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Kevin Liles, Def Jam
Liles wanted to work for the Def Jam record label so badly, he volunteered. Already armed with a music career -- '80s pop fans can thank him for co-writing Milli Vanilli's hit "Girl You Know It's True" -- Liles took an unpaid internship with Def Jam in 1991, which quickly became a full-time job. Seven years later, he was named president of Def Jam Music Group and by 2002 had risen to executive vice president of Island Def Jam Music Group, where he helped rappers including Jay Z, Ludacris and Kanye West rise to stardom.
Lesson: Proving your value can turn an internship into a job offer and help land pay in the process.
After graduating from Mount Royal University in Canada, Maeghan Smulders set up 10 unpaid internships with 10 companies across six cities to get a taste of the working world across a variety of organizations. At the end of each internship, Smulders created a document that highlighted the projects she completed, and their impacts and outcomes. Smulders ended with offers from all 10 companies.