DON'T WORK FOR FREE
The Lengthy Project
After passing their initial phone screening, a startup wanted me to develop a project. They wanted to test if I was the real deal. Fair enough, right? I'm compiling all the data, doing the research, and finally start chipping away at this project. It's late at night and I've put in at least 3-5 hours so far. As I'm going through the motions, it hits me. Hits me hard. What am I doing?! Wait a second, I'm doing work for free! I'm not going to sugarcoat it, I felt stupid and foolish. How'd I fall into such a scheme? This is why: I was unemployed at the time and excited about the opportunity. The next day, I emailed them and said I was making progress but couldn't complete the lengthy project until I was hired. I never heard from them again.
The Pyramid Scheme
I submitted my resume to a position at a sports marketing agency and was invited for an in-person interview. I walked into the waiting room and all these fairly young employees kept walking by, one of which was dressed in a very short unprofessional tight dress and not-for-the-office platform heels. My gut was telling me, why are you here? While I waited, I made small talk with the receptionist. I asked her about her experience working there. Her answers didn't quite help my instinct but a bit after that I was called in.
The gentleman asked about my experience and then continued with a conversation that went like this: "So Rocio, you're going to have to go to this event and try to sell these products. And Rocio, you're going to backup our people. Rocio, we're not going to pay you for the event but it's going to teach you some valuable lessons. Rocio, you're going to shadow this other person and then come back. But Rocio, always remember that...Rocio...Rocio..." When I walked out the door, I Usain Bolted to my car.
DON'T SETTLE FOR GOOD ENOUGH
If you're ever in a similar predicament, walk away or like I did, pretend you're an Olympic athlete. Just because you're seeking new opportunities does not mean you have to take the first thing that comes your way. DON'T SETTLE!
"Trust your gut above all other guides. When your gut says 'I don't trust these people,' listen to it. You deserve a great job with ethical and upright people who value you and aren't afraid to show it." - Liz Ryan
I realize bills need to get paid, mouths need to be fed, and so on. However, don't feel like it is your last line. If a possible employer is being picky, unreasonable, trying to get free work from you, repeats your name a zillion amount of times – walk away. You don't need that in your life. You deserve better.
KEEP YOUR HEAD HIGH, YOUR IDEAL POSITION IS OUT THERE
This is temporary. If you need advice while in your search, don't be afraid to ask for help. Remember
Keep smiling. Keep grinding. Keep being positive.
More than anything, coming from experience – trust your gut instinct!