Internships From Hell

Twenty-Something Tuesday

It’s June, and waves upon waves of college students and grads are headed into the scary, often unpaid world of internships. Sure, they look great on your resume, and can often be rewarding in their own right, but sometimes the lack of a paycheck acts as a final nail in the coffin. In honor of the start of summer internship season, here are our worst internship horror stories (not including the LD internship, because it’s all glitter, tea, and fabulousness, ask anyone.)


I worked at a seemingly awesome website in New York City. I was so excited to start there, but then when I got there, I found out that I was not the only one: There were close to 30 editorial interns! We had to use our own computers, sat at folding card tables in folding chairs and were squished so close together that my elbows were basically locked to my body at all times. We later found out they didn’t employ any paid writers, the interns were responsible for all of the content on the site. They didn’t pay us at all and I found out they pay their employees nearly minimum wage in New York City, which isn’t going to get you much of anything. And while the other interns I met were amazing, burning out my laptop, nearly permanently hurting my back and working long hours for free were not. – Kristin S.

One summer, I worked an internship that I loved. My coworkers were fun and patient, I learned a ton, and I began what continues to be a wonderful friendship with one of my fellow interns. The only weird thing was that the all-male staff seems to habitually hire two female interns, generally one blonde and one brunette. Why not hire a woman to work full time? Why not hire more male interns? The world may never know. It’s also worth noting that only one of their recent interns has been a person of color. Scrolling through their past intern photos reveals a striking and predictable lack of diversity…blonde, brunette, blonde, brunette, unrolling back through summers and semesters as far as the eye can see. – Anonymous

Over one of my winter breaks in college, I worked in the accessories department at a well-known fashion magazine in New York City. Per usual around the holidays, the editors would receive gifts from various designers and showrooms the magazine worked with. On one of these occasions, my section’s editor received a gifted pair of Christian Louboutin heels. Again, they were a FREE pair of $800+ shoes. She didn’t like the style of the shoe, so she sent them back to the designer. Who sends back a FREE pair of Louboutins? Absolute horror. – Connie

I had an animal behavior internship in college. Turns out things that constitute “animal behavior” include: 1) Dealing with 400+ lbs of raw ground cow + organs/bone, saving the blood for bloodsicles (OK, expected) 2) Collecting tiger shit 3) Laying saved tiger shit out to dry 4) Grating tiger shit into baggies 5) Driving around to gardening stores trying to convince them to sell grated tiger shit because it would “keep away pests.” It definitely made me realize I had chosen the wrong major, that’s for sure. – Erin


This summer I’m staying at school giving both historical and admissions tours to alumni and prospective students. So far I’ve loved the job—I work with a great group of interns and have had enough down time between tours to polish off the entirety of “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” as well as the first season of “House of Cards.” Things had been going great… until tourists started dropping like flies. With the warmer weather upon us, the seemingly benign warnings we received at the beginning of the summer are becoming more and more relevant: Campus will get hot and tourists will faint. Be prepared. So far we’ve had to fill out two incident reports and I’m holding my breath for those triple-digit temperatures in July. But I just have one question: Does having unconscious tourists mean no tips? – Julia

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