Internships – Paid or Unpaid?

By Drew Cirillo 

One common misconception (that was a misconception I had too) is that many internships are unpaid and the value you receive from the internship is just the experience towards your field. But did you know that many internships actually pay you for your time? An internship not only often is paid, but also builds your experience – and can help you learn about and make decisions about the fields you are interested in pursuing. At the University of Arizona, we have a peer coach team that views and approves internships in Handshake for students to apply to. We can approve anywhere from 5-30 internships in one day to ensure the most reliable internships are available for students to apply to. One thing I have learned from approving these internships is that most of them have some form of salary or hourly pay. 

For me, before I got into my later years of high school, I thought almost all internships were unpaid and if you were lucky enough to get promoted or hired, then you would start making money. I never understood that you start at a base pay and work your way up just like any other part-time or full-time job. When I was looking for an internship over the summer, I had to research starting pay for internships. When I realized that all the internships I found had a normal part time salary for a summer job, I was pleasantly surprised. This caused me to research and really see how many internships really do pay, because I thought it was the experience that was the only benefit from an internship at first. Progressing in your career is one of the most important steps to making a place for yourself within that career field, and internships can be part of that. The experience you gain and the skills you learn during an internship can build a foundation for your future in a full-time position – or at the very least, help you gain insight into the industry. What I thought was a concern of juggling a part time job to cover my expenses while also interning unpaid, turns out to be a total misunderstanding. Due to the many options of paid opportunities, I now know I can make a stable income while gaining experience within an industry I am interested in. I might be looking into internships at a law firm and I find a lot more confidence and comfort in knowing I have a sustainable income during my sophomore, junior and senior years of interning.  If you want to find out more about internship opportunities, or want help filtering to find paid options or opportunities you are most interested in using Handshake, meet with a Career Peer Coach  – we can help! 

By Andrew Cirillo
Andrew Cirillo