Image Source: Grad Student Way
Are you an entry-level marketing/public relations/communications job-seeker?
Have you ever come across a job posting ***like this***?
MARKETING SPECIALIST – ENTRY LEVEL – 75k
Marketing Maximum Results seeks an energetic, competitive, and sports-minded Marketing Specialist! Due to explosive growth, Marketing Maximum Results seeks to add new team members by the end of next week.
Marketing Maximum Results is a leading-edge marketing firm with a holistic approach. We provide our Fortune 500 clients with paramount solutions leading to impetuous growth of client services and products!
Our Marketing Specialist will utilize scientific and ratiocinative consumer research data to present interactive programs directly to clients to improve their business.
- 1-5 years of marketing experience is helpful, but not required. We will train the right candidate
- Bachelor’s Degree (not required but preferred)
- Willing to grow with us. All promotions are within, so we’re looking for rockstars that want to grow into management/bigger roles quickly!
We offer fun company-sponsored events, travel opportunities, uncapped commissions (first year average 75k), and an inclusive culture!
*We are looking to wrap up interviews by next week due to growth, so please apply today!
Keywords: marketing, medical, advertising, public relations, college, entry level, salami, pizza, integrated marketing, socks, shoes, bowling, fruit salad, sports, athlete, PR, English, writing, presentations, Chicago
You might think I’m kidding, but there are THOUSANDS of positions just like this one in the United States alone. They operate under different business names that constantly shut down and reopen, so it’s impossible to pinpoint the “exact” perpetrators.
Let’s first discuss what’s wrong about the job posting.
Two other “red flags”:
What the job really is:
So, you might be wondering – what are these jobs, really? Is it a “scam” to take my money or personal information? Is it just too good to be true?
Around two years ago, I decided to go on an interview because I was unemployed and I was curious and the reviews on Glassdoor were good (oh, yeah, the managers usually will go in and write countless numbers of positive reviews to counter the negative ones) and so why not. I had nothing to lose but my time and energy.
Here was my experience.
I applied online for a “public relations account coordinator” position.
A woman, claiming to be from human resources, called me immediately and asked if I’d be able to come in **this week** for an interview because their company’s growth was explosive and wow they just really needed to hire four people right away. So, I said why not.
I promptly received an email invitation which reminded me to dress in "business attire" for the interview. Well darn, even though the Juicy Couture sweatsuit is making a comeback I guess I'll actually have to wear nice slacks...
Two days later, I showed up at their office which was tucked away in a fancy office building in a ritzy neighborhood.
I asked the door guard if he knew where this company was because they weren’t listed on the directory. He said he had never heard of them. Red flag #1.
When I finally found the office (by looking in the signature of the email confirmation), it was shockingly sparse. There were no photos hanging up, there was zero in-office branding, even the managers with offices didn’t have a single family photo or crude drawing from a child hanging up. It was as if they were “squatters” crashing in this office. Without sounding *too* melodramatic, the office space vaguely reminded me of political buildings in North Korea, designed to look opulent from a distance. In reality, they serve only to “impress” tourists and their neighbors in the South. In reality, the buildings are empty, made cheaply, or only the fronts are ever constructed.
There were four others in the office waiting for interviews. Young, college grads who also appeared nervous. Just like me. The office phone continuously rang. Every phone call had to do with setting up an interview. No client calls. Nothing. Just, “We’ll see you at 10am tomorrow.” Or, “I can’t discuss details about the job with you, you’re going to have to come in for an interview.” I don’t even know what “red flag” I’m on by this point.
Finally I got called in for my interview with a tall and slim blonde woman. The conversation was very shallow, the interviewer seemed robotic and uninterested in anything I had to say. A real interviewer will ask thorough, follow-up questions. It sounded like she was reading through a script, just going through the “motions.” After a 10 minute conversation about my career goals and why I was interested in the position, she said, “I think you could potentially be a fit for what we’re looking for. We’d like for you to join Antoine for Part Two of our interview. Here is the address and Antoine’s phone number.” She pushed a piece of paper at me with an address, printed out from Google Maps.
“But, what is part two of the interview?” I asked.
“An interactive on-site interview.”
Image Source: Everyday Trails
I handed the piece of paper printed out from Google Maps to my Uber driver.
“Can you take me here?”
“Of course I can take you there….It’s my job. The question is, why on Earth would you want to go to this address?”
“I have a job interview.”
“A job interview? The address you handed me is for a Kroger in one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in the city.”
“A Kroger? As in, the grocery store? You must be mistaken. This is for an interview.”
“No, ma’aam. I’m not mistaken. Do you still want to go?”
At this point I should have probably opted out, but again, I was unemployed and now exceedingly curious.
When I walked in the store I instantly spotted Antoine. He was the only guy wearing a suit, casually browsing the bread aisle.
“Oh, hi, Kayla?” He turned towards me.
“No, it’s Holly.”
“Oh, okay, Holly, great. We’re waiting for another candidate as well.”
The other candidate never showed.
After a few moments, we headed into the back room. Of the Kroger. For an interview. Seated on uncomfortable folding chairs, Antoine was pushy and rude about my background. Further research into these types of companies indicates that this is the norm. They intentionally break you down so they can mold you and build you back up. Oh, you did five internships in college? I still don’t think you’re deserving of this position.
He explained the compensation structure which was purposefully confusing. He took out a pen and wrote a bunch of numbers and mathematical formulas totaling up to about $52,000, which is what he said I’d make in a year *IF* I sold X number of product and recruited X number of candidates to work below me. I later found out that these companies only offer commission, and most will only make the equivalent of $6-$7 an hour.
“But what is the job?” I pushed. “This was supposed to be an interview for a Public Relations Account Coordinator. I still don’t know the job duties.”
“Oh, don’t worry. At 10:15 I’ll show you. Now, I want you to take careful notes for me. I need five good reasons why our Fortune 500 clients continually come back to us. Hold on for one second.”
Antoine got up and grabbed a phone of the wall.
“ATTENTION KROGER SHOPPERS – DO YOU LIKE FREE STUFF? YES, THAT’S RIGHT. FREE STUFF! IN FIVE MINUTES, MEET ME BY THE MEAT CASES FOR A SPECIAL, NO-STRINGS-ATTACHED OFFER EXCLUSIVELY FOR THE FIRST 25 SHOPPERS THAT COME MEET ME BY THE MEAT CASES! See you in FIVE MINUTES!”
I nearly died.
“Come on,” said Antoine, “help me load this batch of product unto a cart.”
Seemingly enough, the rouse of “free stuff” was enticing to many shoppers. Within five minutes, Antoine had a small crowd surrounding his folding table.
Suddenly, he began to speak.
“Do any of you, standing here today, have aches and pains?”
“Yes, lord!” Wailed one woman.
“Do you know how to boil a pot of water?”
“Yes” “Of course” “Who doesn’t know how?” murmured the crowd.
“Then I have the PERFECT PRODUCT for you!”
Antoine passed around a series of “hot paks” designed to ease tired and sore muscles.
“If you go online to our website, this product currently retails for $120, but today only I’m offering Kroger shoppers this LIFE
CHANGING product for only $79.99!”
Two people bought the product. Oh, and by the way, apparently the “website” does almost 0 sales. In some cases, they don’t really even function properly. It’s just another tactic to get you to buy in-store.
Each shopper received a *FREE* keychain for listening to the demo.
I’m not sure how this company defined a “public relations account coordinator” but let me tell you – they're not accurate.
After the presentation, Antoine asked me to share my notes with him.
“To be honest, I’m a little disappointed,” he said while glancing at my paper, “I was really hoping you would have picked up on X, Y, and Z.”
Again. Breaking you down purposefully. You’re not *worthy* of this job. I’m doing you a *favor* by giving you this opportunity.
“I’d like you to write me an essay on why you want this job and why you deserve this job, and email it to me by 5pm tonight.”
I never did.
If you search “entry level marketing job scams” or “misleading entry-level marketing jobs” you’ll come across stories that are identical to mine. Nearly all of these companies run exactly the same. While they operate under countless names in nearly every city, most are subsidiaries of large outfits. Look up DSMax, Cydor, and Granton Marketing. Some “positions” are for in-store demos.
Others do door-to-door sales.
They might have “Fortune 500” clients, as you will likely be selling some products made by major outfits. Of course, they’re not contracting directly with companies like Major Maximum Marketing or Chicago Integrated Marketing Results. No, they’re contracting with major corporations like DSMax, Cydor, and Granton Marketing, which run their businesses through small, regional offices. In fact, if you do well enough at both a.) selling product and b.) recruiting enough people to work under you, you can open “your own” office. Of course, many times these fail which is why you’ll continually see these companies shutting down or starting up. I can’t believe this is legal and not considered an MLM Pyramid Scheme, but there’s some sort of loophole that allows this if everyone signs an agreement that they’re “independent contractors.”
So, there’s certainly the *possibility* to make some money. A job is still a job, so it’s not a “scam” in the traditional sense.
But why not advertise the job fairly? “In-store demo sales” or “Door-to-door salesperson” are more accurate “titles” for the position that’s being offered. Stop trying to prey on young, inexperienced college graduates with communications/marketing degrees. Advertise the position for what it is. People still need work. You’ll still get quality applicants.
And to the Fortune 500 companies and major sporting teams that do business with such outfits, please reconsider your decision to work with these scam artists.
Please share my post with recent graduates to warn them of deceptive and misleading job postings! Spreading awareness is the ONLY way we can stop this dishonest practice!
Worked for a similar company and have a story to share? Interviewed for one of these firms? Tell me your experience!
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My Teenage Journal
Even though so many of us are going through it right now, life after graduation can be really tough. And you can feel really alone, even if you know deep down you're not.
It's scary to not "belong anywhere" for the first time, ever, in your life. For many of us (who have been fortunate, no doubt) it's been elementary school, middle school, high school…and then college.
For those of us not planning to immediately go to graduate school - what's next? A big, fat, question mark. I've often wished (so badly!) that I could say there's a period instead of a question mark. But there's not. Even for our friends who already have jobs, there really is no period at the end of their sentence, either.
And the world is scary. There's no doubt about it. I tried to think of another time in my life where I've felt this way…sort of alone, frightened, unsure of what's next. And then it hit me. My young teenage years. Insecurity, doubts, and confusion plagued my mind.
That's why I decided, last night, as the rest of my friends head off to school today, that I would crack open my journal from when I was 14. I'm not exactly sure why I'm sharing these tidbits with you, but somehow, they feel appropriate. Some are funny, some are sad, and some of them even lifted my spirits a bit.
On what I hate about myself:
"I hate that I'm fat. I am pushy. I can be bitchy. I can be tiring. I am unorganized, and confused about what I want. I don't like how I get myself into bad situations sometimes - because I'm a bit crazy. I don't like how I dream, but I don't do. I'm worried I'm going to waste my time dreaming."
On what I like about myself:
"I'm creative and unique. I possess *interesting* qualities (like MySpace stalking). I have a genuine love for others. I need to learn to love myself, because that's all I'll have in the end. And I'm a good person who deserves to be loved.
Especially by myself."
On what I'm self-conscious about:
On what's difficult for me:
"I don't ever feel like I can be happy because I always feel like I don't deserve to be happy or that something bad will happen. IDK, it's just like, I can't be happy or accept that I DESERVE to be happy. I don't feel like I can accept anything. I'm constantly in denial."
"Friends are sacred. Work to stay friends with them. You don't want to lose them. Vow to never talk behind a friend's back."
What's the nicest thing you've ever done for an ex-boyfriend?
"After I dumped him, I sent him adult videos."
On what I've learned about love:
"Lust and love are two very different things.
Boys will say anything to 'get some.' Don't buy their sh**.
Being slutty will get you lots of guys, but the WRONG KIND."
On what I would do if a friend I wasn't interested in said they were in love with me:
"I don't know. I think I'd freak out. Probably listen to Clay Aiken."
"Pain ultimately makes us stronger, more appreciative. But pain is so lonely."
On self acceptance:
"To me, total self acceptance is loving yourself even though you know you aren't perfect, and never will be.
Loving yourself when you make a mistake or take a step behind and realizing that it's a normal part of life.
Seeing a zit on your face and saying "Damn!" instead of calling yourself ugly and crying.
Accept every emotion as a part of who you are, and who everyone is. Everyone has feelings. You can't blame yourself for feeling sad.
Don't blame yourself when someone says something bad about you - it isn't and never will be your fault.
Look at yourself in the mirror everyday and say, 'I love you.'"
Oh yeah. And this happened.
The job market is tough for college grads. There’s no doubt about it..It’s daunting. You might be wondering, “Am I ever going to get a job that isn’t folding shirts at Forever 21?” or “Will I ever do anything besides drink my boxed wine while watching Netflix?”
Trust me, I know. I’m there right now. But the truth is, wallowing in self-pity doesn’t accomplish anything. If it did, many of us would probably have trophies.
That’s why I’ve compiled (and am sharing with you) a list of things you can do in the interim while you are searching for a full-time position post graduation.
1) If you need immediate cash, try to look for part-time jobs that are remotely in your field of interest. Were you an exercise science major? Apply for an hourly position at a nutrition or sporting goods store. English major? Look at bookstores. You are much more likely to make valuable contacts that are pertinent to your field even if you are making less than $10 an hour.
2) Volunteer for a non-profit organization. Again, this is a great way to find opportunities that relate to your career interests. Health major? You can volunteer to work in a hospital. Communications majors? Many non-profits need a bit of help with their newsletter or press materials. Volunteer Match is a great place to start, and lets you narrow opportunities ranging from causes you care about to personal skills and interests.
3) Have you ever thought to yourself, “XXX class in college would have been interesting. I wish I would have taken it.” Take it now! The Open Education Database provides over 10,000 free courses you can take for no credit. Added bonus: zero pressure and no final. Although you're welcome to pretend like you do to justify ordering a ton of takeout for yourself. Online career schools, like Penn Foster, allow you to take courses with written feedback, textbooks, and exams all included for less than the cost of one semester of textbooks in college.
4) Exercise. It gets you moving and energized. And don’t forget the wise words of Elle Words. “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy.” There are gyms nationwide that cost less than $20 a month -- like Planet Fitness. It might not have all the bells and whistles, but they do serve free pizza once a month (Yes, I know.) If you’re looking to get fit on a lower budget, there are plenty of low-costs phone apps that offer video tutorials and fitness tracking.
5) Meetup is a great website to find fun and inexpensive things to do and expand your network. Joining a Meetup Group is generally free or low-cost. Each group regularly hosts affordable events and activities. The thousands of groups nationwide range from “Miami Young Professionals” to “Science Geek Dating.” Really!
6) Took five years of Spanish but only remember “hola” and “cerveza”? Now is the perfect time to brush up on your language skills. Flüenz tends to be the top recommended software that offers several languages, but it’s nowhere near cheap. There are plenty of free websites for every language (Study Spanish has been one I frequent) that offer grammar drills, quizzes, and tutorials.
7) Almost all of us put that we know “MS Office” on our resumes, but do we really know how to use Excel? Did we just make Powerpoints for class with stupid spinning animations and the screeching car tire audio effect? Trust me, there are way more features to be discovered in Office that are useful for almost any job. Microsoft’s website offers free tutorials for all of their software.
Oh yeah. And keep applying for jobs and networking your butt off. But I didn’t include that on the official list because I know you’re tired of hearing it. But don't forget to do it. You’re welcome.
Advice for the College-Bound
Oh, god. There is nothing more that I hate than those lists circulating around Buzzfeed or other places where I’m currently spending a significant time on instead of studying for my last final exam. Such is being a college senior.
But seriously – a lot of the advice is way warped and much too “YOLO” for my tastes. Like, “take another shot – it won’t kill you!” Umm. Yeah. Except it could.
I’m not a fun-killer and this isn’t going to be a list of advice that’s preachy from an old lady in granny panties. (I, in fact, wear lacy panties from Victoria’s Secret- thank you very much.)
What I’m hoping to do here is to provide some sort of real-world advice and insight into college life that isn’t as stupid as “You can skip class, but you can’t skip a crazy night to remember”(Trust me, college gives you plenty of those.) I remember being in your spot just three years ago today, and now I’m getting back up on that stage and doing it all over again. I know how scary and exciting it feels at the same time.
So, without further ado..I present my real advice for graduating high school seniors.
1) Everyone says that you will drift apart from your highschool friends for your college friends. This may be largely true. However, friendship don’t just simply die if you don’t want them to.They either die: a) because your interests change and you don’t have anything to talk about anymore (realistic grounds for ending a friendship) or b) because you don’t make the effort.
If it’s important for you to retain those friends, then pick up the phone. Ask them how college is doing. If you haven’t heard from them in awhile, shoot them a text. A friendship takes work. Just ask me – one of my childhood friends and I became even closer than when we were in highschool because we’ve made an effort.
2) College isn’t going to be everything that you expected. This isn’t necessarily a good thing, or a bad thing, but it is a thing. Don’t ever feel down that your college experience isn’t living up to your pre-conceived notions. Be willing to let go of your expectations of what you’re supposed to do, and when. Just let the chips fall where they may. I transferred after my freshman year. It’s not at all what I expected, but it was the absolute best decision for me.
3) Your roommate probably won’t be your best friend. Maybe he/she will. But likely you won’t. While most colleges require you to fill out some kind of roommate contract or agreement, most people will do it half-hazardly. DON’T. Even know you barely know the person yet and you don’t think they’ll be any problems, there likely will be. Just ask me what happened freshman year when one of my roommates forgot to clean the dishes… and another one of my roommates got her Dad involved and they were planning to sue if she didn’t move out. So yeah. Expect the unexpected and take the roommate contract seriously.
4) Go to class. Seriously. Even if it’s something as dumb as “University 101 – College Tips.” Trust me, your professors will think much higher of you. (and ahem, might be more likely to help you if your grade is on the border) Also, you’re paying so much for your education, you might as well get what you can out of it.
5) If you’re struggling, do something about it right away. If you’re struggling with a class, start going to office hours and see if your school offers any kind of free tutoring (many do). If you’re struggling personally, go seek out counseling. Don’t wait until the problem gets worse. It’ll be a Hell of a lot easier on yourself if you deal with it, now.
6) Sorry, I’m going to offer up another piece of advice that you’re gonna hear from everybody, but please take it. College is what you make out of it. While your college town might suck, take advantage of what your campus can offer you. Free or steeply discounted activities and events? Go for it. Once you’ve graduated, you’ll be whining about how you never went to that thing or whatever because now you have to pay full price for it.
7) On that note, join more activities – get involved with your school. With busy schedules, it can be easy to just crawl in your bed and watch Netflix and then go out on the weekends. While that’s cool, you will eventually get bored. Trust me. Go and seek out any club that seems mildly interesting, and go to their respective first meetings. You’re not making a lifelong commitment here. Just go and see if you like it. I went to one meeting of some club and got hit on by a creepy dude, and then abandoned my plan of seeking out other clubs (besides my sorority).
8) Go out and have fun, but also be on your guard. I’m not out here being a fun-sucker, but just be careful when you’re drinking to excess. Alcohol posioning is a real thing. Have a non-alcoholic drink every once in awhile to break it up, and make sure you’ve eaten before. Also, have some sort of pre-designated plan. Do you have a friend that can come with you that doesn’t tend to drink as much that could watch over you? How will you get back to your dorm? These are all questions you should ask before you get wasted, and not after.
9) We’re all told about “stranger danger” as little kids. Especially for you females out there. We’re always told to guard our drinks, make sure we see the bartender making it, etc. At campus or house parties though, we tend not to worry as much. After all, we’re all students, right? Or, the Tri Omega’s are my favorite fraternity so nothing will happen. The truth of the matter is that you never know who will show up to those parties. It’s actually way more likely that you will be sexually assulated on-campus than you would at a bar. There are assholes everywhere looking to take advantage of you. Don’t leave your drink attended anywhere. Make sure it’s made by someone you trust. Be wary of any kind of “jungle juice” unless you know who made it. Or better yet, just bring your own tumbler. A lot of girls do this.
10) For the love of God, use protection. Just…yeah. Condoms = way less expensive than a baby. Aaaand please, don’t just forgoe the condoms because you’re on the pill or have an IUD or whatever. It’s really not a good idea to ditch the rubbers until you’ve been in a monoagamous relationship for quite some time, and know..ahem, the other’s disease status. But otherwise go have fun.
11) Don't let anyone else define WHO YOU ARE. You are you, you are fabulous, you are wonderful. Even though high school is over, unfortunately, there are still several college students who think they're still in high school. Avoid the drama. Don't take crap from anybody anymore. You have the power to walk away. Also - don't let any guy/girl define who you are. There's nothing wrong with being in a serious relationship, but don't let that take away from developing your true self.
College is a time of growth. Embrace it and be you.
I just finished graduate school. Trying to find ways to spice up my Ramen. Love Disney, writing, froyo, Spanish, and hip-hop dance classes.