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What are Paid Internships?

Tricia Christensen
By
Updated Mar 02, 2024
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A paid internship is a job often in your chosen field of work that offers a salary or stipend and is combined with training in your field. Paid internships are common for college students, who may work part-time during the school year and full time over the summer. They can be of short duration, lasting only a couple of months, or they can last for a year or two as knowledge increases.

Certain fields may require that you obtain intern experience prior to getting licensing. This is common in the teaching field, most branches of medicine, and in many scientific fields. Students might seek out paid internships to increase their chances of getting hired in their chosen career. Work experience is a valuable asset when you are looking for employment, and experience clerking for a lawyer, working as a gopher for an architect, writing for a newspaper, learning the world of advertising, or others can make you more eligible for jobs when you earn your degree/s.

The advantages of paid internships is that they allow you to make some money while getting work experience, and learning more about the jobs you might later apply for. Yet, some students, when they can afford it, are willing to take unpaid internships if they offer experience or contacts that can’t be obtained elsewhere. This may be the case when your particular field is especially competitive, or if an internship is a requirement for licensure. A few paid internships may be completely unrelated to jobs you might want to pursue but are attractive because they’re fun or have flexible scheduling.

If you are pursuing a doctoral degree, you will probably be required to participate in paid internship programs either working as a research assistant, a teacher’s assistant or actually teaching classes. Doctors and nurses must complete internships, as must many teachers. Some courses in college are based on practice in your field, called a practicum. The practicum is usually unpaid, but awards you college credits upon successful completion.

Some work opportunities are known as partially paid internships. These typically offer a stipend that is less that you would make if you worked a standard job. Stipends range significantly and may include housing as part of their offer. Usually a stipend offers just enough to live on but great working experience.

In addition to the many paid internships you can find in the US, you can also find some paid internships in other countries. These can be great especially if your chosen field might have you working in cooperation with people in other parts of the world. Most internships in other countries, especially for students, are unpaid. Paid internships may be available to people who might like to move to a foreign country but need to improve their language skills first.

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Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a Practical Adult Insights contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
By burcinc — On Oct 23, 2014

There are actually independent or academic programs that help students find internships in their field. And they can also help find paid internships. I was part of a program like that in college. Silly me, I didn't request a paid one since I had enough money. I should have taken the opportunity but then again, most places have a very small stipend for interns. The money is still not equivalent to the amount of work they have interns do.

By literally45 — On Oct 23, 2014

@ddljohn-- What is your area of study? Paid internships can be hard to come by in some fields, like social sciences for example. A friend of mine has a paid internship but he's studying engineering. Another had one a few years ago and he's in architecture. So I think that it depends on the field of study.

You might have to accept an unpaid internship just for the experience. I wish all internships were paid but they're not. And unfortunately, some workplaces do see internships as free labor and don't really teach their interns much aside from mundane office work.

Keep looking for a paid internship but keep in mind that you may have to start with an unpaid one. You may have to work for free for six months and using that experience, you can look for paid ones after that.

By ddljohn — On Oct 22, 2014

It's difficult to find a paid internship. I have been looking for several months but I've only come across unpaid ones. I need the experience, but I need money too, so I'm not sure what I will do.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a Practical Adult Insights contributor...
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