short answer Saturday — 7 short answers to 7 short questions

It’s short answer Saturday — seven short answers to seven short questions! Here we go…

1. Having personal packages delivered to your office

I’ve had issues getting things delivered to my apartment (several items have been “delivered”… just not to me) and since I’m in a city there’s no back door or porch to leave packages (or doorman). How do you feel about having personal packages shipped to the office? I don’t mean all my Christmas and holiday gifts, but I’d maybe have something sent to the office once a month, particularly when a signature is needed.

I’ve always done this and think at most offices it’s completely fine, as long as it’s not daily deliveries that take up the time of the people in your mail room. I’d do it once or twice and see if anyone objects, or just ask whoever gets your incoming mail if they mind you doing it on occasion.

2. Which salary should I give?

I was recently laid off from a company because it went out of business, but for about a year and a half to two years before that, I (along with the entire company) was working on half-time pay (with commensurate half-time hours) due to poor sales and other funding issues caused by the economic crash. When asked by future employers about my salary at this position, do I give the full salary I was hired at (and that I received for half of my tenure there), the amount I was actually being paid at the end (since I was only working part-time), or something in between?

Give your full salary. If asked at any point to verify it, you can explain that the whole company moved to half-time hours when it ran into trouble but that your salary for full-time work was $X.

3. Is there any point in following up on the status of this job?

After a final interview, references checks, and an additional follow-up where I was told that the decision is waiting approval from the Board of Directors, does it benefit me at all to follow up again? I am getting mixed advice, I realize the only benefit would be to see if they have identified a timeline. Would it be better if I just sit tight and be confident that when the hiring manager hears I will hear?

Yes. There’s no way that you’re not going to hear about it if they decide to hire you, and meanwhile you should be continuing your job search unabated anyway, as you should always do when you don’t yet have an official offer that you’ve accepted. However, if you don’t have a sense of the timeline for when you’re likely to hear something, it’s certainly fine to get in touch and ask that (as long as it’s not right on top of your last follow-up; if you just checked in yesterday, wait a week before contacting them again).

4. Explaining why you left your last job, when it’s because you were dating a coworker

I want to know how to answer question, “Why did you leave your last position?” I left because I started dating a guy at work, which became serious and I did not want to work at same employer. No bad terms and I have never dated anyone from work before. Now we’re engaged. I was there one year, and I quit in September.

I’d just say, “A coworker and I got engaged, and I thought it would be better if we didn’t work for the same employer.”

5. Sharing work samples when interviewing with a competitor

I have a question that is broadly about protocol and expectations for interviewing with a firm that is a competitor to your current employer. I currently work for a professional services company that conducts strategic research on behalf of clients in a particular industry. I have been interviewing for a job with a firm that does consulting for clients in that same industry. It’s a relatively narrow field, so you can assume they’re competing for some of the the same clients, but the services they offer are reasonably unique.

With regard to providing competitive intelligence to the firm I’m interviewing with, is there a rule of thumb to keep in mind or a line I should be wary of in the interview? Would be unethical to send a copy of or excerpt from a report I completed for my current firm as an example of the type of work I do (and my writing abilities), or could this be seen as competitive intelligence for the interviewing firm? My concerns stem from a) a desire not to compromise the firm I currently work for and b) concern about whether the interviewing firm would view me as being an unethical employee.

Yeah, that doesn’t sound like the type of thing you should be sharing with a competitor. Basically, if it’s something that would be of benefit to the firm you’re interviewing with at your company’s expense, or if it’s something that your company wouldn’t share publicly, you can’t share it. I’d find a different writing sample to use.

6. Conflict of interest when a sibling works for a competitor

Can I be terminated for “conflict of interest” because a sibling works at or is a partner in a firm in the same industry?

Legally, sure. But practically speaking, it’s unlikely to happen unless there’s more to the story.

7. Should I quit my new job?

I recently moved to New York from San Diego in hopes of finding better opportunities to find a job in my career. I had spent the last two years in San Diego doing part-time jobs, having no luck landing a job in PR. I finally realized that I wasn’t going to get anywhere if I stayed where I was, so I decided to make the big move. Within two weeks of moving, I had interviewed for 2 jobs and had landed a job at one of the biggest agencies in the world.

It is such a great opportunity, but I don’t feel that it is a good fit for me. I don’t like the work I am doing, plus I don’t feel like I fit the company culture at all. The company rushed the hiring process and basically threw me in to projects without any real training. I’ve gotten my bearings, but I’m still not liking the work or the people. I really dread getting up and going to work everyday, which is unfortunate, because it really is a great company. I’ve been thinking of quitting, but I know how terrible that would look to both my current and future employer. I’d like some advice on the best way for me to go about deciding to quit or not. Should I wait a little while longer or should I just trust my gut and jump ship?

Instead of making the choice quitting vs not quitting, why don’t you instead start looking around again and see if you find another opportunity that seems like a better fit? That way, you’re not quitting with nothing lined up, you’re giving yourself more time to see if the current job gets any better while you look, and once you do have an offer, you can compare it against your current situation and decide which you prefer. That way, you’re comparing your current job against a real job, rather then your current job against “anything else at all.”

(And you can generally get away with one quick departure from a job, as long as it’s not a pattern in your career.)

{ 72 comments… read them below }

  1. Bob G

    Regarding sharing work samples, I wonder if it would be possible for the OP to simply edit the existing report to remove any identifying information on the client or her existing company’s intimate details.

    If not how about a report for a previous client? That way you are not providing information on an existing customer.

    1. Josh S

      I’ve been in this position as a freelance market research analyst. New clients want to see examples of my work, and my best/most recent stuff is still subject to Non-Disclosure stuff. And even if it weren’t, I wouldn’t want to share it–I did the work for Client A; it’s none of Client B’s business.

      That said, I have shared OLD reports/writings, as well as pieces published in trade press. Unless you’ve had major breakthroughs in your writing ability/style, stuff from a year or two ago should reflect your ability without giving up true strategic insights. After all, what company is currently facing the same strategic issues and competitive landscape that they were facing two years ago? (And if they are, I assume they’re in a stagnant/commoditized market, and aren’t really looking to differentiate strategically anyway…)

      1. Anonymous

        I’m not familiar with the freelance-type NDAs, but every employment NDA I’ve signed has been essentially for an indefinite period. Do you put in ‘expiry dates’ in your contracts?

        1. Josh S

          I do. I write them in if they’re not there. There’s no reason my work for Company A should be private forever when that research ceases to be relevant after 2 years. Otherwise, if I were ever to write something similar for a competitor of Company A — which is somewhat likely since I fall into similar writing patterns — I could be in trouble. If I do a competitive write-up of ConglomerateSuperCompany in 2010, and then am asked to do a similar write up for ConglomerateSuperCompany in 2012 for a different client (it’s happened!) I don’t want even a smidge of legal question in there. So I make sure the NDA on the project has an expiry.

          And I tend to write out/change/negotiate non-competes as well. I tell the client that I take ethical concerns very seriously, that I won’t research for a competitor in the same market that I’m researching for company A.

          But as a freelancer, I need to be free to, um, lance (?) for whomever I can. And that means I don’t sign non-competes that prevent me from working on dissimilar projects or dissimilar markets.

    2. Dorothy

      I have done this. I’m a lawyer and so other than pleadings that are public records, any research memos, etc, are confidential. I changed names and dates and locations (to something obviously made-up, like “Mr. X” and used it as a writing sample without any problems. With data analysis, that might be harder, I’m not sure if OP could easily mask the client and keep the data without providing enough info for the interviewer to identify the client.

  2. AdAgencyChick

    #1: Especially since you live in an urban area, you’re probably not the only one doing this. Unless your company has a rule specifically forbidding it (my husband worked for a place that did once, and he just ended up shipping his packages to MY office…bleh!), go for it. I think most companies that employ a good percentage of people who live in a city, understand that this will happen, unless of course they’re paying high enough wages for everyone to live in a building with a doorman (not very likely!).

    #7: Don’t quit without having something lined up, unless you’re independently wealthy and can afford to be unemployed for a while! If you quit, no unemployment benefits for you. Also, if this job was your big break into PR and you haven’t been doing it for that long — if you want to stay in PR, it’s not going to be easy to get another agency to consider you with just a few months’ experience.

    And, unfortunately, these days it’s not that uncommon to throw people into a role without much training. I think PR is like advertising in that clients are cutting budgets, which means agencies have to get leaner and meaner, which means that new hires aren’t made until there’s a desperate need (read: so much work that there’s no time to train the new person, plus your supervisor is too overworked to give you a lot of his/her time). I’d try to see how much you can pick up on your own even as you look for another job, because it may not be any better at the next place you go.

    1. Marly King

      I think most media jobs are like that – I know journalism is. The attitude is sink or swim, or at least at the newspapers I’ve worked at :P

      1. Anonymous Three

        Unfortunately, I’ve experienced this at 2 different agencies I have worked at, and it’s why I am trying to leave the industry. Just hasn’t been a good experience despite me giving it my all, and then some. I’d recommend really doing your homework before you join another agency so that hopefully you’ll be making a move to a better situation. I also agree with others who commented not to quit without something else lined up, unless of course you can truly afford it. Fingers crossed it all works out for you, I’ve been there and it’s not fun!

  3. Guest

    #1 I rent a mail box near home for less than $100 a year. The place is open late in the evening and weekends too. All my packages and registered items are delivered to that address. The mail box is also handy if you are a frequent mover and keep changing addresses. To reduce costs, a bunch of friends or family members can share one mail box – mine allows four names to be added at no additional cost.
    The hospitals I work for did not allow personal deliveries at work because the mail room handles a huge workload already.

    1. Anonymous

      The hospitals I work for did not allow personal deliveries at work because the mail room handles a huge workload already.

      I’ve seen that too. IIRC the hospital also took to sending out emails reminding people that coffee machines did not meet the live-saving requirements for using the red power sockets.

      1. Josh S

        I dunno. Have you seen the mistakes that an under-caffeinated RN can make? Maybe the red sockets are justified… ;p

        (I kid, I kid.)

    2. EngineerGirl

      I agree with renting a mailbox from a private place. My company discourages private mail and will open it to see what is inside (security issues).

      As a side advantage – it makes it harder for a stalker to find out where you live.

    3. AIT

      Do those mailboxes allow delivery to a non-PO Box address? Sometimes, when I order things online, they don’t deliver to PO Boxes.

      1. A.

        UPS and FedEx usually don’t deliver to post office boxes owned by the United States Postal Service. I’ve never had a problem getting packages delivered to a Mailboxes Inc or UPS store or anything like that. In fact, some of these places actually just give you a street address and number to be delivered to — like an apartment!

  4. Not So NewReader

    For #2. I usually get packages at my own home. One time I ordered something that the sender refused to allow complete delivery without a signature. It was several separate packages. So I had to have it delivered to my workplace. I let everyone involved with receiving know that I expected some packages, including the driver for the delivery. I explained the items and why I could not get them at home. It went fine, mission accomplished. My company was kind of uptight about this stuff, but they worked with me on it anyway. I think you’ll be okay.

    For #7- I can echo that statement- do not look for companies to train you. There is not a lot of training going on from what I am hearing and seeing. Even baseline training seems difficult for some companies. I fail to see the “savings” in that and I could go on and on- but will skip over it.
    I think a previous OP would like to know how you made the coast to coast jump. Congrats on that.
    Alison’s advice is spot on- the unspoken part is that you need to eat and pay your rent/mortgage. And she is advocating for you to be able to do that. Look around. Make lists- people you know, interesting companies…. you did the hard part: you made that big move. If nothing else this company helped in some manner- so you could do make the big move. Promise yourself that the next job move is going to be better for you. Then focus on your promise to yourself. It could be that this job is just a stepping stone to The Job for you.

  5. Chocolate Teapot

    I think the occasional parcel delivery is ok, but weekly Amazon deliveries and Red Cross food parcels is probably out!

  6. COT

    #1: Most places are fine with this, but just make sure that your orders are work-friendly (for instance, you might not want packages from lingerie stores, medical companies, etc. shipped unless they package discreetly).

    #7: If this company is so huge, there might be internal opportunities that offer different work and even a different culture. Most places want you to be established (and succeeding) in your current role before making an internal move, but start looking into possibilities. Identify some other roles, departments, etc. that might interest you and try to connect with people in those positions. Learn what they do and how they got there. If you have a good relationship with your boss, you might even be able to let them know that your eventual goal is to transfer to X.

  7. Wilton Businessman

    1. An occasional package is OK. I like to let the mailroom know that it’s coming. If you don’t have a mailroom, it may be a little more sticky.

    2. your full time salary

    3. definitely keep looking. If your status changes, such as getting another offer, make sure they know that you have to make a choice. Otherwise, I’d let it go up to two weeks before I followed up again.

    4. the truth is never a bad answer.

    5. If they’re an ethical firm, they won’t ask for examples of work product. That being said, not every firm is ethical. Your allegiance is to your current employer at this point.

    6. You can be fired for anything (as long as you don’t have a contract). It’s a pretty unlikely scenario, though.

    7. don’t quit. It is much easier to find a new job when you’re working vs. unemployed. Congratulations, you’ve found out early in your career what a bad place to work is. Sometimes people give up a solid career only to find out that not every company is a great place to work.

  8. Dang

    Re:#7

    How would you address that on your résumé? Leave off your current job? I am in a similar situation… Have been at a “new job” although technically a promotion, it was a department change with the same employer. Been here two months (previous very similar job but less responsibility for 2 years) and want to start applying, but not sure how to approach that on paper.

    1. Josh S

      So…you were Worker at CompanyABC for two years, and then you were promoted to Senior Worker at CompanyABC about two months ago?

      That’s not job-hopping. You’ve been with your current employer for two years.

      You do it like this:

      Company ABC Oct 2010 – Present
      Senior Worker (promotion) Sept 2012 – Present
      -Achievement! Look how awesome!
      -Responsibility relevant to the position I’m applying for!
      Worker Oct 2010-Sept 2012
      -Achievement
      -Accomplishment
      -Achievement
      -Awesome thing I did

      and then go from there through the rest of your resume. It might look a little bad that you’re jumping ship after the company recognized you with a promotion. But they’ll likely ask, and you can point to the change in department, or the new boss (tactfully), or whatever it is that’s making you want to leave. But don’t leave off your “current job”–the fact that you just got a promotion is a GOOD thing!

  9. SalesGeek

    For #2: I work for a very large IT company who competes with Microsoft. One of my former senior execs had a brother who had a very, very senior executive position with Microsoft (reported to BillG). This was never viewed as a problem by either company although he said that the discussion at their Thanksgiving family gatherings was always quite lively…:-)

    This went on for over 20 years until both finally retired. It’s only a problem if you share competitive information or use your relationship for insider trading.

  10. AG

    I guess it depends on the company setup, but nobody cared when I had packaged delivered at my last job, especially since I lived in the city where packages left on my doorstop might not be there when I got home! I usually risked it with mundane stuff but had anything important sent to the office.

  11. Jill

    Hi all,

    I’m the op for #3 and unfortunately right after I sent this to Alison I heard back that I didn’t get it. Thank god I kept looking because it took 2 months of my life to get to the final step before I got rejected.

    Thank you again AAM for all of the honest and accurate advice.

    1. Diane

      I’m sorry to hear that! Still, they liked you enough to advance you this far, so my magic 8 ball says your next job is just around the corner!

    2. Not So NewReader

      And they get a point for letting you know, rather than letting you hang on. Shows they respected you. Am sorry.

  12. Steve G

    #7 – What is the exact work you’re dreading? Based on this post I would recommend not quitting. The feelings you are having are absolutely normal for young people (are you in your mid 20s?) moving to NYC. I know NYC’s corporate culture is different than elsewhere because I moved here the week I turned 29.

    Companies in other places tend to lay on new work very slowly; often interesting work and work that gives you autonomy stays with managers or very tenured staff.

    The type of work that ends of at large corporation’s NYC office tends to require more autonomy and project management skills. You may often be given a huge problem and told to solve it, and the solutions may take months and require budget and customer meetings and work flow changes in your corporation and may ruffle feathers, etc. Outside of NYC your boss may may have given you the budget and given you a rough outline of how he or she would solve the issue. In NYC, it seems like there is always a larger fish for Mgt to fry and things are so high paced, that it is your responsibility to ask for a budget, and your choice to call and lead the meetings, etc.

    The change to this sort of culture can be very daunting and you may hate going to work because you feel you are being to told things you aren’t able to do. However, you are also being given autonomy and growth opportunities people elsewhere are dying for.

    Now maybe this isn’t your situation, but I thought I’d throw it out there.

  13. Marly King

    #7 –

    I’ve worked in journalism, and I’m sure how different it is from PR, but almost all entry-level jobs (including internships) seems to be a “sink or swim” type deal. It’s really frustrating to the new hire to have bunch of projects thrown at them, but because these media industries are so cutthroat and there’s such a surplus of candidates, it’s a way to quickly figure out who’s going to make it. I think you should try to stay on for at least a year because PR/journalism jobs in NYC are incredibly hard to come by — good job!!

    My first media job was as a sophomore in college when I got an internship at a business journal. Apparently, their budget was too small to hire another staff writer, so they decided to give me the staff writer job with an intern paycheck . . .. going from “reporting I” class to having 2-3 articles a week due with NO training was definitely “character building.” :P
    Also finish up the projects that you’ve been assigned before you quit – they’re great for building up your clips/project samples, and if you do just quit, you’re really screwing over another coworker. Sorry!

  14. Diane

    #7, I know it’s beyond frustrating to make a major move for a new job that isn’t going the way you’d hoped. As others have pointed out, it’s so hard to get another job in your field right now, and almost as hard to get training and nurturing in an understaffed, busy office.

    So my sage advice is to readjust your expectations and see this position as the one in which you learn the nuts and bolts of your field by figuring it out on your own, making mistakes, working hard, getting frustrated, making connections, and building your skills and patience for your NEXT job. If you can stick with it a year, I promise you’ll have primed yourself for something bigger and better. The only caveat is if it’s an abusive, poorly managed place –and even then, stick with it until you have something lined up.

    1. EM

      This is really amazing advice. I really think it’s a bad idea to quit a job with nothing lined up unless the job is seriously affecting your mental or physical health.

  15. KayDay

    #1 packages: This is probably fine; it’s really common for people to get personal deliveries at work (especially if they require a signature). But please don’t be the person whose entire salary seems to go towards weekly Amazon purchases!

    #6 conflict of interests: They could fire you, but it’s really unlikely. In my experience, conflict of interests is more about disclosure than anything else–if you are required to report the relationship, do so (check the company’s policy). Not reporting when you are required to is much more likely to get you fired.

    #7 don’t like new job: In my experience, most non-technical office jobs have little to no training, you’re expected to figure it out as you go. It’s unlikely that a new job would provide anymore training than your current job. It’s fine to keep looking, but don’t quit without anything lined up. Think of it this way: your current job is your training for your next job.

  16. fposte

    On #1: also, never have anything sent to the office that would embarrass you if it were opened publicly. There’s no right to privacy in this situation, and it’s easy for such a thing to happen accidentally.

  17. Lulu

    1. Totally depends on the company. Most places I’ve worked, it was a non-issue – I even had a boss who literally did get an Amazon package every day! Other places, particularly smaller or more rule-bound ones, might be more prone to take issue. I’d say look around, are other people getting random packages at work? Or just ask a couple of coworkers who’ve been there longer.

    7. What others said: training seems to be at a premium these days. Honestly, I’m not sure I’ve ever had a job where there was much/any upfront training, I’ve generally just had to ask a lot of questions or spend time figuring things out, which is inherently stressful if you’re under deadline. But it does appear to have gotten worse with this market.

    Also, in addition to the high-powered world of PR, you’ve chosen the high-powered environment of NYC. Take some time to see if you can figure out what exactly you’re responding negatively to. There’s a often big difference in work (and social) cultures between the coasts, even within the same company – if you’re used to relatively laid-back SoCal, it’s probably a huge adjustment dealing with life in the City. Ultimately, you may find that’s the part that’s not for you, or that it takes more time to acclimate than you anticipated (both to the city and the job). Or you may prefer a smaller company. If you do change jobs, you don’t want to jump from frying pan to fire. Definitely agree with the advice not to leave without something else lined up: not only are you not guaranteed to find your way back to PR easily (especially in NYC), these days you may not find your way in anywhere for a very long time.

  18. Seal

    #1 – As others have said check with the mail room or whoever receives the mail and make sure you’re not having potentially embarrassing things delivered in case the package gets opened by mistake. A former diabetic coworker used to have his insulin delivered to the office because he was afraid it would freeze if left outside his door at home while he was at work (this was in Minnesota). Given the circumstances, the mail room staff was happy to oblige.

    1. Emily

      Yes! I want to stress that it’s nice to *ask* the receiving department, rather than just tell them. If their job is to receive things for the company, they’re doing you a favor to deal with your personal stuff. They’d also know how many personal packages are too many in your company’s culture.
      Some companies do require receiving to open all the packages – knowing what’s coming in is important to making sure that purchased items arrive, and that a company’s inventory/assets list is accurate. It’s possible that your personal package will be opened unless you can pre-arrange with them.

  19. Jamie

    When it comes to the packages at work I agree that most places allow it and for many it’s not a big deal…but I don’t like the idea.

    There is just something about the shipping department/mailroom having an increased workload for personal stuff that rubs me the wrong way.

    Maybe it’s different if your set up is where you pick up your stuff and they are just signing…that probably wouldn’t bother me as much. But ours is such where they have to sign, sort it, and deliver it – so the way I look at it if everyone had 10 packages delivered (which isn’t a lot over the holidays) this would be hundreds of deliveries our shipping dept, who already works really hard and does a great job, shouldn’t have to make.

    I think it really depends on how much you’re inconveniencing a co-worker and that should factor into your decision. Mailboxes locations aren’t that expensive.

    1. K

      I think it also depends on how many people you have in your mailroom and how busy they are. Everyone in my office gets packages delivered because we all live in the city and it’s a nightmare to get them at home; but, I suspect that’s sort of a thing that was taken into account by our office when they staffed the mailroom/office services department, which is 3 people in an office of about 40 total. (Obviously it doesn’t constitute even a significant portion of anyone’s time but the staffing is such that it’s not viewed on as a hardship that’s forcing anyone to work late or at a frantic pace either.)

      1. Anon

        THIS. I work in an office with 600 employees. If everyone had one package/month delivered there, that would be an extra 30 packages/day for the mailroom to deliver. That is NOT okay (and in fact, there is a specific policy against it), and it is wrong to assume that it’s not a hassle for the mailroom people if your office is large enough to have a mailroom.

        If, on the other hand, you work in an office with six people, and it just means that the receptionist is going to sign the package and then yell over his shoulder for you to come get it, it’s probably okay.

    2. Elizabeth West

      I did the mail at my last job, and usually people would give me a heads-up if they were expecting a package. I would just buzz them when it arrived and they would come up and get it. Since I did the small shipping, I often had to ship their packages out, too. That got a little hectic around the holidays, but they usually had them already wrapped up and all I had to do was weigh them, make a label and print a courtesy rate for them to pay Accounting with. Took just a couple of minutes. I didn’t mind, and it made my coworkers happy (especially since we got the company discount).

      1. JT

        On the receiving side for packages: if the organization can handle this easily (just signing for it and setting it in a place) it’s costing the org less than the individual, who otherwise would have to arrange to be home or perhaps rent a mailbox. So that’s a job benefit with higher value to employees than cost to the organization – which makes it something to allow (within reason) if possible to make employees happy.

    3. KayDay

      It depends on the office’s mail set up–which you totally said; I just feel like sharing my example. Everywhere I’ve worked (our office suites have never taken up more than one floor) packages have been delivered directly to the office suite. I currently deal with the mail/packages (the responsibility comes with having the office closest to the door) and it normally doesn’t bother me to bring boxes from the door down the hall to someone. However, if there is one mail room that has to take care of all packages for a really large organization, then it would understandably be a problem if a lot of personal packages were coming through. But I still think the occasional packages should be allowed as a courtesy–it would be ridiculous for an employee to have to stay home just because they were expecting an important delivery. (baring some occupational exceptions, like the hospital for example).

      1. Jamie

        Right – I can see where it’s totally fine in some circumstances, as long as the people assuming the extra work are okay with it – as Elizabeth mentioned in another comment.

        In our building the people in shipping/receiving are almost a city block away (huge one level building) and they work so hard anyway I just can’t imagine asking them to add my personal stuff to the things they have to deliver.

      2. Ellie H.

        I get personal mail delivered to my office sometimes if it’s important. Like, I had my subletter mail a rent check to me at the office and when I recently bought a new cellphone I had it delivered to the office (packages just sit out on our front porch all day . . . which inherently suggests that they don’t get stolen, but I still worry). I had honestly never given any thought to this being inappropriate or extra work for mail carriers. I work at a university and the mail network for the entire campus is HUGE. There is so, so much mail circulating every day (both intercampus and US) that a few personal items are barely a drop in the bucket. Of course I think it’s legit for some workplaces to have a policy against it but I’ve always thought of it as one of those benefits of having a job.

    4. Jen in RO

      I’m curious: is this the norm in the US? I’ve never heard of a mail room around here (then again, I haven’t really asked my friends). I get all my packages at work, so do my coworkers, and the delivery guy either calls us when he’s at the building reception or when he’s at our reception. It’s extremely rare for the receptionist to pick up the packages, because in 99% of the cases you need to sign for them. If the receptionist does sign for you, she will call you and let you know to come pick your stuff up.

      1. K

        Depends on the office, but if it’s a bigger office that gets a lot of business mail or packages, it is the norm for all mail to go through a mailroom.

      2. Agile Phalanges

        It sounds like in your country, the addresse has to personally sign for packages? That’s not generally the case here. In fact, the delivery driver scans each package with his/her electronic thingie, then one person signs for all the packages in that load. So unless something was sent with the specification that only the addressee can sign (and they would have to show ID, and there’s an extra fee for the sender for this), it’s no extra work to SIGN for the packages.

        Of course, if the employee who signs is (or feels) obligated to deliver them around the office, then there is extra work. At my company, the receptionist often will deliver even personal packages if she’s already going that way and they’re not super heavy, but if they’re large, heavy, or numerous (and this is the case even if they ARE work-related), she’ll call to let you know they’re there, and it’s on you to go get them.

  20. EngineerGirl

    #7 really bothers me
    You are wanting to quit after only 2 weeks claiming “bad fit”.
    It appears that you don’t have a mentor to guide you
    I don’t see anything that indicates to me that you’ve tried to solve this problem.

    I realize that you are probably overwhelmed. But this is how it can be in the real world. It is rarely like school where they leave hints along the way. As previous posters have stated, it is a great opportunity for growth and gaining critical experience.

    First, you need to problem solve by going to your manager. Ask her about training ( they may have forgotten to tell you about materials)
    Also ask your manager about approach strategies. Write it down. Be explicit and detailed.
    Break you work up into sub tasks to get a feeling of accomplishment
    Created an interface document show the input and outputs of each task. Make sure that the output of the previous task matches the input of the next one
    Try to have tasks that canbe worked in parrellel. When one task is blocked (awaiting input) work on the next. Keep the project moving.
    Put it into a timeline to see if it works schedule wise
    Realize that it is an iterative process. As you go along you’ll learn new information that will cause you to update info you’ve already gathered. Good development has several cycles. As you become more experienced you will learn the right questions to ask the first time to cut down on iterations. But there will always be going back and checking with stakeholders.
    If you make a mistake correct it and move on. Try to make your mistakes before the final product.
    Develop practices that will catch mistakes early. Ask people how they “mistake proof” their work.
    Get a mentor. The best ones are happy to share their knowledge. Do NOT expect them to do your work for you. But it is reasonable to ask them to occasionally check your work ( key word is occasionally ) and ask them how they keep quality high.

      1. KayDay

        This is really great advice–for anyone, not just the OP. I’m doubly impressed that you wrote that from your phone!

        The only thing I don’t agree with is that I’ve found that it can be really hard to find a “mentor.” I’ve worked at places where a lot of the staff just didn’t want to be bothered at all by the rookies, so there isn’t much anyone can do to get mentored. Not sure if that’s the case here, but it’s a possibility.

        1. Not So NewReader

          If the mentor question is a problem- rather than asking a person point blank to mentor you, perhaps you can find two more people who seem open to questions. If you know you have asked Tom a couple of questions, leave him be for a bit and go ask Sue a couple questions. May this is not possible for your situation, though…

          1. KayDay

            I’m not talking about asking people point blank–I’m just talking about asking for questions, advice, or even for work to do. Sometimes staff just does have the time (or doesn’t care) to help out younger staff in their careers. (Former experience; my new boss awesome.) The OP didn’t given enough info to know if that’s the case for them or not, but it does happen.

    1. Bee

      Hi, Thanks for your advice!

      I wrote #7 and have been looking for guidance on how to handle this situation. I actually have a lot of experience in PR. When I was still in college I somehow snagged a full-time gig and got tons of great experience and was put in situations where I was given tons of projects and had to figure out how to complete them. Truthfully, that’s the best way to learn for me. I worked my way up from being an intern to running campaigns, and I wanted when I left that company, I wanted the chance to build on that experience. I somehow, snagged a job that is more social media focused. The projects are pretty straight forward and everyone puts a little bit into them to complete them. I’m just not very challenged and don’t feel as if I’m really learning anything new. Its been three months, and having been told during the hiring process that I would have training opportunities (actually, that’s exactly why I took the position. I was supposed to have started right away) it seems to be not coming up any time soon. I’ve already talked with my supervisor, her supervisor, and my department head (they really like to make sure everyone is ‘happy’) to see what other opportunities there are to get more experience, but it seems like this is the way it’s been and is going to be. I have learned that traditional PR is my niche, however, I just don’t want to burn any bridges leaving here when I just got here. In addition, I don’t seem to be meshing with the rest of my team. I know you don’t have to be best friends with your coworkers, but I feel like you should at least like them and be able to work with them. So far there has been tons of miscommunication between managers/project/team leads when giving directives and, quite frankly, some members of the team have been completely rude and not very interested in getting to know me and incorporate me into the team at all (since day 1).

      It’s not just one part of the equation, it’s the overall package that is not working for me. I’m just really confused and looking for a good way of handling things.

      1. Not So NewReader

        Ugh. Not a good situation. My last job was like that- where some team members were harsh. It took about a year and a half to get them to warm up. I deliberately went on a hunt for “pleasant people”. There were a couple. And we agreed that we made the workplace better for each other.
        What are the opportunities to make a lateral move inside the company? Is the whole place like this?
        Do your bosses know you are unhappy enough to make a move? It sounds conflicting- they want happy workers, but they promise things they have no intention of delivering.

        Sadly, I add to this “All you can do is change you.” We cannot change the job or the coworkers that easily. In the end, only you know how much you can tolerate and where it crosses the line to being a deal-breaker. I had my couple of friendlies and I focused on the work itself. A lateral move would not have worked out. So in my off hours I searched a new job.

  21. EngineerGirl

    I think your real issue is that they didn’t deliver on their promise of training. You need to have one last conversation with your manager agout that with a “how do we move forward on this” conversation. Don’t accept promises of training in the future (they’ve already failed on that one). You need something specific and tangible as proof of good faith negotiation.

    I suspect that there are still things you could learn from the social media side – it is always changing. Maybe you can focus on that for growth?

    As far as coworkers go, you are asking too much to have a like/not like situation. You merely have to get along. Get your real friends outside of work – they will still be there when you move to your next job.

    Communications can be a key issue. Are you being left off of e-mails and meeting notices? That is a biggie. Let your manager know if it is keeping you from doing your job. Write everything down. And if someone gives you a verbal directive e-mail them back “confirming” what was said. Then you have proof of direction.

    But really, if they made promises and aren’t keeping them then that is the real issue. You might want to ask your manager if you can transfer to another group within the company where that promise can be kept. It is very possible that you are in one of those sewer pit departments and a transfer will fix things.

  22. Cassie

    #1: We just got an email reminder that we are not to have personal mail (including deliveries) sent to the university – that the mailroom staff are supposed to only handle business work. Yeah, good luck trying to get the faculty to adhere to that.

    We sometimes order research supplies/components from internet vendors like Amazon or Buy.com so sometimes it’s not easy to tell if it’s a personal shipment or a business one. I’ve even had one student order a toaster oven from Amazon (he needed a heating source for an experiment) – I’m pretty sure if the mailroom opened that up, they would naturally assume I was getting my personal deliveries sent to work!

    1. KarenT

      I was going to say something similar. I once got a terse email from our mail room reminding me not to get personal packages at work. Having never done so, I was utterly confused! I inquired and they said they noticed I was getting a package from Amazon once a week. I was so annoyed! I work for a publishing company and was in charge of ordering competitor books.

  23. ECH

    Re: Having mail sent to work. I ordered a replacement tie-dyed lab coat as a Christmas present for a family member with whom I live (and thus who sees my mail), so I had it sent to work. When after a while I had not received it, I contacted the company who traced it to delivery at my workplace. After some more sleuthing, I found the wrappings in my boss’ wastebasket. I went hysterical and among other people called the postmaster, who said that it was addressed to my workplace my boss could open it. When I talked to my boss, he said he’d noticed the roll of Mentos that came in the package (a gift from the original company), thought it was a promo for Mentos and that he could keep it. Thankfully, he did return the lab coat which my family member now puts to good use.

  24. Zee

    #6
    My boss’s has two siblings working for competitors. I have never heard my boss say if any of them were afraid of losing their jobs due to the entire family having the same career. If just so happened one company hired one sibling, another hired one, and so on to the third. It’s probably more common than we realize.

    1. Anonymous

      And probably safer too – if they all worked for the same company, and it goes under, the whole family’s in financial trouble.

  25. Shoshie

    Ooh! I can be helpful! FedEx and UPS both allow you to re-route package deliveries to a nearby store location. FedEx does it for free and you just need the package slip. UPS charges $5 and you have to sign up for a free account. It’s so useful if you live in an apartment and aren’t home during the day.

  26. AIT

    RE: 1. Having personal packages delivered to your office

    I still don’t think personal items should be delivered to a workplace. Work is for work. Plus, I have ordered items before and ended up getting subscribed to catalogs not only from their store but to other stores as well. Imagine getting those delivered to your office!

    1. K

      I think your “work is for work” approach makes sense if you’re working 9-5 pm. Given the choice between me getting a package at work and staying (and billing to a client) an extra hour, and me leaving right at 5pm to go to Mailboxes Etc. or the post office, I can guarantee you my office would prefer the former. And whatever few cents it costs in increased mailroom costs is swamped by the extra they’re getting in client billables (and that’s true even if I just stay an extra 15 minutes instead of leaving to get a package).

      As for catalogs, I guess I don’t see why that’s a big deal. I’ve gotten subscribe to, like, a Lands End catalog before (never at my office address, but I see people receiving similar at the office all the time). And it seems fairly common sense not to get your Victoria’s Secret packages shipped to the office . . . .

      1. Agile Phalanges

        I once ordered a shipment of clothing from Lane Bryant (a plus-size store) to my office instead of my house–I wasn’t sure they’d use waterproof packaging, and my porch is exposed to the elements. It was something mundane like jeans and/or a top, but now my work address is on their mailing address for catalogs, which usually feature lingerie VERY prominently. Oops. I think I’ve successfully removed the work address from their list now, and am careful to only have them ship to my home address, regardless of weather, anymore. Lands End is one thing, but having bra ads all over your desk (especially from a “fat lady store”) when you’re out of the office, whether it’s for an hour or a week, is not cool.

        But yes, I often take advantage of my company’s generous policy of allowing us to receive (and send, at our own cost but using the company discount) packages. UPS and FedEx leave them exposed to the weather, and USPS often tries to jam them into my personal small mailbox (cluster of boxes down the street), or else they get put into the larger box, which often works out okay, but sometimes there aren’t enough larger boxes and they leave it on the porch, too, or hold it until the next day, or whatever they have to do. Occasionally, I’ve needed a delivery to be signed for (rented camera lenses online), so it’s nice to know that I don’t have to wait at home all day for a delivery.

  27. Rana

    #7 – If this is not applicable to you, please disregard, but I wonder too if the reason that your job is looming so large in your life right now is that you’ve moved to a big new city and haven’t created solid non-job support networks yet. I’ve moved a lot myself, and often the work (or lack of said) seems worse when I also lack friends to gripe about it with or do fun non-job things with. Just a thought?

  28. Sean

    I agree with #4 because if I were an employer I’d actually be impressed that you were willing to give up a job because you didn’t want there to be complications should something happen between you and the guy you’re marrying that would cause issues at the workplace. Probably even more impressed that you didn’t get him to quit and instead decided you’d be the one to leave. Anyway, congrats on the engagement and have a wonderful wedding!

  29. Cath@VWXYNot?

    #1: I’ve done this at every job I’ve had and it’s never been a problem for me. However, one guy at the lab where I did my PhD ordered an antique thermometer from eBay and had it delivered to work. It arrived with the person’s name and address written really, really strangely, and the mailroom guys could feel all the tubes and the liquids sloshing around inside the package. They thought it was a pipe bomb and called the police. We all had to evacuate for two hours in the rain while the bomb squad investigated and finally blew the package up in the car park…

    1. Jamie

      I’ve been evacuated for a bomb scare before, too. I was temping and in that case it was a disgruntled employee who phoned in a threat. 3+ hours in the parking lot…why they wanted to pay a temp to sit there and listen to Steve Dahl in my car for hours I don’t know…but they did.

  30. some1

    For whatever it’s worth, receiving a personal package or any personal mail at work is not a big deal.

    Keep in mind, though, that I have worked places where the mail room folks, the receptionist or admin are required to open every piece of mail, or also the policy of when in doubt if something is personal or business, you open it.

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