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Unpaid internship or two week's wages?

Posted on by Prova

By Georgia

An ideal start to anyone’s career is a paid internship. There are no massive financial worries; you are learning the ropes in a professional environment – what a fantastic opportunity. But, unfortunately, these aren’t common, they are lucky breaks. Unpaid internships, however, are usually easier to acquire. People who have had job over summer will know that if you work eight hours a day, five days a week, you expect to be rolling in it by payday. This isn’t the case with unpaid internships, and working normal office hours for free doesn’t normally stand a chance against doing your average summer job for decent money. Some internships don’t even pay expenses, how can that compete with £6 per hour at 25+ hours a week?

Being a university student, I usually use the summer period to work for money for the next academic year. However, my tutor encouraged me to get some valuable work experience under my belt for when I graduate. This meant I had to cut my hours dramatically for my normal summer job at a bar in Stratford-upon-Avon – something neither me nor my boss was entirely happy about this. After all, two weeks work would pay for three weeks rent at University. But, the excitement of being in a real PR environment overtook my money worries, that and the bar work was getting boring!

I applied at Prova, got the placement, did that for two weeks and, here I am, writing this blog on my last day.

Having gone through the toss-up between paid work and unpaid internship myself, I can empathise with those who will be out of pocket – my parents didn’t pay my costs, and it’s not nice for anyone to be skint is it? I was lucky enough to get the hours at the bar after my office hours which left me with a bit of breathing space money-wise. It did mean I was working around 60 hours in total a week, but I assured myself that it was only temporary and I had a bit of downtime on Sundays. But, I do believe that the value of an internship overrides that of two weeks’ wages. I look at my CV, and the job title ‘Intern at Prova PR’ is glowing, leaving my ability to pour a decent pint in a shadow.

Not only have I got a brilliant addition to my CV, I have learnt more about PR in two weeks than I learnt in the last year at university. PR in practice is very different to the PR in theory. On top of this, I have made some great professional contacts. All of which stand me in great stead for getting a job (that, may I add, will pay more than £6 per hour) after university.

At Prova, I felt really welcome from my first day. Everyone from the fellow interns to the managing director spoke to me and took an interest. I completed the usual intern tasks (research, general administration, database management), then they recognised I particularly liked writing, and got me having a go at newsletters, press releases, articles – my portfolio has doubled in size!

I’ve felt challenged, enthused and valued working at Prova – it’s been a fantastic experience in which I developed greatly.

After my two weeks here, I’ve realised that I’ve been lucky to get an internship at a PR agency like this. Think about how much students pay for a year at university, up to £9,000! All internships are asking for is your time and energy, and for the benefits to your portfolio and CV, that’s a bargain!

Disclaimer: I appreciate that not all internships will be as beneficial as those at Prova.

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