Rutgers University

How an Online Rutgers Forum Took Down a Pay-to-Work Employer

This screenshot captures a portion of Focus on China's website, which describes its internship programs. The site includes a section that instructs interns how to send money to secure the job.

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ — Online activism sometimes gets a shoddy reputation.

But internet-driven campaigns can produce results. Members of an online community dedicated to Rutgers, a section of Reddit called /r/Rutgers, proved as much this week.

After a couple of warnings—peppered with a healthy dose of gripes—regarding an employer that advertises on campus appeared on the forum, Rutgers Career Services cut ties with Focus on China. The university took action when it found that the company, which lures students in with the promise of an internship abroad, requires people to pay for the position.

Sign Up for E-News

A suggestion from an online user prompted the department to look into the company and its pay-to-work policy.

“For this reason, ‘Focus on China’ has been removed from the CareerKnight platform,” Melissa Blake, a spokesperson for career services, wrote yesterday, referencing the school’s online job board.

The Beijing, China-based company couldn’t be reached for comment via phone or email by TAPinto New Brunswick.

An /r/Rutgers user set the wheels in motion last week, through a post highlighting an April 25 Vector Marketing networking and information session that was promoted through Career Services.

That kicked off a swell of comments against Vector, which retains independent contractors to sell Cutco knives directly to customers. Some users claimed the company is a “pyramid scheme” or a “multi-level marketing” group—two labels a public relations manager for Vector Marketing firmly rejected on the grounds that salespeople don’t draw others to work for the group.

In the online post and a follow-up, members of the Rutgers community bashed Vector for allegedly inflating how much money students can earn by selling knives and requiring them to buy a sample kit to work. A few contributors, meanwhile, defended the company.

“We need to stand up for ourselves and our peers by showing that we will not tolerate predatory companies,” a user with the handle doublefudgebrownie47 wrote.

Joel Koncinsky, a Vector spokesperson, told TAPinto New Brunswick that the company loans sample sets to salespeople free of charge. Should an individual decide to part ways with Vector, that person simply needs to return the product to avoid paying for it, Koncinsky said.

That shift prompted Rutgers Career Services to continue to allow Vector access to students through job postings and information sessions.

“A few years ago, Vector was banned from recruiting at some college campuses because they required students to pay for products and sell them,” Blake wrote. “Partly based on feedback from universities, Vector changed their practices in 2011, which now makes them eligible to recruit on college campuses like ours.”

Reddit user doublefudgebrownie47/Imgur

That same year, Vector settled class-action lawsuits alleging it didn’t pay minimum wage and “improperly” required sales reps to buy sample kits. The company agreed to pay out $13 million.

Since Vector salespeople are independent contractors, they don’t get paid while undergoing training, Koncinsky said.

“We provide good training skills that will help them for this job and the next,” he added.

Even so, forum users were skeptical of the hourly rates advertised by Vector on campus. They said figures hovering around $20 per hour were misleading because they only apply to top sellers.

In his rebuttal, Koncinsky said Vector provides base pay to contractors. The figure varies by branch—it’s $18 per appointment near Rutgers—but the company paid $4.2 million to representatives with no sales under their belt in 2016, he said.

The original online /r/Rutgers posts appears to have been designed to warn other students of the company.

While those who hoped for Vector to get the boot were left unsatisfied, the outcry did spur consequences for Focus on China, the company that mandates upfront payment from would-be interns.

That’s a win for Rutgers Career Services. The department’s employer relations team reviews more than 16,000 job postings on CareerKnight each year, Blake wrote, which means they can use a hand in identifying hucksters and scams.

“We encourage students to help [us] monitor for potential fraudulent employers,” she added. “The issue of fraudulent employers recruiting on college campuses is a concern across the country.”

Rutgers prefers students to report possible scammers via email to

But, if only this time, an online group dedicated to Rutgers and with fewer than 7,500 members got the job done. What did that feel like?

“Justice,” a user called wears_a_hoodie wrote.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

New Brunswick

The Jaffe Briefing - March 16, 2018


ON THE RAILS - Another commuting mess this morning, as the antiquated Portal Bridge got stuck in the "up" position at 4:22 a.m.  That caused a bunch of rush hour trains to be cancelled between Newark and Manhattan for four hours or so.  Both NJTransit and Amtrak riders were completely screwed. You may recall the proposed Gateway ...

The Jaffe Briefing - March 15, 2018


NEW BRUNSWICK - When you rent out apartments to Rutgers students, expect some surprises. But one landlord received a shocker beyond expectation: a $8,117.07 water bill for the last three months of 2017, TAPInto New Brunswick reports. The landlord went to the City Council meeting this week, pleading that the bill on his Comstock Street ...

The Jaffe Briefing - March 14, 2018


TRENTON - Ever since we met Gov. Phil Murphy, he has been talking about the same stuff: higher taxes for the rich, saving NJ Transit, legalizing marijuana, giving more money to public schools and a higher minimum wage. So, when lawmakers went to Trenton yesterday to hear the rookie governor's first budget message, there weren't a lot of ...

The Jaffe Briefing - March 13, 2018


TRENTON - As Gov. Phil Murphy prepares to deliver his first budget address at 2 p.m. today, at the State House, observers will be curious if his proposals jive with the state's pension mess. Look for the governor to talk about campaign topics like equal pay, health care, climate change, immigration and offshore drilling, as well as the proposed ...

The Jaffe Briefing - March 12, 2018


NEW BRUNSWICK - If you want to succeed in New Jersey, you need to figure out, to some degree, what all these millennials are thinking.  New Jersey Future tried to get to the answer, during a recent day-long event in New Brunswick that NJ Spotlight covered.  Bottom line? Our millennials are fleeing and that is bad. We need them to buy ...

The Jaffe Briefing - March 9, 2018


ON THE RAILS - Not only is President Trump against the Gateway Tunnel, it seems he is ready to shut down the entire federal government if any money is budgeted for the desperately-needed infrastructure project. The word from Washington is that Trump is ready to scorch the Earth if Gateway gets just one sawbuck from Uncle Sam. Of course, this dispels all ...

Rutgers Student on Front Lines of Orangutan Conservation, Research

March 15, 2018

NEW BRUNSWICK - Deep in a tropical forest in Borneo 15 years ago, Rutgers student Didik Prasetyo first encountered a young male orangutan that he named “Jerry.”

The great ape was one of several orangutans that Prasetyo and other researchers followed at the Tuanan Orangutan Research Station in the Mawas Conservation Area in Indonesia. Prasetyo was skeptical when colleagues said ...

RU police investigate assault on Douglass campus

NEW BRUNSWICK - Rutgers University police are investigating an aggravated assault and attempted sexual assault  reported to March 14 at 3:55 a.m. in front of Hickman Hall on the Douglass campus.


The victim, not affiliated with Rutgers University, reported that she was walking with a male whom she did not know in the area of Commercial Avenue and George ...

Rutgers voices support for proposed state budget

NEW BRUNSWICK - Rutgers University officials have often been wary of the governor's annual budget message, wondering what type of budget cuts the university may sustain and how it would potentially impact tuition and the overall quality of education.

This budget message, delivered March 13, appears to be a sigh of relief.

Pete McDonough, Vice President of External Affairs at ...

Latino, Caribbean, Hip Hop, Jazz music, even Yoga and skating, celebrated in city

March 15, 2018

NEW BRUNSWICK – Music, cultures and lifestyles will be celebrated in the city all year, with festivals and special events scheduled for weekends from April through October, including the city’s first day to highlight yoga.

City council members this week approved permits for nine events, starting with the traditional Rutgers Day Parade on April 28, which will start on Senior Place ...


This National Literacy Month, Let's Rein In Screen Time

March 13, 2018

Dear Editor: As speech-language pathologists across New Jersey prepare to mark “National March into Literacy Month,” let’s address the alarming number of young children who spend countless hours a day on a handheld screen.

According to a study from the Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting, the more time that children under two years spend on smartphones, tablets and ...

New Jersey Association of Health Underwriters Clinches Gold Certification

March 16, 2018

NEWARK - The National Association of Health Underwriters (NAHU) is proud to announce that the New Jersey Association of Health Underwriters has once again received Gold Certification – awarded to the strongest chapters in the nation.

NJAHU achieved Gold Certification from national headquarters underscoring how well the organization has operated and achieved its lofty goals in the ...