Here’s Why Settling For An Unpaid Internship Could Hurt Your Career In The Long Run

Here’s Why Settling For An Unpaid Internship Could Hurt Your Career In The Long Run

It’s normal for college students and graduates to settle for an unpaid internship in this struggling job market. At the end of the day, any form of experience is beneficial to your career, regardless of the immediate benefits. While that might be true, interns need to learn their value to the company and understand that getting “experience” to “add to your resume” doesn’t equal the one thing most of us are striving for — the moolah.

The National Association of Colleges and Employers conducted a survey that explains the statistics of internships and full-time employment after graduation. Research showed only 37% of those who partook in an unpaid internship and 35% of those who have not had an internship at all, were all hired by employers. Meanwhile, 63% of students who have had opportunities in paid internships gain employment.

The pay rate is just as outstanding. Students with unpaid internships on average make between $35,721- $37,087 per year, while students who held paid internships make an average of $51,930. The scarce amount of internships offered in certain fields is the first problem, but employers purposely underpaying their interns is a close second.

According to, the fashion and magazine industries have fell victim to these circumstances. There have been companies that had to pay, “Former interns between $700 and $1,750 in back pay for their services.” Some companies in the fashion industry, Elite Models for example, have ended its internship programs because of such lawsuits.

Interns are often too intimidated to take action against these big businesses. Interns would rather work for free than cause issues in the workplace, which works out for the employers. Even though it may make the intern seem “easy to work with,” their convenience hurts the in the long run. Businesses take advantage of this fear. It cuts expenses by paying interns the minimum they are willing to get paid: Nothing. Their defense is that interns are, according to Forbes, “Untrained and temporary.” 

This means interns are not equivalent to employers. They’re not expected to complain about discrimination, harassment, pay wages, or other work conditions because they do not have the same rights.

Forbes advises, “Students, as you finish up your applications for this summer’s internship programs, remember: you are better off getting paid. You are worth more than chronic volunteer work. Don’t fall for the unpaid internship trap.”

While any internship is a benefit to your career, not getting what you deserve in the workplace, regardless of your job title, is something you shouldn’t accept. The workplace has changed, and interns play a prominent role. It’s time they get those accompanying benefits.

Always stay professional, but don’t feel bad about leaving an establishment if you don’t like your situation. After all, you’re not getting what you really deserve.

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