Is there a way to say this? It has become a standard practice for small startup to take advantages of people with little work experience. They make you work for 3 months for free and then they let you go. How do you say that you're working for free for experience/training?

For example:

I joined a startup and ___ and they let me go after 3 months.

2 Answers 2


You could say, I did a 3-month internship at Company A. I am currently doing an internship with Company B.

Then perhaps add, that you may or may not be hired on full-time at Company B, depending on how Company B's startup offering fares in the market.

Then, be prepared to discuss what you learned during your internship at Company A, what skills you acquired, what contacts you made, in a positive way. And, of course, the same for your experiences at Company B.

Ultimately, it is up to you to be selective in choosing which of these "internships" to take on, and choose the ones that will best prepare you to be appealing to employers who will pay you. What in-demand skills will this internship provide you?


The practice of getting work experience for little or no pay is termed internship. However, what you describe would be considered fraudulent. An intern should expect to know the terms of employment in advance, and should be told the time-limit and compensation.

Incidentally, intern can also mean imprisonment, as in the Japanese internment of World War II. This is a quite different denotation of the word! Work conditions should be be as forced labor.

  • Such practices are not fraudulent if the terms are clear up front. Yes, I know that some companies do this in a fraudulent way. For other employers, it could be a legitimate way to ensure they only hire employees who actually prove their value to the company, and to give an opportunity to job-seekers who may not have the academic credentials or experience, but can do the work well if given an opportunity. Apr 18, 2019 at 5:08
  • @Developer63, yes, interning is a reasonable way to gain experience and to get recommendations. However, the question stated, "They make you work for 3 months for free and then they let you go." Apr 18, 2019 at 6:04
  • Agreed, and we are getting one side of the story. I have heard recent mention from my Indian colleagues of dishonest employers who defraud job-seekers this way. When I started out 35 years ago, part of my academic program was an unpaid 6-week internship. Many of those employers hired the interns if they performed well. At the time, I completed my internship, but took another offer. That internship 35 years ago was a valuable part of my career development. Apr 19, 2019 at 19:37

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