terse answer Thursday — 7 short answers to 7 short questions

It’s terse answer Thursday — seven short answers to seven short questions. Here we go…

1. Company is acting like I’m already gone now that I’ve given notice

I received a job offer in a different state but similar industry on Halloween and accepted. I gave my notice Nov. 1 and am leaving Nov. 16. I am the third person (there are only 7 of us) to leave my department in less than one month. I’m noticing that even though I have two full weeks left, many of my projects have been taken away and I’m being left off emails that I need to know about.

My senior manager put in his two weeks notice at the beginning of October and we noticed he had given us all of his projects and wasn’t answering some questions or just saying to ask someone else when we had questions. At first, I thought it was incredibly unprofessional but now that I’m in his same position, I understand that this must be what my company does. Even though I’m leaving, I have a great amount of loyalty and respect to my coworkers and would like to help them by finishing my projects instead of adding to their stress. What can I do? I feel very sad that the company is pushing me out like this especially when I care so much. I could have just given them one day notice if they were going to do this.

It’s not unusual for a company to begin moving someone’s projects to other people once they give notice; in fact, it makes sense to do that while you’re still there so that you’re available for questions in the beginning (rather than waiting until you’re already gone). People also sometimes jump the gun and start moving on to whatever will be their new normal before it’s officially time to do so, which could explain why you’re being left off of emails that you still need to know about. Or, alternately, there might be no good explanation for this stuff and your company just sucks at handling resignations; that’s not uncommon either.

Either way, though, don’t take it personally. It’s clearly not personal. Just work out your notice period and leave things in as good of shape as possible for your replacement; it’s up to your company how much they want to utilize you during your remaining time.

2. Employer shared info on everyone’s payroll deductions

My employer emailed the entire company with updated information about our health insurance plan. Included in that email was a spreadsheet containing payroll deduction amounts, depending on how much coverage we had subscribed to. That would have been fine if they had just said “x dollars comes out per month for people who get single coverage versus x dollars for those on the family plan.”

However, my employer listed by name exactly how much money each person had coming out of his or her paycheck every month. I felt very uncomfortable about it because everyone could see what everyone else is spending on the plan, as well as what kind of coverage they had selected. I think they meant well…but I have to ask…is sharing information about other employees’ payroll deductions or health care plan choices illegal?

I can’t think of any law that would violate. (Someone is going to suggest HIPAA, but HIPAA only covers information released by medical professionals.) But you could certainly point out to whoever sent the email that they inadvertently violated people’s privacy.

3. What does this email mean?

I got the following rejection email for a position I applied for that university I am interning at:

“The Sciences Librarian search committee has carefully gone over the many applications for the position. At this time, you have not been selected for a phone interview. I would encourage you to continue to look for openings at UMW Libraries because we truly value the work that you have done for us and we have also enjoyed working with you.”

Should I read anything into this? Mind you, they do NOT send out e-mails to rejected candidates usually. I knew that I wasn’t a perfect fit for it, as I did not have a sciences undergraduate degree. I was told that there may be something coming down the pike three weeks ago, but have not seen this particular (and better) job posted. Should I ask about it? I don’t want to look desperate, but would love to work where at this place.

Take it at face value: They’ve enjoyed working with you and would be glad to consider you if you apply in the future. And it’s fine to ask them about the job you heard about.

4. Declining an interview because I don’t have transportation

I’ve contacted over 30 organizations trying to find some place to intern, and I finally found someplace that said they’d love to talk to me about doing an internship.

I can’t drive, so I have to take public transportation. The walk to the nearest bus stop is 25 minutes, and then the rest of the commute via bus, subway and a little more walking is about an hour. My mom had said before that she’d drive me to the bus stop for any place I wanted to intern to help decrease commuting times, so it would be about an hour commute if she dropped me off at the bus stop. But the place that agreed to chat with me is apparently in a bad neighborhood with high crime rates, so my mom won’t drive me to the bus stop because she thinks “risking” my life isn’t worth getting experience that I need, so now I won’t be able to do the internship. (Spending two hours to commute to/from an unpaid position seems tolerable to me, but three hours isn’t.) I don’t know what to say to the organization about declining to come in and talk to them. Telling them the truth is just going to make me sound incredibly unprofessional and infantile. Do you have any suggestions? I’m really upset and can’t think of anything.

Just say that you weren’t able to arrange transportation so need to decline their offer to meet, but that you’d love to follow up with them in the future if your transportation situation changes. You don’t need to mention your mom.

5. Employers think it’s too much trouble for me to come to an interview

I currently work at a healthcare clinic (have been here for 2 years), and unfortunately the lack of business led my boss to make a decision to close this business forever. We are like family, and they are aware I am actively seeking a job and will not even require me to give 2 weeks notice (although I will regardless). When potential employers contact me for interviews, can I tell them I am currently working in a place that is about to close? Because that is the reason I tell them when they ask me why I am looking to leave my job, but I believe some places feel it is trouble for me to show up at a interview due to my schedule or they don’t want to be rude to my current employer by having me come in, even though I always make it on time and my coworkers and boss have no problem whatsoever with me being excused for the day or for an hour or two to do an interview. I just feel that being a little too honest is not getting me anywhere. I feel that way because I have yet to land a job, and when I lie and say I am NOT working, I seem to get the interview date much quicker then saying that I am working right now.

The majority of people who interview for jobs are already employed. It’s very, very odd that you’re encountering employers who think it will be too much trouble for your current employer for you to interview, which makes me think that there’s something about the way you’re explaining this that’s triggering that response. When asked why you’re leaving your current job, you should simply say that the company is closing its doors soon. If an interviewer expresses concern about your ability to get away for an interview (which, again, would be very strange), you should simply say, “Not at all, my employer knows I’m interviewing and encouraged me to take any time I need.”

6. Team work and cover letters

I’m a recent engineering graduate and have 2 short questions about how to best tailor my cover letter: First, although its a long shot, I’m applying to some companies that don’t always post specific job openings, but have “open” postings or email addresses. The problem is that with no specific job skills/requirements (or vague ones), it can be hard to try and give concrete examples in a cover letter of why you would be suitable to work there. Is it just a matter of trying to summarise your best attributes on your cover letter?

Second, a lot of engineering companies want to know you can work well in a team. I have lots of experience doing this from my student life, but what’s the best way to discuss/phrase this in a cover letter?

For your first question: There must be some reason you’re applying and think you’d do well at the job, right? That’s what you talk about in your cover letter. (And if there’s not, reconsider why you’re applying.)

About showing that you can work as a team: It’s not something I’d put a ton of focus on in a cover letter because it’s rarely among the primary qualifications an employer is looking for, but I’d come prepared for examples to talk about in your interview. And if you have team-based accomplishments, you can include those on your resume.

7. Discussing salary expectations

I am a legal/administrative assistant. Lately one of the questions I am receiving when called for an interview is what my expected salary range is. My last position paid $16.78 per hour, but most employers today don’t want to pay more than $10-$12 per hour to start. I’m afraid if I tell them my last salary it will scare the pajeebers out of them, yet considering the complexity of the job, I don’t want to work for $10 or $12 per hour, espectially true if I have to drive more than 8-10 miles to work. Any advice that would help me escape from between the rock and a hard place would be appreciated.

Well, if you’re not willing to work for $10-12 per hour and that’s what they’re paying, then these aren’t jobs you’re going to pursue anyway, so better to find that out before investing tons of time, right? But it sounds like there’s a discrepancy between the market rate for your work in your area and what you’d like to earn … but it’s pretty difficult to find a job that will pay you more than market rate, so you might need to take a clear-eyed look at what you’re expecting and what the marketing is paying.

{ 69 comments… read them below }

  1. The IT Manager*

    #1, I don’t know what you do or what projects you have, but you have less than two weeks left!

    Unless you can fully wrap up your projects in your remaining time, they do need to be assigned to someone else. For repetitive (ie weekly, monthly, quarterly) tasks, you need to train your replacement to do it now instead of having them do it for the first time after you’re no longer around to ask. For any kind of project, you should spend your last two weeks getting your co-workers up to speed and training them how to do it – not doing it one last time on your own.

    1. The IT Manager*

      … wasn’t answering some questions or just saying to ask someone else when we had questions.

      PS In your boss’s case if it was a factual, how to do something question that’s uncool. You should be very willing to pass on knowledge before you depart. But if you were asking for a decision or preference, he may have been, rightly, deferring to someone else who was remaining at the company rather than making any big decisions right before he left.

      1. Victoria*

        My former boss quit and we switched to an entirely new system while she was in her 2 weeks. She didn’t bother to go through the training on the new system and so whenever I had questions, she was all “I don’t know, ask someone else.” Maybe that’s what was going on.

    2. B.*

      Hi The IT Manager,

      I’m OP #1. I actually can wrap up a lot of these projects on my own in this time. I just haven’t been given the chance. I have been able to train my coworkers on some of what I can’t finish.

  2. BPotter*

    Hey all,

    I am OP # 3, and have some additional information to add to my letter. I went into my practicum this morning, and my supervisor gave me some feedback regarding my cover letter (adding one specific element that she knows I can do, but otherwise impressive). She also offered information about the job opening (I did not have to ask), and how it is being filled by a person at another campus who is doing the same job. They’ve already decided this, so there is no need to post it. I want to leap on the new opening in the same way, but seeing as I am not a staff member, that would probably be way too aggressive. Other than sitting and twiddling my thumbs while doing the best job possible and applying for other things, is there anything else I can do?

    1. fposte*

      Like Alison, I’m getting a little lost–is the unposted job that the staff member is filling the second opening you refer to in your opening letter? If so, what’s the new opening? Or are you using “posted” to mean something other than “advertised the job”?

      However, in general, if your supervisor has mentioned an opening to you, it’s okay to say that you’d be interested in that and ask if it’s something you could apply for; if it’s posted, it’s fine to apply for it, period. That’s neither aggressive nor leaping. And it sounds like your supervisor has been sympathetic to your desire to succeed, so it’s not likely she’ll be startled or upset by the question.

    2. Zed*

      Like the others, I’m confused about which position you mean. Is the “new opening” that one you heard about – i.e. the one that is coming down the pike? If so, I honestly would not hang your hopes on it. Academic positions can take a long, long time to be posted, and if it is in the early stages the position description may not have been finalized yet – and may not have been approved yet. However, both the email you quoted and the feedback from your supervisor indicate to me that they really are interested in either hiring you or in helping you get hired somewhere else. That is valuable!

      If you don’t have undergraduate or graduate degrees in science, I am not surprised that you were not interviewed for the Science Librarian position. Most likely they had applicants who had Master’s degrees or PhDs in science fields, as well as those (such as the internal hire) who have worked in science librarianship for many years. Unfortunately, that is the nature of librarianship, particularly subject-specialist librarianship.

      All that said, I do not think it would be a misstep to talk to your supervisor about the possible opening. If you guys have a good relationship, maybe arrange a time to sit time with her. You can always say something like, “Recently you mentioned a position that might be coming open soon, and I wanted to say how much I would love to apply when it is posted. Is there anything you recommend I do to make myself more competitive for this or other positions at UMW?” (i.e. seek out experience with instruction, libguides, social media, virtual reference…)

      1. BPotter*

        Sorry for not being clear! The position I had heard was coming down the pike was the one filled without it being posted at all by the librarian who is doing the same job at a different campus. So there is going to be a brand new opening. And like I said, I am going to wait to apply until it’s posted, even though I wish I could just express my interest and have them consider me before the position is put up. I discussed my application materials with my supervisor, and she gave me great feedback. From the beginning she has been finding ways to help me gain experience in other areas (e.g. I got to create a LibGuide earlier in the practicum, and frequently staff the reference desk). She’s been very supportive!

        1. Zed*

          Ahh, in that case, yes, you’re going to just have to wait until the position is posted. All you can do now is prepare your materials as best as possible. You’ve got feedback from your supervisor, which is great. Get more. If you’re a NMRT member, try their resume review service. Read Open Cover Letters, which is awesome. Keep revising your cover letter. Line up your other two references. I say two because I assume your internship supervisor will be one for you. (And a side note: when you apply, send your references the job posting and a copy of your resume. They will be grateful.)

          That way, when the position is posted, all you have to do is give your cover letter and resume a few tweaks so that it matches up with the posting in terms of job duties and buzzwords. And then send it off.

          All in all, though, it sounds like you have pretty good chances. I will be crossing my fingers for you!

  3. AnotherAlison*

    #6. I’m going to have to disagree here. Alison said, About showing that you can work as a team: It’s not something I’d put a ton of focus on in a cover letter because it’s rarely among the primary qualifications an employer is looking for.

    Teamwork, leadership skills, and a demonstrated interest in our industry are among the top things our mechanical engineering hiring manager looks for in new grads and interns (words straight of his mouth in a recent conversation). Of course grades are also important, but teamwork is a big deal in the engineering consulting field. New grads aren’t going to have a ton of other direct experience and qualifications, so I would emphasize the team activities done in school that will parallel working on project teams on the job.

    I don’t know that it necessarily has to be in the cover letter, but definitely in the resume. Most engineering students would have worked on a team for their senior capstone design project, which should be a key bullet point for their resume.

      1. AnotherAlison*

        I only disagree that it’s not among primary qualifications. I believe we would be reluctant to hire someone who didn’t demostrate she had worked successfully in teams, and per our ME manager, not mentioning it in some fashion when applying would keep your resume could preclude that applicant from being forwarded from HR to him. My take was that it’s a check-the-box must-have item for his hiring process (like having a degree).

        I know you said to put it on your resume, too. I’m just emphasizing that it’s not optional and don’t omit it just because you can’t quite see how it fits with that specific job that you’re applying for. (i.e. Back in my day as a student I work on the SAE formula car project suspension team. I work in the power plant industry. The project work had little to do with the job I got, but it was important for the teamwork aspect.)

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I think that’s fairly unusual, in that employers often want people who can work in teams but it’s not often a primary qualification. I’m certainly willing to believe it is in your industry, of course, but in a lot of industries, it would be odd to have a focus on that in a cover letter.

          Edited to add: I just realized that the OP is in engineering as well. Missed that in my first reply.

          1. AB*

            As another engineer, I can confirm that in many cases, ability to work well in teams is a crucial skill that hiring managers are looking for in candidates.

            In other types of career, I would agree it’s not something relevant to mention in a cover letter, but for engineer positions, it’s much easier to find people with the right technical skills than it is to find candidates who can work well with others.

            In many cases, the company is trying to replace a technically excellent employee who turned out a bad fit because he/she cannot work with others. I now engineers who BRAG about “hating to work with other people”, so if a candidate wrote that he/she works well in groups, that would definitely something that would catch the attention of certain recruiters / hiring managers.

        2. PX*

          OP#6 here, thanks for all the comments. I kept my teamwork skills to just one sentence in the cover letter, but I do have it mentioned in my resume. So hopefully it comes across loud and clear!

          Funnily enough AnotherAlison, I too worked on my university formula student team, and I’m looking for work in the power plant industry!

          1. AnotherAlison*

            That is a funny coincidence. . .although not that surprising considering where a lot of the engineering jobs were when I graduated during the merchant gas boom and where they are in the current market. Good luck to you!

    1. BL*

      I would also add, be prepared to discuss specific teamwork examples in an interview. Much like the other engineers posting here, I was asked a lot about my ability to work in teams. Be sure you can clarify your role in the group as well. What did you personally do versus what the team as a whole accomplished.

  4. B.*

    Hey guys I’m OP #1 and I forgot to mention that I asked for meeting with my boss and was brushed off saying she’d get to me later. I still haven’t had a proper meeting to discuss where I am in my projects.

    Thanks for the responses though!

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Ultimately, you can’t push them to do this. You’ve offered, you’ve made the effort, and that’s what you owe. How they respond is up to them.

  5. Question re: #1*

    Many of my projects have been taken away and I’m being left off emails that I need to know about.

    Given the poster’s passive voice, it seems like this was done without any discussion with the OP. Should management and an employee sit down after the employee gives notice to work these things out together, or is that not common practice?

    …and half a department jumping ship seems like a red flag.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Yes, that should happen, and will happen with a good manager. In practice, it often doesn’t. (And in this case it may be because the manager is leaving too.) The OP can’t take it personally though; this isn’t that unusual, and her obligation is simply to do the best job she can during her notice period.

  6. Julie*

    #7: Did you start at the $10-12 range and work your way up, or were you hired at $16.78? I ask because there are different levels of admin jobs, some of them at the lower range you mentioned, some of them (like executive assistant) in a higher range. If you have experience and think the work you do is beyond the basic entry-level admin stuff, you might want to widen your search terms to get some of the higher-level job opportunities.

    1. A Bug!*

      Yeah, if you’re applying for things like “junior litigation assistant” I would expect a salary in the range of $12 to start (depending on local economic factors). If you have several years’ experience you should be looking at intermediate or senior positions, which should come with higher responsibility and higher wages. This is assuming your area of experience matches the practice area of the firms you’re applying with.

      That said, I do know of several firms in my area that top out at $14 for their assistants, no matter how long they’ve been there or how much experience they had beforehand.

    2. Lisa*

      I agree. Receptionists make the least as in, i welcome and sign people in, call people you are here to see. Executive Assistants can make as much as 80k, and then in this case, a legal admin could be doing paralegal work which justifies the salary of 16/hr. Maybe skip the generic receptionist jobs, and focus on only legal and highly valued admin jobs like EAs.

      1. Julie*

        Though, as a caveat, make sure that if you’re applying for executive assistant jobs that you can actually do the work. There’s a reason they’re paid so much higher (in certain cases) — because their workload can be a lot more varied, a lot more difficult, and often comes with a lot more responsibility than a simple admin assistant.

  7. Stephanie*

    Hi I am Question #5 And Would like to say Thank you for answering my question . I feel very satisfied with the answer you provided ! You really helped me obtain a better way to express my self when giving my response as to why Im seeking further employment. I am waiting for a call now ! Wish me Luck ! Thank you !!!!!

    1. The Snarky B*

      OP #5, were people actually giving that as a reason for not interviewing you? It seemed from your letter that you might just have been drawing the conclusion that they thought it’d be rude to your employer. Just curious

    2. Anonymous*

      Talking about ‘better ways to express yourself’ I’m hoping that the style of writing in the comment above is rather different from any formal correspondence you have with potential employers. Multiple exclamation marks, misuse of sentence case and capital letters etc. really do not look good.

      It can also make you appear stressed and worried which might help explain why people assume its too difficult for you to interview with them.

      “Well I’m working until 5!!! Could we meet up after then?? Thank You!” comes over a lot differently to “I have commitments until 5pm, could we meet at 5.30?” The second is a lot calmer than the first which suggests you are stressed and worried about the situation.

      (And I’m not saying this to be a Grammar Nazi, just to suggest toning it down IF this is your usual writing style. Apologies if that upsets anyone. Or if I’ve made any bad mistakes myself in this post!)

      1. Laura*

        I like your suggestion, except it should be punctuated: “I have commitments until 5pm. Could we meet at 5.30?” Those are two independent clauses, so using a comma between them makes for a comma splice.

        And I wouldn’t normally jump in to correct, but I wanted to chime in, just in case OP decides to take your reasonable and useful advice.

  8. Anon*

    #4 I was in a very very similar situation to you a few years ago as an undergrad.

    I politely wrote back letting them know that I would love to work there but my commuting time was 3 hours because I was dependent on public transportation – I hadn’t realized the commute would be so long when I reached out to them.

    I had honestly given up on the awesome internship. Well it just so happened that someone at the company lived next to me and was happy to car pool. My commute suddenly went from 3 hours to 30 minutes.

    Over 3 years later and I’m still working at the company :)

    1. Anon*

      Oh and as an add on – you may not luck out like I did but you can be proactive and see if there are any van or car pools that could help make this doable. Often times, bus websites link to info like this or the company may have info.

  9. Anonymous*

    #4 – I would suggest also targeting your search geographically as well to accommodate your commute restrictions.

  10. OP #4*

    @Anon: Such a happy story! Thanks for sharing. :D
    The organization I’m looking at is a very small non-profit, so I don’t think there’s going to be any sort of car pools to get there, unfortunately. Thank you for the suggestion though.

    @Anonymous: I was actually targeting my search geographically. All the places closer to me didn’t work out, and now I’m at a point where I’m looking at the last few farthest places that would have somewhat reasonable commutes (but they’re only doable if my mom will drive me to the bus stop). Not being able to drive very much limits where I can go.

    @AAM: Thanks for your advice to just say it’s a transportation issue. I’d settled on saying it was a “personal” issue that came up if you didn’t answer, but transportation issues sounds much better. I’m writing the e-mail right now. :]

    1. ChristineH*

      I DEFINITELY feel your pain! I can’t drive either, and I tend to be a little too honest about why when I address this (my focus tends to be more on the job duties themselves, but I too also try to consider commuting time). I like your approach.

      Good luck!!

    2. Sara*

      Just wanted to add that even if there is no official vanpool or anyone to carpool with at this non-profit, there may be other employers very close to it that have vanpool programs or people willing to carpool. I work at a large company with a company-sponsored vanpool program, but employees of other companies who work nearby are able to join our vanpools. You might also try searching for a general rideshare program/website serving your area.

      1. OP #4*

        I found some sort of car/vanpool matching service website for the area where the organization is. But you have to have beginning shift/ending shift times to apply to see if anyone would match you. I have no idea what kind of hours the internship would have entailed and I really don’t want to contact them again unless it’s to say I can suddenly meet to talk about the internship.

        1. OP #4*

          Bah! I tried to join another carpooling service website to see if I’d have to provide beginning/end times too, but the account activation e-mails aren’t getting sent for some reason.

          Do you have to give beginning/end times for all websites just to see if anyone’d have a similar commute?

          1. Sara*

            I think you should be able to enter reasonable business hours as your start/end times and modify them after you talk to the company. Unless your employer has very unusual hours or you are going to be doing shift work, something like 8-5 should be fine. Once you know for sure what the hours are, you can modify your settings on the website. And, as long as the official hours are still close to standard business hours, you shouldn’t have trouble finding a match.

            Also, I’ve never used one of these sites myself, but I imagine that they will send you close matches too – if you put 8-5, they might match you up with 7-4 people or 9-6 people too.

            I wasn’t sure if you also would have trouble arranging transportation even to get to the interview – if that is the case, you could do something similar. Just list reasonable start/end times and try to arrange a one-time carpool with one of the matches.

  11. Elizabeth*

    On #2 … “Someone is going to suggest HIPAA, but HIPAA only covers information released by medical professionals.”

    There is a case where corporate health plans can run into this being an actual violation. If your company has a self-funded plan with a Third Party Administrator (as opposed to buying an employee health plan), then they are their own little covered entity, and they revealed protected health information.

    How do you know the difference? You can usually tell by looking at the card, because TPA’s are usually shown as “Administered by”, above the corporate logo or on the back along with the claims address. You can also ask your HR department.

  12. twentymilehike*

    On #2 … the benefits email: I’m curious exactly how much information was released. It sounds like it was just how much each person paid for their coverage, which could have been displayed as options with a cost, and then each person just looked up the option they pay for. But if those options are known information, and you know that Jane has three dependents, then assuming Jane and her three dependents are covered, you’d just be able to look that up and see for yourself? And if that’s the case, wouldn’t it not be a really big deal?

    1. fposte*

      It doesn’t seem like a big deal to me, but then my salary is public information. However, I can see if you’re somebody not familiar with the fact that all of this could be public whenever your employer wanted it could be a bit of a shock to see it.

      1. JillieMack*

        I was just about to post this exact same thing! For those of us working for a unit of government, most of this information is already public (in my case, both my salary and any employer-paid benefits, including health insurance, must be made public and is often even put on the unit of government’s website! One issue that can come up is a morale problem. If your employer subsidizes all health insurance (i.e.,, they subsidize some portion of single coverage, as well as family coverage), you can get some problems with Employee A resentful that the employer is “only” paying for her single coverage, while they’re kicking in more money to her co-worker, Employee B, who has family coverage.

    2. Your Mileage May Vary*

      It could be an issue if someone bought a separate maternity rider and it was posted there for all to see. Nobody really wants her career track sidelined because the higher-ups now know she’s trying to conceive and may have to take leave next year.

  13. Cindy*

    #4: I don’t think you should give in to your mother’s fears so easily. I know many suburban parents who have outdated or unrealistic perceptions of the dangers of various cities, and it would be a shame to let her beliefs stymy a great opportunity for you.
    If I were you, I would go to the interview anyway. Afterwards, you might be able to truthfully tell your mom that the office is actually in a nicer part of the neighborhood, or that it’s an easy, safe walk from the bus stop, or just that the opportunity will be so valuable to your career that you really need to take it. She might come around!
    At the same time, you can tell them in the interview that you’re still mulling over the commuting time and whether it’s too long, giving you an easy out if your mom won’t cave. Good luck!

    1. OP #4*

      It’s too late now. I already e-mailed the organization to tell them I couldn’t meet with them for transportation reasons. And I know there’s no way to change my mom’s mind. She says she looked at the location on Google maps and apparently there’s alley ways for rapists and murderers to hide in. She’s not exactly the most reasonable person.

      Thanks for your suggestion anyway! Maybe someone else in a similar situation will read it and be able to use it. :]

      1. Ellie H.*

        My mom is the same way (I’m a female in my mid-twenties) but it sounds like your mother’s feelings don’t necessarily play a crucial role in the transportation difficulties, but are just an extra layer. I’m sure that walking to the bus stop is the most averse part of your trip, especially at this time of year, but the rest of the trip doesn’t sound easy to me either for an unpaid internship. I understand the value of internships to some fields but I think you might as well frame this as not being feasible even without your mother’s safety concern. If I were in your position and were really, really interested in the internship, I probably would have dragged myself to the interview even with walking to the bus stop. But I can also understand wanting to respect your mother’s wishes; even as an adult it can be very difficult to do something that you know a parent disapproves of even when you are confident in your different perspective on the situation.

  14. OP #4*

    It’s not so much respecting my mother’s wishes—if I had another way to get to the internship in about an hour or less, I would—it’s just that without the ride to the bus-stop, the commute goes from “tolerable” to “horrible.” (Your point about the weather getting bad now plays a big factor in that. I might be more willing to make the walk if it was spring time.)

    I’m unemployed right now and really have no hope of getting a job, so that’s why I’d be willing to go through a reasonable amount of hassle for just an unpaid internship. I really need to start getting experience if I ever hope to be able to get a job (or paying internships) someday, and it’d be really nice if I could do something productive with my time besides laboring over school work.

    1. jesicka309*

      I know this might not financially feasible, but you could work on getting a car and licence? It would solve your problem in the future, and most driving schools come to you.
      I only say this as I know people without licences and people with: the people without licences have lower paying jobs, and the people with are paid better, purely because they can be choosier about where they work.
      I’m sure there are reasons why you don’t have your own transportation, but it could be something worth investing in if you have the time/cash.

      1. Laura L*

        I would second the learning to drive part, assuming you are physically able to drive.

        Even if you don’t own a car, being able to drive gives you another form of independence.

        1. OP #4*

          I did get several one hour driving lessons and practiced a bit last year, but then had to stop because I was busy and the person I was practicing with was busy. I just started practicing against last week. So I’m working on getting a license, but I definitely can’t afford a car unless I found one that was only several hundred dollars. I won’t be able to borrow my mom’s car for anything more than a quick errand.

          1. jesicka309*

            That ‘s better than nothing you know, at least for a job interview situation. Keep at it! :) And good luck, I’m sure you will find yourself an intership soon (hopefully closer to home!)

          2. Laura L*

            Yep, that’s great! Even if you don’t have a car, being able to drive will be worth it in the long run!

    2. Laura L*

      Also, I completely get the weather thing. I used to work about a 30-35 minute walk from my office and I still took the bus half the time because of weather (too cold, too hot, rainy, etc.).

  15. Hooptie*

    # 4 – ” You don’t need to mention your mom” had me rolling. Obviously AAM has heard the mom references too many times to count!

  16. Anonymous*

    For LW#2… are the costs related to the pay, by percentage or even just banded? If so, you might find it more useful to compute your co-workers salaries, and determine if that information will be useful to you at your next annual review.

      1. Anonymous*

        Why? After all, if the knowledge isn’t useful, you aren’t required to disclose your findings.

  17. sara*

    Regarding # 5, and lately I’m really struggling with this question–HOW do you find a job when you’re working?! My hours are unpredictable, and when I’m working I can’t exactly sit and surf the web. I figure I can worry about the taking time off for an interview/taking phone calls bit later…..I just need to know how to search for a job when I already have one.

    1. jesicka309*

      I’m in Australia, but our main job search site (Seek.com.au) has an app on the iPhone that I check religiously. You can set up favourite searches with your specifications, and favourite any jobs you come across that you like, and look them up later on your home computer (using your log in). I check it every half an hour, and it updates with new jobs throughout the day! It’s good if you know you’re searching the same criteria each time. I don’t know if the US has an equivalent though…

    2. Anonymous*

      One suggestion: automate your searches. Get a gmail address for your job search and set up some automated Google searches that give you the kind of jobs you’re looking for, with the results sent daily to that account. Sign up for notifications from job sites, if you can’t simply use the site: or inurl: options for Google search to scrape them (This is why I suggest a separate gmail account. Industrial strength spam filters, and you’re not going to get job search spam for the next decade in your personal email.) Then when you have time, go through the notifications, follow up on anything promising, and tweak the searches for if need be. You can add in searches for certain news in your occupation that may signal an opening about to occur, eg, announcement of expansions, new initiatives, companies you’re interested in, etc.

    3. Anonymous*

      You take the time and do it anyway. Yes, it means using a lot of non work hours and possibly getting less other stuff done – its just the price you have to pay.

    4. sara*

      Just wanted to say thanks for the advice….I don’t know why I didn’t think of it sooner (automated job listings sent to my phone!). There are times when I need to know something specific….that’s why I love this blog!

    5. Miss Displaced*

      @Sara – I am also currently struggling with this and I’m glad you brought it up.

      It is terribly difficult to go on interviews while being currently employed! There are only so many “doctor” or “dentist” appointments one can go on without arousing suspicion (and believe me, I work for an extremely suspicious tyrant of a boss in a small office where every employee hour or action is duly noted).

      I’ve always tried to schedule interviews first thing in the morning or after 3pm in order to minimize any time away from my current job. However, of late I am getting a lot of pushback from places that only want to schedule interviews at midday times, which basically require me taking a whole entire day off as I couldn’t possibly explain being at the “dentist” for 4 hours. Currently, I’ve used up almost all of my vacation days for interviewing! As I only get 5 vacation days per year, you can see the problem.

      I’ve always felt bad about lying in these situations, and as all interviews seem to be conducted during normal 9-5 business hours, what can one do?

  18. Cnon*

    I can relate to the no driving issue.

    I can’t drive due to Cerebral Palsy.

    And as the OP says, it really has limited my job prospects.


  19. Anony*

    1. Company is acting like I’m already gone now that I’ve given notice

    I’ve sort of gotten that feeling when I was leaving my last team. I gave my 2 weeks notice and my manager who would always approach me with speical projects stopped doing so and would approach someone else to do it. Yea, it did bother me a little b/c like you, I was willing to work it out up to my last day, but my manager thought I would be “slacking off.” I agree with AAM, don’t take it personally. As long as you are leaving in good terms, that’s the best you can do.

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