Monday, January 18, 2010

How to Attract Interns: A Guide for Craigslist Posters

Recently, INTERN has being seeing lots of posts on craigslist looking for "interns" that look sort of like this:

"Hard-working, slef-motivated intern wantd for online fashion magazine. U will be writing 20-30 cutting edge fashion articles a day and posting them to ourwebsite. 30 hr/week commitment reqd. This is an entirely work from home internship, prefect for ppl with busy schedules. Unpaid, w/oppurtiny for advancement."

or this:

"Nubile—er, reliable intern wanted to assist established author with day-to-day tasks. You will be working from my home office on tasks including mail, word processing and occasional light cleaning. Must have own transportation and BE TOTALLY RELIABLE AND RESPECTFUL. NO BACK-TALK. I offer a letter of recommendation and the possibility of college credit. SCENT-FREE household. Unpaid."

or this:

"E-book publisher seeks research intern to conduct online research for business textbooks. 40 hrs/week. You will send us a daily report summarizing your research. This is a telecommuting position. Unpaid."


1. Interns are not moths. They are not attracted to the word "internship" the way moths careen blindly towards light. Placing the word "internship" in a post that otherwise describes slave labor, a pyramid scheme, or some kind of dubious domestic situation will not land you dozens of eager interns knocking down your door.

2. Do not claim you can offer college credit when you cannot. If every Tom, Dick, and Harry who claimed to offer college credit really did, all interns would be post-docs by now.

3. The word "telecommute" or "work from home" is an instant tip-off that you are trying to get free labor with no real benefits for the intern, and/or that you are a dubious individual or start-up with no office space. (see item 1 in this list).


5. Interns do not like to be insulted. If your internship is unpaid (as most are), do not say "there is sometimes the possibility of a small stipend on completion of 100000 hours of work." If there is a stipend, good. But don't dangle it like some kind of infested carrot in front of an intern's nose.

6. Interns are telepathic.



    I don't understand why this is unflattering...

  2. I am curious about the SCENT-FREE household, though.

  3. LOL! Yes, I remember interning for a law firm one summer. I was there from 8-5, then walked several blocks to my paying job, waiting tables. I was offered a 'generous' bonus at the end of the summer. $100. Still makes me mad. In fact, I'm furious right now and might go kick a puppy.
    (Just kidding about the puppy, folks!)

  4. These are awesome. I must try and find a free personal assistant / shopper / housekeeper / nanny this way.

  5. Wow... I just don't know what to say. I imagine this evidence of unflappable stupidity keeps away anyone worth having as an intern. Ironically, these people will never learn.

  6. "...all interns would be post-docs by now."

    and scarcely better off, given the way things are for post-docs.

  7. Question: I assume these ads were in fact filled with poor spelling? This must be a way of saying, "Hey, look, we really *need an intern to sort out our grammar for us. If you come, we'll gratify your obsessive-compulsive tendencies." The other alternative, of course, is that they actually don't proof-read their advertising.

  8. @Christian H, I thought it was more saying, "hey intern! We are so cute! We have bad spelling just like you youngins and we know how to abbreviate our words like in text messages. We are so cool. Please work for us *stares with hypnotizing vampire gaze* You must work for me!

  9. this one was a job vs. internship, but man did it generate some heat on campus:

    (hee hee- word verification = "insub"!

  10. Yeah, the work from home thing would definitely throw me off as well. Sounds to me like they are trying to reel in the suckers. Craigs list is full of em.

  11. I read craigslist regularly for jobs (even got a real freelance position from one of the postings) but I am amazed at the brazen requests for free work. You're exactly right about what they demand -- "must be reliable, dedicated, self-starter, willing to post 5 times per week, and we will give you in return the opportunity to put your work on our site" Wow!

    Who do they think would do this?

  12. Intern should seriously consider writing a novel about the new slavery. By taking some of these internships for a day. I'll read it right now and bet you make The Today Show (if their interns have anything to say about it, and I bet they do).

  13. I got an internship after reading a posting on Craigslist in a fit of post-grad job search desperation. But it was a gov't internship and they tend to have legitimate things like .gov websites, facilities, and enough money for a decent stipend.

    And that was the one shining ray of legitimacy in a sea of pyramid schemes and "startups" trolling for free labor in a bad job market. I suppose this is the new shady 21st century version of indentured servitude.

  14. I think they are misinterpreting the sentence, "People are hungry for work."
    People don't just want to work for the sake of work – they want to be paid for said work.

  15. INTERN, you are so right! Another craigslist thing I hate is "Writer needed to pen a stylish bio for an up and coming avant garde rapper. 15,000 words. Compensation: none." As though the mad props are enough.

  16. doesn't craigslist BAN hiring of interns?

    i'm self-employed and looked at posting for interns, but it specifically said 'no posting of free internships' - this was under the finance section.

    to loophole can i pay the intern $3/hr. technically they're an intern, so i don't have to pay minimum wage right? and i'd still be able to post on craigslist since it's "paid"

  17. Work from home can assist in providing a viable source of outcome. Thanks for the post, will share on various social networks.
    Legitimate Work From Home Jobs