Work

The Pros and Cons of Taking an Unpaid Internship

As you progress through college, you will begin to notice more and more of your classmates pursuing internships in cities all over the United States and even the world. While this sounds like a luxurious experience, it can often be anything but. Companies world-wide are aware that they can hire college students as unpaid interns. Instead of being paid monetarily, these students are “paid” with the knowledge they gain through their experience, and must receive college credit to make the free labor legal. Interns usually must put in more hours than other paid employees, and do work that is far less rewarding.

Unpaid Internship

While most people would question why anyone would sign up to work in this kind of environment for no pay, internships have become an essential stepping stone for anyone trying to enter a professional field after college. Not only are they expected, but oftentimes they are required. It’s not all torture, though, when pursuing this type of job. There are a ton of positive aspects of these internships as well. The connections made can be invaluable, but it depends on the effort you put forth in your work. It is easy as an intern to be a small fish in a big pond, but if you make yourself heard, you can meet and impress some of the most important people in your industry. Once you have garnered these contacts, it is vital to keep in touch with them as you approach graduation. In such a competitive job market, if a position is available and it comes down to you versus an opponent who did not intern for the company, it is likely you would be the favorable candidate.

In addition to meeting some fantastic people in your industry, internships can often be parlayed into other opportunities. If you have multiple impressive internships on your resume, an employer will be more likely to hire you over someone who has little to no experience whatsoever. Taking an unpaid internship shows you are willing to sacrifice compensation to pursue something you are truly passionate about, and that you care about excelling in your field. Also, employers will often be sympathetic to financial needs. Many will allow interns to work three or four days a week, which would allow for a second job that pays. Though you will be busy, you will also be building out your resume even further.

In the end, choosing to pursue an unpaid internship is a decision you have to make based on your wants, needs, and abilities. If not, there are other ways to prove yourself. You can get involved on campus in various organizations pertaining to your interests, and pursue leadership roles that will impress employers. Unfortunately, though, because internships have become such an integral part of college education, many employers will expect to see at least one on your resume; so, if there is a way to pursue one, it will undoubtedly pay off in the long run.

An Introduction to Internships

Some view internships as resume builders, and others view them as free labor. So should you accept an internship? Better yet, should you accept an unpaid internship? No matter how you view this real world experience, there is no question that by having an experience as an intern under your belt you become a valuable asset to any perspective employer. Finding, accepting, and excelling at an internship can be what puts you over the top in a competitive career field. Here are the steps you should take in order to find the perfect internship match for you.

Internships

Stage 1: The Search

This is the stage where you search out an internship in the field you are interested in. First, search for internships in your area and areas within a 15-20 mile radius. Look online, call local businesses, check with friends of the family; do anything you can to find an internship opportunity. If you are interested in leaving the state or even the country, there are internships that will take you there as well.

Stage 2: Application Process

Applying for internships can take a while, but if it is something that you really want it is worth the time. Answer the questions honestly. Make sure you do a little research into the company of which you are applying so that you know exactly what they are looking for. By doing this, you can boast the skills you have that would best benefit the company. The application is the first impression the company will have of you, so make it good!

Stage 3: Interviews

Though the application is the first impression the employers will have of you, the interview is what will make or break you. Review your application and the questions that were asked. This will help you prepare for what kind of things the company may ask. You should also review the information that you discovered about the company. Employers want to hire people who know about them. It not only tells them that you know about their company, but it also flatters them. Speak slowly, stay calm, smile, and look the interviewer in the eyes. Do not fidget, play with your hands, or look around the room. Show the interviewer that you mean business. Another good, and rather obvious, tip is to practice interviewing. Many college campuses have counselors hired for the specific purpose of helping students perfect their skills before an interview. Take advantage of these options and it will pay off in an internship offer.

Stage 4: The Wait

This is the stage in which your patience will be put to the test. It can take weeks to hear back from perspective internship offers. However, do not be afraid to call, email, or stop in to ask about the selection process and if there has been a decision made yet. This will make you look ambitious and determined. Employers want to see these qualities in an intern and it will excite them to see you taking initiative.

Stage 5: Accepting an Internship

Just about the time you think you are about to burst from the wait, if you followed these tips and stages, at least one of the internships you applied for will call or email you with an offer to join their team. Accept or decline graciously and then go celebrate! A good way to celebrate would be to go on a shopping spree for work appropriate clothes! Not the most exciting thing in the world, but it is necessary. Make sure to ask the company if there is anything you need to do or bring with you on the first day, so that you are fully prepared. Show up at least 10 minutes early with a smile and a positive attitude, and show this company just how good of a choice they made in picking you.

If you do exceptionally well, there is a chance that the company may offer you a job after the internship is complete. You will also be able to use your boss as a reference for future endeavors. Just remember, an internship can be one of the best investments you make in your future. Whether it is paid or not, an internship is more than worth your time.

What is a Cafeteria Plan?

A cafeteria plan is an employee benefit plan that allows an employee to choose where he wants his money to be invested. Also sometimes known as or a business plan, it is called a cafeteria plan because it allows the employs to have certain budget to spend in line with the facilities available or that the company has options in.

The benefits can vary; different forms include cash, health insurance, adoption assistance, paid leave and other benefits. The employee gets to choose between different types of benefits and to create a mix and match sort of plan that can include cash and/or a qualified benefit plan.

Most cafeteria plans today are operated through a salary reduction agreement. This enables the plan to be able to include a tax saving opportunity that can be enjoyed by both employer and employee.

The cafeteria plan is easy to set up; all that is needed to start a formal cafeteria plan is a document summary and a plan description.

This starts by reviewing a company’s cafeteria plan policy and helps to outline the expenses that are eligible for reimbursements. For instance if an employee is considering child daycare to cater for their child while they are at work, they can work out or estimate the daily out of pocket expenses which would usually help to cover up the daycare expenses. These are then multiplied by the weekly charge and by the number of weeks the child is the system, inclusive of holidays and vacations.

It is important to note that all the deductibles are exhausted during the year. After this, include the respected annual expenditure you believe you will claim and divide the final figure by the number of disbursement intervals that the company has planned for it’s financial year. This final figure will be taken out of your paycheck every period.

As long as you are in an eligible year, you then get to send the eligible expenses you incurred. These are filled in against a reimbursement claim form, after which a copy is made and then it can be sent either by fax or mail to the cafeteria plan provider for reimbursements.

While the cafeteria plan reduces on income tax payments for employees and employers, it is not a benefit that you will find typically with every firm. This is because it is not a federally enforced requirement for employers. As a result, not all companies offer a cafeteria plan or have a cafeteria plan policy but it is suitable for a wide range of businesses; even small business enterprises are eligible for this kind of policy.

However, it does pay to have one, apart from the usual tax savings advantages it offers; a job prospect certainly appears more competitive when a cafeteria plan is an option.

Should I Participate in My Companies Employee Stock Purchase Plan?

Employee Stock Purchase Plans, ESPP are frequently offered as a perk by many large-scale, publicly traded companies. With employee stock purchase plans, companies offer employees the chance to own a part of their future, as well as their place of employment through stocks. An employer will usually offer a discounted price for shares in the company. Often, companies will also allow the payment on the cost of the stock to be deducted directly from a paycheck, eliminating the hassle of paperwork, as well as spreading the cost over a span of time.

Stock purchase plans benefit everyone involved. The employer gets the boost in revenue shares through the employees buying stocks. This allows the company more assets to innovate and expand. The employer also gets to tout the fact that the company is employee owned thus attracting the best and brightest talent who are enticed by the possibility of owning a portfolio. The price of the employer’s stock may also rise if enough of the employees buy enough shares to force a price hike. The employee gets a discounted share in the company, a vote in the share-holders’ meeting, and the pride of owning a portfolio. There is also the distinct possibility that the stock may mature and grow which would net the employee a tidy little profit.

Of course, there are downsides to this form of employee compensation. As a stock can rise dramatically leading to exponential profit, it can also decline sharply eliminating your stock purchase or at the very least rendering them almost worthless. This is a continuing source of anxiety for investors. If your company’s CEO resigns and the stock that you just purchased drops, there is a real potential that you may instantly lose money. If that hypothetical were to happen your company could also lose much money in the blink of an eye as the price of their shares also drops.

This demonstrates the need to be conservative when playing the market, even when it comes to employee stock purchase programs. Only invest in the employee stock program if you truly believe in the company that you work for. If you really believe that they will not only be around in five years but also will be posting a profit, then by all means, invest in your workplace. If you think that management is incompetent and the products are shoddy, then don’t waste your time or money. Other red flag warnings to decline on an ESPP include recent scandals, deficits, and reduction of other benefits. These can be indicators that the company is not on stable financial ground and needs to raise funds.

A good rule of thumb to follow when it comes to the employee plans is this; Would I invest in this company even if I didn’t work for it? If the answer is yes, then go see Human Resources and fill out the paperwork. If the answer is no, then ignore the discount being offered and leave your money in your wallet.