While you’re in school, paid internships can provide the money you need for some, most, or all of your tuition. However, even unpaid internships can pay dividends, as having a successful internship experience is going to make you much more marketable to employers in today’s competitive job market – and possibly mean the difference between getting a job after graduation or not. After all, a job is certainly going be handy when it comes time to pay back your student loans!
Internships During School
While you’re still in school, internships typically provide one or two major benefits: preparation for work after graduation and/or money for college. If you need help paying for school, working in a paid internship program is the best way to solve that problem while also enhancing your resume for your post-graduation job search. In fact, the latter benefit is a major advantage to taking on an internship rather than a traditional work-study program. So do your homework and look for opportunities as early as you can.
When looking for a paid internship program for your summer break, your best bet is to find one in an affordable location where your living expenses aren’t more than what you’re earning! The goal is to have more money than what you started with. If possible, look for paid internships in your hometown so that you can live at home and save on rent and utilities.
Your hourly rate as an intern is going to vary greatly by your employer. Determine what your salary or stipend is going to be upfront (ideally, before you accept or apply for the position) and calculate how much you’ll make after taxes are taken out. Make sure to put aside enough of this money to help you cover your living expenses through the year, or put it toward your tuition for the following semester!
Internships After Graduation
Paid and unpaid internships are available for college graduates as well, and in today’s economy, you don’t want to rule out any opportunities for work in your desired field. The reality is that many new graduates are faced with taking lower paying jobs outside their fields upon graduation. Rather than taking a low paying job totally unrelated to your field, consider applying for an internship. If you land a paid internship, the benefit is two-fold: money, and the opportunity to increase job skills. Even if you take an unpaid internship, you are still getting incredible experience in your field, and you could supplement your finances by working at night or on the weekend in another job.
An internship can only boost an employer’s interest in you, and some employers reserve employment opportunities for their interns. The more experience you gain as an intern, the more likely you’ll be prepared to take on increased responsibilities. You’ll also have the opportunity to learn more about your chosen industry and make sure that it’s a good fit for you and your career.
Ultimately, the decision to participate in an internship program is one of the most important steps you can take to jumpstart your career. However, it’s also a smart choice when looking for money for college, as it can help cover your expenses in school and set you up to pay off any debt you’ve accrued. Start early, do as much research as you can, and find the internships that will pay off in the long run.
If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a reply in the comments section!
This guest post is contributed by Jeff Sheely, who blogs about financial aid and education financing at Overture Student Loan Marketplace, where students and parents can get information or compare private student loans to make more informed decisions about how to pay for college.