Paid Vs Unpaid Internships -- Which is Better For My Career?
Internships offer a great way for college students to explore career opportunities, apply their classroom learning in a real work setting, and help them decide if this is what they want to do the rest of their working life. Whether the internship pays or doesn't pay, the student is gaining valuable, on-the-job experience. But which internship is better -- a paid internship or an unpaid internships? It depends.
PAID VS UNPAID
It is best to weigh the pros and cons of both paid and unpaid internships. If money is the primary goal and you absolutely need to make money for college, then a paid internship should be the goal.
The most important thing to remember in choosing an internship is to choose one that is in an industry that relates to your chosen career field. Remember, internships go on your resume, which means you will need to explain to your potential employer what you gained from the internship experience. If the internship is totally out of your career focus and was accepted just for the money, it may be a negative on your resume.
Increasing Job Opportunities
Internships can also lead to offers of full-time employment following graduation. Competition for good jobs out of college lead many students to choose internships that have a history of hiring interns. Statistics show that by far, paid internships are more likely to lead to job offers than unpaid internships. According to The National Association of Colleges and Employers, students who complete paid internships were 63 percent more likely to find employment. Students who completed unpaid internships were only 37 percent likely to find employment. This is close to the 35 percent likelihood among students who did not complete an internship at all.
Internships For Credit
Many internships are unpaid but offer internships for college credit. This is an option to consider. Although it is unpaid, you can earn credit toward your degree by completing the internship. These types of internships require students to keep accurate notes, and they are generally graded by both their supervisor and their professor. Internships for college credit that are directly in-line with a student's chosen field and offer exceptional experience will add credibility to their experience.
PAID INTERNSHIPS ON THE RISE
The good news is that paid internships are on the rise. According to The National Association of Colleges and Employers’ (NACE) 2014 Internship and Co-op Survey, among the 97 percent of employers who were planning to hire interns in 2014, 98 percent were paid. And they are paying well. According to a recent survey, average pay for interns seeking bachelor’s degrees is at $16.35; and $22.50 for those with a master’s degree.
The bottom line is that whether you choose a paid or an unpaid internship is a personal decision that is based on what is best for you. In addition, you have the opportunity during your college years to participate in more than one internship. Each one will be a learning experience that will help you make better career decisions. Finally, whether paid or unpaid, an internship is not a waste of time but a valuable step in planning your career.