In my opinion, you shouldn't work for free. Ever. Unless it's for your Mom.
If you're looking for experience, you could do some work on your own time on a project that interests you, and make the work available as a portfolio that you can share with others. If your goal is to eventually get paid work in this field, then being able to demonstrate that you have skills that an employer values will get you there -- not unpaid work.
That's probably true; it may have an impact on the overall market for GIS expertise. However, I don't begrudge anyone who would willingly offer their services for free; it's their choice, after all. I just don't advise it, for the reasons that I mentioned.
I would tend to agree. I knew a grad student back in college who took an unpaid internship with the USGS for almost a year, 10-15 hours a week. Demand for these "opportunities" was quite high - in fact, she was lucky to have landed the position, as the story goes.
She ended-up doing quite a bit of work for a major research project, all for free. I don't even believe she was mentioned in the final paper! There were always "rumors" of positions opening-up, a carrot they dangled over their interns. But, unless someone croaked, or you obtained your PhD, the chances were extremely slim you'd land a real job; they knew exactly what they were doing! Talk about exploitation... This was also around 2008, at the height of the bubble, so that may have played into things as well.
Mohamed, you could start your own business, develop a product for your business, and then market said product. So, you'd obtain experience working for yourself with the potential to make a sale.
you could go to your local government and see if they have volunteer opportunities. I did volunteer GIS work at my local county, where I now work full-time. It helped me stay up with the current ArcGIS version.
Depending on you location, you may be able to find a non-profit that could use some GIS work that you can volunteer for. if they don't have the software, you can get ArcGIS for Home Use Program | ArcGIS for Desktop Advanced for Personal Use For $100/yr which is the best deal around for learning. Check out http://video.esri.com/ for short videos and tutorials. If you want to really get into GIS and server products (and are willing to invest some money to learn on your own) Esri Developer Network (EDN) Will let you learn and play with the server software. These are just some options to learn and advance your knowledge, which may help you get into a job (free or otherwise) to continue learning.
Besides the advice listed above, you could also search for internships. Many organizations need help on projects and internships can be a good way to get GIS experience. For example, here in the United States, government agencies at all levels have many internships in GIS. Non-profits and businesses have them also.
Another way to go is to create your own internship by approaching an organization that has some GIS capabilities and asking if you can help. This will take a bit more research and effort, but could yield a very beneficial position (and possibly a permanent paid position in GIS in the long run).
Chris Donohue, GISP
From the FAQ on the ESRI Internship link Freddie posted:
Yes, internships at Esri are paid positions. Our pay scale is comparable to that of other software development companies.
Chris Donohue, GISP