Once upon a time, internships were merely an added bonus to an academic resume. If employers saw that a recent graduate had completed an internship during his or her academic career, their value to future companies increased on the spot. Today, student life in the world of internships has changed drastically. Gone are the days of rare internship placements. Instead, most schools and employers expect or require graduates to have completed an internship during the course of their studies. The expectation is such that many schools now make internships credit requirements for completing a degree at all. That being said, it’s more important than ever that students protect themselves when it comes to landing an internship. Here are a few tips to avoiding internships scams that could lead to major disappointment.
Head to your school internship advisor first
Because internships are required more often than not, it’s common protocol for an internship office to be put in place at every college or university. A school-based internship coordinator or advisor is your best bet when it comes to landing a great internship that is guaranteed not to be a scam. Schools dedicate a significant amount of time to developing an extensive professional network and as a student; you have the right to benefit from that list of contacts.
The first step to making sure you end up in a great internship that will satisfy your college credits and boost your resume is to make a meeting with an advisor one on one. Taking time to discuss what you hope to get out of your internship and what type of job placement you aspire to in the future will help your advisor open some doors to great opportunities. Similarly, your advisor should be able to help you polish your resume before you start applying for positions. Never pay out of pocket for an external professional to polish your internship resume when your own school hosts a number of people ready and willing to do that very thing!
Be cautious online
If you are the type who feels more comfortable striking out on your own when it comes to landing an internship, take precautions before you delve into the online world. Many scam artists prey on college students by offering “internships” that come with a price tag. Be aware of the fact that you should never have to pay to apply for an internship. Companies that ask you to send money orders, enter credit card information or social security number during the application process most likely do not have your best professional interest at heart.
Additionally, online companies that ask you to send in credit checks before proceeding with an internship application are nothing but a fraud. Internships are experience-based opportunities and because they are not full-time employment, a company should never require a credit check for interns. Be wary of an internship listing that seems to be focused on the financial aspect of the opportunity and go another direction entirely before you hand over sensitive information. The goal is to find a position that gives you legitimate experience in a great company which boosts your potential for employment after graduation. If you have any doubts as to the legitimacy of a company you are applying for, take the road of caution and walk away.
Talk to others who have been there
Social media outlets make it possible to reach out and connect with others who have professional experience and insight before you even set foot in a company door. Taking time to ask others who have interned with a company before you apply is a great way to get a feel for what you are getting into. Similarly, these individuals may be able to warn you against pitfalls that may be waiting on the other side of the application. Anything you can do to avoid internship scams and disappointments will be worth your effort in the end.