The Reality Behind (Unpaid) College Internships

“Learning is the key! No stipend Expectations.” (Forgot your Linkedin messages?)

It’s that time of the year again when college students start subduing their fragile egos and begin updating (hyperbolizing) their glorious CVs to become the Bigshot intern in the company they like (but don’t know shit about).

College internship can be the (worst) use of your vacations/free time especially when you are doing it for free. Not because the building you are interning in is ugly and kind of smells weird (is that plastic?); but due to the work that you do vis-a-vis the tempting promises that the H.R. makes to you while making you sign by the arrows (not Learning while doing shit).

Read More: Avoid These Mistakes When Going For An Internship Interview

If that’s not enough, presented below is a descriptive and realistic take on the journey of an (unpaid) college intern.


Expectation: The foremost trick that the companies are equipped with is playing with words in your offer letter. You have been promised that you will get hands-on opportunities to help shape the biggest projects, help a powerful company give back to the communities under the role of Wealth management internship. (J.D. accepted, Letter signed)

Reality: Sadly, the first project you are given is called “cold calling “and the role tones down to client fetching (say thanks to your personal contact)



Expectation: First week is over (enough calling done). Still excited by the last words of your contact person in the company, you are all geared up to become a part – time “Trainee cum analyst” (devilish work load. Huh?). You’ll give 110 percent every day, like one of those scrappy rom-com heroines who rises to the top of the professional food chain at the end.

Reality: It turns out that some days you are hungover and curse the firstborn child of the person who asks if you can fax their document (researching on the quality of paper one should use and analysing the speed of your office printer).


Expectation: Latter part of your beautiful journey has begun & pretty girl Sushma who has her own office and you sometimes see having a chat with the clients you fetched (cold called) during the day invites you to Happy Hour with the gang. You get involved and bond (networking it is).

Reality: Your Boss Ravi sends you on a 50-minute errand to find a very specific kind of champagne for the clients and then does not smile or thank you when you return with it, wheezing like you just ran a triathlon. You go home after work and watch Bones by yourself.



Expectation: Last two weeks remaining, you are looking to advance the echelons of resume building & striving to get an L.O.R .from your boss who promises the reward if you beat the benchmark (number of calls/printouts). You summon the courage to pitch a sales idea to your boss which then picks up steam and everyone is like “You’re the best intern!”

Reality: It turns out that you are a scared mouse who summoned the courage a couple times but was brutally shot down.


Expectation: On your last day, everyone offers you their business card and strongly urges you to keep in touch: “I can’t promise you’ll have a job right after you graduate, but…” *wink.*

Reality: On your last day, you walk around wrenching business cards and contact information out of people like Oliver Twist begging for gruel. “It was nice having you here, Saksham,” says Sushma absentmindedly as she breezes by, smelling overpoweringly like Marc Jacobs’ Daisy. Your name is not Saksham.


Internship can be a cruel experience in your college life where your job expectations will be met with Data Entries and Relationship assistance if you don’t find the right one (expectation: You’re special. Reality: You’re not special. Also you got that Starbucks order wrong.)

Image Credits: Google Images

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