Should You Take That Unpaid Internship?

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by Alex A. Kecskes

You just graduated from a fine university, your resume is honed to perfection, and you're ready to dive into the job market for that ideal administrative job. Unfortunately nobody's hiring—for pay. Yes, there are plenty of unpaid intern positions out there. But are they worth it? Depends.

Before you accept an unpaid internship, you should ask some hard questions. First, how long will your internship last? And what exactly will you be doing? If it's months of making coffee, running copies or buying gifts for the boss's daughter, you might want to rethink that particular job. The purpose of an intern position is to expose you to the people and tasks that make you grow in your particular field. If you're just running errands all day, it can tear down your self-esteem and contribute nothing to your professional growth.

Also, do a little research online. Find out as much as you can about the company and its internship policies before you interview with them. Social networks can help in this regard as employees are often eager to tell you about their internships. It also helps to know a little about U.S. Internship Law, which was recently updated with new guidelines.

Going into an interview armed with information can lead you to ask the right questions (and also impress the interviewer). If you accept an internship, find out if there is some negotiating room for pay after three months work. Either way, try to get your job duties in writing.

For some good advice on internships, check out the paperback, Scoring a Great Internship.

For more information on administrative jobs, check out:

Alex A. Kecskes has written hundreds of published articles on health/fitness, "green" issues, TV/film entertainment, restaurant reviews and many other topics. As a former Andy/Belding/One Show ad agency copywriter, he also writes web content, ads, brochures, sales letters, mailers and scripts for national B2B and B2C clients.

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