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Why You Should Take That Unpaid Internship

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Northwestern chapter.

In today’s modern world, finding a well-paying and desirably located job in your field can be tough, and is an entirely different process than it has been in past generations. One important step, that seems to be both available and beneficial in almost all fields, are internships. Internships are a great way to beef up your resume, gain experience while still in school and get a taste for life after graduation – but, unfortunately, they often don’t come with a paycheck. This may seem unfair and unsustainable (we all have to pay rent and buy groceries, right?). But before you write them off completely, here are a few reasons why they might be worth it to help kickstart your future.

Doors, all of the doors

This is a bit of a cliché, but it’s 100 percent true: For what internships lack in financial offerings, they make up for in the experiences you gain from them. One internship can open up 10 doors for you in the future; don’t miss out on an opportunity to pay your dues at a really fantastic company because you are holding out for that paid position.

Entry level drag

If you have a dream job in mind that is something like Executive Financial Officer, Account Executive, CEO, etc. . . . Odds are, that job will not be available to you immediately after graduation. Many wonderful, thriving companies will start you out in non-wonderful, low-on-the-totem-pole jobs known as “entry level.” These are the jobs to get your foot in the door at the company; some are fairly monotonous and may not be at all what you wanted, but they are the opportunities to show the higher-ups what you can really do and why you’d be a strong asset to their company. However – internships are basically the same thing! If you do an unpaid internship with a company and make a noticeable impact while you’re there, they may hire you on full-time in a position higher than you could’ve otherwise started at.


Internships are great simply because of the exposure they offer you. New experiences, new skills and – best of all – new people. Even if you end up in a non-paid position that consists mostly of making copies and getting coffee, your chances of meeting people who will become part of your professional network are high. Just by being a little bit outgoing and by talking to people around the company, you could end up meeting someone who will help you get your dream job someday.

Job Sampling

Even if you find something you really enjoy learning about in college, odds are there are a ton of different types of jobs in that field. That said, you may not have a concrete idea of what exactly you want to do with your degree. Internships are a great way to test out different jobs; most of them last around three to 12 months, so if you find out that something is totally not for you, you will have the opportunity to move on from it fairly quickly.

So – don’t be too quick to write off unpaid internships, because you truly never know where they’ll lead! And don’t worry, that paycheck is coming someday!

Katrina Hicks

Northwestern '19