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Unpaid Internships

By max98037 ·
I am a network technology student and have decided that I would like to complete an unpaid internship before graduating. I have been told that the best way to become an IT professional is with experience and the only way to make it a win-win situation for the employer is to offer my contribution at no charge.
I have to admit it has been much more difficult than I had first thought it would be. Getting through the HR department for a response from anyone is a real challenge.
Does anyone have any advice on how to find an internship? Would I get far by trying to bypass HR and just ask the receptionist to transfer me to the Director of IT, or would this just be obnoxious?
Also, if anyone out there is looking for a reliable, enthusiastic free laborer for their Seattle area IT department, please contact me: max@maxklim.8m.com
I have an online resume, too: www.maxklim.8m.com
Thank you, Max Klim

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Internship

by timwalsh In reply to Unpaid Internships

Max, one of the biggest problems that I think you will have is that businesses that don't already have some sort of internship program set up, don't know how to set one up.

Although your idea does have great merit, your biggest obstacle will still be convincing a business that they NEED you. This holds true whether you are working for pay or for free.

The problem with offering your time for free is that most businesses won't know how to handle that. There are many legal and liability issues they need to consider besides just the working for free issue. Most businesses are likely to decide it isn't worth the time and effort to put in place an entire new set of HR procedures that would need to be created to handle workers in your category (no-salary).

As far as your question about bypassing HR: this is almost a damned-if-you-do/damed-if-you-don't issue. The IT Director would probably be much more willing to listen to your proposal (after all, he essentially gets "slave-labor" out of the proposition, especially if he is in current need of "bodies"). However, it would probably still be an HR decision as to whether to implement such a program as you propose. By deliberately bypassing HR, you may burn some bridges before you even start. Truthfully, you might be better off trying for a low-pay entry-level position as the HR people know how to handle that.
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Internship (continued)

by timwalsh In reply to Internship

If you haven't done so already, you might check if your school offers any job placement or career counseling services.

Another potential avenue may be some of the technically oriented Temp agencies. Many companies tend to farm out their lower-paying jobs to these agencies.

Another possible avenue might be to volunteer you services to any local community service organizations that might provide IT services to the elderly, poor, disabled, etc. The services provided might include range from classes on various computer-related subjects, to providing help-desk-type support, to helping schools better integrate technology into their curriculum. I have also seen instances where organizations such as police and fire departments and hospitals may start volunteer programs asking for help in numerous areas including IT-related areas.

You would think that with the stagnating economy, that many businesses would jump at the chance for some free help. However, as I stated above it's not just as simple as "You'll work for free? Come on in!"

I know it can be hard to break into a new career. The best advice I can probably give is "Don't give up!" (although I'm sure you've already heard that numerous times and doesn't at all help your situation).

Good luck in your endeavors.

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Side note

by LordInfidel In reply to Internship (continued)

Since for some reason my original post never took.

As an admin, while free help is great, most of us are leary of introducing rouge people into our network. We don't even like the thought of putting paid users on our network, much less an intern.

Even though you would think that we would jump at the idea of free help, most of the time it is more harder on us then not.

The few interns that I did accept have been executives friends kids. Although, I have on occasion asked acquantances that I know personally that are trying to break into IT to sit on some projects with me without pay.

My point flows into this: Milk people that you know who are associated with anyone in IT. Just don't go soliciting, you will be wasting precious time.

Even I, when I started out, was able to land a "weekend" sit-in that eventually turned into my 1st IT job. That was landed thru an resident of an apt complex that I managed. Her son was a Sys admin and was doing a cool project. I was ableto help him for the weekend without pay. 2 weeks later I was offered a job.

90% of all IT jobs will be got thru referrals/friends. Networking is the key.

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An Internship is a good idea

by maxwell edison In reply to Unpaid Internships

Hello Max,

I think it's a great idea to seek experience under an internship program. I've worked with students under these programs, and, for the most part, it has worked out very well. In fact, my best employee started out as an intern. After the internship was completed, we hired her as a full time employee.

You may have more luck going through the intern counselors at your school. In addition, smaller companies (100 or under) may be more inclined to accept such a proposal.

Good luck.

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Try a hospital

by LeoBloom In reply to Unpaid Internships

I would try going to a Hospital. Many have decent size IT depts and hospitals have Volunteer offices that may by easier to work with than an HR Dept.

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