The Word “Unpaid” Should Not Exist

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nyc skyline with sunset over subway tracks

Commuting to the city has its perks, like the Manhattan smog making the sunset look awesome from afar.

Carmen Guzmán finished up her internship here at SALT™; however, the real work for this new post-grad is just beginning. Lucky for us, she’s back to document where her journey takes her next. Her first stop? Brooklyn and an unpaid internship. (Maybe.) Here’s what she’s been up to.


I moved to New York with an unpaid internship under my belt. I landed in Brooklyn with some old suitcases and some new budgeting tricks. In less than 24 hours here, I was already in my new boss’ office (she’s a filmmaker) getting used to her environment.

During one of my summer trips to NYC, I interviewed with this independent filmmaker. I’d get to join her troops and see what the independent production world is all about. Sure, the opportunity to be mentored by an independent filmmaker sounds fun, but the word “unpaid” made me cringe. Especially living in an expensive city. Still, I jumped right into the “hustle and bustle” with no idea of what the future had in store for me.

Now, here I was, becoming someone’s assistant, applying for part-time jobs so I could earn some money, and pretty much giving up on the idea of having a ”real” job. Then, all of the sudden, I got an email to come in for an interview to be a “conference producer.” Gasp.

Quite The Timing

It all happened in the blink of an eye. It was my first day off in NYC. I had pretty much nothing but unpacking to do. I went to SoHo to see what this opportunity was about. I learned that, basically, the job would be finding speakers for the Ted Talk-y type of conferences they organize. It was intriguing, and I enjoyed the interview quite a lot.

By the time I got home, I had a voicemail saying that they were interested in making me an offer for a full-time position for 2 months. I was torn. The job is not in the film industry, but it does allow me to showcase my charming skills of charming people. In the end, with moving expenses sucking up my savings, I couldn’t say no to a salary.

Decisions Decisions

I hate veering off from the film industry, but with the moving costs, my first loan payment approaching, and the rent on it’s way, it’s hard to turn down a good, paying opportunity like this. It may not be my dream job, but it’s a new experience with exciting opportunities.

I have to keep reminding myself that this is just step one. Exposing myself to other industries can deepen my understanding of who I really want to be. Unpaid internships are great for that. But in this case, I have to go for what’s more practical for me.

Let’s see where this takes me.

Any advice for Carmen as she embarks on her next journey? Share it in the comments.

(Photo: Carmen Guzmán)

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  1. Aaron September 9, 2013 / 2:25 pm

    Unpaid internships are pretty unfair, but they ARE cheaper than graduate school…

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