I was a Diving intern on the November 2019 intake and was placed at Manta Dive in Gili Trawangan.
Firstly I want to talk about the opportunity that Paradise Interns offered. It was a massive leap of faith to fly to Indonesia completely alone and to join a bunch of strangers and people often said I was crazy for doing it. But having spoken with the programme co-ordinator Anna I was confident that this wasn't a con and that it was going to be the experience of a lifetime. And immediately I want to say that yes it really was. From the point when I started, I absolutely fell in love with the place and the people. I have definitely made friends on the course which I know I will still speak to for years to come. Paradise Interns gave me that opportunity to meet like-minded people who shared my passion for scuba diving and marketing and for that I will forever be grateful.
The bootcamp was also brilliant. Pronoia community was a bit run down but is due to be renovated. It didn't really bother me too much because the complex was massive and safe. We were a group of 20 interns and the complex had volleyball courts, a restaurant, lecture hall, 100m walk to the beach, 2 swimming pools and a football pitch! It was amazing.
The programme itself was in-depth and complex. There's definitely no denying that this is a serious course and one that you need to be switched on to learn and build a strong depth in social media marketing and how it all operates. I always felt exhausted at the end of the lessons as we crammed in as much as possible but I enjoy that way of learning.
When I got to my placement in Gili Trawangan the dive shop was incredible. I found it tricky to fit in at first as the shop was a well-established community but after a few weeks, I had found my place and fell in love with the island and all the people in it. Manta Dive is an amazing place to do this internship as you are surrounded by creative people who come together to make as much entertaining content as possible. That's the reason I wanted to do this internship and I was placed in the dive shop that suited my abilities best. That was a great judgement call by Anna when she decided where to place me.
Overall there is a lot of positives I will take away from my time on the internship, however, there were some fundamental flaws that have left an extremely sour taste in my mouth and would result in me not recommending the programme to anybody in the future.
The biggest issue that myself and other interns struggled with was the deposit scheme. All interns pay a $1000USD deposit at the start of the internship. If work is not completed the finances are withdrawn from that deposit. There is differing amounts for differing discrepancies. There is also a warning system in place with multiple warnings before you start losing money. It added a lot of pressure to our already extensive workload though and the discrepancies included extremely small details such as not tagging other accounts.
The initial 2 months of the internship were fine, then one day I was fined over $440 for missing stories and not tagging accounts. As were many other interns. A completely flawed penalty system was in place where they used up every single warning in one go and then immediately started fining us. This came one week after Anna explained in our personal check-in that I was overachieving. The analytics were showing growth for the Dive shop. My shop was extremely happy with the content I was producing and the results it was getting. What is the point of having a warning system if it doesn't actually alert you that you are at risk of being penalised?
There was also an issue with communication about my visa. Prior to my arrival at the internship, I emailed several times about my passport and visa. I was told it would be fine and (the lawyers) were looking into it. It turned out to not be true. The visa was an issue which reoccurred throughout my time. The most notable time was the evening before I had a 7am flight to Singapore for a visa run, they informed me that because of the issue with my passport I had messaged them several times about I was having to change my flights to Kuala Lumpur. The cost was covered by Paradise Interns but the stress of that situation meant that me being able to remain in Indonesia was in the balance. I felt this issue could have been resolved well in advance when I was trying to communicate my issue with them.
Another issue was how they handled the Covid-19 outbreak. I had to leave the course 2 months before my internship ended. We learnt after a meeting that Paradise Interns had infact already spent all of our deposits on securing the Bootcamp location for 2 more years. Parade Interns were then going to be paying our deposit money back from future income they earnt. They had spent everybody's deposits. So not only were we getting fined left right and centre but it turns out the money had already been spent.
There was no guarantee that any of us would see a penny of our deposit back again, even if the individual hadn't received any fines and done the entire required workload. Not only is it unethical to spend our deposits but the fact that entering these unprecedented times was going to leave many of us in financial ruin. It is of popular opinion now that the way things are being run with remaining interns is to force as many to exit the programme as possible.
The internship is completely against any sort of feedback. Having returned to the Western world I needed to get a full-time job immediately. When I asked Anna if there was any consideration for this I was told 'it is not up for discussion'. When I gave her possible solutions which would benefit all parties she continued along the 'it is not up for discussion' route.
My final communication with Anna before deciding to exit the course is when she focused on my lack of communication with them as the only issue. There was no consideration for their wrong doings. No apology. No acknowledgement that they had also made mistakes. When it was Paradise Interns in the wrong it was 'just where we're at'.
I will always have a high level of respect for everything Anna has achieved. We always felt leaving lectures with her that she was brilliant at teaching and engaging with us. The downside of the internship is the business side of things. It is still relatively young in terms of a business so the flaws that I faced should hopefully be ironed out in the future but the lack of consideration for feedback makes me think that it will just be more of the same.
If you are doing this course to be scuba diving, I recommend just doing your divemaster as it will be more cost-effective.