January 11, 2012

Should You Blog About Your Internship Experience?

Although blogging can be a great way to gain exposure and hone your writing skills, interns should take care when it comes to publicly sharing their thoughts and experiences on the job. You never know who will read what you put on the Internet, and once it's out there you can never take it back. Many companies have confidentiality and/or social media policies that you should familiarize yourself with before you mention your internship online. If a policy is not brought to your attention, check with the HR department or your supervisor before beginning to blog about your internship.

In 2006, an intern at Comedy Central (which did not have an explicit policy at the time) was asked to stop using the company's name and revealing company information on his personal blog. He was lucky enough to not be asked to leave, but I'm sure it probably created some tension on the job and articles on his situation will forever come up when a potential employer conducts web search for his name. So even if your company doesn't have an explicit policy, that does not guarantee you will not find yourself in an uncomfortable situation should you reveal too much. If you are not sure what is appropriate, either ask or refrain from mentioning your internship at all.

In addition, here are a few legal considerations for you to think about if you decide to write about your internship online:

Copyright

Don't post any content or media that was not created by you without obtaining permission from the appropriate people. Posting a demo or unreleased recording obtained from your recording studio internship without the permission of the studio owner, performer, writer, and/or record label is definitely a bad idea. Even copying and pasting a photograph from your employer's website to your blog could be copyright infringement. To be safe, make sure that everything on your blog was fully created by you.

If part of your internship involves blogging or otherwise creating content for the company, do not post on your personal blog what you have produced for your employer without permission. This is because (depending on the circumstances) what you have created could be considered a "work for hire," which means that your employer owns the copyright in those company blog posts, not you.


Trademark

Look at whether someone could think by the use of the company's name, logo, or slogan on your blog that the company endorses or runs your blog. If it is possible that someone could be confused over who is involved in your blog, your employer could potentially have a trademark claim against you. It is often best to not mention what company you are interning with at all. This is not only for trademark reasons, but also to help avoid the potential privacy and confidentiality problems discussed below.


Confidential Information

Be careful to not mention any of your company's trade secrets, anything that is subject to a non-disclosure agreement (whether you signed it or not), or any other information that you employer may not want the general public to know. This means that if you know how big an advance the label you are working for is privately offering to an up-and-coming artist, you should keep this information to yourself. If you are privy to information solely because of your internship, it is likely not yours to blab.


Privacy Rights

Stay away from posting office gossip and disclosing private information about your co-workers or the company's clients. Avoid writing about co-workers and clients at all, and especially don't reveal identifying information about them. Writing the wrong thing could open you up to being sued for defamation, public disclosure of private facts, false light, or various other causes of action.

Even if you take care to not mention where you work or reveal any other details, a good rule of thumb is to not write anything that you wouldn't want your employer to read. It's not hard to figure out who is writing what on the Internet, so don't assume that if you anonymously write something less than flattering you won't be found out. If you are unhappy with your internship, this is something you need to discuss with your supervisor - not something that should be aired out on the Internet for all to see.

- Lauren
Lauren@internlikearockstar.com | Twitter: @MusicN3rd