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Brian Jenner on the perils of employment

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Here’s Jenner’s extract on employment:

I offered two students work experience with different results.

One evening, an email dropped into my inbox from a student in Austria. Ania was looking for work experience in London. I was doing well and I had some projects that could do with some assistance, so I said yes. I was considerate. I advised her on a place to stay. I met her at the station. I took her out for a meal. I wanted to do things properly – not how I had been treated as an employee. I even offered to pay her token wages.

Ania came to work. I wrote down the tasks that she had to do. But it soon became apparent she had no interest in doing them. She groaned and put her feet on the table.

After a few days, it was impossible. I told her that I couldn’t continue to employ her. She then told me that the reason she wanted to be in London was to be with her boyfriend. Getting work experience was just a pretext to persuade her mother to let her come over.

A few weeks later, I got another call, from Sarah, a student who had to do a placement as part of her course. I asked her what skills she had and what sort of tasks she wanted to do. I was brusque. She would have to supply her own laptop, she would have to do what I requested, and there was no prospect of a job at the end of it.

She listened to what I had to say and still wanted to go ahead. Sarah did some excellent work and ended up getting a full-time job through one of my business contacts.

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