It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…
1. Office tenant keeps stealing our supplies
I am an administrative assistant for a local development group in my community. In addition to helping with economic development, we also own and operate a small business hub in which we rent out office space to various small businesses and provide them with secretarial assistance and whatnot. We recently had an attorney move into our building and he is driving me crazy. We have a public copy room with a copy machine, computer, hole punch, etc. We provide all the supplies for the copy room. He steals them constantly. In addition to that, I have also found several items missing from my desk, both from on top of my desk and in my desk.
He has returned a few things to me here and there, but definitely not all. The reason I know it’s him—I have a master key and one day had to let a delivery person into his office to deliver a package. While in there, I saw several items that belong to us. He has also taken off with ALL of our coffee cups that we have in the “break room” area. There are several other things that are really starting to get on my nerves, but that is a different question for a different day. How do I ask for these items back in a professional manner? I’m at a loss.
Be direct: “Bob, I let a delivery person into your office the other day and saw that you had several items that have been missing from my desk, like my stapler and coffee mug, as well as the hole punch from the copy room. Can you please return those today? We do provide supplies in the copy room, but they’re for many people’s use and need to remain there.”
If it happens again after that, get more direct: “Bob, like I mentioned before, I need you not to remove items from my desk or the copy room. Your rent covers your office space and access to the copy room, but you’re expected to provide supplies for your own office yourself.”
2. My professor turned down my request to be a reference
How do I respond to a rejection email from a potential reference?
I am a graduate student and requested a reference from a professor I know well. I was shocked when she responded, “You can use me as a reference, but I would have to be honest… if they ask me about your timeliness or reliability for example, I cannot say that it is excellent. That would be quite bad for you so I’m not sure if I’m the right person to be your best reference. I hope you understand.”
I disagree with her appraisal that I am not reliable, and am wondering why she feels this way. I was late with an assignment, and to her class in the beginning of the semester, but was consistently early after we spoke about it. How do I respond?
Thank her for her candor and then let it go. Don’t push for her to change her assessment, because you don’t want to use a reference who’s anything other than glowing about you.
For what it’s worth, her response doesn’t seem unreasonable to me. Yes, you changed your behavior once she spoke to you about it, but the fact remains that she needed to tell you that your lateness was a problem before you fixed it. In a lot of contexts, that’ll put you in the “not super impressive” category.
3. Can I include internship experience when counting my years of experience?
When looking at job postings that require X amount of years of experience, is it acceptable to include internship experience in your computation of years experience?
Maybe. It depends on how substantive the internship was and how close to full-time it was. 10 hours a week counts for less than full-time work, obviously.
But in general, there’s no rule against counting internship experience.
The bigger thing to understand, though, is that this is all a judgment call. When employers ask for X years of experience, it’s rarely about applying a precise formula where you can or can’t count Y or Z. People get interviewed and hired all the time without having quite as much experience as a job ad asked for. Those years of experience requirements are really just to give you a general idea of the experience level they’re seeking.
4. Do honor societies matter on your resume?
Do honor societies matter? I just got an email from my graduate program saying that they have recommended me for my profession’s honor society. They said that they can only recommend 25% of all students who graduate in a year, and that they can only recommend students with a GPA of 3.75 or higher. I graduate this Saturday, and there are no formal or informal meetings with other honor society members. This clearly isn’t meant to be a networking tool–I think. They’re asking me for $85 for the right to put this honor society’s name on my resume. To be clear, this isn’t an honor society at my university. It is something along the lines of “The International Honor Society for Teapot Makers and Teapot Scientists,” and has a fancy three-letter greek name.
I’ve never heard of this honor society, and I’ve never heard it talked about within the profession. Should I save my $85, or join this honor society?
Save your $85. There are a bunch of these organizations out there making money from people in exactly this way. If you want to be extra sure, ask around in your field to make sure that it’s not actually some prestigious thing that would serve you well, but it sounds an awful lot like all the pitches that you’re about to get to be listed in the “Who’s Who of (your field),” which you should also ignore.
Employers care about honor societies like Phi Beta Kappa, in that it indicates that you were a top student. But most others? Not too much.
5. I saw my temp job posted as a permanent role
I recently accepted a job at a company with the understanding that the position is temporary until September when they can decide whether or not they’ll have enough work to keep me onboard. Just today, an acquaintance asked about possibly being referred for a position at my company that they saw listed on Craigslist. When I looked it up, it’s for my same position, is set to start in June, and doesn’t mentioned anything about being temporary. Is it fair for me to ask the hiring manager about this and request that I be moved to a permanent role if they feel there is enough work to hire on another new person? I’ve been there about a month and things seem to be going well, but I’m slightly concerned that they would post another listing for this job without speaking to me about becoming permanent.
Sure, absolutely. I’d say this: “I noticed that a position similar to mine was recently posted, but for a non-temporary role. I know you’d been thinking that you might not know until the fall whether my position could go permanent, so I was wondering if this indicated that has changed.”