I've just completed a Bachelor's in Web Design & Development and have been casting a wide net for employment opportunities, including internships, paid and unpaid. I was contacted by one company (offering an unpaid opportunity) that is getting started and needs to build a launch site. In order to select the proper candidate, they've asked that I submit design mockups for what will ultimately be a very visual and animation-heavy site.
What is raising some alarms for me is that the more I dig into the internship, this just sounds like free labor. If my mockups are selected as the best (I'm up against two other candidates), I will come on as the sole designer/developer of their site. Based on the site they gave me to review as an example of what they are looking for, this is going to be a lot of work, and is frankly a bit beyond my skill set. When I applied, I assumed that there would be an established developer to assist with the project and help me build my skills (as I always thought some part of internships includes on-the-job training, since normally it would be supplementing/replacing an academic course).
Is this typical of an internship with an up-and-coming company, with the possibility of future full-time work? Or is this just spec work, a way to get a free website? I've never had an internship, so don't feel qualified to judge.