Interns, price yourselves higher

As some of us dream about summer, whether it be a trip to a paradise beach or an excursion to a foreign country, others are gearing up for summer internships in hopes of making themselves better applicants for future jobs.

For those of you applying for these internships, you have a lot to consider. There’s the location, whether or not it is within your field of study and, of course, how it will look on your resume. But what seems to be becoming more commonplace is allowing low pay for student workers. And by low pay, we mean no pay: Many students will accept offers for internships that offer no compensation.

Students’ time and labor would be better spent seeking out paid internships. More than simply making some extra cash, there are several reasons why being paid for your work as an intern is important. Not only is it a motivation to seek out work in the first place, but CNBC reported that those who receive paid internships go on to make more money out of college.

It isn’t unheard of for students to move cities for the summer in order to score their dream internship. If this is the case, how can they afford to sublease an apartment or buy food? Not all students have enough wiggle room to have their parents pay for their experience, nor can they afford to take out more student loans.

To be fair, some industries simply cannot afford to pay their interns, even though they value the additional help and the opportunity to help students gain experience. Nonprofits and governmental positions are notorious for not having the resources to pay their interns, but there are a few ways around this.

Some programs offer students housing and a stipend. Though you may go unpaid, you will have the necessities covered.

Even then, some internship programs can’t even offer this. If the experience gained and the name on your resume is that valuable, at the very least, don’t settle for a full-time, unpaid and unsubsidized program.

If a paid internship is not an option, accepting a position with a part-time program would allow you the freedom to get a part-time job as well — it would still be tight, but it might be enough to cover your basics.

There are plenty of employers that do not require college degrees but still pay well. The service industry is full of them: In-N-Out pays $11 an hour, minimum, which is more than some of us will make straight out of college. Also, if you worked for a chain, consider reapplying to the same position — the previous experience and familiar environment will be less distracting as you try to focus the majority of your energy on your internship.

The bottom line is, your work is worth something. Though it may feel necessary for your future career to have the experience with that one dream internship position, studies show that employers are more impressed with the fact that you have experience in that field. When looking into internship opportunities, make sure you weigh your options to find the best balance between affordability and experience. But keep in mind, if you are to do your best in that position, it is best that it is paid.

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