What are the benefits of an unpaid internship?

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Our counselors answered:

What are the benefits of an unpaid internship?

Laura O'Brien Gatzionis
Founder Educational Advisory Services

What are the benefits of an unpaid internship?

You may be able to intern in an interesting position that would have been impossible to qualify for had it been a paid job. Since you will not be paid, it will not affect your application for financial aid the next year. Even though a internship may be unpaid, you will gain professional skills that will help you in your first post-college position.

Megan Dorsey
SAT Prep & College Advisor College Prep LLC

Real World Experience & Connections Pay Off

It can be frustrating to work at an unpaid internship, especially if your peers have managed to land lucrative summer positions in their fields. Unpaid internships may not help your bank account now, but they can be the key to landing your first job out of college. The first benefit to any internship is the ability to see the day-to-day workings of a business. My first college internship was in the Press and Publications Department at the National Gallery of Art. It sounded exciting and glamorous until I saw what really happened behind the scenes. Gaining real-world experience can help you decide whether a job or particular company is right for you. Another major benefit is the connections you will make. Everyone you meet can be a source of advice, a potential mentor, or a link to your first job once you graduate.

Cheryl Millington

What are the benefits of an unpaid internship?

College internships are especially important in this economy. The first benefit is that you are able to get work experience in the program you’re studying and you’ll be building your resume with relevant experience. More opportunities and doors will be open to you since wages and benefits will not limit potential employers. Secondly and probably most importantly, you begin to increase your network in that industry. Your internship can lead to paid summer employment and a full-time job once you graduate. So work hard and make an impact on the organization. Also, it’s important to stay in touch with the individuals you work with and meet during your internship. Hopefully, they’ll think of you when a paid position is available. You’ll also have an opportunity to see what a particular job, company and industry is like before you get to the point of applying for full-time jobs. This is a huge benefit that you may not appreciate when you’re still in school. I recommend that you look for programs that include internship opportunities and have relationships with employers in the industry you’re interested in. This will make it easier to land an internship and hopefully eventually secure a full-time job.

Tennille Raney
Founder Develop Your Dreams

What are the benefits of an unpaid internship?

The benefits of an unpaid internship are: -Real world experience in the field to determine if that career choice is for you -Industry contacts that can be just as valuable as money -The opportunity to gain valuable work experience that could be placed on a resume for later -Don't forget the FUN

Todd Weaver
Senior Advisor Strategies for College, Inc.

What are the benefits of an unpaid internship?

A student should consider an unpaid internship if it compensates them in a different way. For example, a student who wants to go into sports marketing would benefit greatly from the connections and experiences they would gain if they worked for "peanuts" (pun intended!) at a minor-league ballpark over the summer. The take away from unpaid internships is that the network and experience will produce "paid" internships and real jobs after college.

Steven Yeh
Counselor American Education Foundation

What are the benefits of an unpaid internship?

Unpaid Internships, if organized correctly, can provide a better learning experience because companies offering unpaid internships, especially for credit, are not supposed to use interns as labor. The Department of Labor (DOL) just recently (Spring 2011) issued guidelines that listed 6 occasions where for-profit companies can use unpaid interns. Most of these guidelines center around providing a learning experience for the benefit of the unpaid intern. Whereas paid interns are most often used as low-cost labor and assigned the least meaningful tasks, unpaid interns may have opportunities for exposure to more meaningful tasks for learning. Unfortunately, for-profit companies offering unpaid internships as a way to get no-cost labor are in violation of DOL guidelines and these are the internships to stay away from. Before accepting an unpaid internship, be sure to ask the employer the purpose of the internship and what you can expect to learn from participating in the internship.

Nancy Milne
Owner Milne Collegiate Consulting

What are the benefits of an unpaid internship?

Paid or unpaid internships offer the opportunity to explore a career that interests you. It is not uncommon for an internship to turn in to an offer of employment down the road. You have had a chance to check out the company and they in turn have assessed your abilities. From an employer's standpoint, it is definitely preferable to hire someone who already has a sense of the job, expectations, and has demonstrated interest in the company.

Reecy Aresty
College Admissions/Financial Aid Expert & Author Payless For College, Inc.

What are the benefits of an unpaid internship?

Setting yourself up for a great paying job in the future or getting a great LOR (Letter Of Recommendation) for a job or for graduate school.

Kristina Dooley
Independent Educational Consultant Estrela Consulting

What are the benefits of an unpaid internship?

The biggest benefit of an unpaid internship: the experience! Even though an internship is unpaid doesn't mean it will e any less valuable to you. In fact, you may find that you make some invaluable connections that lead to a paid position in the future.

Benjamin Caldarelli
Partner Princeton College Consulting, LLC

What are the benefits of an unpaid internship?

While unpaid internships are controversial, the best ones can be very beneficial. There are many industries where it is simply the best way to gain experience and make connections that can lead to gainful employment. Many times there are opportunities for college credit as well.