We’ve been told time and time again that internships are the key to a future in the workforce. They provide professional experience, field study and valuable connections. But when positions offer no stipend or pay, "internship" seems to become a fancy word for volunteer.
Unpaid internships can, in some situations, take advantage of eager college students looking for a resume topper. If you’re running copies, making coffee or cleaning the office, your company has probably brought you on to do the undesirable tasks often known as grunt work.
If this is you, leave. An internship is as much for your benefit as it is theirs. Even if you have this position under your “Work Experience” category, telling a potential employer that you mastered the art of the double-sided copying will not impress him or her.
Many companies offer school credit as a substitute for payment, but with the cost of school credit hours being several thousand dollars, you end up paying to intern somewhere.
If you add the cost of gas and other expenses, you might have to get a job to pay for the cost of your job. So is it worth it? Is the experience of an unpaid internship worth spending a large chunk of change, possibly relocating and doing less than desirable tasks?
It’s only worth your time and money if you actually want to go into the field you are working in at your internship, especially if you’re interested in that particular company.
Internships do hold a lot of weight on your resume — it’s a highlighted, bolded and exclamatory aspect under the “Work Experience” section of the resume that makes you stand out above all else.
But if the possibility is out of your reach, it’s not the end of the world. There are other opportunities to put a little sparkle on your resume that could be just as advantageous. Furnish yourself with great opportunities and experiences rather than those that might just look polished.