Thursday Thought: Paid vs. Unpaid Internships

The debate over paid or unpaid internships is back in the news again. One of the editors at Sheryl Sandberg’s “Lean In Foundation” ruffled some feathers by asking for an unpaid intern.

Here are my thoughts on paid versus unpaid.

What say you, viewer? Weigh in by leaving a comment.


About JasMollica

"It's never too late to have a life and it's never too late to change one." That's something I tell students, friends, and family all the time. After living and working in New York City, I took my own advice in 2004, switched my career from the television/radio industry and got into public relations. Now, I spend my days as a PR/social media marketing consultant and get inspired daily. It's been a good ride, so far. But the car has plenty of gas left. I hope you'll join along in this guy's journey!

Posted on August 15, 2013, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. I agree that the “compensation” from an internship can be different (and more valuable) than $$. It’s a bit of a two way street, one which the employer can manipulate to their advantage (unfortunately). When I was the internship coordinator at Fordham University (and there are a lot of things I would do differently in hindsight), businesses would request interns who would end up doing, for lack of a better word “grunt work.” And although those interns could say they were with a big name, I don’t think they walked away with a true exposure to something that could begin their professional development. There’s a difference between a minimally paid part time job that is just that: an exchange of $$ for a task …. and a true internship (paid or un) that gives that individual access to a peek into a slice of life at [you name it] business and gives the individual networking options for the future.

    Where I think the student is at a disadvantage is that they don’t always know how to vet these opportunities and figure out if the lack of $$ compensation is outweighed by the experience they’ll get and the connections they’ll make.

    *Last caveat — with so many people changing careers at a later stage in their lives, I think there is a place for people who are not “typical” college students to do something “for free” at businesses — the best I can think of right now is “structured volunteering” — and that’s going to be a different animal I think than a college student under the monitoring of an educational institution.

    Great question!

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