Mobile menu

Conference volunteering - excellent opportunity or blatant exploitation?
Thread poster: Bianca AH
Bianca AH  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 22:12
French to English
+ ...
Sep 8, 2005

Hi everyone,

I have been offered a job to work as a "language volunteer" at a major international conference which is taking place in my city.

The details are sketchy, but so far I know that it includes 2 days of training in customer care and credits, 5 days "on the job", and 2 days "closing down and clearing up".

There is no pay, but the volunteers will be fed and given uniforms.

It's a good opportunity, but I have my reservations (as do others who have also been offered the work, as well as a lecturer I consulted). I suppose I'm worried about spending my time at the conference as a glorified waitress and not using my languages.

It is also a very long time away from studies/class work for a full-time student as well as losing 10 days income from part-time work!

I have emailed the outsourcer requesting more details and I am awaiting a response. Time, unfortunately, is not a luxury, as training begins next week.

As one Pro suggested, I should follow my gut feel in these situations, but perhaps my gut is a bit of a worrywort!

Thanking you for any advice!

Bianca


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 14:12
English to Spanish
+ ...
It's a good opportunity Sep 8, 2005

What's good about the opportunity? The free meals? And NO PAY?You do not mention who is sponsoring this conference, but from what I can see it appears to be a commercial, profit-making venture.

Pass it up without another thought.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

PCovs
Denmark
Local time: 22:12
Member (2003)
English to Danish
+ ...
Hear! Hear! Sep 8, 2005

Henry Hinds wrote:

What's good about the opportunity? The free meals? And NO PAY?You do not mention who is sponsoring this conference, but from what I can see it appears to be a commercial, profit-making venture.

Pass it up without another thought.


I would also pass this one up.

Be sure that the sponsors are making a profit on this conference, and there's most likely no excuse for them not to pay for any assistance.

And, it will take up time where you ought to be in school or working (and getting paid for it), so I also do not see any "good oportunity" here.


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Bianca AH  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 22:12
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Strike 3? Sep 8, 2005

I have just got my hands on a brochure for the conference. Attendance is almost 1 500 Euros per delegate.

Direct link Reply with quote
 

Marijke Singer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:12
Dutch to English
+ ...
Uniform? Sep 8, 2005

Bianca AH wrote:

There is no pay, but the volunteers will be fed and given uniforms.

Bianca


I've never been given a uniform or told how to dress for that matter for an interpreter's job. We are professionals and if we decide to work in our bikinis, hey that is our decision! We'll probably be able to carry it off if our reputation is good enough.

Sounds suspicious to me!


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Edwal Rospigliosi  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 22:12
English to Spanish
+ ...
What are you thinking, my friend? Sep 8, 2005

Bianca AH wrote:

I have just got my hands on a brochure for the conference. Attendance is almost 1 500 Euros per delegate.


Then, no way to do it for free, no matter how pretty is the uniform. And you should pass this bit of information to all your fellow translators.

Good luck!


Direct link Reply with quote
 

PCovs
Denmark
Local time: 22:12
Member (2003)
English to Danish
+ ...
Now really! Please say you won't do it! Sep 8, 2005

Like I said, be sure they are making a profit.

It sounds exactly like exploitation if anything does!
DON'T accept, and tell everyone you know not to accept either.

You're a professional and should be treated as such. Here the sponsors are treating you with a complete lack of respect, and you should not stand for it.

The only thing to be gained by accepting a "job" like this is the knowledge that the sponsors will be laughing their heads off behind your back while they take their profits to the bank.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Lawyer-Linguist  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 21:12
Dutch to English
+ ...
South African perspective............ Sep 9, 2005

Hi Bianca,

I really understand your reservations, but since it's in your city (Jo'burg?) what have you really got to lose?

I'd say go to the first training day - if your initial impressions are then not good, simply state your reasons and leave at lunch-time, or after 10 minutes if needs be. Sandton back into Wits doesn't take that long (or whatever the case is....)

It may well be a good opportunity for networking and practising your skills and at the end of the day the organisers may act as a good reference for you when your university studies are over.

Then again, they may not - but how are you going to know unless you take the initial morning and try it out? What's a morning set aside to give it a go?

I know what the job market is like in South Africa - I'm from Pretoria myself - I can also imagine how these organisers have had their fingers burnt before. Sounds to me like they've possibly targeted senior students to assist. At the end of the day it's all work experience, you might be pleasantly surprised.

And if not, well stop off in Sandton City on the way back, pop into Truworths/Daniel Hechter and send me a mail that will make me green with envy - sitting in a Portuguese village, without access to all that .......;-)

Jy gaan mos nie weet as jy nie probeer nie, né?

I don't find it all that unusual to target students in this way, especially not in SA.

Why don't you give SATI a quick call in Pretoria and ask them if they've got further info?

Sterkte
Debs



[Edited at 2005-09-09 11:38]

[Edited at 2005-09-09 11:40]

[Edited at 2005-09-09 11:45]


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Bianca AH  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 22:12
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Dankie Debbie Sep 9, 2005

Thanks for the SA perspective.

Yes, you're right, it's not unusual to target students in this way. I have in the meantime heard back from the organisers who may or may not get back back to me, as there was apparently a deadline to confirm participation.

IF it's possible to test the waters, then I will do just that. Though I think the bottom line is time and the fact that we've been told so little about what we will do. But perhaps this is always the case ;P

Either way, I'll definitely pop into Sandton, dahl!


Direct link Reply with quote
 
juvera  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:12
Member (2005)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Dress code for professionals Sep 12, 2005

[quote]Marijke Singer wrote:

"We are professionals and if we decide to work in our bikinis, hey that is our decision!"

Dear Marijke, apart from the other issues, I have to take you up on that one.

I don't agree to wear a uniform provided, that is ridiculous. But it is precisely because we are professionals, we respect the place where we work, and don't turn up in inappropriate clothes.

When I go to interpret at court for example, I try to look the part of a professional interpreter. After all, I can still wear what I like, but the other professionals, starting with the judge have to comply with the dress code of the court, so why should I complain?

It is not exactly a great sacrifice to give a thought to what you wear in your professional capacity.

Regards
Judith


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 22:12
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Guys, we're not talking about interpreters Sep 12, 2005

[quote]juvera wrote:

Marijke Singer wrote:

"We are professionals and if we decide to work in our bikinis, hey that is our decision!"

Dear Marijke, apart from the other issues, I have to take you up on that one.

I don't agree to wear a uniform provided, that is ridiculous. But it is precisely because we are professionals, we respect the place where we work, and don't turn up in inappropriate clothes.

When I go to interpret at court for example, I try to look the part of a professional interpreter. After all, I can still wear what I like, but the other professionals, starting with the judge have to comply with the dress code of the court, so why should I complain?

It is not exactly a great sacrifice to give a thought to what you wear in your professional capacity.

Regards
Judith


We're on the level of conference assistants, i.e., entry level into the congress industry. Yes, they generally wear a uniform because it goes with the venue and the image (which sometimes is the host country's image). Been there, done that. Our uniforms were designed by a top signature.


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Bianca AH  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 22:12
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Not interpreters Sep 13, 2005

Yes, Parrot is right. The idea, I think, is to help foreign delegates with this and that and just be available to communicate in languages other than English.

Anyway, that ship has sailed! Training began yesturday, and as far as I know, no one I know decided to go.

Thanks again for your comments, everyone!

Bianca


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 22:12
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
The idea Sep 13, 2005

Bianca AH wrote:

Yes, Parrot is right. The idea, I think, is to help foreign delegates with this and that and just be available to communicate in languages other than English.


(in my time, anyway) was to man Registration, Information and Ushering. Sometimes you're drafted by necessity into the Secretariat (paper production), which isn't as much fun and belongs to another professional category. Translation is the rung above that. The Registration Desk is the most stressful (also the most fun). You have to know how to read passports, because they come in all languages and alphabets and sometimes you have to transcribe them. Then, people also ask you the miscellaneous questions, ranging from how high some mountain is over sea level to where's the bathroom. At other times, you're moved to help them get checked in and settled in their hotels.

A specialist job in this area is troubleshooting. There you get the lost travelers' checks you have to cancel at Thomas Cook ASAP and the ladies who leave their curlers on the plane (keep a straight face and call the airline). You may have to confirm a few flights. You also get the chocolates they gift you with when you've solved particularly thorny problems. And the occasional petrodollar guy who'll buy you for 50 camels (mostly as a joke these days).

Don't, at any rate, accept any consignments from people wanting to leave packages before going into the sessions - if they don't tell you this during the briefing, ask. Qualified security guards are supposed to be detailed to such jobs. Bomb scares are always a risk.

All in all, hardly a glorified waitress... but I still think you should have been offered conference assistant rates.

[Edited at 2005-09-13 10:50]


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Bianca AH  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 22:12
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
50 camels Sep 13, 2005

Ah, nuts! You mean I could've scored 50 camels and a rich husband flush with petrodollars?! Tell you what, I could really do with 50 camels ;P

Direct link Reply with quote
 


To report site rules violations or get help, contact a site moderator:

Moderator(s) of this forum
Rania Ioannou[Call to this topic]

You can also contact site staff by submitting a support request »

Conference volunteering - excellent opportunity or blatant exploitation?

Advanced search






TM-Town
Manage your TMs and Terms ... and boost your translation business

Are you ready for something fresh in the industry? TM-Town is a unique new site for you -- the freelance translator -- to store, manage and share translation memories (TMs) and glossaries...and potentially meet new clients on the basis of your prior work.

More info »
Protemos translation business management system
Create your account in minutes, and start working! 3-month trial for agencies, and free for freelancers!

The system lets you keep client/vendor database, with contacts and rates, manage projects and assign jobs to vendors, issue invoices, track payments, store and manage project files, generate business reports on turnover profit per client/manager etc.

More info »



All of ProZ.com
  • All of ProZ.com
  • Term search
  • Jobs