Paid vs. Unpaid Internships

As you amp up your efforts to find relevant work and experience for the summer, the controversy over paid versus unpaid internships rises to the top. To protect yourself now or in the future, here are three tips to keep in mind:

1. Internships can provide excellent training in many fields of music. They can also lead to job opportunities for students who demonstrate their ability to learn quickly, work well as part of a team, and show dedication and perseverance. (See “Stellar Tips for Music Internships.”)

2. Be sure you know what you’re stepping into when you apply for specific internships. While an employer may seem like a perfect fit for your career interests, you may find the actual job entails menial work that has nothing to do with your education, training, or future plans.

3. The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has attempted to crack down on for-profit employers who use students as free labor and do not follow six criteria if an internship is unpaid. Read these criteria to make sure that any unpaid internship you’re considering does abide by them. College credit should be offered when payment is not. Note that non-profits have more leeway since they often have volunteers assisting them.

If you’ve had good or bad experiences with internships, will you share them with us for the sake of students coming up the pipeline?   Contact Us…


  1. Joseph

    Thank you for this article. I’ve been looking for the same quite a long time. I wanted to do paid internship in Chicago, and I already searched for few online sites like internshipdesk, internmatch, and some more.

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