Skip to main content

Here’s why doing an unpaid internship is worth considering

Why work for someone without getting paid? That’s a question a lot of people searching for an internship are asking themselves. Especially while searching for Internships abroad it seems to be very unlikely to find paid Internship opportunities. However, I experienced during my Communications Internship with ROOTS that it’s worth doing an unpaid Internship abroad even though there’s no salary. In this blog, I’m telling you why I came to this conclusion.

1. Motivation

These days working experience becomes more and more important in matters of job chances. For that reason, it’s always a plus in your CV if you can show working experience. Further, it will not only help you find a place of employment in your future career but also lead you in the right direction regarding your personal perception of your future job. Any internship should offer you the opportunity to learn new skills, get a feel for how an industry or organization work and gain valuable hands-on experience. However, while doing an unpaid internship it’s more likely for you to help out with tasks that actually interest you.

As for me, doing a Marketing and Communications internship with a non-profit has been the perfect match because I got not only the chance to stay in a beautiful city, that I always wanted to see but also the fact that I could get an insight how non-profits are working while helping them by doing tasks I like. I had a really good feeling about the organization, which I didn’t get with other companies that offer paid positions. This increased my motivation a lot so that I’ve decided to rather do an unpaid internship than getting paid for working somewhere less convincing in this sense.

Have a look at our various volunteer Internship opportunities here!

2. Learn what you like and what you don’t like

Through the experience, you gain from an unpaid internship you can find out a lot about yourself and the tasks you prefer doing later in your life. An internship can be absolutely worth it even if you discovered that there are certain things that you don’t like. That way, you get the chance to discover if the career you were thinking about is the right fit for you or absolutely not. The last thing you want in your life is to end up in a career you hate just because you thought you’d love it, but never really tried it out. Foregoing a salary for a couple of months in exchange for life-changing information isn’t such a terrible deal!

3. Gather valuable practical skills for free

An unpaid internship is a great learning opportunity that you get for free without paying any courses or instructors. You can learn a lot about useful tools and programs that most of the companies are working with. This can be absolutely advantageous for your later job chances. You can add all the new skills to your resume and show the employers work sampling whereas some people even pay a lot of money for the learning opportunity. Just keep in mind: Whether you’re a student or an intern during an unpaid internship, you have to make sure that you can afford the costs for living.

Don’t know how to finance an unpaid Internship? Have a look here, we found some strategies for you!

 Nonprofit Internship environmental management internship south africa

4. Easier to get

When you apply for a paid internship, it’s much like applying for a job. Your prospective employer is about to invest actual money in you. Not every internship will fit this model, but quite often, you’ll find that it’s much easier to get into an unpaid internship than a paid one. Sure, employers will always have standards. They will be investing their time and energy in you, if not their money, but by the end of the day, they can still be more flexible. And because there is such a high demand for free interns, there will always be opportunities for you. During my Internship, I’ve noticed that there are a lot of non-profits that are not only searching for unexperienced volunteers but also for skilled persons to volunteer their knowledge and expertise in order to contribute to the organization, which can be really valuable for them, especially because they don’t have the budget to pay professionals.

5. An unpaid internship could lead to a paid internship or a full-time job offer

There are many industries where an unpaid internship is simply the best way to gain experience and make connections that can lead to gainful employment. Do a good job and remain enthusiastic about the work you’re doing. This will increase your chances of impressing someone in the company enough that they’ll want to keep you around a while longer and even pay for your stay. Volunteering your time is a good first step to get a foot in the door, especially if you’re planning your future career with a non-profit!

Working for an NGO is better than sitting at home dreaming about an ideal society you want to live in. Have a look at these 4 reasons to do an NGO internship!

Unpaid internships may not be for everyone. You have to be able to afford to “work for free”, at least for some of the time. However, it offers opportunities to work where you’re passionate and it could help you jump-starting a long-term career, which makes perfect economic and moral sense. Either way, go for it. You’ll learn a ton! And of course, don’t forget the FUN! 😉

Other interesting reads