Should You Take An Unpaid Internship?

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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.

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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.

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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.

How to Sabotage Your Small Business

This article is Part of Business 101: The Career Crucials series.

Whether or not you agree with Donald Trump’s politics or hairstyle choice, there’s no denying that the man is successful. Here’s someone who figured out, through trial and error, how to avoid the traps that sabotage a business. I look at what he’s learned over the years, and see how it could all go tragically wrong if we don’t heed the same lessons.

small business success

“If you don’t have the motivation and the enthusiasm, your great idea will simply sit on top of your desk or inside your head and go nowhere.”

Be lazy or be a flake.  You might have the best idea, but if you don’t follow through, you will not be taken seriously. Call or show up when expected and keep your word. Otherwise, clients and colleagues will stop taking you and your ideas seriously.

“You have to think anyway, so why not think big?”

Act small and you’ll stay small.  If you keep thinking you’re just a small solopreneur or business owner, that’s how you’ll be perceived. To get out of this mindset, read the E Myth.

“I have made tough decisions, always with an eye toward the bottom line.”

Ignore your finances and you will end up with no money. Cash flow is important. There will be times when you have to make difficult decisions, ones that you worry might hinder your creative process, because you need to keep focused on finances. This will be temporary. It’s better to slow down than to end up coming to a screeching halt. Be honest with yourself and if you need to, refocus on cash-generating ideas for the moment.

“In the end you’re measured not by how much you undertake but
by what you actually accomplish.”


Focus on too many things at once and nothing will be accomplished. At the end of the day, small things don’t matter. Organize your days so that you target the big picture and don’t get distracted by petty or unimportant issues.

“I’m a bit of a P.T. Barnum.  I make stars out of everyone.” 

Ignore the contributions of others and you will find yourself playing in your own sandbox. Trump may not be a paragon of courtesy, but he understands that even in a dog-eat-dog world, you should include others and highlight their assets. Be considerate of others and you will find the road to success better paved.

“Sometimes by losing a battle you find a new way to win the war.”

Take business too personally and you will lose perspective. Don’t get too attached to holding on to every piece of your business, even if you feel it’s your “baby.”  Look at it this way – owning 51% of a 5 million dollar company is better than 100% of a $100,000 one.  Sometimes you need to give some to get more.

5 Things You Must Do To Succeed

I’ve heard and read plenty about this concept of a key to success.  And yet I dare say, a lot of people haven’t even located the lock to begin with. To me, the following five concepts are the doors that you need to locate before you can unlock success.

Photo credit: HuffingtonPost

Photo credit: HuffingtonPost

I use this anagram to remind myself of these ideas and to keep me focused when I want to succeed: WIN AT

In other words:

Want:  Not what you want – focus on what others want. Only when you can offer something that others want, will you be able to succeed/sell/be heard.

Identity:  Find, and be clear, of your own identity. How are you perceived by others?  And is this the identity you want to project into the world? Hire a branding coach if necessary.

Not-known: Embrace the unknown. Be willing to face rejection and failure as you discover new paths. If one path doesn’t lead to success, you can walk down another. Let’s face it – if you haven’t reached your pinnacle of achievement, you haven’t discovered the right road which means it is still unknown to you. Look for it – it’s not where you’ve already been.

Above:  Go above and beyond. Whatever your boss (or client or buyer) asks for – do more. Over-deliver. You’ll look like a rockstar if you surpass expectations.

True:  Always be true to yourself. Being liked is nice, but changing your personal truth for someone else will not serve you in the end.  Stand up for what’s best for you even if it’s unpopular.  This doesn’t mean you should be hostile or abrasive, it simply means remaining honest about where you stand.  Ultimately, you will be respected for your unflinching authenticity.

personal professional success

No matter what your success goal is – whether it’s CEO of your company, owner of your own business, or enjoying a fulfilling relationship – you have the power within you to WIN AT this game of life.