Financial Tips On Surviving An Unpaid Internship

The thing is, if you work in the creative industry, interning is a must. And let's face it, it is not cheap being an intern; especially if you don't have financial support from your parents or partner. Most of the time, since interning is apart of a school credit, you are paying to get that credit which also means you are paying to work for free. Most internships don't pay you, so you have to find a way to work 20-40 hour for free while also supporting yourself. So, here are five ways to survive an unpaid internship.

Be Realistic With Your Budget: Before you take that internship, be realistic about your monthly financial goals. Can you afford to work for free? The things is, you know that you need the internship to take you into the next step of your career. Saying no to an internship can be tough but I will let you in on a little but huge secret, these companies no matter how big or small need interns. So even if they can't pay you, negotiate the time you can work. I say this because if you look at your budget and see that you can't work more than 20 hours a week because you actually have a job that pays the rent, then tell them that. Remember they aren't paying you for your time, so you have to know how that free work fits in with your financial plans.

internships

Be Realistic With Your Time: Honestly, this is a huge one. I was interning for 40 hours a week, working 35 hours a week and putting 10 hours a week into my blog; all the while I had a huge tumor on my uterus, so I was sick and working like a dog. Be realistic with your time because when you are an intern, you feel almost needy, like you need to get that internship position and work so hard and forsake everything for it and the thing is, that isn't true. You need to carve out a time for yourself too. 

survive unpaid internship

Know Your Limit: As you read above there was a lot going on while I was interning. I was sick and working so much. I didn't know my limit and even while this was going on. I was trying to be super woman without realizing that I was human first. Remember that time is money and that time is valuable. Make sure that at the beginning of your internship you sit down with your boss and give them the hours you can work. Yes, there are internships that will want you to work 40 hours but maybe that isn't for you. Know what you can handle because when you take on too much you suffer. 

financial tips on surviving an unpaid internship

Have Another Job: If you don't have mom or dad supporting you or you haven't saved up money then you need to get a job if you don't have one already. This can be a retail job or working freelance. Whatever you can do to make money do it as long as you're safe. The thing is when I was interning, I didn't know my limit, I worked 40 hours at my internship, then went to my retail job at night and on weekends. I had no days off at all. But I was able to pay some of my bills. So find creative ways to make money and while you are at that internship, learn to network and see if there are any work opportunities.

unpaid internships

Find Ways To Be Compensated: Not all internships are unpaid, so if you can find the one that is paid I say go for it. Freelance while you intern, work retail, have a side hustle. Some internships give a way free stuff, where I interned had a desk in the middle of the office. It was called the island, and producers would place skincare, makeup, hair products, house ware stuff on there if they didn't want it or if we had gotten too much. You bet I was the first one at the island whenever a free item was place there. The thing was I was working for free and I wasn't making enough money to buy anything that wasn't a necessity, so when makeup or skincare products showed up I grabbed it. It sounds funny but if your internship gives you free stuff take it and if you can't use it, sale it. But only sale it if you are allowed to.

Hopefully these tips are helpful. Let me know how you survived your internship or if you are about to start one.

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