Deciding if an Internship is Legit

Eller PDC Coach's Corner

By Sarah Diaz, Director of the Professional Development Centerdiaz

The start of school is here and the focus is already on where you will be interning next summer. Crazy right? It can be a daunting time of year with the excitement of “back-to-school,” catching up with old friends, getting into the right classes, and now you have to think about next summer’s internship plans? Alleviate some of the stress of the internship search by doing your research now so you can land the internship of your dreams.

Internships can be of great value when it comes to gaining experience and getting hired. Since most companies seek candidates with previous relevant experience in the field, internships are crucial for seniors who are seeking their first real time job after graduation. It doesn’t matter if the internship is paid or if you are receiving credit to complete the experience, the only thing an employer focuses on is what type of knowledge and skills you gained when interning for the company.

Is this internship too good to be true?

You’ve all seen it. The peppy coed comes into your class five minutes before your professor gets there and hands you a clip board. The promise of thousands of dollars in one summer, traveling around the country, running your own business. Sounds pretty good, right? If an internship sounds too good to be true, you will want to do a little more digging. Here are some things may cause concern and prompt you to do some more research.

  • Positions promising travel and easy money. Tempting as it may be to hang out with others your age and see the country, many of these jobs may end up costing you money.
  • Traveling sales crews that recruit students to travel around the country, and knock on doors selling soaps, educational materials, and magazines.
  • Commission-only based internships and “business opportunities” with sketchy or mysterious job descriptions.
  • Open qualifications and an application that does not inquire about your interests or experience.
  • Internships located in bad neighborhoods or in a person’s home.
  • Internships that do not require an application or a resume.
  • Internships that do not have the company name on any of the materials.
  • Internships that ask you to pay money to learn more about the program or to do an actual internship for them. Of course there are some programs that do require money which includes most of the programs abroad. In these cases, the Eller College has partnerships with these specific programs. If a program is not a formal partner with the College, do due diligence in conducting research to know up front exactly what the program includes.
  • Lastly, use your own judgment. If you get a bad vibe when it comes to the internship listing, the requirements, or the people it is usually a good idea to forfeit the opportunity and begin looking for another.