The fine art of avoiding sketchy internships

‘Tis officially the season to freak out about applying for summer internships — what joy! While wading through cover letters, interviews and pondering which professor will remember your name — let alone write you a dandy letter of recommendation — you have to deal with the fact that some programs are out to scam you and not to treat you (ugh). But fear not: We at the Clog have endeavored to make your application process easier with these four tell-tale hints for when an internship is probably 82 percent not worth it and 100 percent sketchy.

The paid internship … where you’re paying

There are already some bones of contention to pick with an internship that is unpaid. There’s the irrefutable fact that you’re the office minion and your internship involves scanning 62 documents per 10 minutes, but you come to terms with it. It’s OK that you’re clocking 25 hours a week when you could be beachin’ it up in your hometown, because your resume is essentially nonexistent. But paying out of your pocket to be employed makes about as much sense as abolishing tuition hikes (if you’re a UC regent, that is). Cherished applicants: There are a lavish number of internships in a lavish number of cities and countries that offer paid work; try not to get snared in the few that snatch away your dough because they evidently missed the memo on what the definition of a “college student budget” is (a myth).

The internship that yields more Google results than a “Kim K nudes” search

If typing in the name of the internship program pulls up an infinite number of Yahoo Answers queries asking, “is dis internship legit?,” chances are the program is about as trustworthy as Bill Clinton with a blue dress. Remember that Google is always your intimate companion, come hell or high water, and that people don’t need to be New York Times columnists to write an informed review. It would benefit you as a prospective applicant to do an extensive online investigation to make sure you’re not being scammed or swindled.

The “apply first, placement later” program

Going into an internship should not, by any means, be like a box of chocolates. You should ideally know exactly what you’re going to get, under which specific firm or organization, and your precise position in the standing chain of command. With general-placement programs, applying for a position with a liberal arts agency such as, say, a psychology major could land you an internship where you find yourself filing through library archives of ancient Phoenician history, because apparently the liberal arts are all-encompassing. Go specific and apply for a detailed program that actually matches your heart’s deepest desire.

The internship opportunities posted on Craigslist

Craigslist is for last-minute housing catastrophes and selling 5-year-old lawnmowers that no individual would otherwise buy. A job opening that is published on Craiglist for an apparently profitable, valuable internship is usually a warning signal that you should grab your kids, grab your wife and steer way clear. Try sticking to websites that are affiliated with the organization and bear more professionalism than the former red-light district of the Internet. Alternatively, we recommend checking in with your campus department, which could be a substantial resource for finding the perfect internship opportunity to kick off summer 2015!

Contact Mariam El Magrissy at [email protected].