Career Coaching

Unpaid VS. Paid Internships: Pros and Cons

By in Career Coaching

Let’s face it, nobody likes to work for free. But sometimes it’s our only option and by taking this leap of faith you will increase your chances of getting a great starter full-time job that will lead you to the career of your dreams. When you have little to no experience applying for jobs that you really want, they will most likely never even respond to you after seeing your resume because you will lack the experience, which is set by their extremely unrealistic expectations. So, what exactly can you expect from doing an unpaid virtual internship? Let me tell you;

1- Real-world experience

You will be gaining valuable experience that will make you more marketable to any company that hires you in the future. To become a model employee, you must lay the foundation of experience and start from the bottom. Slowly building up that newfound experience, which will translate into valuable skills that companies want, making it a lot easier to land that entry-level job. This is especially important if your experience has absolutely nothing to do with your future career. If Rome wasn’t built in a day, the same could be said about your career. 

2- Putting what you learned in school to practice

Taking what you learned in the classroom and applying it to the real world. Contrary to popular belief, everything you learned in the classroom is not real-world experience. The reason for that is that the classroom has structure, whereas the real world does not because issues can happen on a more spontaneous basis. Translating all the theory you learned in the classroom into real-world experience will be the first great step that you take to help you land an entry-level job in the field you desire to work in. 

3- Networking

Establishing some new and hopefully everlasting relationships with people in your field is an excellent way to build your professional network, along with making it easier to land a job that you desire. Once you enter a professional environment, you will have the chance to network and find people who share the same goals and interests as you, and who could be the difference when it comes to getting a job and not getting a job. Attending events hosted by the company you intern remotely at or were invited to is an excellent opportunity to meet your future colleagues/friends 

4- Work alongside professionals and receive valuable feedback

Teachers and hands-on projects that you do in university will only provide you with theoretical knowledge. However, having the opportunity to work in the real world and make real mistakes give you the opportunity to receive some professional advice from people who have worked in the industry for a very long time. This will give you a leg up when it comes to finding a job afterwards because that advice could be the difference in landing a great job. 

5- Acquiring some much-needed professionalism

This one may or may not be obvious, but if your practical experience only extends to the classroom, no potential employers will even consider you for the job. Doing an internship allows you to develop professionalism, which will help you understand how to conduct yourself in the workplace. This will also help you develop techniques to help make networking a lot less intimidating, along with properly presenting yourself to potential business connections, which will, in turn, help you achieve the professionalism employers are seeking. 

6- A confidence booster

Entering the real world will always be scary at first. You can also guarantee that you will fail too. This is where your confidence begins to flourish and eventually take shape. Succeeding in the real world will boost your confidence, making you perform better in school, be willing to take on more professional challenges and step out of your comfort zone, which will help your career reach highs you never thought would be possible. 

7- Making sure that you like your future profession

One of the saddest realizations some of us will experience in our lifetime is spending a large amount of time working hard to get a job that we end up not liking. Therefore, it is super important to do an internship, because how will we know if we like a job until we try it? We all hope to love the career we chose in school, but the reality is that sometimes, we will have made an error. This is not a bad thing at all, the moment we know that we hate it, we could always leave and continue discovering what we truly want out of a career. It takes guts to quit your job and start over, but those who do are always the happiest and most fulfilled in their lives. Therefore, you should do an internship or a remote internship while you are in school, at least you will know if you choose the proper career path and can simply change it up on the fly. 

8- Making yourself more marketable

Getting the opportunity to work on real-world projects will do wonders for you. Having the opportunity to work on major projects and contribute to positive change within a company will not only get you more interviews but will also most likely have you deciding between full-time job offers, which wouldn’t have been possible had you not done an internship. Being able to accurately demonstrate how you made positive change within a company and having a reference letter from your boss at the time is truly what an employee really looks at when they consider whether they should hire you, or not

9- Acquiring skills that you would never learn in school

Schools try their best to prepare us for reality. Unfortunately, the transition from school to the real world is a lot more polarizing than you could ever imagine. Hypothetical problems that you will see in school remain stagnant and isolated from the real world. Whereas issues that come up carry many more factors, along with ripple effects and time constraints, which teaches us the art of thinking under extreme pressure, something university tries but fails to teach us. 

10- It could potentially turn into a real job

After you receive that diploma, you expect to get a job right away because you spent all those years in school, which weren’t cheap because this is what they promised you. Sadly, what may lie at the end of the school isn’t a job. It is you at home in your comfiest clothes applying day in and day out and almost never receiving an interview. The first thing I will tell you is to never give up and if you didn’t get any relevant experience before, instead of looking for a job, put all your focus into internships from home or otherwise. They are more responsive, especially the ones that are unpaid. Once you land a remote nternship, give it everything you have. If this is the type of job you were hoping for; work hard, network and get feedback from your colleagues. 

“Most of the time, employers hire remote interns because they are hoping to find the perfect person for a job they are trying to fill and they would rather hire an intern, compared to someone who has never worked there and would have to be paid to get trained.”

Once you are nearing the end of your virtual internship, approach your boss and ask if there is a job opening and if the answer is yes, don’t beat around the bush, say that you are interested in the job. 

Most of the time, employers hire interns because they are hoping to find the perfect person for a job they are trying to fill and they would rather hire an intern, compared to someone who has never worked there and would have to be paid to get trained. The worst answer you will hear is no, but you will receive a glowing letter of recommendation, which will, in turn, make getting your dream entry level job a lot easier. The reason for that is if you can prove you made a difference at a company, gained valuable skills and got along with your boss and co-workers, that letter of recommendation becomes your golden ticket to the beginning of a career you’ve only dreamt about.   

If you need a little extra help, explore our coaching services designed to help you reach your professional goals. To learn more ways you can improve your resume and career readiness, book a consultation with one of our career coaches today!

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