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Wedding Woes

I can't keep working for free.

Dear Prudence,
I’m in my mid-20s and have been trying to find work in my chosen field. I’m hoping to go back for (more) grad school in the fall, but I’m still looking for work in the meantime. To get my foot in the door I started volunteering a couple days a month at a local museum. I managed to make a good impression, and I’ve been pulled from low-impact occasional volunteering and asked to help out with special projects in different departments. On the one hand, this is great experience. On the other hand, I’m now booked up for most of the week rather than a few days a month, and it costs me $5 a day just to commute to my volunteer gig. If this continues and I keep being asked to come in regularly to “help out,” how can I delicately ask to be paid for what is amounting to a part-time job? I don’t want to burn bridges or get somehow blacklisted (this museum is a pretty big player in my field), but I also want to be paid for my work.
—Why Buy the Cow?

Re: I can't keep working for free.

  • Oh, look.  It's another "use your words" letter, lol.

    It isn't burning bridges to politely explain that your time needs to be devoted to finding paid work.  This person can either drop that hint or let them know that, if they'd like more of her time, they need to discuss fair payment terms.

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    STARMOON44
  • Be polite, but clear about what you're doing and what you're looking for. Ask if there are any paid positions available, or coming open soon. Explain what you're taking on, and why it's more substantial than a volunteer position. 

    Advocating for yourself is not burning bridges. 
    STARMOON44short+sassy
  • Ro041Ro041 member
    Sixth Anniversary 1000 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer
    "I apologize.  I cannot take on [additional role].  As you know, I am in the market for a job and need to dedicate some more time to my search."  If they have a paid role, they may offer it to you.  If they don't, you have time to look for work.  

    Or just ask to be paid. 

  • MesmrEweMesmrEwe member
    Knottie Warrior 2500 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer
    edited January 11
    As my professional mentor so eloquently chewed my @$$ one time I did professional work on the cheap (I was 20)...  "You are a professional, professionals get paid professional wages, you cheapen yourself you cheapen the industry and it affects everyone negatively, STOP IT!"   I kid you not, if I even think of discounting my rates now, my butt cheek starts to hurt!  LW needs to recognize she's not doing herself nor others any favors by doing paid work for free..
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    short+sassysparklepants41
  • GBCKGBCK member
    Knottie Warrior 5000 Comments 500 Love Its Name Dropper
    museums are beastly like this.
    And it's why I didn't volunteer at one before they hired me.
    Even if they do pay me shit.
    MesmrEwe
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