Unpaid internships can be a controversial topic.  Some see them as a positive opportunity to gain work experience; but others see companies using interns as free-labor. Internships in general are a valuable way for students to gain crucial career experience.  Currently internships are more relevant than they ever have been.  Students need an internship to gain the necessary work experience for a future job. Most businesses want to hire an employee with relevant experience in their career field.  A big internship provides an amazing opportunity, and students have to take advantage of it.  As we all know, the world is going through huge problems right now with COVID-19.  There are many displaced workers and employers can be more selective when hiring because of this.  College graduates looking for a job very soon will be competing against these experienced candidates.

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College students often do not see the true value of an unpaid internship.  Ideally, unpaid internships offer students a chance to work within their career field and gain experience with specific technologies and projects. Students have to approach these opportunities carefully. It is critical to take work responsibilities seriously, despite the lack of compensation.  Students also need to consider how an unpaid internship affects their financial situation to make sure they can afford to gain the experience and that the work opportunity has value for them. They also may want to consider that these situations have limited workplace protections.  Sometimes paid employees can negatively view unpaid interns, especially if they don’t maintain professionalism. Unpaid internships should be treated as a regular professional job which will provide experience and networking.  They can also add to your resume and assist you in finding a job.  whether you get paid or not, statistics show internships are very worthwhile.  According to Internships.com, 67 percent of people who graduated from college in 2013 fulfilled at least one internship.  Further, 32 percent completed at least two internships.  This is essential for current college students. 

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An unpaid internship can lead to other good things as well.  The tools for working and applying knowledge cannot be found just in books and may not even be taught in school.  We need to be able to think outside of the box.  All colleges are different (for example they may move at their own pace), so we need more than what classroom experiences offer.  Another great benefit from working unpaid is it helps build a career network.  We make personal connections through internships, which can lead to future career success. Internships are, by definition, outside the classroom.  That cannot be stressed enough. When applying for a full-time job, employers look at many things and experience carries more weight in a hiring decision than GPA.  employers want a well-rounded person with unique and remarkable achievements and activities. Unpaid internships will make your resume stand out to a future employer.  As a bonus, many colleges offer credit, especially for unpaid internships. Lastly it gives students a chance to make sure they are pursuing the right career field.  College credit and experience in your future career field, what could be better?               

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