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Friday, 29 January 2010

Money’s a bit tight at the moment…

The idea behind studentgems has always been that it provides benefits for both businesses AND students. Businesses have easy access to a pool of talented students from across the whole of the UK, all in one neat, online place. Using students is a great way for all businesses to get jobs done at a fraction of the commercial cost without compromising on quality. Meanwhile the students benefit by getting real commercial experience, build up their portfolio and earn more money than they can pulling pints.

What has been surprising is the number of employers who expect students to work for nothing. We have seen some great jobs posted on the site, which would have attracted a lot of interest from highly skilled students and recent graduates, only to be disappointed by the final sentence along the lines of: “I can’t afford to pay you anything but I’ll give you a great reference.” We only accept the posting of paid jobs for students (unless you are a registered charity) so we remove any unpaid jobs and politely remind the employer why. It never ceases to amaze us that some people really seem to think they can ask for a brand new website, similar to a site like, say, eBay, for no pay. Oh, and they need it in 3 weeks time.

It seems that too many people are happy to exploit students and think that as the current recession has made jobs hard to come by, all students and graduates will be grateful for anything they can get. It is important to remember though, that many students have to work to help pay their way through college/university and are amassing debt at unprecedented levels. They simply can’t afford to work for nothing.

We don’t get involved in any fee negotiations between employers and students but feedback we have had demonstrates that in the main students are very fair and realistic about what they should be paid. Many are happy to be paid at something a little above minimum wage for even a highly skilled job.

Many businesses are saving hundreds of pounds by tapping into the pool of talent on studentgems. Others are missing out because they are just too tight to pay anything. You wouldn’t call out a plumber to fix a pipe and say ‘sorry, I can’t pay you but I’ll definitely recommend you to all my friends’. Nobody books a DJ for a party expecting them to turn up because they like the music they’re going to be playing.

So next time you’re looking for a student to do a job, remember, they have to live too. They are keen, skilled and motivated… and in debt. Pay them a reasonable hourly rate. And next time you go to Tesco, why not try picking up a couple of tins of beans and asking if you can have them for nothing because ‘money’s a bit tight this month’. I think I know what the answer will be.

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