As summer begins, interns everywhere are getting their first taste of the "real world," and many will take home a very real paycheck of $0.
Unpaid internships have become a controversial topic. Some argue they provide valuable opportunities for young people to learn about an industry, while others critique the practice as an excuse to exploit free labor from young workers eager to get a foot in the door.
But whether these roles are a crucial professional stepping stone or a form of exploitation, it costs money to give away your time for free. Unpaid interns must support themselves with little free time, and the opportunity cost of working for free is higher than you may expect.
If you consider how much someone might earn in a paying job, plus the cost of living, you get the cost of an unpaid internship — and the price tag may surprise you.