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I have done some freelance jobs for students that are essentially asking me to do homework projects for them. Usually I will try to present them with a finished product that does not directly do everything in their assignment, but the amount of work that the student will have to put in is minimal, so I suppose that it could be construed as cheating if the student was exposed asking for these types of jobs.

If I were to post information about these projects on my portfolio, is it unethical to say that they were done for tutoring or consulting purposes?

I would like to know what the perspective of a potential employer would be; for example:

  • Would they care whether it was done as educational work or straight up doing work for a student?
  • If I presented it as a teaching project, would an employer suspect that the work was directly copied by the student instead of using it to help them do their own homework?

Edit: As a sort of follow-up question, at what point does work of this nature cross from teaching/mentoring into cheating? For instance, is presenting examples of code or giving a student something like a physics simulation (that could be used for general problems but would also unambiguously help them do the project that they asked for) also unethical?

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    If I saw that I would eliminate you from consideration. Helping people cheat is not what I want in an employee. Any company that would like that would be one that believes cheating you is ok too. – HLGEM May 2 '18 at 21:17
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    And frankly I don't want anyone in my profession that helps create more incompetents in the profession by doing their homework for them. There are too many incompetents as it is. Creating more deliberately is a huge black mark against you. – HLGEM May 2 '18 at 21:19
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    I upvoted what @HLGEM said because StackExchange hasn't built an "AMEN!" button in, yet. – Wesley Long May 2 '18 at 21:22
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    Basically, you are asking whether it has any benefit to put on your resume that you contribute to reducing the quality of the future worker pool of the company you work for. – pmf May 3 '18 at 11:51
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    "at what point does work of this nature cross from teaching/mentoring into cheating?" - You would have to decide this before agreeing to do work for the pupil. It sounds like you already know that what you did was basically doing their assignment for them; it means you already crossed the line. You could have said at that time "I won't do your assignments for you, but I could tutor you." That would not have been cheating. – Brandin May 3 '18 at 11:51
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I understand you need to be able to make ends meet, but that kind of freelance work is unethical, and you clearly know it.

Whether a company cares or not will vary from company to company.

Many companies will care very deeply. It's a bright red flag that you are willing to do something unethical if you see sufficient personal benefit. As a hiring manager, I would be worried that you would do something unethical to our company or customers on behalf of some external request (corporate sabotage, insider trading, theft, etc.) or that you would do something unethical "for" our company assuming the ends justify the means.

Other companies will see it as a bright green flag that you're a good candidate in joining them in doing unethical things for lots of money.

Writing your resume such that you're portraying unethical work as legitimate, run of the mill freelancing is even more unethical.

I would recommend no longer accepting freelance jobs that are blatantly unethical.

I'm honestly completely unsure what you should do in regards to the unethical work you've already done.

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  • I do see that there is much more widespread damage than I initially realized in enabling a student that you suspect of cheating, and I have ceased doing this type of work at any rate. However, I'm not sure that I understand the extension to clearly illegal things like "corporate sabotage, insider trading, and theft." Those actions clearly ruin people's livelihoods, whereas doing work at the request of a person who is cheating himself or herself out of a learning opportunity does not seem to be on the same level. – Wewt333 May 3 '18 at 19:34
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is it acceptable to put on a portfolio?

You can put anything you like, but in this case it would work against you with almost any employer. You don't want to hint at anything shady in a portfolio, that is just common sense.

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There are two ethics questions here.

Is it ethical work (do homework). Not ethical but also not illegal.

Is it ethical to misrepresent the work (do homework) as tutoring on a resume. Yes it is unethical as tutor is teach.

It would be ethical to represent the work as do homework but most employers would not value that experience.

If you just list the projects on your portfolio they will quickly look like homework and when they ask who they were for you pretty much have to tell them a student. You could get a away with listing maybe a couple pet (no customer) projects.

If you just call yourself a tutor you could list the subjects you tutored in. Not really ethical but you are not likely to get found out.

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  • This is a solid answer sir, nicely done. – Neo May 7 '18 at 17:05
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You should add it to your portfolio but rephrase it:

  • Programming? Call yourself IT consultant.
  • Mathematics? Call yourself mathematician.
  • Modelling? Call yourself data scientist.
  • Statistics? Call yourself statistician.
  • Finance? Call yourself financial engineer.

Please keep in mind that you didn’t commit anything suspicious - you cheated nobody. Your clients might (but you're not 100% sure), but you didn’t. You provided your services but you didn’t submit the projects to the university.

It’s like a gun shop selling a gun legally. You as the seller is not responsible for any resulting violence.

You are a paid professional. There is no reason why you should hide it.

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  • Don't agree with that logic. A gun has many legal and valid uses. There is no valid use of the homework produced by OP. – paparazzo May 3 '18 at 10:41
  • @paparazzo Yes, there is. Programming students like an alternative superior coding solutions for learning. – QuantFinance May 3 '18 at 10:49
  • And you might not get the job. But not 100% sure you won't get the job. – paparazzo May 3 '18 at 10:54
  • @paparazzo Adding facts to a CV is unreasonable? Paid jobs? Clients were happy to pay for the service? What was wrong? – QuantFinance May 3 '18 at 10:56
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    And if you picked up packages from some shady areas and knew not to look at the contents you could call yourself a delivery service. – paparazzo May 3 '18 at 11:04
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Recommend using the phrase 'ad hoc mentoring' as it communicates seniority and excellent communication skills. 'Tutoring' is somewhat fine as it implies that you're still senior and helping them do the work as opposed to flat-out doing it yourself. Highly recommend against anything that resembles 'homework for hire' as that does present the ethics of participating in academic dishonesty.

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    -1. In my mind, doing work that "could be construed as cheating" isn't even close to 'ad hoc mentoring' or 'tutoring'. As written, this answer reads to me to be a recommendation to lie. I hope I'm wrong. – Dan Pichelman May 2 '18 at 21:29
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    ^^^ Not entirely what I meant, but hey thanks for assuming negative intent. I'll be sure to return the favor someday. – Jim Horn May 3 '18 at 12:57

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