My name is Chelsea – I’m a fifth year student at the University of Toronto, and I just got an internship! Yay, right? Well, I sure am excited about it, but there are others who aren’t so thrilled (and they make some good points).
I should specify that this internship is unpaid. There’s a lot of debate over whether or not unpaid internships should be legal, but I will say that in my case I believe it is justified. This is because I’m interning for a tiny non-profit that raises money for mental health research and creates awareness. They only have 3 employees. They likely can’t afford to pay me.
I’m going to be posting about my experience throughout the summer, because so many students end up in internships or want one, but it’s difficult to know what it will be like until you’re there. My particular situation may be a little unusual but I hope that it can still shed some light on what you can expect (or at the very least, entertain you)!
First, the basics:
How I Got The Job
- I was contacted by the executive director to be filmed for a video project they were doing. She reached out to me because she read an article I published in our student paper (you can read it here). Although you should never do something just because you feel like it will “look good”, sometimes your extracurriculars really can get you noticed!
- I did not apply for anything. In fact, the position wasn’t even advertised. I asked about potential opportunities. They asked for my resume, I had a meeting with them, and that was it! Even if you don’t see an open position, it never hurts to ask!
- Although I haven’t yet graduated or study in the mental health field, I demonstrated good leadership skills and good ideas. Every time I interacted with them I was enthusiastic, and I wasn’t just putting it on – I really am passionate about the cause and the work they do.
Why I Wanted The Job
- I am NOT expecting it to lead to a paying job. If it does, that would be the best thing that could ever happen to me, but it would be unrealistic to expect that. No matter where you’re interning, even if it’s for a massive company, don’t do it just because you want a job there. Do it because you enjoy the work and want the experience!
- I had opportunities to take a full time paying job this summer (even if it was just retail). I did this instead because I am passionate about it. I can get a full time job when I graduate! My parents disagree and we’ve had numerous arguments over it, but at the end of the day, I can still support myself, and what matters most is what you want, not what your parents want.
- Mental health awareness is very important to me because I struggle with mental health issues and so does someone close to me. That’s why I’m willing to go to the lengths that I do in order to work here. I work 7 days a week most weeks. Typically, my schedule is that I work Monday-Thursday at my internship, and then I’ll work Thursday night, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at my (paying) part-time job. I have to do this in order to be able to support myself.
I hope that this is helpful, and I’m looking forward to sharing more of my experiences with you this summer! I’ll be back next month with entry #2. If there’s anything you’d like me to cover, let me know! If you have any questions or want to talk, you can tweet me.