I don’t want to do TV interviews, extending a business trip for personal reasons, and more

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

1. Will my employer find out that I took a different flight home after work travel?

I work for a huge retail company, and the head office organizes travel for us. I’m being sent to training on the other side of the country. My boss agreed that I could use vacation time after my meeting to stay a few more days, but the company demands I take their flight back rather than book my own flight back 4 days later; when I called to change my flight, they said they are responsible for us so we must fly out on the date they choose. I just want to book my own paid flight home but I’m worried I’ll get in trouble from the head office. Will they know if I miss the original flight back?

It’s possible, but unlikely. Either way, it’s none of their business, and this “we’re responsible for you like you’re a child” thing is ridiculous. If you want to book your own flight home and decline to take theirs, that’s your prerogative.

That said, it’s not impossible that they could find out (unlikely, but not impossible), and if they did, it’s possible that you could face consequences for deliberately breaking their rules. So it’s a matter of deciding if that’s a risk you want to take.

2. I don’t want to appear on TV

I am one of three employees who work at a small nonprofit. My CEO suggested that I go on the local news to promote the new program I was
hired to run. I let her know that I am uncomfortable being on TV for a live interview, but she brushed me off, saying she is uncomfortable being on air but she does it.

When I took the position, it was never in the job description that on-air interviews would be required. This isn’t a deal-breaker for me and I certainly wouldn’t quit because of it, but I am very uncomfortable doing live television. How can I tell her without appearing insubordinate?

This is pretty common in nonprofit work, actually; it’s not unusual that she’d want you promoting your program in the media, especially in an organization too small to have a dedicated communications staff. So I wouldn’t say no — that’s not likely to go over well. Instead, why not tell her that you’re willing to try, but you’d want to get some media training first? That would be sensible regardless — both for you and the organization. (I used to have to do TV interviews too, and the media training I got beforehand was insanely helpful. Even just having someone videotape you in a mock interview will help you spot things you can easily fix.)

Search online for low-cost media training for nonprofits in your area; if you’re in a fairly urban area, you should find some options. And then agree to at least try — and if you try and you’re terrible at it, you can bring it up again at that point.

3. Manager asked me to come in on a Saturday morning for a furniture delivery

I am a salaried employee, and our employee handbook stipulates that, while a typical working week is 40 hours (Monday to Friday 8:30 am to 5 pm), from time to time it may be necessary for employees to work more hours than this in order to complete their tasks on time. I am employed as an engineer, and I regularly exceed 40 hours work in any given week.

Last Friday evening, as I was leaving work, my boss asked me to come to the office on Saturday between 8 am and 10 am to accept a furniture delivery. When I pointed out that this request fell outside the boundaries of my job requirements, since it is outside my normal working hours and is also a task that is not one of my normal duties, I was told that as a salaried employee I was expected to be available to do overtime as required. Is that correct, and am I being unreasonable by not complying with this request?

No, you’re not being unreasonable; it’s an unusual thing to ask of you. That said, your manager does have the prerogative to assign you additional duties that fall outside of your normal ones, and if he wants to push the issue, he can insist on it. (And it’s possible that he’s not being unreasonable by doing so; if it’s a small office and there are no other alternatives, and for some reason the furniture can’t be delivered on a weekday, it’s not inconceivable that he really does need you to do this. I can’t say from the info that’s here though.)

In any case, I think you probably erred by that particular response — when you resist something like this based on The Rules, it makes it more likely that your manager will use The Rules to respond back himself (which he did). It would have been more effective to say, “I’m sorry, I have plans then.”

4. Does my volunteer work work make me seem like a one-trick pony?

My 9-5 job is at a nonprofit focusing on a certain issue. I’ve also done some volunteer work on the same issue. The skills involved are not the same (my paid position is largely administrative, and the volunteer positions listed on my resume are a mix of fundraising and direct service). I don’t know if it matters, but this is not a soup kitchen type of thing; the issue I work on is often perceived as controversial and I tend to tread carefully when discussing it with others.

This is an issue I feel quite strongly about, and since I only have so much volunteer time I would like to dedicate it to the issue or issues I care about most. That said, I don’t want to limit employment and networking opportunities or make it look like I’m a one-trick pony who doesn’t care about other problems facing humanity. Do you think I should consider expanding my volunteering horizons?

I’d love to say that there’s no need to, but the reality is that it would probably help you to balance it out with other types of volunteer work. It’s not so much that you’ll appear not to care about other social issues, but rather that you risk some hiring managers (even otherwise good ones) thinking that you’re so focused on one particular agenda that it might come into the workplace in ways they’re not comfortable with.

5. I just realized my old job didn’t pay me for my last two weeks of work

I think I’ve found myself in an awkward situation. It appears that my former employer never paid me for my last two weeks of work, which was about five weeks ago. (I won’t bore you with the details as to why it took me this long to notice the error, other than saying I had gotten used to living on the limited budget my previous job afforded, and under my new job I’m paid monthly.) Do you have any suggestions regarding the best way to inquire about this?

Start by assuming it was an error, not something intentional. Call them and say, “I think there was an error; I haven’t received my last paycheck.” Presumably they’ll say they’ll look into it and get back to you. If you don’t hear from them within 48 hours, call again and ask when it will be issued to you.

Also, google the name of your state and “last paycheck law,” which will tell you by when they’re required to issue that check to you. (They’re almost certainly past that deadline.) If you’re not getting fast resolution, at that point you can say, “I’m concerned that we’re so far outside the deadline Illinois sets for getting this to me, which was January 2” (or whatever).

{ 149 comments… read them below }

  1. FRRibs*

    Also apply that to your current job; only 19 states by my count can pay you only once a month.

    Also: First?

    1. PEBCAK*

      Many, many jobs are excepted from this rule, though, so I wouldn’t make assumptions. I don’t know if she is actually in Illinois, but Illinois excepts “executive, administrative and professional employees,” which is a pretty large category.

      1. TK*

        Yeah, and I actually work for a state government and am paid monthly. So in in other places it’s very normal.

        1. sunny-dee*

          In some states, private employers are required to pay twice a month, but the state exempts itself and other government entities so they only have to pay once a month. I know they do this in my home state of Oklahoma.

      2. Meg*

        Just out of curiousity, what kind of jobs DON’T fall under “executive, administrative, and professional”? That seems like it could conceivably cover almost all jobs.

        1. sunny-dee*

          Almost anything blue collar — warehouse workers, manufacturing, construction, truckers, landscapers. And possibly things like retail clerks, servers, daycare workers. I dunno, I’m trying to be creative.

  2. PEBCAK*

    1) Depending on how large the company and their arrangement with the airline, they might notice an untaken flight because they will end up with an unused flight credit. I don’t know all the details of how this works, but I know my old employer’s travel office use to publish a list of who had what credit to use up.

    1. Anonymous*

      Yes this could and probably would happen. Especially if you just don’t use the ticket, it’ll probably be credited back at some point.

      Also I think you need to talk to your boss, because the boss is allowing you to take extra time but you can’t take extra time if you have to return on a different flight. Plus at least PART of that flight should still be paid by the company as they do need to get you home, so unless the new flight costs more…just because you stayed longer doesn’t mean they lose the obligation.

      1. Jessa*

        sorry again, it keeps dropping me, no reason to but the cooky won’t stay. that was me again.

        And to add – obviously if the new flight costs more you’d have to pay the difference.

      2. Poe*

        I would also say to ask your boss to talk to the travel booker at the main office. I have booked travel at companies in the past where I needed specific authorization to change flights, and “my boss said it is okay” wouldn’t cut it, I would need direct authorization.Try that and see what happens.

      3. Cat*

        Yeah, this would be one of those issues where I’d probably pull out pressure completely disproportionate to the actual situation at hand. I’m sorry but business travel can suck and letting you stay a bit longer and enjoy the location is something your company can do that costs them zero money. There’s no excuse for not letting employees do it. And coming up with some ridiculous excuse about “responsibility” is just not on. They need to pay for the return flight; the boss needs to make it happen. Ridiculous.

        1. sunny-dee*

          I actually did this last year. I went to Boston for 10 days for work, and added an extra 4 days to my trip so I could “vacation” there. I paid for the extra hotel rooms and the extra days on the car rental, but that’s it. They paid for my return flight with no problems.

          1. Windchime*

            I did this when I went to DC last summer (HOT!!!!!) for training. We are responsible for booking our own hotel and flight, so I just flew out several days early and made it clear when I submitted my expenses for reimbursement that the first several hotel days were personal and I wasn’t requesting reimbursement for those. My company was fine with that.

      4. Sunflower*

        Yes talk to your boss- I doubt you’re the only person who has ever extended a trip so that’s really bizarre.

  3. Chocolate Teapot*

    The flight thing is odd. On the few occasions when I have extended a business trip for personal reasons, it has involved a weekend stay, usually meaning that the flight is cheaper for the company, as I am staying over a Saturday night.

    At least, that’s the argument I use.

    1. Frances*

      That’s precisely why my nonprofit employer allows it. At my old job we’d often beg people taking international flights to work a Saturday night stay in because it saved so much money.

      I wonder if this is a case of a rule that was supposed to be “you have to pay for your return if you take vacation days” getting misinterpreted by the travel office employee. At my very large previous employer that happened all the time because there were so many rules and so much turnover in the finance department that training was very inconsistent.

    2. ThursdaysGeek*

      Sure, but now it looks like the company is paying for you to have fun, and if they are a government entity, that tax money is used for you to have fun. We can’t have that! If it can in any way look bad to the public, it doesn’t matter if it will save money.

  4. Not So NewReader*

    #2. A good interviewer won’t let you tank. They will keep you talking. When you start to peter out on one question they have the next question lined right up.
    The little bit of media I have done, I have found it helpful to concentrate on the person talking to me, no different than I would in a one-on-one conversation.
    If you have specific points you need to put out there, tell the interviewer before the interview starts. “I need to let people know we have an event open to the public on X date. I also want people to know what we have accomplished so far.”
    I think that you will end up in a neutral place similar to what your boss seems to have. “It’s part of the job[ shrug].” It does not take long to reach that conclusion- you go through one or two interviews you will have a much better feel for how it goes.
    I will do an interview but I totally understand the people who do not want to do one.

    1. Jen*

      This is great advice. I currently work in non-profit PR and getting people at my work to agree to be on camera is an ongoing stress. It’s not as bad as people think. In fact, I actually prefer being on camera to doing a phone interview for a newspaper. On camera, you can see the person and it feels more like a conversation.

      But yes, find a media trainer. Where I live I know of a few local TV anchors who retired or their contract didn’t get picked up and they do this type of service for not too much. You can probably even have them come into the office and do a few of you at once. Like four or five of the non-profit leaders/directors. It will be more cost-efficient and you’ll all feel more comfortable.

    2. Felicia*

      I’ve worked in journalism on a freelance basis, in print not tv, but that’s a good way to think about it. When I’m interviewing someone, I need to get a good story, so i’m going to keep them talking until they sound articulate. The OP’s interviewer will want a good segment, meaning they don’t want to OP to tank. My friends in broadcast journalism also say they get nervous before interviewing someone, so it’s nice to imagine it’s not just you.

  5. Off-Air*

    Re: #2… the whole online world of trolls and the permanence. now, of videos online change the game for this (doing tv appearances) for women. Asking someone to do this, when it was not initially part of the job, puts them at risk for public insult that will never, ever go away. God forbid some troll viewer doesn’t like her hair or thinks she’s too fat or too skinny. Or any irrelevant nitpicky or sexist comments. For those who specifically seek a media career and public profile, it is par for the course and one can “Steel” oneself to the after affects—or at least try to. But for non-media folks? 5 yrs from now, any video mishaps, any insulting comments online, will still be visible to anyone who Googles her. OP, be sure you are willing to deal with all of that. (AAM’s suggestion about training is excellent, in terms of trying to put your best face/foot forward!)

    1. Jen in RO*

      I get your point, but men could be ridiculed too, including for their appearance. Personally, I’d be more worried about saying the wrong thing and I would be very uncomfortable being on TV because of that.

      1. Naomi*

        There’s a big difference between a man being laughed at and a woman facing a deluge of rape and murder threats, especially when it is so easy for online harassers to find out your personal information. I know this sounds extreme, but it happens all the time. I won’t reproduce the typical comments that show up on videos where women speak, but they tend to go beyond insults and into violent threats.

        1. Off-Air*

          Naomi, that’s EXACTLY what I was thinking of. There’s been quite a number of articles recently about the hostile environment women very often face when their images are online. Of course, women can’t and shouldn’t all shy away from this or things will never change. But it’s one thing to choose this as a career (or choose a job knowing this will be part of the responsibilities) and quite another to have this thrust upon oneself. Were it pre-internet, nasty hatemail would vanish after sent once and received, then discarded. But now… it’s there forever.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            But I think you’re assuming it’s more common than it is. I know it happens, but it’s really not the high risk that it’s being portrayed as here.

          2. -X-*

            If women stay out of appearing online, nothing will get better.

            If the OP is really afraid or has deep privacy concerns, then yeah, she shouldn’t be pushed into it. If her concerns are just that she won’t do a good job, she should get the training and prepare to do a good job.

      2. Mike C.*

        Men in no way face the same issues that women do when their job requires them to be the public face of something.

      3. Jennifer*

        Yes, but women get it a billion times worse and attract stalkers and death and rape threats to boot. I would be with the poster in not wanting to do this for exactly this reason….but I concur that the poster is NOT ALLOWED TO SAY NO either.

        1. Off-Air*

          I agree with you, Jennifer. It’s reasonable for the OP to not want to do this and feel strongly against it. But… of course the employer is within its rights to require it. OP will have to decide. *Sigh*

      4. Calla*

        Yeah, agreed with Mike C. Men can certainly get mean comments too (especially if they’re also a visible minority), but I have never seen the same level of vitriol directed at men. Like, I don’t think any guy has had a game made where you beat up their face just because they gave their opinion (ala Anita Sarkeesian). And as someone who does not regularly make TV appearances but once appeared on national TV and had the video posted online, the kind of comments you get as a woman can definitely be more upsetting than just the usual “lol what a dummy and his face is funny.”

        By no means do I think this means that organizations should put men on TV instead. But I think it means that we need to understand that it may be one (valid) reason that women are more reluctant to appear on TV, instead of just brushing them off.

        1. Cat*

          Yeah, this is a tough one, and to be honest, I don’t know quite how is best to deal with it. I’m uncomfortable with any suggestion that men should be the more visible spokespeople for organizations because of this; or that women shouldn’t be expected to do tasks that men in the same role are expected to do. That worries me as precedent. Women are at more risk in these situations; but what can organizations do to help mitigate that without being paternalistic?

          1. Jennifer*

            I don’t think there really is anything a company can do to mitigate the hate beyond not allowing comments on YouTube if they post the video, and saving the death threats for the police. But if a woman objects to being on camera for this reason, perhaps let them out of the gig if they aren’t willing to put up with that.

            This unfortunately doesn’t cover what happens if the entire organization is women, and that men as usual end up being prominent for everything….but it’s also just not as much of a life risk for men and that is unfortunately how our culture seems to go.

          2. Calla*

            It’s definitely something where there’s no easy fix, because the problem isn’t the organization, it’s EVERYONE ELSE. For me, I think the major thing organizations can do, at this moment, is be understanding and supportive. That means, don’t pass women over, but do not punish them if they want to bow out. If you can control disabling comments, do that. And if you can’t, and there’s some kind of huge blow up (or if you can but there’s a huge blow up outside the comments, like that game), make sure you have their back. I don’t know if there’s anything more they can really do.

          3. Ask a Manager* Post author

            I agree with not allowing comments if they’re posting YouTube videos of interviews, etc., but I don’t think it’s feasible to let women out of doing interviews if they’re in a job that would normally involve them. That’s not good for women, or the organization. (Plus nonprofit staffers skew heavily women in many parts of the sector, and given that getting media coverage is generally one of the holy grails of nonprofit work, this is just not workable.)

            Certainly you should be up-front with both men and women during hiring that the job might involve doing media, and people can self-select out if they want, but going on camera is often something that comes with this type of work.

            Media training, not enabling comments when that’s within their control, and handling it responsibly if something nasty does come their way is really the only viable path here.

        2. -X-*

          “have never seen the same level of vitriol directed at men.”

          It’s much less common, and they don’t get as much of it. But some men get it just as bad. For sure.

      5. VintageLydia*

        I’ve had people track down my real name, my state, and metro region I live in before and posted it on a popular site within my fandom. If people really wanted to do me harm it would be very easy for them to find me, even now. My experience isn’t uncommon and in fact not nearly as bad as others I know. What few studies have been done shows that women 4 or 5 times the crap that men do, its also more likely to be violent, sexual, and backed up by attempts to follow through. Its gotten so bad that I notice major news networks often disable comments when its about a “women’s issue” even when the author is a man.

        I don’t think women should be banned from public speaking or anything, but I do think something like this needs to be spelled out at an interview so that people who are uncomfortable about it can select out.

        Just brushing off the problem and telling people to ignore isn’t going to work. It doesn’t fix anything and in facts perpetuates it.

        1. Calla*

          Ugh. I’ve had prominent bloggers dig up the school I was currently going to, even! And that was just because of a single appearance! This stuff really happens, and not just to women who are regularly in media.

      1. fposte*

        Agreed. And it’s a common part of the job and a reasonable expectation, and most people I know who do it don’t hear comments that they haven’t gone looking for. (Not using this to excuse the comments, just saying you don’t actually have to be exposed to them.)

        1. Felicia*

          I never read comments on mainstream news stories that get a lot of comments, especially if I can tell they’ll be horrible by the content of the article. Also , at least for media coverage for non profits i’ve worked for, people apparently haven’t commented all that much . I think YouTube is a particularly bad place for comments and mainstream news websites moderate comments more.

        1. Mike C.*

          In all seriousness, you do a really good job keeping the comment sections safe, interesting and civil.

        2. A Jane*

          This is the only website where I actually read the comments. Most sites devolves into a scary pit of despair. Go AAM comments!

        3. louise*

          There are so many blog awards out there–is there one for creating an amazing comment community? AAM, Captain Awkward, The Pervocracy–they all come to mind right off as places where the comments are nearly as rich as the actual blog content.

        4. Jessica (tc)*

          This is one of the few places I comment on a fairly regular basis, because I know there usually aren’t going to be inappropriate responses (and if there are, they will be called out). Discussion and disagreement here is civil, and I appreciate that atmosphere.

      2. Off-Air*

        Agreed, but while you might not read them, your children might. And not reading them doesn’t protect one from even more intrusive harassment (as other posters above have sadly experiences.) We absolutely need MORE, not fewer, women out there in the media representing organizations. I just wish organizations like non-profits requiring this will be sensitive and take the kind of measures AAM suggests.

    2. Anonymous*

      Yeah. I work in media in an extremely male-dominated, hostile field (video games) and I dread any time I have to be in a photo or a video, because it’s just… bad. It’s really bad. And I’m not 19 and skinny, either, so it’s… worse.

      Mostly I avoid being on-camera as much as humanly possible. Because it gets nasty. And also because my message gets lost: nobody cares what the actual words coming out of my mouth are if they’re just going on about my weight and my hair.

      (And at least I have the luck of being white! It’s way, WAY worse for my peers and colleagues of color.)

      1. Kelly L.*

        I don’t think anyone is prescribing what all women should do, no. Just that there is a real risk involved (not just a risk of ridicule but of actual harm, albeit rare) and that people should be able to self-select out if they choose. Or as Alison said, mention it during hiring so people who don’t want to be on TV can avoid the job in the first place.

        1. fposte*

          I’m not sure I believe there is actual risk involved, or at least not risk distinguishable from the basic background-level risk women experience in going to work, having relationships, and driving.

          1. Kelly L.*

            Well, that may be. It brings in a wider net of a-holes than she might have met on her own, but I’m not sure if it has a noticeable effect on the statistics of stalking, etc., so I’ll walk that back a little because I just don’t know.

            I do think it should be in the job description though. It’ll help people self-select in or out for all sorts of reasons. Some people really really want to be on TV, some really really don’t.

          2. Felicia*

            Well those horrible comments are generally directed towards TV personalities, the journalists, the person doing the interview, rather than a one-time interviewee, especially if it’s not a normally controversial topic, and they do very rarely lead to anything beyond comments even when regular. But that’s not the only reason to not want to be on tv, and it would have been fair to at least mention the possibility before.

            1. fposte*

              If it’s a regular part of the job, yes. If it’s pretty rare? No, I don’t think this is sufficiently weird or threatening that people needed to be informed up front. That’s especially true when we’re talking a four-person organization, since those generally depend strongly on people being nimble and flexible.

          3. VintageLydia*

            I’ve had people track down my real name, state, and metro region and I wasn’t even doing anything other than talking to the “wrong” people in an internet forum. Thankfully nothing came of that but the info is out there for people to Google if they want to find me. The risk can get pretty real.

            1. fposte*

              See, I see you as making my point :-). What you’ve described is the common state of existence, since tons of people know our real names and metro regions, so I don’t see why my talking face makes that into some new risk.

              I’m also somewhat troubled by the implications of what people are saying. People who encounter us through technology are not more dangerous than people who encounter us face to face. In the last 100 years, people have pretty much always been able to get our name and address. Technology has allowed people to say mean things to us with increasing ease, but there’s no evidence that’s raised anybody’s risk.

              I’m not an idiot who’s going to post my SSN and credit card numbers, but I think some of this concern stems from a Stranger Danger kind of unease that is just as fallacious now as when we taught it to kids who were considerably more endangered by people in their homes.

              1. VintageLydia*

                For me the difference is its one thing if people would just know by knowing you in real life. Obviously your neighbor will know who you are and where you live. Its when people specifically seek that information out and post it in bad faith is when it gets a bit scary.

          4. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Agree. I’ve never seen anything showing it raises your actual risk.

            And I realize that anecdotes are not data, but I’ve had jobs where I’ve had to do lots of TV and other media and I currently make myself pretty visible online because of this site, and it’s been fine. And I know lots of other women who do lots of media for work, some on controversial issues, and it’s been fine there too.

            I know that it is not always fine for all women, of course, but I don’t think the level of threat that’s being talked about here is entirely accurate.

        2. Joey*

          People should be able to self select out because of a rare risk of harm?

          If that’s your argument there’s an element of risk in almost everything we do. Driving, working with people who haven’t undergone background checks, working with people who own guns, working around machines/ general cleaning chemicals, using a box cutter. The list is endless.

          1. VintageLydia*

            Considering most of those generally are spelled out not just in the interview, but in the job ad, I’m not sure what your argument is. There are other reasons people may select out, too (stage fright, social anxiety, etc) that you probably wouldn’t want to hire for a media role.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              But I think the point here is that’s it’s not a media role in the ongoing sense, but something only occasional. I agree it would be ideal if they mentioned it during hiring, but it’s not outrageous that they didn’t since it’s not a constant, ongoing expectation.

              (I also think a lot of what Joey mentioned definitely wouldn’t be mentioned in an ad; it’s just stuff that could come up in the normal course of business.)

              1. VintageLydia*

                Honestly it seems like we’re arguing with different sets of experiences. Those saying its not a big deal haven’t dealt with a lot of abuse, and those that have are saying it should be disclosed. All I’m saying is there could be a very real reason she’s afraid and people shouldn’t discount that.

                If it were me, I personally wouldn’t have a problem with the media stuff. Despite my bad experiences my favorite type of revenge is showing people I don’t care. If threats started to become even more personal or directed at my family, I’d consider otherwise but so far it hasn’t been that bad. Plus being on TV is fun.

                But OP or others here are not me. Its just something to consider.

                1. fposte*

                  I have had a lot of abuse. I’ve talked to AT&T and the FBI about the abuse I’ve gotten.

                  But it doesn’t correlate to showing my face for two minutes on television, and from what you’re saying, that’s not what elicited your experiences either. That’s my point, or at least one of them–what elicited my abuse and, it sounds like, yours, was a level of exposure the OP already has in her job without doing TV, and it’s one that is pretty standard–to be on the internet and reachable with your own name.

                  I also don’t think we have any indication that this is the OP’s concern–it’s come up entirely in the comments. A lot of people plain don’t like having their pictures taken or appearing on video (I don’t, so I don’t watch myself).

          2. Calla*

            What VintageLydia said, and also I think there’s a bit of a difference between “you may need to use a box cutter” and “we expect part of your job duties to be something that will regularly put you at risk for graphic, violent threats and, on the rare occasion, actual physical harm.”

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Except that I don’t think it’s likely to produce regular graphic, violent threats. As I said above, I’ve done tons of media and have friends who do it on a regular basis for work and this has not been our experience at all. It absolutely does happen and it’s a problem, but it’s not an automatic thing that will always happen the minute a video of you is out there. Particularly with the type of thing the OP is describing, where she’s likely to have a 2-minute segment promoting a social program.

              1. Calla*

                Based on my own experiences, I don’t think the length or frequency significantly reduces the chance of it happening, but true, I agree that there are other factors that can likely make it not an automatic assumption, like the field or focus of the non-profit (I can’t imagine someone attacking a woman for talking about books [though I’m sure it’s happened once] whereas something more political would fire up people more).

                1. Joey*

                  If the op that was worried about the repercussions of discussing a controversial subject I would think she would have mentioned it. It sounds more like stagefright.

              2. fposte*

                I also think that it’s likely that the OP’s name has been associated with statements from this organization before and will be again in the future, and that there’s something about the video thing that makes people feel disproportionately vulnerable. But I think that the justifications for that are usually pretty slim, especially when we’re talking the Summer Reading Kickoff kind of two-minute appearance that this sounds like.

              3. Felicia*

                I know a lot of people who make regular media appearances, generally of the “2-minute segment promoting a social program” variety and they’ve never experienced any graphic violent threats.

                I also know someone who’s been the public face in the media for a certain Jewish , pro-Israel, LGBT organization, which is certainly controversial. She’s gotten some homophobic and anti-semitic comments (usually both), but she doesn’t get those as often as you might think, and the times she’s gotten a violent comment over the 10 years she’s been doing it has been once, and it never led to actual violence though she’s fairly easy to find.

            2. Joey*

              That’s a little bit overboard. It doesn’t sound like the op is going to be subject to doing this regularly.

            3. fposte*

              The thing is, what you’ve summarized applies considerably more to driving and public transportation than it does to media appearances, and the occasional bus trip isn’t something that a job should be expected to warn about either. I think the perception of risk is being really slanted here due to the activity being something people don’t regularly do in many fields.

            4. -X-*

              “on the rare occasion, actual physical harm.””

              Oh come on. You mean extremely extremely extremely rare possibility of actual physical harm.

              Just like letting a stranger into an office – he might have a gun. Or taking a trip for work might result in your getting robbed. Or working with other people might result in your getting meningitis. Please.

              For sure there are some visible public positions where there is a perceptible increase in risk. But in general – I think you’re making that up. I believe that online horrible comments are not that rare. But actual violence? Relative to the actual risk of simply living and working? I find it hard to believe there is an real difference.

    3. Anna*

      As a reason to not do an on-camera interview for your job, this sounds…weird. Part of my job would be to go on camera and talk about the program I work for and I’ve done it for volunteer work, too, and it never once occurred to me NOT to because some asshat out there might think I was fat or my hair was too short. If she wasn’t worried about that aspect of being on camera before, I don’t think she should be at all. I can’t even relate how bizarre this idea is to me, or that someone would suggest she would have to be prepared for that.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yeah, I did not think that the question had anything to do with personal safety. OP does not indicate she works for a controversial NPO that regularly has run-ins with hot-headed people.

        She just does not want to do interviews.

        For all we know she works with puppies or babies or something of similar(and almost) universal appeal. OP, don’t be discouraged. Try. If the part of your concern is about safety PLEASE discuss this with your boss. Ask her if she has ever had any issues or any reason to worry. Remember part of her job is to keep YOU safe while you do your job.

        Had OP strongly indicated she was worried for her safety/well-being then my answer here would be different. I would never encourage someone to do something that was that upsetting for them. That benefits no one- not the employee, not the boss and not the company.

    4. Bwmn*

      I’ve been thinking about this comment a lot all day – and while I am in agreement with AAM’s perspective, I think that media training will probably nip in the bud the vast majority of mishaps presented.

      My mother has appeared on local news frequently over the years for her nonprofit’s activities – and honestly, I’ve tried to find videos randomly on Youtube and can’t. So the notion that all video is forever easily accessible is for a start a reach. Not to mention, my mother works in childhood obesity issues and the most hateful comments I’ve ever heard about my mother’s appearance/weight on TV have come from my mother herself. If there have been other attacks about her appearance, she’s managed to be pretty well shielded from them.

      More crucially though, if I think of the one nonprofit video that got the most unexpected viral attention, it was that Joseph Kony video. What put it the most under attack had largely to do with the nonprofit itself, how it was organized, how their information was put together, etc. I think had they gone through a more rigorous media training/fact checking/etc – the sweeping waves of ultimately negative attention (and trolling) wouldn’t have been as excessive.

  6. Matt*

    #1 I don’t quite get the point about the flight. Are they requiring OP to take the originally booked “company” flight back after the “business” part of the trip is over, and then again fly to the destination for the “private” part? Sounds ridiculous. Or do they insist on booking a “company” flight for OP at the end of the vacation days? (I wouldn’t get the reasons for this but not argue about it either then.)

    1. Anna*

      I think it’s your second suggestion. Like “yes, you can use your return ticket four days after the conference ends, but you must take the 5:00am flight because that’s is the flight we’ve decided you should take”.

      1. Artemesia*

        I read it as the person would have to fly back home as scheduled and not extend the vacation in that spot. If the requirement is only that the business has to book the flight or a certain time of day must be used — no big deal — although since any additional cost should be born by the flyer, it also makes no sense.

  7. Brett*

    #3 I’m one of two exempt people in a rather large office. The other exempt person is our director. We get a limited amount of overtime per year, so that does mean that when there is something like a Saturday morning furniture delivery, I got it.
    Why? Because I don’t eat up the limited amount of overtime available and it can be saved for situations when a specific person must work overtime. If the person working “overtime” can be anyone in the office, it is me, so that we save the overtime we do have.

      1. Cat*

        But office furniture is different than babysitting. I don’t know if this is a reasonable solution here or not but it would definitely not be reasonable were it the boss’s personal furniture being delivered. Office furniture has to be analyzed under a different rubric.

        1. Mike C.*

          The issue I’m trying to raise here is that an engineer was hired to be an engineer. If there’s an engineering project that needs work on the weekend, then that’s what you signed up for as an engineer. But the engineer didn’t sign up to be a babysitter, a furniture manager, an event planner or a marathon runner.

          Just because you’re salaried doesn’t mean that you should be required to spend all of your time at work doing whatever the boss can think of.

          1. Cat*

            I don’t disagree necessarily – there are relatively few circumstances where this sounds like a reasonable request (I can think of a couple – e.g., there’s two people in the office; the furniture company has refused to deliver at any other time; and the other person is getting married that day). But I think when you talk about job duties outside the scope of employment, there are times when it’s reasonable to ask people to take on business tasks outside of their job description. Lots of them in fact, and most of us will do that at some time or another. I wasn’t hired to be an admin, but I do plenty of admin work; sometimes it just makes sense. There’s a framework for analyzing which of these other duties make sense and which don’t.

            Conversely, there’s never a reason for an employee to be asked to do their boss’s personal tasks. That’s just a bright line that shouldn’t be crossed. There’s no framework to analyze whether that’s okay because it’s not.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              I think I would be swayed by the frequency. If the engineer had these odd tasks to do every other day then I would wonder what the heck is going on.

              But frankly, I am in awe of people who can step outside of their regular capacity and pinch hit here and there. I think that it’s a positive.

              Maybe he could ask for some comp time in exchange for doing the furniture.

      2. Brett*

        Babysitting is not a function of our office.

        Having office furniture delivered would be. And I have done “babysitting”, staffing the building in off hours so people from outside our unit could use the building. That is part of the function of our office.

    1. The IT Manager*

      You got my +1 Brett.

      The LW sounded like she was nickle and diming the company, but I do wonder if that because the company does the same to her ie she always have to work 40 or more hours, never less. A salaried employee needs some give and take like leaving a little early when work is light in order to not feel taken advantage of by the company when she works late. (Also, the very short notice could be a problem, but she didn’t make that point in the letter.)

      1. Steve*

        One of my biggest pet peeves of being salaried and exempt is being asked to do something like this “at the last minute.” I’m perfectly fine working overtime to finish a project that has a deadline. And I’m perfectly fine being asked on Wenesday if I could come in Saturday to wait for a furniture delivery. But if I say I have other plans for normally non-business hours and can’t come in for a non-crucial reason, please respect that.

        I used to work for a guy who hoarded work and doled it out at a pace that he set (which was always too slow of a pace for the rest of us.) He was notorious for telling us at 4:45 on Friday afternoon that we were going to have to have a work Saturday to catch up. There were no “excuses” accepted for not being there regardless of how far in advance you had made your personal plans. I’m sure that’s what’s shaped my distaste for that kind of lack of respect.

        1. Mike C.*

          “I’m sorry Steve, but if you go to your sister’s wedding, it just shows us that you’re not a team player”.

        2. AdAgencyChick*

          OMG THIS. It’s one thing to be working the weekend because there’s too much work to get done even working late the rest of the week. It’s another to work the weekend because of poor planning on someone else’s part.

        3. Sunflower*

          Seriously! Maybe this was last minute but I have a feeling the boss knew he was going to ask OP for a bit and put it off til last minute because he knew OP wouldn’t want to do it.

    2. AdAgencyChick*

      This was my guess as well — that OP’s boss is trying to save money by asking an employee who doesn’t need to be paid overtime.

      Although I don’t think the way OP went about pushing back is going to help her boss’s opinion of her, I do think it’s reasonable not to want to be called in at 8 on a Saturday just to sign for an office delivery. I know if I’m in on a weekend it better damn well be mission-critical work. OP’s boss should have tried to schedule the delivery for normal business hours, or at least presented this request as “please do me a favor,” not “you have to do this.”

      I agree with Alison — a better way to handle this would have been to say, “Unfortunately, I have plans for Saturday morning already,” and hopefully this would prompt the manager to back off.

    3. K-Anon*

      I like Brett’s sentiment, and bet his boss loves him.

      It seems like we’re confusing salaried and exempt here. I’m not sure how being salaried has any impact on the OP’s situation at all. If you are asked to do it, you do it and get paid overtime if you work more than 40 hrs. If you are exempt, you do it and don’t get paid overtime. Overtime doesn’t even seem to be the question here.

      Whether or not it’s reasonable, and whether or not you want to do it isn’t terribly relevant either. The boss is asking you to do it, so in my opinion you have three choices.

      1) Do it willingly and helpfully, give your boss no grief about it. Hopefully get good brownie points for doing it that will help you later. (Aside from the basic fact that helping your company is good)

      2) Make up an excuse not to do it. You can probably do this once in a while, but you risk becoming the uncooperative person or getting found out you made up an excuse and losing points with the boss. Not worth it IMO.

      3) If, and only if you have sufficient leverage, push back with a simple “This is part of the job that I hate, I find doing this very frustrating, can it not happen?” This will generally cost you some reputation capitol and needs to be used particularly carefully, but if you are a high performer in great standing, your boss may not want to risk you leaving over something so minor to them. But if you overplay this you become the person the boss is happy to see go. Remember, I’m saying to make this about your job satisfaction, not about whether he can ask you to do it or not.

      FYI, this is coming from a guy who was just told he needs to do test calls on all 9 company holidays at 7:30am indefinitely. I’m debating between 1 and 3 myself but will probably end on 1 as it is simply the smarter choice most of the time.

      1. Cajun2core*

        K-Anon, I agree with you completely. You said it better than I could have. I agree that the Saturday thing and being asked at the last minute was not the best way for the boss to handle it but maybe the boss just found out himself about it.

        I was once asked in an interview, “What’s your definition of a team player”. My response was, “Never saying, ‘That’s not my job.'” I’ve made coffee before, cleaned the refrigerator, and done many other things what did not fit into my job description. I did it because I wanted to do what was best for the company and my co-workers.

        However, again, I do have to add, that being asked at the last minute and it being for a Saturday, was not the best way that the boss could have handled it.

        1. Cajun2core*

          I want to add though, that if this were a rare occurrence, I would just smile and do it if possible. However, if this were a regular occurrence I would first push back some and if it continued, I would be looking for another job.

    4. Brett*

      I should add here that I certainly don’t let situations like this just be one way. A non-exempt employee who waited one hour on a Saturday to cover a furniture delivery would get 3 hours on the clock as either comp time (legal for us) or overtime.

      So, I have the expectation (and we have this in writing) that if I come in on a weekend or holiday I am going to be taking off 3 hours in the next few weeks (more if I had to come in for more than 3 hours).

      1. E*

        I got a whole comp day recently for coming in (9-1) on a busy Saturday morning. I think that on the company’s part, showing that it is out of the norm and they appreciate it is important.

  8. AnonHR*

    #5- I agree with everything Alison has here, but you may also want to verify your payroll cycle. I get a lot of calls from terminated people who forgot we pay “current” for salaried employees, meaning that they got a paycheck their first or second week in the office, but they also don’t have a lag week of pay when they leave. I know it’s not common, but worth a look :).

    Congrats on the new position!

  9. ExceptionToTheRule*

    #2 – A lot of people hate the idea of being on camera, but a lot of the discomfort comes from not knowing how the process works. So, if you can’t get out of it here are ExceptionToTheRules’s tips for painless TV interviewing:

    You’ll communication with the individual who coordinates guests about your event and the specifics of what you want to talk about in the week leading up to your appearance. These aren’t “gotcha” type interviews, stations do them to fulfill our public service requirements to the FCC, so you set the agenda for your appearance.

    You can bring notes. Make sure the font with HUGE on your notes because it’s easier to read. Use bullet points so you aren’t reading your answers.

    If you have pictures or video of a previous version of the event, offer to provide that to the station. It will limit the amount of time you’re actually on camera and makes the interview more interesting to the viewer.

    See if you can bring a participant from the event to appear with you. That also cuts down on the amount of time you’re talking.

    Wear a nice outfit with a jacket or blazer. This will make the process for putting a microphone on less intimidating. Someone will do this for you and if you’re wearing a pullover shirt, you’ll have to thread the microphone up your shirt and out your collar – it just adds to your discomfort.

    Do your makeup like you normally would. It’ll be fine.

    The interviewer is prepped to guide you through exactly what you want to say. Focus on him/her and because of the way the lighting works, everything and everyone else will fade into the background. You’re just having a conversation.

    Keep in mind the entire interview experience will last 3 minutes at the most so you’ll answer maybe 3 or 4 questions.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Also, if you’re a woman with long or long-ish hair, push it behind your ears before the interviews starts and leave it there. Do not fiddle with it.

      And your interviewer wants you to be comfortable. It’s going to be a better segment for them if you are. They will almost certainly be nice to you and will act interested in what you’re saying.

    2. Producer K*

      TV veteran here with a correction. Stations are NOT required by the FCC to produce public service content or, for that matter, air PSAs. That changed several years ago, but many folks in the non-profit world (and even in TV) are not aware of it. These days, many stations only PSAs air only out of unsold inventory… or tie their community involvement to paid sponsorships by clients. Public Affairs programming is inexpensive to produce vs. purchasing content from a syndicator and, although stations may CHOOSE to produce community programs and content, they are not required to or graded by some standard by the FCC. Stations ARE required to maintain a public file and to self-report on a variety of different things but, again, they’re not held to the standard that many people believe still exists.

      Regarding the interview, keep in mind that there are several different types. If the interview is for a public affairs program, it might be live, or taped or something called live-to-tape, which is taped in advance but recorded in real time (no editing later). For interview programs, you can usually provide talking points in advance (which can be very helpful for the producer), but know that the interviewing host can often ask his/her own questions spontaneously during the interview. So, while practicing in advance is good, I’ve seen people freeze up because they had over practiced, in a sense, and were thrown off by a new question, or a question worded in a way they didn’t expect.

      If it’s an interview with a reporter for a newscast, it could be live or taped in advance too, but you will not have the same opportunity to negotiate questions in advance. The reporter is usually the one calling the shots. But, as was pointed out in the comment above, you will not get “gotcha” questions because it won’t be that type of interview, and reporters don’t tend to get aggressive for no reason with a proactive story and because may need you again as a future source (and most of them are actually very nice people). If the media ever come to YOU to get your input because of something your agency did, or to weigh in on a serious issue that’s making news, then you’d have to be more careful. However, in that case, my guess is that your CEO would take the lead since he/she should really be the official spokesperson.

      Finally, depending on your market size … if you live in a smaller city … the media folks may wear many hats. The reporter could also be shooting his/her own video. The interviewer could also be the producer. Either way, I think you’ll find that everyone is pleasant to deal with, it will go by VERY quickly, and you’ll actually have a really good time. Good luck!

        1. Producer K*

          It’s very common for people to think that the old rule is still in effect, even for those in TV. Personally, I think it’s a nice thing to do, and a lot of GMs, Management and staff would concur. With all the group ownership, though, and shrinking profit margins, there is more and more pressure to sell, sell, sell!

  10. John*

    #2, sounds like a natural extension of your job.

    I think lots of us find ourselves in positions where we have to do public speaking or other activities that aren’t natural strengths, and don’t seem to be the core skills we were hired for. We have to move past it. Embrace the challenge, realizing that getting past our fears/insecurities will make the job easier going forward and make us more marketable.

    1. Sunflower*

      I agree- Allison gave great advice to get some media training which will no doubt help OP develop confidence and speaking skills off camera as well.

  11. Used to Arrange Travel*

    So here’s the thing about a company arranging travel for you:

    I used to work for Large International Media Organization. And they didn’t used to be terribly picky about which flights employees took. And then one employee took the wrong flight on one terrible September day in 2001, and it took the company about two days to figure out where she had been and that she had died.

    Ever since then, the company is pretty strict about knowing exactly which flights its employees are on, and which hotels they are at. Employees are allowed to take vacation on either end of business travel, if they pay for the non-business parts of the trip themselves (and employees who get sent to some of the international locations definitely do that, because hey! How often do you get a paid flight to Singapore or London?) but they are still required to use the org’s travel booking system and to make sure that the travel management team in the home office has a record of exactly which flights they are supposed to be on.

    So it’s not necessarily entirely unreasonable for a company to want to keep close track of that info.

    1. Jen in RO*

      Honestly, I still think it’s unreasonable. Sad as the situation may have been, the company knowing she was on that flight wouldn’t have saved her, and her loved ones presumably knew what flight she was taking.

  12. JFQ*


    One issue I’ve read about elsewhere (a policy at a government facility) is that allowing someone to extend a work trip into a vacation theoretically adds an incentive to seek out travel opportunities that aren’t necessary. That may be the underlying reason for the company’s policy here, or possibly some issue of “fairness” has been raised in the past by employees who don’t get to travel (or get to travel anywhere someone would want to take a vacation).

    1. Cat*

      Apparently this topic is one of my instant rage buttons (who knew)! If an employer offered me a condescending justification like that – basically implying that I was fleecing them in order to get a free vacation – I’d flip. That is no way to treat people who work for you; if you can’t trust your employees not to defraud you, you need to reevaluate your hiring practices.

      The “fairness” justification is also pretty silly. An employee extending a business trip for vacation is not taking anything away from someone who didn’t go on that business trip. They’re just taking advantage of something that they would have had to do anyway.

      1. Artemesia*

        Bingo. The idea that travel is a giant perk is bizarro. When you do business travel, you are working 24/7 and getting paid as usual. You aren’t home with your family, in your own comfortable bed and are eating restaurant food for days on end — which always makes me sick eventually. Business travel is about long waits, boring cookie cutter hotels and conference centers — it isn’t about the thrill of new places. (and I love to travel privately where I can manage all of the negatives and am not spending my time in some generic hotel/conference center)

        One of the perks of business travel is the airline miles — this is tiny payback for the demands of travel. Another is being able to build a vacation onto the end of the trip. A company that tries to micromanage either of these away from the traveler is extremely short sighted.

        1. T&E reviewer*

          I totally agree with you that travel for business is not a perk.

          What gets under my skin is when employees “need” to travel for two weeks when they really could get everything done in one week. Then the company is footing the bill for the weekend and then conviently their family members fly out to see them. While I understand that the company is paying for the room regardless of who stays in it, those extra days really weren’t necessay in the first place.

          1. Cat*

            But then the company shouldn’t approve the extra days. It shouldn’t be that hard to say “no, we’re only paying for a week.”

          2. Artemesia*

            As with most business problems this is a management problem. It should be met by a manager who doesn’t approve two week trips that aren’t needed, not with a silly rule that makes people miserable for no good reason.

    2. Joey*

      That’s why managers usually need to approve requests to travel. Whether its unnecessary or not isn’t determined by whether the trip is extended for personal reasons. It’s determined by whether the boss thinks the value of the trip to the company outweighs its cost.

    3. Sunflower*

      Agree with all the responses about travel being more of a headache than fun. I’m the young person in my department so everyone assumes I will always travel when it’s necessary- and I usually do. Most of the time I can get a couple hours of site seeing in and traveling for work has allowed me to see wonderful places that I wouldn’t spend my own dime to go. i also can’t tell you how many coastal locations I’ve been to and never actually stepped foot on the beach because I was stuck in a conference room the entire time.

      And for anyone who thinks its not fair that other people get to travel- I suggest getting a job where you get to travel and not getting mad at the people who’s job necessitate it.

      1. The IT Manager*

        I am perfectly happy not travelling, but I do try to look on the bright side when travelling. But honestly the biggest bright side is having time to read while waiting in the airport, on the plane, and in the hotel roomsince there’s no household chores or errands to run. I rarely got to take advantage of site seeing just because work usually ends at 4:30 or 5:00, and there’s not a ton of site seeing opportunities that late esepcially in winter months. People who actually get to site see while on business travel must either have very short work days or be there over a weekend. Neither of those possibilities applied to my business travel very often.

        I don’t hate it, but “getting” to travel a “perk” is usually the POV of someone who doesn’t travel for work.

      2. Scott M*

        I like travelling for work, but then I do it so rarely, that it’s a treat.

        I like eating at restaurants, so I can eat what I want, rather than what my wife and kid feel like that day (and it’s always better than the microwave casserole we usually have). I don’t have to pick up clothes or feed the dog or help with homework. I can rent that horror movie from pay-per-view to watch at night, without keeping my wife awake. I can sit at the hotel bar and have a leisurely drink in the evening while reading my Kindle.

        But then, it’s only a few days a year so maybe that’s why it’s still a ‘perk’ for me.

          1. Victoria Nonprofit*

            Me too. That never gets old. And I work in the nonprofit world, so the hotels aren’t all that nice. Still, someone (other than me) cleans them every day, and that will always be amazing.

        1. Artemesia*

          I think a primary motivation for those who do like to travel is to escape their family life. If so then perhaps some attention should be paid to the quality of family life.

          I will admit that a night alone in a hotel with no demands, was occasionally a pleasant respite when I had a house full of small children. But for the most part, company travel is demanding and tiring and in my case offered few opportunities for sightseeing.

        2. Jen in RO*

          I very rarely travel for work (almost never), but when I do it’s exactly like Scott put it. It is definitely a perk for me! Hotel breakfasts are the best things ever.

  13. Samantha*

    #2 – If appearing on television and doing media interviews is part of her job, she should have been made aware of it during the hiring process. I can see this being a deal breaker for many people. If the OP is new to the nonprofit world or came from a larger nonprofit with a communications department who handled this sort of thing, she may not have even thought to ask about it. Media training can certainly help, but there are some people who will still never be comfortable with it and would rather take another job where this isn’t part of the job description.

    1. Victoria Nonprofit*

      Eh, you can’t predict or cover everything in a interview. And if something gets missed, that’s not an automatic pass out of it. It’s like when someone writes in to Carolyn Hax asking for advice with her husband who plays video games all the time and commentera immediately start saying things like “Unless he hid that from her while they were dating she knew what she was getting into when they got married.”

      1. fposte*

        And unless there’s a huge phobia involved (which there doesn’t seem to be in this case), it’s not that big a deal to do in a small organization like the OP describes. I got considerably more blowback in my years posting on Usenet than I ever have for my modest media appearances. If you have to appear on TV and radio only once or twice a year, I don’t think that’s something that really has to be mentioned in an interview or job description.

        1. Ash*

          Media is also really important for career development for yourself, too — the more you put your name out the more you can be recognized, recruited, etc. I had a terrible fear of public speaking when I first started my career, but was thrust into it and now love it. Definitely go for the media training…

    2. Sunflower*

      I don’t work in non-profits and a lot of jobs I’ve applied for note in the application that you must be prepared to represent the organization and I think this would fall into that.

    3. Jennifer*

      I think it is a good point to mention that for her, it could be a drastic change in job description. As in, “if this had been in it, I wouldn’t have taken the job.”

      (This seems especially relevant to me of late since I am now forced to do things in my current job that had I but known…)

  14. Ash*

    Re: OP4

    I worry about this a lot, too. My current position (1.5 years) and my last position (3 years) were both working on a particular issue. My dissertation also looked at this issue. But I want to broaden, but worry I’ve pigeon-holed myself. The advice I got was to focus on the skills of each of the positions rather than the social issue (even though that issue is in my job title). So far, no luck in getting out, but I’m hopeful and hopeful for you, too!

    1. Artemesia*

      Allison was spot on here. No one is going to see the ‘skills’ one acquired if ALL of them were acquired on animal rights issues, or abortion, or homelessness or whatever. To make an effective case in moving from non-profit to profit or even from one arena of non-profit to another, it is extremely helpful to have some skill showcasing work with a different theme. No one wants a crank on their team and if ALL their work has been on one controversial issue then the fear is that everyone is going to be hearing a lot about that issue on the job — and that the persons expertise is that issue and not PR or project management or development.

      1. Ash*

        How do you do this if you’re midcareer though? I know, not the OP’s issue since she’s just starting out, but its the same as switching fields entirely. For me, I focused on one issue but have expertise (degrees) in the broader subject, which is where I hope to land my next position.

        1. Joey*

          You have to learn to translate your work to terms that the for profit world understands and values. I see this with military folks all the time. The ones who are most successful at transitioning dont talk military. They translate their work to corporate or civilian speak.

        2. Artemesia*

          I think this is where the volunteering aspect of the question came in. If the OP was doing PR for ‘controversial social issue non-profit’ then some volunteer PR work (or project management or development or whatever) work for an organization with a different mission would be something that showcases the fungibility of her skill rather than her commitment to the cause.

          Cause oriented non-profits often have very amateurish staff doing these tasks — so being able to show them in use in multiple settings boosts credibility.

          1. Victoria Nonprofit*

            Cause oriented non-profits often have very amateurish staff doing these tasks — so being able to show them in use in multiple settings boosts credibility.

            Yikes, that doesn’t seem fair. Cause-oriented nonprofits span the whole range of quality of staff, managements, and processes… just like small businesses, Fortune 500 companies, and so on.

            I work for a cause-oriented nonprofit that is profoundly data-driven, methodical, and well-managed. We have our flaws (including flaws created by those inclinations), but I doubt even our critics would describe us as “amateurish.”

            1. Artemesia*

              I have no idea of course where YOU work or if it is well managed. Just as comments about how many bosses are incompetent is not necessarily about YOU, so is the comment that non-profits are often run amateurishly not necessarily about your place.

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                I think, though, that Victoria is arguing that nonprofits are no more likely to be mismanaged than organizations in other sections — which on the whole is true. There are a lot of really terribly managed businesses out there.

                1. Victoria Nonprofit*

                  Yep, that’s what I was saying.

                  I used my own organization as an example. There are hundreds of other examples (of well- and poorly-managed nonprofits and businesses) in the archives of this site.

  15. Scott M*

    #2 – It never would have occurred to me that its common to have to go on TV to promote a non-profit if you work there. So if I took a IT position at a non-profit, do you think it would be assumed that I’d do media appearances? I wonder if that was something that was mentioned in the interview.

  16. books*

    #1 – can the OP clarify if the company wants her flight back when the training is over (Tuesday for example) or just a flight of their choosing when vacation is over (Friday)?
    If they want you to come back Tuesday but your boss okayed you for Friday, ask him about what the policies are. If it’s that they want to book a morning flight and you’d prefer an afternoon one…. Well, consider that you’re getting a few days of vacation without having to pay the flights to get out there.

  17. Gilby*

    Did the boss know in advance and just didn’t bother asking the OP? We don’t know that.

    Does the boss frequently ask the OP to do things like this? Completely out of the realm of the job duties? Out of business hours? Don’t know that.

    I agree the boss’s timing was bad. He should have at least said he was sorry he was asking this of you so late.

    But I also think that sometimes stuff happens and we as adults and workers just have to deal with these sometime issues.

    Not that I beleive that OP just should have done it automatically but I personally have learned to roll some of this stuff off my shoulders and pick and choose what I am going take issue with.

    If he is a pretty good manager overall why be mad? If he does this stuff often and takes advantage of you then yes, there is a problem. A bigger one than coming into the office to recieve furntiture.

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