No Money, No Problems: The Upside of Unpaid Internships


The market is constantly changing and we no longer live in a world where an undergraduate degree can guarantee a job opportunity. Sometimes, not even a graduate degree will do that for you. As an international student with experience in recruiting and the marketing industry, I say YES: an unpaid internship is absolutely worth taking. And it all comes down to the following:

In school, we are mainly taught theories and principles that relate to our aspiring careers, which serve as guidance, therefore allowing us to get a “hint” of what the “real-world” looks like. In most instances, however, this is not enough for students to perform at their peak during their careers, and certainly not enough for employers to take a chance on them. You see, from an employer’s standpoint, we take interest in candidates who have work experience in the related industry, because it represents several characteristics, which cannot be taught inside a classroom.

Work experience allows you to test all the skills you’ve learned over time and use them in a real environment — more importantly, it also gives you the opportunity to fail at certain tasks and learn from them. By doing so, and if properly executed, we can learn from these mistakes, and develop our self-awareness to a degree where the possibility for failure is greatly reduced. In other words, employers are looking for candidates who have already tested the real world, because such candidates are less prone to making mistakes — and mistakes are not favorable to employers.

Similarly, if you read every volume of How To Date Guys/Girls For Dummies, this alone won’t make you the next Hitch. However, by applying those concepts and testing them on the real world, you will experience these theories and see how they work. Once you do, there will be other variables that you’ll have the opportunity to experience, which might not even be in the book. And after consistent trial and error, you will determine what works best for you.

In most cases, an unpaid internship won’t sound pleasing to a student, mainly because they will not get paid in money for their services. However, they will be paid in much more valuable terms, which can greatly increase their opportunities for better, and higher paying jobs after school. The three most valuable are: real-world experience, network development, and recommendation letters. All of which are key points to consider while searching for a job opportunity.

An unpaid internship is worth the time and energy, and all aspiring professionals should consider this an opportunity to better develop themselves, as well as create improved opportunities after their degrees are completed. And remember, even though you might feel undercompensated in the short-term, you will definitely improve your resume on the long run. Stay hungry.

Roberto Abedrabbo can be reached at

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