How to get Paid Internships as a Broke College Student?

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College folks are mostly broke. They don’t have a financial pillar other than their parents. That’s where internships come in to bridge the gap.

Students might not have a lot of money but they do have one asset that the world craves.

Time.

College is the place to explore your life. The place where you figure out what you actually want to do, to make a living. With 3-4 years up your sleeve, you have a good amount of time on your hands to figure out where you’re headed.

The first thing to look for to be financially free, is a skill.

A skill you can monetize. And then starts the cycle of learning and earning through internships.

What are Internships?

Internships are the holy junction of work experience and making money. All while you’re still young.

These are short-period work experiences that let you get a taste of what works in the real world.

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I see it as a test or an experiment. Because this is a no-risk zone where you can see if the reality of work matches your dream job fantasy.

Why should I care about Internships?

College is a great time to bond with people and make lifelong friends. But it’s also the time to get a direction for your professional career.

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I’m not saying that it’s absolutely necessary to do internships. I’m saying it’s better to prepare yourself for the real world with some work experience.

Here’s why you should care about internships:

1. You get to know how real work is done and how much your skills come into play.

2. You get to trade time for money and see how that works out for you.

3. You are free to switch from skill to skill, career to career on the path to experimentation. Test the waters before you settle on a high tide.

4. You learn to talk and network with people who are already where you might want to be.

5. And, you learn to live outside the classroom and explore what college has to offer. Apart from the textbook lectures that you don’t attend anyway.

You don’t need razor-sharp clarity at this point. Just a few interests you want to pursue and learn a little every day.

In short, it’s a great opportunity to explore the professional side of your career.

Why would someone hire a college student like me?

The standard requirements of a workplace have changed. From fully suited professionals with high degrees to skills & raw talent.

You as a young lad have a chance to bring a fresh perspective to the table. Obviously, nobody is going to hire you for just your perspective, but it matters in the long run.

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Ideally, what they would look for are skills. These might be just hobbies to you, but it’s time to display them as your strengths.

For that, you need to position yourself as someone who can get the work done.

What the hell is positioning?

To cut to the chase, I’d say this is how you present yourself to the world. 

In the case of internships, to the people that’ll hire you.

Do you like making videos on the internet for fun?

Position yourself as a video editor.

Like to write on your blog and journals?

Position yourself as a writer.

Like design and art?

Position yourself as a graphic designer.

No matter how raw it feels to turn your hobbies into skills, the right way to get hired is to position yourself.

How do I position myself as an intern?

The first step is to not get anxious and complicate it. Whatever you do for yourself, it just needs to be replicated or presented as a monetizable skill.

For Eg: If you’re someone who loves writing, list down all the topics you’re interested in. And then start publishing long-form articles on a blog. 

It doesn’t mean you need to spend money and buy a website right away, although I recommend it.

The best thing to do is start writing on sites like Medium and Blogger.

The more specific your area of skill and expertise, the higher the chances of getting hired.

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At the start, it’s recommended to focus on your craft more than your niche. Explore multiple niches and see what you enjoy the most.

As college folks who are hell-bent on making money, it’s easy to fall into the profitable niche trap. 

Meaning that you’d probably try to Google a popular niche in the hope of being highly paid. But you’re wrong.

There’s no such niche as a money-making niche, only highly skilled people working on what they love. 

So, it’s advisable to take your time, let the skills talk first, and then you come back to a niche. Let the niche choose you.

Because how can you settle on one thing if you haven’t explored anything?

How do I find an Internship worth my time?

It’d be too naive of me to say that they’re spread evenly all over the internet. Cause they’re absolutely not.

You’d find a lot of job sites that’d make your hunt easier only to discover that these sites offer nothing good. So, I’d prefer you don’t do it the traditional way. 

It’s too easy and probably not worth your time.

Having said that, here are my 3 favorite ways to find an internship worth your time:

1. Linkedin: By far, this is the only social media platform that makes your hunt effortless. As a newbie, you can start with the Linkedin job boards.

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Pro tip: Carefully read the description not just for the role but also how it’s written. It speaks volumes about your recruiter.

Another way is to search for keywords in the search bar directly.

Because there are a lot of companies that don’t go for the traditional job posting, instead they put a post for the same.

2. Networking: Often underrated and corporate-sounding word, it’s actually one hell of an experience.

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Networking for someone like you will look like this:

1. Connecting with people from the industry that you want to go into.

2. Interacting with their posts and commenting your raw thoughts on the same.

3. Reaching out to them for 

a) Appreciating their work, 

b) Looking for a position, 

c) Or simply sharing what you do and are interested in.

3. Content: How beautiful would be the day when internships came to you instead of you going to them. That, my friends, is the power of content.

It can help you attract opportunities so you’d never have to hunt for dinner. Just wait for it to be served.

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If you’re amongst the lucky ones who have found your niche, it’s time to create content on the same.

For Eg: If you’re interested in cryptocurrencies and blockchain, start creating content. It does not have to be at an expert level. Just what you feel and know like:

1. Your views on it.

2. Dissecting news related to it.

3. Educating your audience about something you think will be of interest to them.

Everything you create is being seen by someone. And when the right time comes, they’ll approach you at your doorstep with a shining offer in hand. 

That’s when you’ll know that you made the right choice of creating content and reading this blog ofc.

Final Thoughts

In a world where most internships are unpaid, especially in a country like India, it’s best to do two things:

1. Refuse to do unpaid internships

Wait… 

This sounds too irrational and easy. Because how can you refuse something you need, right? Well, your thought is partially right.

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If you’re someone who is looking for internships and is happy to settle on an unpaid one, you probably deserve it. Because:

1. You’re not confident to value your time and efforts.

2. You don’t have the skills to get paid anything.

Even I wouldn’t want to pay a college student who wants to do content writing but has never written a word. There’s no trust because you haven’t even taken any effort.

Read the next point so that the first one makes sense.

2. Develop your skills and work on your craft 

If you want roles that fit you like a glove, you need to work on yourself first. Once you start learning every day, you’d realize that your skills are worth so much more than free labor.

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And the fact that you belong in a company that values your time and efforts. Money is just a way to exchange value that’s why it’s termed as compensation.

Once you realize how hard you’ve worked to bring something to the table that nobody else can, you’d never work for free ever again!

And that’s where I want you to be.

On that note,

What’s your favorite way to look for internships?

Let me know in the comments below

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