When thinking about doing an internship for the summer you will want to consider the type of internship you want to do and the knowledge and skills you hope to gain from the experience. If you can find an internship that will pay you for your time and effort all the better but sometimes it's just not possible to find a paid internship in specific fields such as nonprofit.
Although I do encourage students to find paid internships, I’m also realistic and know that many unpaid internships provide extremely valuable experiences in fields that do not have the resources to pay their interns. Setting internship goals will put you on the right track and will provide you with a blueprint of what steps you need to take in order to achieve them.
Internships With Early Deadlines
A number of the more competitive and popular internship programs require students to apply as early as October. If you are seeking an internship in a specific career field such as journalism, finance, or government, it's important that you begin looking early to identify those who have early deadlines.
Where Can I Find Paid Opportunities?
The type of organization usually determines if an organization has the funds to pay their interns. Depending on the specific career field, paid internships may or may not exist, but for those students who are interested in working in a nonprofit organization, the reality is that usually there are no funds available for paying their interns. Companies that offer paid internships create a win-win situation for both parties. Since money is considered a motivating force for most individuals, students doing a paid internship like to feel that they are contributing to the organization which may give them the motivation to work even harder.
The old adage, “you get what you pay for”, can definitely be considered when employers demonstrate their appreciation for the contribution that their interns make to the overall success of the company. On the other hand, students often tend to take more initiative when their efforts are recognized and appreciated by supervisors and the company as a whole.
Large corporations, private companies, law, and real estate firms are usually capable of offering paid internships or can offer some kind of stipend. Depending on how they set up the pay structure, internships may be paid weekly or bi-weekly, or the corporation may decide to pay out in a monthly or bi-monthly stipend. There are also times when an employer may decide to pay their interns in one lump sum upon completion of the internship. The key to finding paid internships is to begin looking early and to research a large number of internship opportunities that are currently available.
If money is an absolute necessity, you may need to be flexible in the type of internship and organization that you are looking to work for since most nonprofit organizations just don’t have the funds. Another thing to consider is that if you want a specific internship and it is unpaid, many students will combine their internship with a job in order to make the money they need over the summer. Also, look to see if there are any scholarships or funding available for students who are doing an internship in a specific area of interest, such as scientific research, environmental, public health, and education.
If an internship is not paid there may be other ways to get the financial resources required by many students to do an internship. Students who need to make money for incidentals or to put some money away for the coming semester may find funding through organizations or foundations or perhaps there's even funding available at your college through donations made by alumni, parents, or other groups that provide a scholarship or grant to students who want to do some experiential work that is connected to their major.
Private Corporations that Refuse to Pay
For-profit corporations that can pay their interns is a whole different story. According to the Federal Internship Guidelines set for by The U.S. Department of Labor, these organizations could be held liable for refusing to pay their interns.
Unpaid internships preclude many college students from applying to some of the most valuable and competitive internships out there. Since making money over the summer is not only nice but is a necessity for many students, paid internships level the playing field by providing these opportunities to all of the talented and extremely bright students seeking a summer internship.