Unpaid internship, find the balance between the pros and cons!
Internships also known as “Work experience placements” are nowadays a kind of a requirement when applying for a job. It’s a substantial criteria while reviewing the candidates. Students and graduates looking to begin their career often begin by an internship in order to have a chance to obtain a full employment position. However, some internships are unpaid, like most of the internships in the art of media sector. The real question to look for is: How to determine if an unpaid internship is a valuable opportunity or a waste of time?
It mainly depends on your personal choice and the path you would like to follow. In this article, we will provide you the main elements to take in account in order to know if this experience will be valuable for you and your future!
Cons of an Unpaid internship:
- It might be illegal.
Understand what you’re signing up for before you start any unpaid internship.
- It limits opportunity.
Not everyone can afford to work freely, even part-time.
- Fewer rights and protection.
As an unpaid intern you are not considered as an employee. Interns may not be protected against discrimination or harassment. Furthermore, you will not have any employee benefits (this last point is not always true. Sometimes you will have a free accommodation for example)
- It can result in a lower salary.
As an intern you will start at the bottom which implies starting at a minimumwage.
- Hurt businesses using them.
Unpaid interns can have negative consequences for companies. Why? Because it can limit the diversity of candidates since a large number of student looking for an internship can’t apply for an unpaid internship which wouldn’t make them less qualified.
Pros of an Unpaid Internship:
Even if an unpaid internship seems to be highly controversial, there are still some benefits. For example, start-ups normally wouldn’t be able to afford hiring you. In the list below, we mention some benefits that should be the result of your internship.
- Credit for the higher-educational system.
Earn work experience and credits to graduate at the same moment. (That’s what we call to kill two birds with one stone). But before going down that road, you need to be sure that the company is willing to offer these precious credits because it’s not always the case.
- Professional experience.
Any internship will give you the opportunity to learn new skills, give you insights in how an industry works, learn from current employees and gain valuable practical experience. In brief, learn as much as you can to obtain great skill which afterwards can be added to your resume.
- Facilitates finding a job.
Companies are always looking for people who already have some experience.
- Grow your Network.
The people you will meet during your internship such as your supervisor, the employees and of course other interns are automatically added to your professional network. These relationships made during your internship can lead to reference letters for jobs, graduate school, scholarships or even job opportunities.
Accepting an Unpaid Internship
In this part of the article, we will explain you more extensively the things to focus on while looking for an internship and especially for unpaid internships. These criteria are extremely important! In other words, we will help you to be sure about the fact that your unpaid internship will meet your expectations.
- What will be expected from you.
While you are doing your interview, ask some questions about what you’ll be doing and what the company expects.
- What are you expecting from the company you are applying for.
Be sure of what you are looking for during your internship. Be certain that the company and the position can provide these things for you.
- Take a look at it with your school’s administration.
They can help you to make the right choice and prevent you from doing an internship that would serve no purpose.
Points to take in consideration while attending an Unpaid Internship
- You should be recruited openly, in the same way as other employees.
- Be sure that you have as much as responsibility and diversity in your work as possible.
- Interns should be allowed to take time off to attend job interviews.
- Interns should have a proper induction.
- Organizations should allocate a specific individual to supervise interns and mentor them.
- On completion of the internship, organizations should provide interns with a reference letter.
These other expectations have been summed up by The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) it regroups best practice guidelines for employers, which are published in their Internships that Work guide.
Alternatives for an Unpaid Internship:
Okay, so you can’t find a paid internship, can’t afford to do an unpaid internship, but you are expected to have relevant work experience on your resume? Here are a few other options:
A part-time job could offer something beneficial towards your career expectations. You could, for example, try to target an area you would really love to work in! It should direct you to your goal and objectives!
Freelance or consulting work can pay well if you have the talent! Take a look at these 3 websites offering position and services for and from freelancer:
2.1 Upwork.com offers positions for marketers, programmers, mobile developers, designers, and writers.
2.2 Freelancer.com has postings for legal positions, event planning, business plans, financial analysis, trades, branding and advertising, and so much more. Every small job you complete will give you more experience, and add one more reference to your professional network.
Unpaid internship, paid internship, part-time job or freelancing; the choice is yours now!
We hope this article helped you to understand in a more detailed way how to define if an internship will be a good experience or not despite the facts that it’s a paid or an unpaid internship! In case you are ready to begin your research of internship, you can take a look at our different offers available all over Europe, free of charge for students!