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When To Take An Unpaid College Internship

Sep 9, 2008
College years tend to be a time of immense fun and also of border line poverty. It is hard to resist the invitations of friends who want to go out even when you don't have the money to finance the evening.

Why then would you consider taking on an unpaid college internship when you desperately need money? Many college students do take on an unpaid internship, one reason being it is all they can seem to find. An overwhelming number of employers offer college internship opportunities to students that are unpaid. Employers may choose not to pay students because they don't have enough funding or maybe they want to see just how dedicated students are to the career field. There are several factors that should be taken into account before you decide to accept an unpaid internship college. First of all, figure out if you are going to be able to make it by without a paying job for the term of the internship college. If not, then decide if you will have time to work a part time evening or weekend job depending on what hours you are required to work at the college internship. You can ask the internship employer if they are willing work with you on a schedule to allow for another job.

Secondly, ask if the employer offers any other benefits or compensation since the position is non-paying. Some unpaid college internship opportunities offer students some sort of a stipend during the internship or after it is completed. If you are completing an internship in another town and will need to commute or live in the other town for the length of the internship, find out if they are willing to pay for some or all of your expenses. Some employers provide housing for their interns during the length of the employment.

Lastly, find out if there will be any chance of an employment offer after you have completed the internship. Struggling through a few nonpaying months can be well worth it if you are offered a good paying job in your career after the internship. Now, the job offer would depend completely upon you job performance during your time as an intern, so if there were conflicts or you didn't do a satisfactory job during the college internship, don't expect a job offer!

If you are completing the internship college during the summer months and those are the months that you normally use to earn enough to pay college tuition, you may want to rethink the non paying offer. Paying college tuition is a priority because without that college tuition money, you can't return to classes.

There are plenty of great, paying internships available for students to take, but if you find a non paying one that you are interested in, remember to weigh all the factors that would come along with taking the position. If possible, negotiate with the employer to see what else they offer in return for you work since they aren't willing to give you a paycheck.
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