Are Unpaid Internships Worth It?

Unpaid internships are still a popular method used by companies around the United States. These types of internships typically favor companies that don’t have as much money to pay their interns of course. This has become a national debate whether not paying employees (interns) ethical. Since there are really no rules in place that says you have to pay interns, companies will do it and I have been through it before.

Personally, I have a lot of mixed feelings when the topic of an unpaid internship is brought to the table. I have had a few internships before in which one was unpaid, and the second one was only paid $100 a month. Clearly, I was balling on a budget in high school.

Unpaid internships could really go both ways. They can either be very valuable to the intern partaking in it or just a waste of time along with money.

To start, there can be many positives with an unpaid internship that I have had first hand experience with. The big reason that can relate to any internship is that experience is experience at the end of the day no matter what money you make from the job.

As someone who aspired to work in a small field in Sport Management, my first ever sports job ended up being unpaid. Although it was in sales and we got paid commissions, there was no hourly/salary pay to it. Yes, making no money at all with a few internships was brutal, but the skills that I took away from those internships helped boost my resume. Although unpaid interns may not be valued or relied on as highly as paid employees, it is still essential to get the experience and bump your resume up no matter what job you have. For someone who went to a small division 3 school, my degree didn’t mean anything. The experience did as that was the only thing that was asked from me in interviews.

Another one of the biggest life skills and the most important trait that an unpaid internship gave me was money saving skills. Let me repeat it – money saving skills! Yes, I am someone who has a hard time saving my money as any chance that I can get, I would blow it on something that I don’t need. Once the unpaid internship hit, life kind of got real as I was forced to save up on what I had already. Along with that, I had to work a few jobs to make any money for myself. Working multiple jobs is also a plus at that will boost one’s work ethic. From there on out, I honestly don’t spend most of the money I make now and usually put over half of it away into my savings account.

This is a big life skill!

Let’s flip the switch, shall we? Some of these statements that I make below can contradict the above, but they should still be looked as negatives.

You are doing labor for free. That should be the #1 messed up thing about unpaid internships still existing. If someone is dedicating their time to working for someone else to make them money, then that individual should be compensated. There should be no other way around that and quite frankly, it overrides most of the positives.

As an unpaid intern, you may not be valued as highly as a paid employee is. Experience is great no matter if you are running the social media for WordPress or coffee running at Goldman Sachs, but unpaid interns are not as much relied on as a full time employee would be. When you are working in an internship, you want to make sure that you get the most out of that experience so you can build the necessary skills to move on in life. I wouldn’t put a lot of work on my unpaid interns if I had them because it is not fair to them.

Finally, life is hard and in order to enjoy some things, you need to make money. That is why unpaid internships are not in the best interest to most college students unless they can afford it.

In my opinion, I am still split on the topic, but there are many positives and negatives that come out of this, so it effects people differently, Fortunately, I came out with a lot of positives which is why I am not as harsh on unpaid internships as others may be.

  • Mike

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