Internships for high school and college students come in many shapes and sizes, and most internships don’t pay students for their work. Of course, getting a paid internship is the preferred route to go, but in lieu of a paid opportunity, an unpaid internship may still benefit you or help you get your foot in the door. This often raises the following question: “Is it a good idea to accept an unpaid internship?”
Here’s a look at three questions you should ask the employer and yourself before accepting an unpaid internship experience.
- Ask your future intern supervisor what work you’ll actually be doing. Are you going to be answering phones, making copies and getting coffee? Or are you going to be gaining actual work experience specific to your field of interest? If it’s mostly phones and coffee, you may be better off getting a paid part-time job. If you’ll be gaining actual work experience related to your major, it might be worth it. However, being a coffee slave is something we all will have to deal with at some point or another.
- Many companies offer unpaid internships for college credit instead of money. In most cases, you’ll need to have your college approve the internship and then your internship supervisor (and you) will be required to fill out and submit some paperwork and performance reviews throughout the internship. Check with your college first to confirm that you can receive credit for an unpaid internship.
- An unpaid internship that requires you to put in 40 hours a week or more won’t leave you time to secure a paid part-time job to earn money to pay for college. However, with an internship that only requires 20 hours per week could afford you the best of both worlds. You’ll have a chance to gain important experience and much-needed cash!