It is Monday morning as I write this, which means I’ve been up since 5 AM doing everything in my power to prepare myself for the fact that the next five days will be dedicated to work and school. This is especially difficult right now, because I’m coming off of a nasty weeklong cold, so I’m now prepping myself for all of the super-fun tasks that Sick-Mary left Healthy-Mary to squeeze into one week. Those tasks include (but are not limited to!) creating my schedule for next semester (yikes), planning an advising meeting at school, and getting my for-credit Internship process started. The last one is the one that is seriously stressing me. Internships are a topic I love to discuss, and talked about a ton when I first began my Media Fellowship with TFD.
Unfortunately, due to a broken system of nonsensical requirements, my work with TFD doesn’t seem to be counting for college credit, meaning I have to complete another 150-hour internship before I can graduate. Womp womp. I’m especially spoiled in the area of internships, because the only one I’ve had so far happened to be paid. I am so endlessly grateful that I have been compensated so fairly for the work I’ve done with TFD — so much so that I’m finding it difficult to accept an internship where I won’t be paid for my work.
There are many different schools of thought on this topic, but I definitely lean towards the “pay people for doing shit” side of things. Especially because with most for-credit internships, the unpaid student workers are paying tuition for an “internship” class. At my school, that means paying roughly $1,200 for a three-credit class, for which the only course requirement is to go to your internship and work for free. At this point, it feels almost non-negotiable to me to be compensated for work that I do. I understand how that could sound spoiled or entitled, although that is not how I mean to come off. But it is definitely a core belief of mine that all people doing any work should be paid for it in some way, even if that just means a small stipend, or, at the very least, having meals and transportation paid for.
Thinking about this, I wondered what other people feel is non-negotiable for them, in terms of work. I need to have my worth respected and be fairly compensated to feel dignified in my work. But what do other people need from their jobs? I asked 7 people what their non-negotiable career demands were, and this is what they had to say.
1. “My career needs flexibility. I want to live life on my own terms, which I know, is the most tragically millennial thing to say. But I want to travel and enjoy life and not be a slave. I don’t mean to sound so childish, but I think I’m better suited for a job that isn’t a ~career~. But I don’t actually know yet. I am 23. I know what I want, but I’m not sure it is possible. But I will do all in my power to make sure I have a career that allows me to travel and vacation freely, enjoy my life, and not feel like I’m owned.” – Laura
2. “I need respect, and a moderate salary. I want to make above-average. I am not reaching for the stars; I want comfort. I’m a simple man.” – Brendan
3. “Probably the most important for me is to have a job where I feel completely dignified and like I can be myself. I don’t want to feel like a part of a machine. I’ll do my best and work so, so hard for the company that lets me feel like myself every day, and like I’m an indispensable team member.” – Rebecca
4. “I’m very serious about my worth. It is hard to get jobs doing what I do, but I don’t like to let that scare me from being firm about how much my work is worth. If I don’t like a number, it is important for me to say that and try to get paid what I think I deserve in exchange for what I’m doing. However, if they’re not willing to negotiate pay that I find acceptable, I don’t always walk. Sometimes it is worth it to just take the job and understand that you’re not being paid more simply because they can’t afford to, and not because they don’t think your work is worth more. It is tough. I know my worth; I’ll fight for it every time. But, you know, sometimes I do settle. I’m not so stubborn about it that I’ll stop doing a job I care about.” – Taylor
5. “So for me, since I’m a mother, I need that to be something that doesn’t take me down a peg in the workplace. Some places are more fair to mothers than others are. It is tricky, because there are laws and stuff protecting that, but it is still really easy to feel disrespected because you missed a meeting because your kid was sick. But like, my kid was sick. People have families and jobs, and both can be high-priority things, but sometimes you have to pick and choose what gets to be most important. Choosing my child doesn’t mean I am not the hardest worker in the office, but it is definitely seen as a weak point sometimes and I hate it.” – Cara
6. “Consistent hours, I want — actually, I need – consistent work hours. Probably because I have worked a job that was so all over the place for so long. So sometimes I’m working in the morning, sometimes afternoon, sometimes overnight. I want to kind of be able to look at my yearly schedule and know within reason the exact days and hours I’ll be working, so I can plan other life stuff around my job. It is hard to have a life outside of work when you never know when you’ll be working.” – Mark
7. “I have to have creative freedom. I write, but I don’t want my writing to be edited to death and not sound like me. It is tricky. I want to be me the whole way through, but it is hard sometimes to do that, to maintain your own freedom.” – Julia
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