I would prefer a paid internship but would also accept an unpaid internship. How do you answer the question asking whether you expect to be paid or not? I don't want to cut out the possibility of being paid but I don't want to not be considered for the internship if I say I want to be paid.

  • In what context is the question being asked? If you're talking with a particular company, it's very likely that they've already indicated whether the internship is paid or unpaid. I can't recall seeing a company advertise for both paid and unpaid internship positions. If this is something that your career center is asking you, then the answer is that you'd accept either. Oct 14 '15 at 23:15
  • @JustinCave I read this as a company has asked for a preference, perhaps as a screening step.
    – Jane S
    Oct 14 '15 at 23:28
  • @JaneS Surely the screening step would be entirely avoidable by just listing whether it's paid or unpaid in the ad though?
    – Lilienthal
    Oct 15 '15 at 8:30
  • @Lilienthal Not necessarily. They may be trying to gauge the reaction to a paid or unpaid internship. Perhaps they've not offered an internship before, or are trying a new policy.
    – Jane S
    Oct 15 '15 at 9:09
  • @JaneS I suppose, though I would steer clear of any company trying this as it feels like an underhanded tactic to me. But I guess I'm not in a position where I have to consider unpaid internships which sadly (and bizarrely) still seems like somewhat of a luxury.
    – Lilienthal
    Oct 15 '15 at 10:16

Simply answer something like:

While my preference would of course be for a paid internship, I would consider an unpaid one if it were offered. I would then have to manage my living expenses differently, but it's not an option I would completely exclude.

That way you can discuss the fact that money is good, but you're open to the idea.

  • 2
    I would change that to: I would consider an unpaid one if the opportunity was exciting enough. The rest of the text is fine, but let them know they have to offer something better than usual for you to consider unpaid.
    – HLGEM
    Oct 15 '15 at 14:35
  • 1
    The phrase "...I would consider an unpaid one..." in business is the equivalent of "please don't pay me". Oct 15 '15 at 21:43

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