Every college student has spent valuable time searching for the elusive internship that fits both academic interests and financial needs. Paid internships are wonderful opportunities, but many students make the mistake of only considering options with financial compensation, completely ignoring the plethora of unpaid opportunities.
Here are five reasons why you shouldn’t completely skip over unpaid internships during your next job hunt:
1. Valuable Experience
Just because an internship is unpaid doesn’t mean that it won’t give you the experience and skills necessary to get a paid job or internship in the future. Getting an unpaid internship in your field (or any field that will give you professional experience) is going to be better for you in the long run than saving up a summer of minimum wage earnings at the local supermarket. Taking advantage of such opportunities when they present themselves is important to ensure that your resume is up to par for the future.
Unpaid internships offer valuable networking opportunities. Any opportunity to meet people actually working in your desired field is a good one, and unpaid internships can give students the chance to interact with people who they wouldn’t normally get the chance to meet.
3. Major Help
Many college students find themselves wondering if they have chosen the right major or career path. For majors where paid internships are scarce, it can be hard to find a relevant job in the field while still in school. Unpaid internships can give students an opportunity to work in their chosen field and decide whether or not it is actually right for them, before it’s too late.
4. More Opportunities
Unpaid internships are generally more numerous and available than paid internships, with more companies able to offer unpaid internships than paid ones. Unpaid internships can give you the opportunity to work at charities, government organizations, or non-profits that would otherwise be unable to afford to pay interns. Despite having no financial compensation, these companies still have a great deal to teach their interns, and they can offer unique opportunities that students would not be able to find elsewhere.
5. Lower Time Commitment
Unpaid internships are generally less of a time commitment than paid internships, which allow students the ability to work while still attending class. Busy students should especially keep an eye out for virtual internships, which allows them to work from home through the web. Virtual internships (which are almost always unpaid) can give students internship opportunities even when they do not offer transportation or other means to hold an in-person internship.