Another student emailed me after hearing me talk at her school. She wanted to know why I chose to do unpaid internships. Here are my thoughts:
1. I was after the experience. In college, I wanted extra money for expenses, food, and fun so I got a part-time job. In college, I also wanted great workplace experience, so I got an internship. The opportunity was unpaid but since I wasn't going to my internship for a paycheck, I really didn't think twice about it.
2. I had a job and an internship. Many people think you can't manage a job, an internship, and your school work. I'm not a rocket scientist - but I was able to manage both. Do you need to do this every semester? No, but I would recommend having at least two internships (paid or unpaid) under your belt before graduation. Typically, unpaid internships only require 12-15 hours per week.
3. My industry of choice didn't offer a lot of paid opportunities. My interests were always in media and communication related opportunities. Today, some of these internships pay (Warner Brothers, Viacom) but at the time - it was really unheard of.
4. It Wasn't a Huge Time Commitment. Again, my unpaid internships only required 12-15 hours per week. I was able to manage the rest of my priorities.
5. Added To My Resume. When I was a freshman in college my resume lacked experience - I worked at Red Lobster and The Limited Too - not exactly the most relevant for someone going into the communications industry. My unpaid internships may not have paid me but they added tons of value to my resume.
6. Gave me Connections. In college, I had no connections. The only way I made connections was at my unpaid internships. While I wasn't getting paid - I was able to meet valuable contacts who eventually lead to me landing my first PAID job. My internship contacts still help me today.
7. Provided An Education I Couldn’t Get Inside the Classroom. At my unpaid internships, I learned things I could have never learned at school. I was observing how professionals acted and executed their tasks in the workplace. I sat in on meetings, wrote press releases, learned how to pitch the media, listened to conference calls, and had the opportunity to meet several top clients. The challenges I was facing at my internships motivated me in a way I'd never been motivated before.
8. Motivated Me to Be Successful. In high school, I was caught up in the social scene and worried about who was throwing the next fabulous party. In college, things weren't much different. I went to a huge party school with a well-known football team - and that was what college was about. It wasn't until I started my internship that things really clicked into place. After my first internship, I changed from a girl who only cared about parties, football games, and cute boys into a girl who was obsessed with her future and figuring out her career path. If you are feeling unmotivated, try internship, it changed my life...
To read more about my internship experiences, please check out my internships book HERE.
Also, my new book comes out April 22nd. Here is the link: http://amzn.to/OFOPL7