Should You Take an Unpaid Internship?

How to determine if a paycheck-free endeavor is worth it

Source: US news


April 3, 2013

An increasing number of new graduates must decide whether to accept unpaid internships as one path to success.

Your time as an undergraduate has passed. And like the flocks of other Millennials who have been out of college for a year or more, you find slim pickings when it comes to securing a full-time job related to your career aspirations.

Rather than whittle away at home or work 40 hours at a dead-end job, you contemplate an unpaid internship.

“Increasingly, it’s become common practice for recent college graduates to take on internships, paid and unpaid. It’s a reflection of a tight job market,” says Ross Perlin, author of “Intern Nation: How to Earn Nothing and Learn Little in the Brave New Economy.”

But before accepting any offers to labor away for free, here’s what you should ask.


What are the expectations? On paper, the internship seems like a real get, even if it’s unpaid. Still, it’s wise to have a solid grasp of what you’ll do and the amount of work. “It’s important to know exactly what you’re going to be graded on,” says Rich DeMatteo, founder of the career blog Corn on the Job, adding, “If you go into it and you’re not sure what’s going on, then you could be given a ton more than you signed on for.”

DeMatteo suggests researching the company, reaching out to its previous or current interns through sites like LinkedIn, and asking pointed questions about the position during the interview process.

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