Sneaky unpaid work trial

Our correspondent wished to name the company and we cannot verify the details of their story

I applied for a ‘creative content trainee’ position with MEC in Manchester after finishing my degree. MEC are one of the world’s ‘leading’ media agencies and are owned by a very large American company. I had two interviews – at which we discussed my experience (of which I had little, only university projects) and my creative ideas for two clients they had at the time (how to help them with SEO/ drive traffic to the website). After passing these interviews I was invited to do a three day trial at the office. During these three days I worked 9-5, barely allowed myself a lunch break, and worked my butt off to find a lot of blogs they hadn’t already found, which they could use to host guest posts. I negotiated with bloggers, worked on the project in the evenings at home and contributed a much needed alternative and fresh perspective on the project at hand. When the three days finished I was shown the door and contacted a week later to say I was ‘not experienced enough’.

OK let me dig into this.

As a poor graduate with no income, three weeks rent for the whole assessment (from interview to final decision) is a bit of an inconvenience. They knew exactly how much experience I had, as we had discussed this in not one, but TWO interviews. The very fact that they advertised the role as trainee led me to believe that little experience was required in the first place. The most annoying part of this was that they had dragged the experience out, set me up to believe I was seriously being considered for the role, took all the work I had put in for them and said cheerio without paying me. I was so furious that they had blatantly used me that I replied to the head manager to ask why they had wasted my time and money, and could they please pay me for the three days I worked. I got no response.

Aside from this I found some of their practices dodgy. For example, I was asked to create a fake alias and gmail address with which to contact bloggers and websites. I expected to use a company email address or at least, I assumed the permanent staff in the team would. I was shocked to find they all had fake names, twitter and gmail accounts. Not very ethical for such a large company?  

I am certain they did this to a number of graduates as the post was advertised on their website for about 4 months. Getting unsuspecting and naive grads to undertake a three day work trial appears to be a little loophole they took advantage of – saving costs, and stealing fresh ideas they couldn’t think of themselves.

This was only three days, but I wanted to flag this company for the attention of other graduates thinking of applying to any MEC vacancies. Don’t waste your time and energy!

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2 Responses to “Sneaky unpaid work trial”


  1. 1 Mark 10/04/2012 at 1:31 pm

    Hi Anon, do get in touch if you want to make a claim against this company – it’s very easy, entirely free and can be done with little more than a phone call. Let me know if you want to know more!

    Mark
    email: derrywatson(at)gmail.com

  2. 2 Steve Job 03/07/2013 at 2:50 pm

    Thanks for sharing good post in your site.


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