Put simply – YES! Unpaid internships can definitely be worth the effort. In many top business schools around the world, particularly in the US, competition for the top jobs – whether supportive or cutthroat – is increasing. This means that many students are applying for the same jobs in banking, consulting, or leadership development programs, and as a result, it is harder for someone to differentiate. An awesome strategy that many of my friends have used successfully to eventually secure top tier offers at places like Goldman Sachs is working your way up through unpaid internships.
Many freshmen, sophomore, and even juniors in college can apply for an unpaid internship position in a local investment bank or a boutique finance shop – doing so can help you show interest and ramp up your hiring appeal for potential employers. These internships might have been sourced from networking, or through a school’s career services. Whatever the case, unpaid internships are a great way to show your interest in an industry, learn the commitments of a job, and whether or not it matches your expectations and your career goals.
Think of an unpaid internship as a door. You use it to get another (hopefully paying) internship job in the future, which you may be able to convert into a high paying full time job. Unpaid internships should not be viewed in isolation, but rather as an effective stepping stone for those who want to excel in their industry of interest.
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