FAQ re: Fraudulent v. Legitimate Employers

Yes – Students are wise to be discerning when encountering prospective employers. Employment scams exist and most frequently engage students through the Internet. We rarely encounter scam organizations on campus given their much higher risk of exposure and consequential action by the University. This would be especially true of pyramid schemes, which depend on recruiting people to become distributors of a product or service. Pyramid schemes are fraudulent and illegal.

No – However, companies operating under a Multilevel Marketing business model can be mistaken for pyramid schemes. The easiest way to differentiate the two models is that one is recruitment based while the other concentrates on selling products. MLMs are legal and some well-known ones have been around for many years including Avon, Amway and Tupperware. While these organizations are legitimate employers, it’s unusual for students to experience them recruiting distributers at Purdue. Their campus recruitment presence typically relates to the science and engineering processes involved in creating their products.

It’s important for students to note that not all direct sales organizations operate as MLMs. The two direct sales companies that most frequently recruit on campuses are Cutco/Vector Marketing Corporation and Southwestern Advantage. The CCO has invested time in vetting both of these organizations and considers them legitimate employers. These vetting results align with conclusions reached by many other colleges and universities as well as relevant professional associations.

That is a personal decision and the CCO recommends that it also be an informed one. As is the case with all other employers that recruit at Purdue, the opportunities that direct sales companies offer to students are not for everyone. There are many students whose experiential learning pursuits would better fit their career goals with other types of employers, or through focused involvement with undergraduate research.

As a comprehensive campus career center, the CCO recognizes that a significant number of students seek to develop stronger professional skills, have specific plans to pursue sales opportunities, and/or pursue entrepreneurship options with a future goal of owning their own business. The CCO recognizes that Southwestern Advantage and Cutco/Vector Marketing Corporation in particular provide students with significant training to pursue these interests, as well as expose students to real world risks and rewards in a supportive environment associated with the experience. The CCO also respects that both organizations are members of the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) and follow the NACE Principles for Ethical Professional Practice.

It’s important for students to learn as much as they can about any employer of interest to them. Checking the Internet is one strategy to pursue including the Better Business Bureau and Direct Selling Association sites. In doing so, students should understand that hundreds of companies that recruit at Purdue, including many well-known and respected corporations, yield negative as well as positive comments in social media and on some Internet sites. Thus, the CCO strongly encourages students to utilize other resources as well to research employers. This is not only important for confirming interest in working for an organization, but also preparing for interviews.

Purdue Libraries with collaboration from the CCO and other campus offices hosts the Career Research Portal – http://career.lib.purdue.edu/landthejob.php. Together, we subscribe to 14 sites that are excellent sources of information on prospective employers. In addition, students spending time deciphering information on employers’ own websites as well as speaking with students, graduates and other individuals that work or previously worked for the specific employer or within the same industry can also be quite helpful. Utilizing the CCO’s services and resources is also recommended – https://www.cco.purdue.edu/Students/WhatWeOffer.