Is it normal to take on unpaid internships to gain experience?
Unfortunately, unpaid internships are very common in the United States. Depending on your field of interest, there may not be many alternatives to taking an unpaid internship. I highly recommend staying away from any unpaid positions if possible - at the end of the day, the organization is getting free labor from you.
It's ok to not have much experience as a high school senior - you have lots of time to learn and work on personal projects. I recommend only taking paid positions because you deserve to be financially compensated for your labor.
Unpaid internships are fairly common. I know it may pose a financial challenge, but it can be quite useful to just get that experience. Often times, that company will hire you as a result when they may not have considered you otherwise.
Internships are excellent in your search for the right type of work. So consider it like school and maybe your will stomach it easier. But, I will say that many companies pay their interns. Right now with so many companies having difficulty finding employees, you may have an easier time landing a paid internship.
Good luck in your search!
If you know what industry you'd like to go into, it would be ideal if you obtained some experience (paid or not) so you're able to relate it during interviews.
Another take is taking on paid jobs outside your comfort to build general soft skills (such as communication skills, building work ethics, working in teams, and customer-facing experience in general). For example, a retail role may be a good alternative if you need to support yourself/family financial but want to build good general work experience.
Also if you currently work for a fast food joint or tutoring, don't discredit that work experience either and it is all about describing/framing the transferrable experience!
It is great to take on any experience you can get even if it is unpaid. I have done this my freshman year in the summer and I learned a lot. This experience that I gained helped me get involved and be chosen for other paid opportunities. Money will come in the future but right now it is all about building and gaining experience!
I hope this helps!
I wish you the best!
It was a Research internship at a Medical School, in a Lab and it resulted in me working for a health care startup, which lead me to work at more startups. And I decided that I wanted to go into Tech sales from there. You never know what you'll learn and who you'll meet. It was hard to not get paid, I was fortunate enough to have the ability to do that. Some student's don't have the option to be part of an unpaid internship. So with that said, there are ways to find paid internships and your school should be able to help with that. Also, try to speak to other students in your field who have found paid internships, and have them be a resource for you.
I would suggest below steps you could look for internship :
1. Identify the industry areas that you would like to pursue your future career. You can choose a few of them.
2. Watch out for internship opportunities of the corporates in that selected industry
3. If you have any corporate that you really have great interest, you can also send them email with your cv about your interest to be an intern
4. If you are offered an interview opportunity, you can discuss with the corporate on the work scope, intern duration, any salary, etc.
Being an intern, you can experience the real working environment, gain experience and establish network in the industry, etc. These are valuable for your future development.
Hope this helps! Good Luck!
Paul Goetzinger MPA
Yes, it actually is very common for internships to be unpaid. This is especially true in todays work environment, where budgets and working at home have been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. Traditional internship opportunities have been substantially changed as a result, and many times the internships are conducted in remote locations and are unpaid. It is true that unpaid internships may not work for everyone, but they do provide valuable opportunities for gaining workplace experience, which could assist you in landing a more lucrative job in the future. Many of my former students have done unpaid internships, and it is something that I do encourage others to consider. It is a wonderful way for the internee to establish a network and references, which can help in landing a future job and long term employment opportunities. It is clear that the companies in our society are in fierce competition for the best employees, and any experience, whether paid or unpaid can provide you with an advantage over others. Plus, if you are working an internship, that is related to your degree, you will gain a valuable amount of insight and knowledge of the industry, which can also provide you with an advantage over others. It may also help you to find a mentor within your employment opportunity, which can help you reach higher levels within an organization. It can also assist you in learning a variety of job skills, which will also assist you in achieving your career goals.
Paul recommends the following next steps:
I think even in other countries, it is normal that interns or students/people who are in internship program do not really get paid, however it still depends. In some cases, interns only get an specific small amount of allowance or sometimes food allowances. Just focus on the experience and the learnings you'll collect along your intern experience, be friendly and approachable, do not be afraid to ask questions. Maybe after you intern they might give you real job offer, some companies do that when the intern did a job well done. Enjoy the experience, the process and the overall journey you have. Do not pressure your self too much.
Be safe and best of luck!