Deciding Between a Paid and Unpaid Internship

Working an internship can be a great way to learn more about the field you wish to work in. It can also help you to gain experience in your field or industry. Some people work an internships because it is a requirement to graduate and some may decide on an internship to look more experienced and knowledgeable in a competitive market, or to gain more insight and exposure in the field. So, for those searching for internships, lies the big question – should you take an internship that is paid or not?  The answer is that it really depends on you, what you are looking for, and for what reasons you are really looking for an internship.

For starters, deciding whether to take a paid or unpaid internship depends on your financial situation and whether or not you can afford to take an internship that is not paid. While it may seem like a no-brainer to choose an internship that pays, sometimes that choice may not be the best one. According to an article about internships on About.com, some internships can be extremely valuable, but just do not have the funds or budget to pay an intern. This is exactly the case for most non-profit organizations and agencies. Working with non-profit organizations may be able to provide you with the experience, knowledge, and training needed to excel in your field, though they may not pay. If you can afford to take an internship that is unpaid, then this may be the best idea for you.

If you cannot afford to take an unpaid internship, consider taking a paid internship. However, when or if you feel like you are not really learning or experiencing what you should, be sure to volunteer your time at a non-profit organization. Volunteering while you also working at an internship could only help you with more exposure to the field and it is something else you can list on your resume to stand out against competition. While smaller businesses and companies and non-profit organizations may not be able to offer paid internships, they may be more likely to be able to give interns more attention rather than being seen as just another number in the company. That alone likely means that the intern could learn actual skills and training rather than just making the entire office coffee and filing paperwork.

Internships can pay in other ways as well. Some colleges and universities require students to take an internship as part of their degree plan and it must be completed in order to fulfill graduate requirements. Some businesses and companies allow students to work as interns for credits. While specific requirements and guidelines will vary between schools and the actual company one interns for, basically students fulfill a certain amount of hours throughout the semester with the company in order to gain their college credit for that class. If this is for a class or school program, then be sure to choose an internship that is approved by the school and one that will count towards your college credits.

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