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to be biting my tongue and think they are being twits about jobs/unpaid experience?

(229 Posts)
LRDtheFeministDragon Wed 14-Nov-12 08:53:02

I am this close to snapping back about this so just want to see if I am BU or if you can tell me to be a nicer person.

A few days ago I was asked to publicize a competition which has been set up to give people an unpaid position, while they're looking for the paid equivalent. They'd also get space to work and access to various subscription-only stuff you'd need. Jobs are very competitive so there are lots of people who will be in the position of not having found one yet, so the fact this is competitive too, means it would be better on your CV than a blank.

Obviously I know it won't be for everyone. It isn't anything to do with me as an initiative - I was literally just asked to spread the word. So I did. People now keep responding and asking what it's for, saying they don't see why it's made competitive 'as they could just give it to everyone' and saying it's pointless as it doesn't pay anything. I replied a couple of times saying why I thought it was being offered and I'm now giving up.

Am I being unreasonable to think they are being idiots? Here they are, they haven't managed to get jobs, but they're turning their noses up at this and seem to have no understanding why there might be competition for it. I made it clear I am just passing on information and am still getting these stupid snooty comments about how they wouldn't choose to do this, etc. etc.

I am so tempted to reply pointing out that beggars can't be choosers. AIBU?

MsFanackerPants Wed 14-Nov-12 09:18:29

So essentially it's an unpaid internship or free labour for the employer? Apart from the prize of 'getting experience' what else does it offer? I can see why people would find it annoying. Not only are they already facing a competitive job application process but now even working for free is being made harder!
How long is the free working for? What sort of work will they do? Will it really benefit them or will it mostly benefit the employer? I can see why people are annoyed!

givemeaclue Wed 14-Nov-12 09:23:17

It's good to give work experience, I have 3 interns and all have got very good jobs from it. However why on earth would it be competition? What do they have to do to "win"?

fuzzpig Wed 14-Nov-12 09:23:37

But normal internships are competitive aren't they? You don't just wander into one, you have to compete by making your application/interview better than everyone else's.

Is it just luck that will select the winner, like picking their name out of a hat, or will you be selecting the best applicant?

GalaxyDefender Wed 14-Nov-12 09:25:35

See, as an unemployed person, I was immediately torn. Half of me is going give me that job NOW, while the other half is going but that's essentially taking advantage of people desperate for a job, isn't it?

I imagine the people making snooty comments are more inclined towards the latter of those. Also, a lot of people wouldn't be able to do a job (I get the impression it's basically the normal job, just not being paid?) if it wasn't paying, because how would they pay bills and so forth? These sorts of things are probably why people are being so incredulous about a non-paying job being a "prize".

MsFanackerPants Wed 14-Nov-12 09:25:40

Isn't the legality of interns being unpaid somewhat dubious? Unless somebody is a volunteer then they should be being paid.

As a minimum does the 'winner' get expenses?

LRDtheFeministDragon Wed 14-Nov-12 09:28:02

It's not really free labour for the employer. I was trying not to give too many details - but it's a research post sponsored by a university, so the university only gets the (fairly unimportant) benefit of being able to say 'so and so is working as our unpaid researcher', nothing more.

I did think normal internships tended to be competitive.

I can totally understand people not being able to afford to do this job for free. But there is nothing I can see to stop them having a paid job at the same time, so it's not impossible.

And they don't have to go for it.

AThingInYourLife Wed 14-Nov-12 09:28:22

You can't see why people are irritated at being asked to apply for the prize of being exploited?


ConfusedPixie Wed 14-Nov-12 09:28:27

But if you're on job seekers for being out of work, a position like that would make you lose it.

Unless this is a position which would likely have candidates with enough savings that they aren't eligible for job seekers, in which case, they have nothing to lose.

LRDtheFeministDragon Wed 14-Nov-12 09:31:45

Ok, sorry, I should have put more detail in my OP.

But I honestly don't think this is exploitative.

The organization offering these positions doesn't benefit - it just gives these people space to work in and access to research materials. Those are really expensive to subscribe to on your own.

I can understand someone thinking they simply can't afford to take up the offer because they'd lose job seekers or because they wouldn't be able to use the space/facilities as they're busy with another job. I'd be in that position myself (I'm not even eligible to apply).

But I don't see why they are getting at me for spreading the word about something that could be good on their CV and could provide them with free access.

MsFanackerPants Wed 14-Nov-12 09:33:30

LRD. Would the winner have set hours send duties and be doing work independently? Or would they be observing and shadowing?
If the former it should be paid. if the latter it would be considered work shadowing.

Has this been thoroughly checked with HR?

LRDtheFeministDragon Wed 14-Nov-12 09:36:03

MsF - no, no set hours/duties - they're asked to say what they plan to do, but there's no obligation to do it (it's just assumed it'd be in their best interests to do it anyway). I assume they'd be doing it alongside a paid job.

They wouldn't be observing or shadowing.

I've no idea if it's been checked with HR. As I say - I really was just passing the word on. This is partly why I'm annoyed I'm getting all these comments from people turning their noses up at it - if I were eligible I would love to apply for this and I feel put down that they're all saying they're too good for it while not actually managing to get jobs either! It annoys me because if no-one takes it up this year, I assume it won't be offered again, when I could actually benefit.

HappyTurquoise Wed 14-Nov-12 09:36:34

There was a contest like this locally, for artists to submit artwork for a competition for having work displayed in a local art gallery for the competition if short-listed in top 100, studio space to work in for the year, and clearly a good deal of advertising. It would be an ideal business start up for the right person. I just couldn't risk giving up my cleaning job to do it, but it was very tempting and I am regretting not taking part. I would still want to support it, would love to go to the exhibition and support the winner.
Please don't give up advertising things like this, they are a great start for good British talant.

ParsingFancy Wed 14-Nov-12 09:38:16

Do you think the ad is poorly worded?

Eg does it advertise "position as researcher", which is normally a paid job, when it should say, "opportunity to access research facilities"?

If it's the latter, of course, there can be no set duties by the organization.

LRDtheFeministDragon Wed 14-Nov-12 09:38:17

See, that's sort of how I felt happy - I can understand why someone might not feel it's right for them, but it's still good to know this sort of thing exists.

I hope maybe soon you will be able to take up your artwork competition, that sounds great stuff.

ParsingFancy Wed 14-Nov-12 09:38:33


LRDtheFeministDragon Wed 14-Nov-12 09:39:49

parsing - it says quite clearly 'non-stipendiary' position.

I think the point of calling it a position, as opposed to an opportunity to access the facilities, is that, that way, you could put it on your CV and explain you competed with x number of other people to get it, so that it would at least be clear you were competitive even if you'd not managed to get a paid job yet. Or that's how I saw it.

MoreBeta Wed 14-Nov-12 09:40:49

LRD - it is not a job. People want a job.

I used to work as an academic and frankly anyone coming out of a PhD can probably access reasearch material for free through their old university.

Working as an unpaid researcher is just exploitation and a lot of universities are at it because their research funding has been cut. They used to pay post doctoral researchers a small cost of living stipend but increasingly not.

No doubt this intern will be producing something that wil be used and published by another paid full time academic researcher once they leave?

AThingInYourLife Wed 14-Nov-12 09:41:59

Well access to facilities is a prize someone might want to win.

A research "post" for no pay, not so much.

Who will own the results of the research?

LRDtheFeministDragon Wed 14-Nov-12 09:43:44

Actually, no, we can't all access material - not after a certain point.

Maybe you are right, working unpaid is exploitation.

I just find it so hard to see, because I would jump at the security of having something to put on my CV between finishing and getting a paid job. And having access to a workspace and library and so on. It would be great.

Obviously a paid job in academia would be better, but they don't grow on trees and I do honestly think it's true that even good candidates are getting turned down. So having six months of a year in which you can do your normal make-ends-meet paid job and access a workspace and a library, and have this on your CV - to me it sounds perfect.

LRDtheFeministDragon Wed 14-Nov-12 09:44:19

athing - well, whoever did the research would 'own' it in the sense it would be published under their name.

HappyTurquoise Wed 14-Nov-12 09:45:45

LRD, ignore the nay sayers and keep advertising. To stop now will mean word won't get out to people who really should apply for something like this, and the winner will be in a much better place to do well in their chosen career, and be able to carry with them into their future roles all the experiences, contacts, free advice and tuition that they get from the placement.

Floggingmolly Wed 14-Nov-12 09:46:43

Years ago, it was perfectly normal to work for subsistence money on an internship, or while you "served your time" in manual jobs. I'm 38, and I worked for 2 years in an Accountancy practice for practically nothing, while I qualified.
It's only this entitled generation who expect to bounce out of school with 3 GCSE's and find the world on a plate, waiting for them to choose.
Of course they're being ridiculous.

ParsingFancy Wed 14-Nov-12 09:50:54

That's the source of the grief then. It's being advertised as an unpaid job, to which many people object in principle.

If it were being headlined as a an opportunity to do your own thing, that would get different responses.

People can put it on their CV anyway - after all, a degree/PhD isn't a job either. It's perfectly easy to make it clear entry was competitive without calling it a "position" (often synonymous with "job").

HullyEastergully Wed 14-Nov-12 09:51:07

I agree with you LRD

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