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Fortune Mag Asks “Are Unpaid Jobs the New Normal?”

It may not be legal, but for the millions of Americans unemployed today, working for “free” in hopes of paid work in the future may be better than sitting at home and waiting for the phone to ring. The whole concept of minimum wage doesn’t apply when a college graduate is worth a job that deserves to be paid higher than minimum wage but, instead, isn’t paying a penny.

Kelly Fallis, who has used 50 unpaid workers at her small company, probably shouldn’t be admitting to her illegal slave labor practices in Fortune magazine

“People who work for free are far hungrier than anybody who has a salary, so they’re going to outperform, they’re going to try to please, they’re going to be creative,” says Kelly Fallis, chief executive of Remote Stylist, a Toronto and New York-based startup that provides Web-based interior design services. “From a cost savings perspective, to get something off the ground, it’s huge. Especially if you’re a small business.”

The fact of the matter is there lies a fine line between “internship” and “taking advantage of someone,” and some days I’m not convinced that line exists. I’ve long questioned the concept of the “unpaid internship” in college, as not only is the work unpaid, but it requires college credit that you actually have to pay for (seems twisted, doesn’t it?) But this isn’t an article about college internships, it’s about adults who have graduated and can’t find work accepting unpaid “work” to keep themselves busy. Continue reading

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Honesty is a Good Thing…

I was checking my bank account this week when I noticed a good chunk of extra income from my last employer. While it was tempting to not notify them about this accidental bonus, I knew it was the right thing to do. Besides, they’d probably figure it out eventually and then it would be a bigger mess than it’s worth. I admit, I was hoping they’d tell me to just keep it and thanks for being honest (it’s not like I asked for the extra funds, they just appeared in my account, heh) but I figured they’d want their money back. And rightly so. Oh well, I was kind of excited to think maybe somehow my severance hadn’t been paid in full and I was owed more money, but my bank account will say so-long to the extra half-month’s income. Luckily I’m doing fine this month, even without my unemployment checks (I have not figured out how to get my unemployment checks so I’ve kind of given up at that since I have a new job starting Mon and figure California needs the money more than I do right about now.)

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Can’t Sleep Tonight

It’s been about two weeks since I’ve lost my job, which may be why I’m starting to slip into a state of freaked out / depression over the entire situation. It’s not that I’m depressed over losing the position, more so I’m terrified of how long it will take me to find something new. My experience is just so all over the map, with tasks completed that offer no means of quantifying the results.

So I’ve been spending the last 3 hours sending out cover letters and resumes to positions that seem remotely interesting. I’m not at the point yet where I’ll just apply for anything, though soon that point will come. And even then there’s plenty reason to believe I won’t get interviews or hired.
Worst case scenerio, I guess, is I have 6 months unemployment then live cheaply and use my emergency fund to last the rest of 2010 / 2011, all while applying for grad school and hopefully getting in with loans to support me through the coming two years. After that, maybe the job market will look up, or maybe I’ll actually be qualified for a job I want to do.
In the meantime, I’ll continue to freak out about this lacking a job situation.
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Understanding Unemployment

Well, here’s a new one for me. I filed for unemployment this month and have since gotten three forms in the mail to fill out and send back. I’m trying to sort out what it all means. Apparently, I can get $450 per week in unemployment insurance, or $1800 per month. That’s a lot for not working at all, I must say, even though it’s not close to what I was making prior to losing my job.

What I’m trying to understand now is how freelancing effects unemployment wage. It seems silly to bother freelancing if the government will just deduct your freelance income from unemployment (unless it happens to be more than your monthly paycheck.) Right? The thing is, right now I’m owed about $1000 for freelance work I completed. $450 for one gig, $50 for another, $475 for another. I guess I should have filed my invoices more timely, but I didn’t EXPECT to get laid off. Who does? Well, I felt it coming, but I thought I had one more month to get everything in order.
Regardless, my one freelancing job still gives me the potential of making $500 a month. I don’t “need” to file my invoice each month as far as I know, I’ve never been asked for my invoice and have often put a few months together when I didn’t have time to send in a detailed invoice any one month. But then it will look like I’ve made $1000 or $1500 in a given month, which will surely effect my unemployment wages. Would it be better to just stop working freelance at this time? It would be a bummer to give up my $500/month gig. Or should I just put off filing my invoice until I have an actual job again?
Does anyone have any experience with this?
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Over and Done and on to the Next

I apologize for taking forever to update this blog. Life has been a wee bit crazy as of late, but despite all of the chaos I think in the long run all that has gone down will be for the better. In short, at the moment I am unemployed. Basically, I quit my job, although of course it wasn’t nearly that simple. In the brief hour or so I had to decide between forced resignation and firing, I chose the former. I’m still not sure if that was the right decision given that I cut myself off from unemployment benefits, but given that the parting was amicable, it seemed in my best interest to keep things that way and not have to force my boss to fire me.

Anyway, it seems like I’m back to square one. Funny that. I spent a year and three months building up my career and I really had gotten far. Too far, to be honest. I just jumped way ahead of my capabilities at this point in my career and experience. My boss even commented in our closing conversation that I’m really good at what I do, I just need more time to nurture my skills in a more stable journalism environment, preferably at a magazine. I’m not really such such a job exists these days, nor am I sure I’d want it if miracle of miracles it was offered to me. Right now I’m going through a massive re-evaluation of my career plans and goals. I’m really interested in pursuing web design and copy writing, but I’m not sure what kind of openings there would be in those areas for someone with my particular background.

For the time being, I’m doing some freelance web and writing work, and I’m going to take a trip to the local temp agency to try to land some short-term gigs until I figure this all out. I’m a wee bit nervous about the whole health insurance situation — I’m insured until the end of the month on my current policy and then it’s either dealing with expensive Cobra coverage or trying to figure out if the alternatives are any cheaper. The whole situation isn’t very good given that I’m finally on medication to treat my depression and, well, I might not be able to obtain insurance that will help pay for the condition. Ugh. It’s fine, though, I’ve been through worse times before. To be honest, I kind of feel relieved right now. I know that I did my best and it just wasn’t the right job for me at this time. Being unemployed sucks, but hopefully I won’t be job-less for long.