Do NOT Apply to These 7 Types of Internships!

One of the most overlooked aspects of any job/internship hunt is the need to evolve your sixth sense to help differentiate the time-wasters and online scams from the real opportunities. Spending your time applying to internships that don’t exist or, worse, exist only to divest you of your money/labor can keep you from applying to some amazing opportunities that could be the perfect launchpad for your career.

 At, we are really just a bunch of nice people who want nothing but the best for you. So, in the interests of helping you focus on the good opportunities, check out this handy list to figure out what’s what when it comes to the ‘bad’ listings: 

1. “The most amazing job in the world. Soooo rewarding! You will love every minute.” 

 Okay, so this job description sounds awesome but what job is it really? Such listings use a lot of fancy words but tell you next to nothing about what you’ll be doing, which new skills you’ll be acquiring. In the same spirit, stay away from listings that say: “Will discuss job duties in the interview.” Unless you’re applying directly to the CIA, no job description needs to be kept under lock and key!

2. Sales (or marketing, or business development) jobs that do not say whether they are paid or unpaid. Or they mention unrealistically high salaries. 

 Yes, you’re an awesome candidate and any company will be lucky to have you, but no one pays a $50,000 salary to an intern. Be very wary of roles offering high salaries and that paint a too-rosy picture of job responsibilities or use words such as “grow the business” without specifying what exactly that entails. In most cases, this ‘opportunity’ will be a multi-level marketing scheme where you’re supposed to earn a commission by bringing in other candidates/selling useless, expensive stuff to people in the subway or on the street. 

Trust us, you will never see that kind of money doing this kind of work. More importantly, you are wasting your time learning nothing when the whole point of an internship is to build new skills. 

3. Two full-time employees but they have 50 internship listings.

 This point illustrates why research is so important. Before spending an hour drafting a customized resume, take 10 minutes to research the company, read online reviews from their employees on sites like, read customer reviews on Yelp, visit their website to familiarize yourself with their business model, and get a sense of the size and scale of the operation. An easy way to do this is to look up how many other internships they have listed on the same website, and then compare that number with their employee headcount. If that ratio looks odd or askew, they’re probably using internships as bait to lure free labor. 

Again, if a company has a bunch of ‘polar opposite’ reviews with lots of five stars and many one-star reviews and nothing in between, that could indicate they are paying/coercing some people to post fake reviews while the one-star reviews reflect the genuine experience of other candidates (such as yourself!). 

4. Wanna intern at Gooogle or Apelle? 

 Going back to the previous point, make sure you research the employer thoroughly. Some shady companies use slightly modified brand names/logos to attract unsuspecting interns and have them perform work for free or for commissions that never get paid (which is, of course, the same thing). Worse, they offer little to no academic or professional development in return. Basically, they are all the stuff you want to stay away from. 

5. “Pay me so I can pay you.”

 Reddest of the red flags! No legit company charges people to apply for a job or internship. If they can afford to hire people and pay those employees, they can totally afford to interview you for free. In some cases, these so-called ‘employers’ might disguise their demands for money as payment for marketing materials or office set-up or some other form of ‘investment’ you need to make towards getting the role. Needless to say, the only role they are offering is that of a sponsor willing to transfer his/her bank balance to these con artists.

6. This is a win-lose situation.

Remember the core concept of an internship? It is meant to teach you something, to enhance your skills in some way. Even better if it pays you a stipend or helps you earn academic credits. 

Internships that are all about the employer (increase their sales, help them sell subscriptions, manage their social media presence, etc.) defeat the very purpose of an internship. Even if it’s unpaid, perform this mental test when you see an offer that looks ‘off’ in some way: who does this benefit? What will I gain from this role? If the answers are skewed heavily in favor of the employer, it is not a good internship for you. 

7. Potayto, potaato internships

Research the company. Did you find multiple job listings with different titles but with job descriptions that all look the same? Yup, you just saved yourself from becoming free labor for a business that needs people but is not willing to pay for them. 
Obviously, zeroing in on genuine internship listings is quite the task. The next time you see something that looks not quite right, ask yourself these 5 quick questions:
  1. What is their business/profit model?
  2. What exactly is the role they expect me to perform?
  3. Does this company have enough full-time employees/managers to mentor interns and help them grow?
  4. Are their reviews making sense or are there weirdly high/low reviews all at the same time?
  5. What will I gain from this internship?