Normally when something is bothering me I hit the kitchen and take my frustrations out on a batch of bread dough. Kneading dough is a marvelous stress reliever and you end up with a house that smells fantastic and something tasty for dinner as a side effect. However, the thermometer is in the triple digits today, the air conditioner is already complaining of overwork, and I can’t bring myself to turn on the oven. So I’m tossing this out on the web instead.
I had an experience this morning that is weighing on me. I had a job interview, which is usually straightforward. I either walk out feeling like I did well or like I’ve made a fool of myself and there’s no way this company will ever contact me. The questions they asked were not what I was expecting in general, but over all I think I handled it well.
The part that’s sticking with me? I was asked if I would be willing to do an unpaid internship as a trial period to see if I really am what they are looking for. I was startled by the request, it’s not what a person interviewing for a paying job expects. I thought it was unprofessional to ask someone to work without being paid for any amount of time in order to be hired and politely told the interviewer I prefer not to do professional work on an unpaid basis. He hinted that an intern would have a much higher chance of getting the job. I responded by explaining that I would still have to work somewhere else to pay the bills while doing an unpaid internship. Working two full time jobs isn’t good for me or an employer. The interviewer said he could respect that.
Still, the request is bothering me. As a friend pointed out (thanks M for the link) that asking for an unpaid internship before hiring someone violates labor laws. A company that does not take one labor law seriously may ignore others. It has me concerned about what else might be a problem if I do get offered the job.
The biggest thing for the moment, though, is the lack of respect this employer must have for me to even make the suggestion. I work for a living and I was there as a potential employee. Yet I was asked to donate a substantial amount of my time in order to prove my worth. I have a professional job history and a reputation as a professional. Yet I was told that my time and my work are not valuable enough to pay me immediately. The interviewer has expressed that he does not trust me enough to take a chance on paying me for work done for his company. Yet he expects me to trust him enough to put in hours of effort with no compensation in the hopes of getting paid at some time in the future.
I hope no one else agrees to work for this employer with no pay for any amount of time. And I hope this employer learns quickly that the best employees are people who value themselves enough not to tolerate such disrespect from an employer.