Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Should You Be Willing to Work for Free?

As I work to promote (and craft) my own professional brand, I've found myself looking to the advice of personal branding guru Dan Schawbel. A recent article he wrote on landing your dream job had a lot of good points, but one that really stuck out to me was the advice to be willing to work for free.  Work for free?  Some of you might be saying "no way!"  However, investing your time and finances into pursuing an unpaid internship or professional development experience is, in my mind, not that much different than investing in your bachelor's degree.  Perhaps it's even more valuable!  These days it's your internship and work experience, not your college degree,  that's heightening your chances of getting your "first big job."  Is this a hard sell for those students or recent college grads who are already dealing with huge amounts of debt? Well, yes.  However, a network-building, career-enhancing position doesn't have to be full-time and it doesn't have to replace all other income generating opportunities.  When the time arrives, you'll have to ask yourself if 6-months of busting your butt to juggle an unpaid internship and paid retail job are worth in order to bring you that much closer to your dream career.

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