Why it Pays to Be Unpaid

By Amanda Parker

If I were to ask every person reading this if they would rather have a paid or unpaid internship, I’m sure, most (if not all) would choose having a paid internship. And that’s great! Paid internships are awesome. But, the realities of internships are – most are unpaid. Now, we could all be upset that we’re working for free, OR we could look at the positives that come from unpaid internships… So let’s do that!

Positive # 1: You’re most likely receiving credit for your internship, which is a graduation requirement for the School of Communications. So, you may not be getting paid, but you’re checking boxes off of your course-work to do list!

Positive # 2: Freedom!  It’s nice when you don’t have the pressure of being on the pay roll. So, take initiative and ask for more work and more responsibility. What do you have to lose? If you ask for more tasks and show your dedication to your internship, your supervisors and co-workers will take notice; and they may even give you more freedom and bigger projects.

Positive # 3: When you reach your goals, you’ll be so proud! Work hard and reap the benefits. If you aren’t being paid for your work, it’s natural that you might start feeling lazy or unimportant at your internship. Instead, try getting extra motivated – because nothing feels better than accomplishing something without an extrinsic reward, and knowing you did it well! Set goals before starting your internship and track your success in accomplishing them throughout your internship.   It’s a great time to learn new skills!

Positive # 4: You’ll gain confidence, new mentors and work for your e-portfolio. Take the time at your unpaid internship to build relationships with people in the office and ask for feedback. Using your internship as a time to fine-tune your networking style is vital for when you’re in the actual working world. This is your chance to ask for help and ask for feedback on your work.  So, when you leave your internship, you’ll have work to add to your e-portfolio and contacts who can help you later. All of this will increase your confidence in future work endeavors.

You can pout and stomp your feet all you want if your internship is unpaid; instead, try looking on the bright side! You have the rest of your life to make money; use unpaid internships as learning experiences that will help you in the long run. The truth of the matter is un-paid internships are much more common and easier to find than paid ones. Take it from me, someone who’s had three unpaid internships, you will survive! If necessary, ask your internship site if they will let you be part-time so you can pick up a paying job. Don’t be discouraged. Prove to your internship site you’re a hard worker, and maybe in the future – they will pay you.  It happens!


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