Paid or Unpaid Internship?

Paid or Unpaid Internship?

August 19th, 2021 | HKIP Admin

Obviously paid internships sound better than unpaid internships as their name explains, they  pay. However, money is important but it isn’t everything. Just because the internship is paid, it doesn’t always mean the right internship for you. The Hong Kong Internship Platform presents you the pros and cons of both paid and unpaid internships for you to choose wisely before starting your internship.


Paid Internship: Pros

1. Get Incentive

Even though it is not everything, money is still important. With money you will be able to get income and fulfill your daily needs. It also feels nice to be able to make your own money without needing to burden other people.


2. Boost of Confidence

You may find your paid internship as an achievement as unpaid internships tend to make you feel as a waste of time and energy. By joining a paid internship, you have the chance to increase your self esteem and boost your self-worth. This is important to help you motivate yourself to work harder in the future.


3. Good for your resume

Both paid and unpaid internships look good for your resume. However, paid internships will impress your future employers as there are alot of competitions in finding paid internships. This also shows that you are capable and dependable as you succeeded in securing the paid internship which is not easy.


Paid Internship: Cons

1. Irrelevant Field

As the number of paid internships are far less than unpaid internships, even if people succeeded securing paid internship most likely the chance of people getting paid internships relevant to their field of study is low. Even if this doesn’t seem like a big problem, this is actually the main reason why the number of graduates matching their relevant field of work is low.


2. High Workload

Being paid, you are expected to do the work equivalent to the amount you get. Employers paid interns because they expect something in return for what they pay, as they can just use the money to hire real employees instead. You will carry a heavy burden on your shoulders as your employer may see you as a real employee instead of a mere student intern.


3. Miss the Chance to Follow Your Dreams

Having paid internships in the middle of pursuing your education are usually to get more exposure on the real working world. However as the number of paid internships are not alot and you will most likely get the internship irrelevant to your field, it will be a waste of time and chance to pursue what you really want. Also you will lose some time to take a break from your stressful college life as usually internships were held during summer breaks.


Unpaid Internship: Pros

1. Valuable Experience

You will most likely get a good experience from the internship as you will work with passionate people in the relevant field. There are also less pressure put on you as your employer will not expect much from you. This then leaves you free to explore and learn during your internship. Unpaid internships also helps you build your character.


2. Test Yourself Out

Unpaid internships are the perfect opportunity for you to find out your passions. You can find out what kind of industry are really interested in and you will have the freedom to go pursue your dream, which is something that you may not do with paid internships.


3. Chance for Training

Unlike paid internships who have strict and structured work schedules, unpaid internships tend to be more relaxed and chill. This allows you to explore what you are doing. You can also analyze how companies work firsthand as you will have enough time to do nothing.


Unpaid Internship: Cons

1. Stress and Financial Constraints

Not many students are willing to work unpaid, as they will not be able to fulfill their daily needs without money. They will also feel depressed if their colleagues or someone they know managed to secure a paid internship.


2. Self-Esteem Challenges

This will also affect student’s self-esteem because they will feel less worthy than their colleagues who succeeded in securing a paid internship. Their seniors at work may also look down on them because they are doing the same job without being paid. However, this is also a good chance to improve your mentality as unpaid internships are also a way to help you build your career in the future.



If you really cannot afford unpaid internships, there may be a good option you can choose. Some companies doing unpaid internships may actually pay you in other forms. For example, your company may give you free lunch and dinners or even willing to pay for your insurance.

There are no winners between both paid and unpaid internships as both are good in their very own ways. The important thing is to do internships that you really like and enjoy. Don’t reject internships just because it is unpaid and don’t merely accept an internship just because it is paid.


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