Does Working For Free Help Your Language Skills?

Whatever you call it: working for experience, voluntary work, exchange work position or internship – there is a fine and important line between being abused as a free “office slave” only cooking coffee for everyone or gaining work experience and new language skills while offering your labor in exchange.

No question: you want to get started to learn a new language and understand how valuable it can be to work at a real job in a work position at a foreign company for a limited time for free.

Finding companies in foreign countries that offer such positions? Do you have a specific city in mind where you would like to travel? Then look up local language schools in that city – many of them offer exchange programs or have connections to local businesses.

Sometimes language school themselves are an excellent place to start. See also our article Overlooked Language Jobs: Help Language Schools To Help You 

The keys to finding companies that are offering a win-win situation where you feel that you can contribute and also get value out of the work experience are those:

1. Evaluate Your Own Skills
2. Define clearly between experience you already have and those skills you want to gain
3. Present Yourself Professionally
4. Avoid abusive work environments
5. Try to negotiate payment options

While you try to learn a new language do not offer yourself as an inexperienced newbie that is willing to do whatever they ask you to – just in order to get that “job”.

Your language skills might be a beginners level.

But you certainly have skills at some level that a company can profit from.

Analyze yourself honestly though: posting selfies on Instagram alone does not make you an expert as a social media marketing manager.

1. Evaluate Your Own Skills

Make a list of what you can offer and create a CV that makes you a believable source for helping another company to reach their goals in the first place. Define also what the worth of those skills are.

2. Define clearly between experience you already have and those skills you want to gain

Write clearly what you expect to get out of this experience working for free with a company and clearly state what monetary worth it would have to traditionally hire you.

3. Present Yourself Professionally

Present yourself without a needy attitude that you are “dying to get this job”. Think like “there are many opportunities out there” – you do not have to short-sell yourself.

Present you with a fresh image of an open-minded willing individual ready to learn new skills while offering to be a valuable asset for the time being.

4. Avoid abusive work environments

Do your research online – what do others say about the company? Again one of the best sources are language schools themselves who have established work networks with local companies. Nobody wants to stay connected with business partners that abuse their language students.

5. Try to negotiate payment options

Even you are trying to research some unpaid work positions, always try to see if there is not an option to get paid anyway. Or to get at least some additional value like paid meals.

Try the progressive method: offer them to work for free for the beginning of a term, like work 1-2 weeks for free and then getting paid the next 2 weeks.

Always try to negotiate in a professional and friendly way and see how a company reacts. The way how they will react and treat you with those negotiations will show a lot about a company and how they value people working for them.

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