Wow! Selling your own work back to you

I am staggered.

As a hard-working self-employed person who also knows what it’s like to work for a boss, for an institution (years and years of it, thank you), my mind is now officially blown.  I must have been living under a mushroom!

So I’m looking up possibilities for my oldest to job-shadow, volunteer or whatever, in her gap year while she takes time out to explore which way she wants her life to turn.  I always thought, if you work, you are giving of your time and effort, and especially if you are good at it, that is worth something to the person you are working for.  So by reason, they ought to pay you.  If you volunteer, that is an enormous gift, because you are giving your valuable time to them for free!


South Africa manages to take your time and effort that you are offering as a gift, and sell it back to you as an “unforgettable experience”.  Not enough that they are getting your effort for free:  Now they want you to pay to work?  Not just one organization, but just about every one that advertises online!

Does that sound wrong to you too?

The mind boggles.






13 thoughts on “Wow! Selling your own work back to you

  1. I have always questioned the value of ‘internships’. The idea that youngsters compete for the privilege of working for an organisation, aiming to increase its profits, and yet be paid nothing save, as you say, the experience and a line on their CV is, to my mind, no more than slavery in a posh frock.

    • Of course it is; however, while she isn’t sure which direction she wants to take it was the plan to look what the work in those directions actually looks like. She has no qualifications except the school leavers’ and is part of the white minority in SA against whom the whole job-market is stacked (affirmative action – preferential employment goes to the black majority, so for every job she queues for, there are 9 people ahead of her who are preferred by law and for whom the companies get an incentive from the state). Without the funding of going to study immediately, it is a complex case. Nobody likes employing someone without qualifications, to begin with; work experience is even more of a golden goose. So I do feel there is a distinct place for unqualified volunteerwork at this point in her life, to stack her CV a little – but what boggles my mind is how these organizations make people actually pay to be allowed to volunteer!

    • There is also another factor at play. The young generation is fairly spoilt, simply by the way the system is set up. Electronics take the place of genuine hobbies, so they are not used to thinking creatively, and the internal drive for doing something constructive (that in my mind signifies the civilized mind) gets smothered by playing games online (or offline). Work ethic is a valuable asset in a personality, and volunteerwork definitely builds it.

  2. Didn’t you know that this is the latest rage in Europe? I think it’s called a “workation” or something like that. People actually pay to come and help you pick olives, grapes, harvest, etc. Of course you give them also room and board but they pay premium prices for the privilege of helping you! They will tell you that they have costs, too – like insurance and room and board but I still think they’re making a pretty penny. Hope your daughter finds the right situation. I also agree with you that we are so removed from civilization these days that what is work seems like play. All the more reason to have your kids play music – it will keep them tethered mentally and emotionally. Good luck!

    • I was thinking more during the time when guilds were very closed ranks and inductees (apprentices) had to fork out to be taught these trade secrets.

    • Well, they are again… the goldsmiths wouldn’t allow my daughter to job-shadow before she’d at least done a course -via them…

    • We have had two young people spend a few days with us as part of job shadowing. But they were matric if I recall. One may have been a first year varsity student. I cannot be sure? They just came and basically watched. Is the type of job shadow you talk about different?

    • Yes – in the library, they made R work hard, showing her the ropes. They had her free work and she got a fair impression of what library work entails. I thought it’s a win for both parties. She even went back to help the head librarian another 2 weeks.

  3. All paid employment is theft of labour anyway – you don’t have to be Karl Marx to work that out. I’ve always said that if businesses could get people to work for nothing, they would. THIS, however, is not just unprincipled, it is downright evil. The CEOs who promote this should be tarred and feathered!

    • I feel the same about it, but mostly gobsmacked that people were even able to implement that idea. Just – Wow! People actually pay to be “allowed” to volunteer?

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