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Unsure if you can afford to do an unpaid internship? Learn to budget for the internship and create a monthly budget to help with your decision. (You can create a free account on Cash Course using your WFU email address.)
While some internships are paid, not all employers are willing or able to offer paid internships, choosing instead to emphasize the value of the experience over financial compensation. If you accept an unpaid internship you will still benefit from the experience by developing knowledge, skills, and abilities, but you may be challenged to support yourself financially. Here are a few options to consider if you choose to accept an unpaid internship:
Part-time internship/Part-time work – In many cases employers offering unpaid internships will be flexible in their scheduling because they recognize the costs you will incur. Consider interning part time to build professional experience while working part–time to earn the money you need for your expenses. Check out sites like Craigslist or Snagajob to identify options. If your schedule allows, work in a temporary job before or after your internship to earn more money.
Alternative compensation – Some employers are willing to offer perks (like covering your commuting costs) that will help offset the cost of accepting an unpaid internship. Ask your employer for more information.
Limit your costs – If you have the opportunity to stay with friends or family in the city where your internship will be located, do it! If you need to identify your own housing, take a look at our housing site for suggestions in cities that Wake Forest students often consider.
Limit the cost of earning credit – You can also limit the cost of earning credit through Wake Forest. If your employer requires you to earn credit during the summer, the least expensive option available is Business 181, a 1-credit class that any student, regardless of major, can take. You can contact Lynn Zimmerman (firstname.lastname@example.org) in the School of Business for more information. If your employer does not require you to earn credit during the summer, you might be able to arrange an independent study project, based on your internship experience, to be completed in the fall after your summer internship.