Scam Advice for Students

Learn how to avoid some of the most common job scams.

Scam Advice

for Students

College Works Painting Scam Advice for Students #1:

Avoid Pyramid Schemes

A pyramid scheme promises participants payment or services, primarily for enrolling other people into the scheme, rather than supplying any real sale of products or services to the public. College Works Painting's pyramid scheme advice is this: Correctly identify a pyramid scheme.

A pyramid scheme in the business world often refers to a multi-level marketing company that gets participants to recruit other people to buy stuff, but also places a heavy emphasis on getting participants to recruit people for them to become participants of the organization. You make money in multi-level marketing when someone you signed up buys the product the company offers. You make even more money when the people you signed up go out and get people to sign up under them. You are given a small percentage of each purchase of those "below" you.

Multi-level marketing companies usually have dues and also cost money in order to get started (for example, the cost of buying sales kits or product inventory). Many companies like this charge $500.00 plus just to get involved. Usually things are structured so that you must heavily recruit other people in order to make any money.

It's common to confuse a recruiting company or a company that accepts referrals with a pyramid scheme. To better understand the distinction, let's use College Works Painting as an example:

College Works Painting is not a pyramid scheme.

CWP does not charge a startup fee, nor do we charge students any kind of dues. We do not ask our interns to recruit other people to intern for us. Interns do not sign up their own interns. They do hire painters, but painters are paid employees managed by the intern. Painters are not people "brought on" under interns to make interns money for recruiting more people to sign up. Painters are workers who paint and they make an hourly wage. We do give interns the opportunity to refer individuals whom they are acquainted with, and if the acquaintance is a quality applicant, then that person can also become an intern.

College Works Painting Scam Advice for Students #2:

Avoid Scams

A scam by definition is "obtaining money by means of deception including fake personalities, fake photos, fake template letters, non-existent addresses and phone numbers, forged documents." Scams typically involve a situation where one party somehow gets money or other valuable items from another, and gives nothing in return.

To scam someone would first and ALWAYS involve the "scammed" to have to invest or put money forward.

How can I identify a scam?
A job scam would require you to invest money into their program. A job scam also requires payment for products and might require participants to deceive people.

To illustrate the difference between a dishonest company and an honest one, let's use College Works Painting as an example:

College Works Painting is not a scam.

CWP does not require any kind of monetary investment, and does not ask for any of their employees to secure debt.

Students are only responsible for their gas money and cell phone bill as with any typical college student job. For example, Starbucks does not pay for your gas to get to and from work, nor do they cover your cell phone bill. CWP provides EVERYTHING else essential in order for interns to start their own businesses.

College Works Painting Scam Advice for Students #3:

Don't Pay Fees and Dues

As a college student, you need a legitimate job or internship that will build your resume and teach you valuable skills. You should not be charged a fee to gain skills and experience.

How will I know if I'm being scammed out of money?
A company scamming you requires you to pay money out of pocket. A company scamming you out of money would also not permit you to view financial records or monetary transactions.

It's common to confuse commission payments and hourly payments. A company that pays a commission-based compensation plan is not scamming you.

Let's evaluate College Works Painting's pay system as an example of the proper way to handle employee money:

CWP does not require students to EVER pay money out of pocket to get started. Students are trained at the beginning of the program, and the training is free for them to attend. At the conclusion of their training, trainees are asked to start working. As soon as they complete their training and start doing estimates, interns are paid bi-weekly just like any other job.

During booking, intern pay is based on the number of estimates being completed on a weekly basis, and during production, pay is based on the results of booked jobs. If interns do not work, they do not get paid. Again, just like any job.

CWP does not charge interns any kind of "dues." The way we operate is actually pretty simple: as soon as a client pays the intern for completion of a paint project, the intern is to send the payment to the corporate office in California, where all monetary transactions are completed and documented.

CWP participates in a revenue sharing model. If the intern does not book a job, both CWP and the Intern do not benefit. The revenue sharing between CWP and the intern covers numerous business necessities including, but not limited to, all of the costs of training, marketing materials, District Manager support, office support, phone services, insurance, etc. These costs also pay for fun events, contests, etc. As a company we can only profit from doing business if you are successful in acquiring business.

College Works Painting Scam Advice for Students #4:

Don't Get Scammed Out of Money

If I lose money, am I being scammed?
With a pyramid scheme or a scam, participants can lose the money they invest if they do not sign enough participants to off-set the cost of the initial start-up fee. For example, if you paid a company $500.00 to get involved and you weren't successful in the program which led to termination, if that $500.00 was not returned to you, then yes, you lost money.

Losing money from a scam and incurring business expenses are completely different. At times, employees incur business expenses, such as gas money to drive to work. A business expense is not a scam.

To better understand the difference, let's use College Works Painting as an example:

Since there is no investment required from interns by CWP, students cannot lose money. It is possible, for example, that a student could purchase $20.00 in gas to get to training and purchase another $50.00 driving around scouting their territory and creating estimates over the course of the first few weeks. One might think that the intern would be out $70.00. However, there is a draw system in place to assist with these expenses. In this example, let's look at an example financial breakdown:

For each estimate that an intern completes they are paid an advance of $10.00, therefore over the first three weeks (using the above example) he or she would have to complete seven estimates in order to cover any out of pocket costs. In the worst case scenario, an intern spends three to four weeks "trying" and does not produce any leads. That intern would be paid for estimates completed (even if they do not book the job, the student qualifies for the draw to help offset their expenses) and would either quit or we would pull the plug due to lack of work. Either way, the student is not losing any money, even if the intern used the draw system to cover expenses.

If at any time an intern quits and they have a negative CWP account balance, CWP assumes responsibility and eats the loss as a cost of taking the risk on that particular student.

College Works Painting Scam Advice for Students #5:

Don't Fall Prey to a Bait-and-Switch

What if they don't teach me or support me and I fail?
A company trying to scam you might set you up for failure. Instead of investing time and resources training you like they promised, they collect your start-up money and forget about you. You fail, quit, and lose your money. This is a deceitful attempt to trick you into parting with your money.

Learn the difference between being set-up to fail and experiencing a learning curve. Let's use College Works Painting as an example:

What if someone doesn't "get it?" CWP keeps a very close eye on each intern, monitoring his or her weekly activity and results. In addition to the in-depth classroom training, we also teach hands-on field-training. Each intern has a District Manager who is responsible for in-field training in preparation for when the Intern does anything new for the first time.

Bottom line: If you are not getting it, we will help. If you do not get results we risk our reputation and lose money. We are very motivated to make sure each student brought on figures it out and makes it through the program.

College Works Painting Scam Advice for Students #6:

Be Selective

When pursuing a job or internship, be selective. The skills and experience you acquire during college sets the foundation for your future success after graduation.

To avoid a scam, research the company thoroughly. Review the company's website and read the content. Read company reviews from employees and clients. Examine the company's social media sites to understand the company's culture. This will help identify a job scam.

When reading reviews, take everything into account. Just because a position is difficult and challenging does not mean you're being scammed. Take College Works Painting for example:

The College Works Painting internship is extremely challenging.

However, in order to "fail" one must first attempt something. If you analyze attrition across typical collegiate level jobs you will find that there is drop-off everywhere. Would you consider someone a "failure" if they were hired but never even attended training? Probably not. Now how about someone who attended training but never put a single hour of effort in? Again, probably not.

Now, what if a student hired to intern for us was trained, attended a flyer drop session with their DM for an hour or two and then drove around in their area for a few hours and put in five hours of work total. If that intern gets frustrated and misses their meeting with their DM the next week, and thinks "this is not for me" and ends up quitting, is that attrition?

The point is that of those interns who actually get the ball rolling and get trained on estimates, we have seen a very small drop out. Like any job, people come and go, for example, because their schedule doesn't work or they try it and then decide that they are not a good fit for the work. Through selectivity, training and support, we are able to keep that number down.

College Works Painting Scam Advice for Students #8:

Research the Company's Services and Products

Each of our interns is trained both in the classroom and in their one-week on-site training. In addition to the direct training that the interns receives, the painters are also approved by the DM through meetings and interviews. The painters are allowed to attend the training put on by the DM as well.

Once a painter is hired they usually attend a certification and safety training hosted by one of the major paint suppliers as well as the division's Vice President. Painters receive training on ladder usage, sprayer set up and clean up, painting basics, safety, crew kit composition and tool usage.

Even though the above mentioned training seems ample, that is only the beginning. Once an intern decides that the painters are "ready to go", the DM meets them on the job and spends their first day supervising them and fine tuning their skills. DMs make sure painters are safe, efficient and can do the work right!

College Works Painting Scam Advice for Students #9:

Get a Job You'll Benefit From

You might land a job with a reputable and honest company that treats its employees and clients extremely well and yet, you still feel scammed because you didn't benefit from the job. If you got an internship at a Fortune 500 company over the summer but ended up pouring coffee and retrieving faxes, you might feel like you wasted your summer.

To avoid this, ask your potential employer what you'll gain from them.

For example, why do students participate in CWP? Is it the money? Is it the experience... maybe? Do they want to meet people? Most of our interns would tell you that they learned more through their experience with CWP than they did attending their first few years of college! They will also attest to the invaluable network of associates that they were introduced to.

College Works Painting Scam Advice for Students #10:

Understand the Company's Structure

Before accepting employment with any company, understand the organization's structure and how the company earns money. Knowledge is power. If the company structure is transparent you can more easily avoid scams.

Whether you'd like to work for a non-profit or for-profit company, ask your potential employer about the company's structure so that you fully understand who you're working for.

An honest company will readily answer your questions about structure and overhead. Here's how CWP works:

CWP does engage in a revenue sharing model with the dollars booked by the student. If an intern does not make money on a job the District Manager will be fully aware. The District Manager will work one-on-one with said intern and identify the causes of the job not yielding profit. If the problem is in any way our fault we ALWAYS make sure that the intern does not suffer a loss and moves on to the next job.

Painters are also paid regardless of payments coming in. CWP assumes an enormous amount of responsibility for interns' actions, therefore we monitor them closely. Our overheard is largely used to provide students with what they need, in order to look and be professional. We give them:

Lawn signs
Business cards
Carbon-copied contract agreements
Car magnets
Shirts and shirts for employees
Training aids
Sales aids (past client testimonials)
Paint, painting supplies and equipment

Like any for-profit business, we are in the business of making money. The more money an intern makes, the more money we make. Make no mistake, without profit we would not do what we do.

CWP takes all the risk and provides the above mentioned items, and also training, events and support from an experienced hand.

College Works Painting Scam Advice for Students #11:

Ask About Training and Development Opportunities

Get an internship or job with a company that adequately trains you and develops your skills. Especially if you get a commission-based job. If you work for commission and do not receive adequate training and support, you might not earn money, leaving you feeling scammed.

Here's what College Works Painting does to ensure the interns earn money:

CWP does everything possible to ensure interns do not under bid jobs. Painting estimates are relatively simple to complete. Classroom training is given, we assign homework that interns must complete and understand/review and the DM does the first few estimates with/for each of their interns. There isn't reason for an Intern not to understand how to price properly.

More often, what happens is that an intern adjusts a price and then experiences doubt that a client will hire them if they are quoting too high of a price. To alleviate this anxiety, we train our interns to clearly understand that our prices are what they are in order to ensure that CWP and the Intern can cover all expenses and make a small profit.

District Managers reinforce the pricing and stress the fact that our prices are correct and people will hire you if you do a good job during the estimate. Still, some interns drop their prices to secure jobs. We do everything we can to make sure that this does not happen frequently; however, we cannot supervise each estimate that is done.

College Works Painting Scam Advice for Students #12:

Understand the Company's Clientele

To better identify a scam, study the company's clients. A legitimate company should be able to clearly describe their clientele and explain who buys their products or services.

Understanding the clientele will also enable you to perform better at your job.

Here's College Works Painting's clientele:

Painting is preventative maintenance. CWP's target market is middle and upper class homeowners. In order to understand the industry you must understand who we provide painting services to. Our clients understand the importance of keeping their property looking and functioning good.

Our clients also understand that by painting every few years they will avoid costly repairs and replacement of boards, windows and other things around the home that may decay if not protected by paint. Regardless of whether the economy is good or bad, people invest in home improvement, and moreover home preservation.

Lucky for us, painting is affordable and an important aesthetic and functional aspect of home maintenance. Our target market plans ahead. If they need a new air conditioning unit this summer they will get one. If they need a few of their windows replaced they will do so and if they need to paint they will paint!

College Works Painting Scam Advice for Students #13:

Research the Company's Workload

You might feel scammed if you land a job only to get laid-off shortly after because there wasn't enough work for you. To avoid this, ask your potential employer about workload. Make sure there's enough work for you to stay busy your entire shift and ask how to obtain additional work.

Look for job security.

Some College Works Painting interns worry about this initially. At first, they ask if they'll be able to find enough jobs for their crews.

Jobs are not easy to find. It does require a lot of work and a lot of time. Interns run a relatively small business. Our average intern usually completes between 15 or 20 jobs. That is it!

Each intern is given ample neighborhoods and opportunity to find these jobs. We know how to market and we help our interns target the right homes. Each DM works with their interns directly as well to hire the right amount of staff for the work that is procured. If there is a surplus of jobs we hire more painters and if there is a shortage we will drop crews.

Either way, interns can find jobs. It requires patience, learning, trust, practice, practice and practice! If an intern sticks with it they will prevail. We make sure of it. They must be out there working. In sports, you cannot make a weak player a strong one if they never show up for practice! If an athlete is there every day, working as hard as, or harder, than the rest, then he or she can become the best. The same thing applies here.