Yes, an Unpaid Internship Is a Job

College is an interesting time in a young person’s life. You’re pretty much an adult, at least legally you are. Of course, as an adult you’re expected to use your four years of undergraduate study to learn the necessary skills that will make you employable upon graduation. If and when you find employment, it will likely be in an entry-level position with an annual starting salary somewhere between $30,000 and $50,000 . This is often referred to as your first “real” job. When you’re currently in college however, it is rare to have one of these jobs. If you’re employed, it’s usually flipping burgers or sweeping floors part time while studying full time to earn your degree. There is one type of work however that is often considered not to be a job at all. That type of work is the unpaid internship. I have been an unpaid intern in two offices during my time at Towson University. In both cases, I found the experiences I had to be invaluable to my professional development and future career prospects. I did however at times; catch some flak for calling my internships my job, as well saying I was “going to work” as opposed to “going to my internship.” There are three reasons usually cited by those who would say that an unpaid internship is not a job. The first is always of course, that they are unpaid, the second is that the work being done is often of an unskilled nature, and the third is that internships emphasize educational learning during the intern’s tenure and not professional development. None of these reasons are valid. Although an unpaid internship is by its very definition unpaid, it can often lead to gainful employment. Whether it be through direct promotion from unpaid intern to paid staff, or through an internship being the crucial line on a resume that lands you your first “real job”, Internships are both a professional and monetary investment. While it is true that you’d make more money in the short term working a minimum wage job than an unpaid internship, you’ll end up making more money later with a job that was obtained due in large part to the skills and connections you gained from an internship. Frankly, I’d rather be broke now but equipped to obtain gainful employment after or perhaps even shortly before my graduation, than getting paid very little at minimum wage jobs which do nothing to boost my career prospects. In short, a career in the long term is more important than a job in the short term for any thoughtful college student. Also, regarding the idea that intern work is not skilled or meaningful work. None of my superiors at the offices I’ve worked at had me getting them coffee, or even worse, just sitting at my desk twiddling my thumbs. At both of my internships, my duties revolved around research, data entry and secretarial work. That all sounds like a job to me. It took skill to do those things. I had to develop communication, organizational and cognitive abilities to complete the tasks given to me by my superiors. That’s more than can be said for many paying jobs, especially those available to college undergraduates. The environment of any halfway decent internship is very professional. College students who are serious enough about their careers to get internships want to be treated like professionals. At least in my experience, internships satisfy this desire. None of my supervisors talked to me as though I was a student in a classroom. They treated me like an employee. Though the internships were educational, I learned by virtue of the work I was doing, not because I wrote papers or took tests on it as I would in a traditional academic environment. An internship is educational, but it is also professional. So consider taking advantage of this investment. If you want to have prior experience in your field to put you ahead of other job applicants within your major, get one or several internships. Assuming your internship is with any halfway decent organization that you researched before applying to; you should never hesitate to proudly call it your job. Source- huffingtonpost For further assistance related to Internship related queries in India, Dubai or Singapore, please visit: http://www.pursueasia.com

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