Employers tend to love the unpaid internship, particularly when the applicant is desperate to earn a paid position. Unpaid labor scrambling to please is the best kind of slavery our modern recession can create. For some – particularly college students – an internship is unavoidable if one is going to have any contact with the working world whatsoever. Here’s how to get an internship, along with some internship tips for parlaying it into a (rightly) paid position.
Internships do benefit the intern
Companies that believe in giving potential employees a trial run with no pay or minimal pay aren’t entirely exploitative. The applicant does benefit in a few ways:
- Testing the field to see if the company is right for them
- Gaining professional networking contacts
- Gain experience
- Ideally, obtain a job
Compensation not required by law
While some companies will pay internship holders a minimum hourly wage, U.S. law states that compensation is not required in the following internship situations:
- When the position in intern-director, and transferred skills are not unique to the sponsoring company
- When interns do not replace regular employees or perform similar duties
- When the internship is designated as non-committal
- When no pay is mutually agreed upon
As such, it is easy for an employer to legally use and exploit an intern without paying them. Candidly, the only limits are the extent of the abuse the intern is willing and able to suffer.
How to get an internship
There are numerous ways to obtain an internship. Web sites associated with all career fields like Vault, Monster, Indeed and others are invaluable tools. Collegiate career counselors, professional organizations like the local Society of CPAs or the Bar Association are other examples. Friends and family who work at companies of interest are also potential resources for internship opportunities.
The internship experience
It’s a given that an intern should be punctual, professional, inquisitive and determined to provide maximum effort. On the other side of the fence, however, a company should treat its internship members with respect, provide them with career education and be prompt and clear with feedback, be it positive or negative. Once the internship is done, however, what should happen?
According to the latest data, roughly half of internships lead to a job offer. The numbers suggest that the leg up an internship position gives the applicant is very real. Working with the sponsoring company moving forward can give the once intern a solid start to their career, or a solid transition into a new career. Considering that 84 percent of employees polled claimed they planned to look for a new job in 2011, the market is definitely crowded; when you grease the wheels with an internship, there can be rewards.