Be wary: Internship scams are out to get you at MSU

Be wary: Internship scams are out to get you at MSU

Sitting in class, waiting for a lecture to start, the professor hands the microphone to a guy who has a spiel for the entire class. He starts out by giving general information about an internship opportunity that is available for the following summer. Not paying much attention, you fill out the form with your name, number, and make a brief list of skills to hand in to the speaker who distributed them.

Not even a week later, it’s a Saturday night and your cell phone rings. It’s the guy who gave the speech and he is wondering if you would like to come in for an interview for some type of leadership internship. You agree and show up on time, only to find out that it’s a scam.

Photo credit: Julia Grippe

Freshman Joey Dreyer shared this similar experience with a company called College Works Painters.

“In my math lecture, some guy came in and passed out a bunch of sheets of paper and if you’re interested to write your name on it.” Dreyer said. “I got an email two weeks later telling me that my achievements stood out to them, but they didn’t tell me why.”

Dreyer had suspicions about the company but decided to go to the interview anyway. “They told me to go to the International Center, and there were two other people there and I didn’t understand how a freshman like me had enough experience compared to a junior and senior,” Dreyer said.

The College Works Representative went on to explain a personal experience of how he made himself thousands of dollars over the summer with the internship to buy a Camaro. He also guaranteed a minimum of $2,500 and up to $60,000 to any student in one summer depending on how hard they worked. Little information was provided about the actual job.

Dreyer was excited to contemplate the possibilities of making so much money for little work.

“I was jumping up and down because I didn’t have to work at all and I would make thousands over the summer, but after I talked to my parents and other people, my excitement went down dramatically,” Dreyer said.

Unfortunately, Dreyer knew something was off when he discovered his brother had gone through a similar experience – and by a phone call he received after the interview.

“The College Works Representative wanted me to meet with the president of the company the following morning because he said I stood out from the rest of the interviewees,” Dreyer said.

In reality, an internship that seems too good to be true probably is. Experiential Learning and On-Campus Internship Coordinator Bill Morgan explains how most scams are for internships or part time jobs.

“On average we see a new job posting that we believe may be a ‘scam’ about a half dozen times a year,” Morgan said. “Most of the scams have been showing up when students are most likely to be looking for work—early fall semester and in December/January leading into spring semester.”

Other ways that companies look for uninformed students can be surprising.

“Additional job scams have been sent directly to students by email or are posted in off-campus job boards such as Craig’s List,” Morgan said. Fishy emails or unbelievable facts about a job posting should immediately raise a red flag. “Students should also watch out for “over payment” scams, often posted as a book-keeper, personal assistant, administrative assistant, etc., to assist in processing checks or mystery/secret shoppers,” Morgan said.

When looking for a part-time job or internship it is crucial to look out for signs that may lead to further investigation of a company. Graduate student Jeff Miller describes how he came across his worthwhile internship at Bodwin & Associates, P.C.

“At [Michigan] State we have a database called Career Network and you submit your resume, cover letter, writing sample and letters of recommendation on it,” Miller said. “Career services filters which job opportunities are on there.”

A legitimate posting will provide up to date, detailed information.

“I knew it was legit because we have internship reports from people that did it in the past and I interviewed at the law firm,” Miller said.

There are also career events for summer job and internship fairs where employers are eager to find future interns and employees with dates posted on MySpartanCareer.com. It is also important to network with professors, friends, and family that may know more information pertaining to a certain career field.

“Internships are challenging work opportunities related to your major or intended career that force you to reflect and integrate your college learning in the professional world,” Morgan said. Getting a meaningful internship or job can be a challenging task but knowing what to look for can greatly reduce the chances of falling for a scam that not only wastes time but money and effort as well.

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International students seek shelter over winter break in East Lansing and beyond

International students seek shelter over winter break in East Lansing and beyond

The banks of the Red Cedar or traveling the U.S.? International students have options over winter break. Photo credit: Julia Grippe

As the 2012 fall semester comes to a close, students living in residence halls pack up their belongings and most make the journey home for the holidays. Some get on a plane and travel outside of Michigan, some students get picked up by their parents to take them back home, while others venture off to a family vacation. But the options for international students greatly differ.

“When an international student applies for the residence halls, there’s a question that says ‘will you need housing over the December break?’ If they answer yes to that, that’s why there is large numbers of international students in Hubbard Halls,” Director of Office for International Students and ScholarsnPeter Briggs said.

MSU is willing to make accommodations in advance for those who have signed up to live in their dorms over winter break, otherwise international students must move out.

“If you’re an international student, you have to go to the housing office and they will tell you that you can stay in the Kellogg, or in Hubbard,” intercultural aid Illami Martinez said.

The Kellogg is offered at $30 per night to students who are willing to pay if they hadn’t signed up for living on campus prior to enrollment. But international student Haofeng Li admits that he would rather travel the U.S. than visit home.

“If I stay in America, I would choose to travel probably to California or Las Vegas with some friends,” Li said.

But since his friends would rather visit home, he is going to make the long journey back to Beijing. Li also has friends in China he is going to visit during break. If he could make any suggestions for improvement, he would want international students to be able to stay in their own dorms.

“I don’t want them to have to spend more money, it’s a waste,” Li said. “I want MSU to give a chance to MSU international students to live in their dorms.”

In the past five years, the number of Chinese undergraduate students at MSU has increased tenfold from 43 to 2,845. With such increasing numbers, adjustments for residential housing over university-sanctioned breaks had to be made.

“Housing is doing a great thing by giving the opportunity for international students who are a long ways from home to be in the residence halls over the break here. The downside is it gets misinterpreted,” Briggs said.

People have begun to question why 400 of the scholars in Hubbard Hall are international students.

“The reason is they signed up for housing over break, and you think gosh, they are putting them in a Chinese ghetto,” Briggs said.

However, the criticism is really due to a lack of knowledge on the topic. Moving the international students to a couple of buildings provides an economically sound solution as well as better companionship.

“The international students will be here with other international students, to bond with each other, and get to know others around campus,” Martinez said.

The adjustment has sprung for a number of reasons.

“To them it’s a big sacrifice, but it’s worth it,” Martinez said. “They don’t get to go home, see their families, and most of them go four years straight without seeing their families.”

But many stick it out and either travel the U.S. or stay in East Lansing.

“Most of the international students travel to Chicago, New York and California because it’s cheaper to travel in the United States than back to China,” Martinez said.

The cause may call for future adjustments to be made.

“MSU has really shifted from being a graduate school for international students to a decidedly undergraduate school,” Briggs said.

More and more international students are admitted to MSU each year. It is uncertain as to which options provide better suitability for breaks including winter. Either way, international students have options when it comes to deciding how to spend their few weeks without class during the end of the year before spring semester arrives.

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MSU Graffiti: Students paint the town for class

MSU Graffiti: Students paint the town for class

From music notes to animals, to famous faces and sayings, painted graffiti covers the sidewalks and surroundings of MSU’s campus. But taking a closer look, one may notice a common theme of certain stencil-like art. Designs are featured from students in the Communication Arts and Sciences 111 class, the Digital Image.

“We had to come up with a stencil design matching our personality or something we liked, carve it out on cardboard and spray paint it in five different places on campus,” freshman Maya Sanches said.

It’s a unique assignment for those who have never had the opportunity to create or display their own artwork. It also forces students to look at who they are as a person and what image represents them. The task was to be done within a two-week time frame. Past years used real, permanent spray paint, but advertising professor Henry Brimmer had complaints from authorities on campus. So this year, students had to purchase chalk paint that comes off with water. Regardless of the changes made, some issues still arose.

“I got yelled at by the traffic lady because I was trying to spray the traffic light,” Sanches said.

Despite minor conflict, the project provided the possibility for creative expression. The next step included photographing the scenes where their logos were sprayed. Then students used Photoshop to manipulate the pictures to present to class.

Colorful and easily noticeable, the stencils provide a creative outlet and chance to show originality.  Make sure to check out the numerous symbols around campus.

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