/ Asked by Eric
Should I take an internship that pays even if it's not directly in my field of interest? Or should I take the unpaid internship that aligns with what I want to do when I graduate? I want to start paying off my school debt and I'm leaning toward taking the paid internship.
Answered by Steve, Hiring Expert at Caterpillar Inc., on Friday, December 19, 2014
This is a difficult decision, because I fully understand the need and desire to begin paying down your education debt as soon as possible.  My recommendation here would be to pursue the unpaid internship that will give you experience in your preferred field.  The experience gained through an internship should be your main focus as it is this that will help you to obtain that full-time job upon your graduation.  Furthermore, the compensation that you would receive through a paid internship would likely not be enough to make a significant dent in your education debt.  However, with the proper internship experience, the chances will increase of you getting that full time position in which the compensation  is significant enough to truly assist in paying down your debt.
Answered by Cassandra, Hiring Expert at Verizon, on Friday, December 19, 2014
I appreciate your desire to be fiscally responsible and understand the difficult decisions before you. Though the paid internship makes financial sense and will help with your immediate need it would not help with your longer term career goal. I would encourage you to seriously consider and take the experiential internship offered that aligns closely with your professional goals. Though the assignment is unpaid, the experience, skills and increased knowledge obtained will allow you to increase your earning potential in the years following graduation. Though the latter choice may not seem like an ideal fiscal option, the experience could provide you with job leads and contacts that are priceless as you build and grown in your career. Know that you would learn something in the unrelated paid internship but it may not be as immediately applicable upon graduation you’d prefer. 
Answered by Dana, Hiring Expert at ManpowerGroup, on Wednesday, December 31, 2014
I would carefully examine the paid internship, and determine if it entails any strong transferable skills or experiences which could reinforce your education and help you land a better job in your field later on. Sometimes an internship looks unattractive or incompatible with your degree, but that’s just on the surface, and the actual role is rather rich in learning and growth potential.

The trick is to have an in-depth conversation with the recruiter or the Hiring Manager, or possibly a professor, to figure out if you can pick up enough knowledge at that company to make it worth your while. Be practical! There might be crossover between this role, and your dream job. Right out of college you may have to take a job that isn’t 100% perfect, but does get you closer to your target position, and sets you up for successful candidacy in a year or two.

However, if the paid internship is wildly different from your intended profession, and you think it will throw your career too far off-course, then I would shy away from it, no matter how great the temptation to start paying off your school debt.

If you can’t build up transferable skills and experiences that your dream job or company will ultimately value and reward, then it’s not the right path to take, unless financial considerations are great enough that you need to earn money immediately.
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