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How to Make “Bank” in Your Unpaid Internship

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money in the bank

Internships are the new diploma. An extensive history of internships and recommendations build a rock-solid resume that will get you hired, and hired quickly. Some of the most exciting and cutting-edge internships, however, are unpaid or pay very little. Don’t go broke building your resume — bank it!

Ask For It!

Decide what you would like accomplish during your internship, work hard and ask for what you are unable to achieve on your own! Ask to lead a project. Ask about possible permanent positions during your internship. Ask how you can fill that position at the end. Ask, ask, ask!

“Unpaid” internships should never be completely unpaid. Employers should cover some of the costs you incur during your internship, which might include: transportation to work, company lunches, cell phone data plans, and perhaps, dry cleaning for required dress. If they don’t make any effort to cover some of your expenses, you don’t want to work for them. Period. Why? It shows a lack of investment in personnel, and if you ever landed a job there, chances are that philosophy would extend to full-time staff.

Beyond direct costs, you may want to ask for a stipend. If a company or organization is interested enough to take you on as an intern, chances are, they are interested enough to pay you a small stipend.

Take Advantage of Company Resources

With permission, use company resources to print your resume or fax a document. As an intern, utilizing company resources for minor personal assistance is acceptable.

Many employers have software or hardware resources that are personally expensive. Adobe Creative Suites, Social Networking Analytics tools, cameras, or top of the line computers. Ask permission  to use the resources for school assignments or for professional projects to build your portfolio and/or resume.

Your colleagues will be a valuable resource for advice and connections. Ask for advice or assistance with a project or your career, and talk to approachable leaders in your company about their early career experiences. Ask if they have friends or colleagues outside your company that would be willing to have lunch with you and talk about your career. Ask them to be a mentor or find a way to keep them involved and invested in your success.

A Free Lunch: Become an “Oppitunivore”

In the morning, bank your Starbucks money and drink company coffee and have a danish. It is a tiny step that will save you serious money over the course of the internship.

Does your office go to lunch? Accept the invitation and go with them. More often than not someone will pick up the entire tab or at the very least buy the interns lunch. Meetings and conferences often have catered lunches, make sure you eat and bank the money you would have spent on lunch.

Use The Benefits

Make sure you get college credit for your internship. Always leave with multiple letters of recommendation from a variety of people in the company. Store contact information in a way that will remain accessible and useful to you. A Google Contacts database might be helpful, or connect with your colleagues on LinkedIn so you always have the ability to email them. Don’t forget, email address are easy to find and often change when people move jobs, but telephone numbers are priceless.

To work an “unpaid” internship and bank money in the process, make sure you look out for specific opportunities that may be unique to your industry or company. Utilization is a new part of professional process. Companies utilize your skills and aspirations, it is important to utilize the company tools to the full extent possible and bank yourself some money in addition to experience in the process.

Want to land the coolest internship of all this summer? Come work for Brazen Careerist in our Washington, D.C. office. We’re hosting an online recruiting event Tuesday, April 5, 2011 at 12:00pm ET / 9:00am PT to chat with interested applicants. You can sign up to join us here: http://www.brazencareerist.com/promos/brazen-careerist/now-hiring.

Brazen powers real-time, online events for leading organizations around the world. Our lifestyle and career blog, Brazen Life, offers fun and edgy ideas for ambitious professionals navigating the changing world of work.

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