By: Nicole Raymond
Finding an internship is one of the most important things a student can do, no matter what they are studying in school. While some internships are paid, typically communications, journalism, and public relations internships are unpaid. This can pose a problem for some college students who are paying tuition among other essentials, such as food and rent.
At first, working for free may seem daunting, especially if you have another paid job to support yourself. Working long hours to make some cash, working for no pay at your internship, juggling a social life and keeping up with your grades can be exhausting, but internships are so much more if you allow them to be.
It’s important for students to find the right internship. There are plenty of organizations who select interns from nonprofits to agencies to corporations. If you find an internship with an organization that you love, it will be a little easier to work for little to no pay. Although it is an unpaid internship, consider what perks you will receive outside of monetary compensation. When you think of all the perks you receive during an internship, it can relieve some of the stress of not being paid. For example, does the organization provide coffee or lunch? Do you get to attend special events or experience things you otherwise wouldn’t get to experience?
Internships can offer so much more than a paycheck. If you find the right internship it can lead to countless opportunities to learn and grow in the field you love. Internships can also lead to future employment or at least more networking opportunities. In the right internship, you will be learning something new everyday and it very well may be more valuable than a paycheck.
Just because the internship is unpaid doesn’t mean students should slack off when searching and applying. Sarah E. Needleman of Careercast.com writes that you should put in the same amount of effort into finding an internship as you would when applying for a job. Students should still research the company extensively to show you are serious about the position. Needleman also states that just because the organization is not paying you, doesn’t mean they aren’t investing in you and your future.
Once you’ve found the organization you want to intern for, sent your resume, had an interview and finally received the call that you’ve gotten the internship, what do you do? After you’ve scored your internship, there is plenty still to do to make sure you get the most out of it.
Do more research and familiarize yourself with the organization as much as you can. Familiarizing will not only show your boss your dedication, but will also ensure an easier transition for you as you enter the workplace. The more you know about the company and their ways, the easier it will be for you to start work there and fall into place.
Listen and try your best to take charge. Listen and pay close attention during your training period and be prepared. If you’re not sure how to do something, try to figure it out yourself before asking your boss. They will notice your ability to problem solve and appreciate that you don’t ask them a million questions each day. This isn’t to say that asking questions is bad. If you’re not sure of something, do your best to figure it out, and if you’ve tried and can’t seem to figure it out, then of course it is OK to ask. An internship is meant to help you grow in your field, so when you just aren’t getting something, ask for some guidance and try again.
Be a good intern—don’t be lazy. Just because you are unpaid doesn’t mean you have to slack off. Make the most of your internship by always working hard and you will gain more knowledge and skills. Make a good name for yourself by asking your boss if there is anything else you can do when you have down time. Don’t be afraid to share ideas. Bosses can sometimes be narrow minded, so gaining fresh perspective from interns is exactly what they could use. Speak up if you think you have a good idea that could help the organization.
With these tips, you will be on your way to a successful internship!
Nicole Raymond is senior majoring in public relations and double minoring in marketing and communications. This is her first year serving on EMU PRSSA’s E-board as VP of External Relations. Nicole is a wife, aunt, daughter, sister and friend. Connect with her on Twitter and Instagram @nicoleraymond74.