When someone hears the words “unpaid” and “work” in the same sentence, the first reaction is usually to turn the other way. Foregoing a paycheck, for an internship, may not fit everyones budget (considering living expenses, car payments, etc). However, sometimes the opportunity presented seems to good to pass up. The company might be one where having their name on your resume is enough to trump a paycheck- for a period of time, of course. It can be a daunting dilemma to decide if taking an unpaid internship is worth it. So to make a clear decision, lets consider pros and cons on taking an unpaid internship.
Gaining Experience & Networking
There are seemingly few benefits to taking an unpaid internship. However, they are still important ones. The experience you gain from interning at any particular company is great to put on your resume. The work is completely valid, whether paid or not. Another positive aspect to an unpaid internship is that you will be able to network and make connections that can later be used as references. Although both can be said for a paid internship, an unpaid internship is the next best option if you’re more focused on getting experience vs. payment.
Working For Free
This is probably the biggest disliked aspect to an internship that doesn’t pay. You work, a job, without the benefit of getting paid for your work. Many people feel that this is completely unfair, considering that companies are benefiting from free labor and that they essentially exploit unpaid interns to get free work.
No Employee Protection
Another downside to unpaid internships is that they don’t offer protection against employee discrimination or sexual harassment. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects employees, however, does not have protective provisions for unpaid interns or “trainees” in regards to discrimination and harassment. This is a big aspect to consider before diving into any unpaid position. You want to always take into consideration your safety and protection. If you feel that you are (or would be) unsafe, discriminated against or harassed, its best to remove yourself from that situation.
Unpaid Internships Are Often Illegal
Yes, you read that right; Illegal. In June 2013, concerning a case of two interns working on the film, ‘Black Swan’, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York ruled that the interns were classified as employees rather than “trainees” according to the Fair Labor Standards Act. For an intern to be classified as a “trainee”, their relationship with the employer adhere to the criteria of a six-part test, which explains the nature of an approved intern-employer relationship.
The unfortunate thing about an unpaid internship is that is can be very easy to be taken advantage of in that situation. However, if the opportunity of a paid internship does not present itself and if willing to take the risk, there are benefits that can help you gain the experience needed to help fuel the advancement of your career.
Interviews can be an exciting, yet anxiety-inducing event. After all, those 20-45 minutes can determine whether you are embarking on a new venture within your career or whether you continue your search for the perfect position. The last thing you want to do is go into an interview blindly. It is crucial that you cross all your I’s and dot all your T’s before entering, as well as after, an interview. Meaning? Well, there are essential steps to take before and after the interview process to show you are the best choice for the position. Master the following essential tips to nail your interview!
1. Research The Company
Do thorough on the company you are interviewing for. Become familiar with company, its inspiration, values and history. Absorb this knowledge and use it in your interview. Expressing your interest/ knowledge about the companies values will show the interviewer how much interest you really have in the position and the company as a whole.
2. Prepare Beforehand
A few days before your interview, review your resume and have a mock interview (with someone else or solo). Act as if you are at your interview and answering questions that the interviewer would inquire about. Practicing beforehand will help you relax and develop a smooth delivery in your actual interview.
3. Dress Thoughtfully
Be wise about what your wear in an interview. Wear dress pants or skirt that is knee-length or longer. Wear a simple blouse and dress shoes (not too high). Keep your makeup simple, your hair neat and wear minimal jewelry.
4. The One Question You Must Nail
“Why are you the right candidate for this position?” This question may seem daunting but its actually the perfect setup to sell yourself and your skills to the interviewer/ hiring manager. When answering this question you want to include 4 things: that you can a) effectively accomplish the work, b) you will deliver excellent results, c) that you’ll really fit in with the team and d) that you’re a better hire than any of the other candidates.
5. Answering The Weakness Question
“What Would You Say Is Your Greatness Weakness?” The worst answer you can give to this question is, “I have no weaknesses”. The answer you give will tell the interviewer a lot about your character. They want to know that you are aware that you make mistakes. Managers know that no one is perfect. They want to know what your weakness is and how you overcome it to get the job done. They also want to know how you’ve handled obstacles in the past and how you will handle them in the future.
6. Body Language
Your body language says a lot about you and it will give insight to the interviewer, as well. Show confidence by having good posture. Sit up, high and straight in your chair. Give good eye contact. Not too much to where you’re staring them down but just enough to show you’re focused and interested in the interview. Lean in when listening to the interviewer. This is shows that you are engaged in the conversation. Lastly, smile and show enthusiasm- give the impression that there is nowhere else you’d rather be.
7. Follow-up Promptly
Before you leave the interview, ask the interviewer what happens next, this way you’ll know the appropriate time to follow up. If the interviewer says they’ll be contacting candidates within a week, you should follow up a few days after that. You don’t want to be annoying or pushy, but you want to be on the interviewers mind and show them you’re continual interest in the position.
After following these tips on nailing your interview, get ready to take on your new dream job!
This article is Part of Business 101: The Career Crucials series.
If there are people out there who say they love to walk into a room filled with strangers who they need to meet and impress in minutes, I’m politely calling them out. However, I agree that for some, it can be uber-daunting. If you feel especially ill at ease, you don’t need to force yourself to channel Robin Williams. Just take some deep breaths and remember the following:
Prep. Make a mental note of conversation starters. Something as simple as “Hello, I’m Heidi. What brought you to this event?” is great. Don’t forget that the starter doesn’t always have to be business-related, or even a question. Starting with “Hello, I’m Heidi. I saw your dress from across the room and just had to ask you where you got it because it’s fantastic on you,” not only breaks the ice but also make someone feel good.
Find out who will be there. Find out ahead of time who might be at the event that you want to meet and then prep questions specifically for them. Questions or comments that are specific to the person really emphasizes your interest in them. For example, “I was hoping to meet you. I’m so interested in how you first came up with the idea for self-parking cars.” Flattery in the form of interest and admiration for what someone does goes a long way.
Meet people out of your comfort zone. Once you arrive, don’t be afraid to strike up conversations with solo attendees or small groups. If you’re with friends or with other people you just met, introduce yourselves to someone who looks shy (or even bored). Give everyone a chance and a positive attitude, this makes for good vibes all around.
Listen. Remember – people love to talk about themselves and, consequently, love a good listener.
Set Realistic Goals. That being said, you may feel tempted to stick with one friendly person all evening or feel stressed that you have to “meet everyone!”
So, set a goal, such as three people. Once you’ve achieved that goal, relax and call it a successful night. You may even find that when you’re more relaxed, you end up making even more friends and acquaintances. Now, pat yourself on the back for your success, head home and snuggle up to a Netflix binge of “Game of Thrones.” Now there’s a stressful networking world.