Avoiding Internship Scams

College poses plenty of legitimate challenges, so the last thing you need is a senseless setback during school. Unfortunately, scammers may have you in their sights, preying on your search for any valuable internship experience.

Valuable Positions

As graduation nears, paid and unpaid internships furnish on-the-job experience and networking opportunities within your field. These positions enable you to work alongside established professionals, learning practical skills in genuine employment settings. Though specific job duties vary, most student work opportunities provide hands-on exposure tied to your major. Working as an intern can also lead to full-time employment upon graduation. Employers commonly use their internship programs to develop top talent, extending regular work offers to their most qualified interns.

Authentic internships offer the work experience you can’t simulate in the classroom, but not all the opportunities are real. Various internship scams lure students trying to build professional skills and establish industry contacts prior to graduation. Unfortunately, they only disappoint when the cons are exposed. The false positions can interfere with your degree and employment prospects, so it is important to protect yourself from these bogus offers.

Signs of a Scam

Criminals go to great lengths disguising internship scams, giving unsuspecting students every possible reason to believe they’re above-board. As you compare opportunities, look for these sure signs of an internship scam:

It sounds too good to be true. Internships are learning opportunities that sometimes offer compensation. Though some high-profile positions provide payments rivaling a regular salary, most intern pay is modest. Remember, you are there to learn, observe, and put your best foot forward. Career compensation comes later. Maintaining realistic expectations can help protect you from scams. When an internship offer promises power, prestige, and/or great wealth, you’ve likely stumbled upon a scam, which won’t help advance your career.

Landing the position calls for an investment. The best internships are highly competitive, reserved for strong academic achievers and other well-qualified candidates. Your grades, interview responses, extracurricular participation, and other factors may be used to evaluate eligibility. However, legitimate internship sponsors will not ask for money. Sometimes disguised as application charges, offers demanding deposits or fees are scams. Similarly, programs requiring would-be interns to buy software or other items do not hold water. Rather than opening doors to employment experience, payments and investments vanish, along with the scammers and their false internship offers.

Other Things To Look Out For

The offer doesn’t make sense. Misdirection helps magicians carry-off their best tricks, diverting viewers’ attention with a flurry of unrelated activity. In much the same way, scammers put forth impossibly complex internship offers, hoping you’ll fall for the ruse, without sweating the details. True internship offers are straightforward and transparent, clearly outlining expectations, compensation, duration, and other important aspects of each job. If the addresses, contact information and other internship details can’t be verified, it’s a clear sign of a scam.

You can work from home. The spirit of this type of job involves interaction and hands-on learning. If you’re recruited to work from home, the internship might not be legitimate. Before making commitments, investigate the sponsor and whenever possible, discuss the experience with past interns from the organization.

College internships bridge the gap between classroom learning and permanent employment. To make the most of these valuable experiences look for telltale warning signs and steer clear of internship scams.

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