Saturday, 20 October 2012

Industry Jobs: Another Case Study

A few months ago, we posted an article about Paddy's experiences trying to get a full-time job with a production company in Manchester city centre and the whole fiasco that followed.

Well, it's happened again.

The Job
After returning form America, I started working at the bar again whilst continuing my search for a job related to film. During one of my regular searches through the list of media jobs posted on found a position that interested me. Again, I won't name the company in question, but they were looking for a full-time camera operator and editor to work for them. I would be filming lots of music performances, which I have experience doing, and the job would involve a lot of traveling around the country with transport provided. The salary was fairly modest - £15,000 per year - but it was better than minimum wage and it was something I was interested in doing. Wary of being caught off guard, I did a bit of research on the company.

Alarm Bell #1: They claimed to be on online television channel showcasing family entertainment, but their website was atrocious. The majority of the links and tabs didn't work and the content was awful. I don't know any family that would sit down together watching a 10 minute video of some unsigned jazz pianist playing a set.

"What the fuck are we watching?"

However, all things considered, I still thought it was worth applying for so I sent them my application. Everything was looking good after they replied to me within minutes (apart from the fact that they started the email "Hi Peter") and they asked that I call them, so I agreed to ring them the next morning. What followed the next morning was the most uninviting opportunity I have ever heard.

To begin with, the chap I was speaking to asked me about my experience, education and current employment situation. I told him about my experience in similar types of productions, but he was very dismissive about my degree in Film Production Technology, telling me that their work was more related to television than film.

We spoke for a few minutes where he told me some of the finer elements of the job, then told me that he could not offer me the position as they require someone with more experience in television.

Alarm Bell #2: If they wanted an applicant with extensive experience in television, why are they only willing to pay an entry-level salary? People with considerable experience in television can afford to demand at least double that salary and work for better-established companies. However, if you're only willing to pay £15k, you have to be willing to accept that the majority of applicants will be relatively inexperienced.

Once he told me he could not offer me the position, he very quickly went straight into offering me an internship with the company. Here is where it got ridiculous.

The Internship
During his initial monologue about the internship position, he actually said "interns are generally useless". What kind of sales pitch is that? Straight away I that put me on the defensive. He explained that the internship was full time, unpaid and was up to 12 months long. When I told him where I lived, he told me that I would have to move to North East Wales for the internship and that "rent is very reasonable"at £85 per week (25% more than what I am paying now in Manchester). The chap casually asked me "Do you have funds to support myself?"

Alarm Bell #3: So let me get this straight: I'm expected to leave everything behind to move to Wales and spend my own savings that I have accumulated over the past few years of working to become a "generally useless" full-time, unpaid intern for up to 12 months while they decide if they wanted to employ me over the internship is over?

What I felt like saying.

He went on to assure me that I would learn more during this internship that I had learned during my entire course at University. Doubtful, and more than a little bit slanderous towards my university and my degree. In a explanation that made him a strong contender for the "Most Irrelevant and Worst Thought-out Analogy of the Year" he assured me that this internship was better than University because I would be learning invaluable industry skills without having to pay tuition fees and maintenance fees, conveniently forgetting that for the entire time I would be spending my own money while working for them FOR FREE, not to mention that at University you are taught a wide range of skills and subjects by qualified professionals and, all being well, you leave with a degree.

By this point I didn't even care about being agreeable and making myself sound good. When I told him that I was tied into a contract in my current flat until June, he responded "Oh goodness gracious." So I said to him "You know what? This isn't for me. Thank you for your time." and hung up.

The more I think back on it, the more unbelievable I find the whole thing. The chap said several times that he had received over 500 responses to the job posting. If that is true, why did he respond to me so promptly on a Thursday night and be free to answer the phone and conduct an interview without a moment's notice the next morning?

The Lowdown
I think it's yet another example of a company trying to take advantage of the astronomical numbers of media graduates searching for work by trying to get naive graduates to do some of their work for them for free. He tried his best to make the company sound like a big deal - he referred to the company as "cutting edge" several times, despite the fact that their Facebook page has only 27 'Likes' - and had the cheek to try and pitch this internship as if he was doing me a favour by letting me do their work for them for free.

To whoever is reading this: Employment should be a mutually beneficial deal. In this case, they were asking me to take all of the risks without burdening any of it themselves. They had nothing to lose and everything to gain, whereas there was a fairly good chance that I stood to lose a lot and gain very little.  If you are in the same position as me, don't waste your time with people like this. Once you know that the position benefits them far more than benefits you, walk away.

"So long, gay boys!"

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