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IHAVEANIDEA.ORG > ask jancy >  Would working for free jeopardize a future paid gig?

Would working for free jeopardize a future paid gig?


CDs have told me that they like my work and they would hire me if they were hiring. I’d offer to be an unpaid intern, but I’m not sure if this would be giving them the option of having my labour for free when they were originally going to hire me anyway (eventually, let’s say). I know of some people who have been unpaid interns forever at the same agencies… I also get the feeling these CD’s simply don’t have any work available, for employees or unpaid interns. And I live in Vancouver, where things are slow and the internship thing isn’t as common as it is in Toronto… yet.

So my question is – If I offer to be an unpaid intern, would it jeopardize my chances of getting a paying gig?

intro Would working for free jeopardize a future paid gig?The unpaid internship thing is still a pretty new concept here and there are simply no rules, either for the agencies that offer them or the juniors that accept them. Agencies are running very lean so they can use the help, and juniors are finding jobs harder to come by. So there you go, need meets need. And it can get out of hand. It’s not at all uncommon to hear of people doing extended free gigs, or one after the other.

In your situation, since the CDs you’ve seen have made it clear that they don’t have an opening, you can walk away and keep in touch, hoping to call at the moment an opening materializes, or you can ask if they’d be willing to give you a brief free internship (6 weeks). Neither option is wrong. You aren’t jeopardizing your chances for a full-time job if you offer to do an internship–there is no full-time job. That internship is free advanced education, seen in another light. You have a real chance to build your book with real clients. Where this goes wrong is if you’re doing this too long for free. After 6 weeks, say so long (hoping you’ve proven yourself so invaluable that they’re ready to find money to keep you). If no job is forthcoming, it’s time to hit the bricks again with full-time focus on getting a job. Resist the temptation/pressure to stay longer. Money is a good thing. As we’ve reminded people like you before, “no one can take advantage of you without your permission.”

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About Jancy

'Jancy' is Janet Kestin and Nancy Vonk, Co-Founders of Swim, a unique “creative leadership training lab for advertising creatives and marketers.” Prior to Swim, Jancy was globally renowned as the Co-Chief Creative Officers of Ogilvy & Mather Toronto, a position they held for thirteen of the twenty years they were a creative duo at the agency. Over the years they've racked up Cannes Lions, Clios, One Show pencils and CA credits, and have lead their shop to two Cannes Lions Grand Prix and a Grand Clio. They've judged CA, Cannes, D&AD, the One Show, the Clios and other prestigious award shows. Creativity named them two of the top 50 creative people of 2008. Known for their outspoken, no-bullshit style and a passion for mentoring juniors, they're ready to give you advice if you're ready to take it.

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