Beware of fraudulent opportunities when searching for an internship in this COVID-19 pandemic

Posted November 13, 2020 by

If you believe in the existence of hell or something like it then perhaps you’ll agree that there is a special place reserved there for those who prey on those who are desperate, including students and recent graduates who desperately want to land a part-time, seasonal, internship, or entry-level job.

As if finding an internship during this COVID-19 pandemic weren’t hard enough, these scammers make it that much harder because students really need to take care about the jobs they apply to and how they interest with, ahem, employers after the point of application. There are many forms of job fraud, but one of the most common involves the theft of the employer’s identity: the fraudster pretends to be a legitimate and often well-known employer, posts an attractive job opportunity, and hopes that some unsuspecting candidates will apply. What happens at that point varies, but one scheme is for the new hire to work and then provide their banking information to facilitate electronic payments. On the surface, that sounds okay. In these schemes, however, the payments flow from the employee to the employer. Again, special place in hell.

The career advisors at Lycoming College’s Center for Enhanced Academic Experiences (CEAE) offer some tips for students searching for internships:

  • Reach out to your network.
    • Networking is one of the most powerful tools to discover advertised – as well as unadvertised – opportunities.
    • Use the capabilities of LinkedIn to connect with alumni and to develop and strengthen your brand!
    • Be professional and consistent with everything you do and post.
  • Be aware of fraudulent opportunities. 
    • If an opportunity seems to be too good to be true, it probably is.
    • Always look for red flags and do your research to determine if it is a legitimate job.
    • Guard your identity and exercise common sense and caution when providing information online.
  • Cast a wide net.
    • Be creative and don’t rely on one or two sources in your internship search.
    • Don’t dismiss social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok that are often used for entertainment and other purposes.
    • Use the many online job search and research tools that are available.
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