Reasons to consider an unpaid internship

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College is the time to learn what you enjoy and where you want to work. If you have no clue, the best way to learn what you like and don’t like doing is pursuing an internship. But should you consider an unpaid internship? This question is one many students will be asking themselves throughout their college years, or even after graduation. 

While you may think you cannot afford to pursue an unpaid internship, the truth is that internship experience is valuable in today’s competitive work climate. If you don’t have one on your resume, there are many others who will. Unpaid internships can help you gain paid internships in the future.

As a college student, I am constantly seeking opportunities to gain more real-world experience, particularly in journalism. I applied to multiple internships local to Bloomington and quickly realized that most are unpaid.

The sad truth is many students — myself included — usually find it challenging to accept unpaid internships, but I try my best to make it work with multiple part-time jobs on the side.

This summer, I accepted my first unpaid internship and noticed how much it took away from the hours I needed to make a living for rent and food. I love journalism and believe internships are always worth pursuing, but sometimes unpaid internships are not financially realistic.

This challenge can be prevented with some long-term planning.Those who are financially independent may gain an advantage by saving up money in advance to live off of while pursuing an internship. However, some internships are simply not affordable for those who do not have financial support in higher-cost cities, such as New York City or Los Angeles.

If you’re trying to get your foot in the door of a competitive field, unpaid internships are your best option. Maybe consider working out a part-time unpaid internship deal. This way you can still make a living while gaining the important experiences needed for your personal career leverage.

Another suggestion is to apply for any funding available through IU that might subsidize the housing aspect of your internship. For example, the University specifically offers a grant for unpaid interns after a brief application. These extra funds could be a life-saver that help you gain experience in your field.

If you still can’t find a way to make an internship work, an alternative to interning is freelance work. There are many opportunities available through freelance, and while I do not suggest living off a freelance alone, it could be a good way to gain experience and a side income.

You will never regret gaining extra work experience that will lead you one step closer to your goal.

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