Should Job Seekers Settle For Internships?


While many of my friends were working part-time jobs during college, I dabbled in the form of indentured servitude known as unpaid internships.

As they collected checks I gathered experience that I hoped would make me competitive in the job market. Even at times when I really needed to generate income, I convinced myself that the peanut butter enriched diet that I had succumbed to thanks to work with no pay would pay off in the long run.


And then graduation day happened and I found myself without a job.

However, in my field of choice such a scenario was a given. Despite no definite prospects, because my resume boasted a bevy of internships spanning different facets of the media I just knew something would eventually come through.

Though a few things did in the end, it wasn’t in the time frame I envisioned. Still, I accumulated a number of contacts over the years that helped me advance professionally.  

There are plenty of people who share my story. Quite a few people I know turned to various internship programs to tide them over until a full-time position came along.

Some of these positions paid while others were not as fortunate.

Did job offers follow at the end of their respective stints? 

For some they did. 

I don’t regret my choice to do free labor, but I can’t imagine myself going back to that.


I stumbled along a piece arguing for job seekers to make such a move.  

According to a recent survey, 59% of employers say the candidates they plan to hire as interns are likely to become permanent employees.


In a frozen job market I can see the rationale in opting to swallow one’s pride and accept another non-paying position if it helps you get a foot in the door.

On the other hand, wouldn’t it suck to be 40 and an unpaid intern? It sounds terrible enough at 25.


I know the end justifies the means, but how can one survive with an unpaid position without moving back home and getting on food stamps?

I’m not sure I could do it all again. Can you?

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Michael Arceneaux hails from Houston, lives in Harlem and praises Beyoncé’s name wherever he goes. Follow him on Twitter.