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We are a start up and you are a "beginner", so we can't pay you.

 
Lexington Smith
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I do have some "basic" knowledge of Java and also internship which was 800 US$ a month, full time. I am still in the initial stages of being a developer and my internship experience did not make a stellar improvement to my experience.
Given this background, I randomly applied to a couple of Jobs 3 of which were startups. Guess what ? All of them offered me $0 !!!

Okay, I admit that I have a LOT to learn. But, isn't $0 too less <insert rolling eyes here>. Is this an excuse that most startups make or try to use ? How can I tell if it is actually possible for them to pay me some money ?
How do you suggest I negotiate with them ? Even $500 per month for full time is better than $0. But, I don't understand why they can't give that to me.
 
chris webster
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$0.00 salary? Luxury! I recently offered to work for free for a few months at a local company in order to improve my Java skills, but they turned me down - it seems my skills are actually worth less than zero!

It sounds like you probably need to focus your job-hunting on companies that understand the basic economic principle of "I work, you pay me". Unless you can afford to work for free to get genuinely useful experience with a cutting-edge startup, but I'd be very cautious about donating your labour for free without a very clear understanding on both sides of what you hope to gain from the experience.

 
Campbell Ritchie
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chris webster wrote: . . . it seems my skills are actually worth less than zero! . . .
The incurable pessimist here! There are at least two other possible explanations:-
  • 1: They do not have the facilities, space, people, or similar, to help you learn.
  • 2: They don’t have a hold on you. They can’t insist you give notice before leaving, or be there at a particular time, or work in a particular fashion. To alter what you said, “We pay you, you work for us.” I assure you, volunteers are much more awkward and difficult to handle than employees.

  • But I agree that offering work and not paying for it is very wrong.
     
    chris webster
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    Campbell Ritchie wrote:The incurable pessimist here! There are at least two other possible explanations:-
  • 1: They do not have the facilities, space, people, or similar, to help you learn.

  • Yes, I think that was their main concern (although as a contractor I'm used to hitting the ground running and picking stuff up fast). But it still doesn't do much for your professional pride!
     
    Deepak Bala
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    I assure you, volunteers are much more awkward and difficult to handle than employees.


    Yep. I second that.

    How do you suggest I negotiate with them ? Even $500 per month for full time is better than $0. But, I don't understand why they can't give that to me.


    They may simply not have the money to pay you. Why promise you 500$ / month when they are not sure if they can keep that promise. I dont know what the market is like where you work, but if I were to choose a job that paid me 25,000 rupees a month (roughly 500$ today), the salary that I am offered on the next job would only try to match that number. A company at my work location (India) rarely ever pays you what you are worth. If this is true in your area you should not accept such offers. Companies will try to low-ball you later.

    I would not accept that offer. Its also harder to negotiate at the next company since your base price is 0$.
     
    Henry Wong
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    Lexington Smith wrote:
    How do you suggest I negotiate with them ? Even $500 per month for full time is better than $0. But, I don't understand why they can't give that to me.


    IMO, it is probably easier to get an extra 5K on a 100K offer, than to get an $500 on a $0 offer. In the first case, it is a 5% difference, in the second case, ..... well, it is "ERR" % according to my calculator...

    Anyway, and also IMO, with an offer of $0, it is likely not about your skills. Either they don't have the budget, which sadly is true for a lot of startups. Or they are so hot, that they can actually get away with a $0 offer. Personally, I don't see the value of such an offer. It may get the company free work, but the purpose is to create product, and unless the company is just creating a throwaway prototype, they would actually need real experience.

    Henry

     
    Jeanne Boyarsky
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    It's also a bit shady if not outright illegal. For an internship, a company can pay $0 and you get school credit. For legitimate work, they are usually supposed to pay at least minimum wage. You are still free to volunteer of course.

    I agree with the above - you are better off finding a company that can pay. You'll also probably learn more. If they don't have money to pay you, they probably don't have the time/interest to train you either.
     
    Lexington Smith
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    Jeanne Boyarsky wrote:It's also a bit shady if not outright illegal. For an internship, a company can pay $0 and you get school credit. For legitimate work, they are usually supposed to pay at least minimum wage. You are still free to volunteer of course.

    I agree with the above - you are better off finding a company that can pay. You'll also probably learn more. If they don't have money to pay you, they probably don't have the time/interest to train you either.


    Some of my friends had unpaid internships where they hardly got a chance to get trained or interact closely with the employees of the company. They ended up spending money to travel to the company
    and gained almost no experience.

    I would be very surprised if some people actually did an unpaid intern (not voluntary) and actually got some good experience.

     
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