What’s the deal with unpaid internships?

And why isn’t anyone talking about them? Let’s face it, as working professionals we’ve all been in this boat before, questioning whether or not it is feasible to take an unpaid internship to further our careers in a positive way. Should we take an unpaid internship for exposure? For the byline? Or for future opportunities?

To figure out if an unpaid internship is for you, I would suggest going through the following steps:

  1. Question if the internship has potential.

Discuss your opportunity with your friends, family or mentors to figure out if the internship is worth it for you and your lifestyle. Consider these key questions to guide you:

Is this a place you want to work at 3 days a week?

Will you be working with brands you like and believe in?
Is this a place you could grow?

Will you be creating work that clients will see?

Not only will these questions help guide you, they may also give you an answer as to whether or not to take an unpaid internship.

  1. Get the idea of working for “free” out of your head.

I believe “working for free” may be a misguided phrase. You are working towards gaining experience, skills and expertise that you would not be otherwise exposed to. The classes you take (and pay for) do not provide you with the real world experience received at an internship. Building your portfolio with writing pieces such as press releases, media alerts, published blog posts, and social content for clients, will show employers that you are knowledgeable in the field you are interning and studying in.

And finally.

  1. Remember that you must establish your own value and qualifications.

Like any internship or job you encounter in your work life, you must build your own value and qualifications by any means necessary. Sometimes an unpaid internship is a step you have to take in order to break into your field of interest. Choose to create work outside of your internship to make yourself more valuable to the next employer or the one you already have. Give them a reason to want to hire you.

This subject is a hard one to discuss because most people are unable to take unpaid internships, as it is a financial burden. Though, It is important to consider that an internship might land you a job offer, even if that means working another job on top of it.

This guest blog post was written by PRowl junior account executive Marisa Blackwell. 

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