Last September I landed an unpaid internship with a big commercial real estate firm. I was working with their brokers doing property pro formas/ database, lease abstracting, etc.
I worked roughly 15-20 hours a week for them. However, in May this group of brokers left the firm to start their own full-service firm.
They asked me to come with them. I saw this as a great opportunity and accepted. They told me that once they started closing transactions they would start paying me, but until they had some cash flow I would be unpaid.
I am currently working 30 hours a week for them UNPAID. I just graduated and have not been able to find many companies hiring in CRE. They keep telling me they want to talk to me about being a full-time employee and how I need to get my Salespersons license so I can start showing properties etc but I am still not being paid.
I guess you can call me an optimist, as I believe all this slave work I do for them will eventually pay off. But am I fooling myself? Am I just being used? I see this is a great opportunity to get into the industry, climb the ladder fast, etc but maybe I am kidding myself.
Should I just lay down the law with them and tell them I need a paying job ASAP or I am out or suck it up another month or two until they decide to finally start paying me?
Unpaid Internships - Worth it?
Unpaid internships can be seen as a necessary evil. Especially in highly competitive industries like commercial real estate and high finance. Pursue these opportunities if you can't get your foot in the door any other way.
Working the internship can be worth the sacrifice in pay for relevant skills, a deeper network, and an improved resume.
However, there are some firms that offer unpaid internships with limited benefit. These firms abuse the system of unpaid labor. Usually, this involves misleading the intern about the job they are doing and it's relevance to their future career.
- If you are working an unpaid internship you should be gaining relevant skills and a deeper network.
from certified user @Dumpster Fire Yuppie
If you have no other options and you have the resources to support yourself with an unpaid internship, of course, you're going to be glad you have something on paper. It's better than nothing.