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Depending on the internship, the program, and the field of study may impact whether or not one feels it would be worth it to commit the time and effort. Another note to keep in mind: not all internships are non-paid.

The idea of most internships is to provide individuals with a series of job assignments, designed to prepare them for the next level of responsibilities, should they move forward with employment at the company, following their education. Doing so will prepare the individuals, as the nature of their responsibilities should be in line with the student’s program or career. An internship should be focused on offering insight, experience, and education. An internship should not be a company’s opportunity to employ free or low-paid staff. Both the company and the student, both, should be able to benefit from each internship opportunity.

A not-so-happy happy hour patron was playing a word game on her phone, disengaged from the conversation going on among her friends. She exemplified a discouraged look, and somewhat crestfallen stance. After speaking with her, it became known that she was in fact discouraged, as she was weighing options whether or not to take an internship.

“I just feel like I have worked so hard in school, while having an actual job” she said. “I’ve been making money to support myself, and now, as I am reaching the end of my curriculum, it seems like the big reward for me is to take a non-paid internship” she continued.

Her other friends didn’t seem to take their own news of internships quite as harshly. “Inside experience of working in a particular field” said one of her friends. “It’s worth starving for a few months, in the end the rewards will be greater.”

“I put money aside a long time ago” chimed in another one of her friends. “The chance of getting an internship with a company I admire is something I couldn’t pass up” she said. “I couldn’t imagine turning it down, because I wouldn’t be able to afford the experience.”

The friends were gathering to celebrate some of the internships that had been confirmed among them, while others did not see this as much of a call for celebration. “I have to do it, just to gain the experience and to meet people at the company” said a fourth friend in the circle. “But I’m going to have to really work even harder than I am to make sure I’m still able to pay rent.”

“A decent estimate would be to say that over 25% of the new hires at the company I work for previously held internship positions at the company” mentioned a patron nearby. “They are not only interviewing for a job at the company, but they are familiar with the corporate culture, and have a greater sense of wanting THE job, and not just wanting A job” he said.

Going back to the girl mentioned earlier, who first expressed to me the pros (and more cons) of interning as she had imagined it would be, it was because she valued the idea of the internship that she was even weighing the options to begin with. “If it wasn’t a win for me, I would have made up my mind already” she said. “But I know it will offer more good than any paid job I would have over the next few months, before graduation” she said.

As this conversation was being had several months ago, the results since have proved to be very favorable. “I did it!” she exclaimed. “I took the risk. I found ways of making the money I needed to survive, and in the end, got to take part in the internship as well. I feel like I added so much to my education, as it was such a hands on way to practice what I learned in school” she continued. “It was definitely worth the risk” she said. “I just can’t believe I spent so much time worrying about what to do!”