Internship season is coming up and as college students around the nation are beginning to get accepted into the internships of their dreams, they will also have to deal with some of the pesky terms and conditions of unpaid internships.
Though interning is an invaluable experience, according to the College Employment Research Institute, three-fourths of the ten million students in college will work as interns at least once before graduating.
One-third and a half won’t be compensated for their efforts.
Most employers require that students receive college credit for the internship, regardless of whether or not they are enrolled in formal classes for the summer. Many students are forced to pay the credit fees, which can go up to $2000 in some schools.
While many are just thankful for the work opportunity and can afford to brunt the costs, others are not so lucky.
Thankfully, there are loopholes to drive the price down:
1. Community colleges:
Instead of paying for credits at your local university, enroll in a Cooperative Education Program at a community college program for one semester or quarter. Although some of these programs require tuition, the fees tend not to be as hefty.
However, be sure to start your search early. Many community colleges have a capped number of students that can enroll.
2. Alternative Programs:
There are a handful of alternative programs, like Dream Careers, that offer both internship placement and credit services. But the price tag on these programs (Dream Careers is over $8000) can be just as hefty, sometimes more, as university credit fees.
Be on the look out for smaller programs that won’t make such a big dent in your wallet.
Programs like the UCLA Extension Film and Television Internship Program offer internship credit for students pursing an internship in the media or entertainment industry. Just fax over some forms and pay $550.
3. Letters of Support:
Finally, ask before you fork over the money.
Companies like NBC Universal accept “letters of support” from colleges, which are letters from career counselors acknowledging that they are aware the student is taking an internship with the company.
Request a letter from your college that states that you are a student in good standing and the internship experience is considered applicable to your degree program.
Though this does not constitute academic credit for an internship, it may satisfy an employer’s requirements.
Full Disclosure: Clarissa Wei, currently a junior at New York University, has held 11 separate internships and has used all of these methods at one point during her college career. – Ed.
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