Should you take an unpaid internship?

Entertainment internships have long been a rite of passage for those seeking a foot in the door with entertainment industry employers. Unfortunately, the vast majority of entertainment internships these days are unpaid.

Legality of unpaid internships in the entertainment industry has been a hot topic of debate the past few years, with notable lawsuits arising against Fox Searchlight, Hearst Corporation and TV host Charlie Rose since 2011. While these lawsuits have made some entertainment employers revise their internship programs for the better, unpaid internships seem to remain the standard stepping stone to a “real job” in this competitive industry.

Unpaid internships aren’t for everybody, so it is worth considering if the long hours for no pay are worth the experience (and a foothold) to land a better job down the road. Weigh some of these pros and cons:

PROS of Unpaid Entertainment Internships

• Gain on-the-job experience giving you a competitive edge for jobs in the future

• Good programs will train and teach you about the industry’s ins and outs

• Exposure to contacts for greater networking opportunities

• Helps clarify career goals and determine whether a company, job or industry is right for you

• Gain an important credential for use on your resume

CONS of Unpaid Entertainment Internships

• Lots of work and no pay

• Not all employers take the time to train you properly, so new skills aren’t always learned

• You most likely will still have other expenses like rent, transportation, food, etc. that you will need to find another financial means to pay for

• Might find the experience is not what you were hoping for, that the industry is not what you were expecting, or that the company is just looking for free labor and has no intention of hiring later

Finding the right unpaid media or film internships can mean a steady job afterward, but finding the wrong one can mean months of unrewarding servitude. If you’re considering taking an unpaid internship, ask the employer questions ahead of time about the kinds of projects you’ll be working on and the new skills you will learn. Examine the pros and cons to see if the potential benefits outweigh the costs.

You can find thousands of entertainment internships listed on, along with full-time paid positions across the country like fine art jobs and media jobs Los Angeles to New York City. Start your search today!

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