Every year students are told the same thing: work experience and internships can lead to big things after graduation. Young students take their first steps towards a graduate career by accepting temporary positions with companies, unpaid but with promising skills, learning and connections attached.
Internships, paid and unpaid, have been lauded as an important way to pave a young professional’s way to future endeavours, but many unpaid interns are scrimping and saving as they learn to navigate their way to the professional world. With some careful planning and creative budgeting, however, it is possible to survive whilst still completing an internship.
1. Choose Your Internship Carefully
Many unpaid internships work because interns are promised the opportunity of free work at the end of it. This often isn’t the case so be sensible when considering your options. If you have a choice then choose the one which has the best guarantee of work at the end of it. What’s more, choose by location: which is cheapest to get to? Does the company cover expenses? Also by hours: does your internship allow room for other work?
It is important to ask if your working hours are set or flexible. If you do not need to work to tight deadlines, ask if you arrive and leave later. Whilst it may mean eating into your evening, travel will be cheaper off-peak.
Enquire to see if you are required for the full five days a week, too. If you are capable of completing the work in fewer days then do so, leaving you with more time to work another (paid) job.
3. Get a Part Time Job That Pays
Whilst working in a shop or on a checkout may provide you with the money you need to survive, the hours are restrictive. Instead look for a job where hours are more flexible, in a bar or restaurant for example where you can earn extra tips too. Working in restaurants or cafes means that you are likely to get a free meal if you work the right hours, thus cutting down on outgoings.
There are plenty of freelancing websites which exist for most skill sets. Use your newly acquired skills to build a CV and respond to adverts. Working freelance also means flexible hours so you can work around your internship.
4. Get Rent Cheap
One of the most daunting challenges of working unpaid is being able to pay rent. Many choose to live with family or friends but depending on location this is not always possible. If you know friends in a location close by, make your pitch for a space on the sofa or in the spare room. Offer to clean the property once a week, be the one that does the house food shop or any other tasks that everyone else hates. Find out what will help, do it and pay for your bed that way – or at least in the hope for reduced rent.