After graduating from college, like many of you, I did not know what to expect. All I had ever known was your typical student life—the textbooks, the teachers, the essays and the exams. Despite not having a job, I knew I needed to do everything I could to remain active and informed within the public relations and advertising industries. For me, this meant including internships in my job hunt.
Soon after moving home, I was offered the opportunity to intern for a prominent salon in the area and the rest is history. The only negative I found was that it was unfortunately a non-paying internship, as most are. Luckily, my mom and dad were supportive enough to at least hold their tongues and help me out financially when times got tough.
Recently, I got in touch with a classmate and fellow intern from my college days. As of the last time we talked, she had been offered an internship (non-paying) with a reputable hospital. Unfortunately, she had to turn down the opportunity because her parents demanded it was time she got a paying job.
My friend may have just missed out on a career-making opportunity. She may be able to pay the bills, but she isn’t doing what she loves (or even what she studied to do).
To some, like my friend, the most difficult part of accepting an internship position after graduating from college may be generating full parental support (In their defense, they only want the best for their children, which, to them, typically means a permanent, salaried position).
So what happens when you have this life-altering opportunity in your hands (yes, internships are life-altering) and your financial backers (A.K.A. the ‘rents) are on the fence about it?
In my opinion, this is when you have got to sell it (Or, in my PR-junkie terms, you gotta spin it):
* The Money Issue:
The truth of the matter is that most internship positions are going to be non-paying. From our standpoint, it is definitely less than ideal, but at least we get valuable experience from it.
In the meantime, however, it is important to have a budget planned out. Since the typical internship requires only about 20 – 25 hours a week, you have the option to take a salary job on the side. It may cut down on your free time, but it will make the ‘rents happy.
* Internship Experience:
Finances aside, you can only really benefit from an internship. Not only will you get invaluable work experience (that will make your résumé stand out), but you will also have the opportunity to network and learn a lot about yourself along the way.
Simply remind them of how you can only learn so much from textbooks and assignments and how employers are looking for entry-level applicants who already have experience.
* Possible Job Offer:
Finally, remind mom and pop that your hard work and effort will pay off—you’ll just have to put in a little effort on your part. When interviewing with companies for an internship, be sure to ask if the position will be an intern-to-hire position. If it is, it is 100% possible to get the job. With hard work and motivation, the job is as good as yours.
Even if the position is not intern-to-hire, you shouldn’t just write it off. Although you should always strive to deliver your best performance, it’s even more important with this kind of internship. Keeping a good rapport with the company means you could be kept at the top of the hiring list for when jobs do open up or they could also recommend you within the industry. Either way, it’s important to keep them on your good side and in your back pocket.
All in all, the most important thing to stress to your parents is that intern experience will benefit you in the long run. Although you might be short on cash for the time being, internship experience can result in job offers sooner rather than later and, quite possibly, a higher salary.