fast answer Friday — 6 short answers to 6 short questions

It’s fast answer Friday — six short answers to six short questions. Here we go…

1. Sending a handwritten thank-you to follow up on your emailed thank-you

I’m a recent grad who’s been going through a battery of interviews lately. Usually, I’m the type of girl to send a handwritten note afterward to follow up, but the companies I’ve been interviewing with all have short time frames for making hiring decisions so I’ve been following up with emails instead. I would still like to send handwritten notes though, but I don’t want to come off as redundant. Do you have any content advice for a post-email thank-you note so that I don’t end up repeating what I’ve already said?

It should be blank, because you shouldn’t send it. Sending two thank-you notes for the same interview is going to come across as overkill. It’s too much. Sending them by email is fine to begin with, and there’s no need for another. At this point, your job is to sit tight and wait to hear back. (And good luck.)

2. Asking to telecommute to an unpaid internship

If an internship is unpaid, is it ok to ask if you can telecommute? I think this is a reasonable request, but I have found that many managers I asked to do this were either perplexed or slightly offended that I asked. I don’t want to pretend that I don’t live in the real world and that I don’t have bills to pay, because I do, and I would like hiring managers to recognize that. I want the experience, but I have eat. What is the best way to articulate this request?

Well, a lot of them aren’t going to be amenable to it, as you’re discovering. Many internships are designed to be based in the organization’s office because they involve interaction with other people, going to meetings, being available for ad hoc conversations, and other work that’s more easily done in-person. Moreover, with very entry-level work where part of the point is to provide feedback and development, managers usually find it easier to have a face-to-face relationship. So you can ask, but realize that a lot of them will say no — so make sure you do it at the very beginning of your conversation with any employer, because if you wait until the end of the hiring process, many are going to be irritated that you didn’t bring it up earlier (so that they didn’t invest further time in the hiring process if it’s a deal-breaker for them).

3. I’m being told to donate my time to our CEO’s second organization

I am the assistant to the CEO of a large nonprofit. As such, I not only help my boss, but also help out where ever needed. He recently started another nonprofit that is completely separate from the agency I am employed with. They keep different accounts, have different staff, and are a completely separate entity. I am not an employee of theirs, and their employees are not listed on our payroll.

Saying that, my boss who heads both organizations often asks me and a few other staff members to help out with things for this organization. They currently rent a space in our building. I love helping out, but the work is interfering with the already large work load I have. They are basically getting free labor for our agency staff, and aren’t reimbursing for any hours that we put in. Our accounting department and our independent auditor have discussed billing for our time, but there haven’t been any action made to remedy the situation.

I want to approach my boss about the extra workload and how I am confused about how these separate agency fits into our own (we provide completely different services). Any suggestions? Or should I just suck it up and do the work hoping the problem will eventually fix itself?

Talk to your boss. Tell him that the work for the second organization is interfering with your ability to put your own organization first. Tell him that you’re uneasy about essentially volunteering your services for the other organization during time that you’re being paid by Organization 1, and that you’re not comfortable continuing to do it, at least not without a formal arrangement where Organization 2 is billed for your time.

You can also go back to your accounting department and push them to handle this, since … well, since they should. And out of curiosity, does your nonprofit’s board know that the CEO is diverting the organization’s resources to his own separate organization? If not, they probably won’t be pleased to hear it.

4. Is it normal for contractors not to get feedback or performance reviews?

I have been a government contractor working on-site for a large national institution for over 2 years. I like my job, but am becoming increasingly frustrated by that lack of feedback I receive from my manager. There are no performance reviews performed by my actual manager, who is a contractor from a different contracting company. I have the same position as eight other people and am losing my motivation to do a good job.

My superviser will casually say that I am doing a good job and thanks me for my work on various projects from time to time. He has even said that they couldn’t afford to lose me. The contract company I work for has almost no idea what I actually do all day and rarely communicates with me. They do an annual performance review where they basically check in with me for 10 minutes and give me a small raise, which I believe is given at the same rate to all of their other employees. I’m sure if there were a problem that was relayed to them from my supervisor I would hear about it, but positive feedback is never really relayed. I feel I am not being rewarded, financially or verbally, for doing work that is in some cases better than others who have my job. I watch one of them play video games for most of the day and ignore emails, while I work late to make sure my clients are happy. But we are treated the same.

This may be a fault, but I recognize that I do better and stay motivated by positive feedback. Is it normal for contractors not to recieve feedback or have a performance review with their on-site supervisor? What can I do to ask for a raise when the people who grant it don’t know what I do or how well I do it, really?

Yes, it’s pretty normal. In fact, it’s a widespread problem even among non-contractor employees and their managers … but among contractors, it’s often considered not even a problem, but rather par for the course with contracting.

You can certainly make a case for a raise by pointing to your achievements, just like you’d make a case for a raise normally … but realize that in the environment you’re working in, they may find it more efficient to treat you all as a group, without much individualized attention.

5. Negotiating when a company has just been acquired

I recently interviewed for a job with a start up. I was told that there would be no equity/stocks or options as my compensation, only the basics salary, med, 401. I agreed. My final interview is next week.

The company got acquired yesterday. They are eager to hire me. However, as I see it, we are now part of a larger org and my duties will increase and my initial negotiation had been with a start-up but that has changed. This situation is new to me and I would like to know what I can negotiate to get the best package due to this changed situation. Can you please advise?

Yeah, it’s a different situation now. But it doesn’t sound like you’d already discussed salary, only benefits, and being acquired doesn’t mean that they’ll necessarily be offering equity now (in fact, it might be less likely). In any case, if they make you an offer, you can certainly ask about the changed landscape in light of the situation, and you then proceed with your negotiations accordingly. You’re not locked into anything yet.

6. Putting church community outreach work on your resume

I was just asked to help out with a community outreach committee at my church. My dream job would be to do community programming in the museum field, so it’s something that I want to do. I’m wondering if I do end up helping with community programming at the church (something I have done in the past), would it be OK to add to a resume? The community outreach is more in the way of helping people and events, not pushing the bible down their throats (ew).

Sure, you can absolutely put that on your resume. In general, assume that volunteer work can always go on a resume. Just be specific about exactly what you did, since volunteer work is often described in a vague way that doesn’t really convey what the person actually did.

{ 96 comments… read them below }

  1. majigail

    #2 It should also probably be noted that you wouldn’t be expected to spend any less time on an internship if you were granted a telecommute situation. The only time you’d be saving is the commute time. At my nonprofit, we wouldn’t go for this either, but we would be flexible on timing so you could work a paid gig too. In fact, I can’t think of any of our interns who were not in a situation where they didn’t work somewhere else while gaining in the field experience with us.

  2. Pandora Amora

    I could be wrong but I don’t think it’s even legal to send hand-written thank you notes to interviewers any more. ;)

    1. Jane Doe

      Ha. Yeah, I’m not sure why so many people still recommend sending a handwritten follow-up note. It’s a follow-up note regarding a potential business transaction, not a wedding invitation. Email isn’t really less appropriate or too informal here.

      1. jennie

        I think email is more appropriate. A handwritten note or card I’m likely to read and toss, but I’ll file an email with other correspondence from that candidate so the email potentially has more impact.

      2. Ariancita

        Yes! I was going to say: “Am I the only one that thinks sending hand written cards is a bit….off?” I don’t get it. It’s not a thank you card. It’s a follow up response to a potential business transaction. I don’t think anyone should send hand written cards. If I got one of those, I’d think the person didn’t really get the purpose of these things and were just going through the motions, rather than writing a thoughtful follow up using the latest new fangled internet-thingy. :) (Obviously I wouldn’t hold it against them, but I do find it weird that people still want to send hand written cards….those made sense before email. With email, they don’t).

        1. Elizabeth West

          I have actually had to send mailed ones because a couple of interviewers didn’t have cards handy, and were reluctant to share email information outside the company. But I did not do handwritten ones–they were typed, in business letter format, on regular paper, mailed in #10 envelopes.

  3. Andrea P.

    #6 – As far as citing volunteer work on a resume in a way that isn’t vague — How much text could be devoted to it? Where might that go on a resume? How would you format it? I’m not sure it belongs under the “Experience” section, but a blurb stuck at the bottom looks awkward, and having a bulleted entry like I would for a job seems pretentious…?

    (I graduated a year ago and didn’t get much work/internships experience previously -oops- so my current position is all I have to show, and I’m wondering if I can play up what I do on the side. Given this market, I imagine many recent grads may be in the same position of trying to showcase what little they’ve got to compete for those “entry-level” jobs that require 5+ years of experience…)

    1. KellyK

      If you don’t have tons else, I think you can give it more space than you would if you had five or six jobs. I would try to make it smaller than any one job or education entry and call it “volunteer experience.”

      However, if you’re doing major volunteer work, it might deserve to go in the experience section. It would be pretentious to list a monthly shift at the local soup kitchen as though it were work experience, but if you spend 10-15 hours a week managing a small non-profit’s website, or their finances , or whatever, it may be worth bumping up.

      It should also be tailored based on what you’re applying for, with less space given to random things that just show you’re useful and responsible and more space given to transferable skills.

    2. Katie

      You can put it under experience, or you can have a separate category for volunteer experience.

      If it is relevant experience, I don’t see any reason not to list it in the same format as you’d list a job with bullets expanding on exactly what you did.

      It’s not pretentious at all, you are just relaying your skills and achievements. Employers WANT to know this stuff. That’s why they ask for a resume. :)

      1. the gold digger

        I had mine under “Volunteer,” I think. (I have taken it off because it was several years ago.)

        But I listed that I had sold the ads for my neighborhood association’s fundraiser and had increased revenues 34% over the previous year, from whatever to $11K. ( I am too tired to do math right now. Not too tired to goof off, but too tired for math.)

        I put that because it was an accomplishment that was easy to quantify and because sales skills transfer.

        I also put that I had founded and that I ran my college alumni organization and the returned Peace Corps group in my town.

          1. Katie

            Really? Just seeing that you ran the returned Peace Corps group in your town, I have to ask if you were in the Peace Corps and where you were and what you did. I love hearing about stuff like that!

            I am not involved in hiring though, just a curious person.

    3. Malissa

      I have my volunteer work in a section just below my work experience. I also have my experience formatted just like my paid jobs. Just because I’m not getting paid does not mean that the experience isn’t valuable and my accomplishments aren’t just as important there. Also my volunteer experience is very much related to my work, and is totally relevant to any future work.

  4. Long Time Admin

    OP #4, when I was working as a temp and my on-the-job supervisor or manager complimented my work, I asked if they would let the agency know. You could do that, too, and also make a note of any good specific feedback you get to take to your contract company before raise time (show why you deserve a really good raise).

  5. Bess

    #2 — is the reason why you want to telecommute so you can do other (paid) work at the same time? If so, the internships will most certainly not allow you to do that. Paid or not, when you have agreed to do a job, you have agreed to do only that job, not that job and something else.

    However, you should ask whether work hours can be flexible so you can fit in a paid job in your off hours. Many unpaid internships are amenable to that because employers really do know that their interns need to pay the bills. But the paid work should be done *separately* from the time you spend doing your internship. If you absolutely cannot afford to do an unpaid internship without spending some of your internship time doing paid work, then you cannot afford to take the internship.

    1. Sally

      # 2

      Surely they should be providing expenses, if you’re worried about spending money on travel?

      If it is because you want to spend time worknig a paid job, then this is unreasonable, they have hired you to be there (paid or unpaid) and not working for someone else.

      1. Elizabeth

        Is it common for internships to pay expenses that a normal job wouldn’t reimburse? I don’t get reimbursed for the cost of my commute, which I think makes sense – it wasn’t their decision how close to the job I lived.

        Unless by “travel” you were talking more about business trips, in which case, yes, employers should cover those expenses whether the employee is paid or unpaid. Also, sometimes employers partially subsidize taking public transit, but that’s to incentivize that behavior.

        1. Ann O'Nemity

          Some *unpaid* internships offer a small stipend that are intended to subsidize commuting, parking, and other expenses incurred by the intern while they’re working for free. In my experience, it’s not reimbursement (interns aren’t turning in receipts); it’s a lump sum regardless of what the actual expenses are.

          And of course you’re not reimbursed for the cost of your commute – you’re actually getting a paycheck for the work you’re doing. It’s not the same thing at all.

          1. JT

            My org covers public transportation up to about $15/day. We don’t ask for receipts, but the amount is tied to actual costs. That is, those that take longer distance commuter rail or buses get more than the ones take just the subway or local buses.

  6. The IT Manager

    #4 – I find this to be an interesting topic for discussion, but I have more questions than answers.

    I never considered it before, but I think this is normal. The government has a formal process in place to provide feedback to its own employees (it happens yearly but not necessarily well-done or providing the employees useful information). But I think the government’s only feedback to contractors is through feedback on the success of the contract, acceptance of deliverables, etc. This is especially true if it’s a FFP, deliverables contract where government is not supposed to care how the contractor does work only that the product they deliver meets standards.

    You are even one level removed as a sub-contractor working for a prime contractor. Your company which provides your pay check and decides your pay raises really have no idea of what you do or how you do it. Their feedback would be pointless unless your actual (i.e. on site, day-to-day) manager provided it to them. If your actual manager doesn’t choose to implement feedback formal or informal on his own, you’re not going to get much specific information since obviously his company not making him do it already. And as Alison mentioned feedback is hard, something many managers would prefer not to do, and time consuming so many managers won’t do it unless forced by company policy.

    As for pay raises I find that an interesting question because by contract your company is probably paid by the hours you put in (or by the deliverables you produce) and not by how hard you work. Sadly your company is paid the same by the government for hardworking you and the screwing off co-workers. Your working harder only provided intangible benefits to them so you don’t actual earn more money for them than your lazy coworkers. OTOH if you all were lazy and nothing got done then there would be problems, your company would get a bad reputation, and might lose the contract. (No individual responsibility there though.) I find these dynamics fascinating, but it doesn’t seem to promote a good environment for good management as Alison often describes. For that to happen, your actual boss would have to step up and do more and it sounds like go above and beyond what he has to do by his own company policy. He should be doing it already but he’s not; and he’s not likely to suddenly change and start trying to be a good manager on his own.

    1. Xay

      Part of the issue is that legally, an government employee cannot supervise a federal contractor – meaning they cannot give documented performance feedback, approve leave, etc.

      I work for one of the few government contractors that does formal performance evaluations. It is a relatively small company with a few satellite offices where they have large numbers of contractors and as a result, the company contract managers have a lot of contact with the federal contract managers and technical monitors. Although my on-site technical monitor does not provide formal feedback to me, they are in regular contact with my company supervisor regarding my performance fulfilling the contract activities and that is incorporated into my perfomance evaluation. That performance evaluation is then used to determine raises, bonuses, etc.

      1. Meg

        But I think the OP said that his/her on-site supervisor was also a contractor, but for a different company.

        I’m in a similar situation – a federal contractor for a large national institution. My on-site supervisor IS a federal employee though… but he doesn’t give feedback. However, he can approve a leave (in a sense that if I tell him I need to take leave, he says okay. With conferences that my contracting company wants to send me to, I have to get approval from the client [the institution]… but only if I want them to continue to pay me while I’m there… and by pay me, I mean allow my company to bill them since it’s work -related. ).

        It’s pretty complicated, but the fact that your supervisor is also a contractor should make it slightly easier, but with him/her being with a different company would make it harder since they would have no bearing on what YOUR company pays YOU.

        Basically, your company is relying on the client to say, “Hey, this isn’t working out. Your person needs to shape up or we’re going to drop their contract. No news is typically good news in these situations.

        As far as getting feedback, I suppose you could ask for something off the record, just for your own personal information so you can make sure your client is satisfied with your work. But I wouldn’t expect it to be a formal process.

  7. AnotherAlison

    #2- telecommuting intern

    My first reaction was see, here is a perfect example of why people over 30 think 20-somethings are an entitled bunch. The biggest benefit of the internship is really the boots-on-the-ground interaction.

    Then, I came to my senses. I’ve spent my career in an industry that pays interns, and pays them well. They put them up in housing. They send them on out-of-state boondoggles to expose them to parts of the industry they can’t see in the office. Working for free isn’t something I’ve had first-hand exposure too.

    But, I follow someone who has been blogging lately about the topic of why you shouldn’t work for free. While it might be presumptous to think you could do your internship remotely, it’s even more ridiculous that companies think they can ask you to use skills you already have to do their work for free.

    Go here! Read! Be outraged! www . ericgarland . co

    Read “You didn’t really want that sexy dirty money, did you?” and “Do not work for free” and “An open letter to the Atlantic regarding the payment of workers.” It’s not right, and as we’ve discussed on this blog before, if you aren’t a student and it’s a for-profit company, it’s often illegal. I understand that new grads who are facing poor prospects will do anything if they think it will lead to a full-time job, but I wonder what would happen if people stopped working for free? These jobs used to be done by someone, and that someone used to get paid to do it. But now, as the saying goes, why buy the cow if you can get the milk for free.

    1. Katie

      “I’ve spent my career in an industry that pays interns, and pays them well. They put them up in housing. ”

      What industry do you work in?

  8. Anonymous

    #2: I get the $$ issue with the commuting cost. When I was in college I couldn’t participate in internship programs bc I couldn’t afford to work for free. But I question what the value of a telecommuting internship would even be. In general, the vast majority of internships I’ve seen are more about (A) learning how professionals work, (B) starting to develop a network of mentors and references, and (C) gaining lots of feedback on your own work. Very little is about the work itself, since the companies you intern for realize you have very little experience. If you were to work from home, you lose all visibility to the professionals you are supposed to be learning from. If you can’t afford the internship as it stands perhaps you should be looking for a PT job in your field at perhaps smaller employers who can’t afford a FT employee.

  9. Jubilance

    #2 – Telecommuting as an intern seems just…wrong to me. The entire point of an internship is to learn, though interactions, various projects, etc. Telecommuting (in my mind) invokes a level of work independence that an intern probably doesn’t possess, hence why they are an intern.

    If you need to work another paid position & are worried about scheduling both, I’d address the scheduling concerns & not present it in a “can I telecommute?” way. The telecommuting thing would probably be oft-putting to most who are ask.

    As an aside, I agree with the other commenter about confusion over unpaid internships. When I was in school, because of my industry (sciences/engineering) the idea of an unpaid internship was simply foreign. I still don’t understand the idea but I recognize that in some industries they are standard, tho to me they scream “free labor & scam” but what do I know?

    1. Ann O'Nemity

      “The entire point of an internship is to learn”

      Exactly. And in order for an internship to be unpaid, it has to meet several requirements, some of which involve training and learning. I would think that training would be better achieved in-person in most cases, though that may depend on the nature of the work.

    2. The IT Manager

      I don’t have any dealings with interns, but from what I’ve seen on this blog it would be awesome if there were a different word to describe unpaid and paid internships because they in general seem to be about different things. It muddies the waters and probably helps lead to the frequent illegal use of unpaid interns (in the US) to do things a paid entry level employee should be doing.

      But even if I had a magic wand to fix the world, that’s not the first fix I’d implement. :)

      That said, I thought #2’s request seemed well outside of the norm. It could make a huge difference, though, what field she was in. If for example she was some sort of artist or something where even the interns would be expected to go off and produce a product on there own after receiveing guidance it might work. (Really I have no clue because in my field I’d want to supervise the interns in person.)

    3. FormerManager

      At my first internship, one of the other interns worked 8-noon and then left for his part-time job, so I’d second this if it’s possible.

      1. Elizabeth West

        We had some at my manufacturing job that worked part-time and then left for school. That will not work for me; I am attending evening college and I have a mortgage!!

    4. Mike C.

      They scream “free labor and scam” to me as well. It’s one thing to pay a reduced wage for folks who aren’t producing much or are in initial training, but the idea that someone needs to donate their time to a given industry is incredibly unfair. If you want your industry to survive, you need to train new people. It’s not that difficult to understand.

      Tell me, what costs more, paying some poor college kid minimum wage while they’re learning the ropes or paying through the nose for experienced people 10 years down the road because there are so few people with the skills and experience you happen to need?

      Planning for the future should go beyond the next fiscal quarter.

      1. Just a Reader

        100 years ago, I had an unpaid internship at a nonprofit. I got to do so much real work in my field–things that were beyond even entry level–because of the lean nature of the organization.

        It wasn’t a scam. It was a springboard into my chosen profession.

        1. Mike C.

          It’s a scam, because if you are working for someone, you should be paid for it. Yes, you may have gotten good experience from it, but you can also get good experience and receive a paycheck too.

          I don’t understand why people who are artists and writers shouldn’t be paid for their entry level work but people who are scientists and engineers should.

          1. AnotherAlison

            +1,000

            Not to mention, craft labor (electricians, pipefitters, etc.) also have paid apprenticeships. So, an 18-yr old high school graduate can join a trade union, get a paid apprenticeship, and paid-for classroom training, and the writer with an MFA has to work for free for “exposure”? Yes, some people have experiences like “Just a Reader” where they learn valuable skills they didn’t have, but others are working for free using skills they already learned in school or aren’t doing work that’s educating them in their field. (Like if a marketing intern gets drafted into a “project” of converting the office’s old paper records to electronic.)

            1. Just a Reader

              Nobody is holding a gun to an intern’s head and forcing them to work for no pay. Everyone is free to pursue only paid opportunities if they wish. Bottom line, if you agree to it and get what you were sold, it’s not a scam.

              Out of all my college friends, I got the most real-world experience out of my internship plus experience with an organization that had a lot of cache. And in working for companies who paid interns, I watched those interns do a LOT of grunt work while occasionally getting thrown a quasi interesting project.

              Not all unpaid internships are designed to milk free labor, just like not all paid internships are going to provide real job skills. These comments are painting a nuanced topic with a very broad brush.

              1. Ann O'Nemity

                “And in working for companies who paid interns, I watched those interns do a LOT of grunt work”

                This is a good point. I’ve worked in companies that employed both paid and unpaid interns, and the paid interns were the ones who usually ended up with the grunt work. Perhaps this was due to the legal requirements of unpaid internships.

              2. AnotherAlison

                Nobody is holding a gun to their head, but these FREE opportunities are driving out paid, full-time entry level opportunities, so young people can choose between working for free in their field or not getting any entry level work in their field.

                Assuming companies aren’t inventing projects just for the sake of entertaining interns, that work would have to be done by someone. If a large pool of free labor wasn’t available, don’t you think at least some companies would offer paid positions?

                Maybe the wouldn’t — for a while. They could just push more duties onto experienced employees. But eventually their talent pipeline would disappear, I think, and they would see that they had to have some way to bring entry level people into the industry. I think the problem is bigger than just free interns. The lack of a long-term career promise from companies bred lack of loyalty from employees, and I can see why companies wiped out their paid trainee programs when people left just when they were starting to be useful. But you will see plenty of companies professing, at least publicly, that they cannot hire because there are no qualified people. Hmm. Why is that? Universities were not designed to be corporate training programs and corporations don’t want to train people. No wonder. Corporations need to invest (with real money) in training people at all levels.

                Sorry, I’m getting off on a tangent now, and I definitely don’t mean to come off as attacking your viewpoint. I think at the individual level there can be great things about an unpaid internship, but I think system-wide it’s a bad idea.

                1. Just a Reader

                  Honestly–if there’s no money for interns, there’s no money for paid labor. Companies are getting leaner and meaner, looking at surviving in the short term. With layoffs still happening everywhere and competition for jobs continuing to be fierce, the talent pipeline is the last consideration.

                  And honestly, I’ve been in an industry with a talent crunch due to economic factors, and it rectifies itself in time. It also means that the fast learners, high performers and more skilled entry-level people get more opportunities earlier.

                  Bottom line–internships are a critical way to enter the working world, and this economy doesn’t always afford the luxury of paid labor/paid opportunities.

                2. AnotherAlison

                  “Honestly–if there’s no money for interns, there’s no money for paid labor.”

                  I’m just not sold that there isn’t money for interns or paid labor — at a lot of places. : )

                  I can see that this would vary widely across industries, business sizes, etc., so I’m not saying that it’s universally true that companies have money they’re not spending. Some companies business models have expired, and they will go belly-up. That limits their ability to hire paid interns, but it isn’t really related to the structural cost of interns.

                  Real-life example: My husband has a one-man electrical business. He has an “apprentice.” This guy is getting a votech certificate in electrical technology. He’s worked with him for a year and is useful now, but from his first day — even before he started his course training — my husband paid him. He paid him a set hourly rate, he bore the expense of training him, and he hauled him around in his van all day. I could easily see him being able to say, “Hey, I can’t pay you because you don’t know enough yet, but I’ll train you.” Somehow, he was able to charge enough to cover the trainee’s cost, and still be competitive enough to win work. The model won’t work universally, but it can work. ; )

                3. Samantha

                  It’s actually violates FLSA to use an unpaid intern instead of hiring an employee. There are strict guidelines that organizations have to follow for their unpaid internships to be legal. I work for a nonprofit and we regularly hire unpaid interns. We adhere to these standards both to protect our organization and ensure that the intern has a beneficial experience and is NOT doing grunt work or displacing an employee.

                  Those standards can be found here, by the way:
                  http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/whdfs71.htm

                4. Ann O'Nemity

                  “Honestly–if there’s no money for interns, there’s no money for paid labor.”

                  Legally, unpaid interns cannot displace actual workers. The primary benefit of an unpaid internship should go to the intern, not the company that is too greedy and/or financially irresponsible to operate without unpaid labor.

                5. Natalie

                  “if there’s no money for interns, there’s no money for paid labor.”

                  I’m sure this is true for a few places here and there, but generally I don’t buy it one bit. Corporate profits are still an enormous segment of the economy and the income of the people making the decisions to have unpaid interns has continued to rise. Somehow they can still afford to make a substantial sum of money but can’t pay an entry level staff person even minimum wage?

              3. Anonymous

                No one is forcing a gun to those unpaid interns’ heads, true, but for many – I’m assuming most – of them, if they don’t do the unpaid internship, they don’t get their degree. My paralegal program required an internship. I was one of the fortunate ones who already worked in a law firm and was allowed to use that as my internship, but most of my fellow students had to take whatever unpaid internship the school lined up for them and if they already had a paying job, the students (not the coordinator) were, of course, the ones who had to negotiate both schedules (and make them fit their class schedules as well). No internship – no associates degree. In library school, my practicum wasn’t required but it was strongly advised and had to be unpaid. Back in the 80s, a friend of mine had to change her degree track because the bachelors degree she wanted required a couple unpaid interships and ultimately, she couldn’t afford them. She’d have had to quit her paying job to fit them in and could not afford to work for free. No unpaid internship – no bachelor’s degree. At least she was able to get a similar degree that allowed her to work in the same field, but it didn’t allow her to do the specialized therapy she wanted to do. It’s not a gun to the head, but people are still forced to take these unpaid positions if they want to advance in their chosen fields.

          2. Elizabeth West

            As a writer, I thank you for that.

            No, I do NOT want to write articles I don’t get paid for “just to put your name out there.” I do that on my own blogs–I’m not doing it for your* blog! I even stopped submitting to non-paying journals!

            *not you; hypothetical person-who-doesn’t-want-to-pay-me

        2. JT

          I’ve had paid and unpaid internships myself (most recently last year) and have unpaid interns working for me all the time over the last few years (I was actually interning in a library, plus managing interns at my main job at the same time, which was funny).

          These were not scams – in the internships I had and the ones for interns working for me, a lot of learning was going on. And I’m not giving my interns a bunch of repetitive tasks. In fact, in my organization at least one junior staff person complained that interns were given more interesting stuff to do and had more learning opportunities than this person was. To which we replied “That’s because they’re here to learn.”

          And generally my interns are doing things that would not get done if they weren’t with us – stuff we can’t afford to have anyone else do. I guess I could do it myself by staying extra hours everyone night…..

          All the internships I’m describing are in nonprofit or educational organizations with strong mission/values focus.

          Not scams. Not exploitative. Our interns generally give good reviews about what they learned.

          However, there is a problem in society in which mainly kids/people with wealth can afford to take these sorts of opportunities. Our the case of the interns working for me, I encourage them to have part-time jobs and be with us only part time, and not to be with us for too long – two to four months is ideal, though a few have asked to stay longer. We don’t have the most diverse set of interns in terms of economic background, but we’ve got some and are striving to improve that.

    5. Dana

      I can see how you might think and internship ‘screams free labor’ and I do think the purpose is often abused. However I work in the fashion industry and have managed several interns and the free labor we received from them was inconsequential compared to the time I spent teaching, training and mentoring them. Yes, sometimes my interns did more menial tasks which allowed me time to get some of my own work done but that was always balanced other more engaging learning opportunities.

      All the interns that worked for me ending up being employed by the company after they graduated because of the relationships they built during the internship. It was definitely beneficial for these students to gain industry experience and network before they graduated.

      That being said I know many companies that don’t work as ethically with interns and do use them as free labor. In my case the company I worked for at the time had and excellent intern program and the school that provided the interns had strict guidelines on how they could be utilized. The company I currently work for is fearful of using unpaid interns due to the laws governening them so we don’t have a program. It’s really too bad, there are a lot of missed opportunites for my company and students alike.

      1. AnotherAlison

        The engineering students who are interns are often the same boat as your fashion interns.

        We have to train & mentor them. What’s taught in school is more conceptual than what we do daily, and making the leap from solving a problem in a book where everything is “given” to handing them some drawings & documents and telling them to size a pump is a big one. Considerable internal resources are invested in these students, in addition to the paycheck they receive. Why do we do it? We want them to work here when they graduate. We think it’s worth paying them for an opportunity for us to get cream-of-the-crop students into our organization early. The ones that do join us are a year ahead of new grads that didn’t do an internship in this field. If the students weren’t paid, they would still get a big educational benefit, just like you describe, but I still think they deserve to be paid. That’s how Work works, and I think it is important to teach people that what they do has an economic value. If my teenager does work, he gets paid, and then he uses that money to contribute back to the economy in some way. He’s learning a lot with that money, and removing the money from the chain really seems unnatural to me.

        1. Dana

          I hear what your saying, but in the case of the company I worked for the internship program wouldn’t have existed if they had to pay. They are already ‘paying’ in sense by using their resources to train these students. I know I personally spent a lot of my hours working with interns rather than focussing on the work that ultimately made the company money. I would imagine there is probably more money in engineering than in fashion to pay for interns, but that’s just an assumption.

          I also think an internship, if done as it is meant to be done, is an educational experience rather than a working experience that has real value to the intern. You pay for an education so I don’t think it’s a stretch to pay for the skills and mentoring that you get during an internship with your time. I think of interhips as extensions of education, a class outside of school. Granted many companies abuse this, and in those cases they should pay, but I don’t agree with you they shoud be paid in all cases.

          1. Just a Reader

            I think the “economic contribution” piece can also be a distinction between a job and a career. Careers should have a fulfillment factor beyond compensation; people happy with what they’re doing aren’t typically only thinking about banging out their hours and taking home a paycheck, but with relationships, development, etc.

          2. AnotherAlison

            “I would imagine there is probably more money in engineering than in fashion to pay for interns, but that’s just an assumption.”

            Ah, probably not. No idea what margins are in fashion, but pure engineering companies are a fairly low margin business. Not wholesale grocer low, but not great. The key is it’s completely driven by people. Consulting engineers make money by charging X/hr for hours worked (at some set multiplier). My company works on a different model with better margins, so we can afford it, but that’s also why our pure consulting competitors don’t do as much hiring and training of interns and new grads. Their employees have to be billable.

            I can see if college interns get course credit, as some do, then they don’t need to be paid. I guess I could see it both ways for the students who aren’t getting credit or getting paid, but the worst are the ones we hear about that are for people who have already graduated and aren’t paid (possibly illegal ones).

            1. Dana

              I’m in total agreement, once you graduate you should be paid. I even agree students should be paid to intern if the work they put into it far outweighs the benefit they are getting out of it. It’s a balance where the intern should be getting equal to or more value than the company is getting out of them.

              I think we agree more than we disagree :)

              1. ThursdaysGeek

                And as for putting more work into an intern than you get out of them, my understanding of what AnotherAlison is saying is that what you’re getting out of them is much more long term: you’re putting a lot into them (and paying them) initially in the hopes of having younger quality employees to replace your retiring quality employees.

                1. Dana

                  Depends on the industry, there is never a shortage of qualified people for any job in fashion, there are always more people than jobs. Sure, it’s always nice to have people you’ve trained work for you, they know your processes and are familiar with your culture, but ultimately the interns that works for us got a lot more out of the program than we did.

        2. Jubilance

          My experience as an engineering intern and also supervising engineering interns was similar to yours. I remember in my first internship after my freshman year, I hadn’t even taken organic chemistry, but I was working in an organic chemistry lab. They literally had to teach me everything, but at the end of the summer I was able to make valuable contributions to the company, doing work that led to patents for the company, and I walked away with numerous skills & was way ahead of my peers when I took organic chemistry my sophmore year. And I was paid well to do that.

          I simply don’t understand why that isn’t possible in marketing, fashion, PR, radio, journalism, etc. These students are making meaningful contributions & yet all they get is a pat on the back? Seems scammy & unfair to me. But like I said, I’m looking at this from the advantage of an industry where interns are always paid, and paid well.

          1. Dana

            In your case it sounds like you made contributions that the company directly profited from, which is not the case in all scenarios. For me, managing interns was a lot of work, it was like training a new employee every few months and once they got to the point where they were ready to work on their own they were gone. My interns worked 8-10 hours a week at the most and only for the duration of a semester.

            In mysituation the work the interns contributed was balanced by the time and energy I put into training them. The company made no direct profit from the time they were with us and likely lost money due to the time and resources we put into their training.

            Again, it comes to balance, if the intern is getting more out of it than the company than it makes sense for it to be a free internship. If the company is profiting from the work the intern does it should be a paid situation. But I don’t think we can paint all internships with the same paintbrush. If all internships were required to be paid a lot of these programs would go down the drain, particularly in tough economic times, and ultimately the students would lose out.

            1. Jubilance

              Understandable. In my world, an intern is there for the summer only, working full-time. Its expected that they won’t be doing “grunt work”, and that they’ll have real projects to work on & report on what they did at the end of the summer. Its expected that they are working full-time, 40 hours a week for the 10-12 weeks they are there. Along with that they’ll be participating in activities to help them network & meet professionals within the company.

              My experience was also with large Fortune 500 companies as well, so that could be skewing my view. I have no concept of what internships are like at smaller companies.

      2. Chinook

        What you described here sounds a lot like my education practicums when working on my B. Ed. As part of my university training, on 3 occasions I was put in a real school with real students. In theory, we worked with teachers who helped, supervised a day then graded us on what we did. In practice, atleast inexpensive person in each group would have a supervising teacher who would do nothing for the entire time and would get paid a bonus for “supervising” the poor student teacher doing the actual work (and was also paying the University for this honour). While I can’t think of a better system for this type of training, it does lend itself to abuse, especially if you are sent to a school in a different town (for example, I went back to my hometown to live with my parents for 2 months because student teaching doesn’t lend itself to a 2nd job).

      3. JT

        Dana’s first paragraph describes me and my interns. They take a little pressure off me in some of their work, which is offset by the time I take in guiding them. Overall usually it’s a “win-win.” Yes, that phrase sound stupid, but it’s correct.

        Our HR team gives us coaching on working with interns so it benefits the interns, and as someone who was an intern long ago at my own organization and more recently at other places (while working – I used time off for the internships) we keep a learning focus. Interestingly it’s the interns who tend to put on pressure for “work results” as it gives them satisfaction and things to mention in job interviews.

        On our staff we have three or four people who were interns in the past.

    6. JT

      Yeah. The internship will be much more beneficial if you’re in the office at least part of the time.

      Once you’re settled into the internship, there might be tasks it is possible to do remotely – I’ve done that as an intern (including liaising with a team on the other side of the planet) and also had interns working for me do it.

      But working remotely from the get-go? Not as conducive to learning/networking.

      However, if the internship is four or five days a week, I could see being in the office three of those days and remote the others to save money. That might be enough face time.

    7. Anonymous

      “the idea of an unpaid internship was simply foreign” – it is to me, too, as when I was a student, all the interships were paid (and that was just five years ago). We call unpaid work “practicums.”

  10. Just a Reader

    #2, besides the fact that it’s an odd request, the LW would be sacrificing the big benefits of interning by telecommuting: face time. Even full-time employees who telecommute 100% can be considered faceless and do have to work a lot harder to establish their reputations.

    For an internship, you don’t have a chance at a reputation if you’re not in the office, why bother?

    1. fposte

      And, possibly, references–they’re going to be harder to come by and less detailed if they don’t see you very often.

    2. Kate

      Exactly. An unpaid internship should help you get your foot in the door. I got my first post-college, professional job in my field because managers from internships I’d had (one paid, one unpaid) went above and beyond for me, introducing me to people, sending me job postings, providing great recs. They felt comfortable doing that because they knew me well. They liked my work, but they’d also gotten to know me from chatting in the hall and seeing me in meetings. There’s no way I could’ve formed those bonds primarily via email/phone.

      Sure, it looks good to have an internship on your resume, but knowing someone in that field well is what’s really helpful in securing a job.

  11. fellow intern

    OP#2: Have you tried looking specifically for vitual internships? (If you think you can get work done telecommuting, I’d assume they must exist.)

    I’ve done several unpaid internships, including a virtual one. To be honest, I had the worst experience with the virtual internship. What I was going to be doing was misrepresented, my tasks were very limited and repetitive, and if I had a question it took 1 to 3 days to get an answer (asking questions on Friday meant no response until Monday). I wasn’t given instruction or guidance at all except specific answers to my questions because there were so many other virtual interns that needed attention too.

    I’ve never heard of interns getting special privileges (besides a flexible schedule) just because they’re unpaid. Not getting paid for your work sucks, but there’s still plenty of people willing to do unpaid internships, so it’s unlikely anyone make special accomodations for you that are an inconvenience for them.

    1. Elle D.

      I think virtual internships are an excellent suggestion for the OP, even though your experience wasn’t so fantastic. While many interns do get to contribute to projects and will leave with accomplishments and work samples, internships usually include some clerical work. You can’t file/scan/copy/mail/fax if you’re telecommuting, and even if that’s only a small part of the job, asking to work from home will take you out of the running. Since a virtual internship is designed to be completed remotely, you won’t run into the issue of asking to telecommute when being present is required to do some of the job.

  12. Jess

    Re: #1 -I remember when I was job hunting seeing the advice to send both a handwritten thank you note and an email thank you note in several “career advice” places on the internet. It always struck me as a little psycho. I’m glad I’m not alone in feeling that way.

    I do still think handwritten notes are especially nice (but I have a thing for pretty stationery). Still, it should be one or the other.

  13. Joey

    #4. It’s not your contract supervisors job to provide you feedback or review your performance with you- he’s legally not your employer. If he acted as your employer you could claim legally that he was a co-employer and may have a right to things like benefits. It’s the job of your contract company to do this stuff because they are your employer. But do most contract companies do this? Of course not because theyre busy trying to fill other positions. As long as they don’t hear about problems they’ll assume you’re doing fine.

  14. Hlx Hlx

    I sent handwritten thank yous (on really nice paper, I love good stationery) after interviewing for a major position last year. I really think it ended up working against me, which was such a shame, as it was a very cool job.

    Perhaps for some esoteric professions, handwritten notes would be the way to go, still. But overall, thanks to my recent experience, I would now strongly argue against them.

    1. Anonymous

      Agreed. I think hand-written thank you notes are quite antiquated in the business world, whenever I have received one I find it odd. It also arrives a number of days later than it would if you just sent it via e-mail, so it likely won’t have an impact on the hiring decision at that point.

      It drives me crazy that it is still the preferred method when thanking people for gifts, etc…. seems like a waste of postage/trees to me. It isn’t like I am going to hang a thank you note on my fridge… o well, rant over.

    2. Kate

      I can’t speak for most fields, but for development and alumni relations, handwritten notes are preferred (though not by a huge margin). That’s because the field involves a lot of contact with donors and alumni, and a handwritten note is seen as indicating that you’ll go the extra mile to cultivate them. The content and promptness is the most important factor, though.

  15. Anonymous

    Exactly. Our managers are specifically warned NOT to treat non-employees as employees. Co-employment can be a huge issue and potential liability. I was actually a little surprised Alison didn’t mention it in her response.

    OP#4, you seem to be treated this other contractor as your manager. He isn’t, and if he’s been properly coached he isn’t going to behave as if he is. It’s better to think of him as a client. You can reasonably ask him to pass on positive feedback to your actual manager, and you can expect that individual to hear about it if there’s a major problem with your performance, but that’s all you can reasonably expect.

    Have you thought about what you can do to give your actual manager more visibility into your performance? The situation is very comparable to being managed by a remote manager. You want to make sure you stay in contact enough to give them a sense of what you’re achieving without crossing the line into becoming a high-maintenance employee. You also want to create a distinction in your manager’s mind between your high performance and the performance of his or her other employees, but you have to do this without ever appearing to badmouth the others. Both of these require careful balancing on your part, but they can be done.

    A final note of caution – if you succeed in demonstrating clearly to your actual manager that your performance is superior but still do not receive a commensurate raise, you might need to rethink your position there and move on. Some contract jobs don’t have a lot of financial flexibility – the reimbursement rate your employer receives for the role is $X regardless of the qualities or performance of the individual filling it. I’m not saying this is an ideal system, but it can be the reality.

    If your employer is under these constraints, any raise you receive comes directly out of the employer’s profit, without any ability to recover it. In other business models, efficiency can pay off for the employer who accomplishes more work per hour. For reimbursable contracts, that incentive is not there. There may even be a bit of a disincentive – reducing the total number of billable hours available under a contract reduces the employer’s total profit.

    If this is the case, you need to decide if you want to keep working for a business that operates under this model. I don’t know if that’s the business model involved here, but I didn’t want to picture you wondering why you can’t convince your employer to pay you what you reasonably believe you’re worth.

    Good luck –

    1. Joey

      the reimbursement rate your employer receives for the role is $X regardless of the qualities or performance of the individual filling it.

      Frequently the negotiated contract fees are a percentage of pay. And the pay is frequently negotiable.

      1. Anonymous

        That’s why I said this was true of *some* contract jobs. It tends to be a little more prevalent in government work (approved reimbursement of pay of $X per hour for a Tea-pot maker level 3). Commercial is more likely to be negotiable – and I hope for the OP’s sake that this is what is in play here. I just didn’t want her to not realize why there may not be the movement she expects if that is the case – it could be terribly frustrating.

  16. Chinook

    #4 – Boss on 2nd. Board. Is it possible that your boss joined the 2nd board with the first board’s permission and understanding that he would be using his executive resources? I know my last boss was part of a national board and travelled at the company’s expense (even though they were completely unrelated) as well as company employees, as needed, as part of the conditions of his employment.

    Considering they are in the same building, sharing you with another organization may be cheaper in the long run or a stop gap while hiring someone suitable rather than whoever happens to be available.

    1. Catbertismyhero

      #3. I agree. it is not unusual for coalitions and non-profits to share resources like this. I would limit your discussion with your boss to your issues with priority and workload. Suggesting that your time should be billed is not likely to sit well with your boss. Plus the arrangement may have been approved by the board.

  17. Mary Sue

    I have a question that’s kind of a follow up to 6– I’ve been elected to a position in my church, I’m now Senior Warden of the Vestry. It’s functionally equivalent to president of the board of directors, and is listed as such in our state incorporation papers. I was thinking of putting on my resume under volunteer work: “Senior Warden, St. Thatguy Church (similar to President)” Then listing what the duties are and my accomplishments. Is that good, or does anyone else have other suggestions how to list it?

    1. KellyK

      Explaining an obscure title is definitely a good idea. “Senior Warden (Equivalent to President of Board of Directors)” is the phrasing I’d use.

  18. Dan

    #4

    Forgetting this is government contracting for a moment… I’d actually say that if someone is giving you performance evaluations, then you are not a contractor. Because the usage of contractors is often abused, there are some fairly strict “walks like a duck, quacks like a duck” rules to determine if one is in fact a contractor or employee. (Taxes are a huge thing here.)

    When my organization subcontracts out work, we don’t provide performance reviews. Our thoughts on their work are communicated at a high level — they get more funding, continuing work, etc, or they don’t.

    1. KellyK

      Government contracting is different though, because you *are* an employee, you’re just not an employee of the government, but of the contracting company.

      1. Dan

        Let me first say that I am a W2 employee of a government contractor :)

        I’m not sure what you mean by “different.” Are you saying that the government doesn’t have anybody directly on a 1099 (I don’t know what choice of words to use here…) If you think yes, I have no knowledge to refute that.

        But, my government customer told us straight up that there are limits to the oversight and work control that they can provide in the contractor/contractee relationship. So, the government technical monitor/COTR can’t act as a proxy for your boss.

  19. KellyK

    #4 – Yes, that’s really normal. The government entity is your company’s customer, and your work is the service they’re providing. So they’re not going to do a performance review for you like they would their own employees. They will probably do a review of your company’s work on that contract in general, which probably won’t reference you specifically, but might have some useful general feedback. (The Navy uses CPARS, the contractor performance assessment reporting system, and I would guess that other government organizations have similar systems where company performance on various government contracts is tracked.)

    You probably can’t get a real performance review, but I would check with your on-site supervisor periodically to make sure they feel like you’re doing a good job. Any time they give you unsolicited positive feedback, forward it to your supervisor if it’s email, and ask them to let your company know if it’s verbal.

  20. HR Pufnstuf

    Unpaid Interns- I am by no means andexpert but did research unpaid internships at the request of a VP. He was looking for exactly what they are not to be used for- free labor.
    From my understanding, the company has to have an agreement with the school, the position can’t displace another worker, there can be no promise of employment post internship, the company can not benefit finanacially, etc etc.
    If a company is trying to “exploit” interns for free labor the cost of all the hoop jumping doesn’t justify the efforts.

  21. NUM

    #5 – My experience with acquisitions like this is that there is likely to be substantial change and employee turnover in the 1-2 years following the acquisition – to the point that in 2 years there may be literally NO ONE left from the original start-up. But, that is not always the case. It just depends on the acquiring company, their culture, and the reason they bought the start-up. Be prepared. If they decide to reduce staff, they might well begin with a Last In, First Out approach.

    If you’d secretly harbored thoughts that there would eventually be an equity kicker – even though the start-up said there wouldn’t be one – at least you know to firmly cross that off your list. It would be well worth finding out what the acquiring company’s practice is with respect to options, bonuses, and other non-salary compensation. Couple questions:

    – Frequently start-ups offer below market salaries with the promise of being able to share in any sale. Is that the case here? Is your salary going to be in line with other people you will be working with (the start-up’s scale) or at the possibly much higher acquiring company’s salary?

    – If you are offered a salary in line with the start-up pay rates, is there a plan and a timeline to review all salaries once the acquisition is complete? Would you be ok with not having your salary brought in line with the people who work around you?

    – Who will you be reporting to? Is that likely to change?

    – What is the acquirer likely to do with the start-up? Leave it alone? Relocate to another location? Close it entirely and integrate with existing operations? An important clue is why the acquirer wanted the start-up – if it was for the technology alone, there might be very little reason to keep staff other than the principal designers.

    – If you’ve done research on the start-up, start over. While the start-up may have originally appealed to you, that start-up no longer exists. You are going to be working for the new parent company. Is that a company you want to work for?

  22. Lily in NYC

    I’m trying to say this nicely, but in our office, if an intern asked to telecommute they would be laughed out the door. If it’s unpaid, aren’t you getting school credit? Then you shouldn’t complain about the money. But really, do not ask this of employers. I can’t imagine it being taken well by the vast majority, even if your reasons are valid. And many places end up hiring their interns, so you should really want to be there to get face time in with the people that could help you along the way.

    1. JT

      “If it’s unpaid, aren’t you getting school credit?”

      Not necessarily. Many of my organization’s unpaid interns are not. Some are recent graduates, some are still in school.

      And for me when I was an intern recently while in grad school, I did not want to get school credit because I had to pay for school credit (most people do). Since I wanted to take more classes than I could while working for my degree, I didn’t look for credit from internships, and instead got all my credit from classes.

      All these experiences are in NYC.

      “I can’t imagine it being taken well by the vast majority, even if your reasons are valid.”

      This is a poor attitude by that vast majority. We can just say no. If someone has a valid reason for wanting something and it might be doable, they should ask and not be judged badly for it. And if you can’t agree, don’t agree.

  23. Elizabeth West

    #2–telecommuting internship

    This worries me, because I asked the director of my tech writing program this same question (she said an internship was required). She told me there are quite a few students who do this.

    I mentioned it to my boss in passing; she said we could worry about it later. Would be nice if i could do it at work, since I’m already there and they do have a documentation department. Also, my actual work kind of directly relates to the program.

    Since most of our work is remote anyway, that might be the case also at another company, if I should have to do something outside of my job. Arrghh, I don’t want to do this!!!!! I hate working two jobs–I did it in 2011 and it made me sick!

    I have a meeting with my advisor coming up soon. I’ll talk to him about it.

    #6–volunteer work

    If your volunteer skills relate directly to the job, put ’em on. They’re still skills.

    I hate volunteering so I don’t have any. Nobody wants to hear about donations.

  24. Allison

    For #2, I’ve found that even organizations that are open to telecommuting interns prefer people who can be in the office. I interviewed for an internship that was in another state so I told them I could go in when I needed to be there, but that I’d need to telecommute most of the time (which was an option for this organization). I have a feeling that was part of why I was passed over for the internship, they probably found several candidates that were just as qualified but could work in the office. If you want to telecommute, you’d better be a rockstar candidate they can’t live without.

  25. OP#2

    Hi this is OP#2. I would like to thank everyone for their honest responses. I am surprised that my question caused such excitement. I understand what some say about the fact that I should not get paid if it costs the organization more to train me, but this is not that type of situation. The organization does get a significant benefit from me working with them. The work I do may be borderline illegal for the organization, but in the end I get the experience and they don’t have to do the work that I do. The only paid internships I can find are really far away. I am a recent graduate and I am grasping at straws trying to get real experience so that I can get a job that pays a livable wage. I undertand that many people find offense at the telecommuting, but I just cannot afford to travel to and from a office for absolutely free. I can’t sit in an office for 8 hours a day and not be paid. I do have an internship now where I initially worked full time for about a month and then due to financial issues I quickly went from full time, to part-time, to telecommuting and just showing up for important meetings or when they seriously needed my help in the office. The director of my organization knows that I am struggling right now and although she would like for me to be in the office she understands and works with me. I work really hard and my director has not expressed any concerns with my work. She only states that she wishes I could be in the office more. I would like to get another internship that would give me more in-depth experience, but I am stuck in between a rock and a hard place because I need to have paid work, but I need the experience. Anyways thanks for your honesty and maybe I can find a virtual internship.

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