In a previous post, I explored whether or not recent college graduates should stress when facing unpaid internships upon graduation…
I received plenty of feedback on this post, and one reader raised another dilemma facing college graduates looking to gain experience and get started with their careers: for-college-credit internships.
Many college graduates — and often, cash-strapped current college students — find themselves facing internships only available “for college credit”.
This can be an expensive endeavor for students already paying for the credits they need to earn their degree — or graduates who are new to the workforce, saddled with student loan debt and without a steady income. With the price of a college education increasing faster than the rate of inflation, paying for additional credits to work at an internship is often highly unfeasible for college students and recent grads.
So what can you do? Ask the employer to remove the “for college credit” aspect of the internship… or pay for those college credits!
Here are a few steps you can take to determine whether or not an employer will negotiate the internship with you. While not all employers may be willing, and many may not have even thought of these options, there are ways you can position the cards in your favor:
1. Determine if Employer May Be Willing to Negotiate
If you’ve applied for internships at companies that have well-established internship programs, they may be less willing to negotiate with you. Consider applying for internships at smaller companies, where you may encounter less competition when it comes to securing the position.
With less opportunity for them to replace you, your employer may be more willing to accommodate your needs — and either cough up the cash or lose the credit requirement.
2. Present Your Plan
Create a clear, concise document that spells out exactly why you’d like your employer to allow you to take the internship without credit, or pay for the credits themselves.
If you have financial reasons, spell them out here, along with any other points you may like to negotiate. Be sure to let the employer know you’re very interested and excited about the position, but you would like to see if any adjustments are possible prior to accepting. Present the document to the employer in person, or schedule a time to speak with them on the phone.
3. Back Up Your Plan, and Offer Alternatives
Spell out, again, exactly why you would make a great fit for the position. Let the employer know why these changes would improve the internship for you and the company, and be specific! If the employer can’t agree to let you take the internship without credit, or without helping with fees (and you’re still a college student) offer an alternative: ask if you would be able to complete the position for fewer credits — for instance, by taking one credit instead of three — in order to make the opportunity more affordable.
Reassure them that you’re not trying to get out of additional hours or the responsibilities involved with the position, just the heavy financial cost!
4. If Your Employer Is Unwilling to Budge, Accept It — or Move On
Remember, you have to leave the employer with the upper-hand There may be a variety of complex reasons the employer can’t allow you to take the internship without credit, and they may not be able to afford to pay for the credits. This is unfortunate, but it may mean you’ll have to accept it or move on to another, better, opportunity.
For recent college graduates and current college students, the for-credit internship can be an opportunity to advance your career, but it comes with a heavy cost — often akin to thousands of dollars spent on credit hours. Before digging yourself into a deep financial hole, use these steps to attempt to negotiate with your potential employer. Good luck!
Have you ever negotiated a for-credit internship? What was your process? Was your employer flexible? Share your story in a comment below!
For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at ComeRecommended!
About the Author: Julie Mastrine is a senior at Penn State, majoring in public relations and minoring in Spanish. She has gained experience across a range of settings, including print journalism, public relations, nonprofits, blogging, social media and promotions.