merojob | Career Guide

Internship - Paid or Unpaid?

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An internship is a short-term professional learning experience offered by companies to students to help enhance their career interests. An internship offers students an opportunity to explore their field of study, gain practical experience, develop new connections and learn new skills. Whereas employers by hiring an intern get to bring in new ideas, and energy into their workspace, and potentially discover a talent they would want to recruit.


In Nepal, the internship is a compulsory curriculum of 3 months or less in most colleges and usually takes place in the last year. It is quite common for students from different studies like medicine, finance, technology, science, engineering, etc to seek an internship in their field. Among the many benefits of an internship program, an internship offers freshers the proper work experience that corporations look for while hiring an employee.


Hiring interns helps an organization gain support for the business as well as for the existing employees. By involving interns in basic tasks employees can pursue more advanced and creative work. Employers can successfully hire and manage interns by developing a clear job description and providing a proper guide before indulging them in real projects. 


Not every internship experience is paid




An unpaid internship is quite common as there is no law stating that an intern needs to be paid. Hence, it is not mandatory to pay an intern for its services. Since an internship counts as an academic necessity and a requirement to graduate, students commit to an internship even if it's unpaid. 


The current employment trends analyzed by merojob depict internship opportunities are mostly unpaid. Thus, finding an unpaid internship opportunity is a lot easier. Still, a paid internship can be available from time to time. However, unlike unpaid internships, where freshers can apply without prior experience, paid internships may require prospects to have experience beforehand. While one might find a paid internship once in a while, the chances of getting one in their field of interest is much lower. 


Paid internship VS Unpaid internship


The most obvious benefit of a paid internship is that interns get to earn an allowance thus an unpaid internship might feel like a disadvantage. However, in reality, most unpaid internships come with a lot of amazing perks, for instance, it’s less stressful in comparison to a paid internship. Here are some other differentiations between unpaid and paid internships. 


Unpaid internship

Paid internship

Unpaid interns may have greater flexibility. They may request employers for flexible working hours. 

Paid interns are usually required to show up at work at a fixed working hour equivalent to regular employees of the company.

If the work assigned to the unpaid intern is out of their field of study, they may request to provide work that matches their field of study. 

Paid interns are expected to successfully carry out the work assigned to them, even if that means works like photocopying documents and arranging files.

Not many students can afford to work for free, even if it is for a brief period. Financial constrain can be a major problem for some students.

The best part of the paid internship is that students get paid. Their living expenses are taken care of, at the minimum. 



One of the best things about an internship whether paid or unpaid is that it can lead to full-time traineeship opportunities. A higher probability of landing a job as a trainee is one of the reasons students consider working as interns without getting paid.  


Interns can pursue their passion and interests with fewer constraints like strict work schedules and responsibilities. However, many students compromise and end up pursuing paid internships in a different fields. In many cases, it’s not an industry they have much interest in. They try to switch back later, but it doesn’t always work out that way. This can lead to a mismatch of jobs after graduation. 


If the company has a history of hiring interns they might consider you as a trainee after the internship as well. If the company doesn't usually hire interns then they will inform the same in the beginning.  


Selecting an internship is one of the most important decisions a student can make during college time. Knowing what you want and having as much information as possible will help you find the most suitable internship. If you have any confusion you could reach out to former interns or employees that are alums of your college. They will be able to tell you about the company they have worked for and assist in decision-making. 


Next,  get The Ultimate Guide to Internship and learn how to land a job as a trainee after an internship.


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