Interviewing for internships is not a one way street. You are interviewing the company just as they are interviewing you.
Knowing if this is the right company for you is as important as knowing if you are right for them. But how can you see a bad one coming?
Here are 5 telltale danger signs that this is the wrong internship for you.
Consider some of the less-than-obvious things you’ve noticed about the job, the company, and its people. When you experience any of these telltale danger signs first hand, run the other way.
1. They’re not even slightly interested in you
They just want to fill a position, have someone to run errands, and have no clear objective for hiring you. They essentially want a gopher. Although it’s not as much of an issue as it was in the past, it helps to know that this problem has plagued interns for decades.
If you get the feeling they do not care to know about you or the qualities you possess, then perhaps it is time to pass that internship onto someone else that doesn’t mind sitting behind the curtains.
Exception: If it’s for a well-known company and you want the name on your resume, that may be a fair trade.
2. No one looks happy
Look around and into the cubicles. Are people texting, napping or looking bored? Choosing a place where everyone looks tired, worn down, and just plain unhappy might not be the best place to intern. If the people getting paid are unhappy, chances are the internship is going to make you even unhappier.
Choose a place where people are smiling, happy, and eager to greet you.
3. The interview process is disorganized or rushed
Throwing out questions at random or that are generic is something a lot of companies do. Sometimes they want to throw you off and see how you answer. Other times, they really don’t care what you have to say. If things seem a bit jumbled, or they’re in a hurry and don’t actually have the time to meet with you, then the internship itself may be just like that. Put down that cell phone, boss!
4. They keep asking for favors (even before you’re hired)
Your internship should be rewarding and fulfilling. However, if you’re asked to provide “just a quick brochure”, “sample” marketing copy, or a multitude of other things that are not within your internship scope, then perhaps it might not be the best place to work.
It’s taking advantage of you, and that may continue during your work time. Effort comes with a price, so just make sure that the company paying the price is the right one.
5. They’re unclear on…well, just about everything
You don’t know when they’re going to call you back, what the hiring process is like, they won’t return calls, you don’t have an e-mail or any real information on them or any number of things.
This is all a recipe for disaster. You need to know the process. You want to know if you’ve landed the internship or how to contact them to find out. If they take weeks to respond to you, then this could be an issue. If their hiring process is a mess, the internship will be too.
Feeling that you’re not a valued part of the company is telltale sign this is the wrong internship for you.
Work with a company that wants to teach you, that wants to help you grow your skill set, and will give you more than just the time of day.
After all, an internship is like an apprenticeship, where you are being taught a skill from a master. Don’t let employers take advantage of you. Usually, the telltale signs are highly visible if you know where to look.