This correspondent has highlighted a problem which is relatively new to us – agencies which set up internships for University students in foreign countries. Here is one example of how this can go wrong. Please note: we are unable to fact check the stories we receive and our correspondent takes responsibility for their version of events.
I would like to share my experience with the agency called Spain Internship
For the service of the agency I paid 490 euros. The agency was supposed to find me a marketing internship for 4 months in Barcelona. When I came to Barcelona it turned out that the website on which I was supposed to work had closed and the only tasks they had for me to do were translations of the descriptions of pet products.
After one month, after coming back from work, without any previous notice and without any formal explanation, I received an e-mail from the agency that my internship has been cancelled and I am not allowed to go to work the next day. The reason was supposed to be “the disagreement about the salary” – a few days earlier I asked my boss why I am paid less than the other interns. The agency refused to send me more explanations, writing me things like: “We will not lose more time on this” and “we will not answer you anymore”. No one talked to me personally. They also did not give me back the money which I paid for the service – even though in the contract it was stated that after arranging the internship the cancellation will not be possible. I also did not receive or sign any kind of document which would confirm the end of the internship and I was not allowed to enter the office where I worked and I could not go and ask for any explanations.
The agency also claimed that they contacted my University, however it turned out that no message to my University was sent. After I posted a formal complaint to my University and contacted my Erasmus coordinator, the University decided to remove the agency’s offers from their website and put the agency on the “black list”. Moreover, while I was trying to get back the money which I paid for arranging the internship, both the boss of the company where I worked and the agency tried to convince me that none of them is responsible for the decision about the cancellation of my internship.
Because of the whole situation I lost not only the money which I paid to the agency, but also I had to pay for my room in Barcelona in advance and I purchased a 3-month train ticket to be able to travel to work. What is more, I had to return the grant to my University in order to be able to sign a new contract for the internship. I believe that even if there were any kind of problems at the company in which I worked, a professional agency should not behave in this way and should not treat their customers like this. The agency claims that it was the second time that they cancelled someone’s internship – personally, I believe that this kind of situations should never happen.