Internships are a vital part of beginning a successful career path. They offer a great way for people beginning their work journey to get their foot in the door, but also gain valuable experience at the same time.

Internships fall under two main categories: paid and unpaid. A lot of questions arise when discussing the two: is the difference really as straight forward as it sounds? Should I avoid one and exclusively pursue the other? Which is better for me?

Do not worry students; with a little bit of analyzing, thought and understanding of the two, finding whether to put in emphasis on finding a paid or unpaid internship is easy.

Unpaid Internships

Unpaid internships may seem less appealing off the bat because they do not provide compensation for time, effort and work. Let that not sway you because money is not the most valuable thing that internships provide, experience is.

Experience improves the marketability of one person over another and could be the difference when a company selects a person to fill a position.

Unpaid internships can also be pursued because they provide opportunities post graduation, whether it be with the specific group you were interning with before, or another. Developing a good relationship with a company is crucial and the easiest way to get to know people in a workplace environment is through an internship, a lot of which happen to be unpaid. It also beefs up your résumé, which helps when applying for jobs tremendously.

In unpaid internships, the work is not usually as intensive as paid, so if you are trying to get your feet wet or see if a field is right for you, this may be the best route to take.

Unpaid internships, while always good in the fact that experience is being gained, also have a few drawbacks.

As most college kids know, money is hard to come by. If you are going to dedicate all of your time to an unpaid internship, there is not a whole lot of time left over to work another job that pays. An unpaid internship is a sacrifice, but usually it is for the greater good.

Paid Internships

The obvious plus to paid internships is the compensation, but there is much more.

According to a report by The National Association of Colleges and Employers, students who have had paid internships are much more likely to get a full time job offer then those who had an unpaid internship. This is huge and makes paid internships more valuable to most people.

Paid internships are also allowed to demand work that is useful to the employer, whereas unpaid internships are not. This adds another side to the experience gained from interning, and can be a big plus in terms of resume building.

Paid internships do have some downfalls as companies are much more exclusive when it comes to selecting interns.

Since you are on payroll, people within the organization are much more likely to watch, judge, and critique the work you are doing. More stress is involved in these types of internships, but there also comes a better opportunity to prove yourself.

Both types of internships provide many benefits to a person’s professional development, but for a specific person and a specific situation, one type may be better than another. It’s all about recognizing what you need and seizing the opportunity.

*Information curated by and The National Association of Colleges and Employers.


Clay Carper is a current Freshman at Waynesburg University, where he is a exploring options in the communications field, while minoring in marketing. He serves as an account coordinator within Waynesburg’s student-run public relations firm, Red Brick Communications. He hopes to pursue a job in the sport industry post graduation. Connect with Clay on LinkedIn.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s