Quickie: This Is What Companies Expect from Volunteers?

Always on the lookout for part-time and contract work, I was trawling WorkInCulture.ca today when I came across a copywriter/web editor position. A Toronto ballet company is looking for someone with an undergraduate degree, writing experience, knowledge of RSS and online research, and ideally video editing experience. Sounds pretty standard for an entry-level position, right?

Except this job doesn’t pay. The company is searching for a volunteer.

Look, I get that arts-based organizations are severely underfunded, and that most of them would not survive without volunteers and interns. I offer several of my services for free, and I volunteer for Shameless magazine. I am pro-volunteer! But a (presumably) long-term, regular position that expects specific skills and experience is not a volunteer position. It is a job. The person who gets that position will be working for the company’s marketing department, and as far as I can tell, the company is for-profit. So essentially, they’re looking for someone who can help raise their revenues. That deserves to be compensated.

(Not necessarily with money, by the way! The ad does not mention anything that prospective volunteers can hope to get out of the position – great experience and references, free tickets to the ballet, a postgraduate college credit. Nothing.)

Obviously, if you love the ballet and can afford the time, by all means you should apply for this position. But I think it says a lot about the value of an undergraduate degree (not to mention journalism experience) when it’s considered a prerequisite for jobs that don’t even pay.

If you’re wondering how to advertise for volunteers in a way that doesn’t sound totally obnoxious, take a cue from Shameless.

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