Yesterday I was approached via email by a fellow Smith College alumna who found me through our alumnae directory. She’s a career consultant and asked me to spend a brief amount of time on the phone advising a client of hers. Edited to add: the client is not a Smith alum.
I’m grateful for the advice and support I’ve received from fellow alumnae when I’ve used the Smith network, and am always glad for the chance to do the same in return. I’ve even, on occasion, spoken as a favor to friends or family members of alumnae when asked.
However, something about this particular request isn’t sitting well with me. The alumna who asked is getting paid by her client for access to her time, talent and connections. And yet she’s asking me to provide my own for free. While I applaud her candor – she could have just said she was asking for a friend – why is it okay with her that she’s receiving a fee for something she’s asking me to do gratis?
What do you think? Am I being too sensitive? Does it really make a difference whether the person doing the asking is just trying to help someone out, or that she’s getting paid to do so? How would you respond? Please share your thoughts in the comments.