Those of you who have read this blog with any sort of regularity this past fall are aware that I was one of the speakers for Monster.com's "Making it Count" speaking program. In short, I went around to high schools and gave a 45 minute presentation to ninth graders on why it's important to take high school seriously and why they have to also start looking to the future. It was a good presentation; it had some very useful tips; and the kids seemed to really enjoy the material. And I was pretty good at it.
At the end of each presentation students are asked to fill out a survey about themselves and they're also asked to rate my performance on a scale of 1 to 10. Guidance counselors were also asked to fill out a survey and fax it in to my superiors at the main offices and rate me as well. I'm pleased (and a bit surprised) to report that my average score from the guidance counselors was a 9.4 out of 10 and that my marks from the students were an 8.5 out of 10.
So, I got invited back for next semester. Sadly, after originally accepting the offer -- and being quite excited about it -- I decided to turn it down a week or two later. One reason was that it was just starting to take up too much time. The next semester required memorization of two different scripts -- one for juniors beginning their college search, and another for seniors preparing to graduate. While I didn't look forward to spending a lot of time studying the scripts, I relished the thought of giving two or more presentations a day even less. I simply don't have the time for that.
But that wasn't the only reason I had to leave. Originally, I was doing this 1) because I thought it was a good program and for a good cause, 2) because the speaking experience could be useful, and 3) to make a little extra money. Unfortunately, I no longer cared about the cause as it had way too many corporate tie-ins for my liking and the message was starting to sound like an advertisement. Also, I had the experience and frankly needed to focus more on my real job. So if I were to continue, it would be just for the money. And that's where I had to decide it wasn't worth it.
I can live with having to learn the scripts free of charge -- that's completely understandable -- but 4 days locked up in a Dayton, Ohio hotel for meetings and certification tests? Unpaid? In December? Hell no. It's bad enough that you have to be a speaker for 5 semesters before you get a lousy $5 per-speech raise, but asking people to travel to Ohio for 4 days without compensation is just wrong.
By the end of last semester I was one of two speakers in the entire Pacific Northwest region still doing this. And judging by comments from the counselors on their survey forms, I was the best some of them had had in years. And that was really nice to read. Too bad all of them that said they'd request I come back in the spring will have to settle for someone else. If anybody else is even doing this anymore.
I will miss the extra spending money, but I also look forward to being able to spend that much more time and energy on my real job. The one that pays real money.
Oh, and for the record, the four days I spent at home last week instead of in Dayton, Ohio were occupied with spending a lot of time with my wife, going out shopping and to a play with her, cleaning the garage, and going to the Seahawks game. In other words, it didn't matter whether they paid or not. My time spent at home was more valuable.