my employer wants me to apologize for job-searching, how far back should your resume go, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. Do I owe my employer an apology for interviewing elsewhere?

I was laid off a couple of months ago and took another job to help pay the bills. I have had my eyes open for another position, and went to interviews. I work at night, and recently a card with a time, date, and a request for references fell out of my pocket while I was working, and it was very obvious that I was going to be interviewing.

Somehow that card made its way to the general manager’s desk. My direct boss took a photo of it, sent it to me, and told me that the GM is practically blowing a head gasket over it. I told my direct boss that I had no idea it was there, but that I had simply been looking for a part-time position. His response was “Well, you should apologize to her better.”

I am having a very hard time with this, because this place I applied to offered me a position (it’s not on paper yet), and I really want to take it. I was going to work with my current position to be either part-time or on-call, but now I’m not sure I want to do this.

I don’t know if I’m supposed to apologize for something being on her desk, or for looking for jobs. Do I really owe my GM an apology?

In general, you don’t owe an employer an apology for talking with other employers or seriously considering moving on.

That said, it’s not outrageous that your GM might be upset that you just started at this job and are already talking with other employers; it’s pretty frustrating as an employer to invest time in training someone and then have them leave within a few months (or even ask to go part-time, if the position is intended to be full-time). In that situation, it’s usually good to acknowledge that inconvenience.

But demanding an apology is pretty ridiculous and meaningless (in any situation, including this one). And the fact that someone photographed that info card is weird.

As for what to do now, it would be nice if you were able to honestly say, “I was looking for work that wouldn’t interfere with this job, and I’m taken aback by this reaction” … but it seems like that’s not really true, so in this case I think I’d just wait for your written offer from the new place and then decide if you still want to offer to continue any sort of work for the old place. (Be prepared, though, for the possibility that may not want to, because they could very reasonably feel burned by you moving on soon after they hired you — although that depends in part on the nature of the job.)

2. An interview at “5ish”

What do you think about a general manager who schedules an interview “on the ish”? I have an confirmed interview next Wednesday with the GM, HR, and operations manager at “5ish.” Is this a red flag? Should I run? Bring a book? Does it mean he’s always late, or if I get there 4:50, am I late? I don’t understand a loose time to start a scheduled interview. It seems unprofessional and informal.

It’s weird, and I’d assume it means he might be late, but you should be there at 5. I don’t think it’s something to run away over, but I’d pay attention to what other signs you get about their culture.

3. How far back should your resume go?

How far back should my experience on my resume go?

Currently, I have my work history staring from 2006. I could go further back, but I purposely started there because my most recent job prior to that was only for three months as a receptionist. The company (in investment banking) was sold shortly after I started and due to a non-compete agreement, I was not allowed to move into another position in the private banking part of the company that remained. Also, my job before the receptionist position was only for 8 months because it was a seriously tedious entry-level admin job. Both jobs would of course add another year of experience, but were relatively entry-level. Earlier positions were your average “I’m fresh out of high school” retail jobs that I don’t think employers would really care about.

Am I doing more harm than good by leaving off this early career history? Would it help show that I’m a mid-level career candidate vs. an entry level employee if I share my full work history, or will it just cause more questions and make me look flaky for such short stints early in my career?

Nope, keep it the way you have it. In general, resumes are usually strongest if they go back 10-15 years. It’s rare that anything from before that will strengthen your credentials at this point, particularly versus more recent experience — and that sounds like it’s indeed the case with the pre-2006 jobs you describe.

And you don’t need to worry about appearing like an entry-level candidate if you start it at 2006; that’s 10 years of work experience!

4. My sister has a horrible desk

My sister is an intern in an HR department. One day, she sent me a picture of her desk, complaining that she has no place to put her wallet, phone, or pocketbook. Well, the desk had no drawers. I asked her if there was a closet or filing cabinet nearby, and she said no. Upon further investigation of the picture, I noticed that her desk is facing a white wall. I said, “Why are you facing a wall?” She said, “I have no idea.” So I asked if there was anyone else facing the wall and she said no. I decided not to make a big deal about it.

Now, two weeks later, her boss told her she is going to go with the rest of the HR office employees to another HR location upstate. When the meeting and tour was over, she and all the other visiting HR employees were told they could pick any office to sit and do their work. My sister chose an office, and as soon as she sat down she was told to leave the office because they were going to have a meeting. She was directed to a conference room with a desk facing a white wall, away from all the other employees and closed off. I thing there is something wrong with this whole situation. Do you?

No. It’s pretty normal for interns to get the worst desks/office areas, because they’re short-term employees and the lowest on the food chain. And there’s nothing particularly outrageous about sitting at a desk that faces a white wall; plenty of employees at levels well above her do that.

5. I keep getting final interviews but no offers

I’m an avid reader of your blog and make sure to follow all the protocols for applying to jobs. I’ve been job searching for over a year and have been on over 20 interviews. Many times I’ve made it to the final round of interviews where they’ve even told me it was between me and one or two other people. But I never get the job. I follow up for feedback and it’s always positive. One of them even forwarded my resume to another manager for a new position. I made it to the final round in that one too only to be told that they decided to “go in another direction.” I came to find out later that they hired someone who already worked there. This has happened several times as well where the company just decided to hire internally, but insisted that I was a great candidate. How can I even compete? With so much positive feedback and final round interviews I don’t know what else to do. I’m just getting exhausted, losing valuable time, and getting depressed. What do I do now? How can I stand out?

If you’re routinely getting to the rounds of interviews, you’re probably doing everything right. There’s not really anything you can to avoid being beaten out by internal candidates, and clearly your cover letter, resume, and interviewing skills are good if you’re making it as far in the process as you are. Assuming that you’re confident that your references are enthusiastically recommending you (and that’s something to check if you haven’t already), I think this is really just a waiting game — eventually you’re going to be the finalist who gets the offer.

{ 230 comments… read them below or add one }

  1. Some2

    OP #5- I was you a year ago. Several times was told I was the runner up for jobs, losing out to internals or someone with a bit more experience. Eventually I finally prevailed. Frankly, as sucky as the experience is, it’s really helped me be more compassionate to people who I interview that are applying to my organization. Keep the faith!

    Reply
    1. The Cosmic Avenger

      Between Malcolm Gladwell’s “Outliers” and Leonard Mlodinow’s “The Drunkard’s Walk”, they make the perfect case for the fact that *most* people will experience streaks of unbelievably good or bad luck in their lives. There are so many random chances in our lives, and so many people in the world, that living your life with “normal” statistical odds is actually very unlikely.

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    2. Jennifer

      Yeah, a friend of mine is in this position and she’s nearing the 1-year anniversary of her unemployment and unemployment ran out and she’s freaking. But literally, what can you do?

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    3. John B Public

      #5- Like Allison said, you’re doing everything right. Keep plugging away, the fact that you made it to the final selection of candidates is amazing!

      Your resume/cover letter is so good you get to the interview, your interviews are so good you make it to the final group.

      Just keep your energy levels high. Good luck!

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    4. Lamington

      I have been on this position too. Keep up being yor wondeful self and another oerson will see it too and it will be a great fit as well. you want to go to a place where you can thrive not any offer will do :)

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    5. KH

      #5 – That’s me too.

      I had a relatively strong resume with extensive international experience, which earned a lot of call-backs and several rounds of interviews.
      I had been laid off after a very long time at the same company in a mostly remote position, and had confidence problems and wasn’t well prepared for face to face interviews.
      I had probably 5 final round interviews before I finally got an offer and was hired. It’s only a contract position (I was looking for permanent full time) but it’s with an excellent company and while the pay/benefits could be better, it’s the best thing for my career.

      Be patient, be confident, be realistic about where you are most competitive!

      Reply
  2. Chocolate Teapot

    2. By “ish” I would assume arrive as if for a 5.00pm appointment, but don’t be surprised if it doesn’t start until 5.15pm.

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    1. Mp3

      Agree. It may be that they are running back to back meetings, and they are letting you know your meeting could be delayed by a few minutes if things run late.

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      1. ISH-y

        Agreed. When I say to someone “I can be there around 6-ish” I never mean 5:45, I usually mean “depending on traffic (insert whatever qualifier other than traffic) cut me some slack if I’m running late.”
        I don’t know that I would do this when interviewing someone though, unless it’s more of an informal informational interview – not an official interview for a currently posted position. Companies need to realize that it’s a two way street and candidates are not just going to accept any job at any company!
        That being said, if it WAS an actual interview I would still say your interview is at 5 and leave off the -ish. If for some reason I was running 5-10 minutes behind I would just have the receptionist tell them I’m running slightly behind. People are human and in America running 5-10 minutes behind isn’t obscene (you’re not in Germany right? and If you’re in Italy then if someone tells you 5 you KNOW it won’t start until at least 5:15) so I don’t think it would count against the company if the interviewer runs slightly behind. But, outright qualifying it with an -ish to me would feel like they are choosing in advance to not make me a huge priority.
        Again, this all depends on if it’s an information informational interview or not.

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      2. TootsNYC

        As a hiring manager, the times that I’ve said “-ish” for an interview time have been when I think the other person might have trouble controlling when they will be able to leave, or if their commute is likely to be variable.

        Say they’re coming after their day job (very common for me), and they worry aloud that they’ll have trouble leaving promptly at 5. I say, “Come when you get out; we’ll say 5:45-ish.” And if they’re early, no big deal; we’ll start then. And if they’re late, again, no big deal, I’ll understand.

        In these cases, I don’t want them to have to kill time for 15 minutes so that they’re not terribly early. It’s the end of the day; I’m sure they’d like to start the interview so it ends sooner too.

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        1. NutellaNutterson

          That is wonderfully humane. Especially considering those commutes we’ve dissected on here – 6-ish could mean the difference between taking a half day at work to make the a 3:45 train or just catching the usual 5:15! That probably means a lot to the folks you’re meeting n

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    2. Ad Astra

      Because it’s 5ish and not, say, 3ish, I would guess this has something to do with the end of the business day. I’d interpret it as “I’m planning to meet with you at 5, but I may be delayed if I get caught up in a task late in the day.”

      It also sounds like something a hiring manager might say if the candidate is planning to come in after work and can’t 100 percent guarantee she’ll leave right on time, but if that were the case here I think OP would have discussed it with the hiring manager.

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    3. INTP

      Same, though I might expect it to start as late as 5:30. It really depends on whether they are scheduling the interview for an “ish” because the culture is just generally resistant to committing to times (in which case I wouldn’t be surprised by 5:30, maybe even later), or because they are punctual but can’t commit to begin at exactly 5:00 that particular day (in which case I’d expect it to start by 5:15).

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      1. Elizabeth the Ginger

        Agreed about the book. If it’s too stressful to go over your resume and notes again and again, make notes on something else to take your mind off it – like writing your grocery list for the week. That way you’re not visibly focused on something other than the interview, even though you’re giving your brain a way to calm down.

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    4. Stranger than fiction

      Or even 5:30. If you think “ish” is bad, a good friend of mine was recently told to “Come by mid-morning for a discussion” by a hiring manager he had met/interviewed with a couple months earlier. He went at 10:00 am, only waited for about 20 minutes, and then they had their meeting/2nd interview. We thought that was weird, but he just got an offer.

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      1. AlleyKat

        OP here. Midwest USA. This was not coming from me, the ish was not at my request. The GM emailed me after I applied for the job. Wanted to know if I was available within the next two weeks, I said yes, anytime, any day. He replied with ok, see you this date at 5:00ish. It’s a formal interview, I think. But after reading some crazy stories on here I dunno! I’m a big fan of the “ish”, informally, with friends and family. If I was setting a meeting a client, I would never use it. I’m trying to figure out if this guy is habitually late or if the company is just that relaxed. (It would be great if I could work 8ish-5ish!!) We’ll see how it goes.

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    5. KH

      This is the problem with words like “ish” – everyone has their own interpretation. It would be far better for the scheduler to articulate the expectation. Absent that, the interviewee should confirm on the spot.

      Reply
  3. Stephanie

    #1: Yeah…I work somewhere like this. I don’t think senior management would have quite that dramatic of a reaction, but there definitely are people there who seem confused (and a very few who take umbrage) if you want to do anything less than stay at the company until retirement age. There are some good things and bad things (like most jobs), but I definitely toe the line of “Oh yes. I want to stay here forever.”

    Reply
    1. Ad Astra

      I had one boss who heard a rumor that I was looking (long before I’d ever interviewed elsewhere) and texted me “It’s common courtesy to let your manager know when you’re job searching.” Umm… no it’s not.

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      1. ACA

        When I was at the reference stage for my current job (an internal transfer), apparently my old boss told my new boss that he was surprised I hadn’t told him I was interviewing! “I even told her she should apply for this job!” Ok, OldBoss, but I didn’t trust you not to treat me like crap the minute you found out I was looking elsewhere.

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      2. Terra

        I had a boss who apparently thought some people in the company were looking elsewhere so called a meeting where he tried to tell us that looking for another job while we were employed was illegal.

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        1. RVA Cat

          IANAL, but that sounds like they’re trying to enforce an unenforceable non-compete. To be enforceable, a non-compete agreement has to be limited in A) time and B) scope – such as you can’t work for competitor in X industry for, say, 2 years in Y city. You cannot have a non-compete that would keep someone from earning a living.

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      3. ashleyh

        when I resigned from my last job my boss and department VP were both shocked because they “had no idea” – I was like…ummm…..that’s the point. Meanwhile my boss was actively applying for jobs while at work (and we sat RIGHT next to each other) – so…maybe that’s what she expected? I was actually surprised the “had no idea” because I had to fly out for interviews (my husband and I wanted to get back to our hometown, halfway across the country) and had multiple phone interviews in the middle of the work day and I felt like I was being SO sketchy.

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    2. Stranger than fiction

      And really, do companies still think people are going to stay at one job their entire life? That’s so rare these days. But what I found odd is that they took umbrage before even asking the Op. It could very well be she was looking for a part-time evening, weekend, side, or even holiday season job, that had nothing to do with her current one. They were automatically miffed instead of giving her/him the benefit of the doubt.

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  4. Stephanie

    #5: No advice, just commiseration. It’s pretty frustrating. I joked with my friend that me and final interviews was akin to Leonardo DiCaprio and the Oscars.

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    1. Stranger than fiction

      Aw, always the bridesmaid type thing. However, I would definitely check the references, even have someone be a fake checker if necessary, just to be sure there’s not a bad apple in there. As we’ve seen here before, sometimes people may have intend to be a good reference but say something inadvertently that causes concern.

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      1. Adam

        Yep. I hear that analogy. Actually if I’m really being honest with it in that context right now I just wish I could “get a date”. :P

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      2. Master Bean Counter

        Surprisingly few interviewers check references. Every time my references have been called, I got the job. But I’ve been on of two or three many times and references never got checked and I never got the job.

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        1. Elizabeth the Ginger

          Well, this pattern could imply a hiring process where they use references to make sure their top pick is as good as she seems before extending the offer, but they don’t call all the top candidates’ references before deciding which is their top choice. In other words, being the top pick and having bad references could disqualify you, but if you’re second choice based on other factors, having stellar references won’t help out unless choice #1 doesn’t pan out – in which case they’d call your references and then offer you the job, so it would look the same as if you were always the first choice.

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          1. Oryx

            Agreed. I’ve been one of two multiple times, but references have only been called for times when I’ve gotten the job. Because reference checking can take such time, I imagine they only do it for their #1 person and only start calling the references for #2 if #1 doesn’t work out, or turns down the job, etc.

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            1. KH

              This is my experience. If they are calling the references, the job is yours unless the references say something bad about you.

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      3. Artemesia

        I would absolutely do this. It is one thing to have a half a dozen that don’t work out — but 20 — I’d be afraid that one of my references was nailing me or damning me with faint praise. It could be bad luck but with this many ‘almosts’ I’d be looking for something that is damaging the deal.

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  5. Little Teapot

    OP4- at least she has a desk. I am in the middle of my placement now and for the first 8 weeks I didn’t have a desk as there wasn’t one. I was carted between desks depending who was away, i.e. Either they worked 4 days, or sick, or on annual leave. Each day was a different desk. I had a roster and everything. It was beyond ridiculous and I craved a desk to call home. It was due to desk shortages at the workplace. Interns always get the crap desks! Your sister has to readjust her expectations :)

    Reply
    1. snuck

      They’ve brought her with the rest of the team, they can’t be wanting rid of her/thinking she’s that useless! Otherwise they’d just leave her behind to stare at her wall.

      I’m thinking it might be more that she hasn’t realised where she is in the pecking order, and that she’s missing some cues. It might be really helpful for her to ask a question of someone next time for this sort of stuff – “Hey Bob said to pick an office, but I know I’m really new here and an intern – can you guide me on where I should sit please?” … because I’ve never worked anywhere an entry level (or below… depending on the internship experience level – are they still a student?) person would have had an office, but I have seen them placed in temporary desks in places like conference rooms. It’s not always about the intern and their performance, sometimes it’s (rightly or wrongly) about keeping other staff happy too… American work culture seems to place a lot of emphasis on seniority/length of service, and this might be reflected in desk assignments?

      And sometimes it’s just that the work group moves around a lot, or doesn’t yet have a permanent workspace setup, or that there’s not a free desk for everyone so someone is going to miss out, or that the role requires a lot of moving around and they don’t need a desk with drawers.

      If security of personal items is an issue then your sister can talk to someone there and ask about it. In fact she probably should ask some questions if it’s really bothering her, but if it’s not I wouldn’t stir up trouble in her mind over it – don’t tell her what she’s got is really crappy – don’t set her up to be that person who finds a complaint and slight in all the little things – she’s new to the work world and if the worst thing at her job is her desk facing a wall she’s doing very very well. Embrace that, celebrate it, help her to form a professional mindset of finding the good in things.

      Reply
      1. Green

        This is really good advice. Now that she’s aware that it’s not uncommon for people to have lame desks, OP shouldn’t be stoking righteous indignation in her sister.

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        1. the gold digger

          I went from having a window office overlooking the river downtown to my current job in a converted factory in the suburbs where I have not even a cubicle – as in, no walls. I have a desk and I have a table, but my desk drawers are big enough to accommodate files in one drawer – or my purse. Not both. My purse and my briefcase reside on the floor. My coat goes in the next desk space because there is no place to hang it in mine. This is the worst workspace I have ever had. I have told my boss if I quit, this will be the reason.

          We have empty offices. We have empty window offices, but my boss and his two peers – directors and a VP – were moved by corp (this office was an acquisition and this is corporate rules? not sure?) to interior offices. They are pissed. Those window offices are now empty.

          The politics of workspaces in the US are intricate indeed.

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          1. themmases

            They can be intricate at every level too. I think unless someone is at the level where they’re providing organization-wide leadership, there is always the possibility that office politics will come up and your office might suck. Architecture, crowding, and legacies no one wants to remove from their offices are outside your control.

            I worked in a medical department that moved buildings once, and although there were nicer offices set aside for doctors and administrators they still were not equal and were chosen by seniority. Not everyone was happy with what they got.

            Because the building was designed to be tall, skinny, and maximize views and pleasantness for inpatients on the upper floors, the offices shoehorned in could be very odd. We had weird situations like doctors in interior offices with no windows so they could be inside an office suite, but several reading rooms (i.e. rooms where radiologists sit in the dark and look at computer screens) had windows that were just kept covered all the time. Some of the nicest offices went to people who didn’t rate being in the office suite with the doctors and leadership, because they were by windows and didn’t have to be oddly shaped. I got a nice shared office with tons of storage I couldn’t use because it didn’t lock and a counter that felt low to me even though I’m 5’3″. It was still an upgrade from my previous spot in the central mailroom area of an office pod where the copier overhung my desk and I had to get up if there was a paper jam.

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          2. Mallory Janis Ian

            Just in the same job as an administrative assistant in the same department, I’ve had several different desk situations.

            I started off in a private office with a huge window and a door. I was moved into a semi-private office (I was the only employee in there, but it was the faculty workroom as well, so the Xerox machine was in there); it had three huge windows, so that was a perk.

            Then we moved off campus for construction on our building, and I had a private office with no windows. A professor took pity on my windowless situation and asked the dean if he could trade offices with me. The dean told him that if he wanted to trade offices, he should offer it first to a faculty member who was in an inside office with no windows. The professor said that he was offering it specifically to me, and if I couldn’t have it, then he would keep it for himself. The dean let him offer it to me, and it was the nicest office I’ve had before or since: on the 9th floor with a huge window overlooking the town square. At Christmas-time, the whole square was lit up with lights, and I had a beautiful view of it.

            Then we moved back on campus, and my desk was in a shared work area with two other admins. We each had a cubicle, but it was a permanent cubicle constructed out of dry-wall with our desks built in; we called them our ‘administrative stalls’. At my new job in a different department, my desk sits right outside my boss’s office, with a single cubicle panel shielding me from the entry door to the suite; another admin sits at the main reception desk, and it’s her responsibility to greet visitors.

            None of the desk assignments have been a personal indictment of my worth in my position; those are just the vicissitudes of office life. As an admin, of course I don’t always get a closed office like the professors do. But being assigned a desk commensurate with your rank in the office isn’t always a slight.

            Reply
            1. Mallory Janis Ian

              ” . . . being assigned a desk commensurate with your rank in the office isn’t always a slight.

              That wasn’t meant for Gold Digger; it was meant for OP and her sister. I was just trying to illustrate that desk situations can vary, entry level or admin jobs are lower on the totum pole when it comes to choice, and that doesn’t mean that the OPs sister isn’t valued as an intern-level employee.

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        2. Green

          I’m in open space now after having a beautiful private office in the same job a few months ago. Before that, there were no open offices and I was at a desk, before that in a beautiful private office. You win some, you lose some. It can certainly impact job satisfaction, but if you’re an intern it should not at all be a primary concern.

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          1. Doodle

            Not if there aren’t other spaces. Or if those other spaces are generally used for meetings, private conferences, etc.

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      2. snuck

        I’m just guessing here too… but if all the offices were taken then maybe they kicked her out so they could have a private meeting.

        I don’t know why they wouldn’t use the conference room for it instead, but I’ve worked in conference rooms that had no telephone, no IT connections and that have minimal ceilings between them and the toilets or hallways so every word can be heard. I’d be kicking the intern out of the private quiet office too if I had to spend the day doing meetings and putting them in the conference room if it wasn’t suitable to my needs.

        We don’t know WHY the company is doing this, and it is ok to ask – part of being a HR intern I imagine is learning how to find out the workplace social and cultural norms of different work sites and locations… she should be asking questions of someone, and have a regular chance to do so. If she hasn’t got that she should get her head together and ask for it or how else is she going to learn the soft skills so essential in HR?

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        1. snuck

          (realised ‘head together’ might come across a little strong. I mean… she should come up with a plan, and career onboarding knowledge from her studies, and using that to her benefit… pull it out of her head and use it.)

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      3. Beezus

        I wouldn’t bat an eye if an intern asked me for help finding a spot to secure her purse, but yeah, having the crappiest desk and the least storage is par for the course in an internship.

        Having crappy workspace in general isn’t that unusual in the American workplace, in my experience – I’m mid-career non-management, and I have 6 linear feet of worksplace in an open plan bullpen. We have 80 people sharing this work area, from interns to directors, and the only thing seniority/title gets you is a lower-traffic spot that hopefully isn’t directly under an A/C vent, and maybe one extra drawer if you’re willing to sacrifice the knee space.

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        1. Stranger than fiction

          That’s so true, actually. We are so crammed in here where I work, I don’t know how we even pass a fire inspection. I too used to have a powerful AC vent right over me, so they redirected it, and now I have NO ventilation whatsoever, unless I keep my door partially open. Which I do. Which makes it like I’m not in an office at all, but a cubicle in the open. Next to Giant Printer. Which is why I moved from the last open cubicle…Oh yeah, and my desk is about a foot too short, so I have a stack of papers that falls off the left edge a couple times a week. It makes me so mad, I leave it on the floor sometimes, and some nice coworker will come along and pick it up for me.

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      4. INTP

        I definitely agree that she might not have figured out where she is in the pecking order. An intern rushing to an office when they are told that they can choose any office/desk they want seems very tone-deaf to me. (Which I can’t fault an intern for, they are there to learn these norms, which are often not taught to them because they’re unspoken so no one has to endure the vulgarity of it being publicly acknowledged that the more senior people will get preference for the offices.)

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        1. Elizabeth the Ginger

          Land’s End makes really nice ones! Sturdy canvas, lots of sizes and colors, and you can even get them monogrammed.

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      5. Artemesia

        Never choose an office someone else more powerful than you will want. The fact that she was immediately moved out of this office suggests a tone deaf office choice. I was once offered the best office in my organization when moving departments because it was the one available but I knew that when new important people were hired, that that office would be what they wanted to offer them. I managed it so I got an office that I found perfect but was not generally highly desirable; although I had a somewhat insecure contract, I finished out my career in that office.

        An intern should never choose their own office regardless of what is said. She should have asked which offices would you suggest or at minimum said ‘I like A, B and C — where would you like me?’ I remember being told the same thing as a grad assistant and there were nice corner offices available; I had the good sense to pick one of the middle offices since I knew the big shots would be expecting those corner offices.

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      6. Elizabeth the Ginger

        If security of personal items is an issue then your sister can talk to someone there and ask about it.

        Yes, this is a reasonable thing for your sister to ask her boss about. Asking about the view of a wall would make her look out of touch with office norms, though. If she’s at the same desk all the time, she could hang up a couple photos or a calendar with pictures, which might make it feel more homey.

        Reply
    2. Dew E. Decimal

      I was thinking the same thing. I actually have to turn down internship requests from library students fairly regularly because I don’t have any work space *at all* for them. I wish I could give people the practical experience, but without anywhere for them to work that’s not a public reading room area, it’s just not doable.

      Reply
      1. Student

        Lockers are much cheaper than office space. That’s all I had when I worked at a library. That’s also how grocery stores, etc. do it. Just a suggestion.

        Reply
        1. Dew E. Decimal

          Oh it’s even space just for working. We don’t have anywhere for them to sit without being completely in the way!

          Reply
        2. Elizabeth the Ginger

          Sounds like Dew E. Decimal (love that name!) doesn’t just lack a place for the interns to store personal belongings, but an actual place for them to sit and do any work.

          Reply
        3. snuck

          We’ve had hot desk floors where the whole floor is cubicles (120 desks) and only a dozen are assigned – all the rest of the staff have a tiny locker big enough for a handbag, which they keep their headset in… and that’s it. This was a call centre environment, custom made, modern, high tech (no paper) and the only people who get an assigned desk (that they share with the other shift) is the team leaders and above. 24hrs a day hot desk swapping, you must sit in your team’s assigned area but aside from that it’s free for all. If you have specialist equipment (chair generally) you have a parking area you wheel it over from to your selected desk and return it to (with your name on it so it’s not used by anyone else because it’s custom adapted for you).

          Yeah. A desk all of my own that I can stick a note on even if it’s against a wall sounds good :)

          Reply
    3. Solidus Pilcrow

      at least she has a desk. … I was carted between desks depending who was away, i.e. Either they worked 4 days, or sick, or on annual leave. Each day was a different desk. … Interns always get the crap desks!

      I had nearly an identical experience as a contractor. I didn’t have a desk for nearly 8 months at one position. Quite a few of the department worked remotely at least part of the time, so most days I could at least find a place to squat, except Thursdays when all the remote workers came in for the weekly staff meeting. I hated Thursdays because I had to spend at least an hour in the morning to figure out where I could work. This was in the days of desktop systems, so there was no taking a laptop to a conference room to work, I actually had to use the computer at the desk. I finally got a permanent spot for my last 2 months there.

      At another position I was downgraded from a standard cubicle to sort of a counter at the end of a row of cubes. My manager apologized profusely for the move (it wasn’t her idea, it was an upper-level mandate that contractors not be in cubes like permanent employees). However the alternative was the “contractor cove” which was a small alcove-like space (maybe 20 feet by 10 feet?) where they jammed in 9 library corral style workspaces. Compared to the cove, my end of the row counter was downright luxury!

      Reply
      1. Windchime

        Yeah, we have a contractor at work right now. Most of the time, he works at home because he is situated halfway across the country. He comes to the office once a month or so. At first, he was in a cube with the team. Then he got moved to a different row, but still in the same room. As our team grew, he kept getting moved and is now way back in a different room, on the other side of our huge building. He’s very good natured about it and understands that since he’s in the office so rarely, he’s not necessarily going to get a great spot.

        Reply
        1. Solidus Pilcrow

          My situation was kind of the opposite of his. Even though I was a contractor I came to the office every day. The people who only came in once a week had permanent desks.

          Reply
    4. Anon for this

      My first year teaching (as a real teacher, not an intern!) I didn’t have a classroom. I hauled everything (demos, lab supplies, graded papers, tests, worksheets) between four different rooms (for five classes). The lowest person on the totem pole often gets the odd workplace location assignments.

      Reply
      1. Artemesia

        I taught high school for a few years and this was my life. I was new and thus less secure in my material and classroom management and yet I was the one who had to rush in the 4 minutes between classes from one end of the building to the other with all my materials to get to my next class. I could never calmly be in charge and greet my students as they arrived, as I was always breathlessly pounding into class with my arms full of books and papers. And woe to me if I had to use the restroom.

        Reply
    5. Elizabeth the Ginger

      One of my first jobs was as a file clerk for a medical system. My job was to input old patient information into a database so the actual folders of records could be stored off-site for the legally-required seven years. “Desks” I had:

      – a table in the break room, with a plastic chair that was an awkward height – I had to put everything away at lunchtime because it was where people ate lunch
      – a rickety old metal desk in the boiler room in the basement – I had to walk through a large, dark basement room to reach the boiler room, and although they kindly provided me with a radio for entertainment as I did my mindless data entry, it didn’t pick up FM down there. Also, the heating system made a constant racket.
      – and the best, a different basement room which was just 80% full of cardboard file boxes stacked about 8 high. There I had no desk at all, just an ancient rolling chair. I was expected to build my own desk out of whatever file boxes I was not currently using, and balance the laptop on it. Also, this was December in upstate New York, and there was no heat in the basement. I wore my parka all day.

      None of this is to be all curmudgeonly at OP’s sister (“You young’uns should be happy with your white wall! Why, in my day…”), but to reassure her that it will improve. I have a very good workspace now!

      Reply
      1. Mindy

        It is comforting to know that someone has had a worse series of desk locations than I have. In my professional career I have had two closets, a hallway, a shower room, no assigned space at all, the corner of a conference room, multiple shared spaces and a large common area which I actually found the worst because of the noise and distractions. Since I was a manager in most of these positions, giving evaluations, coaching or firing people was always an exercise in creativity. Windows? What are windows?

        Reply
    6. Clever Name

      I am typing this reply from my desk that faces a blank wall. Actually, it’s not even a desk. It’s a small table. I’ve been here 4 years but just changed offices, and this table is temporary until they build out a new desk. So I do think you and your sister need to adjust your expectations.

      Reply
    7. KH

      I’m a full time worker with 20 years experience and I still don’t have my own desk. I share a room designed or one person that has 4 desks in it that are shared by about 8 people. If you don’t get to work early enough, you don’t get a desk!

      Reply
  6. NutellaNutterson

    #5 this is a total shot in the dark, but I wonder if there’s a mismatch between your excellent application/first round interviews and something in the later stages?

    Perhaps this is unrelated, but you mention 20 different interviews. I’d be curious about what YOU want in an employer/workplace? I ask because I’m someone who interviews well, and I have had to be careful about being a chameleon for potential employers – I had to really internalize the two-way-street aspect of the process and not just give them what they wanted. I think that this helped me focus my job search and not go through the interviews for the sake of it.

    It can be especially tough because the prospect of a new job is such an enticement. Yet I think that “new job, any job” vibe eventually comes out, and ultimately perpetuates the cycle of interviewing and being passed over.

    Reply
    1. Stephanie

      Yes to the chameleon thing! I made this mistake in my second-to-last job (which was a horrible fit and ended up in a firing). I went into the interview, talked about my interest in doing client outreach. HR director called me like “Just wanted to check, you know this job is all solo teapot spec research, right?” I had done teapot spec research in my previous job and hated it. But I needed a new job and was like “Oh yes. I love doing teapot spec research!”, knowing that’s what she wanted to hear. And yeah, it was terrible.

      Reply
      1. Jennifer

        Yeah, but at some point it may come down to “I’m gonna end up homeless without a job” vs. “This isn’t the right fit that will make me a happy panda.” I can’t give you crap for prioritizing the former over the latter.

        Reply
        1. BananaPants

          Exactly. At some point you get desperate enough that you’re willing to be and do whatever an employer wants, if it means you have a paycheck coming in. It doesn’t often end well but when you’re about to be homeless or your kids are going hungry is not a time to be picky.

          Reply
        2. Anx

          Ah, yes.

          It’s really rough when you can’t afford to bypass a job and be picky, but you also really can’t afford another poor fit and really need a great job to turn your work history around. I don’t think it would be so bad if so many companies didn’t mandate you submit every single job you’ve ever had (or within so many years).

          Reply
    2. TootsNYC

      I bet not.

      I bet she’s a great candidate, and that’s why she’s getting the interview when they already have an insider on the application list.

      If I really sort of wanted to promote from within but felt I needed to do the sensible thing and look at outside candidates too, I’d only spend my time on those people who had a real shot at beating the insider.
      I have a great candidate–I’m not going to waste my time on the borderline people

      Reply
      1. Artemesia

        If she is always losing out to an inside candidate, this. But if many of these losses are no to insiders then she needs to figure out if there is something damaging her in the reference process or even in her final interview behavior.

        Reply
  7. sjducky

    OP 5 — I am in your boat, too. It’s a hard road out there right now. I’ve been hunting for a year — seven months ago, went back to an old job (think: retail management) to get out of my then-terrible commute/boring job situation. Well, I’m still actively job hunting because I was so desperate to get out that I took the only offer that came along. Seven interviews in the past year (for ‘real’ jobs) and nada. Good luck to you.

    Reply
  8. Erik

    OP #5 – don’t feel bad – I’ve had the same problem myself. All you can do is keep going. I figure if I’m at least getting to the final decision round, then I’m doing something right.

    Reply
    1. Sherm

      I agree, this is probably a good sign. It’s not that you’re always losing out to Candidate #2 or #3. Your potential employer might suddenly realize a new hire is not in the budget, or they don’t have their act together, or it turns out the person you were going to replace isn’t leaving after all. The reasons aren’t necessarily about what they think of you.

      Reply
  9. KD

    #4: At least 50% of the people in my office sit at desks facing white walls. Most of us share offices with 1 or 2 other people and and it provides the illusion of privacy plus it eliminates a large number of distractions. Personally I’d hate to have a desk facing an open space (or worse another persons desk) but I guess it depends on the type of work that you do.

    As an aside, when I was an intern I never accumulated enough materials to merit the use of a filing system or storage of any kind beyond a binder I carried everywhere. So as long as OP’s sister has the surface area she needs to get her work done I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect personal effects to be kept in pockets or in purses that are stashed under the desk or even a jacket hung on the back of her chair.

    Reply
    1. Knitting Cat Lady

      I’m in an open plan office.

      Our desks are arranged in groups of four with no dividers between them.

      The colleague across me is invisible behind a wall of monitors, as we have two each.

      Colleague next to me has to walk behind me to get to his desk.

      I like that better than the situation I had during my two month stint in the US: Tiny, windowless office, all by myself, with broken heating, in winter.

      Over here there are laws prescribing how far away a desk can be from natural light.

      Reply
      1. the gold digger

        Usually, I am not a big fan of laws that are anything but “leave other peoples’ property and bodies alone” and “don’t make noise after 9 p.m.,” but I could really get behind a law like that – I have to walk 30 yards to see a window at my (dark, low-ceilinged) workplace.

        Reply
      2. Miss Betty

        That tiny, windowless office with broken heating – by myself! – sounds like paradise. There are no words for how much I loathe open office plans (and I’ve been in one for 8 years). I’ve had the tiny, windowless office (minus the broken heating) – it was literally a large closet. It was heaven.

        Reply
        1. AFT123

          YES! I have extremely sensitive eyes and I adore windowless offices – I can turn off the overheads, plug in a nice warm lamp, and enjoy my work-cave :)

          Reply
          1. Elizabeth West

            I’d be happy to have a closet if it meant I didn’t have to listen to everybody’s phone conversations all day. I sit in the middle of a bunch of people who do support work and it gets old after a while. Even headphones don’t help–they only block out ambient noise, and I can’t afford the $400 ones that block out everything. If it gets really bad, I put on the Mad Max: Fury Road soundtrack–that will block out almost everything. :)

            Reply
            1. Stan

              Have you tried a white noise generator? I use a site called A Soft Murmur. (There’s also an Android app.) The coffee shop option is a concentration saver! It may seem counter-intuitive, but I find that the sound of chatter without distinguishable words really helps wipe out the sound of the other people in my office, especially when they’re on phone calls.

              Reply
      3. Solidus Pilcrow

        Over here there are laws prescribing how far away a desk can be from natural light.

        I wonder how that would have dealt with at a previous job. The building I worked on the ground floor was buried underground like a bunker. No windows to the outside at all. The entrance was the only place where you could see outside. Cell phone reception was terrible (which was ironic, because there was a cell tower right at the edge of the parking lot).

        Reply
        1. Cambridge Comma

          In the country I live in, in a workplace like that you are given 2.5 extra vacation days per month for not having natural light (to add to 5 weeks vacation) and your employer would probably have to provide those sun simulator lamps. I don’t know whether this is typical elsewhere.

          Reply
    2. hermit crab

      I agree, I prefer when my desk faces a wall. Too many distractions otherwise! I’ve actively chosen workspaces that face a wall (and have a window off to the side) rather than ones that face a window.

      That said, being able to put your stuff out of sight is a good thing, especially if you don’t work in a secured space. You never know what will walk off when you aren’t looking!

      Reply
        1. Solidus Pilcrow

          I’d love to have some gray. I have to look at beige faux-burlap cubicle partitions. Beige I tell you! Beige! The same as all the other offices I’ve worked.

          Reply
          1. Elizabeth West

            Mine are grey. In addition to assorted work stuff, I have a tiny London calendar, a plant named Horace, and three posters: the original Star Wars: A New Hope poster with sexy Luke and Leia (a bootleg reprint, sadly), the USS Enterprise (NCC-1701 from the 2009 reboot), and a Gryffindor Quidditch team banner. :)

            Reply
            1. Solidus Pilcrow

              a plant named Horace

              A former co-worker of mine had a little basil plant in a pot. He named it “Sir Basil”.

              Looking at my beige-ish gravatar, I think I need to change the color scheme on that!

              Reply
                1. Solidus Pilcrow

                  Bah-sil

                  Thanks for posting that, I couldn’t think of how to convey the difference phonetically. :)

          2. Mallory Janis Ian

            I don’t mind the gray. It has a bit of texture and some threads of blue and cream running through it. Plus I have a small painting given to my by an artist friend for my 40th b-day and a pic of me and my former coworkers at a ballgame.

            Reply
        2. Windchime

          Mine used to face two mismatched cubicle walls (I face a corner). I found a bright fabric shower curtain, took careful measurements, and cut up the shower curtain to fit the shape of my cube walls. Now I at least am looking at something more fun that stained gray and beige cube fabric.

          Reply
      1. Stranger than fiction

        I wouldn’t mind facing a wall so long as I had a mirror, because boy do I get startled when people sneak up behind me! And, I love gray, it’s my favorite color.

        Reply
        1. Ghost Umbrella

          I have a mirror for that exact same reason. It drives me crazy having my back to the rest of the room, but I can’t turn my desk because of how it and my cubicle are shaped.

          Reply
        2. Cath in Canada

          I came back from lunch the other day to find that a mystery colleague had left a message on a post-it right next to my monitor mirror. It said “objects in mirror are creepier than they appear”. Still don’t know who did it :D

          Reply
      2. hermit crab

        Mine currently faces a translucent grayish-blue plastic partition. But in my former workspace, I actually faced a light-blue wall! I think that means I win!

        Reply
      3. Artemesia

        Mine was pale yellow and I hung about 20 of my favorite travel pictures and family pictures on it — it was lovely.

        An intern whining about facing a white wall when she has a desk is seriously confused about the status of being an intern and the world of work in general.

        Reply
        1. Oryx

          Agreed. When I was an intern I didn’t even HAVE a desk. There were five of us, we got a lot of work done working on the floor.

          Reply
      4. Cath in Canada

        Mine faces a burgundy-red divider panel, slightly taller than my monitors, that separates me from the person opposite me in our open-plan office.

        Over the top of the divider, I can see a piece of dark blue wall and some grey vertical window blinds.

        I have THREE COLOURS, you guys!

        Reply
      5. non-profit manager

        My office is narrow, so my desk faces a sort of cream-colored wall with a grey fabric “pin-board” where I can put stuff I like to look at. I love it. And I like that when I get visitors, I can turn and face them without a big, hulking desk between us.

        Reply
      1. ISH-y

        When I was in the first four months of my CURRENT job as a senior project manager, I shared a desk with my boss! Luckily he travels a lot (as do I but I didn’t much in the beginning), so we only ended up sharing about 1 out of 5 days. But that was a fairly awkward day, despite our really great working relationship – actually maybe it’s why our relationship developed to be so great… hmmm…

        Reply
        1. Bend & Snap

          I managed someone who had to share a cube meant for one person due to space constraints. When I lobbied for her to get her own space I was told I’m lucky I’m not sharing a cube too.

          I’m a senior person on my team, but basically I had to shut up and be grateful that I have a brown cube with loud neighbors and no daylight all to myself.

          Director level and up get shared offices and only senior director and up get single offices. Only VPs get windows.

          Good times.

          Reply
  10. Sarahnova

    I don’t really understand the angst about a desk facing a wall/not having anywhere to put phone and wallet. What should a desk be facing? Where does she put them on the way to work? I don’t have that either – my stuff lives in my handbag, which stays on the floor. Especially as an intern, if you have a desk surface, a chair and a computer, you’re good.

    Reply
    1. MK

      Yes, I really don’t understand the OP’s indignation here. Intern are by definition temporary and many companies only get one occasionally; it would hardly make sense to invest in super-functional furniture instead of making do with what is already in the office, even if they are not ideal. As for the situation when they visited the other location, the only complaint I can think of is if the OP’s sister was told to move in a snotty “how dare you” manner.

      Reply
      1. Liane

        Besides the indignation, I don’t understand what business this is of the intern’s sibling. From the tone, I was expecting it to end with with something like “I am going to contact the company and insist the quit mistreating my sister. What should I say to show I really mean it?”

        (For the record, I did several semesters of internship, through my university’s Cooperative Education program, at the same place. I had an old, tiny wooden table the microbiologist, whom I worked under, had found and placed against the wall (I don’t recall the color) at the far end of the 2 lab benches we used, just for me. Everyone–me, the techs, microbiologist and chemist–used the tops of the lab benches for recording lab results in the books. I believe there was a place to hang coats & stuff and a tiny desk area if someone had a bigger project. Only the lab manager had an office.)

        Reply
    2. LBK

      Agreed. I’m just confused by this whole letter – I’m wondering if there’s some implication I’m not correctly inferring.

      Reply
    3. some1

      I’m willing to give her a break on wanting a place to lock up her purse and phone. I have worked in a couple of offices located downtown in buildings that were open to the public and had a lot of pedestrian traffic, and anyone could come off the elevator and walk in to the office. It depends on the set-up of the office.

      Reply
        1. Karowen

          Even if you’re just going to a meeting down the hall, though? Maybe it’s cultural, but I’d get some epic side eye if I brought my purse every time I went to a meeting.

          Reply
            1. LBK

              Really? Huh, I guess this must depend on the setup and culture of the business – I can’t think of a time anyone brought a purse to a meeting at my office. It wouldn’t be a faux pas or anything but it might be kind of weird.

              Reply
              1. Kelly L.

                I’d say we get a mix, everywhere I’ve worked–if you’re coming straight from home or lunch (need money) or the restroom (might need sanitary or grooming supplies), or going straight to home or lunch or the restroom after the meeting, it’s totally normal to bring it. Or sometimes someone is just coming straight from their desk and leaves it in their desk. I don’t think anyone takes much note of what other people are doing with their purses–I had to really think about it.

                Reply
              2. Joline

                In my office people bring purses if they’re from a different building (we’re scattered across a few in downtown) but I think people would think it was a bit funny to bring a purse within a single building.

                Reply
              1. Kelly L.

                On the floor, or on their chairs if they’re chairs you can hang something on. Same as you’d do at your desk if your desk had no drawers.

                Reply
            2. Ezri

              I think it varies – I’ve never seen a purse at a meeting here. I don’t think anyone would be too weirded out if I had one, but generally there just isn’t space in our conference rooms for personal items.

              However, I do work in a building that requires badging in and out, so there isn’t much traffic by my desk.

              Reply
            3. BananaPants

              There are few women here, but we all leave our purses at our desks for the most part. It’s a badge-access building and I’m comfortable leaving my purse there unless I need it for some reason. I don’t even take it down to the cafeteria if I’m buying lunch – I just grab my debit card.

              Reply
      1. themmases

        I think it’s pretty reasonable to want a place to lock away personal items, or at least put them out of sight. I have never worked somewhere that it is normal to carry your purse around with you all day to meetings (and I work in a majority female field so I definitely would have seen this if it were a thing), and in many jobs it would be completely impractical. In some jobs even interns accumulate a lot of files, or their job is to file. In that case a drawerless desk would mean they weren’t even given everything they need to do their job.

        I think the sister’s desk situation sounds pretty normal for an intern overall. But it’s not reasonable to have *no* storage at all, and I could see how that would make the OP side eye the whole situation.

        Reply
        1. Stranger than fiction

          If this is mainly about the personal belongings, I’m a little perplexed why the sister hasn’t just asked? On her first day? “Where do people generally keep their purses/personal belongings?”

          Reply
          1. snuck

            That’s how I’m feeling too. The person is working in a team of HR people, one assumes she’s entering the HR workforce… she really should have the people skills to realise that this is all that’s needed to solve this problem!

            Reply
      2. Shannon

        I’ve worked in enough places where theft was a big enough deal that anything valuable stays on my body while I’m at work, even if where I work isn’t open to the public.

        Reply
    4. Ad Astra

      If OP’s sister is an intern, she may be associating a desk against the wall with something negative because it’s typically a negative thing in school. And if she’s far away from the other employees, she may suspect that the company is intentionally isolating her, but that’s probably not the case. It seems less about the specifics of the desk and more about the message she thinks they’re trying to send.

      I do think she should ask about some kind of locked space to put her purse in, though.

      Reply
      1. Sara

        I feel like “sitting in the desk that faces the wall” isn’t a very common consequence beyond the elementary grades, though. I have a “focus seat” in my room (I teach 2-5), but I’m not aware of any of my middle school colleagues who do that, and I don’t remember that being used at when I was in middle school or high school either.

        Reply
        1. Nother Name

          In my grade school, it was a desk out in the hallway. And if your workplace is putting you there, you might have reason to be concerned…

          Reply
  11. Ruth (UK)

    4. I’d like to know if I am missing something about white walls. Is there a specific thing about *white* walls. I wonder as everyone including the LW and commenters are specifically mentioning the colour. So I’m not sure if there’s something considered bad about them specifically as opposed to walls in general? Or do they just not like walls. My desk faces a wall but it’s a kind of yellow and also has a pin board on it. I like to write things with the tin tacks…

    Reply
    1. Myrin

      I don’t have a problem with white walls but I can imagine that people who emphasise on the colour do so because white is especially bland and “boring”? Like, not even fun to look at? Or maybe “white” meaning more something like “empty” or “as opposed to a wall that has some nice pictures on it” or something?

      Reply
    2. BRR

      I think it’s just writing style and possibly to emphasize how it’s bad to face something so boring. I wouldn’t read too much into it especially since it’s not odd to have a desk facing a wall.

      Reply
    3. Sparky

      I’ve hung squares of batik fabric on bare white walls of work cubicals, just to add color and something to look at.

      Reply
  12. nofelix

    #2 – 5ish could also mean that the interview time is flexible for you, although turning up for five still sounds best. They might be poorly communicating that their schedule is open and whatever time you arrive around five is fine.

    Reply
  13. One of the Sarahs

    I was assuming the “5ish” appointment is because they might not be sure if a previous appointment might over-run, or eg getting from one site to another in traffic might be dodgy, and it’s a short-hand way of saying that. It could also be a sign of someone being considerate (giving the hint not to, eg, only put 30 mins on the parking or whatever) as well as red-flag-y, and i’d love an update. Good luck with the interview OP!

    Reply
  14. Legalchef

    Re #2, I just scheduled someone for an interview, and when I emailed him I asked if he was available “around 2” so that he could suggest another time if need be. He wrote back that “around 2” worked, so I confirmed that the interview would be at 2 pm so that there was no ambiguity. Since they didn’t do that in your situation, I agree with the others that you shouldn’t expect the timing to be exact.

    Reply
  15. BananaPants

    #4 – I guess I don’t see where the indignation is coming from. Interns and temps usually get the crappy locations. I waited for 9 years of my career to “earn” a window cube, then I lost it 6 months later in remodeling; now window cubes are only for those at least one level higher than I am. We just hired a new employee at that level and I admit that it was a mild annoyance in the back of my head that he just walked in and got a window cube, but that’s how it is. Offices are for managers and up only, with exterior (window) offices being more highly-prized than interior offices.

    I work in a cubicle and my desk is surrounded on three sides by bland, beige cube walls and on the third it’s open to an interior aisle (although I can see a window if I stand up). I never particularly thought to be upset or offended by my workspace. If I’m visiting another location of my company, I don’t expect them to offer me a prime office location – I’ll sit wherever there’s a desk/flat surface, a chair, and a power outlet for my computer.

    As for personal possessions, the wallet and phone should be in her purse. The purse should be closed/zipped and placed on the floor underneath the desk or in some other reasonably secure location. If there’s no filing cabinet or drawer and the building isn’t secure, she should probably take the purse with her when she leaves the desk.

    Reply
    1. Stranger than fiction

      Ha, you just reminded me of my BF. He is constantly annoyed by the fact that, at his work, there’s an entire side of one part of the building, where along the windows runs a golf putting thingy. Yet, all the cubicles behind it go along the wall, making them all dark. So, hey, if you want to goof around during your work day, you get all this natural light, otherwise, you’re stuck in the dark next to the wall.

      Reply
    2. Witty Nickname

      Yes! I’ve had 10 different desks in the not-quite-9-years I’ve been at my company, and it wasn’t until a few months ago that I finally got a window. They finally got everyone in my org into the same space, so I’m hoping we won’t be moving again anytime soon, but given my history, I just expect to move at least once a year.

      When we moved into this space, my VP, who is in a different state and was working from a diagram instead of seeing the actual space, determined who would sit where based on title and seniority. There are two Directors on my team, and the rest of us are Senior Managers – the Directors got 2 of the window seats, and since I’ve been here the longest, I got the third. But since he wasn’t able to see the actual space, I got the nicest one. (I have an extra foot or so of space and am in a corner, which is nice).

      My company is growing (in my not-quite-9-years, we’ve moved from a tiny space with maybe 200 people that were practically sitting on top of each other by the time we moved, to having 3 floors in our current building, to adding a 4th, then a 5th, and now a 6th and having our name on the building and about 900 people in this one location. That means we move around a lot as different teams grow and need more space, and often means that when you get moved to accomodate another team that needs to grow into your area, you just end up wherever you can be fit in rather than in a space that corresponds to your title/seniority/job function. (My org finally has enough people in my location to qualify for actual space dedicated to us).

      Reply
    3. MiniatureAmericanFlagsForOthers

      I think it’s cultural; the idea that a chair or desk should be imbued with status or lack of status based on its location reminds a lot of folks of medieval noblemen competing for a chair next to their lord. :-) It seems hopelessly old-fashioned — I mean, the knights of the round table (where everyone was equidistant from everyone else) may have been revolutionary then, but that’s sort of seen as being normal now for a lot of people, so getting a taste of old-fashioned precedence seating shocks folks who thought the practice died long ago.

      Reply
    4. Java Jones

      I was wondering why she had her phone out and was texting her sibling during work hours. The whole letter just sounded… entitled.

      Reply
  16. Lane

    #2 I Was recently told to come for an interview “between 9 and 1″. I had the same thought and showed up precisely at 9. The person who set up the interview wasn’t there, and the woman who did the interview said she had not been left any of my information and to just ” tell me about yourself.” Follow this with a description of job duties, and job offer. Weirdest interview I have ever had.

    Reply
      1. Liane

        Cable companies are better than that. We had to get internet from Most Infamous US Cable Co. when we moved–and the window they gave was only 2 hours. Yes, the tech made it, in fact a little early.

        Reply
    1. MiniatureAmericanFlagsForOthers

      Some people (and the companies they found, or the countries in which they are the majority) are task-based rather than time-based. This can sometimes cause conflicts with time-based thinkers, not just because they will show up at a particular time and be frustrated that nothing is happening, but they will want to leave at a particular time, rather than at the end of the task everyone has assembled for.

      Reply
      1. AlleyKat

        0oooh! Good point. I have been trained/raised time based. This might be the most interesting interview ever. The ish could be part of the culture, kind of like the answer sort of suggested.

        Reply
  17. INFJ

    Ugh. Sympathies for #5. That is very frustrating and exhausting. But Alison’s right. To be having that much success through the interviews means you’re doing everything you can and eventually you’ll find your perfect match. Not helpful, but hopefully it will give you some peace of mind to know it’s not you.

    Reply
    1. MK

      It could be an indication of a completely disorganised company or a sign of a more relaxed culture, but it could also be a totally meaningless choise of words by the person who made the appointment. I think “wait and see” is the way to go here.

      Reply
  18. Kyrielle

    Where I work now, everyone has offices. Literally even the interns. And honestly, my first thought was “wow, are they getting a strange view of the working world”. (Goodness, I’m spoiled – if I switch jobs again some day, I’ll probably find myself back in a cubicle!)

    Before this job, I have had about a year and a half in my entire career (nearly two decades) in which I’ve had a single office – I lost it when they swapped teams around and added a couple more managerial positions and a manager needed it. Prior to and after that it’s been two-person offices (once a three-person) and cubicles. And I actually consider myself lucky to have been in the shared offices rather than cubicles for the time I was.

    Reply
    1. Windchime

      I have never in my life had a private office, let alone a shared one. I’ve pretty much only been a cube dweller, except fro the time there were about 8 of us crammed into a room that really only had room for 4. Oh, and then there was the time that I was in the room that just had a long countertop snaking its way through the room and we were all working on that. Fortunately that was only for a few months while they were preparing our current building.

      I don’t really mind being in a cube. The walls are high enough that it gives an illusion of privacy and I have my own drawers and a bookshelf. I can decorate how I wish (within reason) and I am able to see the one small window that our room has.

      Reply
  19. MKT

    #4, were it not for the facts that 1. I don’t have a sibling and 2. I’m not an intern, I’d wonder if you were talking about me!
    I work in an architect’s office. Open floor plan(no walls, not even the owner has an office. Not even our conference room has walls!) and, to top it off, we all work at vintage or antique drafting tables. So I have NO drawers.
    I want everyone who has a desk with drawers, take a moment and think about what life without drawers is like. Seriously.
    We also all face the wall.
    But, we have a full kitchen and a fireplace, so….there’s that?

    Reply
    1. Not The Droid You Are Looking For

      When I joined my current job, I walked into open floor plans with tables, not desks.

      I throw my purse on the floor a lot, so I was more worried about my snacks and the other little personal items. It’s crazy to live with out drawers.

      Luckily, our new boss was sympathetic and ordered all of us those little two drawer file cabinets. It’s been world changing!

      Reply
      1. Ad Astra

        Every desk drawer I’ve ever had has come fully stocked with someone else’s crap in it. I could clean them out, but I’d rather just set my purse on the floor, I guess.

        Reply
        1. OfficePrincess

          I inherited a desk from someone who had the job less than two weeks (in fact, I’m not even sure the desk was in the building more than two weeks before it became mine) and I am still finding random junk 2 years later. I did take the time right after I started to get rid of dozens of sugar, salt, and pepper packets.

          Reply
          1. Hattie McDoogal

            At one job I inherited a desk that had a locked drawer and no one had the key. I didn’t really care until a few days into the job I came in to find a line of ants marching their way across my desk and into the locked drawer…

            Reply
    2. Applesauced

      I’m an architect and we all are NOTORIOUS for open plan offices. I hate it. I get needing to collaborate, but a little privacy can’t hurt – and it is really awkward overhearing performance reviews and job interviews since there are no walls for our conference “room.”
      I’m curious – are you guys actually drafting on the old tables, or is it a stylistic choice with computers on top?

      Reply
      1. MKT

        Style only. We all have one to two computers on the drafting tables. Mine is vintage, the one next to me that acts as like a catch-all table of paperwork for the architect next to me, is from 1900-ish.

        Reply
    3. Allison

      As a lover of old stuff, I’m slightly jealous of the antique drafting tables and fireplace. I hate working in an open office too, but the atmosphere in your office does sound kind of awesome. Is it in an old building? Please say it’s in an old building.

      Reply
      1. MKT

        Gah, no, I wish!
        The owner built it the building a couple years ago. Three stories, very modern exterior, loft style interior, complete with two walls of windows and concrete floors.
        He does love vintage decor though, so we have Sputnik lights in the conference room and some other fun decor items.

        Reply
      1. Artemesia

        Followed by a memo the next week about not cooking food that smell up the office and make it seem less professional. That is what happened when one group I worked in moved into a space with a kitchen. The secretaries started cooking full meals and after the bacon day and the fried chicken day, all cooking in the office except microwaving water for tea or coffee was banned.

        Reply
        1. Cath in Canada

          My grad school lab building had a full kitchen – it was great! No-one cooked lunches there, but the students would get together for informal research talks once a month and someone would cook a big pot of chili or curry or something. One guy who couldn’t cook and still lived at home brought his mum in to cook pasta when it was his turn, which he’s probably still getting mocked about now!

          The cleaning staff used to cook a big fry-up once a month, too, at about 11:30 am. Smelling that bacon, sausages, and mushrooms smell when you’d brought a sad sandwich for lunch was always tough!

          We have an occasional board game night after work in my current office. My colleague brings her crock pot in and makes chili or stew to sell, with all proceeds going to charity.

          Reply
    4. Mallory Janis Ian

      I worked as office manager at an architectural office for awhile, and it was just an open studio. Everyone, including the two principals, sat at a drafting table in the open space. Ditto on even the two conference spaces not having walls, and as the office admin, I was the only person to have any drawers. We all faced the white walls (they were covered with various AIA awards, so there was that; we could sit there and soak up our own awesomeness). Our “fancy” conference room (belonging to all the building tenants, not just our office) had a fireplace and a full kitchen.

      Reply
    5. SRB

      For several months, during office renovations, a group of 4 of us sat at what we called the NBA Scorer’s Table AKA the Buffet Line AKA the NASA Launch Table *in the hallway*. It was one of those cheap 6-foot-long temporary plastic tables you might set up tea or snacks on at a post-mass church service, no drawers, and *FOUR* of us shared it, elbow to elbow. We were all full time entry level too, not interns. We also would have done better to be facing the wall – we were instead facing the *hallway* so every time someone walked past, it broke me out of my concentration. That was like every 90 seconds. At least we didn’t have to share the supply closet like two of the other guys, or sit in the 2’x2′ half-cubes of the active call center! It was good times, though. The four of us spent most of the time cracking jokes.

      Not gonna lie, though, I am now super happy to have my current office – where my desk faces a white wall. :)

      Reply
      1. Editor

        When I was a reporter, someone made a big stink about how unneccessary replacing a local elementary school was. He’d gone to the school as a kid and thought it was just fine.

        The principal who showed me around was not so happy. He had a teacher who kept her supplies in some closet but worked with students in the hallway. He had two other specialists (reading and speech therapy, maybe?) who shared a closet — it was a giant closet, but a closet nontheless. The office staff was crammed in together and sharing space with all the office machines that had come into being (industrial-strength copier instead of mimeo machine, etc.). He was also pretty certain there was asbestos in the building and the wiring was all inadequate for the computer age.

        Angry local resident was still not appeased. A lot of other people were just fine with replacing the building, particularly when during demolition it was discovered that every piece of adhesive in the building (for laying linoleum floors, mounting chalkboards, etc.) had had asbestos mixed in before sticking things to the walls, floors and ceilings.

        I seem to remember the speech therapist and some other floating specialist at my school having to use a closet for an office on the days when they rotated through. It seems like there’s a lot of closet repurposing in public libraries and schools.

        Reply
        1. mander

          Though just to be pedantic, as long as the asbestos isn’t broken or otherwise damaged, it’s fine. It’s only dangerous if it can give off airborne particles as dust.

          (I just had to take a day’s training on asbestos a couple of weeks ago, so now I feel like an expert.)

          Reply
  20. Not The Droid You Are Looking For

    I feel for OP #1. I had an employee who was about 2.5 years into an entry level position and ready to move on. She printed her resume at work and didn’t get up to get it off the printer.

    My boss (our division VP) found it and flipped out. He told me I should do everything from fire her to charge her for the printing. I did none of that, but he held on to his anger until she quit.

    The only positive thing about it was I was I was able to have a conversation with her about how moving on from your first job after 2.5 years is normal, that I was happy to be a reference, and how to utilize the secure print job feature.

    Reply
      1. RVA Cat

        There is a particular weirdness to US employee/employer relationships – you’d think we used to own people or something….

        Reply
        1. Charityb

          The “best” part is that it’s normally not reciprocal; I don’t think that the bosses who flip out over this would ever countenance a similar tantrum from an employee who was being laid off abruptly.

          Reply
          1. BananaPants

            Oh no, the laid-off employee should bow and scrape and be grateful to her now-former corporate overlords for having a job for a while.

            My boss’ boss was PISSED when an employee he’d decided to hire (as entry-level) left after nearly 3 years when she found a job that was more along the lines of what she wanted to do long term. I genuinely think he viewed it as a personal betrayal that she left the company after he was so generous as to give her a shot! I don’t want to know what would have happened if her new employer had checked references…honestly I think boss’ boss would have torpedoed it and then made the employee’s life miserable once it was known that she was hunting. It made it very clear that if/when I look to make a move I need to be very, very careful.

            Reply
            1. RVA Cat

              BananaPants, hate to read into your post but I wonder if boss’s boss would be as angry at a male employee for moving on. Seems he’s taking it a tad personally, almost like she dumped him instead of just a normal business decision.

              Reply
        2. I'm a Little Teapot

          Seriously…see Terra’s post above about the manager who called a meeting to tell his subordinates that looking for another job while employed is *illegal*.

          (Side note: is it illegal for an employer to give employees deliberately false information about the law? Knowing this country, probably not.)

          Reply
      2. Not the Droid You are Looking For

        Most printers have them. I use it when I print client/billing related stuff, and then any HR/employee related things. It’s helpful!

        Reply
    1. VolunteerCoordinatorinNOVA

      The secure print function is one of the best things ever. Most times I don’t even use it for anything exciting but it is so handy for labels or printing on cardstock or things like that.

      Reply
  21. Anon the Great and Powerful

    “When the meeting and tour was over, she and all the other visiting HR employees were told they could pick any office to sit and do their work. My sister chose an office, and as soon as she sat down she was told to leave the office because they were going to have a meeting. She was directed to a conference room with a desk facing a white wall, away from all the other employees and closed off. I thing there is something wrong with this whole situation.”

    This bit is rude and would bother me. If there was an empty office, why couldn’t the intern use it?

    Reply
    1. LBK

      It sounds like the setup of the office she chose was better for their meeting, and it’s not like she had settled in and was being kicked out of her permanent space – by the OP’s own description, she had just sat down.

      I’m actually confused how the other room was identified as a “conference room” if there was a desk facing the wall…I don’t think I’ve ever been in a conference room that had desks rather than, y’know, a conference table.

      Reply
      1. Ann O'Nemity

        I was wondering about the desk in the conference room too. The only time I’ve seen that was in a make-shift conference room, when the computer for the AV was placed on a small desk in the corner (facing the wall) because there wasn’t the standard built-in AV setup.

        Reply
        1. LBK

          Oh, yes, that makes sense now and we do have rooms here set up like that with a computer on a desk hooked up to the AV equipment. I was picturing just an empty desk. Either way, I would’ve just opted to use the conference table anyway (assuming the OP had a laptop and didn’t need to use that computer for work).

          Reply
      2. themmases

        It’s common in some conference rooms for the AV equipment. A desk or built in cabinet at the back of the room or in a corner houses a computer and other equipment. In rooms with that setup, typically the mouse and keyboard are wireless so the presenter can be at the conference table with everyone else after turning on the computer. It’s a pretty comfortable alternative to a laptop.

        In the rooms I’ve seen like this, the desk that houses the AV computer is in a corner or something facing the wall because the whole point is for it to be out of the way of the main conference table.

        Reply
    2. themmases

      I found it more odd that an intern was able to choose an office. Either that’s a pretty tone deaf choice, or the company must have moved into a large space.

      Crappy intern desks are vulnerable to poaching because they’re often out in the open or in extra space, and unless the intern is full time the desk often appears empty. Figuring out how to deal with that is a good way to learn to be assertive at work. The same thing used to happen to me and I would just leave for a bit! I can’t believe it when I think back on it now.

      The sister should just ask her boss about it if it happens again. It’s really on the boss to be direct, but if the new office is big enough for several people to meet in then maybe it really wasn’t an appropriate choice for an intern.

      Reply
      1. LBK

        Yeah, I thought that was a bit tone deaf as well, but the OP does say they told her specifically to pick any “office” (although whether that was the manager’s wording or the sister’s/OP’s is up for question). Part of this is knowing the culture of your department, but even as a regular employee I wouldn’t jump to choose an office if there were cubicles around – even managers just get big cubes here, so it would be wildly inappropriate to put myself in an office.

        Reply
  22. Virginian

    I feel you, OP #5. I had three interviews over the course of three months. I didn’t get the position for two of them and I’m waiting to hear back from the third. Best of luck to both of us.

    Reply
  23. Dang

    I’m kind of perplexed at #4- why the emphasis that the wall is white? Would it be different if it were a grey wall?

    I really don’t get the indignation here…. speaking as someone who shares a tiny office with my desk facing my officemate (good thing we like each other, I guess!)

    Reply
    1. The IT Manager

      I am not the LW, but maybe white equivalent to blank i.e. a boring blank wall (not photos or pictures), nothing to look at.

      Frankly it shouldn’t matter much because an employee will be looking at a computer screen most of the time.

      Reply
      1. Charityb

        Honestly, the posters and stuff on most corporate office walls aren’t particularly interesting to look at anyway. I can understand if the complaint was about not having a view out the window, but if you’re OK with not having that I don’t really see a big difference between a blank wall (that you won’t be looking at) and some posters or pictures (that you may glance at once and never again).

        Reply
  24. Dang

    #5, I feel you. This happened to me for about a year and a half. I’d get to last interviews, be in the top 3, and they’d hire someone internally, or not hire anyone at all. I took it so personally but I ended up with something better than I’d imagined, and certainly better than any of the other jobs I was a top candidate for. It will happen!

    Reply
  25. Also Early-Ish in my career

    OP # 3 – No one has commented for you yet so I will!
    I’m also in the first and I get the concern that “every year matters” making you look less entry-level! On LinkedIn, for example, I don’t list my graduating year from college (that’s also to keep yourself safe from potential identity theft, I don’t have much age-identifying info online). Though, I do put that on my resume for fear of looking like I’m hiding something.
    Are you able to potentially list the FIRST 8 month job as “Teapot Admin, 2006 – 2007” ? And then, omit the second one – it’s just three months. If your NEXT (third) job also began in 2007 I think you’re OK. That far back, people won’t get into the months employed minutiae.
    For reference, I leave my first position off my resume – it was a 6 month stint not even remotely related to what I do now. I graduated in 20XA and begin my resume as such:
    Relevant Experience:
    Teapots and Such, Inc. 20XA – 20XB, Teapots Marketing Analyst
    Teapots Marketing Co, 20XB – 20XD (2 years) Teapot Marketing Coordinator, Teapots Marketing Manager (held multiple roles)
    Tea-Pots-Unlimited, 20XD – Present, Teapots Development Specialist, Teapots Project Manager
    Education:
    Teapot University, Bachelor of Arts, 20XA

    If asked about the specific Month to Month, I will get into it, but I don’t really think it’s necessary – and I’ve done enough hiring myself that I don’t really view it as a red flag. The resume shouldn’t tell your whole story word-for-word, just a good synopsis/cliff-notes version so that you can get into the details in an interview.

    Reply
  26. Allison

    Man, I’ve had some interesting workspaces during my internships and early in my career. My first internship had me sitting on a chair in the corner of the office, and I either had a laptop on my lap or, maybe, on some little table or lapdesk. I certainly didn’t have the usual desk and chair workstation. It wasn’t ideal, but I didn’t complain. At the State House they initially had me at a small desk in the senator’s Chief of Staff’s office, but had me move around based on who was in and what desk was available. Again, not ideal, but I didn’t complain. Then at my second job out of college, they usually had me working in an empty conference room, sometimes in an office if the person who normally used the office wasn’t there. Sometimes I had to work at a little table out in the open . . . at which point I just opted to work from home most of the time.

    My point here is that, especially when you’re an intern or junior employee, sometimes your workstation is either not great or not even permanent. It’s fine to complain if your workstation is physically uncomfortable, or dark, or too noisy to get work done. But for the most part, you make do with what you have and do your work. As you move up in the world, your workspaces will probably get better.

    Reply
    1. Ann O'Nemity

      I didn’t love any of my early workspaces. The worst was probably when I shared a small “desk” I shared with another intern. We faced a wall with our back to the main entrances to the office, which always made me a bit uncomfortable. The worst part was that the desk was so small that there was no room to write something down while using the keyboard at the same time. No drawers, no storage. In fact, the storage bins above the desk were used for general office supplies, meaning that random employees would come up behind me, reach over my head, and potentially drop things on me as they were grabbing supplies.

      Reply
  27. Workfromhome

    #5

    Just keep your head up. This is likely more of a symptom of the stupid hiring practices in place in many companies than any fault of your own. I certainly understand that companies want to “promote from within” to encourage people to stay with the company and progress in their career but its such a pointless practice to drag the interview process all the way though just to say you did.

    If you have internal candidates that you know are going to win any “tiebreaker” with external ones why not just cut the process off if you don’t have an external candidate that clearly blows all internal ones away. There is so little upside to being someone back for multiple interviews just so you can say “yup we went through the process and our internal candidate wins..but hey we interviewed others so we MUST be making the right decision.

    It’s like being the guy the girl flirts with to make the guy she really wants to date jealous. I’m sure there are times that it really is a competition but there are many more times where its just wasting someone’s time for a job they have little chance of getting simply to pay lip service internally to “exploring all candidates”.

    Reply
  28. Cass

    I am in the same position as OP #5. It’s so frustrating! I wonder if I’m projecting some quality during my final rounds of interviews that doesn’t clinch it for me.

    Reply
  29. Underemployed PhD

    #5, chiming in to say I’m in the same boat. I’ve been runner-up at 5 positions this year, and it’s driving me nuts. NUTS. I’m running out of time off to go on interviews and my current job is so painfully boring. I’m a humanities PhD who left academia and am now receptionist. It’s almost impossible to keep a good attitude about it and not get bitter.

    Reply
    1. Cass

      I feel your pain! I know people are trying to be encouraging when they say how close you were but it’s a zero sum game so it’s incredibly frustrating. Good luck on your next one!

      Reply
    2. overeducated and underemployed

      High five for being in the same boat! Social science PhD in a way more entry level position here (I like it, but the pay’s low and the term ends ends in three more months….)

      Reply
    3. AnonymousaurusRex

      I was underemployed for 18 months in an entry level position in a field totally unrelated to my social sciences PhD when I left academia…but I’m now successfully employed in an applied field of my degree! There is hope, but yes, if often comes with months or years of incredibly boring work until you find just the right job.

      Reply
    4. YOLO

      We should have a support group! I’m a social science PhD who is stuck in a program assistant role…that is slowly changing into an admin assistant role due to a reorg. I can feel brain cells dying, but at least the rent is being paid, right? :(

      Reply
  30. boop

    Hmmm. What if you follow the advice here and then don’t get any interviews at all? I was *this close* to getting an interview for a store cashier position but they changed their mind when I missed their call (was at work) and couldn’t call back until 4 hours later.

    It’s gotten to the point where I’m checking constantly to be sure I put my phone number on there, but alas, there it is. Because I read this site daily (and have steady work), I figured my resume was at least stronger than the average highschooler, but now I’m not so sure.

    Reply
    1. LBK

      Frankly, I think getting job a job in high school is going to be tough these days – availability is usually the #1 qualifier for retail jobs, so being restricted by school hours (and potentially labor laws if you’re under 18) will make it harder – the hours you’ll be available are usually the most overstaffed times. With the job market still not being stellar, there’s also a glut of people with existing retail or other experience trying to just pick up any job that will pay the bills.

      I think having someone who can refer you into a job is going to be your best bet, so hopefully that’s an option. Referrals carry a ton of weight in the service industry since experience is usually similar and frankly, the jobs aren’t that hard to do so it’s sometimes challenging to determine who’s the most qualified (since it’s basically anyone who can be friendly, count money and doesn’t mind doing boring tasks).

      Reply
    2. VintageLydia USA

      I do not envy high schoolers these days at all on the job front. There are just plain fewer jobs available to y’all since you’re competing with folks with open availability.

      Reply
  31. VolunteerCoordinatorinNOVA

    For LW#4, I would ask your sister if there was any other reason why she feels undervalued/concerned about her desk situation. If so, than that’s something to figure out how to fix but otherwise, I would let her know that interns get the crappy desks all the time. Really all types of people get crappy desks, it’s just the luck of the draw sometimes. At my last job, we had an interns who worked in a copy room (with a desk), in our medical clinic and a three who shared a desk as they had alternating schedules but everyone in awhile, they would end up there on the same day. It wasn’t ideal but only our senior staff had offices but otherwise, we all shared offices and none of our desk situations were any better.

    This would also be a good lesson for her to be pro-active and ask about a place to put her stuff while working. Sometimes with volunteers/interns, managing staff forget about this stuff as it’s not high on the priority list. Sometimes in an office, you just need so speak up for your needs (as long as their reasonable). At my first internship, I didn’t eat lunch for a few days as I was too nervous to ask about what time everyone ate lunch/how long I had and I think finally my supervisor realized that I wasn’t eating lunch and mentioned something to me. I’m guessing at some point, I would have said something but being a people pleaser, who knows how long that would have taken.

    Reply
  32. Bio-Pharma

    #4: Not completely related, but at my work you have to have the VP of your department approve a desk move (small company so not too many levels, but still, your manager’s approval isn’t enough). I got approval and was assigned to a tiny desk by an admin. When I asked if I could this other empty one (med size, not even the larger ones that were free), she said no, it was for a future employee. (it’s been a couple of months, so she didn’t mean someone specific) (and no, I’m not an intern or entry level)

    Reply
    1. Mallory Janis Ian

      We have a couple of empty offices in my department that are reserved for future employees, while some employees are doubled (or even tripled) up in their offices. The nicest reserved office will go to a full professor, and the second-best to a clinical professor, once we complete a search for those two positions this fall. Our PhD students, meanwhile, are living with double or triple occupancy, but it would be tone deaf for them to try for one of the unoccupied offices.

      Reply
  33. MiniatureAmericanFlagsForOthers

    #5: I would suggest focusing on smaller companies. If the reason you are getting weeded out is due to internal candidates, then naturally the fewer internal candidates there are to choose from, the better your chances will be.

    Reply

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