More adult professionals are taking internships. For many, the unpaid or low-paying stints offer a low-risk introduction to a new career. Others are driven into such gigs by economic necessity. Either way, it involves a sacrifice. Peg Hendershot, director of Career Vision, a career consulting firm in Glen Ellyn, Ill., said employees accustomed to earning a full-time salary and full benefits might have trouble accepting little to no pay unless they were independently wealthy or had some serious cash saved in the bank. "If you're going to take an unpaid or poorly paid internship, you almost have to view it as taking a sabbatical or a semester of graduate school," she said.

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