, Financially Surviving an Unpaid Internship

I am fortunate enough that I have two jobs this summer: my unpaid internship and a paying part-time job. While I might be drinking a little too much coffee, my part-time job allows me a little more financial stability. For those of us who are working the unpaid gauntlet, here are a few tips on surviving the summer.

  • Go home. I know, DC is enticing, but unless you have some serious financial backing, taking an unpaid internship in the District is near impossible. Shack up with mom and dad for the summer and try to find an internship a little closer to home. Even if it’s unpaid, you won’t have to worry about rent or food. Plus, your mom misses you.


  • Pack your lunch. This seems so obvious, but I’m sure every one of us has ended up paying out the nose for a sandwich when the afternoon munchies become overwhelming. Plan better. I cut up fruits and veggies every Sunday and prepackage them for easy access. An hour on Sunday means I won’t be paying upwards of $50 a week for subway.


Packed and ready.

  •  Check your transportation. The metro may not be the cheapest way for you to get to your job. Walk, bike, drive, bus, metro- there are tons of options. Mix and match.  If you can save two dollars by stopping at a different bus stop and walking a few extra blocks to work, it’s worth it.


  • Remember why you’re doing this. Unpaid internships can be rough. Some even believe they’re illegal. Remember the contacts you’re cultivating and the experience you’re getting. I love my job and I’m insanely happy to be here. While it’s unpaid, I know I wouldn’t be able to get such hands on experience anywhere else. Take the bad with the good and aggressively chase experience during your summer.