Life has subtle ways to make you think about your character that you wouldn't do otherwise, by yourself, normally.
Hoops I've jumped through so far taught me to appreciate opportunity, embrace and grow towards it. Though there is no solid education to spot false-opportunity especially when you are young, clueless in a similarly clueless and hopeless job market.
I like a certain American tradition, they make teenagers to work at service level jobs to make them learn about life and make a few bucks on the side. We don't have that in my country though it would be better if we did. Until you get a service level job and exchange with people who are not your friends or family nor equals, you understand that you wouldn't want to be known and approached by anyone and everyone. You better find your tribe from the crowd and stick to them.
I did my that kind of service at a non-profit I helped founding. (ironic!) late it was, but I have learned to spot red flags and this is a post to remind me of them everywhere I go from now.
However under well intentions I started working at the non-profit, my main goal was to find my “tribe” amongst the crowd and create opportunities for them. I was indexperienced in terms of spotting so called fake-opportunities or half-opportunities where you basically sacrifice yourself to get ahead as a person and as an organization in the end there is no total growth, everything turns out to be a zero-sum-game and this is very often a result of a non-existent, stable work culture.
I think especially under the influence of COVID many people compared to before tries to find work, internships, volunteering activities, communities i.e. some medium to socialize and cultivate a modicum of interesting remarks on their resumes whenever possible. As the number of pathways there are possible for you expands, you can apply for things that were not remotely possible before, this is generally a good thing, but also has a danger of letting you over-commit yourself to unsustainable organization schemes
I learned to spot and turn down half-opportunities the hard way and this blog post is entirely about them. If you are on a search to find your next volunteering activity, bootstraped activism scheme or a company to join to please consider appearent red flags early in your enrollment to avoid so called zero-sum-games and no-growth zones.
- There are no clear goals
This is often seen in newly formed, however ambitious activist groups without the sense of emergency (e.g. activisim in areas other than what public sees as emergencies such as climate etc. There are rarely any public rallies to support access to digital literacy.) since there is no visibility from media or mass activism surrounding the issue, activists generally try to find ways to champion those causes around their means. This might result them having no big purpose or clear agenda at all.
- Organization resist to form any structure
The thing about hip workplaces the person you are supposed to report to can change anytime for any reason and for no reason. Maybe there is comfort hearing the phrase “we are family” over and over again but after some time and experience it spells out added stress for everybody involved.
- Job descriptions are not clear
When going to campuses or part-time jobs, clubs are not options people tend to look for online communities to continue socializing. Though there has been a surge of blurred lines around what should be a professional occupation and where volunteer work starts and ends. Often there are organizations to delegate arbitrary tasks on entry-level jobs seekers totally unpaid, referring growth-potential and experience. Of course those never result in a good leverage for both parties and a key contributor to my zero-sum-game reference since attendees to those schemes never gain anything meaninful other than shooting blank e-mails and attending some trainings without long term contribution to their employable hard-skills.
There are also organizations who want to desperately bootstrap but lack the funds to hire experts. So they delegate what they have to a large number of people.
When you constantly told to improvise, come up with solutions for everything and anything that means you are not spending time honing a particular skill that might help you in the long run.
- They claim to collaborate or partner with so called big names to amaze people
When you can't buy anyone's time with real money you tend to look for alternatives. In today's hyper-inflated job market that means luring inexperienced ones with the promise of working with big-names. Worst case is when they use those to signal their authenticity or prowess as brand or org. Those are most suitable cases for backfiring.
They do not suit your work style
This, I don't have a solid theory to quote. Though thorugh exprience I certainly came to believe everyone has some sort of work style that can be categorized generally made up by what communication means to a person.
For me, if you are not simply selling items from AliExpress you should recognize that the job you do has some elements of people. I value culture and brevity and chances are you have your values as well. You need to seek that out in an organization you work or volunteer for. As an example, if you value open communication as a person in an organization with passive aggressive forms of communication, mood shifts you might want to consider your alternatives.