It really doesn’t feel like it—as I’m writing this, ice pellets are falling from the sky—but spring is well underway and students are getting ready to write their final exams. The semester will be over soon and tons of students will be looking for a summer job to make some money before starting school again in September.
Canadian kids do start working early, and it surprised me when I first came here. French typically don’t get a part-time job before turning 18 and a lot of students only start working after graduating from university. I have friends still in school who have zero work experience. To their credit, finding is a job in France is very difficult these days, especially if you don’t live in Paris where there are more opportunities. And unlike in North America, university tuition fees are very low in France.
It’s also a cultural thing. North American value work and encourage kids to make their own experience, their own mistake. In a word, being “street smart” is a good thing. On the other side, French tend to value formal education and disregard extra-curricular activities, including working.
These days, I noticed a lot of inviting posters popping up on signposts downtown: “summer job, make $300 a day!”, “last year our employees made $10,000 over the summer” etc. So I set to investigate these “great” summer jobs.
First, there is a pattern. These job typically:
- Advertize above-average salaries
- Hire pretty much all applicants on-the-spot
- Make excuses instead of handling complaints and addressing questions (“lazy people don’t make money”, “people who complain just can’t handle hard work”, “those who fail are just not motivated enough” etc.)
Why are these businesses, such as house painting, window washing, door-to-door sale etc., always hiring? Because they don’t take any risk: they hire “franchisees” and “independent contractors”, not “employees”. College students assume all the risks and have to invest money in the business while giving a large chunk of their earning (60- 70% seems to be the average) to those on top of the pyramid. In some instance, workers must pay a stiff penalty if they decide to quit:
There are penalties for deciding to quit. College Pro doesn’t require an initial franchise fee and we start to invest time and resources into our franchisees. The penalties are clear and are stated in the franchise agreement and are fully reviewed before signing the agreement. Currently, the minimum financial penalty for quitting in the US is $4,000. (source)
These summer job offers bank on cult-like methods that brainwash students and mislead them into thinking they are young entrepreneurs on their way to the top. Anyone having issues is just “not fit for the job”, “doesn’t have the potential”, “is lazy”, “only elite candidates make it” etc.
One way to find out the good and the ugly is to do research. For instance, College Pro Painter, a company that advertizes a lot in Canada, consistently receives bad reviews from customers and workers. Occasionally, the management decides to correct the bad reputation about the company and posts endless ecstatic comments that are easy to spot because the blame is invariably put on workers:
I feel sorry for you and the person who hired you. You obviously aren’t the caliber of entrepreneur College Pro requires for success. The training is more than thorough in my area (West Coast) and I have yet to lose money in a summer with College Pro. (source)
man i have already made 25 G in half a summer get over it (source)
I first started at CPP as a painter and was promoted to a job site manager within a week. Then the next summer a franchise manager. As someone who has moved up in CPP quickly, most likely because of my intelligence, I’ll tell you what I saw. A hit or miss operation. I personally always had 100% customer satisfaction, and personally dealt with fixing many 0% customer satisfaction jobs. You have to realize in those situations CPP got just a screwed as the customer, incompetent college students who talk the talk but don’t walk the walk. (source)
don’t let people tell you it’s a scam. they just feel scammed because they didn’t work hard at it and failed. they’ll tell you that you should get a real job, but why? they suck! this job is a lot of fun, but it does require hard work. to the rest of you that are SO convinced this is a scam because of “what your friend told you,” tell your friends to get work ethics or people skills or something. (source)
Other disputable companies include Vector Marketing (you can also read the discussion on a forum about them) and Spring Masters. I’m sure there are many more (scamming students is a lucrative market) so do research before you sign up for something that sounds too good to be true!
If you are looking for a job this summer, keep your eyes open and don’t fall for multi-level marketing schemes. You have a few months to make money and gain experience… don’t waste them.