my intern was promoted above me, turning down relocation help, and more

It’s seven short answers to seven short questions. Here we go…

1. My intern was promoted above me

I have been in my current position for two years but have been with the company for three years total. An employee who has been my intern for the past year has been promoted to a position that is above my current position.

I am upset and think its probably best that I find a new job. How should I handle this? Should I talk to my boss to ask why or what I could have done better? I’ve always done a good job and have made my boss look good with no major errors throughout my time working for him. I was blindsided by this news and feel its a slap in the face. I would appreciate any advice you could give me about the next steps I should take.

Well, first, step back, take your emotion out of it, and ask yourself if you can see why the intern was promoted. Is she fantastic at the work? If she hadn’t started as an intern, would you have thought her a viable candidate? You want to take your ego out of this as much as possible and really look at the facts.

After that, yes, it’s certainly reasonable to talk to your boss and say that you’re feeling a little awkward about your intern being promoted above you, and that you’d like to get a better understanding of what you yourself can do to move up in the organization in the future.

I’d hold off on deciding to quit until you’ve had a chance to talk to your boss and let this sit with you for a while. It’s likely that this wasn’t intended as a slap in the face to you at all, but that there were actual business reasons for doing it. Your focus now should be o getting a better understanding of what they were — not from a defensive stance, but from truly seeking to understand it.

2. My coworker keeps answering all my emails in person

Every single time I email my coworker, instead of her responding to my emails, she walks over to my desk to respond. Today she just walked over, pulled up a chair, and started talking! Never mind the fact that I was in the middle of working on something else. I work with a lot of spreadsheets and numbers and I really have to focus on what I’m doing. When she interrupts me, it takes so much time for me to get my focus back. People in this office seems to have a culture of this walking over thing and I really hate it, but this person is by far the worst as she does it several times a day. I’ve been here for about 10 months and I’m the newest one here, and I’m not sure how to address this with her.

I cannot even express how annoying and distracting it is for her to constantly walk to my desk with every menial question and comment instead of just replying to my emails. How can I get I her to stop doing this and to just respond to my emails?

“Oh, I’m sorry, I’m right in the middle of something and can’t talk. If you’re able to send me an email, that would be easier for me right now — but if not, then when I’m at a stopping point with what I’m working on, I’ll let you know and we can talk.”

Repeat as needed. After you do this enough, most people will get trained to stop walking over and interrupting you.

Alternately, if you’re comfortable being more direct, you can say in a apologetic tone, “I tend to get really focused when I’m working with spreadsheets and it can be hard to be interrupted, so email is usually the best way if something isn’t an emergency. Or we can set up a time to talk if it’s not something where email makes sense.”

(If this were your boss or someone else above you in the hierarchy, you’d need to approach this more delicately, but that doesn’t sound like the case here.)

3. Did I make a mistake by turning down relocation assistance?

I was hired for a dream position. It is cross-country, but exactly what I want (also, my fiance had already moved over there a few months prior to my interview). While applying and interviewing, I used my fiance’s address. However, I was always upfront that I was in the process of moving (which is true; I had given notice and three-quarters of my stuff had already been moved with his relocation stipend).

They offered me a rather large sum for relocation assistance. I was a bit surprised by that, because as they offered it, they pretty much repeated what they already knew — that I was already three-quarters moved, thanks to his stipend. When they asked me how and when I wanted my relocation stipend, I honestly replied that I hadn’t even considered it as a possibility, especially since my fiance’s firm already had paid for most of our move. After that chat, the formal offer came in, and notably the quoted sum of relocation assistance was omitted in the text (with a small note that if the move wasn’t fully covered by my fiance’s job they could provide for additional costs).

After some quick math, my fiance figured the only thing not really covered by his stipend was the transit to get me out there. I mentioned that to my company, and quickly received a second offer with a modest sum that I suggested (but not the whole amount they initially offered) to fix that problem. I signed — mostly relieved. Mostly.

My only concern is this: Just how unprofessional did I just make myself look by doing this? I am sure that in many people’s eyes this shows me to be a total twit in some regards (after all, I just left multiple thousands on the table, but not enough to really change my financial status in any great way). However, I honestly did not see a way to handle this differently without being wildly misleading. How much reputation damage have I caused at my new place of work? Do I look clueless, foolish…or perhaps (I hope) just honest?

You just look like you’re honest and have integrity. There’s no reputation damage here at all. Think about this from their side — it would be bad, not good, if they thought that you had tried to milk them for relocation assistance that you didn’t actually need.

4. My sublessor is using his job to threaten me

My question is a little outside the realm of the blog, but I thought you might be the best one to ask:

I’m subletting with a friend from someone who it turned out is not entirely sane and actively tries to intimidate us and make us feel unsafe. We move out at the end of this month so it’s becoming a non-issue, but he works for a law enforcement branch of the government and is using that position to make threatening statements about what he can and will do if we don’t do what he wants. He is also copying someone from the same office (using their government email) on our interactions. I can’t decide if this is something worth calling the agency he works for about. I know that if I were in this agency I would absolutely want to know if someone was using their position to make threats and intimidate people but that could just be me. I don’t want him fired (well, I wouldn’t mind) but I would like the powers that be to know this is happening. Is this worthwhile or am I wasting my time?

I’d absolutely want to know about this if I were that guy’s boss, and I bet his agency would want to know too. Most employers do not take kindly at all to employees using their positions to threaten people in their personal lives.

My only caution to you is to think about whether you’d be further inflaming an already volatile and possibly dangerous situation, and how you’d handle it if this sends him over the edge.

5. Are all the religious institutions on my resume turning off employers?

I’m in my early 50s and want to make a career change. I have a solid work history and an Ed.D. The problem, I think, at least for many, is that my work history is in religious institutions, and my education is from religious institutions (all regionally accredited).

I think my education and experience are a big turn-off to most hiring managers. Even though my degrees are legit, and I have many transferable skills, I imagine my resume is automatically put in the “no thanks” pile. Is this correct? And, if so, what can I do about it?

It could be — rightly or wrongly, some hiring managers will worry that you’ll have trouble shifting into an environment where religion isn’t front and center, or that you might bring tricky-to-manage religious issues into the workplace.

I’d talk explicitly in your cover letter about why you’re seeking to move away from working in religious organizations (without getting into religious tenets or shifts in religious beliefs or anything else likely to make employers feel that they’re now more privy to your religious beliefs than they should be). Just a few sentences — but do address it up-front, because they’re going to be wondering.

But beyond that, I’d put a real focus on networking, even more so than usual. People who already know you, or who know people who know you, will be less likely to initially define you by this stuff, and more likely to see the fuller picture of who you are and what you bring.

6. Questions that stop you (me) dead in your (my) tracks

Have you ever been asked a question that you ever regretted having to answer (other than this one)? Something so completely off the wall (but perhaps valid) that it actually made you stop dead in your tracks?

Plenty of questions make me stop dead in my tracks (like this one or this one), but those tend to be the ones I most like answering. I do get plenty of questions I don’t answer, though — usually because of lack of time, but sometimes because I just don’t have an answer. The nice thing about being the blog owner is that I don’t have to answer anything I don’t feel like answering. I hope never to be put into some sort of prison work program where I have to answer every question sent to me.

7. How can I get a job doing art?

I graduated about a year ago with a BFA in Fine Arts (animation and illustration) and since then, I worked at Best Buy for about six months because I had moved back with my family in the suburbs and there really is nothing else there but retail, and I do not have a car. Jobs I have had before that were other retail jobs at similar large department stores and some waitressing jobs.

Now I have moved to Chicago, where there are more opportunities and transportation. I have been told that I am a great artist, but I have never had art-related jobs in the past. I haven’t really had any sort of community/volunteer/exhibitions either, since my work is cartoons for the most part. I haven’t done too much freelance work either. Looking back, I wish of course that I had thought ahead and gotten into the loop, but at this point I am 24 years old and looking for a foot in the door of art-related jobs.

I know I have done wrong by myself not to get into this ahead of time, but do you have any advice as to how I can better my chances of getting a job in my field without a good list of past experience and work? It’s not that I am bad at what I do, but it’s a matter of proving to the employer that I can do the job well if just given the chance. I assume that just flat out writing in my cover letter that “I would really like to get the ball rolling with starting my art career” isn’t a very good idea and that they won’t be interested in taking on some sort of apprentice. But what else can I do here?

Art is a really competitive field, with more people who want to make their living at it than there are jobs. I’d look into internships and volunteering, so that you have relevant work on your resume and build a portfolio. You might also connect with your school’s alumni office to see how they can help — if they’re selling BFAs to people, they should be helping them use them to get jobs afterward.

Do not go to grad school, for all the reasons here. What you need is work experience, not more time out of the workforce — and art degrees are notorious for being expensive without (usually) making you more hireable. (Anyone from the art world want to disagree? I’d love to hear from you guys on this.)

{ 181 comments… read them below }

  1. EngineerGirl*

    #4 – a legitimate agency would be VERY interested in this.
    First, make both soft and hard copies of the emails and get them to a safe place away from your housing (trusted friend etc)
    Second, get your computer away from your house
    Third, as much as possible get your belongings away from your house. Especially your records and important info.
    THEN I would try to find the ethics officer or internal investigations and contact them. You need to explicitly state:
    That you are currently in housing controlled by him
    He has threatened you and you are terrified of retaliation. Ask if you can remain anonymous.
    Forward ALL the emails

    It’s actually good he’s cc’ing someone. This is “discoverable evidence” and the company is required to keep it.

      1. Jessa*

        Very good advice especially the part about getting critical things AWAY from the house ahead of time.

      2. EngineerGirl*

        I wouldn’t wait. There’s too many random variables. Better safe than sorry and moving things now has a low cost & effort with high potential payoff. What’s to be gained by staying?

        1. Colette*

          We don’t know that the OP has anywhere to go now, or anywhere to store whatever stuff she has there, or a truck/help to move right now.

          If she’s not safe, she should absolutely find somewhere else to stay, but moving is not usually something that happens instantly. If it were three months away, I’d agree she should speed up the timeline, but the end of the month is so close that may not be possible.

    1. Liz in a library*

      This is great advice. I find it absolutely baffling that the person he is cc-ing seems tacitly OK with him threatening you. Get out of that situation as quickly as you can.

      1. Anon*

        The person he is cc-ing may not actually exist or may be a friend. Sometimes people do that as a further intimidation tactic to discourage the victim from reporting (thinking that he’s “approved” to do this).

        1. fposte*

          That’s what I was thinking–sockpuppet cc: to make it look like he has people on his side. (Also known as “the lurkers support me in email.”)

          1. Ellie H.*

            Yeah, also, I’d imagine this is the exception not the norm, but some places actually let you set up dummy addresses that forward to yours (e.g. if your email address is, but most people call you Jenny and might get confused you can make up to forward to yours, assuming jenny.smith isn’t already taken). Or more likely it would be totally fake and he gets a bounceback every time he cc’s the fake address, but it still looks legit to the other recipient of the email.

      2. OP #4*

        So it turns out the person actually works there, we called the switchboard last night after hours and were connected to his desk phone so it’s definitely a real email… but the idea that he is using it to help the scare tactics is definitely on target.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      Abso-freaking-lutely. There are procedures in place to deal with this.
      If you’re not feeling safe, I would wait until you move out. Or try to leave earlier, if possible.

  2. Mike*

    Not an artist but with regards to #7: I work at a game company that employs quite a few artists with illustration and animation skills. The mobile game space is expanding and there are a lot of smaller game companies throughout the world. Might be a good place to start.

    1. College Career Counselor*

      #7, do you have any student work that you’ve exhibited? Any significant studio projects? Can you set up a website with examples of your previous animation and illustration/cartoon work?

      Beyond that, I absolutely recommend that you talk to the alumni office and/or your school’s career center to see if they can assist you with connecting you with other alumni in the field, or if they have contacts or suggestions for starting points. Yes, you may have to start with an internship or apprenticeship, but the sooner you have something art-related on your resume, the better. Have you thought about looking into arts administration or arts education management opportunities as a transitional move? While they’re not doing art per se, very often you can find positions that involve working or teaching in arts (and which allow you access to materials and other resources that may be useful to you).

      Finally, I would take a look at Chicago-area arts organizations to see if any of them have job or internship listings that appeal to you. For putting yourself out as an independent artist, I would look at the non-profit website, which is run by artists to assist other arts in developing and managing their careers. Good luck!

      1. Former Art Student*

        That is all great advice…I got my BFA in pottery last year, and fortunately our program required 2 classes in the business of art – how to set up a portfolio, market yourself, etc. To the suggestion of making a website, I’d add that I found it very helpful to have my own simple business cards with the website listed, for when you may meet someone who might be interested.
        It’s very important to network with anyone related to art you can find. Go to art events, volunteer, etc. Check with your friends, who may know someone who needs just what you can offer! This is how I landing a teaching job and a job as a potter’s assistant, and am loving it.
        Most of all, you have to be proactive – you’ll have to work twice as hard as regular job seekers to find the right fit for you.Best of luck to you!

        1. anon...*

          good advice. I would add: set up a linkedin account – from there you can join industry related groups, follow companies (even if far from you), see how others describe their experience and positions, post your work and connect to those with similar backgrounds. I would advise when contacting those you don’t know to let them know WHY you want to connect with them. Don’t leave the generic I want to connect with you message intact. Be sure to at least say ‘I want to connect because of X’ and ‘thank you’. Good luck!

    2. SB*

      My husband is a graphic designer, but I’ve noticed that a lot of jobs under that description and under the description graphic artist that are really looking for someone who can draw. If you have Adobe Illustrator experience, there are several jobs out there with ad agencies, record labels, corporate offices, you name it. I live in Atlanta and with Turner and Cartoon Network here, there are several illustrator jobs available.

      1. AdAgencyChick*

        Alternately, OP, do you have any skills using graphic design programs (InDesign, Illustrator, etc.)? Many, many people I know in the advertising world make a solid living doing graphic design while pursuing fine art on the side. And if you can draw as well as use graphic design programs, that’s a huge plus.

    3. AP*

      Art world here – Allison’s advice is great as usual. Unless you go to a really, really high-end program, a grad degree will not get you in the door the way an internship or volunteer experience and portfolio will (and the high-end ones will put you in debt until you’re 90.)

      More ideas – Mike’s suggestion is great. I once dated an illustrator who worked at a Photoshop studio doing retouching, which I thought sounded awful but he loved it, and there’s some opportunity in that field. But either way – find an internship, volunteer somewhere, do free work for your friends (bonus there – since they’ll be promoting their projects all over social media, they will be indirectly promoting your work as well.)

      Also – if you see a place that you’d really like to work at, just email them and explain why, even if they don’t have any open jobs posted. Being sincere, but not a total fan-boy, can open up doors.

      And of course, of course, of course, you need a website with your portfolio if you don’t already have one. SquareSpace is very cheap and elegant and design-focused if you need help setting one up.

  3. jesicka309*

    OP #2 While it can be annoying to be constantly interrupted like that, sometimes you need to know your office. If everyone else is perfectly okay walking to each other’s cubicles to chat, then you’re the odd one out. And unfortunately, you may be the one that has to adapt to the culture – the whole office is unlikely to change their communication habits for one person.

    Definitely try Alison’s advice for that one person that is particularly persistent and hopefully she’ll let up a bit, but be prepared for the majority to continue.

    1. Rana*

      One option, if this proves to be an intractable part of the office culture, is to save up your questions and limit the number of emails you send to this person. That way you’ll get fewer interruptions. It might also be useful to include a note at the beginning suggesting good times to talk to you in person (so you’re more prepared for her inevitable appearance) – if that doesn’t work, try timing the email you send for either later in the day, just before lunch, or right after you get in.

      1. Cat #2*

        +1 – I was about to comment to say the same thing. Let’s say your eyes are a little bleary from spreadsheets at 3pm and you’re looking for a break… push send then (or hey, walk over and ask HER the questions in person, and then you’re in control of when the conversation ends because you’re the one that can walk away). A little manipulative, but in a productive way :)

        1. majigail*

          +1 and I don’t think manipulative at all, instead you’re meeting her where she’s at. I work with someone who is naturally verbose, in person and in email. It takes her 4 times the amount of time to compose and edit an email than it would to walk over and say what ever it is needs to be said.
          Now, there are somethings you might need documented in some way, email in the office is great for that.

    2. Anonymous*

      #2: I would be your co-worker, emailing Alison in this scenario, saying “my colleague, who sits in the same office as me, keeps emailing me instead of talking to me. It’s so frustrating when he could just speak to me and save a lot of time. I don’t understand why people want to email someone in the same office as them. How can I get him to stop emailing me all the time?”

      I think AAM’s personal preference for emailing makes her blind to the fact that a LOT of people prefer to just talk to people, and find emailing someone who works a 20 second walk away pointless and frustrating.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I’m not blind to that. I’m certainly aware of it. But when someone emails you, walking over and plunging into conversation with them (particularly if they look busy) without even establishing if it’s a convenient time for them is inconsiderate.

        1. Anonymous*

          True, but the OP talks about “this walking over thing” as though talking to someone is weird and disruptive, instead of being the main way that human beings actually communicate with each other. I’m not averse to email (I’m of a generation that has used email since I entered the work-force) but its taken over the way we communicate and I think some people have forgotten how easy it can be to just resolve something with a five minute conversation, instead of endless emails back and forth.

          1. straws*

            It can definitely be easier to have a conversation, but sometimes it just isn’t practical. I work in an office where stopping by with a ‘Hey, got a second?’ is typical, and I never thought much of it. I could easily say ‘No, how about in 15 minutes’ and move on. Until we hired someone just like the OP’s coworker. Even an email with ‘Can we meet on this around 2pm?’ would end up with a walk down the hallway instead of a ‘Yes’ or ‘3pm would work better for me’. Usually by then, I was immersed in something else and it was highly distracting. This wasn’t a once a day thing over something brief. It would be 5 or 6 times a day, 30min+ each time. So yes, sometimes it’s easy to talk in person, but there are also situations where you’re taking up hours of a person’s day when a quick email back would have been sufficient. Also, it’s not weird, but it IS often disruptive. Especially when you’re working on technical spreadsheets. It sometimes takes me a full minute just to come back to the ‘real world’ when someone walks in!

            1. workinmom*

              I prefer email just bc it documents the issue. I had years worth of email to delete when I left a job. People lie-forget etc. reminded them.

              1. Allison (not AAM)*

                This. I prefer email for the documentation. And note, the offending coworker is not just coming by to give an answer, she’s pulling up a chair! My work has always involved a lot of concentration as well, and after interruptions or distractions, there are times when I’d have to re-start the task that I was in the middle of prior to the “simple conversation.” The email response gives the needed backup as well as the opportunity to read the response at a less-disruptive time. I agree with Alison, saying it’s not a good time is the right thing to do.

              2. straws*

                Good point. There were multiple times when I wished that I had documentation of those 30min+ conversations. My memory is Not Great, so sometimes I need the reminder just for myself!

                1. Bea W*

                  In those cases, what you can do is quickly summarize the conversation in an email document any decisions of timelines or just as a reminder and send it to your co-worker. Some people actually request this even just to have as a reminder. In other cases, the conversation has led to a decision or information that needs to be documented for future reference.

            2. Question #2 writer*

              @Straws – YES, that is exactly how I feel! I keep all my tasks organized in my inbox and it helps me track all my activities, prioritize and make sure to get everything done. It also gives me a reference to look back on when I finally switch roles and get to whatever tasks she & I might be corresponding about. When I send her these requests, i would like for her to respond and then I can put it in my to-do list and come back to it later; The e-mails are not sent for her to walk over, interrupt me, and have my focus split between whatever I was doing and whatever she is talking about. I feel that she imposing her preferences and need for an immediate response on me and it’s rude and inconsiderate. I am the only one in the office that does the type of work that I do and it requires much more “tunnel vision” than what other people are working on. Unless it’s an emergency (and it never really is) she should not feel okay with continually interrupting me when I’m obviously very engrossed in time sensitive work. Although the office is chatty on the whole, as I said before no one interrupts others in the way that she does. Even my boss understands the complex nature of the things that I’m doing and she rarely interrupts but this one person just doesn’t seem to get the message.

              I do like the idea of walking over and asking her questions for an immediate response. I have tried that method but even in doing that, it still takes me away from the things I’m working on and often leads to her coming back to my desk with more questions, comments, feedback at an inopportune time.

              1. Bea W*

                Scheduling time for her might be a good option rather than leaving it to more informally walking over one way or the other when a question comes up. It sounds like no matter what, you will need to take time to either answer questions or ask questions. You can’t change the way she is. You can only mitigate its impact on you, and it could be that clueless is the way she is. Your boss understands how sensitive your work is because she’s your boss. Co-workers who do other functions don’t always get it.

                I understand the whole inbox as a reminder to to do things. I do that as well, but it isn’t your co-workers’ responsibility to help maintain the integrity of your personal task organizing system by expecting them to communicate with you in one specific mode. That is similar to complaining about her imposing her preferences on you by constantly coming to your desk to communicate with you. If you are unable to keep the interruptions to a minimum with the advice here, speak to your manager about your concerns and ask for her suggestions or help on mitigating the distraction so you can get your other work done.

            3. Elizabeth West*

              It’s not practical for my job either. Most of my colleagues are remote, including my boss.

          2. Anon*

            OP isn’t trying to say that communicating face to face is weird and disruptive, she/he is saying that walking over immediately to talk when contacted by email is disruptive, which it is. There’s a distinction there.

            It’s been discussed here that email is often more considerate because then the person can respond when they have a free moment, and not immediately just because you force them to. That’s what’s so disruptive. Think of it as though you were reading a book – you might be able to stop every couple of pages to type out a quick text, and that wouldn’t be terribly disruptive, but if someone called you that would take up all of your attention and you wouldn’t be able to read. It’s not that someone calling is inherently “weird and disruptive,” but that you were trying to read.

            1. Bea W*

              Even in this scenari0, unless you can simultaneously keep reading the book and text at the same time, you have to completely divert your attention from one task to another. You aren’t actually multitasking in that case. You still need to stop reading the book to read and answer a text message.

              Having one interruption vs many would be preferable to some. YMMV. Actually, that is what the OP is trying to accomplish, not having to stop every couple pages to type out a quick text (or stop to speak to a visitor). It’s not that face to face or voice communication is more rude and disruptive than text communication. It’s the quantity of it as well, and then the timing.

            2. Kou*

              I could see it in the sense that, at the moment you send the email with the questions, you’re probably working on it. So if she sees it right as you send it, she’s assuming you could use that information right at that moment and it’s not interrupting anything.

          3. The Other Dawn*

            Having people walk over can definitely be disruptive, especially if it’s just to answer yes or no to a question that was emailed. I email my boss all the time and he’s in the next office. Since he’s the CEO, I know he’s very busy and would be pretty pissed off if I walked over there in response to every email he sent. If I have something time-sensitive I will walk over there, but if it can wait and it’s not a “discussion”, why not use email?

        2. anon...*

          I work in a very small office and my boss sits directly behind me – about 8 ft + the width of his desk. It is way easier to just turn around and ask a question (after making sure he is available) BUT I’ve found that He is way more likely to give me complete answers if I email him. Yup, I email him from a few feet away. It’s annoying and ridiculous to me, but he seems to work better that way. And I do this even if he is just sitting around bs’ing (which is most of the time). YMMV

      2. Jamie*

        Im not being snarky, im honestly curious whenever I see these comments about how people should walk over and talk rather than email in the office…what kind of jobs allow for this?

        I dont understand the proximity argument. It doesnt matter if you’re 10 feet away, if you are interrupting someone’s concentration because you have something to say.

        What kind of job is it where youre sitting there ready and available to any interruption and to switch gears. Except for information booth I honestly cant think of one.

        If I’m in deep focus in analysing data, or trying to fix my code because the math is bad its a HUGE distraction if someone plops down and wants to talk about some non-time sensitive thing. Why would their need to get a question answered immediately (for non-emergencies) trump my work?

        I just really am curious what kind of jobs people have to want to walk and chat instead of email.

        1. VictoriaHR*

          I blame magazine articles that tell people to get up and walk around and talk to coworkers instead of email/phone, to get some exercise in during the day.

        2. AnotherAlison*

          Design engineering is one example.

          In the field I worked in (power plants), it’s much easier for engineers and designers to coordinate in person rather than by email. The company goes to enormous expenses to co-locate project teams just for the purpose of getting everyone close together to foster communication.

          I could review someting in the 3D model, print a snapshot PDF, write something on it, email it to you, you open it, open your 3D model to look at the area I commented on, repeat the process 3 times until we solve the problem, OR I could walk over & solve the problem in 2 minutes.

          (Note that we do have to do work by email with field offices and overseas offices, but I’d still rather email you the docs & make a phone call than try to write out the explanation/question.)

        3. A*

          I work with e-learning (writing the content rather than course development) and the projects are very team-based, so it’s not unusual in my office to get up and go talk to someone on your project rather than email.

          It’s pretty rare that I can’t look away for 5 minutes to answer a question, but my tasks typically don’t involve any kind of difficult math like it sounds like some other posters use.

          That said, we also have a culture of “hey, is now a good time?” With office instant messenger, it’s standard to ping a colleague first to check they can talk – I would never just pull up a chair and sit down in someone else’s cube! That’s incredibly presumptuous.

          1. Chinook*

            I think the biggest thing that the the OP’s coworker is missing when she comes over to talk is asking “is now a good time?” I have a job where 99% of the time I can be interrupted with no ill effects but that other 1% would have to be restarted if I looked away for more than a minute. I work with others like that too. By asking the question and respecting the answer we have found the compromise.

            BTW, I also live and die by my emails & tasks and I have learned that, with those who prefer in person discussions, to have a notebook nearby and keep shorthand notes on what needs to be done and immediately transfer them to Outlook so I don’t forget. My coworkers also seem to have adapted to me starting to type in the middle of conversation with them because I maintain eye contact and ask f/u questions that show that I am recording the details about what needs to be done. When I haven’t done this, I often forget an important step, so it is vital to making sure I can keep all the balls in the air smoothly.

          2. Elizabeth West*

            Yep, I have chairs in my cube, but please knock, especially if I’m editing and have my headphones on–if you come up and tap me, you’ll scare the crap out of me!

        4. Xay*

          Sometimes there are opinions or thoughts that need to be expressed but can’t be said in an email because emails are documented. But even then, I will email the person back and ask if they have a few minutes to discuss rather than interrupting.

        5. Cat*

          My office is 50/50, and that depends on both the nature of the task and the people involved. We’re lawyers; we do have complicated, attention-focusing tasks to take care of. So sometimes questions involving those are better dealt with in e-mail. However, sometimes they’re better talked through in order to hash out the issues, and our office culture is such that stopping by and saying “have a minute to talk about X?” is fine; if the person doesn’t, they say that and we talk later.

          I think part of the reason that this is our office culture is that there are also interruptions that absolutely have to be dealt with immediately. If something needs to be filed at a court at 5pm, it needs to be filed at a court at 5pm, and whatever junior lawyer or staff member is working on it needs to be able to interrupt any senior lawyer on the case. Likewise, if a client calls with an emergency – well, we’re a client-centered profession; if it’s an emergency, we drop what we’re doing and deal with it. So we’re used to structuring our job around necessary interruptions and it’s not a big deal to stop and think about whether a given interruption is necessary or not; and if not, when’s the best time to deal with it.

          I like it. Sure, there are days when I’d like more focused time to work on something. But that’s outweighed for me by the fact that I think we do better work because we have an informal, collaborative environment where it’s perfectly okay to ask someone for their take on something and where you’ll get it unless they’re truly swamped on something else.

        6. Anonymous*

          Well, there are functions that are actually designed to answer other people’s questions – HR and law come to mind within a company setting. Some managerial situations can be like this as well (industries with a lot of junior level employees and a lot of churn). I’m not saying that there is no heads-down work in these functions, but I do want to make the point that part of the value they provide is in being available to provide guidance to other members of the business team.

          Interpersonal skills are a huge part of the requirements for these types of jobs, so being able to converse with someone who pops into your office while you’re trying to balance the department budget is essential. Yes, you can tell people to come back later, but top performers only do this when its really necessary – not just a matter of preferred work style. You want to encourage people to bring you their questions, rather than discouraging them – this one may not be critical, but the next one they don’t ask may be.

          I will add that the higher you go in an organization, the more important relationship building becomes – and in many cultures, hallway conversations are where the real business is done. That may not be the case yet – or ever – for the OP, or for Jamie (based on business function – software is its own animal!), but I did want to answer the question about what kinds of jobs require this ability.

          1. Another Reader*

            This. Everyone here does some detailed work, and everyone does customer service as well. It’s a job requirement to be able to shift gears and pick up the phone to assist someone with a different problem, then come back to what you were doing. In addition, when someone has a problematic situation, they may go to another team member to discuss how to handle. Now it’s not rocket science or programming, but there are often interruptions. Management here has an open door policy and although I was initially skeptical, I’m now a big fan — which is a good thing, since as a manager, I was required to keep my own door open. I love email, but face to face is often quicker for both the employee and me, so I see a place for both. I thought the AAM advice was on target, but since the OP noted that this was partly cultural, it may be the cultural fit isn’t great….

        7. Tina Career Counselor*

          While much of my work is individual, working with students one-on-one, certain things are also team projects or collaborative efforts. That includes consulting each other when we’re working with a client who has a challenging situation or know x colleague has a better knowledge of a particular career path for example. I would never interrupt them in a meeting or with a student, but some situations would take an extensive email, and it’s quicker to talk in person and/or more helpful to have a direct dialogue about the situation. I think most people in our office also feel pretty comfortable saying they’re in the middle of something specific and can we touch base at a later time.

        8. Bea W*

          I really think it is a matter personal preference more than the type of work. Some people are comfortable with writing and using email or chat. Other people are more comfortable with verbal interaction and have an easier time hearing rather than seeing (reading).

          There are times where I do get up and speak with someone because there’s too much back and forth or one or both of us will have a series of successive questions or suggestions that are easiest and quickest discussed in real time. Email is really cumbersome for that sort of thing and quickly gets tiring. Hours or days to get a final resolution or answer that a verbal conversation would clear up in 5-10 minutes. I find this particularly true when working on technical things for non-technical people. Questions with straightforward answers and little need for discussion are good for email. It doesn’t so work well for everything. I’d rather one conversation than a dozen emails back and forth in those situations, and I’m not the person who normally uses email rather than calling or stopping by my co-worker’s desk.

          I think most co-workers aren’t totally oblivious and will request a time to talk before hand, or if stopping you in person, ask if it’s a good time to talk/as a question.

        9. Kou*

          I think I’ve only ever had one or maybe two jobs at which I *couldn’t* drop what I was doing if needed. Those did indeed involve massive spreadsheets and databases and statistical analysis, which seems to be what everyone else here is picturing.

          Not that I’d necessarily enjoy dropping everything every time someone needed to talk to me, but with what I do (especially where I am now) it’s so much easier– SO much easier –to talk to someone for two minutes to figure something out and proceed than it is to email back and forth for an entire afternoon only when convenient.

        10. lurker*

          I’m a lawyer, and I tend to do a walk over or welcome a walk over as some of the concepts and theories I can easily discuss are too difficult to describe over email, and as a lawyer I like to keep my paper trail perfect so certain sensitive things are best discussed in person.

      3. Katie the Fed*

        Uh, no. There are a lot of people who think nothing of just walking up to you and launching right into a discussion without bothering to check if you’re working on something, busy, etc. It’s one of my biggest pet peeves. And there are some people who don’t take the hint. “I’m actually in the middle of something, can we discuss this later?” “Oh but I just wanted to tell you xxxx.”

        Respect the fact that some people are busy and want to be able to focus on what they’re doing without dropping everything to talk to you. It’s RUDE. Email is for non-urgent questions that you can get to when you have time.

        1. AG*

          I had a horrible coworker who actually said “oh hey I know you’re in the middle of something, but look at this picture of my grandson” and then literally shoved her phone in my face. Really? I was busy and it wasn’t even work related!

    3. Kou*

      Agreed. And if you don’t tell her you don’t like this, how is she supposed to know? There’s nothing inherently wrong with going to someone’s desk to talk to them– some people don’t like it, some people do, and in this office apparently that’s the norm.

  4. Sara*

    #7– I recently wrote a blog post touching on my work experience with a BFA in the arts.
    The arts offers so many transferable skills! It’s just a matter of making those connections for the hiring manager. And– on another note, at my current company we just hired a freelancer to develop a logo and animation video for our upcoming convention. So there are lots of options and opportunities– just a matter of deciding what you want to do.

    1. Chinook*

      #7 don’t be afraid to take on “regular” office work in a smaller company that may have room to use your artistic skills. With the right type of office manager, you may end up being able to help the PR department with something that they usually end up contracting out. It is not something they actively look for when hiring but you would be surprised by the opportunities available if you make your skills known.

      Now, I know there are others out there who may think this is selling her short, but if the goal is to have a job that puts food on the table AND helps build a portfolio, this might by one way to do it. After all, someone has to company ads, invites, or posters but there rarely is enough work for someone fulltime. At one place I worked at, one of the AA’s moved on to doing this within the firm because she showed an aptitude for it and it was much easier to work with someone who knew the office internally but could be put to work doing other stuff when it was slow.

      1. LMW*

        This is a good point. I have a few friends with art degrees: one has always been lucky enough to make a living entirely off her paintings (originally through street markets, now through local galleries), another is a cartoonist, his wife is an art teacher, one is a SAHM who sells a lot of work on Etsy, and there are a few who work regular office jobs. One of the office jobs is for a small print shop (local posters, business cards, etc.) and over the five years she’s worked there, my friend has transformed that job from being 100% office work to 25% office work, 75% graphic design, doing logos and posters. She saw an opportunity to help the owner expand the business, and she had a boss who was happy to take a chance on an employee adding a new service.

  5. Amber*

    #1 As a person who has been an intern and promoted over others, consider what exactly the intern’s new role is. Promotions aren’t based on seniority, if you’ve been at the company longer doesn’t make you more qualified. For example, maybe you’re a great worker but she’s a great leader. Maybe you’re great at painting the chocolate tea pots but the intern was great at organizing and documenting the process of making the chocolate tea pots. Often promotions are based on the needs of the company, the role they needed filled was best filled by the skills that the intern had.

    Also being an intern doesn’t mean she doesn’t have prior experience. She might have more experience in some areas then you do which you didn’t know about. She might have just taken the intern position because its better than being unemployed.

    1. Allison*

      This is true, that promotions aren’t solely based on seniority, but I would argue that the OP is right to wonder if he/she needs to be concerned. No one’s questioning the promotion or saying it wasn’t fair, but if I saw a new person promoted over me, I’d wonder if my job performance was lacking or whether I was on the right track to advance in the company myself.

      Just be very careful in how you frame it, because if the boss even suspects you disagree with the promotion you’ll be in a lot of trouble.

  6. Random Reader*

    #7- I’m not an artist, but I happened upon a blog post about how to get an art education without going to art school. While some of what’s here may overlap with your BFA training, it might be worth a look:

    Also, you might check out your local arts commission for possibilities and to find out about resources in the area. For example, the arts commission local to me offers mini-grants for new projects, which might be one way to start building a portfolio of your work even if you’re main job is not yet directly related to your art.

    Good luck!

  7. anon*

    #7: I work in an admin role for an organization that provides funding and other resources to artists. I am a pre-professional level artist with undergrad and graduate degrees in my discipline. Currently all of my income comes from my admin role, and not from creating art.

    The process to applying to jobs creating art is very different than more mainstream jobs. Granted, as an illustrator/animator there may be more mainstream jobs available to you than there are to other types of visual artist (movies, video games, tv, web work, etc.)… but you’re still going to have to hustle hard and network.

    There are very few artists who graduate college and get a single, 9-5 job making art. Artists (especially visual artists) are usually have to juggle multiple contracts/projects at the same time to make ends meet.

    To get those contracts/projects (or to even be aware they exist) you’ll need to link in with the arts community, and specifically people in your discipline who are doing the kinds of things you want to do – go to shows, exhibits, galleries, weird hole in the wall street art festivals, and talk to other artists.

    Is there a local arts council, or something similar? Do they host events or workshops? Go to those and make connections. At age 24 it is not too late to “get in the loop.” Check you local arts council’s website frequently and watch for calls for submissions.

    Above all else, keep making art! It is really, really easy to take a “day job” and fall out of practice.

    Good luck!

    1. Sydney Bristow*

      I’m not an artist, but a friend of mine is. She started right out of school by creating her own things and selling them on Etsy. This helped her stay in the zone and focused on her own work, but didn’t really pay the bills. To pay the bills, she got a job at a boutique store that sells work by local artists. This keeps her connected to the community, has provided opportunities for other work, and the store now carries her work. I’m really proud of her and her career is completely taking off. The key for her appears to be staying engaged with her community of artists.

      1. LPBB*

        Like Sydney said, just finding and staying connected to a community of artists is very helpful. I used to work with a woman who was a successful artist. There have been occasions when her art was able to support her, but most often she has needed a day job.

        Most of her jobs were in arts oriented organizations, so even if her day to day work did not involve creating art, she was still working with it in some shape or form and also creating connections that helped her display and sell her own work. She also lived in and maintained studio space in various artist co-ops around the city, so that kept her plugged in to the scene and broadened her network even more.

        OP #7, I don’t know what the situation is like in Chicago, but I can’t imagine it’s that different from Baltimore. There are a number of co-op/loft type housing situations for artists around here, especially near the arts school. They’re generally cheaper than regular rents and would be a good way to start building a network. I guess it depends on your appetite for social living, but even then each one has its own personality.

  8. Matt*

    #2 this is one of my pet peeves to – although for me it’s not appearing in person at my desk, but phoning. I’m an e-mail person and phone hater, and write a lot of mails – most of my co-workers seem to be phone persons and will always call in response to my mails, no matter what …

    1. Kelly L.*

      Bonus points when people call while being so close to your desk that you actually hear them twice, in real time *and* on the phone, and the phone-them has a slight lag so you can’t make out what they’re saying. LOL!

    2. Laura*

      Let it go to voicemail, then respond — by phone or email, your choice — when you’re available. There is absolutely no rule that says you have to pick up a phone when it rings (unless it’s your job to answer the phone, obviously, but that’s clearly not applicable here). If the person asks why you didn’t pick up when they called the answer is “I was in the middle of something.” I did have to tell a co-worker once that my phone exists for my convenience and not hers, but most people will get the hint.

  9. Pussyfooter*

    Hi OPs,

    #1 Maybe I’m being clueless; are you sure management knew you wanted the promotion?

    #4 Oh Yeah. I would finish moving out, then get the contact info for his agency and describe his behavior in writing, with copies of any documentation attached (I’ve had bad luck with a state agency that wouldn’t self police, so maybe I’m overkilling this, but…) Can anyone else suggest who the OP might copy her complaint to–the police? the attorney general in her state?

    #7 Animation, illustration, and cartooning can be completely different types of careers.
    For studio animation, you submit your portfolio…among other things. That was never my main interest, but I once contacted Disney and was sent a thick info packet detailing what they wanted from new applicants. Maybe they still do that. Could you do some animation on your home computer for a local film maker–either as volunteer experience or paid work? Maybe it could be delivered to the client via internet, to minimize transportation problems? (I once got the best spaghetti dinner of my life for painting cells for a guy who was creating his own independent film.) I agree with
    Anon @ 2:39am. You need to be talking to people who need and know about what you want to do. (If you can’t go to them, maybe you can bring them to you, make friends online, host a dinner at your place, etc.)

    I’m interested in print illustration. You can read the backs of greeting cards and look at online greeting card publishers. Get their names and look at their websites (From its site, I get the impression that Hallmark chooses what it will be marketing in the coming season, then creates art within that limit. I would be bored and frustrated with that, but it’s a great fit for other artists. I’m sure other companies do it differently.)

    Every magazine/book illustrator I know of is a small business owner who gets contracts with publishing companies. This can be digital art (fewer commutes!) or other forms (which usually get sent to the printer for creating the digital version for printing anyway, so might as well get it ready for them at home, if possible). Lots of fine art is mailed all over the place all the time, so maybe yours is also sent that way. (insurance, insurance, insurance*) Do you have your portfolio in digital format yet? Has anyone in the working world–an established artist, editor or museum curator–critiqued it to make sure it’s giving the right impression?

    Cartooning can be a part of the above types of businesses, or you can go the syndication or online routes. I forget how to get syndicated, but it involves submitting over a month’s worth of cartoons. For both of these, again, most people are small business
    owners. If you get syndicated, I believe you make an expanding circle of contracts until you get enough income to live off of. I don’t know how to do an online business…depends what you want to sell (adds to the site, merchandise on the site, send digitized artwork to customers?) and how you want to go about it.

    Sorry if you already know all of this. When I paid for an art marketing class, I got a semi successful fine art painter who didn’t know *anything* about the profession I was pursuing. She gave me advice that would’ve hurt me in trying to get jobs. Plus, I’d rather be helpful somewhere in the mix than keep a useful detail unsaid. Keep exploring options and you’ll find an avenue right for you.

  10. Coffeeless*

    Just as a note: it’s very hard to get syndicated nowadays, as newspaper readership is going down so quickly. Online, most web comic artists use ad revenue to earn a living, and later supplement with merchandise and/or books.

  11. TychaBrahe*

    I wish I knew the artist in #7. I’m in Chicago and involved in a couple of volunteer non-profit things, and I’ve been trolling my Facebook friends, most of whom are engineering types with no artistic experience, for someone to do artwork.

    I’d also suggest hanging out at the Dice Dojo on game nights. I know at least one computer person who is developing games who plays Settlers of Cataan or whatever up there.

    1. Loose Seal*

      And I would like to thank Alison for her very thoughtful reply to the lady whose husband resigned for her. If I had received that letter, I’d still be sitting at my computer with my mouth hanging open. But she composed such a graceful, thorough reply that I was left speechless (well, probably not — I haven’t checked but I’m sure I left a comment or two on that page).

    2. Forrest*

      I find that the comments in Modern Day AAM are much more helpful but comments in the Bronze Age of AAM were much more entertaining.

      1. tcookson*

        Me too! Although I did have one co-worker who told me and another co-worker on Monday morning that she had taken a man home from a club on Friday night, and that when she woke up on Saturday morning, he was gone and there was a $20 on her nightstand. 0_0

  12. Anon*

    #4- having worked at federal law enforcement agencies in sections dealing with employee misconduct, they absolutely want to know about it. You should report it to the agency (or department if it is a sub agency) Inspector General office. If you go to their website and search for the IG, there will be a hotline number where people can call and anonymously report misconduct. It may not be able to remain anonymous, but at least it is a start. Keep any evidence that you have.

    Using your position for personal gain violates the standards of ethical conduct applicable to all federal employees, but is particularly an issue in law enforcement because of the real or perceived vulnerability of their targets (depending on the circumstances). Agencies generally take it very seriously given the damage to the trust the agencies need to be able to do their jobs. If he’s doing it to you, he may be doing it/has done it to others.

  13. Anon*

    #5-I agree with AAM and would add from my personal experience. My dad has been in the ministry for 30+ years. When he left his last church, there was nothing in a pastorate position available anywhere nearby, so he started looking in related fields. Like you, he has many transferable skills in administration, planning, budgeting etc. He changed his resume to be skill focused instead of chronological. That made a huge difference.

    Now, he still worked as Best Buy for about 2 years until he got his job as a hospice chaplain but he got more nibbles with a different resume. And working at BB was awesome, in his words. They all loved him, not hard to see why, and boy could he sell washers and dryers. They still ask if he’d like seasonal work. And he had the opportunity to touch a lot of lives while working there.

    1. Steve*

      I appreciate the response about your father. I’m not surprised that he’s a quite capable person. Many in the clergy are. That’s why I’m amazed that it seems so many hiring managers would dismiss a resume from a person like this out of hand. I guess these managers are just uniformed, which indicates to me that they’re probably not the best hiring managers to have in the position. Shouldn’t a hiring manger be seeking the best people?Companies are constantly complaining that they can’t find good employees, yet it appears that they are disregarding a huge pool of educated, experienced and skilled professionals that would enhance whatever it is that they do. Why are professionals from the religious sector automatically disregarded? Due to a load of unexamined assumptions that we don’t have time to go into here. If you’re reading this and you’re a hiring manager, set aside your stereotypes and tap into this rich resource of stellar professionals. You’ll be a hero to your company for having insight that few others have.

  14. Liza*

    #7 – Have you considered a career in video game development? Depending on your skills, the industry is always looking for talented concept artists, graphic designers (for the UI) and animators (2D and 3D, depending on the production).

    1. OP #3*

      >> “#7 – Have you considered a career in video game development? ”

      Though I wouldn’t discourage the OP #7 from considering it (if it is a core interest of theirs), I would just throw in a word of caution. My fiance is a (former) game industry programmer. It is super competitive in there….and very volatile. It isn’t uncommon for a game to get released and everyone who worked on that game get laid off immediately after. This happens at all the big and small firms.

      My impression is: if you need a good springboard and are interested, go ahead for it. But just don’t try to start a family or buy a house, or anything at the same time. It really is very competitive.

      1. Anon*

        Agreed. My fiance got his degree in game development (arts and multimedia). He’s 30 and still jobless because he can’t break into the market. It’s highly competitive and there are lots of lay offs. He’d be thrilled just to get a QA position.

  15. Jenny S.*

    #7, if you haven’t found it already, this is a great resource for arts-related jobs in Chicago.

    You might want to consider doing some freelance work (if not an internship) if you feel like your portfolio isn’t strong enough yet to secure a full-time position.

  16. JFQ*


    How religious are we talking here? Notre Dame? Liberty? The range is big, and towards the Liberty/Bob Jones end, I can see degrees from that kind of school landing one in the “no” pile for a lot of jobs.

    1. Liz in a library*

      That’s not a good practice, as just because someone comes from a strongly religious background doesn’t mean that will have any impact on them as a worker.

      I have a good friend who is completely areligious who went to one of the two schools you named, because a relative would pay for college if she did. She decided being tied to a religious school mattered less in her life than crippling student loan debt would. She was one of the best employees I’ve ever worked with! We would have lost out on a lot if we had chosen not to interview her because of that…

      1. Liz in a library*

        Just to clarify…it’s also not good practice to throw people out of the running because they *do* hold those particular beliefs, because again that may have no bearing on who they are at work.

        Judge based on actual qualifications.

        1. jfq*

          I agree that people should be judged on qualifications, but a “degree” from Liberty “University” is a pretty unimpressive qualification in many contexts.

          The line of work matters a lot here, of course, but applications are sorted and rejected on the basis of certain criteria all the time, sometimes somewhat superficial criteria. That process, while necessary, will always leave out perfectly good applicants. You have almost certainly “lost out” on people who were never hired at your place of work–we all have.

      2. Esra*

        Those schools just have such a poor reputation. If an employer had a choice between two equal-seeming candidates and one of them went to Bob Jones and the other a less controversial school or a school with a better reputation, then I can see how the Bob Jones candidate wouldn’t do so well.

        1. Lucy*

          I actually disagree… that is, depending on what the degree is in. As someone who lives by Bob Jones and therefore sees a lot of graduates entering the workforce, they actually have a pretty good reputation of being hard workers. Maybe not for something like science, but for the arts or work like accounting, they do have a good reputation.

          1. Heather*

            I wouldn’t be worried that they wouldn’t be hard workers – I would be concerned that they were lacking in critical thinking skills. Those schools are extremely ideology-based, which doesn’t exactly lend itself to questioning, suggesting new ways of doing things, or developing your own judgment.

            1. EngineerGirl*

              What? If you hold strong religious beliefs you can’t have strong critical thinking skills? Wow. Just wow.
              I’d like to point out that there are a lot of engineers and scientists that are strong believers. They are the strongest group of critical thinkers, Do you really think that we haven’t examined the religious texts? Have you never heard of apologetics?

              This reality is that a lot of religious schools teach SEVERAL sets of belief systems and discuss them.

            2. EngineerGirl*

              Your post, BTW is an excellent example of why OP#5 should be concerned. You’ve made some assertions that are not based on fact, but your own biases and prejudices. You then leveraged these prejudices into a “reason” to disqualify the candidate.

              This is exactly the so-called thought process used to disqualify people “not like us”.

            1. Lucy*

              I get what you were intending – I’m saying that in actual practice that intolerance reputation doesn’t seem to have much impact on the person after they graduate. They mostly seem to be very hardworking, well adjusted people, and a lot of employers see that as well. I’m saying this as someone who has worked with and under several Bob Jones graduates.

              I think that the employer that judges based on that kind of thing before reviewing actual qualifications is the intolerant one…

    2. Rindle*

      For me, the question isn’t “how religious” the school might be. It’s the academic reputation of the school. Some schools are religious institutions first and institutions of learning second. If you have your BA and MA from Baylor and your Ed.D. from Georgetown, and you’ve been working at Notre Dame for 20 years, I wouldn’t think anything of it. But if your education and experience are from schools that are fairly known for pushing a religious agenda at the expense of education – e.g., not teaching evolution or enforcing a policy of expelling pregnant students who aren’t married – I’m going to think twice about your resume. I’m interested in the quality of the institution, not whether it has a religious affiliation.

      Another suggestion for the OP would be to tone down or remove mention of religious organizations in volunteer work or interests sections on the resume. If you don’t want religion to be the first thing that pops to a potential employer, show you have a broad range of non-religious interests.

      1. jfq*

        Yeah, I should have put “religious” in quotation marks. I really just meant religious affiliation and a good school (Notre Dame) or super-religious and terrible school (Liberty).

        I wouldn’t say a degree from the latter would disqualify one from all jobs, but I could certainly see it disqualifying one from some jobs. In my line of work, I just wouldn’t take some schools seriously enough to consider any degree granted by them to be legitimate.

      2. annie*

        I agree, I was surprised that AAM didn’t address this part of the question. Many of the best schools in the country are still associated with religions who founded them!

        For anyone who does look at religious schools on resumes and has any biases or preconcieved notions, here’s my experience – I went to a major Catholic university in Chicago myself. I do happen to have been raised Catholic and ended up really finding the opportunities for spiritual activities on campus enriching in ways I would have never imagined…. but the fact that it was a Catholic school honestly never even registered in my mind for even a second when I was choosing a college. It was just the best school in my area for the program I wanted to go into, plus they gave me a nice scholarship too. Most of my classmates were not Catholic, many were devoutly non-Christian, and although we had to take two or three religion classes to graduate, you could choose to take things like Hinduism, Islam, Confucianism, Buddhism, Feminist Theology, Christian Prayer, Religious Ethics in Medicine, Hebrew 101, Jesus Christ, etc. A lot of people, maybe the majority, took advantage of the chance to learn about a totally different religion than the one they were raised in. There were definitely opportunities on campus for religious participation and we had a campus chapel, Hillel (Jewish center) and mosque area open for prayer 24/7 for any students, as well as the opportunity for Mass or various volunteer clubs and service trips… but you could definitely go four years without bothering with anything religious if you weren’t interested, and many did. It was definitely a situation where what you put into it you got out of it, religiously speaking.

        1. Heather*

          But like jfq said, there’s a big difference between a school being affiliated with a religion & being based on a religion.

    3. Steve*

      I’m not a huge fan of Liberty, but they are regionally accredited. I assume you know that is the recognized accreditation for academic institutions. I’m sure there are people that have degrees from Liberty that are quite capable, just as there are people with degrees from Harvard that are incapable. I have an Ed.D. from a conservative seminary. The school of education is separate from the school of theology, so it is somewhat free of the conservative baggage found in the school of theology. My doctorate is in education, not in religion. We read the same books and studied the same materials that someone with an Ed.D. from a secular institution would have used. However, in most cases, my resume will be disregarded and the Ed.D. from the state school will be welcomed with open arms. All based on an inaccurate stereotype.

  17. Lillie Lane*

    Related to #5: On online applications, where one can upload both a cover letter and resume, do hiring managers likely look at both, or one or the other? I ask this because in some cases my cover letter is a stronger sell than my résumé, or explains something (like the OP case here). I would hate for the hiring manager to only see my resume and not the cover letter, too.

  18. Esra*

    #7: As an artist and a graphic designer my advice is to get working on that portfolio! Actively pursue freelance gigs, find a cause or charity you like and volunteer your services, develop your own portfolio pieces from personal projects. A stellar portfolio is what opens doors.

    The nice thing about this industry is by the time you get to an interview, people are just making sure you aren’t a jerk because they’ve already seen what you can do. But your portfolio needs to be aces.

  19. Brett*

    #4 This behavior absolutely needs to be reported, and any agency will take it very seriously and take corrective action that should keep you safe.

    If this is a federal agency, go with the Anon’s advice above about utilizing the agency Inspector General. If it is a state agency, go to whatever the parent agency is for highway patrol in that state. Call the office of the director of that agency and calmly explain that you have an ethics and safety issue to report involving an employee of and would like to know the correct office to route that too. Once you get to that office, you can give them the entire story.

    If it is a local agency (county or local), you should start with the sheriff or county police for the county that agency resides in. The office who handles complaints will have a name like “professional ethics”, “professional responsibility”, “internal affairs”, and it should be directly under the chief or sheriff. They will likely route you to the equivalent office in the agency the sublessor works for; but they will also have knowledge of the situation in that agency and know if there is a reason that they should take over the investigation or the investigation should be sent up to the state.

  20. Anonymous*

    #4 — I use to be an on-site federal contractor for a few big federal agencies where everyone carried a gun (…that’s enough detail, right?). I know the hiring procedures can vary across agencies, but having worked and been cleared for two different ones under the DHS and DOD umbrellas…I didn’t see much difference.

    Like everyone other public servant (contractor or not), I had to go through a pretty rigorous security review and I received the usual tests and booklets regarding the laws about my conduct/behavior/employer’s confidentiality. I VERY clearly remember a page or two about not being allowed to use my professional standing for ANY type of personal gain. There was also a test (T/F question) about if I was permitted to influence real estate transactions around my house using my job status (big FALSE).

    Anyways…my point is, I find it verrrrry hard to believe that any federal employee (or contractor) didn’t get the same drill I got.
    I also suspect this guy is in big trouble the second his boss finds out. I absolutely encourage you to get yourself into a position of safety (first) and then bring his actions to the attention of his superiors.

    The American public deserves better then this guy in our service….and we all thank you for doing the right thing (but, again, safety first)!

    1. Elizabeth West*

      My ex-bf is a federal agent. The screening for those positions is INSANE, and so is the training. Yeah, they’d be pretty upset to find out this was happening.

      Most LEOs aren’t like this, but the ones who are make the good ones look bad.

  21. AnonyMouse28*

    #1 – Great answer, Allison. I would add–OP, did you make clear that you wanted the role?

    I saw a similar situation crop up in my workplace, where a promotion became available for the position directly above the assistants (we had two, both had been working for the company for under a year). There’s a policy in our company that you can’t apply for internal positions before you’ve been with the company a year without supervisory permission–one assistant took that to mean that she wasn’t allowed period. The other went to her supervisor, applied, and got the promotion. It brewed a lot of resentment in the department (both of them ended up leaving the company), so this is all to say: Don’t ever assume that a promotion is yours just because you’ve got seniority! Management isn’t ever going to assume somebody wants additional responsibilities (or the salary bump that comes with it) unless you make it clear to them.

    1. Lils*

      I thought the same thing. I wondered weather OP just assumed she/he had the role “in the bag” without talking to her supervisor or applying. Because that’s never a good idea.

      If both people applied and the intern won the position, you may need to just get over it. Honestly, we all have had to report to people who are younger than us or who we personally felt were less than qualified. It may well be the same in the next job you have, too.

  22. Ruffingit*

    #3 is just so strange to me. She seems to have the idea that companies look badly on you for not getting every cent upfront that you can. Sure, tough negotiation skills for your salary are in order sometimes, but for relocation assistance? Not in this case, because the OP already had what she needed in that category and taking more from the company would have been effectively stealing from them because she doesn’t need it and told them so. Had she accepted it, it would have been like saying “I don’t need relocation assistance, but I’m going to go ahead and steal this money from you that is specifically intended for RA.”

    I think a company would have looked down on her for THAT, not for not taking it in the first place.

    1. Chinook*

      I actually want to congratulate #3 on being so honest but I do know where here concern is coming from. When DH transferred from one federal gov’t job to the other, both offered relocation money and we did our best to make sure we weren’t double dipping and actually had to explain a couple of times to bureaucrats why we weren’t taking the full amount. W ehonestly didn’t want to take the money we thought we didn’t need or deserve as our expenses were covered.

      This worked out to our advantage, as it turned out, because there was a system wide audit the following year and it was discovered that we were offered too much money and had to pay some of it back (but not as much as if we had taken everything in the first place).

    2. OP #3*

      >>”#3 is just so strange to me. She seems to have the idea that companies look badly on you for not getting every cent upfront that you can. ”

      Well…there is a couple of reasons for me having this idea. Most of this stems from this whole job/interview process is wayyyy different then anything I’ve experienced below (I go into a little more detail about that below).

      In summary: this company has money (prior companies that hired me did not), and the big one is they made me a verbal offer BEFORE the official offer.

      I’ve never had a company do this. The whole fact that they did the “verbal offer” (with a party of people on the phone to hear my response) makes me feel like they expected me to negotiate.

      Does anybody know if that is a false/true assumption I am making?

      1. Ruffingit*

        I think I understand more now what you mean. My feeling is that if you don’t need the relocation assistance, you shouldn’t take it. I don’t see it as something to be negotiated unless it’s actually needed. If you’ve already got it covered and made that clear, then I would think the company would be impressed with your honesty because if you had taken it, what would you have used it for? It would have been free money to you for something you didn’t need while the company is thinking they are giving you cash to help you get to them, which is a benefit for them and one they’re willing to pay. In this case, they would receive no benefit because you don’t need the money, while you would have gotten money from them for no reason. That is my thinking on it.

        So kudos to you for your honesty. There are people out there who would have taken it without a thought even though they don’t need it. And congratulations on the new job, I hope you enjoy it!

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Also, many relocation packages require you to submit receipts showing how you spent the money (with only certain categories eligible, like movers, plane tickets, etc.), so that could have created an awkward situation if they did.

          1. OP #3*

            AAM : Not to drag this out…but that was another part of the ‘weird’ factor. Both my fiance’s company and this one had two ways of handling relocation:

            1) You get a fixed sum (taxed) and just do ‘it’…no receipts required…


            2) Basically what you described. You submit receipts…there are limits…but it is untaxed.

            During my ‘offer’ call, I was offered both and asked which I preferred…however, in the (1st) official ‘written offer’ they omitted option #1 and just said I could have #2 (if needed).

            When I asked for the ‘modest sum’, they wrote it up as option #1 again. I guess because it was such a small number that they didn’t care for the hassle of dealing with the receipts (…though, true to form when I requested the ‘modest sum’ I did so under the belief that I would be giving them receipts).

            :: sigh :: Well, I guess this still bothers me. But I do appreciate the feedback. Hopefully the feeling that I looked silly will wear off after a few months of work.

            1. Chinook*

              There is a third option for relocations, especially with larger organizations and/or government institutions that do a lot of moving of personnel – they could a relocations department that tells you when the mover is coming to pack up and load and give you an approximate date for when they unload and unpack. This is the dream scenario because a) this is such a huge contract that the movers are very professional because the company doesn’t want to lose the contract and b)90% of the work is done for you. No looking for quotes and references, no arranging dates and no packing/unpacking. It was 100% the best part of being a military spouse!

            2. Chinook*

              OP #3 – quit beating yourself up as you did nothing silly. Maybe a rookie mistake but you erred on the side of it being best for you and the company so this will look good for your new employer. It sounds like your company has a fund for relocations and a set amount for doing it, so there wasn’t anything for you to negotiate. It is also possible that there was never an option to not get the moving expense without causing a lot of headaches and paperwork at the new company. Be confident that you did the best you could, enjoy the fact that most of your moving expenses were covered and that you have a company who is not out to wring every last dime out of you and enjoy your new job.

          2. OP #3*

            Do you think the relocation thing was just “standard practice” as oppose to being part of my actual ‘hiring’ package?

            I mean…are there some companies that just offer relocation irregardless of the candidates merits/position/(and in my case, ‘need’) just because that’s what they do?

            1. Chinook*

              Absolutely – moving packages as standard practice could be standard for the area you are living in or for the industry. Both of DH’s careers included moving expenses whenever he was posted because they chose to hire him when he lived away from where he was needed. You weren’t able to negotiate what was covered and it comes out of a different budget line as an expense of doing business.

  23. OP #4*

    Hi Everyone!

    Things have actually deteriorated since I wrote in yesterday, he locked us out and is trying to make us pay for our possessions. The building has said it’s not their problem so we will see what happens there.

    I’m glad my instincts were right about reporting it, I’m definitely waiting until I move (which is thankfully tomorrow assuming I have possessions to move) so that he can’t track retaliate, or if he does it’s at least prolonged a bit so I can get into a better place.

    I also really appreciate the knowledge that he should have had a big lecture about this- it hopefully means it will be taken seriously when we get there. If anyone has other suggestions in the meantime I would love to hear them!
    Thank you so much

      1. OP #4*

        Yes! Thanks- the VA state bar has a referral service for things including attorneys there, which from the research I’ve done and
        my consulting with a lawyer who isn’t in VA seems to be the most effective way to deal with that aspect of things. But even with a lawyer the state office of tenant / landlord issues is apparently quite slow.

        1. Chinook*

          I feel your pain because, when dealing with someone in law enforcement as a bad landlord, you, in your gut, know that callign the police is not necessarily going to work well from the start. Sure, you might be in the wrong and the guy may be a jerk, but he also holds the power and the benefit of the doubt among his colleagues (plus Cst. DH often points out to callers that landlord/tenant issues are civil issues. Locking you out of your own home is where he can step in if you have proof that you are a legal tenant).

          Congrats on keeping a cool head on this and I hope you can find a place to stay while this works itself out.

        2. Natalie*

          I often recommend self help in landlord tenant issues because there is a lot of info online and almost everything happens through small claims or mediation, but in this case it seems like having a lawyer is a smart move if you can afford it. The local RE lawyer can advise you about going through the state office or maybe just going directly to small claims.

          Best of luck.

      2. Jessa*

        Many states have a line for this, since it’s regrettably so common they have bureaus that deal with tenant rights. I know there’s a number you can call in NY for instance. They consider it in the public good to protect people in this case, so there are low cost and even free groups that help tenants in cases like these.

    1. Brett*

      Lockouts like that are almost always illegal evictions. Taking your possessions as well and making you pay for them is almost certainly a crime (theft, extortion, or possibly robbery).

      It really might be time to get the sheriff involved. Your possessions might be gone by tomorrow. Sheriff normally has authority over evictions, even inside city limits. If your sublessor works for the sheriff, call the municipal police instead first.

      And yes, he might lose his job over this. This is a wrongful eviction, and that is a serious ethical breech for a law enforcement officer. Still, do not be afraid to report this. It is up to the agency, not you, to decide whether to continue his employment after this incident.

    2. Bea W*

      That’s illegal in my state. First place I would go is the police. I could also sue his #*&(@# for damages. You can’t lock your tenants out of their apartment without a formal eviction ruling from a judge or hold their possessions and demand payment for their release even if they owe you up the wazoo for rent or damages. Check your state landlord/tenant laws or speak to someone at the police department or whatever state or local agency handles landlord/tenant issues and find out what immediate recourse you have to at least get back in there and get your things back. Nail his butt when you are settled in a safe situation.

  24. Anonymous*

    #1. Well, a particularly slick Sales Manager here almost never answers emails because he doesn’t want a record of anything he says.
    So whenever there’s confusion as to who said what to whom, the lack of a written record always help him, and he’s a superb talker and b.s.’er to boot.

    1. EngineerGirl*

      Which is why you always follow up the conversation with an email documenting the discussions “for clarification purposes”. Include the phrase “let me know if any of this is incorrect”. That puts the onus on him to clarify.

    2. annalee*

      I’ve dealt with a coworker like this. I learned to protect myself by documenting our conversations, then emailing them saying “I’m just confirming my understanding of our conversation about X. You told me Y. Please reply to this email if this is not correct.”

      For a while they tried to get around this by claiming they’d ‘replied’ in person, but eventually my “I email you every time we speak, because I’m tired of these ‘miscommunications'” stonewalling made it increasingly obvious that they were lying through their teeth.

  25. Oxford Comma*

    #2: It doesn’t sound like this is your particularly issue, but I just wanted to say that occasionally, I find it’s easier and/or more politic to have a discussion in person or on the phone.

  26. Anonymous*

    #3: I wonder if what the OP is concerned about is that she looks too…giving? See, I used to be so worried about “cheating” my former company that I’d agree to just about anything and try to save them every cent I could. Work 15 days in a row, drive to our satellite office 150 miles away and wave away gas money, etc. And I found that they were coming to expect me to do more and more without being compensated. I wish I’d been more willing to advocate for myself.

    I wonder how this is any different from someone who’s offered insurance, but since they already have it through their spouse, ask for something else instead (a small bump in salary, extra PTO, whatever). Couldn’t the OP have asked for something like that without it being a serious breach of ethics? If it were me, my concern would be that they figured that amount into their salary negotiations and I could have had more if not for the relocation.

    1. OP #3*

      >>”I wonder if what the OP is concerned about is that she looks too…giving?”

      You pretty much nailed it.

      Salary/Benefits was what I asked for — but I might’ve lowballed myself. At this point it is hard to tell for two reasons:

      1) This will be my first time working with a company that isn’t in the middle of some fiscal troubles. I’ve been underpaid for awhile, and even though this is a good leap in numbers for me, I’m still unsure what that number should really be…

      2) This is a ‘new’ position in the company — so no real guidance on what the salary precedent really is for this firm. Before I put down my number, I DID check avg salaries on Glassdoor, but it still is a tossup if I did good or not.

      Also (to add to my unease), I didn’t negotiate anything they offered. I just signed. Which (for me) is pretty standard. But now that I think about it…maybe I should’ve negotiated? Was that what they expected?

      Maybe AAM knows — but if the company makes a verbal offer BEFORE the official offer — is that because they expect you to negotiate?

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Negotiating is so common that it’s not really a question of them doing something because they expect it or not. (But few good managers would think less of someone who didn’t negotiate, so you shouldn’t let that worry you.)

        Usually a verbal offer comes before a written offer because (a) it’s weird to just send over a written offer with no conversation first, and (b) preparing the written offer can, depending on the company, take some time and paperwork so they want to see if you’re planning to accept first and come to some basic terms.

        1. Jessa*

          Exactly. You want to know what to put in the written offer. Why make a written, negotiate, make a new written, read it, negotiate, etc. That’s silly.

  27. Anonymous*

    #7 – What did you go to school to do? Think back to that. What was your purpose – if you earned a degree without having that in mind (and that is common) sit back and really think. Dismiss that you have been told you’re a pretty good artist. Seriously, everyone is. You’re on the playing field now – being good is what you’re supposed to be, now it’s time to find how to stand out.

    Turn to google and find the opportunities in your area. Once you know what you want to do, then start applying – jobs, grants, exhibitions, etc. Use this blog to find advice on the right fit for workplace culture, because that’s what you will want to do for all the things I listed above.

    A graduate degree will open up teaching opportunities, but the competition is fierce for those jobs, and I’m not reading much passion for the arts in your question, so I’m not sure that’s the route for you.

    Beware of online sale sites – some are great, others not so much. Etsy has been mentioned, but it is not always going to reflect well. (It’s a great book end to direct people to though) I know that I go fifty fifty on it. Most of the time it just outs people to me, and having a gallery find you selling your work at cost is a VERY BAD THING.

    Be open to the idea that you may stumble into a trade that has nothing to do with art. The critical thinking skills you would have acquired at school, the ability to take harsh criticism and the problem solving skills can stand you in good stead. Who knows, you may find you are better/more employable as a finance assistant or in quality control. (Those are just random examples)

    Best of luck.

    1. Chinook*

      You made a good point about selling on Etsy at cost if you plan on also selling to a gallery. If #7 wants to sell her art, she needs to think of it as a commodity like anything else and price it accordingly. She should definitely have a wholesale cost for galleries and other 3rd party retailers and then a manufacturer’s recommend price for customers that she sells on Etsy or at craft markets, etc. This way, she can make sure she is covering costs regardless of where it sells and is paying herself extra for the time and effort it comes to retail it herself (i.e. running the website, dealing with customers, time to prepare for shipping, etc.) Also, having a MSRP means that, if you ever have a sales event, there is room to mark items down without having a loss.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Argh, so true for freelance writing too. It’s so easy for newcomers to underprice themselves. In website content circles, it’s gotten to the point where the infinitesimal money is not worth the effort anymore, even on the good sites.

        I get so nervous about this, because it’s hard for me to know what to charge.

        1. Freelancer*

          Same here. I’ve done some freelance writing and it’s so difficult to figure out how to set prices sometimes. Glad I’m not the only one with trouble on this.

            1. AB*

              Elizabeth, I’m paid $250 per blog post–the website editor asking me to write set the price himself, so I used the same number when other clients ask. Another site then said they can “only” pay $200 and I’m happy with it because I can choose the topic (in my area of expertise) and I would write them even to publish for free.

              Just thought I’d give you a sense of price (obviously prices will vary by industry and client, but at least you have a point of reference to help not you underprice too much ;-).

              Oh, and the client paying $200 used to require a minimum of x words (1,200, I think), and I pushed back saying how ridiculous it was, when research shows that people on the Web prefer short posts, and I was spending time summarizing the ideas. They ended up agreeing with me and removing the minimum length.

      2. Anonymous*

        Pretty much! I stress to artists to remember that the retail mark-up covers the retail costs, so if you are selling it yourself you would get both.

        I steer my artists away from having sales though, as I feel it affects the integrity of their pricing. There are other ways to handle older works.

        Pro tip – read your contracts carefully. Just about everything can be just fine as long as everyone is on the same page. Too many people just get way to excited at being in an exhibition to make a thoughtful choice and then are shocked SHOCKED I tell you, when it didn’t go the way they thought it would.

        I need to write an AAM for artists!

      3. Chinook*

        BTW a good rule of thumb when it comes to retail markups is 100% everytime it changes hands (according to my mother, a successful retail store owner). This gives room to cover costs and make a profit. So, if it costs you $5 in materials and $10 in time, the cost is $15, the wholesale costs is $30 and the retail is $60. You may be able to devalue your time and reduce the cost to only material costs, but don’t forget to pay yourself.

        1. Anonymous*

          It’s becoming more and more common for wholesale mark-ups (retail) to be about 2.25%, so build that into your pricing structure if/when you can. (Not too bad on the lower end – that’s where you get a good margin IF you have a production line to support one-offs)

          And don’t forget overhead when figuring your pricing. What’s your studio rent? Utilities? Insurance? It’s also important to get this down because you’ll need an accurate insurance value (wholesale) for many exhibitions, even if you do plan on having the work available for purchase.

          It will be hard, but remember that rejection of your work is not a rejection of you. And please, please, PLEASE treat any submission as though you are applying for a job. “Hi I’m an artist please look at my web-site” will get deleted.

  28. Ruffingit*

    #4: I’m sorry you’re dealing with someone like this. It’s bad enough to be harassed in general, but having it done by someone who is, I’m assuming, in a serve and protect field, is insult to injury.

    Others have given you good advice on handling this, so I won’t go over that again. But I am curious about what exactly this guy is threatening you with? Is he threatening to have you arrested, killed, maimed, what? Seems so odd that someone in his position would threaten the sub-leasers of his apartment. Just wondering what exactly he’s threatening to do.

    1. OP #4*

      Mostly he’s threatening to make our lives hell, and evict us. That in itself is not actually all that scary, it’s the “I work for ____ so I know what’s allowed” or “My job lets me do ___ and I can make it a nightmare for you if you don’t do what I want” that are terrifying.

      He’s also 6’2″ or so and just bigger than we are so he’s good at getting in our space with these conversations and making them all even more tense

      1. Ruffingit*

        That is horrendous, I am sorry you’re dealing with that. I saw upthread that he has locked you out and is holding your possessions hostage basically. Call the police immediately (not the agency he works for obviously). This is horrendous and I really hope you get your things out tomorrow.

        People like this love to intimidate. Stay strong and good for you for getting a lawyer as well. That can sometimes move these things along. I assume you’re female and it often happens that these tall in stature, jerk men think they can intimidate you. Show him you know your rights. Hang tough and please come back and update us.

      2. OP #3*

        #4 – Harassment from anybody (regardless of their job) is not legal — and a lot of what you are describing here sounds like harassment AND violates housing law.

        I’m sure you’ve seen this, but check this link out.

        #5,11, and ESPECIALLY #14 seem to apply big time to you.

        If you can’t get a lawyer or some sort of legal rep right away, please do find a way to get some witnesses to stand with you and your friend if you are due to have an encounter with this guy. Bonus points if they are guys who are over 6’5″ and can help you move your possessions quickly**.

        (**Note: just make it really clear that they are not to in ANY WAY suppose to be doing ‘threatening posturing’ that your landlord is doing. Two wrongs don’t make a right….and also, not to bring up a controversial topic…but Zimmerman’s trial taught me a few things on how to respond to ‘perceived’ physical intimidation).

        1. OP #4*

          I hadn’t seen this particular article – thank you! I have many similar lists, and rules/laws in my area but a quick cheat is nice :)

          Thankfully we have no real furniture, some stuff we grabbed from the recycling area so it’s not a huge concern, mostly clothes, jewelry, cords for electronics etc. As much as I would love having a whole bunch of guys to help, the ones I have access to are my 4 brothers who are very large and very angry right now, keeping them far, far away is high on my list right now- because they would be physical fast.

  29. Elizabeth West*

    OP 3, I think you did that perfectly. It’s great that the company has relocation allocation–and great that you were upfront about both what you needed and didn’t need.

    Congrats on the new job! :D

    1. OP #3*

      Thanks. You made me smile (even though I’m still a little nervous about everything).

  30. Bea W*

    #2 – This is interesting, because I have heard the opposite complaint, that people use email too much when they could just walk over (sometimes to the cube next to them!) and ask a quick question directly, especially if there is likely to be some back and forth involved.

    Another way you can help mitigate being interrupted with answers to emails you sent is to also get up and ask your questions in person. That puts you in more of a position of control to end the conversation once you have your answer rather than being cornered by someone in your own cube and maybe hesitating to set boundaries because you don’t want to be rude or something. That said, you really have to set boundaries when people come to you to answer a question and pull up a seat.

    It sounds like talking to people face to face is the culture in your office. That is unlikely to change quickly if at all. If your question isn’t complex and you don’t need an answer in writing, it might actually be better to start doing the same every now and again. You’ll get your question answered, and then be able to return to your desk and work uninterrupted by someone delivering an answer later.

    It seems like this is not your style, but think of it as choosing between the lesser of two evils – either getting up yourself to talk to someone when you have control over when it is convenient for you or waiting for someone to come over to answer your question and possibly interrupting you.

    1. Bea W*

      Another tactic I have used with frequent questioners and frequent interrupters are.

      1. Tell the question askers/chatters you are very busy and the best way to handle questions is to be able to take a chunk of time each day and go through them all at once. So if someone tends to walk over 10 times a day, you can ask them to save up their non-urgent questions and that you will be by to answer them at a certain time or to put them all in email so you can answer them all at once when you can best take a break from your other work.

      2. If you are the one with a lot of questions that come up during the day, consolidate your questions/email and send them all out at once. The end of the day tends to be a good time for that because there is not much time left for interruptions, and the people than can’t respond late are likely to respond first thing in the morning, leaving you to work in peace (hopefully!) the rest of the day.

    2. Layla*

      I think it makes a difference whose question it is / who needs the answers more.
      If its OP’s task that she needs answers for – then she would have to “suck it up ” and ultimately accept them in any way she can get them. ( of course it’s still possible to guide the interaction by suggestion meeting times but the power is on the other end )

      If its the offending co-worker’s task then by all means say “ask all your questions at once at such and such a time when I’m free”

      At the moment I can’t think of any scenario where they would be absolute equals !

  31. Brton3*

    #7 – grad school in the arts is worth it only if you think you can really develop a great network of professional and academic contacts which you will actually use in the future, and if you want to spend a lot of time focusing on developing a really robust portfolio. And if you have an independent source of income such as a wealthy spouse or grandparents. Or if you somehow snag a grad position that is fully funded by grants or a TA salary or something like that. All of these things need to be true or else it is not a good idea.

  32. Ash*

    I’m sure this has been a ton, but I want to reiterate to #4, contact that person’s boss right now with all of your evidence. I work with law enforcement and this is not tolerated. If you don’t get the kind of response you want (i.e. that this stops immedialte), take it to your state’s top enforcement agency (like State Police/Patrol) and have them handle it from there.

    1. Lily Connolly*

      My first thought on this is that it’s a really tough position to be in because I’m sure the stress of the situation,the stress of moving, etc may make you want to just get out and say whew that’s over with. I know it’s not your responsibility for the next person but I personally would follow this through. That guy doesn’t deserve his job!!! Think of the tons of deserving people out there who could fill that position ethically, perhaps getting them out of a bad position, like a long stint of unemployment! I’d like to go further with this thought and say what about the next victim this guy terrorizes. What if it’s someone who doesn’t have your strength and support system? Please follow through and report this guy….for all the next.

  33. MLHD*

    To the art school grad…much depends on what you WANT to do with your degree. Want to work in movies? Illustrate graphic novels? Make kids cartoons?

    When you graduated I’m presuming you finished with a reel and/or portfolio of your drawing and animation work. Find companies you want to work for and start sending them your stuff. If you want to do animation chances are you’ll need to relocate to California or one of the other animation studio meccas.

  34. Lee*

    I graduated with a BFA as well back in the day and gave my father many a sleepless night. I now work full time as a graphic & web designer, and show my paintings on the side. I agree that you need to spend some time looking at your skills and what you can do. Also, drawing skills are in high demand right now so if you are particularly skilled in a niche area like typography, sketching, or similar like Tobias Hall ( consider adding the work to your portfolio. You need about 5-12 pieces of work. Check out for portfolios of creative individuals, and start looking at local industry chapters (AIGA is one), blogs, and volunteer for a local arts or design group. Get to know a local t-shirt shop. Remember to that what you learned at Best Buy is valuable too – working well with others is a critical skill for creatives. Good luck!

  35. Miss Betty*

    The thing that stands out to me in #1 is this: “An employee who has been my intern for the past year has been promoted to a position that is above my current position.” It sounds to me as if the intern wasn’t just an intern in the company but one that reported directly to and was supervised and trained by the OP. It that’s the case, I can certainly understand why the OP is upset and feels blindsided. It would be as if our law clerk were, upon graduation and admittance to the bar, made a partner and put in a position above associates who’d been here for awhile.

    If it were just a random intern – maybe one who does have more experience in other areas – it would feel more like the local library’s intern, upon SLIS graduation, being promoted to a supervisory position over non-professionals or parapros. (And even that might cause some friction and bad feelings.)

    It’d be interesting to hear back from OP#1. Alison, if she actually supervised and trained this intern, as it sounds to me, would your advice be exactly the same?

    (I used to be one of the Anonymi – first post with a name attached.)

      1. I'm #1 OP*

        A little more info:
        The intern that was promoted was “my” intern in that I was his supervisor and he directly reported to me and indirectly reported to my supervisors. We worked together for a year- he didn’t have any experience prior as he was fresh from university and I trained him. Towards the end of the year working together, we worked more as a team than a supervisor/intern. He was a great intern and has contributed a lot to the organization that I work for and I don’t dispute that he was deserving of a promotion- I was just hoping that I would get the promotion and he would get my current position. We are still on good terms though our work dynamic has changed and I now have to run things by him if I have questions about something, etc.
        I just find it odd how the whole thing happened- neither of us were told there would be a promotion, and once he was informed by my boss that he received it, my bosses didn’t say anything to me except that I could hire a new intern.
        I don’t think it was performance based- we don’t have performance reviews but I’ve always received very generous bonuses, even though I’m more of an entry level employee. My bosses are pretty easy going and I’ve never had any work issues with them or any of my coworkers. Customers that I interact with are generally very happy in dealing with me- I have thank you letters to prove it :)
        I’m still in this odd limbo- I recently asked my boss if I could take on additional responsibilities and he said yes but nothing has progressed into making that a reality. Looking back on this whole thing, I realize that I should have communicated more with my boss because we have never had a career development-type talk or even annual performance reviews (which I definitely wish we would do those!). I am questioning my future with this organization and have been applying for other positions.

  36. Linda*

    A lot of my coworkers post signs on their doors or cubicles when they aren’t available for consultation. You might want to hang a sign or white board asking people to not disturb you or come back later when you aren’t in the middle of a project.

    1. kimberly*

      my co-workers would set their google talk “status” to red (busy) with a message saying “do not disturb” or something along those lines. They wouldn’t get bothered unless is was urgent.

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