Would you teach for free?

Discussion in 'Online & DL Teaching' started by thomas_jefferson, Sep 19, 2010.


Would you teach a class or two for free to break into online teaching?

  1. Yes.

    22 vote(s)
  2. Maybe.

    2 vote(s)
  3. No.

    12 vote(s)
  4. I am already established/not a teacher/abstain/etc.

    1 vote(s)
  1. I take it you don't volunteer for soup kitchens on the weekends, Ted. ;)

    You definitely have a perspective that's shared by some segments of the population.
  2. Lindagerr

    Lindagerr New Member

    Maybe for low pay but not no pay

    Many industries "try workers out" using temps or subs for low pay. It is a way to see how they do before making the time and financial investment in the person. During my years in the chemical Lab field several times I was told if you want to get into XYZ company you have to work for them as a temp. it is the only way they hire new people.
    Now I am trying to break into Middle school teaching, again I am told go out and substitute at as many schools as you can it is a way for me to see if I like the way the school is run and it is a way for them to see if I can handle a class. The pay is low ($70/ day-$95/day) that is not a living wage here in NW Jersey, but if I can get a school to like me then I have a good chance when a fulltime job does come up.
    I would be leary about doing it for free, because then the school has no investment in me and it is just as easy to go on to the next free candidate.
  3. Ted Heiks

    Ted Heiks Moderator and Distinguished Senior Member

    For the record, I have volunteered for a social club (both as a karaoke dj and giving presentations on topics historical and cultural) for three years and for the Humane Society (working in the laundry room and walking dogs) for two years. And I'm frankly getting sick and tired of not having a paying job.
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 22, 2010
  4. Ted Heiks

    Ted Heiks Moderator and Distinguished Senior Member

    PS - I also volunteered for Obama's Campaign for Change.
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 22, 2010
  5. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator

    I could be wrong but here's what I see as being the hang up. From the school's perspective you are teaching in order to obtain experience and a reference. However, the person who earns that experience and reference is going to take that and try to parlay it into a teaching job in a more established place (that might actually pay for services rendered). The entire value of the prospective teachers experience and the accompanying reference hinges on the recognition of XYZ University as a real, viable place of learning. There's no real sense that this would actually be the case. Most likely what people will get is "Never heard of it. It doesn't appear on any list of accredited schools, etc." So you're saying that there's value in obtaining this experience/references but the fact is that you may be overrating that value by a substantial margin. I could teach at your school for a year and it would likely count for nothing once I'm done.
  6. CalDog

    CalDog New Member

    That's not how I would read Ted's statements.

    People who volunteer at the soup kitchen do so as an act of charity. But that's irrelevant to the poll. The poll does not say: "Would you teach a class or two for free as an act of charity?"

    The poll actually says: "Would you teach a class or two for free to break into online teaching?" So the poll's stated incentive is professional development -- not charity.

    So the more appropriate response should be "I take it you wouldn't work in a restaurant kitchen for free on weekends, in order to break into the restaurant business". And in fact, most people probably would answer in the negative to that question.
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 22, 2010
  7. CalDog

    CalDog New Member

    Alternatively, let's say that a prospective employer at "Established University" does know something about "Volunteer University". But if he has any familiarity at all with "Volunteer University," he will know that it doesn't pay anything to its teachers. Even if "Established University" is impressed by your teaching experience, they will have little incentive to offer you competitive wages, since you have demonstrated that you are willing to teach classes for free.
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 22, 2010
  8. My comment was tongue-and-cheek towards, Ted. I don't know him personally, he could be a great philanthropist, for all I know.

    What I am hearing from Ted is a frustration about securing a paying job for himself. Seeing that over 50% of people who responded to this poll would work for free, isn't exactly heartening for those who want to make a career out of teaching online. This reminds me of the current decline of journalism. As it turns out, people would gladly take the job as "journalist" for free -- writing blogs, posting up video and pictures, submitting their opinions in various media, etc. This cuts into the wages and opportunities of career journalists.
  9. I think you're right up until this comment. In your scenario, we'd have to be polling a bunch of people who really wanted to be in the restaurant business but it was highly competitive and difficult to get into. If we polled these people with the question, "Would you work for free at a restaurant to break into the industry?" I think that most people of that group would answer "yes" just as most people have answered yes to this poll.

    There's a reason internships are so popular in certain industries.
  10. CalDog

    CalDog New Member

    If you limited the poll to people who really wanted to be in the restaurant business, then yes, you could get mostly positive responses. On the other hand, if you opened the poll to everyone, regardless of their interest in the restaurant business, then you would probably get mostly negative responses.

    In this case, the latter scenario is the relevant one. You opened your poll to all degreeinfo readers, regardless of their interest in online teaching. You didn't limit the poll to people who really wanted to teach online.
  11. True, but there is an option for people to abstain and the wording of the question does presume that anyone who would answer "yes", "no", or "maybe" would be someone who wanted to be in the teaching industry.

    But yes, admittedly, to be a fair poll (if such a thing could happen on DegreeInfo) there'd need to be some adjustments to the language. You're right in that regard.

    I would guess that in both of our restaurant and teaching scenarios that the majority of people would work for free to break into a tough industry. I know in my case (anecdotal, I know), it worked, and I'd do it again. But there'd need to be scientific polling done to know for sure.
  12. RFValve

    RFValve Well-Known Member

    Education is the type of industry that people are willing to work for little money or even free in order to break in. Where I live, the most prestigious schools are the ones that pay the lowest to their adjuncts and yet they have more applicants than positions available. I personally know a PhD that is working as a free post doc researcher at a prestigious University just to get the University name in his resume.
    I wouldn't hesitate to work for free as an adjunct for Harvard but would not consider a free position at the UoP or other online for profit. I have few for profits in my resume and they mean absolutely nothing when you apply for full time positions. They are not taken seriously by most of the B&M school and I put them on my resume only when applying to another online school.

    I believe that many people feel very enthusiastic about online teaching but very few actually continue doing it after they realize the time it takes and little money it makes. The problem with online teaching is that there are no future expectations of raises or better money as most schools pay flat fees regardless of teaching experience or time spent in school.

    Most people that I see doing the online teaching thing are people with flexible jobs like academics, single guys with no family commitments or relationships or professional adjuncts. Pleople with demanding jobs and families don't last long in the industry.
  13. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator

    Good point by you.
  14. Maniac Craniac

    Maniac Craniac Moderator Staff Member

    And just how much change did you collect? :D

  15. Maniac Craniac

    Maniac Craniac Moderator Staff Member

    He is. In fact, he has donated millions of kilobytes of information to this site. :)
  16. rickyjo

    rickyjo New Member

    Hmmmm, this gives me a great idea. I'm going to march into my favorite computer repair shop in town and offer to work for minimum wage on a trial basis (say one month) so I can prove myself and mitigate their risk in hiring an employee with no provable job history in tech (I'm self-employed and have been for a while). I have always wanted to work there.
  17. It used to be real common where you'd march into a place and say, "I'll work for free for a week or two to prove myself." I know my career started that way.

    From a younger worker, I think it shows initiative. From a more seasoned worker, it might show desperation.
  18. okydd

    okydd New Member

    It seems like the ultimate predatory pricing / lowballing to me. Maybe bait and switch, free now pay later I get experince. Could be unethical, downward push and wages. I will volunteer, but not at the expense of a qualified paid employee.
  19. cdhale

    cdhale Member

    A few years ago, I found myself in a tight spot, needing a job (before I finished my MA), and got a local appliance repair shop to let me ride with one of their techs for a month, prove that i could do the job, and then start getting paid. It worked for me. I had zero experience in repairing appliances, but worked hard that month, and then was hired full time. When I left (for a much higher paying and less time consuming job), the boss almost cried and told his most recent hires that "if you can learn to work like this guy [me], then you will do alright."

    So, it can work. However, I don't think I could say that I worked for free, really. My pay was getting a full time job to feed my family.
  20. rickyjo

    rickyjo New Member

    It sounds like everybody thinks it's a half-way decent idea :). I don't think one can really volunteer to work for free at any high profile stores anymore because of labor laws, and minimum wage is relatively "generous" in Colorado, but if it would land me a job at this particular store (and maybe a discount!) that would be a huge score for me. They are primarily a high quality parts store so I would get to play with/learn more about high end stuff. I'm telling you I spend all day fixing pentium 4's and it gets old doing the same five things every day. I want to help people design custom builds, recommend parts with bang for your buck, and get first hand experience and costumer accounts of the latest high end parts. If I have to scour craigslist for one more 40gb IDE drive I'm going to lose it.

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