I’m a college student and I have a problem. No, I know what you’re thinking, I’m not struggling through a frat-induced drug or alcohol phase and I am also not petitioning for governmental financing of my higher education, no not at all. I have a problem with people coming to my campus trying to hock their ideas and products to someone that they believe is too young to realize it’s a scam. Here’s the thing; we are not a resource to be exploited. We aren’t gold or silver, and we certainly aren’t coal merely left to be mined. You don’t visit a college campus to start a movement, find naïve unpaid skilled interns or promote your new mixtape. Just because we’re young and inexperienced doesn’t mean we are unable to smell your bullshit from a mile away. Believe it or not, yelling that “Jesus is going to burn us all” at 1:30 pm in the middle of a common space is not going to motivate a following–it will have the opposite effect. That’s because you are not leading, you’re not employing effective promotion and just because you’re on a college campus doesn’t mean the fundamental laws and guidelines of communication and advertising no longer apply.

This is a special shout-out to everyone trying to use college campuses for free labor. We pay thousands of dollars to enroll as a university student and shockingly our time is actually valuable. We owe it to ourselves as well as our families and scholarship donors to make the most of our learning opportunities whether that means spending more time in office hours or taking more credits. What that does not include is working on projects as unpaid employees for “experience.” Furthermore, often times the work you’ll be getting from an experienced and motivated student is cutting edge. We don’t have as many bad habits when coding or doing content writing. Everything we do has been recently learned and is fresh in our minds. It can actually be better, despite lack of experience. You are not some noble creature for giving a poor kid a chance to do real work. No, you are hoping to exploit a student that is already strapped for time and is supposed to be working on improving their minds for future entry into the paid workforce.

Sure, I believe college should be self-centered and there are some problems with this, but look at the job market right now. Recruiters grill us continuously–have you seen the application process to work at companies like Google? Yeah–we don’t have time to code your app or create that poster you need to promote your small business or project for free. Pay us what we deserve, and do not exploit such a valuable resource just because the market goes largely unchecked.

And this final paragraph goes out to all you students doing unpaid work–stop. Seriously, it has to end. I don’t want to make this entirely black and white, but as students we owe it to ourselves to be using this time for self improvement and if we’re working on someone else’s dream we should at least be compensated. These are arguably the only four years we get to realize and motivate our dream, and if we spend them getting “experience” then why are we even enrolled?

Sorry to anyone who reads this as I realize it’s incredibly slanted and loaded, but someone had to say it. I love doing projects and work for community members, but stop treating us as an exploitable resource–please.

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