Mayday! 5 Internship Red Flags

Internships are a great way to bolster your CV. Overall, they give the impression of you being both productive and skilled. There’s little to lose in going for one, and they can be a snazzy way of garnering knowledge and discovering passions.

If you’re gunning for some experience, then well done! You’re willing to put the effort in and earn your place in the working world through some hard graft. Pat yourself on the back and be proud!

Still, every now and then an internship comes along that seeks to exploit young workers; a waste of time that tricks the eager minds of youth. Luckily, there are a few red flags out there to suss out the fibbers and frauds.


Short specifications

When reading a specification for an internship, it is vital that you have a full understanding of what it is you’re being asked to do. Some people are quite happy to deliberately mislead if it means getting minions to run errands.

In this dilemma, watch out for vague or minimal descriptions. Remember, you are doing this for you and your prospects, so take the time to really understand what you want to get out of an internship. If it’s not listed, enquire on it, and if the answers still aren’t provided, do not commit to the opportunity! Ultimately, you don’t want to be performing a bunch of menial tasks just because you didn’t explore the specifications thoroughly!


A lacking web presence

Apparently, more than half of employers will not hire a candidate they cannot find online, interfering with their screening process. While it may seem harsh, the same logic should be exercised by you when seeking an internship.

No one wants to work for ghosts. During your internship, where you work is important and, eventually, needs to be referred back to on CVs and in interviews. Go for a reputable place if possible, or somewhere that can at least be found on Google. Otherwise, you might not stick it on your CV to avoid looking a liar, and risk gaining nothing at all from a shrouded organisation.


The distracted interviewer

Of course, sometimes acquiring an internship isn’t wholly different to gunning for a full-on job! CVs need to be sent out and interviews are required to land the role. Consequently, some of the red flags for employment adequately transfer to the internship search.

The distracted interviewer is an offender in both scenarios. If your interviewer seems unprepared or aloof, beware! It’s quite likely you’ll be able to gauge the overall quality of the internship by the timing of the interview and their demeanour.

If it all seems a bit wonky, ditch this situation as soon as possible. Hopefully, you don’t have bills to pay when you’re interning. Take your time and find somewhere right for you!


Stuck being stood?

Perhaps an unexpected indicator, but a lack of a place to work is among the reddest of flags while interning. Alongside a shortage of mentoring or care, you could be left to wander corridors or make base in the overcrowded break room.

Whether you’re shifting files or writing up reports, you need a station to occupy. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a temporary presence or not; a chair and a desk can instantly show that you are valued and respected within the workplace. If they’re not there, this is definitely a hint as to how you may be treated later on.


Billy no mates

If you’re heading to work then it’s reasonable to hope for cheerful colleagues to see you through the day. Chatter and laughter can break up the tapping of keys and the office phone calls, giving a friendly feel to the world of work.

While interning isn’t a ‘proper job’ earning a ‘proper wage’, it should be proper in terms of its work culture and ethics. If you’re not getting invited around the office and introduced to the friendly folks you’ll be working with, chances are you’re in for a rough ride. While you can always make the effort and do it yourself, it’s probably best not to expect reliable contacts or a permanent position from this particular brand of hell!


Inspiring Interns is an internship and graduate jobs agency.