Over one year ago, I was looking for work – any type of work. Paid, unpaid, part-time, full-time. I wanted to keep busy, get experience and work my way up the never-ending corporate ladder. So, when I saw a LinkedIn job posting that read, “Commuications Intern for Avidlifemedia,” which included working directly with the CEO, managing all press and a high chance of full-time employment with benefits after the internship, you can imagine how stoked the social-media-obsessed-writer-slash-news-junkie in me was. This job posting did not specify what initiatives Avidlifemedia specialized in exactly, just that they were “the top dating websites.” That could be fun! So I drafted up a new cover letter a la Andy Sachs and sent in my application. Hire me!
I did a few Google searches on the company, stopping first at the official website for the organization, which was unfortunately under construction. Crap, I couldn’t creep directly from the source. So, I continued perusing, as you do, and noticed Avidlifemedia was associated with Ashley Madison, the dating website that encourages married men to cheat on their wives, and Cougar Life, which is self-explanatory. I decided to choke back my negative perspectives because I was always taught in school to never say never when it comes to taking a job upon first starting out. You never know what it could lead to.
“I hated business reporting,” I remember my first-year Media Writing professor saying, before she added, “and now I work for The Globe and Mail’s Report on Business.” Okay, business reporting is different than encouraging mistresses, but you get where my train of thought was coming from.
A few days later, I received an e-mail reply to my application from the hiring manager asking me to come in for an interview. I didn’t tell anyone I was going for an interview with the company who was behind one too many broken homes and terrifying news stories, because, well, who wants to hear, “What? You’re doing what?” Let me just be a big girl for once, sheesh!
Before my interview, I was taken back to my Ethics of Mass Communications class when our professor asked us, “Would you ever work for a company who gave you everything you wanted but did something you felt was unethical?” I started sweating and possibly biting my nails, but decided to head to the interview as a professional because, really, you never know!
In I went. An office at Yonge and Eglinton (mid-Toronto) covered with any tangible positive press for the company and its business method (there is positive press surrounding Ashley Madison? I know. I asked myself the same thing), with extremely thin girls walking around in their stiletto ankle-boots and perfectly curling-iron-curled hair. I sat in the front foyer wearing a pink, floral scarf, black flats and thick-rimmed Ray Bans. Which one of us does not belong?
The hiring manager called me into a board room. She, too, was wearing thick-rimmed glasses, so that made me feel better. She was sweet, thoughtful, interested in where I was going to school and lead the interview in a conversational style, which made everything easier. The internship still sounded as great as the job posting described, but then I was asked, “What do you think about what Ashley Madison provides?” As the stories of the many woman I knew who had been through hell and back with their husbands started flushing through my mind, I said, “I understand that Avidlifemedia profits off of someone’s rocky marriage or unhappy relationship and how that can be a smart business decision, as people will spend money to feel any type of happiness – even if it’s temporary. On a personal level, I don’t think I would ever be okay with cheating.” The hiring manager wore a blank face when I spoke, so I was sure what I said was too sassy, but when I finished, she smiled.
Before I left the office, I was offered the position. After touring the place where masterminds steal all of Cupid’s arrows and feed off of broken love and broken hearts, I politely said I would need to consider the opportunity for a few more days. I left the office shaking. Would I be comfortable playing off of people’s unstable emotions to the point where their marriages could be ruined? I know every person has their choice and no one is forcing anyone to join Ashley Madison or cheat on their partner, but would I be comfortable being a part of that equation just to get ahead?
After a few nights of weighing out the pros and cons, I declined the opportunity. However, I informed the hiring manager that I would like to keep in touch and we connected on LinkedIn.
I learned that though I wouldn’t be able to come to terms with helping married men cheat on their spouses, I could still take the interview as a learning opportunity (all interview experience is good experience), as a way to build my contacts and as a way to learn what I’m not comfortable doing. I also can understand why someone would work for a company like Avidlifemedia: The opportunities are there for a young person to get hands on experience and work directly with the people at the top of the company.
If you’re ever in a situation where a job presents itself to you that you’re not 100 per cent sure about, don’t be afraid to:
- Think about whether you really want it or not
- Make a pros and cons list
- Say, “No!”
If you realize the job is something you want to pursue, great! If, however, you want to continue searching, you must:
- Remain professional
- See the interview and the contact you’ve made as benefits
- Never forget the lessons you learned throughout the application and interview process
As 20-somethings, now is the time for us to take challenges and grow. It’s the time for us to take opportunities that scare us, while also learning what we’ll never be okay with doing. It’s the time for us to continue to shape who we are and who we want to become.
We aren’t what we eat and we aren’t where we work, but we eat three times a day and spend 40-hours per week at our jobs – so if what we put inside our bodies is important, so is where we park our behinds from Monday to Friday!