Unpaid Work Could Mean New Opportunities

Modified on June 10, 2014

By Matthew Butler

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Many students struggle to break into their field, and sometimes the job market in general, and often wonder what strategy is best for them. Weighing the options between part-time work, co-ops, and internships can often be complicated—some jobs offer compensation but are not in the right field, while others offer no compensation but the role is just right.

Let me break it down simply:

1. Part-time jobs are good because they pay, but they will not always be in a position that corresponds with your field of study or interest. Part-time jobs or seasonal work opportunities that do match your academic field of interest are highly desirable, but not always attainable or realistic. Weigh these two when looking at all available opportunities.

2. Internships are great ways to gain valuable experience and are often unpaid, or come with a stipend rather than a salary or wage. Internships are great ways to break into a specific company or field and give you skills and tools to apply to future jobs more competitively.

3. Co-operative education opportunities can be paid or unpaid, and generally accompany a program of study. These are great ways to gain experience and get course credit, but not necessarily make any money.

As you can probably see each avenue is slightly different, but all have benefits. Trying a mixture over the course of your time of study might be a great way to sample the benefits of all of them.