toxic jobs

Personal stories about toxic jobs and workplace woes.

May 12, 2010

voluntary work fools?

Marsha, 32, chose to marry and start a family shortly after graduating and starting work and like many stay-home moms she did a lot of voluntary work for her children's school and the community generally. Unfortunately, now that she is ready to start a career and utilize her education, her community spirit is being held against her.

"At one stage I was spending more time on voluntary work than anything else," sighs Marsha. "but I always expected that whatever I did voluntarily would hold me in good stead when the time came for me to return to work."

"Well," says Marsha, "that expectation was a dead loss."

"I'm looking for a job now and as soon as I tell employers that I have done voluntary work they treat me like a leper."

"One employer asked me quite frankly 'why would I want to pay you for work that you've been doing for others for free?'," says Marsha.

"After getting the same sort of raised eyebrows and brush-offs from several employers," says Marsha, "I've come to the conclusion that able-bodied people who do voluntary work voluntarily are fools."

"When I look back on all the voluntary work I have done," says Marsha, "I do feel like a fool for working like a slave for organizations that were essentially making money out of my work."

"Sure I got a buzz out of doing some of the work I did for free," says Marsha, "but a lot of the voluntary work I did was very stressful and like I said before it got to a point where I was getting ill from trying to do everything for everybody while raising kids and keeping house."

"The trouble with being a housewife is that everyone thinks you watch soaps all day," says Marsha, "but nothing could be further from the truth."

"My husband and I were paying exorbitant school fees for our kids and yet we were expected to put in a certain number of hours at the school doing voluntary work -- most of which was pretty dirty labor."

"The teachers got paid for their work -- but we got nothing for ours."

"I can see how employers consider me a bit of mug," laughs Marsha. "I guess the teachers thought all of the parents were mugs, too!"

"The voluntary job that really knocked the stuffing out me though," sighs Marsha, "was taking on the editorship of a community newspaper."

"This was the voluntary job that I really expected would open doors for me when I returned to work," sighs Marsha, "but instead it closed doors in my face."

"I'm still looking for work and I'm still hopeful of finding something suitable," says Marsha, "but from now on I'm keeping mum about the voluntary work I've done."

"For all the talk out there about voluntary work being a noble thing to do," laughs Marsha, "it's all talk and it's probably promulgated by those who profit out of voluntary workers."

"In the real world -- the world where people get paid for their labor -- the talk is that anyone who works for free is a mug."

"I just wasn't respected as I thought I would be when I told employers about my voluntary work," says Marsha. "On the contrary they didn't want to employ someone who's so stupid that they'd work for free."

"Even my kids have got it right," laughs Marsha. "You wouldn't catch them doing chores around the house without financial reward!"

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