Considering unpaid internship

After being in the graduate job market unsuccessfully for six months, I am contemplating a two-month internship.

Dear Laurence,

After being in the graduate job market without success for six months, I am contemplating a two-month internship opportunity on the talent acquisition team of a large multinational. However, this is simply to help the team through a single campaign – there is no permanent job on offer – and I worry that I am being exploited. What do you think of unpaid internships like this?

Unsure intern, Singapore

In this case, go for it – you have nothing to lose. You’ll get to put a multinational brand on your résumé, you’ll get experience of working in an intense, high-paced environment, you’ll get an idea of what it’s like to work and the expectations of an organisation of this calibre. And sometimes these free internships turn into paid internships, or a contract, or occasionally even a full-time job offer.

So given that after half a year, you haven’t managed to crack the job market, this is a no-lose proposition for you.

The one thing I would add is that it’s much easier to get a job – and you’re much more attractive to other employers – when you’re doing something, somewhere – even if it’s only a short-term contract. They get to know that at least you were good enough to do something at a famous multinational. That’s not to be underestimated.

Laurence Smith is a board-level advisor to With 25 years of working experience in consulting and HR, his career has spanned across different industries and countries, including stints and projects with LG Electronics, GE Capital, McKinsey, the World Bank, and as Managing Director of Learning and Development for DBS Bank.

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