Focus on China, a company which promises to help students immerse themselves in the world’s most populous nation during their internships, was banned from posting positions with University Career Services (UCS), said Associate Director for Strategic Communications and Marketing Melissa Blake.
The company was removed after a user noted in a comment on a Reddit thread that the company makes interns pay for their positions, she said in an email.
“UCS was notified about the comments on the thread where students were discussing employers recruiting on campus,” she said. “UCS took action to investigate the claim and discovered it to be true. While an application fee for programs that connect students to employment opportunities overseas does not necessarily mean it is fraudulent, it is against our policy to have these types of listings in our system.”
The Reddit thread was created after an email from University Career Services listed Vector Marketing as a recruiter for on-campus positions last week. The original poster noted that Vector Marketing used to be a known pyramid scheme.
Vector Marketing was banned from several colleges due to their requirement that students pay for products they need to sell, Blake said.
“As a policy, what we do not allow is employers to recruit on campus who require students to pay for goods as a condition of employment,” she said. “A few years ago, Vector was banned from recruiting at some college campuses because they required students to pay for the products that they sell. This is one of the criteria listed on our own website for how to identify a potentially fraudulent job posting.”
At the time, Vector was what was known as a multi-level marketing program.
Multi-level marketing programs are not illegal in the United States, according to the Federal Trade Commission. If a person’s earnings are primarily based around sales to the public, the organization fits within legal guidelines.
If the primary focus is on recruiting other people to the organization, or if a person must purchase materials with their own money, the organization is more likely to be a pyramid scheme.
Comedian John Oliver said on his show Last Week Tonight that pyramid schemes require people to buy into their products, which means they often do not make money.
“Generally, distributors have two main ways to make money: Sell the product itself, whether it’s makeup, vitamins or health shakes, and make money on those sales, or, and this is key, recruit other people into the company and make money based on their sales and the sales of people who they recruit in turn,” Oliver said.
People who sign up for a pyramid scheme are more likely to lose money than make it, according to the FTC. As a result, they are illegal within the United States.
Vector Marketing’s website states that it “is not a pyramid scheme in any way, shape or form.”
“Vector reps are not responsible for recruiting new reps or buying any sort of product or service,” according to their website. “In fact, Vector reps are independent contractors and they set their own schedules and have the opportunity to control how much they earn through a guaranteed base pay and commissions earned on each sale.”
Every contractor earns a base pay and is not required to purchase any CUTCO knives to be part of the organization, according to the site. The company will lend a knife set to their contractors for demonstration purposes.
Applicants are still required to undergo a training process before they can become contractors.
“Once an individual completes training to become a sales representative, they’re loaned a CUTCO sample set that has a retail value of $425. As long as you remain active in the business, you’ll be able to borrow a sample kit for your demonstrations and show potential customers how great our products are,” according to Vector Marketing’s website.
While associates no longer have to purchase their initial knife set, they are still encouraged to begin selling to people they know, according to the website. They are then told to look for “friends of friends,” rather than “complete strangers.”
The contractors are obligated to return their demonstration kit after they terminate their employment.
“If you eventually decide you don’t want to continue selling CUTCO, just send back the sample kit and you’re good to go,” according to their website. “We also offer a guaranteed base pay per qualified appointment. This means you’re guaranteed to earn something for each qualified appointment completed, whether or not you sell anything. We pay weekly. So, you’ll get to see your hard work pay off at the end of each working week.”
Companies like Vector Marketing can post positions on University Career Services’ website due to the demand for sales jobs, Blake said. There are over 5,000 students currently in the system who are interested in sales jobs.
“Many of those positions are paid based on commission,” she said. “That is the reality of many employment opportunities within the world of sales. It’s certainly not for everyone and it is up to each individual student to decide what fields they are interested in pursuing.”
There are more than 16,000 total positions available in the CareerKnight system. A member of UCS’ employer relations team reviews each position within a year of its posting, she said. At the same time, Rutgers UCS and career offices nationwide require the assistance of students to report fraudulent experiences.
This is because a position may not appear fraudulent just based on the description provided.
“If there is an instance where a student has reported a potential fraudulent posting, UCS immediately takes action to investigate,” Blake said. “If a posting is found to be fraudulent, we immediately remove it from CareerKnight. We also notify any students who have applied for the position through the system. If a student ever falls victim to an employment scam, they should also file a report with the RUPD immediately. They can further investigate and take action.”
Students can find more information about avoiding scams on UCS' website.
Every company which posts recruiting sessions to CareerKnight is automatically added to a listserv which is sent out to the student body, Blake said. These sessions are listed based on when they occur and when they're posted.
“All employers who engage in on-campus recruiting services, such as information sessions and on-campus interviewing, are featured in the various email digests,” she said. "Positions posted to the CareerKnight system are also featured in bi-weekly job and internship email digests during the fall and spring semester. We do not ‘select’ employers to be included in these emails.”
Near the end of recruiting season, only a few employers list positions, Blake said. As a result, they may appear to be “featured” in the email.
Students still looking for summer positions can attend the N.J. Statewide Career and Internship Fair on Friday at the Rutgers Athletic Center between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m., she said.
"Employers are recruiting to fill both technical and non-technical positions," Blake said. "The fair is open to current students and alumni as well as the general public. For more information and a list of searchable employers, candidates can visit (the website)."
Nikhilesh De is a correspondent for The Daily Targum. He is a School of Arts and Sciences senior. Follow him on Twitter @nikhileshde for more.