Home > Personal Finance > Internships: When is the Cost Not Worth the Experience?

Comments 0 Comments

Summer is right around the corner, and many college students who see graduation looming on the horizon use the break from school as a time to take an internship in their field. While internships offer valuable “real world” experience and have seemed to become almost mandatory in many fields, internships often provide very little pay, or in some cases no pay at all. How do you answer the question, then, if the benefits of taking an internship are worth the cost?

Drawbacks of Internships

First and foremost, not all college students can afford to take a low-paying or unpaid internship, making it almost a privilege to even apply for one of these positions – and then not get paid. Past that, if you accept an internship, particularly right after graduation, you will likely not be putting money towards paying off your student loans, asking for deferment or forbearance, which delays the repayment process and can add interest. Future employers could also use low-paying or unpaid internships against you in salary negotiations once you land a full-time job, so be careful when disclosing previous “salary” information. Additionally, students who take entirely unpaid internships are not typically considered actual employees of the companies they’re interning for, and are therefore not legally protected against discrimination and harassment.

Benefits of Internships

The obvious advantage of taking an internship is the real-world experience it offers. Interns can learn important job-related skills through hands-on experience while getting a feel for the industry to decide if it’s the right fit for you and your career aspirations. Taking an internship can also help you network with people within the industry you are pursuing, which, in turn, can help open doors for job opportunities. In many fields these days, taking an internship may be one of the only opportunities you have to get the experience that employers will be looking for when you’re seeking a full-time job after graduation. Also, while you may not be making much or any money, there may be other perks to taking an internship, including reimbursement for transportation, tickets to company events, or use of company facilities. Additionally, check with your college to see if you are able to receive course credit for your internship.

Other Options

If you feel taking an internship may not be in your best interest, or if you feel as though you can’t afford to work for low or no pay, consider your other options. Taking a part-time job may be beneficial. Even if you aren’t able to find a position within your field, job experience goes a long way for potential employers down the road – it shows that you know how to show up on time, work with a boss, and generally act professionally. You may also consider exploring freelancing opportunities, which would allow you to gain experience in your own field while also making money for your work.

Making The Decision

If you are in a financial situation where you can take a low-paying or unpaid internship, it is still crucial to consider whether the value of the internship outweighs the cost. When offered an internship, check in with the company to see what kinds of tasks you will be assigned. If it sounds like you will just be picking up coffee and making copies, chances are you will not be gaining enough valuable job experience to offset working for little pay. But, on the other hand, if it seems as though you will be able to engage in hands-on activities and be involved in learning the way the company works, the internship may be an incredibly beneficial way to get valuable job experience that may be integral in landing a job in the field after graduation.

If you’re still confused about your credit, you can check your three credit reports for free once a year. To track your credit more regularly, Credit.com’s free Credit Report Card is an easy-to-understand breakdown of your credit report information that uses letter grades—plus you get two free credit scores updated every 14 days.

You can also carry on the conversation on our social media platforms. Like and follow us on Facebook and leave us a tweet on Twitter.

Comments on articles and responses to those comments are not provided or commissioned by a bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by a bank advertiser. It is not a bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Please note that our comments are moderated, so it may take a little time before you see them on the page. Thanks for your patience.

Certain credit cards and other financial products mentioned in this and other sponsored content on Credit.com are Partners with Credit.com. Credit.com receives compensation if our users apply for and ultimately sign up for any financial products or cards offered.

Hello, Reader!

Thanks for checking out Credit.com. We hope you find the site and the journalism we produce useful. We wanted to take some time to tell you a bit about ourselves.

Our People

The Credit.com editorial team is staffed by a team of editors and reporters, each with many years of financial reporting experience. We’ve worked for places like the New York Times, American Banker, Frontline, TheStreet.com, Business Insider, ABC News, NBC News, CNBC and many others. We also employ a few freelancers and more than 50 contributors (these are typically subject matter experts from the worlds of finance, academia, politics, business and elsewhere).

Our Reporting

We take great pains to ensure that the articles, video and graphics you see on Credit.com are thoroughly reported and fact-checked. Each story is read by two separate editors, and we adhere to the highest editorial standards. We’re not perfect, however, and if you see something that you think is wrong, please email us at editorial team [at] credit [dot] com,

The Credit.com editorial team is committed to providing our readers and viewers with sound, well-reported and understandable information designed to inform and empower. We won’t tell you what to do. We will, however, do our best to explain the consequences of various actions, thereby arming you with the information you need to make decisions that are in your best interests. We also write about things relating to money and finance we think are interesting and want to share.

In addition to appearing on Credit.com, our articles are syndicated to dozens of other news sites. We have more than 100 partners, including MSN, ABC News, CBS News, Yahoo, Marketwatch, Scripps, Money Magazine and many others. This network operates similarly to the Associated Press or Reuters, except we focus almost exclusively on issues relating to personal finance. These are not advertorial or paid placements, rather we provide these articles to our partners in most cases for free. These relationships create more awareness of Credit.com in general and they result in more traffic to us as well.

Our Business Model

Credit.com’s journalism is largely supported by an e-commerce business model. Rather than rely on revenue from display ad impressions, Credit.com maintains a financial marketplace separate from its editorial pages. When someone navigates to those pages, and applies for a credit card, for example, Credit.com will get paid what is essentially a finder’s fee if that person ends up getting the card. That doesn’t mean, however, that our editorial decisions are informed by the products available in our marketplace. The editorial team chooses what to write about and how to write about it independently of the decisions and priorities of the business side of the company. In fact, we maintain a strict and important firewall between the editorial and business departments. Our mission as journalists is to serve the reader, not the advertiser. In that sense, we are no different from any other news organization that is supported by ad revenue.

Visitors to Credit.com are also able to register for a free Credit.com account, which gives them access to a tool called The Credit Report Card. This tool provides users with two free credit scores and a breakdown of the information in their Experian credit report, updated twice monthly. Again, this tool is entirely free, and we mention that frequently in our articles, because we think that it’s a good thing for users to have access to data like this. Separate from its educational value, there is also a business angle to the Credit Report Card. Registered users can be matched with products and services for which they are most likely to qualify. In other words, if you register and you find that your credit is less than stellar, Credit.com won’t recommend a high-end platinum credit card that requires an excellent credit score You’d likely get rejected, and that’s no good for you or Credit.com. You’d be no closer to getting a product you need, there’d be a wasted inquiry on your credit report, and Credit.com wouldn’t get paid. These are essentially what are commonly referred to as "targeted ads" in the world of the Internet. Despite all of this, however, even if you never apply for any product, the Credit Report Card will remain free, and none of this will impact how the editorial team reports on credit and credit scores.



Your Stories

Lastly, much of what we do is informed by our own experiences as well as the experiences of our readers. We want to tell your stories if you’re interested in sharing them. Please email us at story ideas [at] credit [dot] com with ideas or visit us on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks for stopping by.

- The Credit.com Editorial Team