can learn. You get to develop skills related to the job you want to get into, meet important people in the industry and gain valuable work experience. But, what if the cons outweigh the pros? These are also things a paid internship can give you with the only difference being that the company also pays you. So, if you respect yourself and the work that you do, care about the money you have spent on your education and really want to help your career, you will be pickier with your next employer.

3. It Might Be Illegal

man standing behind bars

It’s less common for big companies to offer unpaid internships. However, it’s not unlikely, and this is why every student needs to check the intern placement agreement. Usually, for unpaid internships to be legal, there is a set of criteria they need to comply with. According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division, these are the requirements an unpaid internship needs to meet:

  1. The internship, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar to training that would be given in an educational environment.
  2. The training is for the benefit of the intern.
  3. The trainee doesn’t displace regular employees but works under close supervision.
  4. The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern and on occasion its operations may be impeded.
  5. The intern isn’t necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship.
  6. The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship.

This is important information to know when considering an internship. Even if employers tell you it’s a paid opportunity, you have the responsibility to go over the agreement and check for yourself.

4. It Could Make You Less Employable

man looking for job in newspaper

Research found that students who complete paid internships have an advantage over those who complete unpaid internships. A 2013 survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) showed that there is a big difference regarding employment prospects between paid and unpaid internships with 63.1 percent of college students receiving job offers after their paid internship experience. But, only 37 percent of those who completed an unpaid internship managed to get a job.

5. You Will Get Paid Less

disappointed woman

The same study revealed that students who completed unpaid internships are more likely to be paid less than those who have completed a paid internship. In fact, paid interns said they were earning an average salary of $51,930 at their first jobs whereas unpaid interns earned about $35,721 which is a significant difference.

See Also: How to Get an Internship With Facebook

There is both good and bad in unpaid internships. So, it is really up to you: Would you go for it or not? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below…