The payout of an unpaid internship

Hallie Gardner

As I am about to embark on my unpaid internship (insert grumble here), I figured I would write this week’s blog on the importance of gaining experience. Sure, taking a hit on the paycheck isn’t exactly ideal, but from what I’ve been told, getting your foot in the door pays off in the end.

Upon being offered the position, there was a great deal of back and forth on my part. 3 months with no income? That’s not an easy thing to swing, but with the help of my parents and extra shifts at work, I was able to make it all come together. In the end, I felt that I was willing to overlook the financial loss in exchange for experience.Library


For all of you out there looking at taking an internship, do it. Plain and simple, it’s one of the best ways to earn real-world exposure. Here’s a few key takeaways:

-Internships look amazing on resumes. Employers like to see students that are engaged.

-Learn more about the field you are potentially interested in entering. Is this a career you could see yourself in?

-Find out what the professional workplace is really like (business etiquette, dress code, office rules).

-Networking, networking, networking. Need I say more?

-Earn college credit! Check with your degree program advisor about internship credit. Universities often have programs in place that will award you credit hours, depending on the amount of time you work during the internship.

-Use your skills and learn new ones!

-Internships are a great way to land yourself in an entry-level position. Employers put a lot of time and effort into their interns and they would rather hire them than someone new. NACE’s 2008 Experimental Education Survey showed that hiring from intern program is growing.

-Experience can pay off– literally! NACE also reported that employers who hired entry-level candidates with internship experience paid them 6.5% more than those without the experience.

I’m excited to begin my new adventure and even though I am sure I will be frequently looking at my bank account and crying silently, it will be one of my best experiences to date.


Hallie Gardner can be reached at