Unpaid Internships

Is having an internship apart of your required courses or do you just want one because you want the experience? I was a fashion merchandising major and an internship was required of my program.  I remember searching high and searching low for an internship.  Nordstrom is a prominent company who has internships for fashion merchandising students year-round.  I have applied to a couple of their internships at different locations and have had multiple interviews and sadly have never gotten one with them.  I took my internship course the my last semester in college (Summer of 2015).  I actually didn’t land an internship until two weeks before the class began and surprise, surprise it was an unpaid internship.  I was on twitter and I saw a tweet:

twitter 1

Now luckily for me, my internship happened to be virtual, but if it were an in-person internship, I would have had to move to Nashville, however, in reality, it was still unpaid and I definitely wouldn’t have been able to survive in Nashville on an unpaid internship, so I understand the pain.  They want you to work for them full-time and do full-time, paid work for no pay.  But I also think it’s good to work an unpaid internship.  If you prove yourself and work hard, which I was the only intern who worked diligently and hard and I honestly think I was the only intern who stuck it out the entire duration of the internship and eventually she hired me on as a part-time Virtual Assistant/Social Media Coordinator.  So there are definitely pros and cons of an unpaid internship:


  • Pursuit of success, not money.  With an unpaid internship, we know that you are there because you want to be, not because of the money.  Let’s face it, once you graduate college, most of us try to get a job in our field, but nine times out of ten, get a job anywhere because we need a job and money to get by and often times find ourselves stuck in a situation because, like I said, we need the money.  However, with an unpaid internship, you’re not getting paid, you’re literally doing the work for free and therefore are there to help you build your skillset and knowledge and to become successful later on in life.
  • Resume builder.  An internship, whether paid or unpaid is definitely a resume builder, especially if it’s at a great company.  My unpaid internship was with a non-profit organization, therefore if I wanted to work for an non-profit organizations in the future, I can slap that on my resume to and be a shoein.  It also just helps you out, especially if you did a lot of things at your internship that has transferable skills.
  • Testing the Waters.  Having an unpaid internship is definitely a way to test the waters.  At the time, I knew I wanted to be in the fashion industry, I just didn’t know in what way.  With a degree in fashion, you can explore careers as a buyer, retail manager, visual merchandising, fashion journalist, fashion coordinator, product development, product design, stylist, brand manager, image consultant, fashion event coordinator, etc.  I always said I wanted to be a stylist than I wanted to be a buyer and then I wanted to be a visual merchandiser.  By the time I graduated, I had no idea what I wanted to do.  But this job opened my eyes to two career routes, a fashion marketer or fashion entrepreneur.
  • Networking. An unpaid internship is definitely a great way to network and build your connections.  When you stick it out at an unpaid internship, especially a virtual unpaid internship, you build that trust and rapport with your supervisor and they write letter of recommendations for you or help you find a job or are just there to be an ear.
  • College credits.  As an alternative of being paid, most unpaid internships with offer college credits, especially for those of us who have a required internship course.


  • Financial hurdles.  As mentioned in the tweet, how tf am I supposed to survive? On air and tears? You want students to spend 10 – 12 weeks in a new city, often times it’ll be a big city (New York, D.C., LA, or Miami are top cities for internships that students want), get an apartment and have transportation for NO pay at all? You have lost your mind right? Not everybody has a rich mommy and daddy to support us during this extremely tough time.
  • Missed Experiences.  With an unpaid internship, that’s full-time, of course they expect you to be at work as if you were a full-time employee getting paid.  Most internships occur over the summer and a lot of vacation and fun times happen over the summer, but you’ll have to miss out on those  experiences because of your unpaid internship.
  • Unfair advantage of work.  A lot of times, companies hire unpaid internships to do the work that they would normally pay a regular employee to do because they well, don’t want to pay a regular employee, regular employee wages.  They take advantage of you and have you do a lot of work in benefit of the company.

But by all means, like my friend in the previous mentioned in her follow-up tweet, if you are financially able to do an unpaid internship, by all means boo boo, do the shit.

Find internships at internships.com.  It’s where I found my unfortunate, but fortunate, unpaid internship.

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