Little perks of the unpaid internship
Week Two – “All Work and No Pay”
Lesson #2: Little Perks of an Unpaid Internship
It’s week two at Newzwag and I’m still getting used to the commute. It’s not like I haven’t traveled before, but I’m starting to develop a love-hate relationship with the 4-hour train ride and the 1-hour walk to and from the office. By the time I even sit at my desk my body screams for sleep, but my mind reminds me I have to stick it out for another 8 hours. And did I mention I’m not getting paid? Don’t get me wrong – I love my job.
This is my first office internship and I’m getting more than I expected. I don’t get asked to fetch coffee or someone’s dry cleaning (thank god). Instead I do the same work as my other paid co-workers. I’m getting exactly what I wanted – to be a part of the team and not just a spectator on the sidelines. My fingers actually get to touch a keyboard and my writing is used for content on the web. I’m learning by doing and not just watching. And to top it all off, I work in a swanky office in the heart of San Francisco, working face-to-face with tech nerds and journalists and not in a tiny secluded cubicle.
But for the 13 hours a day I dedicate to this internship, a little stipend wouldn’t hurt. I take public transportation, but paying for it with my no salary is a little difficult. Until one day, the CEO asked if anybody took public transportation because he was asking the company’s sponsors to reimburse employees’ transportation fees. (A selfless plug for going green maybe?) And the next day I was greeted with a fatty check for $320 sitting happily on my desk. I may not get paid a wage, but at least the company forked over some cash to help the poor unpaid intern. Needless to say, I had a good day that day.
Unpaid interns will say they’re in it for the experience (and of course, it’s a quite valuable one that will definitely give you a one-up above everyone else), but little freebies are icing on the cake. They may be big or small, but either way, they give some joy to the unpaid college student.
Here are some of the goods…
• Reimbursement for gas or transportation (especially for internships that require their interns to transport things).
• Receive college credit (for a class or internship course).
• Free coffee (and sometimes snacks) in the office.
• Free office supplies. (Someday, somehow you’re going to need a pen.)
• Free printing. (Ink and printer paper is expensive, my friend.)
• Office jobs give free Internet. (I don’t mind browsing my email or chatting while I work…)
• Co-workers will treat you out for lunch (and will buy you drinks, albeit ask if you’re 21 first…maybe).