Confessions of a job hunter: When ethics collide with opportunity


Previous articles in this series: The hunt begins and My adventures in info sessions

Recently, my friend told me about a dilemma she was facing as she moves through her own job hunting experience.

She found an opening for a rotational program for her discipline.  The business discipline she’s in doesn’t usually offer rotational or training programs, so for a job posting like this to come up, it is a huge opportunity.

She would gain tons of experience others wouldn’t be able to get from most other companies.

Applying sounds like a no-brainer, right?  Not so fast.

The company operates in an industry which strongly conflicts with her morals and upbringing.  It would be like a vegetarian animal lover working in a meat shop.

She mentioned several times during our conversation that it would be against her morals to apply for such a company.  She asked herself, “How would I be able to tell my mom?  If I ever decide to move on from X industry, how would I explain my work experience and my decision to work there?”

But on the other hand, she knew from her research that the industry generally pays well and treats its employees even better.

After listening to her confession for 20 minutes, it was clear that she was seriously considering applying.  But seeing how conflicted she was on whether or not to even apply to the opening, it worried me to think how she would react if she was offered an interview, or even more optimistically, a job.

As a friend, I’ve resisted giving her my opinion because this is a decision she really needs to make on her own.  Instead, I suggested she speak with our business ethics professor.  In times like these, the people who can probably offer the best advice are ones who have witnessed situations like these and can guide you toward making the decision that right for you.

The application deadline for the rotational program is in a few weeks.  Hopefully by then she’ll find have found that guidance and be able to make the decision that is best for her.

What would you do? Would you apply for a job or work in an industry that conflicts with your own standards of ethics?

About the author

Leona Leong is a fourth-year Commerce and History student at Queen’s University. She spent a semester studying abroad in Belgium at the Université catholique de Louvain which she describes as “one of the greatest experiences ever.” Leona is currently going through on-campus recruitment and is looking forward to where the future will take her.