tiny answer Tuesday — 7 short answers to 7 short questions

It’s tiny answer Tuesday — seven short answers to seven short questions. Here we go…

1. Fired and asked to train my replacement

I am in a situation at my current job where the owner has already hired my replacement. I’ve been there four months, but she brought me into her office the day after Christmas to let me know that “this isn’t working out” and had a replacement in by that afternoon! She posted my job behind my back twice, has generally micromanaged and disrespected me as an employee, and clearly has no qualms about letting someone go on a whim. I agreed to stay on for the time being to train my replacement, but I’m at the point now where I just want to make a clean break. I am planning to relocate out of state anyway in a few weeks, so my question is this — is it okay to simply leave this job now? This owner will literally push me out the door as soon as she feels that the new person can take over the role — why put myself through the stress of helping her out when I may end up on the street in a few days anyway?

Well, ethically, there’s no reason you shouldn’t leave right away. She’s the one who told you that you’re being fired; it’s not a resignation situation where the professional thing to do is to give notice. You’re allowed to exert some control over when your last day will be, and there’s nothing wrong with saying, “Given our conversation and since I’ve only been here four months, I think it makes sense for today to be my last day.”

However, why not try to get something for yourself in exchange for training the new person? Specifically, you could agree to train the new person in exchange for a couple of weeks of severance pay (more than that is unlikely after just four months of work) or guaranteed pay through a specific date. (Get this in writing if you agree to it though.)

2. Do some companies have too many job openings for their size?

Do some companies post too many job openings for their size? Just an example, back in September I applied to a new posting for a company and still haven’t heard back one way or another. My question doesn’t revolve around my own status, though — I’m over it and pressing on with more applications. However, this company’s website says it employs 1200 people, but there are 149 open listings (including the job to which I applied three months ago). I am guessing that a company of that size has too small of an HR department to effectively sift through so many applications. Or, they have filled these positions and haven’t closed them out on their site. I know every company differs, but I’m wondering if job seekers should even bother applying at companies that have months-old postings since that may be indicative of a slow-moving hiring process.

There’s really no way to know from the outside; I definitely wouldn’t assume that you shouldn’t apply for a job just because the opening has been posted for a long time. It could be that they’re hiring multiple people for that role, all with the same title, or that someone was hired but didn’t work out, or that the hiring was put on hold for a while but has now restarted. Or, yes, it could be that they’re inefficient — but there are so many alternate explanations and no way to know which it is from the outside that I’d avoid trying to read anything into it.

I also wouldn’t assume that they don’t have enough people involved in hiring to do it well — that’s another thing you can’t usually tell from the outside, at least not without more interaction with them.

3. Rejected but asked to interview for another position

I had a very interesting experience recently. One of the employers I interviewed with (a very large company) asked me to come in for an interview. My interview lasted about 4 hours. I was confident I did well. I was told I was one of the top candidates. A week later, they called me and told me they decided to go with anther candidate, but the HR representative said she would be more than willing to help me look elsewhere in the company. She suggested another position very similar to the one I interviewed for elsewhere in the company. The position she suggested was a more senior role. The hiring manager for the position i first interviewed for also went out of his way to act as a referral for the position the HR rep suggested.

I am very thankful to both of them for their help, but I am a little lost! Have you heard of similar scenario before? What should I expect? Is it a good sign? Why would they decide not to offer me a position but than assist me with another role within the company? I do not believe I was overqualified, so I ruled that out.

Yes, it’s a good sign. The fact that you didn’t get the initial position doesn’t mean “you suck and we’ll never hire you for anything.” It means “someone else was a better fit for this particular role, this particular time.” And in a market where most job openings attract tons of well-qualified candidates, that’s very common. So of course they might think that you’d be a good fit for something else, despite not getting the first position. Assume you can take them at their word — but also know that you might not get this second position either, and don’t assume that the HR rep and hiring manager’s involvement means that you have a leg up over other candidates; assume you’re a regular candidate like anyone else.

4. Should I remove volunteer work from my resume because it’s unrelated to the jobs I want?

I was laid off about 2 months ago, and the job hunt hasn’t been going so well. Part of my problem is that I have horrid interview anxiety. I previously thought my resume was pretty good, but something happened recently to make me doubt it. Someone I used to work with recently looked at my resume and told me that I should take off my volunteer experience in Haiti (I lived there for a year working in an orphanage) since the work I did doesn’t apply to the work I am looking for. Should I take it off and have a gaping year and a half hole in my work history?

No, absolutely not. If you were supposed to remove all experience unrelated to the job you were applying for, lots of people would have nearly blank resumes. Leave the work on — both because it prevents you from having a gap for that time period and because it’s interesting work that plenty of hiring managers would be interested in hearing about. And ignore this former coworker’s advice on job hunting.

And as for your interview anxiety, read my (free) interview prep guide — there’s a section on nerves that might help.

5. What should I think of this hiring timeline?

I had an interview two weeks ago. It seemed to go well and the interviewer told me that they were planning to make a decision before Christmas and that if I didn’t hear from him by the following Friday, I should email him. I sent a follow up “thank you” email after the interview, to which he responded saying that he was going to try to schedule some follow-up calls later that week, before Christmas. I was a little surprised that he mentioned that yet he didn’t actually ask to schedule a followup call/second interview with me.

Anyway, when I emailed him at the end of the week, he responded saying that they hadn’t made a firm decision yet and were hoping to decide soon. He also mentioned that they might be looking to fill two positions and that he would let me know about both.

I know it’s the holidays and deadlines may have been pushed back, but what do you make of this? I’m inclined to think that it’s a good sign that he’s keeping me in the loop and giving me updates and information about the hiring process. However, the fact that he never asked to schedule a second interview with me is a little disconcerting and on top of that it’s past Christmas, which is when he said they wanted to make a decision by.

There’s nothing too unusual about this — hiring processes often take longer than the people involved in hiring think that they will, so that’s normal. I wouldn’t read anything into the rest of it though — he might be keeping you in the loop simply because he’s polite and responsive, for instance. The best thing that you can do is mentally move on. When they have something to tell you, they’ll let you know. If you haven’t heard anything by mid-January, you can always check back in — but if they want to hire you, they’re not going to forget about you.

6. Will employers hold it against me that I couldn’t do internships in school?

I am an undergraduate in my penultimate year and I have recently begun to focus on my career after graduating. Your blog has been invaluable thus far, and my resume has improved considerably after taking your tips and advice into account.

I just have one quick question for you. I have noticed that most resume advice aimed at my age group places a lot of emphasis on volunteer work and work experience. Money has always been tight for me, so I have always had to seek out paid work rather than internships and volunteer positions. I have primarily taken on bar work, but did work for a software company last summer and hope to do something similar in a different area this summer. Unfortunately, my priority at the moment has to be earning enough to support me through my studies rather than taking on a job that might be relevant or otherwise beneficial to my future. Is this likely to count against me when applying for a job after I graduate?

With some employers, yes. In a crowded job market, employers have a lot of candidates to choose from, and so many are going to prefer the ones who already have some experience working in an office job. If there’s any way that you can do an internship or two before you graduate, it’ll probably put you in a stronger position once you’re job-searching. Of course, if you absolutely can’t, then you can’t — but I’d explore all options (including paid internship, jobs in campus offices, and very part-time volunteer work) before concluding it’s prohibitive.

7. Applying for a job in one location when you’d like to work in a different one

I’ve been kicking my job search into high gear in prep for the new year, and have been searching for new places to contact. I found one company with an entry-level position I think I could be good at, there’s just one issue. The company has two offices: a main office in Chicago, and a second office in eastern Tennessee they opened a year ago. The position is advertised for the Chicago office, but I live much closer to the Tennessee office and would prefer to stay in the area (for several reasons including family ties.) On one hand, I’m a little worried that if I send in my information and get their interest, then say I’d like to work for their other office, it might make me look a little presumptuous. On the other hand, part of me says “What have I got to lose?” and thinks if I apply, it’ll function a little like a cold-call and at least let them know I’m here, I’m available, and I’m interested. Should I even bother, and is there a way to tactfully mention this either in my cover letter or (fingers crossed) the interview?

I contacted the company through their Twitter and asked if they planned any openings in the Tennessee office, and all I got was a vague: “Can’t say! Keep checking back, you never know.”

You can certainly apply for the Chicago position and if you progress in the interview process, can ask if there’s any flexibility on location at that point. Don’t say, “I absolutely won’t work in Chicago,” because then, yes, it’ll look like you ignored their instructions and potentially wasted their time, but it’s fine to say that you’re open to working in Chicago but would love to stay in your current area if it’s possible. (But keep in mind that there are plenty of reasons why the position might be need to be based in one office rather than the other, reasons that you might not be able to perceive from the outside.)

{ 52 comments… read them below }

  1. jesicka309*

    #3 I had a similar thing happen at my work with an internal move.
    It would have been a downward move, but I’ve hit a plateau in my current role, and I’m only one step above entry level anyway.
    I went for a specialised sales assistant role, interviewed, and told I was one of the top candidates by my HR rep, but ultimately they went with someone else with more admin experience. However, the HR rep said that she would put me into the interview pile for a generic sales assistant role they had open, which had more data entry and clerical work and was more in line with my experience. I was happy with this, as I had hesitated going for that role knowing I was a top candidate for the previous role. She said that in no way it guaranteed me an interview, but she would strongly reccommend me to the hiring manager as I was internal (this is a role with a high turnover – people come in with unrealistic expectations of the job, something I did not have).
    Weeks went by, and I finally emailed the HR rep to ask what had happened. I finally got a response – they decided not to proceed to interview with me, as I did not have enough ‘data entry and clerical experience’.
    I was completely gutted – my previous job title was a ‘chocolate teapot CLERK’ and consisted of nothing but data entry. I knew an interview wasn’t guaranteed, but the reasons given stung more than not getting the interview. And in all my networking with the sales team, they always lament that they wished they had someone like me as their assistant, and the hiring manager keeps hiring duds who quit.
    HR said they would talk to me again after their current round of hiring finishes, so I’m assuming they’re keen to keep me at the company….but from what I’ve seen, they STILL haven’t hired anyone for the sales assistant role, and I was put out of the running two months ago.
    It’s great they are trying to reinterview you, but if they keep giving you the run around (yes, we have a role open, come in and we’ll chat! Actually we aren’t hiring for that anymore, but we’ll keep your resume on file…WAIT we are creating a new position, I’ll get back to you!) it is pretty demoralising. Do you want me or not?

    1. Yuu*

      jesicka, I’m curious – when you put your resume into the second pile, did you let the people in your network know? Next time, ask those people who say, “we’d love to have you,” to put in an email to the hiring manager saying they think y ou’d be a great addition to the team. As an internal candidate, it should get your app to the top of the pile at least.

      1. jesicka309*

        Ah, but there had been a bit of drama with the first application. The hiring manager in that instance discussed the decision with his team -whcih totally makes sense. But then one member of his team went and told people in my department that I was in the running for the job, and this got back to me. I was mortified, especially when I didn’t get the job in the end.
        HR were ‘not impressed’ and the people involved were disciplined as internal applications are supposed to have a degree of ‘confidentiality’ so I can at least come to work without my coworkers knowing what’s happening. I didn’t even tell until after I found out I had missed out – Ijust mentioned I wasn’t happy that people in my department had found out, and they figured out who on their own.
        So I was pretty hesitant to reach out to my sales contacts the second time, because of the recent fresh drama about the first application.

  2. Noelle*

    #6 – I was in a similar situation in undergrad, but there are a few options you can look at that might help. First, some schools offer financial assistance to their interns. My school gave me a small stipend and had an arrangement with a school in the city my internship was in (Washington, DC) so I got free housing on the school’s campus. I also had an internship with flexible hours, so I would work only 3 days a week from 7:30 to 3:30 and then got a job as a server on evenings and other days of the week. I ended up getting great job experience and actually made a lot more money as a server in a big city than I did in previous years working in the town I’m from. Good luck!

    1. Anonymous*

      I feel your pain, I had 2 jobs in college and at one point had 2 internships on top of that! Depending on what you are going to school for, some work-study jobs can be incredibly relevant to your major. Additionally, a lot of places will let you intern for only 5-10 hours a week during the school year… on top of that, some volunteer places only require a few hours one day a week— which most people can definitely fit in!

  3. saro*

    Regarding question #6: I remember writing the following on my college-era resume:

    Worked 30 hours each semester while maintaining a *** GPA

    I did do internships and volunteer work though, part-time and during the school year for credit.

    1. A teacher*

      In my original field, which is not teaching, it was also common to put funded x% of education via means of funding along with the work thing you mention. My parents helped with school but I still couldn’t afford to do an internship. Summers meant 3-4 jobs and the school year was one job and 20-30 hours of clinicals a week on top of class. Luckily I had a graduate assistants hip which is common in my field for grad school round one that also gave me more experience.

  4. AG*

    The poster for #3 should be thrilled! It happens a lot (at least to me it’s happened several times) where they told me (and I agreed) that I wasn’t a good fit for the position but that we should stay in touch in case another position opened up. In fact I just interviewed right before Christmas and this happened, and I’m waiting to hear back from HR (dang holidays!) about another position. You shouldn’t think of it as getting “rejected” necessarily, you could think of it as being offered another opportunity.

  5. Not So NewReader*

    OP#3- I could be misreading your question… They offered you a more senior role? Did you have your heart set on the job you applied for and not the senior role job? I am trying to understand why that wouldn’t be a good thing. I think I would be pretty excited, unless I wanted to move in a different direction. Again, I could be missing pieces of the story here.

    OP#6 Try, try, try to find relevant internships. Even if you limit yourself to paying internships that are with in eye sight of where you want to be when you graduate. (A very narrow target, in other words.)
    I did not do the internships. (Way too much commute time for classes.) It hurt me. One reason for that is there are not a lot of jobs where I live in GOOD economic times. I could have used the internships to get a leg up. Like Alison said- if you can’t then you can’t. But I encourage you to keep an eye on what internships are available. If something special comes along – go for it.

    1. KarenT*

      I think #3 wasn’t offered a more senior role, but rather offered a chance to interview for it.

  6. AdAgencyChick*

    #1, I think it depends on whether you plan to list this job on your resume at all after you leave. If you do, since you agreed to train the replacement, I think you need to hold to that agreement (unless your boss clearly pressured you into it, in which case you can go back and say that you felt like you were under duress to say yes, but that upon more careful consideration you think you should be paid severance in exchange for the training, or upon consideration you don’t feel you can do it any more). Not that it sounds like you can count on this boss to be a good reference, but if you list it on your resume, hiring managers in the future will try to get in touch with her, and you don’t want them to hear, “Not only did it not work out, but OP didn’t do what s/he said s/he would do at the end.”

    #3, I’m on the other end of this all the time! It’s quite common that I will meet someone who clearly has a strong resume and achievements, but his/her personality wouldn’t mesh well with the client’s, or perhaps his/her experience is good but better suited to another team’s than mine. In that case, I might pass on the candidate myself but not want the ad agency to lose out (good writers in my field are hard to find!). So I’d recommend that candidate for another opening that’s more suited (assuming there is one). In fact, usually the in-house recruiter takes care of that for me, and she’s already considering candidates for multiple roles even when they first walk in the door. (Which means I then have to fight other hiring managers for the ones I want, but them’s the breaks!)

  7. EngineerGirl*

    #6 – lack of an internship isn’t a negative so much as having an internship is a huge positive. Try to get one if you can, even if it is part time.

    You do have relevant work experience, and you should emphasize it. Also, were any of these jobs leadership roles? Focus on what you did with each task.

    I like what Saro wrote about working X hours a week and maintaining a Y GPA. It shows an ability to juggle multiple tasks and to perform time management. Make sure you get credit for your hard work!

    1. OP #6*

      lack of an internship isn’t a negative so much as having an internship is a huge positive

      Ah, thinking about it that way makes me a lot happier, thank you.

      I was training to be a an Army Officer for two years before I got injured out, and all of my bar and kitchen jobs have involved management positions, so I’ll be sure to play that up.

      I like Saro’s advice too. I had to work so hard to get to Uni at all that completing my course and getting a really good grade has to be my priority. Hopefully I’ll be able to put that across as a positive in interviews.

      Thank you.

  8. Elizabeth West*

    6. Will employers hold it against me that I couldn’t do internships in school?

    I can’t do internships either, and the program I’m about to do has a requirement, I think. But the director told me that there are remote possibilities, which is good (it’s a writing program). In that case I might be able to do it because I can do it off-hours. I’ll just bust my butt to edit and query my newest book before I get to that point, since I suspect I’ll have very little time. But I can’t take an unpaid job like that. I just can’t. I have a mortgage and no help.

    #7– This one hits too close to home. >:'(

    1. Asker of #7*

      I know. I found the job, saw I fit all the requirements, and I was overjoyed. Then I saw it was for the Chicago office, and I felt like Wile E. Coyote when he finally looks and realizes there isn’t any more ground under his feet.
      I’m sending it anyway, since I don’t really have anything to lose.

      1. Jamie*

        I’m a little confused – do you want to apply to the Chicago office just to get in the door, but you have no intention of taking a job unless it’s in Tennessee? Or are you willing to relocate to Chicago, if you got the job, it just isn’t your first choice?

        If it’s the latter I strongly agree with Alison that you shouldn’t mention you have no intention of ever working in Chicago – because that may well get you blacklisted from jobs in Tennessee as well.

        And I know every area has it’s merits and this has nothing to do with anything I feel compelled to point out the awesomeness of Chicago (overall). We have some lovely and delightful people here. :)

        1. Laura L*

          “And I know every area has it’s merits and this has nothing to do with anything I feel compelled to point out the awesomeness of Chicago (overall). We have some lovely and delightful people here. :)”


        2. Asker of #7*

          It’s not that I wouldn’t mind working in Chicago eventually (and I know it is awesome there,) it’s just right now it’s not the most ideal thing. I have two elderly relatives who are in bad health and depend quite a bit on me. If things took a turn for the worse, it would take about a 90-minute bus ride and a 45-minute drive to come back home instead of 8 hours from Chicago.
          Whereas with the Tennessee office, I’ve lived most of my life around the area, and I’d have a support system of friends and relatives that would make me feel more comfortable (I have an aunt nearby that I could live with until I get settled, for example.)
          If my decision only affected me, I’d take the Chicago job in a heartbeat, but since it’s going to have a pretty strong ripple effect, I can’t make too big a splash.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        I say that because someone’s insistence that east Tennessee is the ONLY place he wants to be is one of the reasons our relationship ended. Not that there is anything wrong with eTN, just the inflexibility and the focus on that. :'(

  9. mh_76*

    I agree with AAM – no, don’t remove unrelated volunteer work. It shows that you haven’t been idle in the time that you’ve been in-between jobs. Also, in your search, you are likely to encounter people who are interested in your vol. work, people who’ve benefitted from the type of work you’re doing, and people who do/have done the same/similar vol. work.

    In two of the vol. things and a “micro-job” that I have (Largh National Non-Profit, local Marathon vol…I live right on the race course, & local Election precinct), I’ve been promoted into the leadership ranks, which looks good on any resume (though not the primary objective) even if it doesn’t pay much or any money (which I need badly).

    If you’re doing a lot of vol. (and/or paying “micro-job”) things, should you put everything on your resume? Debatable. I don’t put all of my vol. or “micro-jobs” things on my resume. Music stays off mostly because people will assume that I’m an aspiring professional musician (nope, I’ll stick to amateur) who practices for hours a day (um, pass) or that I’d rather not have a paying job (I’d still want to work even if I won a huge lottery jackpot) or a bunch of other silly things that I don’t want to have to explain away. It’s also frustrating to have to explain what a concert band is or what a chamber group is. Also off-resume are the occasional day of helping out something or other, ushering (groups aren’t high profile but are wonderful), and the time I worked (paid) a concert as a stage manager. I do have on-resume my “micro-job” working at an Election site on-resume because of the importance of Elections and because I’ve been promo’d.

  10. BW*

    #3 – Yes! This is how I got my present job! The first position I interviewed for went to an internal candidate, but a corporate recruiter contacted me 6 weeks later when a new opening came up for which she’d thought I’d be qualified for. I had to go through 2 rounds of phone screen and a 1/2 day of interviewing all over again (new team, different people). So this does happen. Good luck!

  11. Stacie*

    #6, there are plenty of internships that DO pay. I would try to apply to only those that do. You could (most likely) still supplement that with non-related work. Maybe I’m biased since my (paid) internship led straight to a full-time job offer, but I think having relevant internship experience is a huge boost for job searching after graduation.

  12. Chaucer*

    Speaking of internships, how hard is it in most places to get one after you graduated? I have been trying to intern since I graduated, as I have become interested in certain fields after graduating, but I find that a lot of them in my area will only take current undergraduate students. I am curious if this is something that is simply more prevalent in my area as opposed to other states, or if this is the trend nationwide.

    1. Holly*

      In my experience it’s a little hard – but if you seek out paid ones, it’s a bit easier because they’re not required to take on current students the way unpaid ones are. I didn’t have any internships in college, but I landed a paid one at a nonprofit (communications, which is my degree) a few months post-grad because they advertised the internship as “great for recent college grads.” You might have to wade through a lot of postings to find one that will do it, but they’re not impossible.

    2. AJ*

      I’m a recent college grad and continued to apply to internships (as well as full-time work) the same way I did as an undergrad. I found that even if the company states that they prefer current students, they will still take you into consideration. Just make sure that your resume makes it clear that you are no longer a student.

      1. Chaucer*


        Unfortunately, the majority of internships that I find say explicitly that they will only take current students. I have called a few of them and tried explaining that even though I already graduated I am interested in interning, even for no pay, but they say that they can’t take graduates as interns at all, with no exceptions. In the case of the last company that I interviewed with for an internship that would allow graduates, I found out they really only wanted free labor, as the position I was trying to get was previously a paid position that was eliminated due to budget cuts. The position wound up being pulled after the university received a few complaints.

        I did call my university’s career services for help in finding internships that would take graduates, but the only response I got was, “yeah, most employers only take students as interns.” Yes, thank you for being totally helpful.

    3. Empy*

      I did not intern in college due to similar circumstances as the OP. I tried to look for full-time employment (using ‘worked 30 hours per week in a leadership role while maintaining X GPA’ advice in the cover letter). It was also an out-of-state job search. It went nowhere fast.

      I decided to swallow my pride and apply for internships (in the city I wanted to live in) to see if that went better. In the same week I got two phone interviews for one paid and one unpaid internship. Both knew I was no longer a student. I ended up getting the paid part-time internship–and even though it’s a small stipend I am very excited. I happily move next week!

      So, tl;dr, it is possible and has given me more confidence as of late! With a good resume and cover letter, I think post-graduation internships just require a little luck finding the right company!

    4. TL*

      If you think this may be a problem, see if any community colleges nearby have internship courses that you can register for. They’re usually not “real” classes that require any classroom time – they’re just courses that students sign up for in order to get the appropriate credit for the internship on their transcripts. You could then legitimately call yourself a student who’s getting college credit for the internship, which would ease any worries about legality on the part of the employer.

      1. Chaucer*

        @TL: that’s an awesome suggestion! I’ll check out the community college when they open from Winter Break. Thanks!

  13. For OP 6*

    It sounds like you might be an IT/CS major? If so, the jobs in the hospitality industry could be seen as a nice balance to the more analytical work in your field. You’re building solid customer service skills and experience.

    Whether or not this is not the case, focusing on your academic performance and building relationships with the faculty in your department is something you can do (if you aren’t already) in lieu of internships. Maybe there are contests/awards opportunities for academic work at your school for which you could submit a paper or project? You want to show commitment and progress in your field of study.

    1. OP #6*

      I’m an English major, but I am hoping to work with software companies as a non-technical project manager (I’m looking into computing courses as well, but it’s the project overseeing rather than the build itself that interests me). I do think there are a lot of skills that working behind the bar and as a waitress has taught me. I ran a kitchen in a busy pub when I was sixteen and it taught me a lot, so hopefully I can put that across in my favour.

      There are some faculty awards and events that I could submit to, yes. I hadn’t thought of that at all, so thank you for that.

      1. Jamie*

        Out of curiosity, if it’s not the build itself that interests you but PM in general, why do you want to go into software?

        I know several PMs at different software companies, and all of them have technical backgrounds. I’m not in software, but I wouldn’t work under a non-technical PM for a technical project.

        That can be a tough niche to break into without technical skills…but if your interest is in PM it’s easy to broaden your scope later.

        1. Schmitt*

          My company is a website agency (fairly complicated sites, not just wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am) and our project managers all have non-technical backgrounds. That works out just fine, as they are lovely interfaces between end users and programmers.

        2. OP #6*

          Perhaps I’m using the terminology wrong. I meant that my interest is in the managing of the implementation of software and the liaison between the software company and the customer, rather than in managing how the software itself is designed and built.

          I worked for a software company over the summer and one of the things that interested me was how many set up meetings our company had to have with the customers to make sure everyone was on the same page, since the technical people and non-technical people often struggled to communicate their objectives effectively. I think there are advantages here for non-technical PMs, since it’s generally easier to communicate with your own team than with customers.

          I do see what you’re saying though, and I will bear it in mind when I come to job hunting in the future.

          1. Anonymous*

            Ah, what your describing sounds more like “product” management, or perhaps even a technical sales role.

  14. Johanna*

    #3: Beware that this isn’t an attempt on the part of the recruiter to hire for a duff job that others more knowledgeable (eg internal candidates) have turned down.

    I hate to be skeptical but I’ve seen it happen – typically in large organizations with very busy recruiters. If they’re desperate to fill the post they may not check to see that you’re really right for it – so make sure that you are.

  15. Sara*

    #6 – Another thing to consider about internships is that they are only partially about the work experience. They are also about building your professional network, which will provide a greater amount of assistance in finding a job following graduation. If you are unable to fit an internship into your schedule, it may be worth looking into whether there are any professional organizations in your field/area you could join as a student member to start cultivating some of those relationships.

  16. anon-2*

    #1 – if you can do so, find the egress as soon as possible. Now, there are some exceptions to this – if a substantial severance is to be offered, that’s a different thing entirely. But with only a few months’ time in, and they’re telling you “we don’t want you, but we want you to train your replacement before we fire you.” I would feel very uncomfortable being around a situation like that.

    #3 – it sounds like a very progressive company. It looks like they don’t work a pig-headed “one strike and you’re out” system. It also looks like their management actually reads the cover letters and resumes, and acts on them. The only time I would be wary is if you went in for a certain level position and they try to push you into a lower position – this was very common in the IS/IT boom days of the 70s-90s. If they didn’t lure you into the interview under false pretenses, it’s probably a good thing to pursue if it interests you.

    1. OP #1*

      This is good advice, and ultimately what I’ve decided to do. I attempted to establish a set time frame for my remaining time at the company, but that was essentially met with a ‘we’ll see’ sort of answer. I don’t personally find that to be acceptable, and makes me think that the owner will literally get rid of me the second she thinks she can get away with it. I’m planning on handing in my office key and cutting ties immediately.

      1. anon-2*

        To OP #1 – it is, of course, remember that it’s much easier to find a job if you already have one.

        Remember to leave them – professionally – do not just suddenly quit (unless you are being threatened, or behavior on the part of management is so unprofessional that it’s completely intolerable)….

        Do not play “down” to management’s level, if they decide to take a low road with you in your notice period.

        I have often told professional colleagues that the happiest day of my 40-year-career, hands-down – I was in a place, was on probation about to be fired, and I found another job with a 35% increase, better benefits, and was in a higher technical position doing exactly what I wanted to do.

        While my management did get a bit unprofessional in their actions on the last day, I kept my cool. I only gave a ZZ-Top “wave” when one co-worker was yelling at me while I was walking out the door.

        They even counter-offered to get me to stay, but I suspect they were doing that to complete the firing process. They never expected their “bad guy” to move up the ladder….

        1. Anonymous*

          My read on this is that OP has ALREADY been ‘fired’, but is being kept on to train a replacement. In this case, it doesn’t really sound like quitting to me.

  17. Anonymous*

    For #6, I shirked paid work in favor of internships when I was a student, and I got absolutely nothing out of it. The main year long one I did wasn’t really in my field (internships in my arena are few and far between) but it was office work doing similar kidns of tasks for a different purpose. The shorter ones actually were in my field. Get to job hunting to find 1) no one cared about the longer one because it was too generic 2) no one cared about the specialized ones because they were too short 3) A LOT of employers explicitly required previous experience to be paid. It took me well over a year to find a job.

    So, no, maybe working in bars isn’t going to impress people, but an internship just for the sake of having one really might not either. It has to be a worthwhile internship.

  18. anon in tejas*

    #6. I was posed this question in an interview before. I worked through law school, because of some personal issues (my parents cut me off financially because they didn’t approve of my partner). I needed to work instead of participate in extracurricular activities like moot court, mock trial, law review, etc.

    I was very honest. It was really hard to say. But I stated that I wanted to do those activities and I had a talent for some of them. But due to my financial situation, I couldn’t. I told them that my parents choose to stop helping me financially, and (my partner) I put myself through school. It was a littler personal to divulge that information. But I am glad that I did. I got a few questions and positive comments from the interviewers regarding my choices and how it turned out. I ended up shortlisted for the position, but I did not get it. I don’t think that it hurt me.

    1. some1*

      I would just tell interviewers that your finances required you to work while going to law school. Your parents cutting you off and why is TMI, given that it’s not unusual for people to not get tuition paid for by their parents (given, it’s usually due to parents not having the financial means to do so), especially after under-grad.

      1. anon in tejas*

        It’s a bit of a long story as to why my relationship with my parents came up, but I was stressing in the interview that I was from that area geographically. It was an unusual situation, but sticking with the truth is the best way to go without cutting yourself short.

  19. OP #6*

    Hi all,

    I just wanted to say thank you to Alison and all the commenters who have offered their advice. I’ve got a lot to think on and work with here and I’m very grateful. It’s good to hear from other people with different experiences as well.

    Just to add a little about me: I was in the Officer Training Corps (it’s part of the Army designed specifically to aid university students in commissioning; I think the US equivalent is the ROTC, but it doesn’t map exactly) for the first two years of uni, but had to leave a few months ago due to injury. That was paid, fortunately, but took up all my ‘free’ time, and I would chose to take on further military tasks over the summer both because they were paid and because they were furthering my career prospects at the time. I do have experience in leadership and various other things from that, but otherwise, it’s left me in a bit of a mess financially and in terms of work experience. It’s also left me a little out of my depth when it comes to the ‘real world’, so this blog and its community are massively helpful in working out what to do.

    Going forward, I think I’m going to look for internships with fewer hours and see where that gets me, since it will allow me to do paid work on the side. That’s a good solution and I’m not sure why I haven’t encountered it before.

    I’m also going use the advice about explaining that I have to support myself through Uni if I’m asked about my relative lack of volunteer work in interviews.

    Once again, thanks for the advice everyone!

    1. Anonymous*

      Don’t discount your military experience! Yes it was brief, but probably just as productive (or even more so) as any internship.

  20. Anony*

    Re: #6. Will employers hold it against me that I couldn’t do internships in school?

    It sounds like you are working but just not in something related to your field./major. Yes it might help if you could land an internship in the field you want to get into, but as long as you are working (even if it’s totally unrelated) then that itself counts as work experience. I know students that don’t even work at all, but it’s better to have something than nothing.

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