I’ll Do Anything for Funds… but I Won’t Do That

Let’s talk about standards, because my job search has me thinking about those quite a bit.

Just to update you on what’s been going on since my last post, I joined a different freelancing site. This one didn’t reject me based on a nebulous lack of qualifications on my part, which was encouraging. In order to prove that I have certain qualifications that are required for some jobs, though, I need to pay to take multiple-choice tests. These cost $5 USD apiece, which really isn’t bad, but I tend toward caution and would rather play it safe for now by putting bids on projects that don’t require those certifications until I feel comfortable making the investment. I’m hoping to perform writing-related work as well as some manuscript typing and transcription to take advantage of the fact that I can type 89 words per minute (a talent which has thus far impressed a lot of people, but hasn’t actually been used to its fullest potential). I haven’t been on the site for very long, but hopefully everything will go smoothly.

Within an hour of creating my account, I thought that I found a very nice, easy typing job that would get me started off on the right foot. Copy a 100-item list into a Word document? I could have it done within an hour. While taking a nap, even. This was about to be the easiest $10 that I’ve ever made. Then came the details. Sure, it involved copying a list down… a list that was printed on a poster on an external website that they directed me to via a hyperlink. A motivational poster, of all the ironies. This person was going to a freelance site to employ someone else to copy down a motivational poster for their own personal or office use because they didn’t want to pay the full price for it.

I retracted my offer, which means that I’m down one of my limited number of bids. Not ideal, but at least I dodged a bullet and learned a lesson about reading carefully, especially in the face of dollar signs that look like they’re within easy reach. Even if it would have been easy, even if my plagiarism had never been caught, I feel better for walking away from this one. So, I figured as long as I’m getting confronted with things that violate my standards, I figured I’d talk about what those are.

I’m willing to do a lot for a job, whether it’s a “day job” or a writing gig. It comes with the territory of being a liberal arts student: we’re willing to try just about anything once, even if it means we have to learn something new on the way. I’ve sent out resumes for a lot of different positions, and I’ve written everything from greeting cards to white papers. There are two things that I consider when I apply for a job, though.

I have a number of physical limitations to keep in mind. I mean this in the sense of my chronic condition, which sometimes means that I need to take it a little easier and have a restroom available, as well as in terms of what the rest of my body is capable of. I’m a 107-pound, five-foot-five-inch-tall female that tries to walk five miles a day (I usually get in around three) but isn’t particularly athletic and doesn’t train with weights nearly as often as she should: I cannot comfortably lift between 50 and 100 pounds, let alone walk around quickly while carrying that much. I could probably get close if I trained, but even if I got much stronger than I am, I would still look like a stick that wouldn’t be capable of the job (I have my genes to thank for that). I also tend not to travel well because nothing triggers digestive system problems quite like unfamiliar food and stress: I can generally put up a good front and push through it, but I need time to recuperate afterward (yes, I’m one of those people that needs a vacation from a vacation).

Additionally, despite all of my time in hospitals spent talking about my organs, I’m a bit squeamish: I don’t mind getting sweaty or dirty, as long as it involves literal dirt. I’m out at the first sign of bodily fluids or excreta: I can clean up after pets, and manure would be fine, but any kind of career in medicine, human or animal, is totally out of the picture. I’ve known that since I was about eight or so, when I nearly passed out on the floor of a veterinarian’s office while he was showing my Girl Scout troop how he examines dogs. I don’t even remember what he was doing or what triggered me, but the dog was in pain, and I was not a fan of any part of this arrangement. I didn’t outgrow it, either: I was better at fetal pig and mudpuppy dissections than some of my peers, but not what you would call fine with them. I have all the admiration in the world for doctors and surgeons, because I know for a fact that I could not do what you do, ever.

I also have some ethical limitations, which are often the kinds of things for which I might get told “Suck it up and do it, a job’s a job.” Obviously I want to stay on the right side of the law. My politics are more liberal, especially socially, so working for more conservative-leaning organizations is totally out of the question lest I compromise my principles. I’m also not going to lie about my beliefs, which is the reason that, while I can read tarot cards and I’m getting pretty good at it, I will not accept payment for doing it. Tarot is a very deeply spiritual practice for a lot of people, where I tend to use it for personal and creative exercises and would break it out as a party trick if requested and with the understanding that it’s for entertainment purposes only: I don’t believe in the more magical parts as much. Asking people to pay me for something that they believe in but I don’t would be, in my eyes, sort of like me going to seminary and becoming a pastor despite not being religious. That brand of cognitive dissonance might be fine for some people, but I wouldn’t be comfortable with it.

As it happens, a lot of freelance sites are testing my limits with regard to the latter. I expected the droves of college students looking for someone to write their essays for them, but I didn’t expect the client that wanted me to copy someone else’s work. I have yet to be tempted over to the proverbial dark side, but it’s getting increasingly hard to believe that a light side still exists when it comes to newcomers like me. At some point, I’m going to have to take a job, and at this point I can’t be too picky if I want to actually make money. Outside of things that are blatantly illegal (or even only questionably legal), what is my price? At what dollar amount can I be purchased? What kind of offer would have to be on the table for me to agree to any of my deal-breakers? I don’t actually know, it’s not something I hope to learn, and it’s a little unnerving to think that point might exist.

I hate to make shameless plugs on what I hoped would be an entertaining and possibly even enlightening blog, but if you like what I do here, or you read this post and think that I’d be great to work with, why not get in touch? Even if you don’t need the writing or typing that I mentioned earlier in this entry, I would be open to the possibility of things like guest posts and collaborations. Seriously, let’s talk.