What is Paid Internship? | Paid vs Unpaid | What to choose in 2023? | Top 5 Pros and Cons

In simple language, an internship is nothing but a pre-job experience provided to the students. It helps them in many cases such as:- to learn important practical skills, provide job exposures, ‘in-office’ work environment experiences and many more.

Not only that, but also sometimes internships open the door for you towards a job. Another important factor of internship is that, you learn a lot and get paid while doing it.

Table of Contents

Importance of Internship

The importance of internship is massive in case of getting a job on a company. Like:- an internship helps you to build a connection with others, job security, office experiences, self development etc.

Read more:- Importance of Internship

What is Paid Internship?

What is Paid Internship?
Image – 1.1: An intern crosschecking her sheet

A paid internship is a type of internship program which is organized by the company. Here students join the program after their graduation and work for the company.

Generally this is a training period for them and the company pays stipend to the interns in exchange of the work/service they provide to the company.

Usually a paid internship continues for 3-4 months. But it can be extend sometimes and can go on for 1-1.5 years if the intern wants to know more, learn more about his/her industry.

For the students who want to earn money online along with their studies, internship is a great option for them because many companies provide online internship opportunities. It increases your knowledge and skills in a specific field.

Currently, many job companies seek for a 8-12 months experienced candidate for hiring. That’s why internship has become one of the most necessary part for engineer, medical, MBA, teaching students and etc.

With the help of internship, you get the idea of practical work experience, time management, work life-study balance and many more.

Also you get more preference than others while applying for a job in a company because of your internship work experience. Moreover, an internship increase the value of your degree.

To give you an rough idea,

  • An engineer gets almost $20-$21/hour as stipend.
  • A medical intern earns almost $24-$25/hour.
  • A MBA intern gets almost $41-42/hour as stipend.
  • A Data Science intern almost earns $21-$22/hour.

What is Unpaid Internship?

What is Paid Internship?
Image – 1.2: An intern auditing multiple programing codes

The unpaid internship is a type of internship which does not pay you any types of stipend in exchange of the work/service you do for them. Instead of that, you get academic or course credits from the college. .

Just like the other internships. unpaid internships also provide you the same features like:- practical skills, self development, job security etc.

According to most of the experts, unpaid internships are of no use and students should not run after that. The reason behind that students run after unpaid internships is either they want course credits or they want the internship certificate or both.

Are Unpaid Internships Illegal?

No! Of course not. Unpaid internships are completely legal and you are free to go for an unpaid internship.

According to The Fair Labor Standards Act [FLSA], for profits, employee must get paid by the company. But for students and interns, it is optional to the company.

In case of the paid internship, company must pay enough and relevant stipend to the intern for their work as well as for doing overtime.

In an unpaid internship, the interns get academic or college credits instead of stipend. But if your company is not providing you the college credits, then they must consider you as an employee and pay you appropriate stipend.

Similarities between Paid Internships and Unpaid Internship

For paid and unpaid internships, the basics are same, but some important similarities between these 2 internships are given below.

1. Improve skills and knowledge

What is Paid Internship?
Image – 1.3: A group of interns are at office

The basic meaning of an internship is to provide real life skills, knowledge and problem solving ability. No matter which type of internship this is.

In the both paid and unpaid internship, you get the chance to enhance yourself, your skills, practical knowledges etc.

As an intern you learn from your teammates, collogues, team leaders. Also in case of both the internships, you get the scope to help others, find your passions etc.

2. Self Development

In case of both the internships, you develop yourself in a better way. You experience new thing, learn new things.

Thus you understand yourself better, learn from mistakes, improve your quality. In this way, you the scope to express out your new and enhanced version! Also you can find and identify your own passion.

3. Get Job

For both paid internship and unpaid internship, you get a job security in future. But with the paid internship, this chance gets increased a little bit.

According to a study, almost 65% of the paid interns get the job at end and almost 38% of the unpaid interns secure a job at the end of internships. That means, there is a high chance for you to secure a job eventually after completeing your internships.

But remember, companies offer a job to those interns who perform well on that internship.

4. Build Networks

What is Paid Internship?
Image – 1.4: A look of the table of an intern

While doing internships, you meet several people and work with a lot of team members. That’s how you get a great opportunity to widnen your network.

There you will meet a number of professionals. Get in touch with them and they may provide you something valuable for your future study.

Also they may be your way to reference. It means, they can refer you to the other hiring companies when you go to apply for a job at other company. Keeping a contact with others help you to expand your learning area and opportunity field.

Key Difference between Paid Internship and Unpaid Internship

In the filed of internship, there are many things which differentiate the paid internships from the unpaid ones. You will get a better idea that which internship suits you the most. Let’s have a look at all those important topics below-

1. The Stipend

What is Paid Internship?
Image – 1.5: Office work of an architect intern

They key and most important differentiation between paid internship and unpaid internship is that ‘the stipend’. Paid internship offer you stipend while the unpaid ones don’t.

You need to be clear about these 2 internships in order to understand that which one is suitable for you. For instance, if you have graduated on your subject, then you should need to do the paid internship.

If you are a current student and you need academic credits as a priority, then you must go for the unpaid ones. You can also consider this situation that if you are financially strong then you can go for the unpaid internship otherwise you can go with the paid internships.

2. Job Offers

There is a huge possibility that you get a job at that company after completing your paid internship. As you had already worked with the company as an paid intern and know the company’s work process deeply, the company may hire you as a job candidate.

On the other hand, this probability decreases in the case of unpaid internship. Most of the unpaid interns get the opportunity of internship in a company not work but to learn more.

That’s why company officials prefer paid interns more than unpaid interns. But not to worry, you good performance on that internship may lead to increase your chance for job opportunity.

3. Benefits from the Experience

Just like the ‘stipend’, the ‘experiences’ also differentiate the the paid and unpaid internships. While the paid internships focus more on improving and enhancing skills, implementing knowledge on the skills, getting ready for job and many more; the unpaid internships give priority to learning new things, explore more about a field, finding your passion etc.

If you have completed you study and looking for a job, the paid internship is best for you. Because you just need to improve and enhance your skills on your knowledgeable topics on your field.

Now, if you are a current student and want to continue your study after internship, then the unpaid internship is the best fit for you. It’s because, in that unpaid internship, you may explore and discover many unknown and important topics related to your industry.

Also you can choose the right path for your future study.

4. Quality of Knowledge

What is Paid Internship?
Image – 1.6: Office meeting is going on for interns

During the internships, there may be a significant difference between the tasks of a paid intern and an unpaid intern.

Generally, it is seen that, paid interns are given the task of industry level. It means they have to do a project or solve any problem which helps in the progress of the company.

On the other hand, unpaid interns are given the task of a project which helps him/her to improve the visibility about the specific industry.

In simple language, unpaid interns contribute to proceed the themselves whereas the paid interns contribute to the progress of the company.

5. The Structure

One of the most important important differentiation between paid internship and unpaid internship is that, paid internships are more structured than the unpaid ones.

As we discussed earlier, unpaid internships are arranged for current students are paid internships are arranged for job ready candidates.

That’s why paid internships are formatted in a more standard way in order to run the work flow of the company smoothly.

6. The Internships Availability

Among the 2 internships, their availability may be different at different times. Also it depends upon your locality, industry, company and many more.

So, you must keep yourself updated all the time about the internships availability near you in order to not to miss a single opportunity of internship. Usually, it is seen that, there are more availability for unpaid internships than the paid ones.

Pros and Cons of Paid Internship

You may get surprised that, just like the double edged sword, paid internships do not have benefits only but drawbacks also. Let’s get discussed about all of its pros and cons.


At first let’s get discussed about the most important advantages of a paid internship. Have a look at the major points below-

1. The Stipend:-

What is Paid Internship?
Image – 1.7: An intern at deep thinking during her work

The most obvious benefit of a paid internship is that, it gives you stipend. As the name suggests, you are paid by the company while doing the paid internship.

It makes you financially strong and independent. Also, you can spend this stipend to continue your future study.

2. Building the Resume:-

There is a lot of competition in the case of paid internship. When you go to apply for a job at other company in future, it may be a differentiator for you.

That means, the company hiring officials may give you more preference than others because you have survived the competition of the paid internship.

You can mention about your paid internship on your resume. Although, both types of internships increase the chance for you to get selected for the job.

3. Gives Motivation:-

For most of the cases, it is a human nature to work with full boost and motivation when somebody pays you for that work.
Same goes with the paid internship also. We get involved into our task and work more deeply. It helps us to understand and learn our industry in a better way.

4. You Get Guidance:-

What is Paid Internship?
Image – 1.8: Interns getting advices from team leader

The main motive behind doing an internship is to learn. In this field you as an intern will mentored by professionals.

Every company has a mentor just to guide these interns or newbies on the right path. Thus it is also quite obvious that, you will get your mistakes corrected and learn from that.

Your mentor will direct you on the proper path and you can explore your industry with a new vision. It will also help you to increase your self development.

5. Help you to do Specialization:-

It is quite sure that, after internship, you will find your passion. Means, after internship you will get a better ideas that on which industry you have the most interest and on which field do you want to get specialized.

This will help you to focus more on the specialized filed of your industry. Also you get a better idea to choose your future field of study. In this way, internship changes the vision of you to a right direction completely.


After all the pros, now it’s time to discuss some disadvantages of the paid internship. Below are some important points discussed-

1. Massive Work load:-

What is Paid Internship?
Image – 1.9: A group of interns are solving a problem together [team work]

Just like ‘stipend’ was the most important pros of paid internship, in the same way, the ‘massive workload’ is the most obvious cons of paid internship. In the world, there’s no such words called ‘free’.

If you are getting paid, you have to return something to the company in exchange of the stipend. In case of internships, students are given an unexpected and huge amount of tasks to do.

That’s because, a paid intern almost do all the tasks which an employee should do. It means, you often replace an employee of that company. Thus, these work loads are an obvious incident.

To manage work-life and study together is not an easy task.

2. Random Field:-

In case of paid internship, students are often given the task to do related to different fields. Means, they have to work on that industry on which they have not studied, the industry for which they are not trained.

Just because to get the stipend and knowledge, students compromise their favorite field/industry. Eventually this lead to an increment of mismatching job for graduated students.

3. More Competition:-

As in case of the paid internship companies pay you stipend, it is certain that a lot of other candidates like you also apply for internships. This results into a heavy competition for the paid internship.

Thus, getting an internship opportunity on these companies may be a little stressful for you. Even it may demotivate you if you get rejected in multiple companies.

4. They are Low Paying:-

What is Paid Internship?
Image – 1.10: An intern is getting mentored by a professional

Even though the paid internships pay you, but that’s not a huge amount. Except banking and technology, you are not given a good amount of compensation for the paid internship.

Thus make sure to question yourself that, do you really need the paid internship? Also, verify and research deeply about the stipend given to an intern by that company.

5. A little Expensive:-

Don’t consider the paid internship always profitable for you. While doing an internship in a different city, you will have to shift from your home town to that city, right?

Your rent, travel expense, meals are countable. Although some companies take the responsibility of your travel and office lunch expenses, but most of the cases you have to bear your own expenses.

For example:-

  • A single room in New York costs around $600-$700/month.
  • A single room in Los Angeles costs around $1000-$1200/month.
  • A single room in Texas costs around $700-$800/month.

Pros and Cons of Unpaid Internship

Just like a coin, the unpaid internships don’t have only disadvantages but also some major advantages. Explore all the pros and cons below-


It may be a little astonishing that unpaid internships also have any advantages! But yes, they have many advantages, let’s have a look below-

1. Less Competition:-

What is Paid Internship?
Image – 1.11: Interns doing gossip during their little break

Just we discussed earlier, unlike the paid internship, unpaid internships have a less competition in most of the industries. So, recruiters easily hire an unpaid intern candidate in their company.

2. Relevant fields:-

Unlike the paid internships, in the case of paid internships, you get relevant fields to learn and work on. It helps you to focus more on your industry rather than focusing on other fields of your industry.

3. Academic Credits:-

If you have lack of credits and struggling to get more, then nothing can be better than unpaid internship for you. The unpaid internships play an essential role to fulfil your college credits requirements.

4. Relevant Connections:-

What is Paid Internship?
Image – 1.12: Two interns are doing discussion with their senior manager

As we discussed, unpaid internships focus more on the relevant fields of your industry. So, it is quite obvious that you will get in touch with a lot of professionals, members related to your industry.

And in future, in case of your job applying at other companies, they will be your best helping hand.

5. Take Decision:-

The unpaid internships may also be a good decider for you. As you learn a lot of new things and gain experiences about your field and industry, so you get the scope to decide whether this field is relevant for you or not.

While continuing the internship, you will get a better idea about your industry. And so you can continue your future study on that particular field in your industry or you can choose different field.


It is obvious that an unpaid internship has some cons or disadvantages, let’s explore the major points below-

1. It’s Unpaid:-

What is Paid Internship?
Image – 1.13: An intern is focused on her work

Most obvious and most important factor of an unpaid internship is that you don’t get paid in exchange of the service/work you do for them.

Although you learn more than you work, but you do work for the company, right? Even sometimes an intern replaces an employee temporarily.

2. Low Salary:-

As an unpaid intern, sometimes you are considered as a low valued employee in future. That means, if the company consider you for an employee in future, there is a high possibility that you may get an offer of low salary.

On the other hand, the paid intern who was your teammate, may get a good salary offer for the same position in that same company.

3. There May be Inequality:-

What is Paid Internship?
Image – 1.14: An intern doing his task alone

It is often seen that the unpaid interns are looked down upon by other employees. Even sometimes, they exclude the interns from the office gossip and culture.

Also an unpaid intern may get neglected by the colleagues and teammates.

4. Can’t get Company Benefits:-

There is a high chance that the company may not provide you the benefits, facilities and perks which they provide to the paid employees. Facilities like- insurance, vacations and many more are not provided to the unpaid interns often.

What is Best for You? Paid or Unpaid?

Before choosing the internship, you need to ask yourself that why do you need this internship? Ask yourself, find the answer and then determine.

Let’s get helped a little below-

  • If you think that you need to be financially strong and independent, then you must go for the paid internship, otherwise, the unpaid internship will be good for you.
  • If you want more knowledge, support, experience about your field and industry, then you must look forward to the unpaid internships. It will be suitable for you and will help you a lot. Or, if you are at the end of your study carrier, the paid internships are best for you.


What is Paid Internship?
Image – 1.15: An intern getting ready to pack stuffs at the end of the day

Last Stop: The Transformative Potential of choosing the internship option is totally depends on your need and requirements. Both paid and unpaid internships are best at their own places.

Where the paid internships offer stipend, enhancement, polishing and many more, on the other hand, the unpaid ones offer knowledge, self development, finding passion etc.

Let me know in the comment section below which internship will you prefer for yourself?


What is an internship?

An internship is a pre-job experience provided to students, offering practical skills, exposure to the work environment, and potential job opportunities.

What are the benefits of an internship?

Internships provide practical skills, exposure to the work environment, networking opportunities, and can open doors to future employment.

What is a paid internship?

A paid internship is a program where students work for a company after graduation and receive a stipend in exchange for their services.

How long does a paid internship typically last?

Paid internships usually continue for 3-4 months, but can be extended up to 1-1.5 years for those seeking more experience.

Are there online internship opportunities?

Yes, many companies offer online internship opportunities, allowing students to earn money and gain skills while studying.

Are unpaid internships legal?

Yes, unpaid internships are legal, and students can opt for them to gain experience and academic credits.

What are the similarities between paid and unpaid internships?

Both types of internships offer skill improvement, self-development, job security, and networking opportunities.

What is the key difference between paid and unpaid internships?

The main difference is that paid internships offer a stipend, while unpaid internships do not. Paid internships are often more structured and may lead to higher job prospects.

How do paid internships benefit my resume?

Paid internships can make your resume stand out, showing that you’ve competed and excelled in a competitive environment.

What is the drawback of a paid internship?

Paid internships can come with a heavy workload and may require balancing work and studies.

What is the benefit of an unpaid internship?

Unpaid internships can offer a focused learning experience and help fulfill academic credit requirements.

Can unpaid internships lead to job offers?

While there is a lower probability, unpaid internships can still lead to job opportunities based on performance.

How does a paid internship help with specialization?

Paid internships often involve industry-level tasks, helping you specialize in your field of interest.

What are the cons of unpaid internships?

Unpaid internships lack financial compensation and may not provide company benefits or equal treatment.

Which type of internship is best for me?

Consider your financial needs, career goals, and desire for specialization when choosing between paid and unpaid internships.

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