Answered by Charlene, Hiring Expert at Gap Inc., on Tuesday, April 14, 2015
This is always a tough decision to make, whichever option you decide the key is to make the most of the situation. If you decide and have the luxury of taking the unpaid internship, networking within a company and industry you are considering for a long-term career is very beneficial. Take advantage of every opportunity to work with as many people as you can and make yourself available to assist whereever possible. You will also have the chance to hear about new potential paid positionsand/ or projects opening up and be able to take advantage of those opportunities. Your other mission in taking the unpaid internship is to test the waters and see if this is what you are passionate about,as a long-term career. This could be a priceless opportunity if you have never worked in the industry prior. Perhaps you can do both take the unpaid internship and work. Consider taking a shorter unpaid internship at the beginning of the summer and working for the second half, or if things work out maybe a paid position will open up at the company where you are doing the internship. If you decide to take the summer job, there will be skills you will develop that will be transferable to whatever position you will be looking for later down the road. Try and find a position as close to your future goals as possible, and this will make the skill set that much more relevant to speak about in future interviews. Good Luck!