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Internships and externships provide students with the practical experience they need to become more successful employees. They learn about their industries from the inside out instead of from a book or professor. They can make valuable contacts that can also help them land a job once they are finished with college. The downside to these programs is that they are often unpaid.
A student who needs to pay the bills may not want to take the time to go through an internship or externship. If the student has a family, it can be even more difficult to try to make ends meet if she is not getting paid for her work. However, some college degree programs require students to do an internship or externship before they graduate. These programs can also help a student see if she would truly like the work the internship is preparing her to do, without having to get a full-time job to learn it.
Despite the bad rap internships and externships have for not paying students for the work they do, some internships do offer some kind of payment. Some offer a salary, although it might be at a lower rate than an actual employee with more experience would get for doing the same work. A 2009 part-time entertainment industry internship in Los Angeles posted on the website Internship Programs, for example, offered a part-time, paid internship. If you intern part-time, whether it is paid or not, you can still have a part-time job elsewhere to help pay the bills.
Stipend and Expenses
Other internships provide a stipend, or a small amount of money to help the student pay for personal expenses incurred during the internship or externship. Others may offer an allowance for different living expenses. If the internship is overseas, the program may pay for travel, room and board during the student’s stay. One example is the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in the Hague, The Netherlands program is a law internship through the University of Texas.
To find an internship or externship that pays, you will need to do a significant amount of research. Apply for several different programs to find one that pays. If you can't find one, try creating your own internship or externship by contacting organizations to see if they would accept you as an intern. The organization that accepts you as an intern may offer to pay you.
The U.S. Department of Labor has set out six criteria that decide whether an intern should be paid at least the minimum wage, and overtime pay if working over 40 hours per week. These include the internship program being much like an educational environment, the training being designed to benefit the intern, and that the intern does not replace current staff, but works under their close supervision. Other criteria include the employer not getting direct benefit from the intern's activities, that the intern understands a job offer is not required after completion of the internship, and that both the intern and the employer understand the internship is unpaid.
- Internship Programs: Entertainment Marketing and PR -- Paid Internship!
- IntStudy: What is an Internship?
- Quintessential Careers: How to Find Your Ideal Internship
- Univ. of Texas, School of Law: International Programs-Internships
- U.S. Dept. of Labor: Fact Sheet #71: Internship Programs Under The Fair Labor Standards Act
Leyla Norman has been a writer since 2008 and is a certified English as a second language teacher. She also has a master's degree in development studies and a Bachelor of Arts in anthropology.