5 Signs That Your Internship Is Actually A Low-Paid Job To Nowhere

Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn aren’t the only ones pursuing hot internships this summer. But look here before you leap at what appears to be a great opportunity.

5 Signs That Your Internship Is Actually A Low-Paid Job To Nowhere

Congratulations on finally landing a highly coveted internship!


As you prepare for your first day on the job you dream of private meetings with the CEO, lunch at the Palm, and the exciting projects that lie ahead.

But when you arrive at the office you are escorted to your “workspace,” which is really a closet in disguise. You shrug this off thinking your real office is awaiting the arrival of new furniture. But what if you are wrong? What if this is really your desk and this internship is not quite what it was hyped up to be? Here are five signs that your internship is nothing more than a glorified clerical position.

No plan upon arrival

You show up and there is no plan for your assimilation into the organization. Figuring this must be a test of your ability to take initiative, you ask to see your job description. The only item listed is “Other duties as assigned.” Clearly there must be a mistake.

You are excluded from the Monday-morning huddle

You have read about them and finally you are in a position to attend a Monday-morning huddle meeting. This is where you and the other “executives in training” get to share thought-provoking ideas about the strategy of the company! Only you have not been invited to attend. Instead, you are asked to answer the phones and refill the coffeepot.

A similar job to yours is posted online


You happen to be cruising the Internet, doing “research” and you see a posting for a clerical position for your firm that sounds remarkably like the job you are doing. Only the position does not require any college education.

You then realize the tasks you are doing are more mundane than what friends of yours are doing in their internships. You keep thinking things will improve, but they never do.

The challenging work is nowhere to be found

The challenging work seems to be well hidden. You keep trying to take more responsibility but your boss keeps piling on the dry cleaning. You keep assuring yourself that this task must somehow be related to “dressing for success.”

You still have not met with the CEO

The last day of your internship is Friday and you are still waiting to catch a glimpse of the CEO. Nor have you interacted with anyone on the senior management team. But you have certainly gotten to know their assistants.


Congratulations! Whether you realize it or not, you have learned a valuable lesson. This experience has taught you exactly what not to do when you are in the position of hiring an intern.

[Image: Flickr user Scott Meis]

About the author

For more than 25 years, Roberta Chinsky Matuson, president of Matuson Consulting, has helped leaders in Fortune 500 companies, including Best Buy, New Balance, The Boston Beer Company and small to medium-size businesses, achieve dramatic growth and market leadership through the maximization of talent. She is known world-wide as “The Talent Maximizer®.” Roberta, a leading authority on leadership and the skills and strategies required to earn employee commitment and client loyalty, is the author of the top-selling book, Suddenly In Charge: Managing Up, Managing Down, Succeeding All Around (Nicholas Brealey, 2011), a Washington Post Top 5 Business Book For Leaders.