Pros and Cons of Paid vs Unpaid Internships

There are many different routes to take when considering employment opportunities, and two opportunities offer vastly different experiences. What makes sense for you? Let's dive into some pluses and minuses of paid and unpaid internships.

💵 Paid Internships

Paid internships offer students a way to gain relevant knowledge and the skills required to succeed in a specific career field while making some money through an hourly wage, weekly salary, or stipend over the course of the internship.

Benefits of Paid Internships

  • These are usually very competitive and will indicate to future employers that you are a capable employee.
  • You will be able to be compensated for your hard work and simultaneously be gaining valuable work knowledge!
  • A paid internship will provide money to fund your college tuition and expenses, as well as provide you beneficial connections that will help you in your future endeavors.

Detriments of Paid Internships

  • Be prepared to put a lot of time and effort into your work! Being paid means responsibility.
  • Because you are working directly for people relevant to your chosen career path, the pressure can often be higher. You will be doing work that is more directly impactful to potentially greater numbers of people, so you may have to work outside of your comfort level.

🧠 Unpaid Internships

Even though you won't earn a paycheck, there are still valuable takeaways that can come from these experiences. We've highlighted some here, but there's an additional post on "Are Unpaid Internships Worth It?" if you want to dive in more.

Benefits of Unpaid Internships

  • Many small companies don't have the budgets to pay interns, but sometimes they can offer more hands-on experience than larger companies. You may be able to gain amazing experiences in a very specific field of work.
  • You’ll get to work with passionate people in a field you love. Compared to paid internships, there is likely to be less pressure on you to perform. It leaves you free to explore, learn, experiment, and grow.
  • An unpaid internship opportunity is an obligation-free way to explore your passion. You are free to find out if your current industry is to your liking.
  • Unpaid internships are usually less competitive and not as hard to come by!

Detriments of Unpaid Internships

  • It can get pretty stressful managing the workload of an internship, and you may feel as if you aren't being valued for your work because you aren't paid.

Guide Outline

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