Avoiding nightmare choices when selecting an internship

May 1, 2012 at 8:00 am | Posted in Advising interns | Leave a comment
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Coach Susan Sandberg

Susan Sandberg

When Gossip Girl‘s Blair Waldorf takes an internship at W in Season 4, she has her boss’s job by the next episode. But when Hannah Horvath asks for a salary at her unpaid publishing internship in the pilot episode of Girls (premiering on HBO) she gets fired. Too many of your own student interns may have discovered that the latter scenario is painfully real. TV shows are not the only medium using internships as plot devices. A script for a planned movie, called “The Internship,” follows two old-school salesmen that find themselves unemployed and attempt to reinvent themselves by taking internships at a major dot.com company.  Right now your own students are searching for the perfect summer internship.  They might benefit from reading about the following experiences and decide to take your wise advice on how to avoid nightmare choices:

  • Bogus internship in the travel industry:  A mother in England writes that her daughter applied for a summer internship with a company called European Medical Assistance through a job vacancy portal. After a phone interview she was offered a 6-week placement. The company said it would pay for flights and accommodation during the internship but she would have to pay a £400 deposit through PayPal. This would be reimbursed as part of her first month’s pay. She paid the deposit on December 16 using a Visa debit card but she has heard little from the company since, apart from a few brief emails. Her mother telephoned the company but even the emergency line goes straight to answerphone.  Journalist Gill Charlton found that the company does not appear to exist. The business address is a mail-forwarding company and the company’s 24-hour “worldwide assistance centre” goes straight to answerphone. Charlton cautions that students should beware of companies advertising summer jobs on some portals. “It is easy for a fraudster to create a professional website and set up a PayPal account to acquire upfront payments for job placements.”
  • Students talk internships and jobs at career panel:  At Binghamton University, the Career Development Center held a series of information sessions last week to help arm students with skills and tools to become more marketable and to avoid selecting a disastrous internship. The CDC’s Experiential Education Coordinator Meg Minzel emphasized that students must decide on the field they would like to pursue. Parents, friends, professors and high school teachers are accessible outlets to begin pursuing jobs. “Start talking, start networking,” she said. According to Minzel, students should thoroughly research companies and programs before contacting organizations about internship opportunities, so that they know the positions available and companies consider them more seriously. “It’s really important to do your research and start creating your professional persona,” Minzel said. She also stressed the importance of professionalism when seeking an internship, advising students to consider their email address, voicemail and how they answer the phone in terms of appearance for possible employers.
  • Eye of the Intern blog offers Intern Picks:  Encourage your students to search for internships on reliable sites, such as Internships.com, which currently offers nearly 68,000 internship postings. Each week, site intern Ting-Tien Wee chooses a theme and highlights several new internships he thinks are cool/useful/interesting. Your students can access the site and apply for any of these internships. Here are a few of Ting’s top marketing internship picks of the week:
  • Membership & Marketing Intern with Society for Neuroscience in Washington, DC
    The Society for Neuroscience (SfN) is a non-profit, professional association representing over 41,000 members working in the dynamic and multi-disciplinary field of science that deals with the brain and nervous system. Help research on new potential membership segments, copy write for annual meeting and exhibits marketing, and more in this paid internship!
  • Startup: Paid Summer Internship with BoardProspects in Boston, MA
    Ever wanted to help market a startup company? Then this is your chance to be involved with BoardProspects, the online professional community dedicated to building better boards and committees. Help with market research, social media, analytic reports, and more in this paid internship.
  • PR, Marketing, Social Media Internships with DocuHome in Santa Monica, CA
    DocuHome is is the most comprehensive, easy to use home inventory product and service on the market today. Their inventory tools help people get prepared before disaster strikes their homes and has been featured on CBS News, ABC News, and more as one of the smartest new technologies to come on the market. Apply for their pr, marketing, social media internship today!

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