August 27, 2015
By: Jennica Lurie, @jennicalurie
With the start of a new semester, many of us are looking for fall internships. In the public relations field, most of us have accepted the fact that our first internship will most likely be unpaid. We have to start from the bottom and work our way up. Unfortunately, this doesn’t take away from the sting of our accounting and engineering friends who land that dream, paid internship right away. Here are a few ways to make the most out of your unpaid internship as well as how to make a little cash money on the side.
1. Have a Positive Attitude
You get out of an internship what you put in, paid or not. If you treat your internship like it’s a paid position, you are assured to learn new skills that will pay off in the future. It’s hard to maintain a positive attitude sometimes when you know that you could be making money working a typical “college” job. Keep in mind that while you may not be feeling the extra wad of cash in your pocket now, it will greatly contribute to your success in the future.
2. Ask Questions and Get Involved
Do not turn down any opportunities to join in on a meeting or take on a project, because that is how you learn. Since you’re not working for money, you’re working to gain knowledge and experience. Your internship isn’t worth anything if you don’t fully engage in everything that is thrown at you. The number one reason you are there is to learn. Since they aren’t paying you, you should feel no obligation to hold back. So go on and ask a billion questions, they will want to answer them because they appreciate the work that you are doing and they know working for free isn’t easy.
3. Keep it Part Time
I know that sometimes you will not have much of a say in the number of hours per week that you work, but it is important to try and keep it part-time. This way you can get another job on the side that will help finance your wardrobe and boost your bank account for those late night Big Mamma’s runs. Either work a few days or hours a week at your internship and then the rest at your job or at school Although it may turn into an extremely busy semester, you will feel much better about taking an unpaid internship if you are also making money on the side.
4. Love What You Do
The best way to enjoy working for free is to love it so much that it doesn’t feel like a job. Find an internship that you love and paid or not, you will feel lucky to walk into the office everyday instead of dreading going to work.
Unpaid internships can get frustrating at times, especially when you find yourself running low on funds. It is always important to remember that it is worth the struggle to gain new, real world skills that would be impossible to learn in a classroom. Besides, will taking an unpaid internship really matter when you’re sitting in the corner office with a view, on the 10th floor of your dream job located in the heart of Manhattan in 5 years? I don’t think so either.