Many college students will have the “opportunity” to take an internship during their college career. And some of these students parlay this work into future jobs and careers. But if you’re thinking of getting an unpaid internship, think twice. While today’s youngest members of the workforce are considered the most educated in history, they still don’t land jobs. Unemployment rates for young workers are 13%, compared to 8% with older workers. Students have been turning to internships in hopes of landing jobs, and three in five (60% of) college students attend schools where internships are mandatory. The issue arises when college students are compelled to accept unpaid internships. These could significantly lower a student’s market value. Businesses are taking advantage of this trend, with Stanford’s job board boasting 643 unpaid internships — more than triple the number from 2008. It is important that while you are finishing your online phd in nursing, education or business degree that you make sure that you are being paid to intern. It will give you the experience you need in order to use your degree properly.

By 2011, half of all college graduates completing internships during their undergraduate years had not been paid for their time. And there’s a legality issue at stake. For non-profit organizations, unpaid internships are legal. But for for-profit institutions, this is not the case — unless the student receives academic credit to offset the need for pay. But getting academic credit means that students still have to pay to go to school. In essence, if you’re a college student with an unpaid internship and you’re getting college credit for it, you’re paying to work for free.

To further complicate the issue, the free work that you’re paying for probably isn’t worth it. Paid interns routinely have more professional duties, and the ability to learn and work more closely within organizations or fields that they will choose to enter for employment. Unpaid interns, however, are often given clerical and administrative duties. Despite these illegalities, unpaid internships at for-profit institutions continue to run rampant. And the numbers for employment later don’t lie, either. Unpaid interns in the U.S. just don’t have the same success as paid interns. According to a survey by the National Associations of Colleges and Employers, 61% of paid interns receive a job offer after their work, with their average salary offer being more than $50,000 per year. Only 38% of unpaid interns receive similar offers, and their starting salaries hover at less than $34,000. According to this graphic by Online College Courses, the numbers don’t lie: An unpaid internships offers no help to a job-seeking college student.

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