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6 Career Mistakes To Avoid For Those Applying For Internship; My Personal Learnings!

Applying for internship? Your first job? You do not have to stick with them out of loyalty as you always have other, better options waiting.

It was during my second year of university, applying for internship–a marketing internship–to use my extra time effectively while earning money. I emailed them, like any usual position, and they responded. I went in for an interview. Their office literally had one employee there, the manager.

The interview went well, and I sent a follow-up email thanking and asking for a follow-up. The manager called me in for a second interview. Again he asked a few basic questions and asked me to make a sample of how I would use my marketing skills to promote the company. I promptly worked on the report and sent it. And ONCE AGAIN, they called me for an interview with the CEO.

This time only the CEO and manager were present in the office, along with another candidate and me. The CEO was explaining how he landed many sales by convincing customers.

I asked for an offer letter, but…

The manager and CEO asked us to work for them. At the time, I was vigilant and knew to ask for an offer letter. While applying, I was promised Rs. 5000-10,000. Since it was part-time, I used to go to the office around once per week.

I noticed that their company had poor visibility and they did not know how to use social media properly for their benefit. I suggested investing in a logo and building a brand name. I told them to collaborate with a company that could boost their reach. But the manager kept brushing my ideas off and asked me to work on whatever I could without involving money.

I had not received any formal training, and I was expected to start working. I worked on a giveaway and designed a logo using free resources doing whatever I could. I also took social media into my control and tried to boost reach with the limited resources I had. They also asked me to write reviews for their company under different names and user IDs.

Generating sales for a company that operated within an old business model was challenging. They chose not to adapt to newer technologies.

Meanwhile, I kept asking for the offer letter but had not received it. I received a photo of it, but it was not stamped. The manager kept saying that he had to wait for the CEO to sign and stamp it. I was uncomfortable working there but decided to continue since I had applied.

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Then COVID struck!

Note that this was during the beginning of COVID-19. I had worked for a few weeks, but the lockdown was imposed, and I got a message from the manager saying that the internship would be on a hiatus. I asked him about the pay, but he got defensive and said I had not done enough to get paid, even though the offer had promised a basic salary.

I was completely new to the job industry. I thought whatever I did was not worth it. But I still stood my ground and repeatedly texted him to give me a part salary, at least for the duration of my work.

He kept saying it was a momentary issue and would pay me later when I came to work. I tried to argue for my salary, but he never gave it.

Well, it could have been my fault for applying for something I barely knew about. I had tried to learn and implement digital marketing strategies but failed. It was such a terrible anxiety-inducing experience. I felt it was not worth taking to court for a few weeks of work. I cut off contact and forgot about this incident till I saw #careermistakestoavoid on Women’s Web. I kept quiet about this because I was embarrassed. The whole incident was traumatizing, and I decided it was better to forget it. Today I shared my story so you can learn from my experience.

6 tips for those applying for internship or job

I followed all the proper steps while applying for internship and still got fooled. I want to mention 6 tips to those applying for internships, based on my experience:

  • Be aware of the red flags and walk out as soon as you see a few of them.
  • DO NOT start work without a stamped and signed offer letter
  • Make sure to ask for a list of expected roles and responsibilities and ensure you work only on those. What I mean by this is: I have heard about interns who are expected to suddenly make tea/coffee for guests and make sure they are hospitable. This is definitely not your responsibility! A writer may be expected to multitask and work on SEO, editing, posting, and promoting on social media, but not their duty. Or a technical intern may be expected to fill in the shoes of a manager who left, until they find a replacement. Again, not your job!
  • In my opinion, the company has to offer a training period if you are a fresher.
  • Work culture matters a lot. The team and employees you would work with closely should be something that you are comfortable with.
  • Do you feel stuck at your job? And do not like the toxic environment? Quit! Do not worry about your resume! I am sure you can apply for other offers and add the experience to your CV.

I know it is hard if you are in financial distress. In that case, start looking for better offers and attend interviews while working for the company. Is it your first job? Remember that you do not have to stick with them out of loyalty because you always have other better options waiting.

My story does not end here. After this encounter, I decided to apply for opportunities to build my resume and use my time wisely. I applied for unpaid work because I did not believe I had the experience and potential to be paid. I did a few of them, after which I felt confident enough for applying for internship in content writing that paid Rs 1000 per month. I could not dare to send applications for highly-paid work.

My advice to fellow students applying for internship

Do not make the mistakes I made while applying for internship. Several companies exploit talent by advertising unpaid internships for a cheap workforce. I would encourage freshers to confidently apply for whatever role they feel you are comfortable with. Never ever doubt your abilities! Ask for the pay you deserve. Stand your ground, and do not hesitate to speak up!

Happy interning! Wishing you all the best in your careers.

Ending my article with some food for thought.

India is seventh in the world among nations with long workweeks, which can reach up to 48 hours. We spend less than one-tenth of our day on leisure activities, and women get far less spare time than males. Why is this so? Something to think seriously about, isn’t it?

Author’s note: Kindly reach out to a career expert if you face extreme difficulties or a mental health professional if you are distressed.

Image source: Elitsa Deykova from Getty Images Signature Free for Canva Pro

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About the Author

Mirali Borde

Mirali Borde is a budding writer trying to make it in this world. read more...

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