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Old 01-03-2013, 11:06 AM
1 posts, read 883 times
Reputation: 10


Hello, I applied for a [paid] writer's position at an English newspaper in Jakarta, Indonesia. The writer position is a behind-the-desk job which involves paraphrasing press releases (not to be confused with "reporter" which involves leaving the office building, gathering information, and writing news pieces from scratch).

The job was advertised at a job fair, hosted by an European country's alumni association in Jakarta (but it was also open to alumni of other European countries, including the country I graduated from). Given the circumstances (and the fact that this newspaper had been around longer than I have been alive), I trusted the employer and applied for the job.

I had studied basic labor law in school (but did not specialize in it, and at that time, being a fresh graduate, it wasn't really clear to me how employment benefits actually functioned although I knew some of my rights).

At the time, I also had zero work experience (apart from volunteering for earthquake recovery for less than a month/some freelance writing experience).

So they called me in for:

1. A written exam (paraphrasing press releases on their office computer);
2. A panel interview;
3. A physical examination at the hospital of their choice (it was not a transparent process, we had blood drawn, x-rays, and so on, but it was hard to tell whether they were testing for HIV/heart deficiencies);
4. A psych evaluation administered by one of those sketchy HR consultancy groups (which according to friend who studied psychology is designed to detect epilepsy tendencies).

Please note that this process was time-consuming and none of the transportation fees were reimbursed.

In the end, the newspaper calls me and offers me an "unpaid internship", which I declined. I was angry that they had misled me to think that I went through all that trouble (which to me is unreasonable amount of time to ask of somebody for an unpaid internship). Then they call me again, this time offering me a "paid internship". Again, I declined. Finally, they offered me a "paid probation" (which I would have been happy to accept if this was the first form of employment they offered me, but at that point, I was too scared to accept ANY employment offers because they seemed like terrible employers).

Based on the experience, I decided that they were bad news, having misled me (it actually kind of screamed "fraud" to me, to be honest).

I found it disgusting/sneaky that they would advertise one thing, make candidates go through all that trouble, only to be offered an unpaid position (which is NOT what they advertised). I don't know if it's just "city culture" (my parents were from small towns, and I grew up in a small town where everyone knew everyone and actually made an effort to maintain good relations with their network, I'm shocked that they didn't even consider what alumni would report back to the alumni association). I just don't understand how they treat people like this.

I thought I should also mention that, it's not that I think I was ENTITLED to a paid position right away considering my lack of experience. In fact, after rejecting the offers, I worked an unpaid internship with UN, but at least the UN was honest/transparent from the get-go about the T&C and made it very clear that it was unpaid/did not guarantee a position. The UN internship did not require ANY testing whatsoever (all I really had to do was express interest and provide my résumé).

I've also worked with American media (in Indonesia) for a position that actually REALLY required me, not only to go outdoors, but travel into forests and remote areas--which genuinely required one to be fit, and the American employer did NOT require any medical exams.

In retrospect, I think that they may have trying to avoid having to pay health benefits (if they found something in the physical). I'm not the healthiest candidate, I'm sure: I've had tumor surgery (years before this recruitment process took place), and I recently discovered that I could have mild heart problems. So I'm thinking, maybe the found something, thought they could benefit from my work, but didn't want to pay health benefits?

Personally I think the health examinations (for a behind-the-desk job) is discriminative, and just a way to pay less on insurance. They could be discriminating against HIV+ individuals and we wouldn't know it. And I think misleading fresh graduates into working unpaid internships worsens the youth unemployment problem.

Any thoughts about the situation? Is this common? Any similar experiences of being misled and having their time wasted? Would something like this ever happen in the US, Europe, or Australia? Thank you in advance.
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Old 01-03-2013, 11:08 AM
Location: southern california
61,294 posts, read 82,122,708 times
Reputation: 55458
the good news what an adventure and opportunity. the bad i would not work in jakarta ever, collecting your pay can be an issue.
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