The Story of 3 Kids, 2 Dogs, and The Smoker
As a part of my vocational high school’s graduation requirements, I was expected to complete 160 hours of an internship related to my area of study: digital design.
Let me first say, as a HIGH SCHOOL junior – almost a senior- it is VERY difficult to find someone who wants to hire you at such a young age. In fact, most places don’t want someone unless they’re in college and even then they still might not look at you unless you’re a junior or senior in college.
In other words, as a high school student, you take whatever internship you can get.
I was offered a position at a local contracting firm where they agreed to pay me at a rate of $11.00 an hour if I did general housekeeping work in their office. Working papers with those numbers were filled out and signed PRIOR to the start of work.
I had been working there over the summer for just over two months when I started to seriously question why I still hadn’t received my first paycheck yet. I e-mailed my boss to express my concern. A few days later, I received a very short and ambiguous e-mail reading, “interns will be paid approximately halfway through.”
Now, as a 16-year-old minor at the time who was under the impression that I was working a PAID internship, I figured this meant I would get paid in the form of two paychecks. One after I finished the first 80 hours and then another after the second.
Well, boy was I in for a surprise. I had been at the 79 hour mark when I was called down to my school’s office one day. Apparently, my boss sent my school a Letter of Termination saying that my services were no longer needed and that I was fired effective immediately. (For no good reason.) AT 79 HOURS…
Confused, the school reached out to him on my behalf not once, but twice. In both cases, there was no response at all.
Guess I wasn’t getting paid? Left with no other choice, my family urged me to file a lawsuit.
I had working papers, numerous documents where he signed off on my hours, evaluations where he described how well I was doing in terms of work, his vague Letter of Termination, and all correspondence printed. I was ready for court.
As the court date drew near, we were contacted by The People’s Court – a popular TV show in America.
My family kept giggling at the though of us going through with it. My absurd high school internship gone wrong – broadcasted on TV for all of my classmates to see. We agreed to hold the case on their show and it came very close to getting an 8 minute segment but the guy I was suing waited until the last minute to say no. I don’t blame him. I wouldn’t want to broadcast the fact that I exploited child slaves on TV either.
Gosh, that job was weird. It started off as a contracting firm, turned into a juice store, and ended as a dog adoption agency. He could never settle on one business.I went from doing desk-work to wateringwheatgrass to making dog adoption videos fora ferocious pit bull and a three-legged dog.
Each day was a new adventure. And while we tried to help dogs find their forever-homes, I found myself in constant search of my forever-paycheck.
There was also a nasty lady who would smoke with us in the small office and her exact words were, “The fun part of being an adult is that I’m in charge so I can smoke with you kids in here and if you don’t like it, you can go sit outside.” Oh that’s nice. Thanks, lady. Very considerate… Even if that’s true, she could have at least said it to us in a nicer way… 🙁
Anyway, court went well. I presented the story exactly as it happened along with my evidence and thanks to them, I’ll be receiving a paycheck in the mail within the next few weeks! See, it pays to stand up for yourself! 🙂
Check out my post from January of 2013: A Strange Unpaid Paid Internship