“I was dedicated to a career in Publishing until I was taken advantage of”


I’m always on the lookout, like a ravenous vulture, for work experience placements that I can worm my way into. After a three-hour long lecture on publishing during one of my modules and watching the spritely 70-year-old man flash his vintage Rolex around the room, I set about locating some kind of publishing or proofreading based vocation. To my annoyance, after emailing about ten organisations involved with English or books in general, I only received one reply. I will not name the company that responded to me (for obvious reasons) but I was, to tell the truth, completely ecstatic. Jesus, this is it! I’m gonna be a star! A publishing- house star! The James Bond of blurbs! I couldn’t wait to go in and speak to them, to learn more about what I would be doing. A week later, I was discussing my first workload that I was going to be completing for these people: proofreading school books. After having it described to me for about twenty minutes, I was utterly convinced that it would be my destiny to complete this task to the best of my ability. It’s only reading a few books and marking the odd missed full- stop, right?

Wrongo. Firstly, the book they gave me at the beginning was my most dreaded nemesis: Mathematics. ‘Are you good at Maths?’ They had asked, beaming at me. ‘Oh, God yeah. I love it, live it. It’s great.’ I passed my Maths GCSE when I was eighteen. I do not like it, nor can I do it. Still, I persisted and, with the help of a calculator, completed my first book and emailed it back to them. Within the hour, I had another 200-page strong beast emailed my way with the caption ‘need this done for tomorrow, please’ as I gaped at the screen in utter horror. I was excited to be involved with actual work, but I had also informed them of the fact that I was doing a degree and wouldn’t be able to accept a ridiculous workload. However, wanting to impress them, I completed it; science, this time. When I had finished, sure enough, another one was fired back. This process continued for weeks until I finally had the gonads to say something.

‘I kind of feel like I’m doing work you guys don’t want to do but for no money.’ It was risky, I knew it, but I honestly felt that I was being taken advantage of.

No reply.

‘I will happily continue doing work for you, but only if there is more time between each booklet.’ This time, a positive response. But there was a catch. This time, I was sent only one publication a week, but it was massive. It seemed to be three or four books combined. However, I wanted to look like I had drive, and a passion for this kind of thing, so I persisted in the na├»ve hope that it would turn into something more worthwhile. For nearly a year, I endlessly proofread school book after school book: science, English, Maths, History. Blood, sweat and tears pouring our of me every night as I slumped over my desk in front of Dinner Date (for moral support), clutching a Diet Coke in one hand and a packet of Pro- Plus in the other. It never ended but I needed to look dedicated. Who knew what it could lead to!? Unfortunately, when it came to the summer and I was back to my job as a waitress, I decided that enough was simply enough. I emailed them being as frosty as it was socially acceptable to be, stating that I was withdrawing my assets and wanted a reference for my CV. They understood, promising me a gleaming masterpiece to show to future employers.

I ended my experience about five months ago, and have still received nothing. Despite asking countless times and being promised something new each time, I have never received a reference. After nearly a year of genuinely FREE WORK, they cannot even bring themselves to write a few sentences about me being ‘fairly dedicated to the cause’. But I will not back down. I will rise from the ashes after every lie- fuelled email and simply annoy them until they crack. Brutal, but this proofreading slave needs justice.

Have you got any work experience horror stories? Let us know in the comment secition below!

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