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by Vault Education Editors | March 03, 2010


It's the classic college summer dilemma: do you take the unglamorous paying gig or the unpaid internship? Many people might say to take the internship, but the truth is there's no right or wrong answer. While an internship might look better on a resume in the long-term, if you would have a better short-term experience waiting tables then earning money could the way to go.

A CNN Money reader posed the age-old question to Anne Fisher, who reached out to Vault for some insight. We told her that it's the experience that counts--not the name or the pay. Getting coffee and making copies in an unpaid internship, even if it's at a known company won't come off as well on a resume or in an interview than real, hands-on experience in a less "exotic" position. Teaching sailing at the local summer camp, for example, can provide great leadership and teamwork experience--job application buzz words. The important thing is pursuing an experience that will challenge you and make you happy. If you are doing something you love, it will benefit you in the short and long term. In her advice column, Anne Fisher quotes Vault's Yazad Dalal:

The top programs are flooded with so many applicants that it's no disgrace not to get in. "Not everybody is going to get a Top 10 internship," notes Vault executive vice president Yazad Dalal. "But everybody should try to find one that he or she is extremely interested in, or even passionate about."

Why? Because whatever you do as an intern could well lead straight to your future career, which could last decades. "Pick a field you could see yourself enjoying not just for this summer, but for a long time to come," he advises. "It's a practical approach. If you are not passionate about your work, you probably won't be very good at it over the long haul." True.

To read about how to turn an unpaid internship into a paying one, check out my earlier Admit One post. And don't forget to visit Vault's internship database to read about over 700 different programs. You'll be sure to find one you love!


Filed Under: Education
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