The Final Frontier

It’s getting to be the final few weeks of my internship and I can’t believe how fast this term is flying by. It’s definitely a strange feeling to not be in Eugene for the last term of my senior year, but I’m happy I decided to be in Portland with my magazine internship. Even though it meant living with my parents for what feels like a billion years.

As of now, I feel that I’ve gotten the most out of my work experience. My supervisor asked if I could stay on for the next production cycle, which is flattering, but I’m unsure about continuing an unpaid internship indefinitely; especially as my bank account dwindles and the prospect of moving out of my parent’s house grows abysmally bleak. (Did I mention that they canceled our unlimited Comcast OnDemand subscription? Who DOES that?!)

Image  –> How I’ve been feeling these days.  

However, when I think of leaving my internship, the feeling I’m left with is bittersweet. I’ve loved my time with my new co-workers and my boss has been more than helpful to me with each assignment. Plus, working at such a reputable magazine has been so rewarding; working at such a high standard will undoubtedly benefit me throughout my career. But still, I feel as if I’m at the point where I want to try out some other options (I’m only 21, after all) and do all the things I want to do before I’m older and tied down with a 9-5 job.

 I don’t know about the rest of you PDXSX-ers, but how do you feel at this point in your internships? Do you want to stay with the organization you were placed with or are you ready to move on to a new job and a new life?


Emily Wilson


About wilsonemily

Journalism student at the University of Oregon
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14 Responses to The Final Frontier

  1. rkaapu says:

    Thank you for this post. The Bridesmaid image pretty much sums up my life as well right now, and it put a smile on my face. I can sympathize with the newly acquired bills and lack of luxuries as my parents also sent me off on my own at the beginning of this term. I wish I had cable, period. 🙂

    To answer your question, I would like to stay at my job. I am not 100% positive about anything, but I know that I would love another three months here to really explore this industry (technology :O) and find out how I could fit in this world. Even an extension at this job would be new because I have only been introduced to the top layer of the industry and so everything I would be doing would be new. I like life in Portland and I am quite positive that I could make a home here, as dreary as the weather is.

    I think its healthy to not know exactly what you want to do at 21, go on and be adventurous, find out what else is out there. That is life after all. Good luck on your new adventure, whatever it may be.

  2. I was at a similar point as you last week. It is great that they asked you to stay on, but no compensation is a downer. Before I went in to ask my boss what my future there looked like I asked some other people in my office, outside of my department, how they would approach asking for money. One person told me that if you are doing quality work then you deserve to be compensated. You have obviously proven your worth and perhaps they would compensate you at the very least for gas and food. I was lucky that my boss offered compensation before I brought it up, but I think it is worth approaching with your boss; another person told me “you don’t have much to lose if they are already not paying you” which is true. Best of luck and I hope you’re able to the payment you deserve!

  3. codynewton says:

    There’s no question that I love my internship and enjoy the people I work with. However, like most of us, I’m also feeling the financial squeeze. I think if I were to be offered a position that was paid at my internship I would take it. But I’ve already spoken with my supervisor and there just isn’t a pot.
    I might have to say that I would be ready to try something different. There are so many jobs out there in our field, I think it would be a shame to be tied down to just one right now. We’re all young enough that we can afford to live by trial and error. That’s nice because it’ll give us all the chances to do other things in life. We shouldn’t be afraid of freedom.
    I’m glad you enjoyed your internship though! I’m sure whatever else you do will be equally as awesome.

  4. kingram10 says:

    First off – GREAT picture to go with your post, that just so happens to be my favorite “this is how I feel” picture. 🙂
    Secondly, I was in your exact same position last week. However much I’ve loved my internship, I am starting to feel antsy, and ready for a new adventure. I’m not sure that I should be any index as to what you should do, but I decided that I was going to spend a little time figuring out what I want before I settle completely into a career (Josh don’t hate me!). I haven’t been offered an internship extension or a job (yet), but I accepted an opportunity to work a summer job in Germany, and spend the summer doing something a little bit offbeat.
    Your experience at your internship is invaluable, but so is your happiness. I think you should seriously weigh out your options if you aren’t entirely sure you’re ready to work another cycle as an unpaid intern. 🙂 Good luck, girl!

  5. shannonsloan says:

    Being asked to stay on shows that you’ve done great work this term! I can understand you’re hesistation about staying on unpaid. It’s easy to do when you’re in college and are most likely getting some financial support but it’s just not realistic anymore, at least for me. I think now is a perfect time for you to explore yourself and different career posibilities. We have our whole lives ahead of us, now is a perfect time to really figure out how you want to spend the rest of your days. Take some time to absorb it all and celebrate all you’ve accomplished!

  6. Alysha Beck says:

    That’s great that you were offered the opportunity to stay on for another cycle at the magazine! At least you know you will get a good recommendation from your supervisor because of the great work you did. And I know what you mean about wanting to explore your options and not get tied down to a 9-5 job at this age.

    I think it is unreasonable for your boss to ask you to stay on at the magazine without any pay. Maybe you can negotiate something or see if you can do some freelance work for the magazine. I think you should explore your options and make sure you will be happy at whatever job you take. And remember, you don’t have to be at your first job forever. There are always more opportunities that will come along. Good luck!

  7. michelletag says:

    I think most of us are in the same position as you. I would definitely discuss some sort of compensation before accepting the extension. I agree with McKenzie that your happiness is what’s most at stake! If you’re happy with the magazine then stick to it, and use the extra cycle to do some quality job hunting and networking! There are so many unanswered questions we have at the moment and it’s our job to find out what those answers are. Whatever you choose, I wish you luck!

  8. asharonson says:

    Having an internship ask you to stay should be a giant complement. I understand that working as a non-paid intern can be very taxing. My suggestion would be that if you have nothing else planned, accept the internship, get a letter of recommendation and begin to look for a paying job. After that you can use that as leverage to become a permanent, paid member of the team. I hope everything turns out well. It sounds like you have a bright future ahead of you!

  9. I commiserate. It’s strange to get emails about “senior stuff” in Eugene and not be able to participate. I feel a little left out. BUT, I wouldn’t trade this experience working in San Francisco for all the free root beer floats and senior appreciation events in the world! It’s been amazing. I wish I could be around for just a little longer. Things are finally starting to work a little more organically in the office and I feel more comfortable/myself every day. I think, if we miss something about our experiences, it means they were good ones. “Formative,” as my dear father would say.

  10. jamesynwa says:

    You obviously struck a popular chord among all of the students here. There is a huge dilemma when it comes to unpaid internships. But with so many companies on extremely tight budgets, the reality is that hard work in the office just doesn’t have the same guarantee of compensation that it used to. It’s unfortunate when the unlimited Comcast subscription is being revoked (first world problems?), but the lack of pay will also provide a stronger incentive to look elsewhere and try new things. Enjoy the freedom of your early 20s, who knows where you’ll find yourself next!

  11. agavette says:

    That’s awesome that they want to keep you on! But as we’ve talked about before, it’s hard to say yes to staying somewhere that doesn’t pay when you’ve already had a bunch of other internships and feel ready for a real job. There’s always going to be that temptation of what else is out there–that is, unless you absolutely LOVE your job (and can live decently off of whatever they’re paying you). That list of 20 things to do in your twenties is pretty inspiring to me, and I agree that it’s hard to see how you can do those things with the prospect of a 9-5 job. However, if you really excel at this internship, you may get connections to another opportunity (or within the magazine, maybe). Just don’t be like Hannah on Girls, who stays way too long at her unpaid internship, and is basically being taken advantage of by her boss (who lets her go when she asks to be hired on as a paid employee). Also, if you haven’t seen that show, watch it–it’s hilarious and kind of depressingly easy to relate to at times.

  12. Bree says:

    Great Post! It’s wonderful that they want to keep you on for the next issue, but if you’re unsure about it, I wouldn’t agree. It’s a great opportunity for more experience though, but working for free isn’t easy. I am also living with my parents and desperately wanting out! My internship is unpaid, which is why I work a part time job as well. Even though my internship was a great experience, I can’t see myself staying much longer. Times are tough, I need stability.

  13. I really enjoyed your post Emily! I’ve felt the same way about my unpaid internship. It’s really great to be working for such a reputable publication and getting more clips onto a portfolio, but at some point you start to wonder why you’re putting in so many hours for no pay. I think it’s only truly worth it to stick around if you absolutely love your position. Your work is valuable, and sometimes experience isn’t enough, especially after working there unpaid full time for a couple months. It sounds like you’ve got some good plans ahead! (I’ll be bookmarking your 20 things to do in your 20s article!)
    As for me, I’m really focused on finding a paid position. I think my internship is an irreplaceable experience but, if I stayed any longer I would start to feel taken advantage of. New experiences await! Good luck!

  14. zolfaghari says:

    Glad to see I’m not the only one that had to move back in with my parents! Not that it’s the worst thing in the world. It’s just a bit ironic that we made our journey up here to be “young professionals” and some of us end up being back under our parents roof. Anyway, I’m very interested in hearing more about you having to turn down an extended offer. Was your decision to decline immediate? Was your supervisor understanding? And is he/she willing to help find you future work at another company?

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