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Unfortunately, we live in a messy world full of one-upmanship and exploitation at the best of times. Humans have ceaselessly stamped upon the heads of others in the name of progress and profit. (See history for details.) But hey, I’m not trying to get you down.
One would think that we would have developed beyond that kind of self-destructive behaviour, but even in our modern “democratic” society (don’t worry I’m not going to get political) it still happens at all levels. A recent example I stumbled across on Twitter perfectly demonstrates this.
Kudos to the potential abusee for sticking up for themselves. It reminded me of several encounters I’ve had over the years with potential clients who have expected things for nothing. I work in the web industry so typically these requests have been along the lines of:
- We’d really love to partner with you so if you can do the development (for nothing), we’ll do the selling.
- I don’t have any budget and I’m working a full-time job at the moment but I have this killer idea so if you build it I’ll give you part ownership of my (non-existent) company.
- I want eBay. Can you build me eBay? I have £500 to get it launched then I’ll give you loads more work as we grow.
What do these all have in common? A complete disregard for the value of services rendered, for the expertise of those who have honed their craft, for general human decency.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I understand that budgets for projects can be tight. I understand that there may not be any budget at all. That isn’t the point. It’s the attitude towards those who are expected to give of themselves without charge. If the attitude is right, then it can work out well. Reciprocal exchange for mutual benefit is healthy for all. Lack of reciprocity is the problem.
I have helped web development students gain work experience (for very low pay) because they are desperate to get experience in the industry and they know it will help them. The employer benefits from a hard working student with a good work ethic (who may not necessarily be “skilled” yet) and the student benefits from experience which gets them several steps closer to becoming skilled.
Internships, work experience, and portfolio building all have their place.
Exploitation has no place.