toxic jobs

Personal stories about toxic jobs and workplace woes.

May 04, 2010

competing for community jobs

Now that Franca's children are in high school, she wants to do something worthwhile with her spare time. Community work appealed but her experience of organized community work led her to become a freelance volunteer in much the same way that paid workers turn to freelance work.

"I was very enthusiastic about joining a particular community organization until my eyes were opened by what I experienced," says Franca.

"I think too many women go into community work with shut eyes and unrealistic expectations," laughs Franca, "and I was one of them."

"The first thing I learned is that as the pool of unemployed and retired people gets larger, the pool of good community jobs diminishes and, naturally, the high profile community jobs are going to be in high demand - and you have to compete pretty ruthlessly for them."

"So," explains Franca, "when I went to apply for a community job I ended up having as much difficulty as I would have had applying for a real, paying job."

"I am not interested in looking for a real paying job," explains Franca. "I have a husband earning a good income and he expects me to be a full-time wife and mother. But if I were looking for a real job I would be humiliated to be rejected for it."

"Imagine my humiliation to be rejected for an unpaid community job!"

"I could not believe that applying for a community job was going to be as difficult as applying for a paying job."

"When you’re offering your services gratis," laughs Franca, "you don’t expect laborious application procedures, interviews and rejection slips - but believe me it happens."

"A lot of the community organizations are highly political, too," says Franca, "and I was a fool to rush into community work thinking that with my social standing I would be snapped up and treated like a queen. I wasn't!"

"Also, despite their name," warns Franca, "most community organizations have paid staff. When you work in a voluntary capacity for such an organization you are clearly defined as a volunteer. There is a clear and wide divide between paid staff and community staff."

"Unfortunately, as any in corporation, there is likely to be a ‘we are better than you’ mentality operating in some of these community organizations," explains Franca, "and if this is likely to annoy you as much as it annoys me then community work is not for you!"

"Also," adds Franca," I would feel very uncomfortable working alongside someone who is getting paid for what I am doing for free - it doesn't make sense."

"A community organization shouldn't be squandering donated money on salaries. It is a travesty of the whole purpose of a community organization for people to be earning a living off money donated by you and I to help the poor or disadvantaged."

"In return for offering my services free I expected to be accepted for an interesting position holding a certain amount of social status and power - as befitting my social standing in the real world," says Franca, "but these jobs generally go to retired public servants through the old boys' or girls' network."

"In fact," says Franca, "the whole hierarchy of some community organizations is almost exclusively filled by people 70+ who were formerly politicians or public servants."

"You need to belong to the old boys' or old girls' network to get a good community job," sighs Franca, "and because the only community jobs that are available were beneath my dignity to do - I opted out completely."

"There's plenty of informal community work out there and that's what I'm doing now," says Franca. "I'm helping people in the community as an independent volunteer - I'm my own boss!"
Labels: community jobs, competing, moms, return to work, volunteering

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