So it’s one of those summers in between years at college. You’re ambitious and you want to get ahead in your future career. Idealist, internship.com, even your college online alumni network all have incredible internship opportunities to apply to, there’s just one catch.
They’re all unpaid.
That single word can change the entire meaning and value of devoting, or in some instances, sacrificing, an entire summer to an internship.
Is it even worth it? You may ask yourself.
Just because you’re not being paid in dollars doesn’t mean you aren’t being compensated in some other kind of currency, perhaps one that is even more valuable in the long-run.
I’m here to tell you that it is worth it, as long as you know how to optimize your experience.
- NETWORK NETWORK NETWORK! Who knows who you’ll meet in a new working environment?! Well, I can tell you not many people if your moping around and feel awkward. Make sure to see every experience as a NETWORKING opportunity!! Is your boss sending you to the “less important” meeting across town in the 90-degree heat? GREAT! Opportunity to meet lots of people in the industry! Are you running errands at the local fax shop and run into another intern doing the same thing for her boss? Get her email, Link-In with her, you never know when that connection may come in handy!
- Every day of work is the BEST day of your life! You’re always upbeat, happy to be at work, and excited to accomplish that day’s tasks…you know why? Because recommendations from internship bosses make stellar recs. Be your best you because that way you’re essentially writing the rec by giving your boss SO much material to write about. Also, internships don’t last forever, so treat it that way. It’s just a small taste of a career that you can blissfully walk away from in 3 months time if you’re not happy. Rock it out while you can.
- Accomplish as much as you possibly can, and then do more! Go ABOVE & BEYOND! The more you do, the more you can put on your resume as tasks you completed and experience that you have. Your back pocket is big, may as well fill it up with valuable lessons and experience.
While at the time it may seem like your friend working as a golf caddy at a country club or your next door neighbor at the ice cream parlor are already ahead in that they’re bringing home a check each week, if you simply follow these three guidelines your unpaid internship will end paying itself back over and over again for the rest of your life.