Should You Take An Unpaid Internship?

Heidi DTLA Maxmara Multi Scarf 6 edited

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.

Heidi Collage


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.

Heidi DTLA Maxmara Multi Scarf 1 edited

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.



  • Dora says:

    I don’t mind interning for free as long as I would gain more knowledge and experience about the job. It’s actually a big deal in other companies to have enough knowledge and experience to secure a job. Good thing though, that now there’s a law against unpaid internship, at least the applicants wouldn’t worry about the legalities should this happen in the future.

  • Rowena says:

    Thanks so much for these valuable infos. I guess I am one of those fortunate to have been paid when I had my internship in a publishing company. The long hours I spent at the office while I was an intern paid off when I found myself officially welcomed and formally working in the company I applied at.

  • Clarence says:

    Unpaid work/internship? I don’t like that idea, that’s a little insulting because you work and do your best to complete whatever is tasked on you and then you won’t get paid after all those efforts? Nah. I’d rather work than be left at home doing nothing.

  • Kyla says:

    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with unpaid internship as long as you love doing your job and learn a lot and gain a lot of valuable experience. It will surely be a great vehicle towards building your own success.

  • Kitty says:

    Since it’s illegal, then we shouldn’t take unpaid internship for that matter. I’m concerned with the welfare of my coworkers and I don’t want them to get the end of an illegal bargain.

  • Jillian Sanders says:

    Unpaid? No, I don’t think so. I’m quite broke lately so this won’t be applicable to me, sadly 🙁

    By the way, I love the yellow coat and colorful scarf you’re wearing! So cool 🙂

  • Francesca Reese says:

    I know some of my friends take unpaid internship. I had talked to them about the legalities and stuffs but they informed me they were just there to gain experience. I guess that’s not bad at all.

  • MJ says:

    Let me just say, the explosion of colors on your scarf and coat looks really lovely on you!

  • Cathrina says:

    Ah, no. Not in my case. I don’t think it’s a good idea to do internship without getting paid.

  • Lorelei says:

    Oh what a gorgeous colorful frock you got there Heidi! I love the whole look!

  • Helga says:

    I think there’s nothing wrong if your main initial concern is to acquire experience in the field you are interning. In the long run, it’s your decision if you want to keep getting unpaid, or improve your work and can demand for payment for all the hard work you’ve done.

  • Susan Armstrong says:

    Working but not getting paid? Nah.. I don’t think so. If I were to work in a company that won’t pay interns, I would rather sell items online in order to earn, than be taken for granted for what I do.

  • Nimfa Jen says:

    Unpaid internships are illegal, that I am sure of. so my answer would be no, I wont be taking unpaid employments even for experience purposes.

  • Misty Dew says:

    I also think it isn’t fair for interns if they won’t get paid for the services they rendered, even for such a short time.

  • Jennifer says:

    Gorgeous! I really love your coat and scarf! Colorful and really gorgeous on you!

  • Arianne says:

    I have a small number of trainees/employees of my own and I don’t want them to feel unappreciated for all their hard work. I pay them for all the hours they rendered and I know they prefer to be paid even though they initially just wanted to learn.

  • Leigh Curtis says:

    No, I won’t take unpaid internship, I don’t think I would enjoy working then.

  • Claire says:

    I’ve done that before, I worked unpaid, but it was okay with me because there were other benefits that I received. Like free meal and other prizes. It was a great experience too. Eventually, I was able to work professionally with them and now the pay is quite tremendous.

  • Rhaiza V. says:

    Unpaid internship? Unfortunately, I experienced that on my very first job more than four years ago. It wasn’t that bad actually. But it was a grueling experience because I was really struggling at that time, But I still worked with them for about a couple of months, until I finally started working with them officially. The pay was more than tenfold of what I have expected, so I stayed.

  • Georgina says:

    Nope, won’t take unpaid internship. not really. I really need the bucks, so I don’t think I would go for this setup.

  • Claire says:

    The scarf! That’s so gorgeous Heidi, I so love it! It looks really great on you 🙂

  • Aaliyah Jane says:

    Won’t be taking any unpaid internship anytime soon, thank goodness! By the way, I love your beautiful dress, I like the colors.

  • Jenner says:

    Won’t do it. I mean no I won’t take unpaid internship. It would be unfair to me.

  • Tasha Clark says:

    Unpaid internships are a no-no in my book. Wouldn’t like working in a company that can’t appreciate hard work.

  • Marcia says:

    Oh, you’re gorgeous, has anyone ever told you that? Those sunglasses completed the whole mesmerizing look~

  • Sophie Garner says:

    Whoa, I love the splash of colors amid the white outfit. You look really great here!

  • Lizza Hope Gilstrom says:

    I think it’s alright to take unpaid internship if you are just after the experience and lessons and don’t mind the money yet. But if it were me, who actually needs to earn, I think I won’t do unpaid work.

  • shadowsfoxes says:

    I feel sad to those who need to take up unpaid internship because they wont be getting the rewards of their hardships. You are right Heidi, they are always on the disadvantage, they will always be taken advantage of.

  • Nikki Annie says:

    I don’t think I’m cut out for free internship. No can do.

  • Taylor says:

    Free internship won’t be able to pay my bills, so I don’t think I’d take unpaid work. Good thing the jobs I’ve been to always paid us employees for our hard work.

  • Nadya says:

    If I am after experience, it’s okay for me to be unpaid. But times now, I need to make a living, so I won’t be taking unpaid internships.

  • Rhyanna says:

    A lot of people would never agree to unpaid labor, that I am sure of. People will only deviate if the job they agreed to take part on freely is their family-operated business. Just my two cents.

  • Margaret Walters says:

    If you were to ask me, I wouldn’t take unpaid internship. I need to earn so I would only go for paid jobs.

  • Warren says:

    Should I take an unpaid internship? I don’t think that’s a good idea, personally because it isn’t just fair to you, it’s also illegal.

  • Sapphire says:

    Love the splash of color on your outfit, so beautiful and breathtaking!

  • Helena says:

    You’re such a beautiful girl! I love the yellow and colorful scarf, looks great on you! Scarves are my favs.. Fall is really here!

  • Charlie H. says:

    Me, I won’t take unpaid internship. I think that’s against the law.

  • Louisa says:

    For me, I won’t be working on a company that doesn’t pay its employers, even those on training or internship. It won’t be fair at all.

  • Shaye Lou says:

    No, if this is offered to me, I don’t think I’d take it. No..

  • Calla Lilly says:

    ahhh.. an explosion of colors! Love the outfit especially the scarf, looks really stunning on you!

  • Deanna says:

    I know a lot of people have told you this before, but let me just say again, you look absolutely beautiful in yellow! Gorgeous!

  • Nadya Luster says:

    I’m okay with unpaid internship, for now, while I haven’t been formally hired. I want to have experience for the meantime so that when the real deal comes, I’m more prepared. But of course, it would be best if I also get paid.

  • Tiffany O. says:

    Won’t be taking any unpaid jobs or internship, I’m not cut out for that because I need money to live.

  • Geena M. says:

    My answer would have to be NO too.. Gotta earn something to continue living, ya know..

  • Warren says:

    My answer would have to be NO too. I agree with everyone. There’s nothing like enjoying your hard work and getting paid for it. Just my two cents.

  • Angelique says:

    Well, I know certain people who would go for unpaid internship, like those who are well-off but still need to get experience in working. Nothing bad with this is you’re not after money. But for me, honestly, I don’t think I can do it.

  • Ashley says:

    Heidi, you look stunning as always. Scarves are the IT thing these days and the one you wear is eye-catching and I love it!

  • Maine Girl says:

    Working for free may not be a bad thing, as long as you enjoy what you’re doing and learning a lot for future endeavor. I guess, I’m okay with it, for a certain amount of time. .

  • Charmaine says:

    I don’t think I can take free internships, I need the money to have something to eat, experience is secondary.

  • Robyn Dee says:

    You’re slayin’ that colorful scarf and yellow coat outfit. I so love your look!

  • Robbyn says:

    I think, even if you are just in for the experience and not the money, unpaid internships still do not favor me or most people. The need of employee protection is vital, we should know just how much we can do for a company that won’t pay a dime. Just my two cents.

  • Lissandra O'Brien says:

    Unpaid internships are illegal. ’nuff said.

  • Pamela Baker says:

    I wouldn’t dare work in a company that won’t pay its employees or on-the-job interns. That would be unfair, right?

  • Antonia says:

    I think, if the company offering free internship is as highly qualified and reputable such as Forbes or Warner, gaining experience from them would be my top priority and wouldn’t think deep about money. Just my opinion.

  • Ylonah says:

    It won’t hurt if I get to work in reputable companies, but if this is done on other jobs, I wouldn’t accept unpaid internship.

  • Allison says:

    I gotta admit, I started like this – worked unpaid on my first job. It was quite good actually, although I wasn’t paid by the hour, at least I was given meal allowance. That was fine with me, since I was just after the name of the company. Eventually, they hired me and still work for them.

  • Marian C. says:

    Not getting paid to work? No employee protection? No guarantee? I’d say, no way to unpaid internship!

  • Gabbie says:

    Can I just comment on how refreshing and beautiful you look with your outfit? Love the splash of colors, very pleasing to the eyes!

  • Beverly Hilton says:

    I ain’t going to work on a non-paying company, no sir, but I can be persuaded if that company is as prestigious as Time or JP Morgan Chase.. But then again, companies like them don’t do unpaid internships, right?

  • Natalia says:

    Wow, what beautiful view! Anyway, about the internship, I would have to agree with everyone else. No to unpaid labor.

  • Nadya says:

    I think there ain’t no harm in trying unpaid internship if you’re just there to get experience and don’t have much money issues. BUt if you’re working to pat the bills, then unpaid labor is a no-no.

  • Marcella says:

    Forget about experience. This is what really concerns me – “Unpaid labor does not have protective provisions for unpaid interns or “trainees” in regards to discrimination and harassment. ” This is what every trainee should remember when they apply for jobs. Their welfare, more than anything else, should be their top priority.

    • Heidi says:

      That’s a great point, Marcella, and something we should all keep in mind. Everybody deserves to be protected!

  • Kandy Gurl says:

    It looks like everyone agree that unpaid labor isn’t the wisest thing to do. This is an eye-opener, Heidi, thanks for sharing!

  • Airish says:

    I don’t think it’s a good idea to work without pay. You are cheated for doing that.

  • Akira says:

    A lot of people disagree with unpaid labor, which is totally reasonable. I hope companies who continue this practice of not acknowledging the efforts of workers would be apprehended.

  • Vanessa says:

    If it were me, I won’t take it. I mean, why would anyone want to work without getting paid? Not really a good idea, in my opinion.

  • Monica Schuck says:

    I agree with the others, we should all be more cautious when accepting job offers especially internships because we could be at the disadvantage when we aren’t paid.

  • Carmencita says:

    All points taken. Thank you for this helpful post 🙂

  • Ynah Powers says:

    Unpaid internship is a big no no in my book. I am planning to start some business soon and hopefully would be able to employ people and make sure they are well compensated, even when they are still in training. I hope other start-up small business will do the same.

  • Leticia says:

    I don’t think taking an unpaid internship is wise. I doubt this would help the intern.

  • Celia says:

    You look so gorgeous here dear!

  • Melissa DeVale says:

    Hi, I am about to get into some internships soon and been searching info about paid and unpaid interns and it led me to your page. Thank you so much for all these pros and cons and pieces of advice for someone like me.. You are such an inspiring blogger and motivator.

Comments are closed.