I had been searching for openings for my first PR internship during my last year in college, and I received a call back to interview at a local agency. I was so excited that I had my first interview opportunity for an internship.
What Went Wrong
When I went on the interview, there were several red flags from the president that made me uneasy. When I received a call a few days later from the president's right-hand-man telling me they wanted me to be one of their summer interns, I ignored the red flags and uneasiness I had experienced during the interview because I was so excited about my first internship opportunity. To put it in a nutshell, the internship was a disaster, and it was three months of hell. The president treated me, the other interns and her employee like garbage. I was barely allowed to do any "real" PR work and practically had to beg to get any writing work that I could use for portfolio pieces. I worked mostly with her one full-time employee because she was so awful to deal with. He worked with me to get a few writing samples for my portfolio because I had to turn it in for a grade at the end of the semester and needed some examples of work I did at my internship. When the president learned that I was using client news releases in my portfolio that I had written, she accused me of stealing from her company and threatened to have her lawyer take legal action (even though I got approval from her employee). She also said she was going to give me a failing grade for my internship.
Everything turned out OK in the end because my professor completely sided with me once I explained the situation, and I didn't fail my internship. This experience taught me to never, ever again ignore my gut feelings and red flags. I knew something wasn't right about the president and her company during my interview, yet I ignored it because I really wanted a summer internship at an agency. I learned about several unethical things the president did during my time there and years after, and it further underscored how I never want to be that type of person or professional.