Understanding Free Work

The word internship can mean many things to many different people but one thing that is synonymous, is that it is generally unpaid. Which for a lot of people can be a deterrent from taking on a new project.

I understand, you’ve worked hard in your career or you might just be starting out and you value the work you do and believe you should get paid.

But that’s not always the case, there are times when the unpaid internship, TFP or whatever your creative stream of work calls, is a necessary function to grow and develop as a professional and further your craft.

But what does that really mean? What it means is that you have to ask yourself; Am I really getting anything out of this?

We apply this same reasoning when considering taking on any pro bono work. Collectively we have many years of experience working with a range of clients both large and small, so why shouldn’t we be paid for the work we do?

So we dig a little deeper, looking at a prospective project and ask what are we really getting out of this – outside of that amazing exposure – we hear you all laughing! But before you laugh too hard, really ask yourself what are the potential exposure opportunities for you? A larger business can give you positive exposure that will attract new business compared to a smaller business that may not be able to do the same thing and vice versa. So, these exposure opportunities should be considered and not just instinctively dismissed.

Secondly, even with many years of experience when approached with a ‘free‘ project, ask myself, am I going to be learning anything from this. If it’s a yes, take the project on – time and capacity permitting of course, because if you can grow your understanding and skills and come out with a cool project at the end, why not jump in and get involved. If it’s a no, walk away from the project and wish them luck on their search.

In the end my thoughts on the the unpaid internship is that you should always consider them and not just dismiss these opportunities straight off. You never know what it can lead to or where it can take you until you give it real consideration.

Key Take Aways

Do not Dismiss Straight Away

Ask Questions

Will you lean or expand your skills

What ‘real‘ opportunities could it lead to

This may not work for everyone but it might help you make some choices on what projects you work on in the future.

Good Luck with your next project!

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