Avoiding Sketchy Jobs and Internships

This time of year you start seeing fliers posted around campus stating things like “You can earn $10,000 this summer.”  While that sounds amazing, ususally things that sound too good to be true are just that – not real! To avoid getting lured into a scam, watch out for these red flags:

1. Paying Money Upfront

No company should ask a candidate for money upfront whether it’s to buy materials, pay for start-up fees, etc .  There are some programs where you pay for a ”dream” internship or work abroad experience but those exceptional experiences are very  unique and the costs are clearly communicated at the outset. A company should not be asking a student to pay out of pocket for any job or internship experience. If they do, run fast and run far away.

2. Not on HireMizzouTigers

If an employer notifies our career office of a job vacancy, it is posted on HireMizzouTigers.com. Employers use this site because they can quickly advertise a position to a large number of talented candidates. All jobs submitted to HireMizzouTigers.com are reviewed and approved by a career services staff member. So if a company has not posted a position on this employment website it means that either they are not interested in using a reputable site to advertise their position or the job was likely rejected from the site.

3. Grandiose or Vague Statements

If a job or internship posting highlights that you’re going to make thousands of dollars that’s a clear red flag. It’s likely a commission-based job that has no base salary. So in theory, you could work 70 hours a week, convert all of your cold contacts into sales, but it’s not actually going to happen that way. In addition to grandiose promises, many sketch positions have incredibly vague job descriptions that fail to describe what you would be doing on a daily basis. A common tactic is asking questions like, “Are you a go-getter? Are you looking to assert your leadership skills? Then this is the job for you!”   Sketchy jobs and internships frequently say cheesy things like “Only rock stars should apply.” Really!? When a company tries that hard it should be a sign that their only hook is to be cool because the job, perks, company culture and experience are not attractive enough to be of interest.

4. Scary Google Results

If you are unfamiliar with a company just Google it. The results should tell you a LOT! If the link is broken that should be of concern. The company might not have their website up if they are a start-firm, but there should be some sort of information out there explaining who they are and what they do.  Sometimes the search bar will even suggest words like “scams” because the results are riddled with negative press. If you see a lot of bad PR about the firm then you should be extremely wary.

With any position you should always take the time to carefully research the company and you are welcome to ask a career services professional what they know about the company and/or position. Ultimately, you should listen to your gut. If you get the feeling that it is a sketchy opportunity, then you should follow your instinct and not purse it further!