I was always that kid who knew exactly what she wanted to do: Work behind the camera in the film and television industry.

I attended Humber College’s Film and Television Production program and graduated with honours. We were warned repeatedly that we were going to be working for free for at least two or three years. I was absolutely prepared to be underemployed.

What I was not prepared for was the treatment I would receive. I learned that I had to grow a thick skin, very quickly.

I interned at several companies that absolutely guaranteed I would get a job after six months, only to later discover that they had no intention of hiring me. Once I inquired about this “job offer,” they would let me go and look for a new, unpaid intern.

When I did manage to get a paying job, which was rare, it was usually an “honorarium,” so I was paid significantly under minimum wage to work full-time.

Without going into detail, I will say that there are a lot of shady people out there, particularly in the film industry, and in some circumstances the “casting couch” story is absolutely true, even for people working behind the camera. Needless to say, some interviews ended abruptly.

The main recommendation I would give to employers would be to be completely and totally up front. Just be honest with us. If this unpaid internship will not lead to a job, tell us. Sometimes the experience is valuable on its own.

If you want a personal assistant, advertise that, not a job that involves working on a project that doesn’t actually exist. If the job is unpaid, do not list the salary as “competitive.”

If you are honest, you will build much better working relationships with potential employees.

TalentEgg.ca, Canada’s online career resource for students and recent grads, wants to hear your Student Voice. Share it at TalentEgg.ca.

Where Heather is now

I decided, after a year of complete unemployment, to go back to school. I just completed a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and Theatre and Performance Studies at the University of Toronto at Scarborough. It was, by far, one of the better decisions I have made, and I will forever be grateful for the experiences I had there. I now have a wider variety of qualifications, and I’m better prepared for the potential pitfalls of job searching.