Stepping out of school and entering a whole new world of college brings a change in your life. You are no more guided or in a cocoon of haven where admins and teachers guide you. In college life, things become a little independent. Though, Not completely! Here, still, you have your professors to guide and talk about subjects. But, what made college a little different is involving in the popular discourse of ‘Internships’.
Many of us wonder, Oh No! My friend is interning somewhere, I should too! And, many people suggest us, or it should be rather put like this, It’s a popular view that doing an internship is mandatory, in fact, free or unpaid internships would also do! As experience matters…
Dear readers, if you are a college student and you face the same dilemma, should you go for free or unpaid internships just for the sake of learning something new…Then, my answer would be No! Never trade your time to do something that will not monetarily benefit you. When you are an intern, you are not supposed to be a professional working since ages and who knows all the technical know-how of a particular industry.
The aim of doing an internship is to gain experience so that you know how to handle your meagre finances ( what you earn in the form of stipend), cope up with so-called work pressure by the time you are searching for an entry-level job. But, the negative of doing an unpaid job or internship is you will never learn the tricks of the trade. A paid internship helps you to judge where your work is undervalued against the salary you recieve or is it justiciable? It opens a new space for you and teaches you to negotiate your time with money. Ultimately, you are gaining experience in internships. Moreover, unpaid internships are more of telling a person, your time is not worth it. They seem more of casual work and never leave an impression on your CV.
On the other hand, paid internships give you the freedom to pay your own bills. And, even a meagre amount that you earn, either you can invest that in learning new skills, stock market, Or sponsoring your examination fees or petty college expenses. If you hail from a humble background, then, there are chances that you will want to quit that pro bono work even after you join the work.
If you are putting your efforts and at the end your efforts are not monetised, then there is no point in doing charity for the company. First of all, for such internships marginalised community people get out of the race as for them, gratuitous work becomes a matter of affordability.
In the Harvard business review, Joshua Kahn, Assistant Director of Research and Public Policy at the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) in Pennsylvania explained, “Companies offering paid internships design them such that they help in creating a pipeline of talent. So it’s not surprising that paid interns end up with more or better job opportunities.”
In the Indian context, where manpower is abundant, it is easy to get exploited, as the companies always have a substitute for you who is willing to work for free. But, the amount of dedication and the efforts to understand the core values of the company decreases as you know you are not going to get anything in return except a signed paper appreciating your efforts. The gratuitous work that you will be doing will add coins in the pocket of the company and you will still be empty-handed.
In the spring of 2019, NACE conducted small research where they analyzed the internship experiences of almost 4,000 seniors across 470 member colleges and universities. The survey aimed to find out the differences between paid interns, unpaid interns, and those who never interned, as well as the overrepresentation or underrepresentation of certain identities, compared to their sample size.
The survey came out with a surprising fact- Students never did any internship and received the same number of job offers as unpaid interns. “To me, this was more surprising,” Kahn says in the Harvard Business Review. “We always knew that there are differences between paid and unpaid interns, but the fact that unpaid interns did not have an advantage over those without an internship is a significant finding.” Unpaid interns do have the opportunities to build networks and find out their key area of interest. But, what’s the point, if on average, they get the same level of jobs and pay as their friends without any experience.
The key thing is that the unpaid internship is as insignificant or significant for your career as not doing an internship at all. So it is better to build your portfolio by asking for the due credits for the work you have done. For example, a byline for the article you wrote, image credit for the photo you clicked or the special mention for the design you made. And, first of all, before joining any organisation as an intern, always ask for a letter of recommendation, and fair monetary compensation.
With each second passing by, you are wasting time in making others earn. Now is the time that you start to look out for opportunities and always remember, your everyday worth dollars and your time is as precious as anyone working at the top level of the company. So, don’t just let yourself be an ordinary person in an organization whose existence does not matter!