Avoiding Internship Scams

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Student Lifehacks

For some college students who are graduating this summer, the prospect of finding an internship sounds more than ever important. There are plenty of legal challenges at college that students have to be aware of (like plagiarism, for example) so knowing in advance about internship scammers will definitely help you avoid extra problems and worries in the future. Following the months of winter, it becomes more and more widespread for inexperienced students struggling to find paid and unpaid internships to get into the hands of unscrupulous people demanding money in exchange for an internship. Below we decided to cover this topic more in detail to explain what you should never believe when looking for your placements.

Importance of Internships

Every student understands that internships offer a valuable experience and networking opportunities in the sphere of their career interest. It provides a possibility for you to work alongside established professionals and learn from successful people early in your career which will let you stand out in the future. You will apply the theoretical knowledge you learnt at college into practice which will give you the real insight into the profession. Moreover, in the light of current trends of high unemployment rate and intense competition for good jobs, this will assist you with finding a full-time employment straight after your graduation. You should agree, it is worth putting an extra effort in now when you are still a student in order to enjoy the fruits of your labour afterwards!

Nowadays large firms have tailored specific internship programs for students transferring to their final year of university. Usually they are called summer internships which are effectively training programs 7-9 weeks long, upon completion of which you will become a valuable employee for the company where you underwent training. For example, read about this editorial internship experience to know more about the finding, hiring, and working process in a big company as well as its benefits for the future. However, summer internships are particularly popular among technical industries that require specific knowledge adapted for the company’s needs – like in engineering, IT, electronics, chemistry, finance, etc. This allows the company to prepare strong candidates: they carefully select them at the first screening stage before offering an internship and later when they can observe interns’ performance during the internship program. If the candidate performs well, works hard, and learns quickly, then the company will be willing to make a full-time offer to such a candidate and will already know what level of performance to expect. There are also off-cycle internships that are designed for students who have to complete a 6 months internship in the last semester of their studies in order to validate their diploma.

In such professions as IT, electrical engineering, chemistry and finance the skills that students acquire at the university are numerous as well as possibilities for specialisation. Doing such a tailored internship program will let you obtain more in-depth knowledge in a certain domain and understand if it interests you and if you would like to continue your professional development in this direction. It is much better to make such an important decision for yourself now to avoid disappointment later. In this case, you will save valuable time and nerves and you will not end up in the situation that you have signed up on a 2-year full-time contract to discover later that it is not what you want to do. Now the world is very fast-paced: in order to stay afloat, you need to work harder than others and know precisely the destination where you want to arrive in the long run.

Scam Signs

a person figuring out internship scams
Designed by cookie_studio / Freepik

When looking for internship opportunities, the most important is to compare many offered possibilities between each other. In this case you will be able to see the signs that the offer looks suspicious or unrealistic. As you compare opportunities, look for the following signs of a tell-tale internship:

  • It sounds too good to be true

When you join the company as an intern, most likely you will have just theoretical knowledge of the industry in general. This means that the company will have to spend their time and effort to train you. You will be given simplest tasks at the beginning and if you show good progress, you can expect to get harder and more interesting work to do. All this indicates that you should not expect to be paid loads of money in the position of an intern. There is even a high possibility that you might get transport and lunch compensation without the actual salary. Remember, it is a learning opportunity for you and it is the company that invests in you at this stage. Therefore, if you see in the offer that you will be paid the salary of a full-time position (there are exceptions of high-profile internship positions though) or you are promised an unbelievable bonus upon completion of your internship – this is 100% scam and you should avoid it at all costs. The same applies to promises of prestige, amazing holiday packages etc.

  • You need to pay to get an internship

Legitimate internship sponsors will never ask you for money. It is true that the internship selection process is highly competitive and very often only strongest academic achievers can qualify for the program. You will be evaluated upon you extracurricular performance, your grades, you interview performance but not upon your charges to undergo the training. If you see in the advert or email with an offer that you have to pay application charges, there are certain fees associated with the recruitment process or you are asked to pay for software installation, then you should know immediately that this is scam! Make sure you avoid such false internship promises.

  • It does not make sense

Sometimes the scam can be hidden in the description of responsibilities you will have to undertake. There might be very complex activities stated in the offer without the precision of a set of responsibilities that an intern exactly will have to do. Legitimate internship opportunity will always specify its duration, the company’s expectations for a candidate, a list of responsibilities associated with the job, remuneration and other benefits. If you do not find this information as well as you cannot verify addresses, contact information and other details of the company, then this is a clear sign of scam.

  • You can work from home

As we described earlier you come to the company very unexperienced so you will not be able to learn much if you stay outside of the corporate office. There are various distant part-time jobs that you can do in exchange for remuneration but this does not count as internship. It should be a hands-on role with intensive interaction processes involved so that you can formulate your personal opinion about the job and the industry. Therefore, distant-learning or working from home internships can be a scam!

Iliana K