4 Internship Facts You Need to Know

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There’s a reason so many people recommend that you consider an internship either while you’re pursuing your degree or immediately following completion of your degree. In some fields they’re essentially required as your education isn’t considered complete until you’ve logged some actual work experience.

Internships can be difficult for many, however. Many internships are unpaid which makes them beyond the reach of many low-income students, or students with little family support. It may be difficult to find internships as well, as some are unlisted or only obtainable by request—this often means having contacts or knowing people in the industry.

While most colleges and universities have advisors to help students access these sorts of internship opportunities, it can feel like it takes special privileges to make internships work for you. So we’ve got the four internship facts you need to know to help you navigate your internship choices.

1 – A lot of internships are unpaid

While you should absolutely expect to have tasks and duties and sometimes a lot of responsibility as an intern, you should not necessarily expect to be compensated for your work. In fact, 43% of “internships at for-profit companies” are unpaid. That’s a huge percentage. By the numbers, it’s estimated that between 500,000 and 1,000,000 people work unpaid internships each year. Often traditions exist within certain fields and industries for whether interns are paid. Many scientific fields offer paid internships while corporate and government fields may be littered with unpaid positions.

2 – Paid internships lead to more jobs

Not only do paid internships offer the advantage of compensating you for your time, 60% of the time they’ll lead to an actual job. That’s a much higher rate than unpaid internships that only lead to jobs about 37% of the time. This may make paid internships seem like even more of a no-brainer, but they can be very rare in certain industries.

3 – Interns may not be entitled to the rights of an employee

As an unpaid intern, you may not be considered a true employee and thus not entitled to employee protection laws. This may mean you’re not protected from discrimination or even sexual harassment, depending on your state.

4 – An internship can help you get a job

Internships can pay off because they can help you secure employment. When hiring, 60% of employers said they preferred applicants who’d done internships. Unpaid interns only got job offers at a rate 1% higher than graduates who didn’t do internships, but for those with paid internships the advantage was much greater.