Unpaid internships? Right or wrong? (15)

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In my educational experience here at CSUMB, the subject of internships has come up various times. As a matter of fact, it was a central theme in my experience in the CSin3 program. Every Friday, for nearly all of my time here I heard about internships. How to prepared for them, how to search for the best one, virtually everything there is to know about internships, I was taught. As a computer science student at CSUMB, I have held three internships.

In a job market that requires experience 5 years of experience with a language that was developed only 3 years ago, the hunt can feel a bit overwhelming, and the position as an intern attractive. My first internship was at a college under my computer science professor, Dr. Sonia Arteaga. I worked as a computer science research intern where I developed an android application that detected diseases on apples. The second internship I got was for a local start-up company called HeavyConnect. After my internship, I had the option of interning at Taylor Farms in improving their image processing algorithm. Instead, I thought it more fitting and exciting to work for a start-up, so I joined HeavyConnect to work in their innovation wing, developing products that were not core to their business model, but could potentially be useful after they had been validated by the market. The last internship I had was at Salesforce, the fourth largest Software company in the world.

I’d say that my road to Salesforce relied heavily on my previous experiences at both my college and at HeavyConnect. All of my internships were paid, with the exception of a fraction of one. I read a post on Hackathon Hackers asking people about unpaid internships, and I responded with my experience in mind. During my time at HeavyConnect, their funds ran out, and were clear with everyone about it and gave us a choice to leave or to stay. I decided to stay to improve my skills, however, it is worth noting that I was only there for about 3 hours a week and was working on a product that was proof of concept, so my work was not illegal.

Some might argue, and as a matter of fact did argue that it wasn’t right for me to be working as an unpaid engineer. Though I wouldn’t give someone advice to do what I did, I do see the value and can speak to the benefits I received from my volunteered time. If someone wishes to do the same in pursuit of skill-building, I do not think that it is an unethical service.

I know that under certain conditions it is illegal, but if someone can negotiate and work out a student experience like I did, I think that it would be worth it and should not be frowned upon. Again, in such a competitive environment and a school that isn’t highly recognized, the only thing that can take one to the top is sheer work ethic and skill.



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One thought on “Unpaid internships? Right or wrong? (15)

  1. Hi Anita,
    I find it very noble of you to have stayed at HeavyConnect after they told you that they wouldn’t be able to pay you for your work anymore. I don’t think I would have been able to make that choice as of now that I am looking for a career and start living on my own.


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