Above all else, I feel the interns and trainees are being taken advantage of. I shall focus primarily on the former so as to be able to speak from personal experience. The interns' wage is unacceptable. I find it all the more despicable that we 'volunteer' 20 hours so as to ensure there is no need to pay a living wage for your workforce. When we factor in the cost of travel to and from the office (something not mentioned during the interviewing stage), it becomes extremely difficult to afford basic necessities like food. Furthermore, we were advised during the interview process to bring around 300 Euros to cover the first month of expenses. I will go onto highlight further levels of poor communication from the side of the organisation later. Regarding the previous point, it isn't explained that we wouldn't receive a proper month's wage until the middle of October. If it is difficult to make (not even) 300 Euros last 4 weeks, six weeks is near impossible. I can't help but feel as many corners are cut as possible by the organisation. Knowing that interns and trainees are in a vulnerable position, the organisation from a position of power does things like only allocate 3 keys to 5 interns, not provide a freezer for the trainee accommodation in Brunnenweg, etc. While I can accept room sharing as occurs in the interns' accommodation, I'm astounded on two counts. First, that a trainee may share his room with 3 other people, and second that up to 400 Euros is taken from the interns' wage for the pleasure of being housed in a different town to the office. Again, this wasn't told during the interviewing process. If given proper notice, I would have personally preferred receiving my wage in full and have the opportunity to source more appropriate accommodation for the duration of my stay. Regardless of whether or not I would have been successful, I feel it's my right to make the decision. Moreover, the fact that the interns' have such a sizeable amount of their wage taken because of our accommodation makes the threat of random trainees being dumped in our flat with no more than 48 hours' notice and no consideration is all the more galling. I emailed HR twice regarding this matter for clarification on whether or not rumours were true. These were ignored.
In my time I've found this organisation disturbingly disorganised. In the first week, the interns were very much an afterthought, left alone for hours on end with no work or guidance. We all became quite familiar with the coffee machine and the interior design of the kitchen. Why all of us had to pay extortionate amounts of money for a hotel just so we could sit through a trainee teacher lecture is beyond me. Why not save your hardworking new staff a hotel bill by housing them one extra night or else pushing timing back a few hours and negating team building. Why team build when the majority will move on across the country, not to be seen again for several weeks? Further examples of disorganisation can be found regarding the use of the virtual classroom. I believe I'm correct in saying trainees are supposed to be handling it during regular hours. If that is wrong, it seems strange that interns would be taken away from their regular duties. Regardless, both times that I've been asked to handle virtual classroom duties (on both occasions told at 1400, with no consideration for what work I may be doing) I was given no advice regarding where I could go. What results is a desperate rush around Vorchdorf looking for a free computer where I won't disturb other staff. This isn't to mention having to borrow appropriate kit to utilise a microphone and hear sound. Further highlights of disorganisation include, during the first project week the interns were sent out on, the girls (staying in a different town to me) arriving at their accommodation to find nobody in the guest house and no key. When they were eventually let into their house, the senior teacher and I faced the same problem at our accommodation. To date, I have done 1 project week, 1 project day and assisted another intern on the final day of her project week. None of the interns have received training regarding proper ABCi practices. We have viewed a senior teacher take 1 period of our classes individually during the first project week. I have personally had the least amount of teaching when it comes to the interns. That one of the other interns is set to do 5 consecutive weeks of teaching in the first 6 weeks of work is absolutely astounding. None of us came here to be teachers. We all have varying levels of experience anyway and chose to come here to work in an office. I would suggest for the next intake, that interns arrive a week earlier than trainees to help in preparation for their arrival. It may just help the logistical nightmare that this organisation seems to face every day (if the completely unreliable, ever-changing calendar is anything to go by). Finally, the interns haven't been allocated our due holidays in September.
Below I shall outline examples of poor communication from this organisation:
We were told by different parties that the introduction of a wage was because of a change in the law or out of the goodness of this organisation's heart. I don't think it's too cynical to assume the former over the latter.
In week 3, interns hadn't been allocated time to open a bank account. Communication regarding this amounted to surprise and acknowledgement that something should happen regarding this.
Office training was allocated 2 hours. This consisted of a second identical tour of the office and a 5 minute guide on how to use the printer.
Interns are invited to a team building lunch that is mandatory (how else would we get home after the project day if our senior staff member that drove us is going). We are then told, at the end of the meal, that we have to pay. Why weren't we warned beforehand? To assume causes unnecessary stress.
The contract we signed is in German. Why is there not an English copy? It is pure luck that 2 of the interns speak German. Regardless of whether or not it would be official, an English transcript seems appropriate.
Finally, there has been no opportunity for professional development. The first aid course consisted of a four hour lecture with minimal practical activities. The teacher training (lectures) is not relevant for me personally or professionally (we aren't supposed to be teaching regularly and don’t receive any formal qualification). The intern office work is menial and doesn't allow for any learning of the inner-workings of a nonprofit. I had personally hoped to be able to spend at least some time shadowing the Director of Fundraising and to sit in on some meetings. While I have expressed this wish, my work has consisted of moving information from one spreadsheet to another.