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  1. #1
    Diving into Ni-space Crescent Fresh's Avatar
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    Default Should I offer to work for free?

    There’s a job opening at this advertising agency but I do not have the relevant qualification as I've only had a few years of teaching experience.

    Though I really have a HUGE passion to work in an ad firm, and even if there's no equivalent job post, I'm considering to give it a shot.

    I know this may sound too desperate but I am indeed in a desperate situation as I couldn't find any jobs from the past 6 months. Now I just realized I had to do anything just to get in and then hopefully there'll be a spot for me as I'll make myself an insider, and that could make all the difference. One analysis of hiring in the current economy shows that “inside” hiring has dramatically increased — half of available jobs are filled by people already inside the company. And that doesn’t count employee referrals anyways.

    Perhaps I should look for internship? But wouldn't it be odd to compete against fresh graduate as I'm already 26 years old?

    Are there any good advice for me to ace this if I happen to land an interview?

    Anyways here's the company's job description:

    Job Description

    I have a job for the restless ones.

    If you have a passion for insight, cool ideas, learning, common sense and culture - then read on.

    X is renovating & uppgrading as an agency, looking fo the best talent to do truly strategy & creative led work. The opportunity is simple: join & influence the hottest agency, in one of it's most important functions.

    Planning is a rare field - but we're offering a place where you can learn and develop in the most repsectful and encouraging agency environments. Coming to X means you not only have to bring your smarts, but you must have a truly collaborative spirit.

    I'm looking for people that can lead but learn. Someone who loves to listen as much as they do tell stories. People with a POV, are fearless with sharing their ideas, and aren't afraid to ask stupid questions.

    And here's what they seek:

    Desired Skills & Experience

    Planning experience is always desired, but the brain & attitude is more important and I'm willing to talk to anyone in related fields e.g.

    Accounts or creative, digital, media & experiential marketing experience
    Client side, FMCG or entertainment
    PR
    Journalism
    Market research
    Design
    Sociology, anthropology, linguistics, philosophy
    Any job that requires curiosity, creativity, and a little business savvy


    I don't have any 'practical' experience in design though I've always been fascinated in arts and design. I did create various nifty powerpoint and keynotes presentation as part of my lecture, along with various speech scripts to help my students to prepare for speech contests (yes, I know how odd this is but that's the culture where teachers have to personally write a speech for students for contests).

    I'm thinking of offering to work for free though I am not sure if I should state how long I'll be able to (I can do that for two months) as I don't want to sound too desperate. I'm really desperate as my financial situation won't last me for the next three months and I just can't sit and wait for jobs any longer. Any advice and suggestion will be greatly appreciated as I have no one to count on in this foreign place.

  2. #2
    Away with the fairies Southern Kross's Avatar
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    Default

    My sympathies my friend, I've been in the same situation. It can be a option if you can afford to do it.

    HOWEVER, make sure you set some firm rules/limitations/goals with the employer. This is very important and you will probably get more out of it if you do so. In one experience, I was at the place for one day before they offered to pay me for the rest of the week. In another experience, it went on indefinitely, vague promises were not kept, and my desperation and good will was totally exploited - and all this was done by a boss I liked, admired and formed a friendship with. Don't get yourself in this situation.

    Say you will work for free but set up a meeting and make an agreement about how its going to happen. You don't need to talk about your financial situation (its not their business) and don't worry about setting boundaries - its a give and take situation you just have to make it clear that you need to get something out of it too (ie. you're not willing to be their slave). Things to that need to be defined:

    - explain that you are looking to get into that field and need some experience to get you started
    - emphasize what you can offer them if they give you an opportunity (even if only enthusiasm, diligence etc)
    - firmly set a period you are available to work for free (eg. 6 weeks)
    - ask what sort of what sort of work could they offer - only errand running or more involved work?
    - are they willing to provide some training or some general help to learn new skills? (ie. can they give you something solid to put on your CV?)
    - state that you'd like to prove to them, your worth as an employee/the skills you can offer/your willingness to learn etc
    - then ask, that if you do so, would they be able offer you a entry-level position, even if only temporary or part-time? (if they don't have them money to employ another person its best to know this up front)
    - OR would they be able to provide you a good reference and solid suggestions as to where you might find work?

    Its important to know exactly what you hope to achieve by it, rather than blindly hoping that everything will turn out for the best (believe me I know)
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    they've gone through and through me, like wine through water, and altered the colour of my mind.

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  3. #3
    Senior Member Survive & Stay Free's Avatar
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    They talked about this sort of working for free internships in the UK, its become a sort of legal mechanism for social exclusion, the families of wealthy old money which can afford to support their children once they graduate from universities to work for free for long enough and at an advantage when it comes to elite recruitment to positions such as advertising or other corporate careers. Interesting.

  4. #4
    Lay the coin on my tongue SilkRoad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lark View Post
    They talked about this sort of working for free internships in the UK, its become a sort of legal mechanism for social exclusion, the families of wealthy old money which can afford to support their children once they graduate from universities to work for free for long enough and at an advantage when it comes to elite recruitment to positions such as advertising or other corporate careers. Interesting.
    This is a major issue in industries such as journalism or publishing, where I've worked for a few years. You pretty much have to do free internships to get in and it's thus pretty much restricted to middle class and above. Some people will openly acknowledge that this is the case and that it should change, others look shocked if you so much as bring it up and deny that it's a fact...but EVERYONE knows it's true. I was lucky to get in starting with temp work, but unfortunately I got stuck with contracts and temp work for years. And the economy was in much better shape then, and I was older than a lot of people trying to get into publishing and at least had job experience - plus a couple of personal contacts.

    Anyway...

    Aw Crescent I'm not sure what to suggest. I think Southern's suggestions are good if you try to go this route. Could you try and get something less in line with your interests/experience just for a while, to tide you over?
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  5. #5
    4x9 cascadeco's Avatar
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    I have never 'offered' to work for free, but I have accepted two non-paid internships/volunteer things at different times in my life. I was financially able to do so, though, as I had money in savings (and in one of the two cases, there was government housing I was placed in, so I didn't have to pay for rent). My main driver for both instances was not having any experience in the fields, and my being curious about the fields / wanting to gain that experience. There was no way I was in the running for actual paid jobs, without that experience. So for me I viewed it as quite a 'win' -- I got the experience to put on my resume, and that experience could also easily help me with other types of jobs as well.

    As for offering to work without pay, when the company isn't posting these non-paid positions of their own accord, I think Southern Kross' advice is good.
    "...On and on and on and on he strode, far out over the sands, singing wildly to the sea, crying to greet the advent of the life that had cried to him." - James Joyce

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  6. #6
    Nips away your dignity Fluffywolf's Avatar
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    If you're looking for a job in a market where 90% of the other solliciters have better 'qualifications' than you, but you really want the job and feel like you can do just a good a job as those with better qualifications, but can deal with the financial loss of working for a period for free, then that's a good way to get into the market, but you HAVE to prove yourself in that time so they'll stick with you once that free internship is over. So it's risky, I'd try to set up a contract where you, for example, work a period for free and add a period in which you work for normal pay. So they can't dump too easily. Like a contract for a year where you work the first 6 months for free or something like that.

    Also, free should not be entirely free, make sure you arrange the pensions and insurances properly etc.
    ~Self-depricating Megalomaniacal Superwolf

  7. #7
    Lay the coin on my tongue SilkRoad's Avatar
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    The thing is I think it's just so far from there being any guarantee of getting a job out of an internship. A lot of companies live off free interns, in certain industries. And they may hint that the person is very likely to get a job out of it but then in practice it almost never happens. Not always, of course, but I think that's too common.
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  8. #8
    4x9 cascadeco's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SilkRoad View Post
    The thing is I think it's just so far from there being any guarantee of getting a job out of an internship. A lot of companies live off free interns, in certain industries. And they may hint that the person is very likely to get a job out of it but then in practice it almost never happens. Not always, of course, but I think that's too common.
    I don't think it's wise to go into an internship thinking you'll get a job with *that company* after the fact. Also, the fact of the matter is that if they have yearly interns, there is a lineup of interns all looking to get into that company. There isn't going to be a job available for every single intern who works there - it's not like there's an infinite creation of entry level jobs. In the end, all of this is competitive -- even landing the entry level jobs that open up now and again. An internship may increase your likelihood of getting a job with the company (i.e. networking aspect) - but nothing more. It's definitely not something that should be expected.

    Again, I think it's good to go into it with the pure aim of gaining real-world job experience. Something to put on the resume - to talk about in future interviews with *other* employers / for other jobs. A lot of skills can translate into other jobs.
    "...On and on and on and on he strode, far out over the sands, singing wildly to the sea, crying to greet the advent of the life that had cried to him." - James Joyce

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  9. #9
    Diving into Ni-space Crescent Fresh's Avatar
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    First off, thanks for all of the advice you guys have given. It's just been a rough week for me as I've never felt this discouraged before.

    But yes, I think you guys are right about offering to work for free may not be a wise thing to do as it does immediately put me in desperate category in the eyes of the company. Not a wise move certainly.

    Although I have no portfolio, I've decided to create a few no matter how novice it may look as I don't have adequate skills. Though I think this is an option which hopefully will land me at least an interview so that I can have a better insight about what most advertising agencies expect from the interviewee.

    Getting an interview is what I'm focusing on right now, and wish me luck as well.

    Thanks everyone.

  10. #10
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    I cannot say on the work for free thing as I don't know the ad industry but:

    -Its ok to be 26 and competing with undergrads. You are going for what you LIKE - there is nothing that does not justify this pursuit
    -How do you think freshmen build portfolios? By working for free and then charging money as they get better.

    Now my advice: Go and work for free. Get the experience, at least you will have something to put in your resume. Then go charge money.

    People DO go for money first and satisfaction second but I found that this means a delay in acquiring relevant experience/skills. This delay then magnifies into other and more serious delays which happen as you get older and more unsuitable for the job. The only condition that I set for myself where I give money more priority is when I foresee having a hard time putting food on the table.

    If you like it, go for it.

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