I was recently hired as an unpaid intern(though not through any school) for a company, in addition to my paid work as a freelancer. The suggestion was that into the deal I would be given training and help to reach the standards of the rest of the team, and if I stayed with them for long enough, a good reference from what I understood to be a fairly reputable company, and the chance of a proper paid position as well. I was taken on semi-formally in the sense that though the position was unpaid and remote working, I was asked to, and did, sign a fairly formal sounding NDA agreement before I began work on something that was essentially a new spin on Uber.

However, despite promises, in the event all the training that's been offered by the hiring manager is the suggestion I read a particular management techniques book; I am expected to hit the exact same targets as the paid staff, and when I do not am told the work is 'easy' and am ritually humiliated by having to report my lack of progress in daily web meetings. This makes me feel lesser to the other developers, all of whom have very significantly more experience in the field, and more particularly with the exact technologies, the code-base and the conventions used.

When I have asked the manager who hired me again for additional training and time he has rarely been available. He tells me he is working two jobs, one for a games design company and that he is exhausted. I feel that if he were not able to offer me proper training he should not have suggested he was able to do so. I also wonder what he has told the CEO about my abilities in advance, but I have no absolute reason to speculate here, other than an instinctual sense that something isn't quite right in that regard.

The problem is: I am in a bind, since I would very much like to be part of a winning team, and the other staff have been very nice to me and I have enjoyed working with them. However, I do not want to feel that I am being exploited or to feel further humiliated. Should I have left the company entirely or is there another way to do things?

(For those who may look at my profile this is nothing to do with the work I do for Simutronix, with whom I have had no problem whatsoever, and with whom I am more than happy to be continuing in employment.)

  • 5
    Working remotely as an intern is not doing intern work. You need to work with people and be mentored. The company is failing in its part of the agreement with the school. Have you talked with your contact at the school that the internship is being managed through – IDrinkandIKnowThings Apr 12 '17 at 19:08
  • I was not aware that internships were always arranged through a school. If that is so then I apologise for the lack of clarity in my wording. The arrangement was not through a school but has been a result of wanting to get into the industry after a period of self-taught retraining. I arranged it with the hiring manager directly after he found my services advertised on a freelancers' website. He oked it with the CEO separately and I was not party to the conversation. – Angular4 Kiddie Apr 12 '17 at 19:10
  • 5
    In the US what the company is doing would be illegal then. I do not know what country you are in or the laws there though. It sounds like you should be in more of an apprenticeship than an internship – IDrinkandIKnowThings Apr 12 '17 at 19:13
  • 6
    I suspect the company is breaking UK Laws as well. An unpaid internship is usually work for a non profit or public service in exchange for school credit and experience. The NDA you signed can not legally prevent you from discussing the terms of your employment with authorities. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Apr 12 '17 at 19:19
  • 2
    You should have a talk with a solicitor or the labor ministry. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Apr 12 '17 at 19:21

You're being exploited by this company. They didn't need or want an intern; they wanted another employee and figured they could save a few bucks by calling it an internship. This happens all the time, and there's really nothing for you to do but get out of there as quickly as possible (especially since there's no financial risk).

If you're doing work you should be paid either in money or in experience. If you're getting neither of those things then you're working for free, and being made fun of to boot. Focus more on your freelancing until you can find another company that will treat you with respect.

  • 6
    If you're doing work you should be paid in money and experience. No either. – Joe Apr 12 '17 at 21:27
  • Well, I personally agree, but unfortunately unpaid internships are common. – Keith Pickering Apr 14 '17 at 14:21

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.