A while ago, while I was on the train back from Virginia actually (a trip I fondly documented on this blog), I submitted an application in response to an advertisement to 'work graduation' at the university I attend. I assumed this meant that I would work during graduation weekend doing things like setting up, handing out programs, etc, etc. I also foolishly assumed that this would all be coordinated by experienced adults.
As I wandered through the somewhat extensive application process, I learned that jobs would span what I expected, as well as babysitting, "camp" counseling, van driving, and preparation as far as a week in advance of graduation. Pretty much everything but installing the kitchen sink. I was a little weary of being seen by certain graduating assholes working like a dog, but I reflected that I'm a working girl and need all the help I can get.
It was only after I applied that I learned that my normal pay rate for hourly tasks (minimum wage + $2) would not be honored. Also I would have to work at least 15 hours, or face a penalty that the interns hinted was worse than death.
Oh yeah, the interns. Who ARE the interns? What are they interning for? I'm still not sure. All of the emails I was sent in reference to the job were signed "The Interns." That's when it dawned on me that my bosses were a group of undergrads not even responsible or professional enough to add their individual emails to the end of their messages.
The fun continued when I received an email stating that my information had not been filed with HR and that I could not be paid if I did not file it ASAP. This seemed someone suspicious to me, since I've been issued a stipend from the university for the past... five years. When I called HR they reported that everything was in order, and that it was probably a mass email listing all the other recipients as bccs. Which is probably true since I received still another similar email two days later, and when I sent a message pointing out that this was probably a mistake, I got no response. Of course. "The Interns" were probably busy.
Maybe I missed something along the way. But I was surprised when I started getting emails for job requests during the week of finals. Now, it's not really written anywhere, but I treat my job as a full-time endeavor. It's true that I'm flexible in my hours and that no one really minds if I don't have classes and come in and work the afternoon and evening instead of the morning and afternoon. Sometimes I'll take a walk downtown for an extra-long lunch. But I don't generally leave lab for six hours to work another job. So I declined to take those jobs. I was ok with working the shifts that I'd get for the actual weekend. Or so I thought...
The plan was to have a short orientation the Wednesday before graduation and give out the shifts that everyone had been assigned through the thoughtful planning of The Interns. I had stated in my application that I would be away at a conference during this time, but The Interns assured me that this would be fine.
Again, I might have missed something. But the week between finals and the orientation was rife with emails from The Interns asking for help. I knew that they required undergrads to work 15 hours minimum in exchange for providing them with housing, but I also informed them on my application that I live off campus and don't need housing. I guess the key was that they totally ignored this fact, and since they were deducting hours from the other workers' quota for their work pre-graduation, they felt that they needed to smash my hours into the weekend. Smash. That's the only word I can think of to describe it.
I might add that no one even emailed me my hours, or sent me any of the information that I missed during orientation (even though it was REQUIRED), until I asked, but at this point that just sounds redundant. When I finally did ask, I was informed that I would be a camp counselor (without any instruction, mind you) from 4 pm to midnight on Friday. And then, lucky me, from 8:45 the next morning until 4pm.
Again, I might be missing something, but it seems less and less likely. Why would you assign someone all of their hours in a single block? Isn't it a little excessive to ask someone to care for a camp-full of children for 16 hours in a 24 hour period (the real irony on this point is that there was a question on the application specifically designed to determine one's qualification as a counselo- but how much does this matter when you're working all those hours in a row)??
I freaked out, calmed down, freaked out, and calmed down again. After Tuesday afternoon I had started getting emails from other workers asking to switch shifts. At this point, I was still away, and was sifting through dozens of emails on my phone. I got thirty emails the first day.
Finally I found someone who was looking for time on Sat and giving away a shift on Sunday. Ah, that's more reasonable, right? I knew all this would work out. I emailed the girl and she said she would inform The Interns ASAP. After almost a full day, The Interns responded.
Turns out that I wasn't allowed to switch with a non-camp counselor, not because The Interns wanted to make sure that everyone taking care of the alumni's precious children was responsible, but because there was a special list of camp counselors' emails in a secret place that the parents could access and use to find babysitters. Finally, in response to my request that an exception be made, with the promise that I wouldn't take any babysitting jobs that weekend, The Interns responded that it would be inconvenient (yes, that was the actual word they used. Inconveninent. @Q$#@@##$$$).
So for the first time ever, I quit a job. And without ever even having worked a single minute! In my resignation email, I pointed out that the entire endeavor had been very different than what I had expected, and hinted that it just MIGHT be a little more organized if everyone weren't simply assigned a random shift. (After all was said and done, I got about 90 emails asking for shift switches. There were only 120 people on the listserv.) Notably,
I have no idea what they ended up doing to cover my shift. I didn't really pay attention to the emails from that listserv after that point, but I don't think there was one asking to cover my shifts. Instead, they were probably just one camp counselor short. Which isn't like a big deal or anything, and is definitely more convenient than editing some emails on a list somewhere.