Virtual internships are a growing trend nowadays, because unless you’re living under a rock or out in the Andes, it’s likely that you have access to the Internet. And let’s face it, the majority of work we do in the office requires Internet. Research, stock trends, Google searches…
Recently, I found this (unpaid) virtual internship with a startup consulting firm. It’s very small as it just launched. I thought it had potential, so I was pretty excited when I got the position–woohoo, a virtual internship, this will be a piece of cake! I can work while wearing my pajamas from home! Right?
Whoever said to beware of seemingly good things was right. First, let’s just say the CEO (are you still technically a CEO when the firm only has two employees?) is crazy. Crazy as in completely unrealistic, unorganized, and impractical.
First of all, the guy has no clue that you’re not supposed to go ahead with phone meetings without waiting for a confirmation from the other party. I was out all day on Saturday, doing research for my paper and meeting friends for lunch. I got back to find missed phone calls on Skype because he had decided, literally 1 minute before the call, that we were going to have the phone meeting right then and there. Without confirming it with me. Okay, Mr. CEO, clearly the world revolves around you and nobody else’s schedule matters.
I could go on about all the last minute phone calls he’s placed / dropped. I’ve had to rearrange entire schedules in order to accommodate his phone meetings, only to have him cancel them at the last minute. Then he’d make some excuse and ask if we can reschedule for *insert specific time frame for later that same day*. Yes dude, why not just have me set aside my entire day waiting for your call, then?
My first few tasks for the firm involved conducting research that was going to be presented at a press conference in less than 4 days. The firm expected me to
exploit utilize my college library and find a plethora of sources relevant to the project. The material also had to be extremely detailed.
Mr. CEO had the illusion that I could get the research material easily through my helpful college librarians and campus experts in the field of study. I don’t know how long he’s been out of college for, but professors and college librarians actually have schedules too, you know. Yes, I know it’s hard to imagine that the rest of the world doesn’t follow your schedule. How dare they?
Basically, it’s melted to the point where I’ve realized this firm is not worth an unpaid internship. Even if it was paid, I would have a pretty hard time justifying working for such a cluttered boss. On the bright side, I’m glad it’s a virtual internship, because I can actually quit without losing dignity. I mean, technically I’ve never talked to my employer face-to-face, believe it or not. Even the Skype calls are just phone calls, never video calls. We’ll just move on from the experience, two specks in the World Wide Web.
Unpaid internships stink. They’re just another way for employers to exploit free labor under the guise of “we’ll offer you experience! That’s what matters most!” Um, right. Chances are, unless the internship is for a well-respected, famous company, you could build character better by working at a grocery store or as a lifeguard at your summer pool. Don’t take the pencil-pusher job.