Would You Work For Nothing? (And Why You Might Consider It!)Posted: 30th of March 2015 by
If you were asked to work for no pay, chances are you would say ‘no’ right away, and of course that would make perfect sense. After all, why would you give up your time and offer your skills without getting anything in return? Doesn’t it devalue your talents?
Of course, working for nothing is a bad idea, as you surely want to be compensated for your work. But what if your ‘pay’ came in a form that was not financial? What if you got something else out of offering your time and energy to an employer without the promise of being paid any money? Suddenly a whole new way of seeing the situation opens up, and the idea of working without a wage becomes a consideration.
Now, this is in no way to say that you should simply accept working for nothing, but what if, for example, you wanted to get some work experience in a particular job? Perhaps you wanted to work at your local museum but knew they were not hiring anyone and had no money to do so at the moment. You might consider offering your time for a day a week just to help out, get your face seen, and get some experience while you are not doing anything else.
So long as it does not impact on you in any negative way (like losing you your current job), then a stint of volunteering somewhere can be worth considering for the opportunities it may open up for you. Work experience is just one of these, while networking could also form part of your volunteering agenda.
Meeting useful contacts in a profession you want to move into can be a real boost to your career, so perhaps the idea of offering some of your time for free in exchange for the chance to meet some influential people may not be such a bad idea after all.
Volunteering might not be all about work experience or contacts either. You might simply want to give back and do something positive with your time by volunteering at a charity, while others may want to use working for free as a means to prove themselves.
For example, if you want to become a writer, you might want to consider submitting some of your work for free to a few places just to build a portfolio, get your work seen, and show what you can do. Building your credibility like this can work in a number of more creative roles, getting you seen in a highly competitive market. By offering work for free to those who can open the right doors, you are using your skills to get seen and get a chance to get paid in the future.
Of course, before you consider working for nothing in any capacity, you need to be sure you are getting something in return. It might be work experience, but if you are working to establish contacts and get seen, make sure the person you are working for has the ability and power to actually help your career grow. Can they offer you paid work? Can they perhaps instead recommend you to someone else who can give you paid work? Also, you need to decide how much free work you are willing to give away, and when is the right time to stop.
Volunteering your time for no pay needn’t be a waste of time and effort – so long as you are clear what you are doing, why you are doing it, and how long you are willing to do it for!
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