When I was in college, I had internships nearly every summer of the year. In each of those internships, I was paid a decent salary and never once had to decide whether or not to take an unpaid internship. I remember what I was like back then and if the right opportunity opened up, chances are I’d have worked for free if I could convince my parents to stake me for the summer.
I was fortunate in that I was in college during much of the dot com boom so all my internships were paid. It also helps that the idea of an unpaid internship, for “experience,” isn’t popular in technology. It happens a lot more in other industries where the need for experience trumps all.
In most instances, unpaid internships are illegal. The Department of Labor has really tight criteria for what internships can be unpaid and very few internships apply. There was no chance of my internships would’ve been legitimately unpaid, though there are plenty of illegal unpaid internships!
Have you ever taken an unpaid internship?