This post is probably a little hard for me to articulate without sounding too naive or at worst, on the extreme side of things, stupid but lets take a roller coaster ride and pass through all the things you might experience as a uni student trying to graduate with more than just an A4 sheet of paper with pretty little stamps.
I am not at a place in my life, where I can be dictating what sort of work I will and won’t do (unless of course it goes against my moral code). As a uni student (going into my 4th year) it can be hard trying to step outside into “the real world,” with no experience or credibility to back you up in the work force. You sometimes just have to throw yourself in the deep end and hope for the best.
This deep end could be internships, work experience, or working on a start up company with someone else. The list of things you can do to enhance your skills is endless. Sometimes the deep end is unpaid and for the most part, that doesn’t really matter because if all goes well, the experience you gain from that internship or work experience, is invaluable and if you weren’t doing it for money, then the experience you gain is more than enough. Big green tick for your resume!
But you can’t shy away from the fact that after a while of doing things for free it does get to a point where you feel like you might be seasoned enough and confident in your area of expertise to ask for more. Even if it’s not a monetary gain. ANY compensation of some sort, to acknowledge the effort and time you would have spent producing work that someone is probably getting paid hundreds/thousands to do, surely isn’t a big ask? Maybe it is? According to a Forbes article:
Unpaid internships are meant to be the exception, not the norm. –Denali Tietjen
But as student’s and I am speaking from my perspective and the unpaid work is just one side of it but how to actually cope when you start working is a whole thing on its own. It can all get a little overwhelming and so it’s always nice to have a few reminders/pointers that keep you in check. Here are mine:
Always Ask For It In Writing.
This might be an obvious when for most of you. Whenever someone asks you to do anything work related, no matter how small or insignificant it may seem to you. ASK FOR IT IN WRITING! It might not always be feasible or realistically possible to sign a contract but a work agreement of some sort could really save you. It also ensures you understand what you are getting yourself into and if things are no longer adding up, you have the piece of writing to refer to and make the call the continue working with that person or find a respectable way to exit.
You might be thinking because you are a student you employer or work partner will take it easy on you. That is not always the case. Some people really aren’t trying to give you a free ride, just because you are a university student. Always be one step ahead and take initiative. Ask a bucket load of questions. Yes that might make you irritating for a while but at least you are not making assumptions as you go along.
Thick Skin Baby!
-Ann Marie Houghtailing
You really need to leave your emotions out of what you do. I’m not saying be a heartless prick but don’t over analyze, don’t take things personally. Apologize when you should and most of all learn from your mistakes and failed attempts. That is how you get your thick skin. By trying over and over again when everything inside you is weak and exhausted.
Respect The Work Environment, Not Everyone Is Your Friend.
It’s so easy to get trapped in the “work friend zone.” Not that kind of friend zone fam! The “work friend zone” I just made up 2 minutes ago while writing this, which by my definition means your work partners don’t have the greatest intentions or feelings towards you but they have lured you into thinking that you really are a team beyond all that paper work.
You might be blindsided by the fact that you are having a great chat about about your cats new toy, which might lead to an even greater yarn about how your boo messed with another girl or how Daquan is now back with Tee Tee even after he swore to you he was done with her (the conversations might not always be this petty but you get the gist). Then now they are all up in your business. Then congrats, you’ve successfully mixed business with pleasure. Sure for some people it doesn’t affect them but if you haven’t learned the ropes yet of how the dynamics at your workplace operate, talk about the weather! Respect the workplace.
A Glass of Wine A Day, Keeps Your Stress Levels At Bay.
I saved the best for last! Like duh! And if you are under the age of 18 or in some cases 21, my advice for you stops here. Come back and read the rest of this when you are legal in your respective country.
So where was I? Best for last -yes! I also exaggerated the sub heading a little, by implying that you should be drinking a glass of wine everyday. I am not here to promote excessive drinking or being an alcoholic on any level. But, if you do enjoy a glass of wine, it is never a bad inclusion to have in your “alone time.” Pick just one day out of the week or month to have your glass of wine in hand as you relax. And look it doesn’t have to be wine, I just like wine. I find it’s a great way to reflect on the week/month you had and figuring out what you could have done better. After you’ve interrogated your own performance, just completely blank out to think about anything that is NOT work related. (Don’t you dare judge me for for this whole wine thing LOL).
What are your views on unpaid internships or unsolicited work? How do you cope with the changes?