another day at the office

FML (fix my lionshare)

I like to consider myself to be something of a NACElink veteran, personally. Over the past few months I have applied for nearly every position I’m even remotely qualified to do. Much of these have been of a typical nature: non-profits looking for volunteers to make copies, museums seeking researchers or administrative interns, office assistant positions, and so on. And yet, though I admit I was not overly selective in my applications (I gave them out quite liberally), I do consider my screening process to be somewhat adequate – which I’ve come to realize I cannot say of Barnard. Much of what you see on NACElink is not as it appears. This is a cautionary tale.


Many of the strange happenings of NACElink have been comical in hindsight. Some of these include: an interview that ended with a man forcefully giving me a half eaten bag of BBQ chips, a job offer (stated half in Hebrew) based solely on my Jewish Heritage (plot twist: I’m not Jewish), and an extensive email exchange with a cat-loving woman who detailed her present attempts to quit smoking whilst pitching me her ideas for writing a guide to online dating (email highlights include usage of the colloquialism “lol” in regards to her multiple pets). These, I believed, were all in the good fun of being a struggling college student.

These all make good cocktail party stories, and overall have given me practice with both interviewing and professional correspondence.

However, recently, my NACElink adventures took a sinister turn. I responded to a job posting for a virtual personal assistant on the site, assuming I could manage the duties of that position on top of another internship, all the while making a nice personal profit. The job description checked out; it was specific, detailed, and posted by a reputable company.

I received a response around a week later, much to my initial delight. “Debbie” wished to know if I was still interested and reached out to tell me a bit more about the position. I responded affirmative, immediately. “Debbie” responded again later that evening, and my heart immediately sank. This email was different from my other job offers and interview inquiries – it was extensively long, inquiring lots of personal information and details about the position that seemed extraneous at this point in the process. “Debbie” used a lot of investment jargon and implied that my position within the company could earn me great profit – much more than I knew I deserved as a relatively unskilled college freshman. She wrote that my pay would be “a fixed 10% of every payment processed and a $200 weekly bonus.” To clarify: 10% of every payment process, according to the data she provided, would be roughly around $10,000.

It was obviously a scam, I didn’t even read the whole email (which would later ask me to write some personal essays in response to questions like “are you willing to give your best shot?”) before replying that I was unavailable to take the position.

Later while relating these stories to some friends we ended up in a deep internet hole, googling this mysterious scam position. The company was real; it checked out. So what could be wrong? Had I passed up on an unbelievable offer?

Obviously not. Some things – most things like this – are too good to be true. After some further research we found a website at another university with a list of scams, one that included “Debbie” – though at this university she had used another email, still claiming to be of the same company.

This is my squabble with NACElink and Barnard’s career services: strange jobs, eccentric people, and exhaustive applications are fine and good (albeit sometimes a waste of time), but how can a college of this caliber, that lauds its career services to prospective students, be this lax with it’s job screening process? It took me little to no time to discover this scam, and for a college career center (which, by nature, should be aware of the scams plaguing other university career centers) to have such a lack of awareness of a common and ongoing issue is unacceptable. Had I not paused to question the improbability of the email (despite being a front for a real company), and later delved deeper into my concern, my identity could have easily been compromised. I am disappointed and disenchanted by this oversight by Barnard’s career services.

I have since reached out to Barnard Career Development regarding the scam, in the hope that they might remove it and keep an eye on future problems. I have received no response as of yet.

Another Day at the office via Shutterstock