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Should students work unpaid internships?

Would you work an unpaid internship? (Photo by Mel Hattie)
Would you work an unpaid internship? (Photo by Mel Hattie)

Hello March, hello summer job hunts! It’s that time of year again—students are starting to look for something to do this summer, whether in Halifax or somewhere else.

Summer employment can be difficult to come across, especially when almost everyone is looking for a job.

What happens if you can’t find one? Will you try for an unpaid job, like an internship? These days, unpaid internships are becoming a harsh reality for many students. However, they can actually put you ahead of the game.

For me, internships will be a fact of life in my pursuit of a career in journalism.

I won’t be doing an internship this summer—I’m not there yet, and I already have a few jobs lined up in Halifax. But as my education progresses, I’ll need to build up my experience through internships—paid or unpaid.

Without an internship, I won’t have the experience necessary to work for any media company. No newspaper is going to hire a freshly graduated student with no experience, even if I do graduate with a bachelor or a master’s degree in journalism.

With an unpaid internship, I’ll be able to learn how the newspaper and magazine industry works. I’ll learn what it’s like and what it means to be a journalist on a daily basis.

I know I won’t be getting paid, but take a look at some of the benefits: I’ll receive lots of experience, learn what I’m getting into, figure out if I’m going in the right direction, and it’ll look great on my resume.

Unpaid internships also make you look passionate, loyal and interested in the field you’re looking to get into. Your employer will know you worked extremely hard for your job, and that you’re in it for good. I once completed an unpaid internship, and at the end received the job I was hoping for. My employer realized that I had been working extremely hard, and I wasn’t going to give up any time soon.

Internships will also put you a few steps closer to getting your dream job. Employers are looking for young adults who already have the right skills for the profession. They really don’t want to be wasting their time and money teaching you how to do your job, so if you already know what to do, it’s a bonus.

At the end of the day, employers are looking for experience. If that means completing an unpaid internship, so be it. After all, experience is experience. Don’t be scared of getting your hands dirty—today’s employers aren’t looking for a clean slate.

THE FLIPSIDE: No way

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