Why unpaid internships are good

I’m Amanda White, a recent graduate form the University of Houston-Downtown. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Professional Writing. I just love writing and was excited when I received an offer to become a contributing writer here on Admitopia. I’m a freelance writer for African American News & Issues, a newspaper in Houston. Now I’m happy to have another writing project to work on. I also had a great two year run writing for my school’s newspaper for two years. When I’m not busy, I enjoy motherhood with my 1 year old girl. I’m a native Houstonian, I enjoy the warm weather and getting outdoors when I can, and I’m a sports fan. I’m rooting for the Texans to have a good season !

It seems unfair for a company to ask you to work for free, but this is a reality when it comes to unpaid internships. Some companies like to offer unpaid internships as a low-cost way to recruit future workers. Other companies would pay interns if they could, but cannot because of limited budgets. Nevertheless, you should not write off unpaid internships because these opportunities may help you get your dream job. Here are six reasons why you should consider taking an unpaid internship.

Get experience in your field
You need experience to get a job and you need a job to get experience. An internship is your first step to getting the experience you’ll need to get a job. Many internships don’t require students to have past work experience. So if you take the unpaid internship, you’ll get a chance to gain work experience in your field. An internship also gives you the opportunity to figure out if a certain career is right for you.

Get Professional references
You should treat your internship like a job so that you impress your supervisor so that he or she can vouch for you when you apply to other jobs. This means you should come to work on time everyday, perform your job duties to the best of your ability, and treat everyone with respect. You should also go above and beyond the expectations of the internship so that you stand out among other interns. If you think you have a good idea about how to increase productivity at work, don’t hesitate to present this idea to your internship coordinator. Your idea may just help the company save money or time.

Less Competition
Most students want paid internships. This means that you will face less competition while applying for unpaid internships. If you’re having a tough time finding an internship, it could because you are not searching for unpaid internships. Some companies don’t advertise jobs, so some creativity is required on your part. Think outside the box and look for internships in places where other students don’t typically look. Don’t follow the crowd and look in the classified ads. Do something different such as cold call companies. You can even try sending a recruiter on message on Facebook. Make sure your Facebook page looks presentable before you start contacting recruiters.

You may receive other incentives that are just as valuable as money
Some companies offer interns other incentives and perks in place of money. For example, the Center for Houston’s Future in Houston, TX offers interns free bus and train passes. Many internships offer course credits. Some schools require students to go through an internship before they graduate. So you see, some incentives can be just a valuable as money.

Potential full-time job with company after graduation
If you do a good job during your internship, you may get an offer for a full-time job. This is good for you, because you don’t have to jump through the traditional job hunting hoops such as applying for jobs, waiting for phone calls, going on countless interviews. This is also good for the company because they wont have to go through the long process of looking at thousands of resumes and conducting several interviews in order to find someone to fill the position. Plain old delayed gratification can allow you to stay ahead of the competition.

Learn how to become a good employee
Even though you won’t receive a paycheck during an unpaid internship, you will work just as hard as any other employee. If you never had a job before your internship, then your internship will teach you how to be punctual, how to work on a team, how to communicate with your boss, and several other things you will need to know in order to become a good employee.

Learn how to prepare for a job interview
Most internships don’t expect you to have past job experience, but that does not mean that they will hire anyone. Expect to be interviewed for an internship. If you never been on a job interview before, please use the time before your internship interview to practice for an interview. There are so many resources that can help you including family members, friends, teachers, career counselors, and the internet. Be careful when using the internet to look for job preparation information. Your best bet is to use credible job search websites such as Monster or Indeed. Never pay for job hunting information. If you have to pay, then it’s probably a scam. If you have some experience interviewing, and you think you need to brush upon your interviewing techniques or work on something you did wrong during your last interview, there is no better time than right before your internship interview. If you need practice writing a cover letter, then practice writing one and let a friend or teacher look over it. Correct any mistakes and bring it to the interview. Even if you’re not required to bring a cover letter, you will stand out from other candidates because you made the extra effort to make a cover letter. The last thing you want to is expect an effortless interview because an internship is unpaid. You should treat the internship interview just like you would treat any other job interview. You never know if you will meet the interviewer again and the last thing you want to do is leave a bad impression of yourself in their mind.

There you have it. I hope I helped clear up some misconceptions that you have about unpaid internships. If you need help finding great unpaid internships, I suggest you check out internships.com. On internships.com, you can create a profile that highlights all of your accomplishments and interests. You can also set up your profile for public viewing so that employers can look at your profile and contact you. My favorite feature on internships.com is the personalized internship match feature. New internships and jobs that match your skills and interests are emailed to you everyday. This feature alone has saved me a lot of time when I was searching for internships.

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