1

I'm going to start an internship with a company that is currently not well-liked in some parts of the world. I am kinda cash-straped, and not doing this internship would put me in a worse financial situation. Also, this is a very cool research position - I am very lucky to get this sort of job. Also, I didn't get any other satisfying position for this year (one internship was cancelled).

  1. Could having this company on my CV be a significant burden when applying to some jobs in the future? Will I be disqualified based only on that?

  2. What repercussions do I expect if I leave it off my resume in the future?

  3. If I search for jobs and this topic is brought up on an interview by a hostile interviewer, what could I do to mitigate the damage?

Disclaimer: I have zero ethical qualms regarding working for this company. I will be doing research that has nothing to do with the company's products, in a team consisting of good and honorable people from all over the world.

But, maybe some prospective employers will think bad of me for it.

EDIT: I already decided I want the internship. The question was just about what should I expect in the future, in case I don't continue my career with them.

1
  • What is a "hostile interviewer"?
    – Daniel
    Aug 28, 2020 at 8:33

4 Answers 4

5

The answer to this question really depends on why this company is hated in the industry, which is hard to know without knowing who the company is, which you can't say obviously. It's hard to give a catch-all answer, but here are some high-level considerations:

  1. This is a company. Which exists. And is able to pull together money to pay you to do research. That means they're probably pretty successful, despite people hating them. If I had to guess, the company you are going to intern for is either part of a Chinese conglomerate e.g. something owned by TenCent, or a US-based info-tech with questionable data security policies e.g. Facebook or Google. So they can't be that widely hated; if they're hated that much then they wouldn't be profitable and they would not have money to pay for critical features, nevermind esoterica like research. So I think you're overblowing how much the company is hated.

  2. Anyone can throw away anyone's resume for any reason, and "I worked for XYZ company in the past" is certainly a reason. A good reason? No. But definitely a reason. So while I can't say categorically that nobody will look at your resume and throw it in the garbage because it has this company's name on it, I also can't categorically say that nobody will look at your resume and see the hole in your work history during the time that you would have been working for this company and throw it in the garbage for that reason either. On balance of probabilities, especially since this is an internship and you probably don't have that much other work experience, I'd say "I have work experience" is better than "I have no work experience" even if the work experience is at an unscrupulous company.

  3. If this company is a large conglomerate (which it seems to be), they are probably doing some interesting stuff. I'd bet you any amount of money that, if you have Google's Big Data department on your resume and you go to interview somewhere else, the interviewing company is not going to ask you "so, how about Google selling people's data to other countries without their user's consent? Pretty shitty, huh?"; rather, they would probably ask you something like "so, you worked at Google's Big Data, how did you deal with having millions of data points per second streaming into your XXX database?" "People" can yell and scream as much as they want about hating whatever company, but when push comes to shove, that aspect is almost zero percent to actually come up in reality; a future interviewer will probably be more interested in what you did at the company vs what the company's policies are. I wouldn't worry about it.

4
  • 3
    “If I had to guess, the company you are going to intern for is either part of a Chinese conglomerate e.g. something owned by TenCent, or a US-based info-tech with questionable data security policies e.g. Facebook or Google.“ Oh, I could think of other companies that might be fairly hated. Philip Morris, Halliburton, EA, etc.
    – nick012000
    Aug 28, 2020 at 4:54
  • 2
    Why would anyone hate TenCent? I was thinking something more like Halliburton, you know, companies that are responsible for killing people. Aug 28, 2020 at 5:35
  • It's the "some parts of the world" thing that I was guessing with. Meaning, the company isn't hated everywhere. The OP is tagged "Europe" meaning it's probably a company that is active in Europe but hated somewhere outside of Europe. I guessed that that "somewhere" was the USA; if the OP wanted to move to the USA in the future for some reason, and the companies widely hated in the USA tend to be information-related, not military or environmental. That is, widely hated, of course a small subsection of people hate those types of countries, but "widely", I'd jump to info-tech.
    – Ertai87
    Aug 28, 2020 at 14:55
  • That said, it's not really worth arguing, it was just a guess. The point I wanted to make was that the company isn't a no-name company, they're probably very large.
    – Ertai87
    Aug 28, 2020 at 14:55
3

This really depends on the kind of bad reputation.

If it is like Nestle, people grumble about them, but virtually nobody cares much beyond angry social media threads.

If it is like Exxon, the anger is limited to a certain narrow segment of the population with an environmental focus. Planning on working in environmental conservation or renewable energy or Green party political campaigns? If not, there shouldn't be any issues.

If it is government, the stereotype is that government workers are not that skilled. I have encountered a fair bit of that (often overtly), but it takes about 5 minutes to overcome. It is a strong prejudice, but typically one which is weakly held.

Interview selection and interviewers are already highly volatile in what they want and what they will accept. I don't see this being a make or break thing in a career as it is either niche or something that can be overcome.

2
  • Yes, I was worried about some particular segments of the population not liking me for my past employer. But I guess they are not that significant in deciding who to hire, if I want to change employer someday. Aug 27, 2020 at 23:56
  • Even if you want to work, say at Greenpeace, experience with Exxon could give you a a good starting position. With insider info you could be more effective in campaigning against them!
    – Daniel
    Aug 28, 2020 at 8:40
2

Take the opportunity.

You apparently need the position, so take it. Worry about everything else in the future.

  1. Could it be a negative? Yes. But most companies have negatives somewhere in their organization or past. Don't worry about it; if a company will disqualify you because you only because you worked for company A, then they're probably not a company you'd want to work at anyway; and, they're also not going to look at you if you didn't have this internship on your resume.

  2. Can you leave it off a resume? Yes, if you want. Old jobs get stale; noone wants to know what you did five or ten years ago. Replace it with something more recent and/or relevant when you can. You might have to declare it in a background check - but that's not a resume.

  3. There are far fewer 'hostile interviewers' than you think. If it is discussed, you tell them why you were there, and what you were doing; as long as that bit is legal and ethical, you don't have to worry.

You can't change what people think of the company, but you can reframe it in your mind so that you have a quick relevant answer for them when they ask. In this current economic climate, it's a job that many people would love to have. Don't pass it up.

1

Agree. Take the position, and do "the very best, the most utterly professional work" that you possibly can do for them while you are there.

1
  • Did you maybe mean this as a comment to another answer? I don't get the "Agree". Aug 28, 2020 at 0:01

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .