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Although the vast majority of internships and job postings are legitimate, it is important for students to know the warning signs to watch for. Students should notify the Career Center if they have any concerns by calling (718 951 5696) or emailing careernews@brooklyn.cuny.edu. Being notified about negative internship/job experiences allows us to assist students with handling the situation, and prevent other students from applying in the future.


LOOK OUT FOR THESE RED FLAGS! The list below does not necessarily mean the position or company is not legitimate but it should cause you to do deeper research before proceeding.

  • The internship is unpaid but does not comply with DOL's Guidelines for Unpaid Internships.   
  • There is a generic description of what the company does, and not what the intern/employee will do.
  • Limited details about the organization are available.
  • The employer uses a personal email account to communicate.  Be leery of those wanting to communicate on Google Hangouts, Skype, or through text. 
  • Difficult to contact or identify the person who posted the position.
  • The listing contains poor grammar and/or spelling.
  • The employer asks for your social security number or other personal information, before hiring you.
  • You are set to work in a home office or residence versus a business office setting - the internship/job can also be virtual where you work from home.
  • The organization has no established website.
  • Be cautious of startup organizations; some can be unorganized and not in compliance with DOL guidelines.
  • The organization posted an internship after mid-semester when it is too late to make arrangements for academic credit.
  • The organization uses street canvassers.
  • You did not apply for the position (this may happen but it is best to call the company to make sure it is a real person).
  • Contacts you via LinkedIn, or other social media outlet.  (While this can be legitimate, you should always try to call or email the company’s Human Resources department, to find out if they really have such a job opening and, if the name of a recruiter is given, ask if that person really works for them.)
  • Employment agencies that charge a fee; some legitimate agencies do charge but it is best to do a lot of research before paying.
  • The employer makes a job offer over the phone or via email without an interview.  
  • Contacts you via LinkedIn, or other social media outlet.  (While this can be legitimate, you should always try to call or email the company’s Human Resources department, to find out if they really have such a job opening and, if the name of a recruiter is given, ask if that person really works for them.)
  • The employer requests for an interview during non-business hours.
  • The opportunity sounds too good to be true. An example of this can be the organization offers a high hourly rate or salary.
  • The employer makes inappropriate comments or has unprofessional behavior during the interview or after.
  • Asks you to send money or to deposit money.
  • The employer asks illegal interview questions.
  • The employer uses an e-mail address or website that may look legitimate but differs slightly from the real organization's e-mail address and/or website (one letter off).  The phone number or address does not match the company.

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Ask for your bank account details or your SSN prior to a job interview, job offer and/or job acceptance.  They will not ask you to send money or to deposit money.


Prior to a legitimate job acceptance, don’t:

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