How to check if an internship is the real deal



Published Jul 19, 2023


MaryAnne Isaac

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

The internet is an amazing resource for finding internships and employment. However, with the anonymity of the internet, 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 for application fees, admin costs or any sort of payment. In fact, the company pays 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 for applying for an internship.

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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 job seekers. 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 give out important information.

5. 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.