Justifying an Unpaid Internship


Posting this enlight of my current interest in obtaining a job/internship/experience in the media field!

Students are broke. It’s a true statement, it’s even a hashtag… #brokestudent – seriously, you wanna feel better about your life, or at least less sad, search this on Twitter. Make sure you have Wifi, it’s free entertainment, and we know how important that is #brokestudent

Anyways, even with the lack of funding, and the extensive amount of homework and classroom learnings, we still need to pair that with real-world experience. Therefor, internships are important to students! It’s hard to obtain a job these days without having field experience. Not many internships are paid either, I would know. I’ve spent hours scouring the depth of the interwebs in hopes of coming across a position in a communications firm (or the like) where they will pay me and teach me. I’ve concluded, it’s really nearly impossible! So, we are forced to accept positions where we aren’t paid, but we are learning – it’s just like school, so, uh, why isn’t there OSAP for this? Bursaries? Loans?

Here’s a quick list of reasons that (to me) justify the dreaded unpaid internship:

  1. Internships can lead into employment
  2. Recommendation letters are incredibly helpful to obtain future employment
  3. Honorariums are often given at the end of the internship – which is also a great reason to stay focused and stay committed
  4. The experience of working and learning alongside industry professionals is priceless (although, I could certainly place a price on it, you know what I mean.. it’s valuable!)
  5. Practicing for the real-world in a real-world setting, without the intense pressure or involvement of finance – it’s true that this world revolves around money but money doesn’t mean happiness, but working and learning in an internship which you are passionate about can certainly bring happiness
  6. There is a serious lack of entry positions available anyways
  7. Some internships give you more tasks, responsibility and real/true/meaningful work then an entry position – often start-up companies, boutique agencies and small businesses cannot afford to pay interns, but they can offer the most experience. This is true because they need the help, new grads or current students are eager, excited and creative-minded, making them perfect for the position (win/win)

I’ve had numerous information sessions with industry professionals over the past year. Discussing options and how to obtain employment left me in the harsh reality that unpaid internships are just part of life.

The best advice I was given, is that, in order to launch my career, experience is so important. Even if it means getting an entry level position, or getting an internship and working your ass off for a whole year, gaining experience, and giving up a social life – DO IT.

At first it might seem like sad advice, but honestly a few months, or a year of working, is solidifying a commitment to an incredible future. Making connections, networking, gaining experience and having fun, doesn’t seem so bad. In my field of media communications networking is vital, not to mention that the perks of media internships are pretty great. In PR, we have promotional projects, group sessions, an open creative atmosphere, events, party, and launch parties.

I’ve certainly come to accept this reality. I’m okay with an internship (unpaid) because it’s about me. If I can commit to paying four years of university tuition, to learn, I might as well commit to an internship which will probably give me more relevant resources, experience, and hands on training than school ever could.

Posted with love,



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