Use of an Unpaid Internship — it’s all in Your Hands

The unpaid internship - why bother, you may ask -- I personally say if it's a good fit for you and you can afford to do it: do it

The unpaid internship – why bother, you may ask — I personally say if it’s a good fit for you and you can afford to do it: do it

So awhile back we debated about the merits of a paid versus unpaid internship and came to the conclusion that it all depends on what you can afford to do, and what exactly you are getting out of it.

Now the world is tough and the job market seems to hinge on how much “experience” you’ve clocked up via internships, and I am sad to say that in my line of interests–which ranged from museum studies and now to publishing–paid internships are real slim pickings. It also doesn’t help that I decided to “switch” so late in the game, I’m now a graduate with very little publishing/editing experience save for my portfolio of pop-culture blogging I’ve amassed over at And I’ll be honest, I left one tiny job market to rush into another job market that is highly competitive and while I do long for a paid internship and eventually a job at some point in my career…

I am still happy with what I’ve got.

My current internship is an unpaid but heavily mentored program; I’m kind of thinking of it now as a free class. I’m working with women who have been in publishing for a long time and switched to digital publishing when the going looked good to try to invest in a website, and it worked out for them. With that in mind I have some industry savvy mentors teaching me the ropes of how to write, how to pitch, and how to get in touch with free-lancers, PR, and basically get over my own shyness and fear of public speaking to put myself out there and judge products for our publication.

Yes it’s unpaid, but at this point? I see it like a free class; and while I would love to slap down on my resume that it was a paid position, I also am grateful for the advice and help that my coworkers are giving me. I’m literally making network connections for this particular publication and learning how to foster relationships between the editors and their sources so … I find that it’s a good thing.

Plus, these women are tech savvy and I am learning a few tricks when it comes to managing social media and how to get the existence of our publication out there to the masses. It’s a lot of work, but I love it, and am grateful to have the experience for it.

Will I be satisfied with another unpaid internship after this one? Probably not, I need to make money to fund my own wanderings in life, yanno.

But, I think, for someone who kind of floundered about in their undergrad career, who didn’t actually build this all-important network connections or get all that “experience” needed to get a job immediately after college… I think this is a good start.

And I look forward to every day of my internship, every new opportunity that I can soak in and spin to my advantage when it comes to finding another position after this one. It’s two months away but I’m already looking at where else I can apply for fall, even an entry level job in the industry if I can (While also teasing out the idea of dropping everything altogether and running off to animation–yet another tiny industry haha)

But — again, the long and the short of it is: I’ve taken a position that many people would view unfavorably and it’s become one of my passions. I will do my best for this publication and I wish for it to succeed — even after I’ve gone.

And well, if that’s what I’ve made up of this unpaid internship, then I hope that’s the right idea; if anything at least I’ll take away something great from it that should (hopefully) help me along in life.


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