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.