I know it's worth a lot to the recipient, but what is it worth to you?
We all know what normal contribution looks like. It's what happens when a qualified person does the job, meets spec and keeps a promise.
But extraordinary contribution is rare. It's when we surprise the system, and perhaps ourselves, by showing up with something unexpected, far beyond the common standard. Extraordinary contribution creates careers. It's a breakthrough in the status quo, a shift in a previously accepted power dynamic.
Extraordinary contribution changes not just the recipient, but the giver as well.
So yes, it's worth quite a bit. The chance to do a stage in a professional (and generous) kitchen is priceless. The internship or the summer job where you quite recklessly level up, showing the world and yourself just what you're capable of–that's worth far more than the money you spent going into debt with college for.
The hard part isn't working for free. The hard part is figuring out that this is your chance to do more than you're asked, to resist being unpaid labor for an organization too cheap to pay you properly. Instead, this is a rare moment to leap.