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Experience Education manages the coop, practicum, and internship programs for schools in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, and Montreal.

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5 reasons students should do unpaid internships

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I love unpaid internships.  I've done heaps of volunteer work, and it's paid off. And placing people in them is a dream - you can get really creative when price is no subject.  You want an internship in robotics?  Sure, why not.  Pharmaceuticals?  Take your pick.  Don't get me wrong, they're always challenging to place - but in a good way.  Paid internships - oof - that can be hard labour sometimes.  Going door to door begging accounting firms to just look at your client's resume.  Usually it's ok - but sometimes it's not the most pleasant thing.

Right, I found this post by 'the intern queen' - she's called that because she did 15 internships before finishing college.  She knows of what she speaks - here are her top 5 reasons for doing an unpaid internship:

Why Students Should Do Unpaid Internships

  • EXPERIENCE. It's a tough job market right now. You are up against even more job candidates then usual. What do these other job candidates have over you ? Experience. Earn your credibility by participating in an internship. It will stand out on your resume and show that have previously worked/interned in your field of choice.
  • NETWORKING. Everyone you meet during the course of your internship is now a contact. These people can help guide your career path as you make your way into the business world. These people know other people in the industry as well and can provide introductions for you. The fellow interns you meet may also become great contacts in the future.  Note: I still keep in contact with most of my internship coordinators (yes, all 15 of them). I also keep in touch with most of my fellow interns from over the years. Many of these people have gone off to start their own companies and several have helped get me jobs, interviews, and meetings throughout my career.
  • OBSERVING. Over the course of your internships you will be observing the way business professionals in your future industry conduct themselves, their lives, their work. You can really start to build an image of what your life would be like in this specific field. Many internship coordinators and employers will let interns sit in on meetings, attend brainstorms, and ask them tons of questions.
  • HANDS-ON. As an intern, you will be required to participate in several different tasks. Yes, you will most likely have to do the "boring work" aka making copies, making coffee, alphabetizing materials, etc. However, it is important to really learn how to do these tasks properly so that when you do enter the working world, you are already familiar with the basics of any office. Most interns also get a taste of more intricate duties depending on the field you are in.  Note: When I interned at the Zimmerman Agency (Public Relations/Advertising), I learned cold calling, pitching, how to write press releases, putting together press kits, etc. These are skill that should I have entered the Public Relations world, would have put me ahead of other candidates that didn't have internship experience.
  • PURSUIT OR ELIMINATION. What if my internship doesn't go well ? Many students worry that their internship experience might not be a great one. Even bad internships are beneficial to students. They help you establish what you like and what you don't like, what you want to pursue and what you want to eliminate for your future. It's much better to spend one semester interning at a company to determine it's bad than to actually get a job and start a career at that company and then find out you aren't interested.

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