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How to check if an internship is the real deal

Whether you’re looking for an internship as a young graduate, a final-year student looking to secure work-integrated learning (WIL), or thinking of pursuing a new role within your industry – an internship may be just what you need to gain insight and work experience.

The internet is an amazing resource for finding internships and employment. However, with its anonymity, some advertisements could easily be a scam.

Here are five red flags to look out for when applying for internships:

  1. Application fee or admin costs
    Companies offering internship opportunities should not be asking application fees, admin costs or any sort of payment. In fact, the company should be paying the intern a stipend at the end of each month.

If a company advertises an internship, demands an upfront payment for any costs, and makes promises that seem too good to be true – run.
These are scams. You should not have to pay to apply for an internship.

  1. Unknown website
    and messy URL link
    If you are applying on a website or were sent a super long and suspicious URL link on WhatsApp, double check that your Bluetooth and location access is off.

Make sure the website is secure by looking at the address bar (URL) to see if there is an ‘s’ in the URL, which should look like this ‘https://’, or has a lock symbol in the address bar.

This is no guarantee against a scam site, but it shows that the site is using secured encryption during data transfers and has protected itself from hackers.

  1. Dodgy interview location
    If something seems amiss, double check and triple check if you must. If you are given a location for an interview opportunity, search for it on Google Maps and ask people about it. An interview should not take place in an isolated warehouse or abandoned building or area.

If necessary, go to your nearest police station and clear the location with them.

  1. Communicating
    through WhatsApp or chat
    In most cases, scammers use instant messaging services such as WhatsApp to communicate, and conduct fake job interviews with desperate jobseekers.

A WhatsApp interview may seem convenient, however, it is rare to actually secure a job or have a job interview with a legitimate company through a chat platform. Do your research before the interview, and do not provide important information.

  1. Lacking verifiable information
    If you are unable to verify a company’s phone number, location, web address, or employees, it’s probably a scam.

With the advancement of technology, authentic companies will have an online presence with some social media engagement.

If there is a sense of urgency and you are being forced to accept the job instantly – that’s another red flag.
A legitimate company won’t push you into accepting a job offer immediately. – IOL