3 Reasons Why Your (Unpaid) Internship Could Be Worth It

What goes through your head if you’re offered an unpaid internship? It can be tempting to just neglect this opportunity because you refuse to work for free, but it’s worth thinking very carefully about it first. Fair or not, this internship can help you gain more work experience, connections and hopefully lead to your first job.

Some people feel very strongly that everyone deserves to be financially compensated for their work. On the other hand, some feel unpaid internships are a great opportunity to gain experience at the company of your dreams. Paid or not, internships are a great way to learn skills and gain valuable work experience.


Here are 3 reasons why an (unpaid) internship pays off in the long term

#1 – Experience will prepare you for your future career
One of the first things, you will gain as a paid or unpaid intern, is the invaluable experience.  It might not be your dream job at first, but getting an internship will allow you to get a good feel for what will be expected of you after college graduation. The experience you will gain through an unpaid internship will better prepare you for your future career and will look great on your CV.

#2- Networking experience
An internship gives you a whole group of people who work in a similar environment where you would like to work in the future. Turn to them for advice on getting a job as well as being able to act as your references for future work.  Many companies prefer to hire previous interns when looking to fill entry level positions.

#3- Dedication
Whether you are looking to continue working for that company or you are looking to work for another company upon graduation, the fact that you were willing to work simply for the experience  shows you are serious about working in that field.

Doing an internship is worth a lot to get your foot in the door at the company of your dreams. Show them your amazing skills, which they would’ve never seen based on your CV and it can eventually lead to your first job. Even if they don’t have a junior position available at that time. Make sure you get your references and it will help you to find a better job.

Not getting paid for the work you are doing is never preferable, but keep your eye on the big picture because that unpaid internship could pay off big in the future! Don’t get me wrong when I talk about the benefits of unpaid internships. As most people, I do advocate for finding paid internships whenever possible. What do you girls think? Have you ever done an unpaid internship? Has it helped you in your career or do you think it’s not fair? Let us know in the comments below.

Celina x

Featured Photo: weheartit.com

  • http://www.julialundin.com JLu

    Mine was definitely worth it because I grew from an intern to Retail and Market Editor at ELLE UK magazine


    • http://www.jessytheklchic.com Jessytheklchic

      I’m currently interning at ELLE Malaysia. And this is just so point on.

  • Celina

    Amazing Julia!

  • Sandra Mathison

    Internships are great, but there is no reason for them to be unpaid… to promote unpaid internships is to promote exploitation of workers… fair pay for fair work doesn’t contradict the value of internships.

  • http://sabrinawhartonbrown.wordpress.com Sabrina

    It’s definitely worth it if you can afford it. I have done two unpaid internships in fashion: one in London and one closer to home. The one in London gave me the confidence that I can live independently and hold down a job (I’d never had one before). It also gave me the opportunity to see the whole design process from idea to garment to sale.

    The one closer to home taught me more skills and ended up continuing indefinitely with my travel cost covered. It’s also menswear (the first was womenswear) so it give me whole new education into another market.

    Aside from the direct benefits, it looks great on your CV and I’ve had more luck with getting interviews since. I think it helped with my university applications too.

    As far as being unpaid goes, it save your feeling guilty when you make mistakes (and I do, but I try to learn from them). It’s a good idea to work for smaller companies, like start-ups, because they will appreciate you more and you will get to do a lot more than make the tea. :)

  • Kasia

    In my opinion, unpaid internships are modern day slavery. No intern needs to be paid crazy amounts of money but getting enough cover your rent and food is essential, otherwise it puts people who cannot be supported by parents at a huge disadvantage. Also, if a company earns a decent profits for itself, why should I provide them with a service for free?

    • http://joojooazad.com Hoda K

      omg YES *snaps in solidarity*

  • Michael

    No one has mentioned the simple fact that unpaid and not for credit internships are ILLEGAL, period.

  • http://joojooazad.com Hoda K

    I actually think I’m going to disagree with you here. While, yes, unpaid internships do provide great experience and valuable contacts, I think they are very wrong. Being able to accept an unpaid internship is a privilege–not a privilege that you were hired (hiring practices are a story for another time haha) but that you are able to afford a summer in which you do not get paid for your work. We’re not called “broke college students” for nothing. Many students, while they are hired for such positions, they are not able to accept due to a financial burden that needs to be addressed. Therefore, while students in a place of socio-economic privilege are able to fill their resume with unpaid professional work, the student who is economically disadvantaged can only fill their resume with paid non-professional jobs like working in a mall, fast food restaurant, etc over the summer because they needed the money. Therefore, the existence of un-paid internships really works to further and sharpen the divide between socio-economic classes, and really, should NOT be embraced! You can get experience and valuable contacts at a paid job–corporations need to stop exploiting student labor.

    <(') Hoda | JooJoo Azad, a fashion + social action blog

  • Beth

    I personally enjoyed my unpaid internship and learned so much from it. I wouldn’t have complained if I was paid for it, don’t get me wrong, but I feel like I was rewarded by being allowed to interview celebrities and do all the fun networking events that none of the other employees got to do. I think this article was more to illustrate that if you choose to do an unpaid internship (which I did after weighing up the benefits) then there are still rewards you can gain. I didn’t live at home or have any money when I chose to do my internship, which may have been a little stupid, but I feel like these opportunities within sectors such as media and entertainment are rare and that’s why I chose to do it when it was offered to me. Obviously I don’t advocate companies exploiting workers at any level, but in the UK a lot of people choose to do them because they want to try out a sector, because they’re at a lost end while living at home or because they want to build up contacts before they launch their own businesses. It’s a toughie, and I am really enjoying hearing all your thoughts about this! x

  • Kachi

    This is one part of my life that I hate the most because all my internships have been unpaid. But interestingly, it has helped to build my capacity to function effectively in my current job. The exposure is one thing and also the contacts that is gained. As much as I hated myself during those months of no salary, I would admit that it paid off to an extent.
    However, I do not advocate for unpaid internships.

  • http://LizzieDripping Elizabeth Rebecca

    I think the point about determination is a great one to remember.

    Lizzie Dripping

  • http://butstayclassy.blogspot.com Klaudia

    In my opinion interships in general are a great opportunity to make some connections., meet people and just have more prospects in our career field. When I will be at univesity I will definitely look for some intership, even if it has to be unpaid one :)

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