Measuring the Value of Unpaid Internships

There’s been a lot of chatter lately surrounding unpaid internships and whether or not this type of “employment” is fair or not, and because I mentioned in my last blogpost that aspiring PR professionals should be “okay with working for free”, I feel obligated to express my own opinion on the issue.

Personally, I would only take on an unpaid internship under one of the two circumstances:

1. I would work full time – if this was during the schoolyear and I was earning a course credit. (Essentially, I would not be going to school, I would simply be going to this job and “learning” there.

2. I would work 1 (maybe 2 if I really liked the position) days a week for free, while going to school/working/participating in extracurriculars at the same time. (This is basically my life right now, as I volunteer at the HBSPCA in a position with many intern-like qualities).

As someone just entering the field, I think it is extremely important to remember that you are not entitled to simply getting a job because you have a particular degree, hence why I place such importance on building your portfolio in other ways. I’ve had enough conversations with industry professionals to know that these are the experiences that stand out to employers, thus students should keep in mind that, at one point or another, you’ll have to ‘pay your dues’.

But while this is true, I think students today are severely undervalued in the workforce, and it makes me a little uneasy – because let’s face it, we’re talented. And while people may try to tell you that “money isn’t everything”, I think it is completely unreasonable to ask someone to work 40 hours a week, for free. Especially if they’re contributing valuable work to your company.

So while it may be tempting to take on one of these roles, particularly if it’s located at a fairly desirable and/or glamorous company, ¬†make sure you’re not selling your soul just to be able to list a name on your resume. As students, we’re often worth way more than we give ourselves credit for.

If you’re interested in reading more about the unpaid internship debate taking place in Canada right now, The Globe and Mail has been covering this issue extremely well.

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It’s a Wrap

I love December for so many reasons – the magical Christmas spirit, the end of an academic term, amazing shopping deals, the list goes on. And as January, the month of fresh starts, nears, I think it’s important to reflect on the year that has passed. Inspired by the wise words of Ferris Bueller: “life moves pretty fast, if you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it,” this blog post is a personal reflection of 2013. Writing this post has not only given me the chance to remember all of the challenges I overcame in the past year, but it’s motivated me to continue to put myself out there and open myself up to new experiences in the New Year. Whether you post it on a blog, write it in a journal, or just think it in your head – I strongly encourage everyone to reflect on their year. It’s a cathartic experience.¬†

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Keep Calm and Study On

As odd as it may seem, exam season is one of my favourite times of the school year. Simply because of all the extra time I have on my hands! But obviously these last few weeks of school aren’t all fun and games, and if you don’t use your time wisely it’s easy to get overwhelmed. However in the midst of the third year of my undergrad career, I think I’ve finally come up with the ultimate dos and don’ts for maximizing your time and finishing the term off strong. Continue reading