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What are the Benefits of an Unpaid Internship?

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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 02 August 2019
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There are may possible benefits of an unpaid internship. Among them are the experience a person can gain by participating in one and the skills he may develop and eventually use in a paid position. In some cases, a person may get school credit for completing an unpaid internship, and he may develop important contacts from an internship as well. Additionally, some people who participate in unpaid internships are eventually offered jobs by the companies for which they interned.

One of the main benefits of an unpaid internship is the chance to gain experience in a particular field. For example, a person who wants to become an interior decorator may take on an unpaid internship in order to get hands-on experience working on interior decorating projects. The skills he builds through such an internship may prove valuable when he eventually lands a job in the field or starts his own business. In fact, some companies may be more likely to hire a person who has previous experience, even if he gained that experience through an unpaid internship.

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Often, unpaid internships also offer interns benefits that are related to school. In many cases, unpaid internships translate into high school or college credits for the participant. This may help the intern in a couple of ways. First, the credits earned through an internship may count toward the requirements a person needs to graduate from high school or college. In addition, the credit is listed on the intern’s transcript and may improve his chances of gaining admission to another school. For example, a college or graduate school admissions officer may consider a person’s internship experience when deciding whether or not to admit him.

An individual may also develop important contacts through an unpaid internship. These contacts may prove helpful when he is looking for a paid position later or in the event that the intern starts his own business and is looking for clients. In such a case, the contacts may recommend the former intern to employers and potential clients or share information about available jobs with him.

Sometimes an unpaid internship may also lead to a paid position for the intern. An employer who has worked with an unpaid intern has enjoyed the opportunity to judge his abilities and his suitability as an employee. If the intern performed well, the employer may eventually offer him a paid position with the company.

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literally45
Post 3

I think that the greatest benefit of an unpaid internship is the networking. If one forms amicable relationships with coworkers and bosses, this can be very valuable in the future when it's time to look for a full-time job. All of my bosses at my internships were references for me when I was job hunting and I know that I got hired because of the great things they said about me.

discographer
Post 2

@bear78-- You do have a valid point. Some employers do see their interns that way but these are the employers one must avoid. There are also great employers out there that want to give their interns as much experience and new skills as possible. They're not all evil.

Of course, the field is important too. There are some fields where experience is very important and interns are given large responsibilities. Although the internship may be unpaid, there might be a possibility of being hired for a full-time position later.

A friend of mine works for a news channel and she initially started there as an unpaid intern. I realize this doesn't happen to everyone but it is possible. All unpaid internships are not bad.

bear78
Post 1

I don't think that an unpaid internship has any benefits. Most employers see unpaid interns as free labor and they have them do all the unwanted jobs in the office. An internship is meant to be that step before being hired for a full time job. It's supposed to be the place where the student learns the ropes so to speak, and develops the skills and abilities required in their field.

But due to competition and the mindset of employers, most interns leave their internships having learned very little. They are usually made to take notes at meetings and make coffee. If they're lucky, they will answer phones, draft letters and sand faxes. Some work forty hours a week without pay and leave with negligible experience that doesn't help them land a job. Where is the benefit in that?

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