Some people are fortunate enough to be on the side that makes demands with their skillsets and proven track record to back them up, some aren’t. It’s sad to say, but for the people who are starting from scratch with lackluster projects & background, they are portrait as negative assets in the world of the tech labor market. Good luck with passing the resume screening with any reputable company, let alone paying you a pile of cash to intern at their place.
I am not disagreeing on companies exploitive free labor is a bad practice that we should not be promoting, but at the same time, everyone gotta start somewhere. This “free labor” could be leverage to stack the odds on their side, even it might only tip the balance a little bit but every little bit counts.
We see different sides of the same thing based on where we sit. Without knowing the original poster’s details background, we could all be disconnected from the reality he is facing and any advice is subjective to the individual’s past experience.