No student is thrilled about the idea of working all summer and, if they are going to work, they certainly do not want to do it for free. Unfortunately, that is what many of them must do in order to complete their required summer internships. However, just because an internship does not come with a paycheck does not mean that there are not many benefits to following through with it anyway.
The obvious reason that students are expected to get an internship is to gain experience. It is one thing to learn about a topic in the classroom but it is quite another to get hands on experience. When students complete their internships, they get to work directly in the field that they are interested in rather than simply learning the theory out of a text book. There is really no way to put a price tag on such a valuable experience.
Another great reason to take on an internship even if it does not pay is the networking. The job market these days is very competitive and it can be very beneficial for a job applicant to already know someone with the company or in the industry to which they are applying. When a student completes an internship, they will meet many people who can offer valuable advice and possible help them with their job search later down the line.
Many aspects of being in a professional environment may seem like common sense, but they are not. There are many things about being in the workplace that a student may not know until they get their first job. This could be anything from appropriate workplace attire to the level of focus they need on a daily basis or getting used to a demanding schedule. When a student does an internship, they are exposed to all of these things at the stage where they are supposed to be learning and would not necessarily be expected to know better.
An internship may not pay but that does not mean that it will not have other perks. There are always benefits to being around a major company, even if they are not monetary. Interns are usually invited to employee outings such as baseball games or trips to amusement parks. Also, if they are interning with a company that sells or promotes a particular product or service, they are almost guaranteed to get samples or discounts.
Summer internships are not always paid but that does not mean that they are not valuable. A student doing an internship will gain valuable experience in a real work environment and make valuable connections in their chosen industry. If they are lucky, they may even get a few perks along the way. Students should definitely consider all of the benefits of an unpaid internship before turning it down.