Depending on where you are in your career, or life, chances are you or someone you know has had to evaluate the worthiness of an unpaid internship.
The theory is this: the company offers you a chance to gain some great experience for your resume, and there really isn't a financial commitment from them... win-win?
I remember back in college, when I had no HR experience, and the majority of my experience was in a kitchen or customer service kind of role - we were all there at some point.
In my program we had the option of taking 3 different co-op positions, paid, during the course of our program and a chance to learn some great skills.
Long story short, this was still a difficult process but I did manage to get an internship... but unpaid.
But I was young and figured, so what?
The company was offering me a chance to get into some policy development, revising job descriptions, and a variety of other experiences - so I took it.
A few other colleagues managed to get co-op positions at different companies. Most however found that they did alot of filing... they got paid... but were primarily exposed to filing.
I didn't get paid, but I loved my co-op position.
I don't want to sound like a Guidance Counselor, so I apologize in advance.
But whether an internship/co-op placement is paid or not isn't the point - it comes down to the ROI.
The way I justified it was, I wasn't getting paid to be in school - so what was the difference?
Long-term, the experiences gained during this initial placement really helped pave the way in next opportunities - it established momentum in my HR career.
In short, the worth of an internship doesn't always come down to the paycheque but rather the skills you can gain to sell yourself for the rest of your career - think long term!