my friend is upset that I didn’t tell her about my job on her team, asking for a lower title, and more

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

1. My friend is upset that I didn’t tell her that I was interviewing for a job on her team

I just started a new job today at a highly competitive company where a social acquaintance also works. We’re not BFFs by any stretch of the imagination, but we used to meet up about twice a month for different social outings (movies, dinners, BBQs, etc.). I’ve only known this person for about 18 months and we get along well but, again, we aren’t attached at the hip and I wouldn’t share my secrets with this person.

I had been interviewing for two positions in her department over a period of two months before I received an offer. After one of the interviews, I ran into her on my way out the door and she asked me if I was interviewing and I told her it was an “informal interview.” I said this because I didn’t want to jinx the interviews, but also I wanted to curb her prying. A few weeks after this had happened, she stopped talking to me completely. She even cancelled on a social outing that someone else had invited her to (she texted me to tell the host) and when I got engaged, she never said congratulations. I got the job offer shortly after she started giving me the silent treatment and didn’t really tell anyone besides my family members.

Fast forward to today, I had finished my first day and we got into the elevator together and she passive aggressively started talking about my lack of disclosure about the job. She also told me she had known for a while that I had accepted the job and that I had various opportunities to tell her about it. Mm I wrong for not telling her or anyone who works at this company? Also, if she was aware that I had accepted the job, why didn’t she reach out and congratulate me?

Yeah, it’s pretty weird that you didn’t tell her that you were interviewing with her company, and especially with her department. Usually people share that kind of thing in the hopes that the person will put in a good word for them, or just because it would be odd not to acknowledge it. And it’s definitely weird that you didn’t tell her that you were joining her team once you were hired! This is someone you know well enough to go to movies and dinners with; it’s strange to show up at their workplace one day as their new coworker without any mention of it earlier. (No judgment! I am weird all the time.)

She’s handling it badly too — giving you the silent treatment is immature and petty. She should have just reached out and congratulated you. But I’d suggest just telling her that you’re sorry that you didn’t say anything and realize now that you should have. If you can explain why you didn’t (other than “I wanted to curb your prying”), that would probably help too.

2. Should I ask for a lower title when interviewing for a more senior job?

I applied for a senior analysis engineer position and didn’t really expect to get any response since I didn’t quite meet all the requirements. I have been an analysis engineer for 6 years but in a totally different industry and product. Also, the position asked for 5 years experience with an analysis tool I really only have 5 months experience with. Plus the position responsibilities include teaching/mentoring/and institutional standards setting – something I don’t have any experience in at all and this doesn’t appear anywhere on my resume.

I was very surprised I got called in for an interview. I do have a masters which is required but not the 10 years experience they request. I would like to work for the company as an analyst but don’t think I would be at the senior analyst level. I only applied because it didn’t seem to hurt anything. Do you think I should be honest at the interview, answer their questions about what I know, then ask them whether they would hire me as an analyst engineer but don’t give me the title of senior analysis engineer? I don’t want a title I can’t live up to. Should I ask for a lower title during the interview? I’d more be in the position of needing teaching/mentoring then being a mentor myself. Should I ask if that is possible?

I wouldn’t ask for a lower title; that risks underselling yourself and coming across as lacking confidence in your skills. But it’s totally reasonable to say something like, “I know I have less experience in X and Y than you had in the job posting. How crucial is that experience level?” You might hear that it doesn’t really matter at all (because sometimes job ads don’t line up with reality) and that some other skill/experience you have is more important. Or you might hear that it is indeed pretty important. If that’s the case and you eventually get an offer, I’d ask about it head-on: “I know you mentioned in the interview that you were looking for more experience in X and Y than I have. I want to make sure I’d be able to be successful in the role — can you talk to me about how you think my lower level of experience in those areas would play out?”

3. Asking to work from home as an intern

I was recently hired as a paid, part-time marketing intern or a start-up, but the actual work is completely different than what I expected. It’s more of a data entry job for the company’s clients, but I still want to go through the duration of the internship (6 months).

My contract said I have between 20-30 hours per week, but I wanted to approach my supervisor and ask if I could work from home (since I’m more productive, feel refreshed, no need to commute, etc.) In the employee handbook, it suggests that working from home is alright if there is an emergency or if needed, but our main office should be the company’s headquarters. Since I’m not in a high-level position and my job can be done remotely, I think that there might be a chance that I could telecommute (at least for some of the hours). Likewise, I noticed that a few employees in my division (and other teams) would work from home. How could I approach my supervisor about this alternative schedule? I wanted to propose that I could work during the evenings as well (I have a flexible schedule)— should I incorporate this into my pitch as well?

You can certainly try, but be prepared for a no. Working from home is often a harder sell for interns, who usually don’t have the same level of trust built up that someone in a higher level role would. Working from home is often seen as a privilege that’s earned or that’s given because the company needs to offer it in order to attract talent, so it’s less likely to come up for internships, especially in an office where it sounds like telecommuting is for occasional use rather than a regular thing. Plus, your manager may feel that part of the point of the internship is for you to learn the sorts of things that you pick up from actually being in the office interacting with people.

That said, you could trying framing it as a concession for the work turning out so differently than how it was sold to you. For example: “I was expecting that my role would be more X and Y, like we talked about in my interview, and wasn’t expecting it to be so data-entry-heavy. Do you expect the work to remain like this for the remainder of my internship?” If the answer is yes, you could then say, “I was hoping for a different answer, but I understand that this is what you need me to focus on. But given that the role is different from the one we originally talked about, I wonder if you’d be willing to allow me to telecommute for all or some of my hours each week?”

But again, it’s a hard sell as an intern. Not the outrageous-to-even-ask type of hard sell, but the type where it might just be a no-go for them.

4. I don’t want to train a new coworker who didn’t meet the requirements for the job

How do you handle a new coworker hired when you were out on a leave of absence and who did not meet the requirements for the position, the position being the same grade as I am? Upon my return, I am expected to train this person. If the new hire is hired at the same grade, shouldn’t she have the experience it requires? Am I being too emotional about this?

Probably, if it’s really bothering you. It’s pretty common to be asked to train new coworkers who are doing the same work as you. I’d reserve judgment until you have more exposure to her work. It’s possible that she was a good hire for reasons you’re not yet able to see. Or, maybe she’s a terrible hire, in which case your manager made a mistake. But that’s no reason not to make a good faith effort to train her or to seethe over it. If she’s not picking up on the work, it should become clear soon enough.

5. Listing title changes on my resume

I’ve been at a company for four years now and I am looking to move on. Since being there, my title has changed about four times, not necessarily for promotions, although I have had them, but as part of restructures and re-branding initiatives within the firm. I have steadily progressed and taken on more responsibility and duties but my job titles have never correlated with these duties or my increases in pay. What on earth do I put on my resume? Just my most recent title?

Nope, put all the titles you’ve had there. You could list it like this:

Chocolate Teapots Ltd., March 2011 – present
teapot director, March 2014 – present
spout manager, August 2012 – March 2014
senior teapot coordinator, January 2012 – August 2012
tea drinker, March 2011 – December 2011
* accomplishment
* accomplishment
* accomplishment

{ 276 comments… read them below }

  1. Artemesia*

    I empathized with #1. She obviously thinks she was being appropriately discreet and instead has blundered in a way that affects both her social and professional life. I remember drawing a bright line between my work and personal life to the extent that people I had worked with were shocked to discover that I had a 6 month old baby and a 5 year old. (This came at a social event when people were talking about their kids and someone said –Of course you and Mr. A don’t have kids? And their jaws all dropped when I mentioned the baby and pre-schooler. I had thought I was being ‘professional’ but mostly I had been weird and insular.

    Sure she should have mentioned she was interviewing and then when she had the job should have shared it with her friend. But having muffed that, the thing to do is to admit that out of a desire to not trade on her contact, she bent over backwards to be professional and it obviously was not a great choice.

    1. Zillah*

      Yeah, I think this is a good explanation – say that you didn’t want to take advantage of your friendship to get the job, and you were afraid that that would happen if you did tell her.

      That said – OP, I’m not really clear on how you feel about this friend, which is leaving me confused about whether you should be working with her at all. I know that what’s done is done, but for someone you say you get along well with and report spending a fair amount of time with, it seems to me like you’re really bending over backwards to make it clear that you’re not really that close, and the fact that you’d jump to “prying” when she asked you about the job is a little weird.

      I’ll be honest: in your friend’s position, I’d be pretty hurt, too, and I wouldn’t be too keen on social events with you for awhile. I get that this isn’t a friend you’d necessarily confide in about cancer or a dying relative or fertility problems, but a job is a lot less secret than that, because people are generally going to know where you work. I also certainly wouldn’t have reached out to congratulate you without you telling me about even applying, and lying about the nature of your interview when I bumped into you. I mean… I get where you’re coming from, and she’s not handling this well, but I think you acted a little weird about this.

      1. Helena*

        I agree with the this, and sympathize with the friend’s hurt feelings. I also think it’s a little weird that the OP expects to be congratulated on getting the job after she went to the trouble of hiding it from her friend so much – in the friend’s shoes, I would assume the job was something the OP didn’t want to discuss with me, ever, since that’s how she’s acted, and, well, not discuss it. I don’t think the friend is being petty about that, just giving the OP what she thinks she wants.

        1. Koko*

          She actually says that she was upset the friend didn’t congratulate her on her engagement…but I would not be in a hurry to celebrate someone’s engagement after they’d demonstrated how distant they think our relationship is/should be by not even telling me they were applying for a job alongside me.

          1. Alternative*

            Exactly! OP didn’t feel close enough or like this person enough to tell them about the job, but expected congrats on two life events? That I imagine the friend only heard about second hand anyways? Super odd.

            1. dejavu2*

              Same. This would totally hurt my feelings. If I hang out with someone twice a month, it’s because I really like them! It would make me think the other person secretly hated me or something if they went through all this trouble to not just hide their job search from me, but to *lie* about it… Frankly, it would probably hurt my feelings even if they weren’t coming to be my new coworker, because it would so diminish my perceived value of our friendship.

              1. Melissa*

                Twice a month is actually a lot in my book, lol. If I hang out with someone twice a month, they are more than a casual acquaintance.

          2. OP*

            I wasn’t upset that she didn’t congratulate me, but I did take notice that she knew and said nothing. The engagement happened right at the time that the offer for the job was made, but she had stopped talking to me about a month and half prior (when I started interviewing). Part of why I didn’t disclose the job offer was because I hadn’t seen her in person in almost 8 weeks and because she had stopped communicating electronically I really didn’t feel comfortable texting just to say “hey I got a job in your department, furthermore my corporate title is senior to you.”

            1. Van Wilder*

              Interesting. Do you think you were weird about it because you felt awkward that you were going to be senior to her?

      2. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Agreed. I get that many people are more private than many others, but this is a job in her office where you would see her on a regular basis. You don’t need her permission, of course, but a heads-up would have been nice. I would compare it to moving next door to someone you know; you don’t need to tell them all the details, but it would be kind to give them a heads-up so they’re prepared to see you in their space. It also strikes me as just plain weird to plan to be in someone’s established space and be cagey about it. You got the job, which means you will see her regularly, and it would have been a courtesy to let her process that beforehand.

        1. Judy*

          I just had this happen yesterday. I’ve been at this job 6 months. I saw a coworker from oldjob in the hall very briefly, he was walking with the company president. I was naturally curious, and the company president walked back after dropping him off elsewhere. Company president asked if I knew the guy (knowing I would have) and mentioned that he was in for his pre employment drug test. I got a text last night from former coworker saying that he’d be starting on Monday.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          It also strikes me as just plain weird to plan to be in someone’s established space and be cagey about it.

          This hits the very thing about it that bugged me. I get not wanting to talk about it beforehand, for various reasons including the friendship angle and possibly jinxing it, or even not wanting the friend to get excited about working with her if it turned out she didn’t get the job. But to not tell her afterward is strange.

      3. Ed*

        To me this is about the difference between outright lying vs. lying by simply not volunteering information the other person would clearly expect to be told. OP is claiming the second but she jumped over that line when her “friend” ran into her at the interview and she outright lied. OP can no longer honestly say she simply neglected to mention the interview. This had clearly entered the purposely withholding information space. What did OP think was going to happen when she showed up on her first day and announced she now works there?

        And like many other commenters, I’m confused about the relationship in general. Doing social things like movies and dinner twice a month is a pretty good friend in my book. OP is downplaying it like it is someone she might run into at a party once a year. Maybe it is not BFF-level but certainly well past casual acquaintance. But I would contact even a casual acquaintance if I were applying for a job in their department. The only way I wouldn’t is if I suspected they may not be a good employee. It might be different if they worked in another department but certainly not if I would be working beside them.

        This sort of feels like one of those letters where we’re not getting the whole story.

        1. Burlington*

          I totally agree on Ed’s first paragraph. Honestly, I don’t think the friend acted inappropriately at all! She has this friend, and they hang out. She sees her friend in her building, clearly interviewing for a job, and her friend tells her it’s an “informal interview.” This person only needs to talk to, like, one person to find out the real deal! “Hey, I just saw my friend Molly leaving the building! What were ya’ll talking about?” “Oh, she’s interviewing for Open Position X.”

          Yeah, she probably found out the lie immediately and drew the completely logical conclusion that OP did not really want to be friends with her anymore. Because not only did she not reach out to have the friend put in a good word for her, she outright lied about her purpose for being in the building. The message is actually pretty clear: We’re not friends.

      4. Emily*

        Absolutely. I’m all about discretion (and even superstition about jinxing an interview!) but the immediacy of a personal acquaintance’s company, let alone their department, makes this degree of secrecy seem weird and cagey. It would have been better to say, “I don’t want to jinx it, and I’m trying to keep this on the DL anyway, but cross your fingers and I’ll keep you posted!” If readers here are a little unclear about the nature of your friendship with this person, she must be twice as confused! It’s terrible to feel like someone is sneaking around and keeping something from you, especially if you don’t understand why. Imagine how unsteady you might feel in her position. She might be thinking, “am I crazy for thinking we were friends?” or even “is she being secretive because they’re giving her my job?”

        That said, I think this is very easily remedied! I’d say, “listen, I’m sorry I didn’t tell you that I was applying for this job! I felt a little awkward and I didn’t quite know how to handle it, and I wound up making it even more awkward for both of us!” Bring a couple of sodas or something and share a “no hard feelings” slash belated congratulations “cheers.”

    2. Daisy*

      The thing that struck me is that it’s more than failure to mention the interview- her friend saw her there, and she told that ineffectual half-lie about an “informal” interview. I think that’s less excusable than if she just hadn’t reached out to the friend. Did 1 really expect her friend not to ask when she saw her what she was doing there? This is a Ron Swanson-level privacy principle (I’m sort of impressed).

      1. Colette*

        Yeah, that was a bad choice. It’s very easy for the friend to know she lied there, and it could have easily could have blown her chances at the job if it came up in conversation with the hiring manager.

    3. AnotherHRPro*

      It is odd that the OP didn’t mention it to her friend. I would recommend that she apologize. Let her know that you didn’t tell anyone other than family because you didn’t want to jinx it (if that is accurate). Try to look at this from her perspective. She is probably embarrassed. It would be very weird to hear that a friend is joining your team and you didn’t know about it. Her colleagues are probably asking her about you (if they know you are friends). You actually put her in an awkward situation.

      1. Bwmn*

        I agree that embarrassment is probably contributing to some of the friend’s (admittedly poor) behavior.

        Also – perhaps this friend is a liability at work, but whether she is or isn’t – that’s kind of the message it sends. Blabbing or not, she may feel that she wasn’t told because the perception was that any remote connection between the OP and her would be a negative. So perhaps it gives her coworkers a perception that she’s not trust worthy. Depending on her own age and seniority in the company she may not necessarily feel as secure and now feel like instead of a friendly acquaintance joining the team, there’s something less congenial going on.

        To me this reads as a case where even if the intent was never overly mean spirited, this is a time to fall on the sword and apologize to the high heavens. Actual fault or intention isn’t nearly as important as smoothing this over and being able to move on.

    4. Leslie Knope's Waffle*

      I’m very similar to you, in the fact that I tend to draw a line between work and “outside” friendship.

      When I read this letter, I couldn’t help but wonder if the OP’s friend is a bit of blabbermouth and OP was worried that it might get out that she was interviewing and could jepordize her current role. I have plenty of friends that I hang out with socially, but there are a few that I dilberately don’t mention job/interviewing stuff to because they just can’t help themselves.

      1. OP*

        Yes, a part of my not telling her was I didn’t need her entire network of friends knowing and talking about it because they all work at the same company and I truly didn’t want to jinx it.

    5. louise*

      Personally, I’d dig out of this by saying “I’m sorry I put you in such an awkward position by not telling you about this all along the way. I had a really bad experience once by talking too freely about my job search and now I’m always super paranoid about jinxing things. That was silly of me.”

      1. LizNYC*

        This is what I was thinking too, that the OP had a bad experience in the past talking about her job search. If the OP apologizes, says she didn’t want it to travel around that she was interviewing (because of past experience), but that she’s really excited about her new role and working with the kinda friend.

        It could be that the OP is trying not to hang out with the kinda friend every day at work, but this probably won’t happen either. Maybe go out to lunch together and say “we should do this again sometime” and then wait a few weeks. That way the OP will make her own friends, but still remain friendly with the kinda friend.

    6. Jessa*

      Also, I don’t like talking about offers before starting because I seriously do not want to jinx things. The minute you start bragging to people something slips in and screws up the deal. I don’t know the relationship between the OP and the coworker, but it’s possible that there was a subliminal cue that the coworker could have screwed up the deal if she started yakking about it. You don’t say that of course, and you could be wrong, or not even realise you feel that way. You just say “I didn’t tell anyone til I actually started because I’ve seen cases where the offer falls through, or things go sideways. It’s not you (even if it is.) Sorry.”

  2. steve g*

    I don’t think an intern should ask to work remotely. It defeats the purpose of the internship, you should want to hang around the office and get to sift through the mail and ask to cover the main switchboard and talk with the other people in the office so you can start building a network/references. If you are good at these you might even be labeled as the main intern, which is a nice, albeit informal, distinction. When I was intern I did all of these things and also did coffee runs voluntarily because it was a good excuse to get out of the office, and a good excuse to talk to coworkers I had no other excuse to talk to.

    I also think asking to work from home will feed into the stereotypes that millenials are lazy and entitled, it may fairly and unfairly make people think “so he’s too good to ride the subway like everyone else?!”.

    I also think that it would make it seem that you don’t value the work….not sure how high of a level of work an intern can do…… my accounting friends did data entry type stuff when interning….i wrote simple letters and covered the receptionist….my sister who had had graphic design experience prior to interning at a magazine in nyc still found herself digging out old pics from the archives, efiling and manually filing, etc.

    1. Zillah*

      Yeah, I think that there are definitely tangible benefits that OP#3 could get just being in the office; fairly or not, people are going to be a lot more likely to remember the guy they chatted with about baseball at the coffee machine every Wednesday than the guy who emailed them the data quickest, and I also think that there are basic cues and office politics that you might pick up on much more easily.

      That said, I don’t think it would be terrible for the OP to ask for some work from home time, but I absolutely wouldn’t ask for all of it, and I also wouldn’t include working the evenings as part of your pitch. You’ll only be given 20-30 hours a week; what would they gain from you working in the evenings? I’d personally look a little askance at that kind of pitch, especially since it’s often harder to concentrate in the evening for a variety of reasons. To me, that would read as, “OP#3 wants to be able to sleep in/go out during the day.”

      You say you’re getting 20-30 hours a week; why don’t you ask to work from home on days where you wouldn’t be in for the full day, anyway? So, if you’re going to have three and a half days, you could ask, “Hey, since I’ll only need to be in here for 3 hours on Thursdays, can I work from home that day?”

      1. AnotherHRPro*

        As an intern, one of the things you should be trying to get out of the experience is networking, contacts, relationships and how to effectively work with others. When you work at home, this is very limited.

      2. Mabel*

        Hi Zillah, I agree that an intern will probably not be well-served by working from home, but I just wanted to say that it’s not always “harder to concentrate in the evening for a variety of reasons.” I think it depends on the person. I am way more productive later in the day, and my job is such that that works fine. My manager is OK with whatever schedule is best for me because I’ve proven myself over the years. That said, I’ve been working from home for almost two months straight (due to extreme weather), and I can hardly wait to get back into the office!

        1. Zillah*

          Absolutely – it can work fine. But, I do think it’s fair to say that it’s often more difficult, particularly if you don’t live alone.

      3. E.R*

        Is it also possible that this approach will look like “I’m not getting the interesting work that I was hoping for, so I’m not particularly interested in coming into the office anymore”?

    2. Artemesia*

      The thing that jumped at me is that this is NOT an internship; this is another example of exploiting a student for ordinary menial workplace labor (entering data for clients) because it is cheaper than paying real wages to get that work done. It doesn’t much matter where the OP does it from as it is not an internship in which the education of the intern is the focus.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Actually, not in this case. I understand the concerns about some internships, but this is a paid position that’s paying significantly above minimum wage (according to a follow-up email from the letter-writer). They could actually hire someone for substantially less!

        1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

          I tend to jump to that conclusion too, and we really really shouldn’t do that. I’m pretty passionate about the “fairness” of interns being paid, so I did the same thing when I was reading that post – get off on the mental sidetrack of griping to myself about data entry not being something an intern should be doing and pay a damn actual worker would you.

          Really, really shouldn’t do that without more info. << resolved

        2. De (Germany)*

          Maybe this is a stupid question, but I am not from the US – if they are not paid, not associated with coursework for universoty and can be limited in time anyway (seeing as the US has at-will employment), why is it called an internship and not just a temporary part-time position? Are there other differences to “normal” part-time employment?

            1. anonyclass*

              with an internship a larger degree of on-the-job teaching/mentoring is generally expected vs part-time work where a candidate is usually expected to have the majority of skills required.

              1. Meg Murry*

                And internships often have a specific timeframe attached to them, like 3 months in the summer or one semester in college – although at some jobs interns are then hired for a second stint, either as another internship or as a part timer. It is also (usually) understood that for an intern their schoolwork comes first if they are interning at the same time they are taking classes and that their schedule may be shaped around an academic calendar.

                Everywhere I’ve worked at in internship (in science or engineering) the intern was also given a specific project to work on, with a specific goal to reach by the end of the program, so it was more than just an extra pair of hands.

            2. Just Another Techie*

              It helps set expectations for the rest of the team. You wouldn’t expect an intern to get as much work done as a regular employee, even a junior one. And, in my field, at least, there’s an expectation that interns are assigned a formal mentor and are given a lot of one on one teaching and coaching.

          1. Helena*

            I did a bunch of internships in library school, and interns are usually seen as being new to the workforce (or at least the industry they’re interning in) so the relationship is more of a mentoring one than with a regular employee. Interns aren’t usually held to the same standards of professionalism and job skills because they are expected to still be learning.

            1. Andrew*

              I did an internship in library school. It was not run well. I didn’t really get any mentoring and was basically a volunteer. When I asked for a reference, they told me that because I was there such a short time, they would only confirm my dates of “employment” for the internship. This was at a nearby public library. I was not happy.

              1. Miss Betty*

                Most of my internship in library school was at a public library circulation desk and shelving (both of which I was already familiar with). I only spent a day or two doing actual librarian work and no reference work at all. Rather disappointing and not, I suspect, what the internship was supposed to be. They did love how well I did the shelving!

          2. jag*

            Internships are supposed to be educational. Not academic, but helping the intern learn about their desired field of work.

          3. Cheesecake*

            Well explained. As an intern you join a dept and help out here and there, but mostly learn daily departmental task, how company operates and so on. Another thing about paid internship (European waving at you), this pay is symbolic and is not in any way compared to a pay a part-time professional or worker hired for a short project will get. I am not sure how it is in the US though.

          4. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

            We’ve done paid interns before, specifically in graphic art.

            Ways it differed from part time/temp work:

            1) we paid about 20% less than what we would have paid for temporary work ($12 an hour vs $15 an hour)
            2) It was part of a college course, which meant I filled out paperwork/progress reports during the course and had to write an evaluation at course end
            3) we had some obligation to make sure the intern was exposed to multiple types of tasks/people that we wouldn’t have had with temporary work.
            4) Termination would have been a lot harder. Fortunately we never had a outright bum one, but we’ve only done a few because that risk does weigh. It would be very hard for us to boot someone doing an internship for college credit and screw up an entire course that they had paid for, ’cause, we’re at heart nice people. The last one was weak enough for us to pause about getting locked in again.

          5. The IT Manager*

            In my experience the US doesn’t really use the term “permanent” work – all work is assumed “permanent” unless there is a qualifier like temporary/temp/short-term contract. “Internship” is just a another way of implying short-term position with the addition of highlighting the type of person doing the work – young, inexperienced, in or just out of school.

          6. Artemesia*

            Most of the time in the US such internships are not well paid; many times they are not paid at all. All sorts of college graduates (who have families that can afford to support them) do ‘internships’ because they simply can’t find jobs and do them for free. There are some prestigious internships that pay well and occasionally companies make it a policy to pay at least minimum wage, but there are many places that don’t.

            1. Judy*

              Except in STEM, or at least engineering. Engineering internships pay less than a graduate engineer, but much more than minimum wage.

          7. Koko*

            In my organization, an “intern” is a short-term paid employee who does the rote/low-skill tasks we need done.

            I kind of wondered when I was reading #3 what exactly they thought they’d be doing in a marketing internship, and whether they were actually outright misled about the nature of the job, or if they just didn’t ask about what the bulk of tasks would be and assumed they were going to be handed the keys to the social media accounts and told to take over. (Which, granted, was something that a lot of marketing interns were given in 2008 when companies cared less about social media and nobody really knew how to do it except young recent grads, but not in 2015.)

            I work in marketing and our intern does things like file invoices, answer public email account, mail packages, and yes, a lot of data hygiene tasks. They are getting a lot of exposure to how marketing works by being in our department and seeing how we run things, but they’re not really doing anything I’d call marketing on its own.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              Your last sentence is basically what I understood internships are for. As far as being onsite, the school I went to this last failed go-round told me I had to do an internship (professional writing course) and there were virtual internships available. I would have had to work full-time in order to live, and most internships don’t pay squat, if they do at all. Conversely, the interns at Exjob benefited from being physically present since we worked in manufacturing.

            2. AnonAnalyst*

              Yes, this. I work in market research and our interns do a lot of data entry/data clean-up, as well as super exciting tasks like assembling mailers, shipping packages, and answering the FAQ-type questions that come to our “info” email account. The interns that have been here for awhile and have excelled at these tasks get additional tasks, like making charts and graphs in our research report drafts and reformatting surveys.

              We try to give interns opportunities to see how our whole process works so they can get a better understanding and more real-world experience, but as far as the actual work they’re usually doing, it’s not super glamorous or high-level. I’m not sure how this position was described to the OP, but this doesn’t sound at all surprising to me for a marketing internship. On the plus side, it could be building to something the OP finds more interesting, like helping out with a project where the OP can see how they’ll actually use that data.

              That said, if I were the OP I think I’d keep going in to the office rather than trying to work from home, even if the entire internship will just be data entry. Even just being in the office will give her more exposure to to how their process/some marketing jobs work. Plus, one of the benefits of being an intern is that you have more leeway to ask about how things work, or ask if you might be able to learn more about a particular project or process. The answer might be “no,”, but it’s expected that you’re there to learn, so (in my experience, anyway), people are generally more willing to give you a little extra time/explanation/opportunity to be involved as part of that experience.

            3. Oryx*

              Yes, that last sentence sums up my experience. I had an internship at a literary magazine in college and yes, I got a lot of exposure about how a literary magazine operates and is put together but without actually running it or being an editor myself.

              Someone up thread also said internships tend to be educational but not necessarily academic and mine certainly was educational.

            4. Melissa*

              I did an internship at a market research firm and my internship was (thankfully) much more involved than that. I wrote a newsletter for clients, did data analysis and wrote reports on the data, put together presentation decks for permanent employees, assisted in strategizing research plans, and assisted with the planning of some custom research projects. I was an advanced PhD student at the time and had advanced data analysis and excellent writing skills, and they took advantage of that.

              I don’t think I would like an internship that primarily had me filing and mailing packages. Answering client contacts has a learning component to it, too, and data hygiene is actually a really important component of analysis – I feel like anyone who works with data needs to have the experience of cleaning it so they know how when they need to. (I’m a postdoc and I still do some data cleaning, mostly in preparation for my own analyses).

          8. abby*

            I am in the US and work for a nonprofit that attracts many graduate and undergraduate students seeking specific experience. We emphasize to our staff that true internships are limited to students in programs with which we have a formal agreement, and where the internship satisfies some specific criterion such as course credit or is a graduation requirement.

            The reason this is a big deal is because without these elements, interns are not covered by our worker’s comp policy. So if someone is “interning” for free, but does not have these formal elements associated with the “internship”, they could be SOL if injured on the job. Of course, if they are on the payroll, then they’re covered.

            My advice to those that use unpaid interns is check with your worker’s comp carrier to see if they cover interns. And what they require for individuals to be considered interns.

      2. Steve G*

        The intern could be learning lots of tricks in Excel while doing the data entry though, and be able to put Salesforce, Access, or whatever other computer programs on their resume after this….and employers are loving people with experience with some of those CRMs now, as I’m noticing in my job hunt (even though a lot of them are pretty easy to teach yourself…)

        1. Koko*

          They’re also probably learning a lot about what a marketing campaign plan looks like, what the stages of implementation are, what sort of vendors and clients the company works with, the language and terminology used in marketing, what sort of policies and procedures are best practices in the industry, what are the conference and professional associations that people in the industry find valuable, etc. I honestly would be surprised if an intern was actually asked to do marketing unless it was a very small shop. I would expect the educational benefit of an internship at a large company comes from exposure to the fundamentals of how a business does marketing, not actually doing the marketing for the company.

        2. Emily*

          Agreed! I manage interns and frequently say, “oh, let me show you an Excel trick . . . ” At first, they’re not that impressed. As they spend more time with the software and the work in general and begin to understand the workflow (and realize that software does a lot more than you might have used it for in school, and you’ll spend a lot of time using it as a professional!) they want to learn more.

          1. Melissa*

            One of the things I feel the best about was I worked a job in which, among other things, I taught undergrads how to do some intermediate stuff in Excel like pivot tables. I definitely didn’t learn how to do that before I graduated from college but I feel like so many employers ask for that now.

    3. Jen RO*

      I would suggest that OP #3 wait before asking to work for home, or at least run that by a more senior person (if available) before talking to the boss. In my company working from home is a “privilege” for people who have proved they are reliable, so a WFH request from a new employee would raise some red flags for a boss.

      1. SJP*

        Yea I’m with you on this. I did agree with Alisons reply but I feel the OP is being a bit short signed and naive. Yes it’s a paid internship but internships are there to teach people the in’s and out’s of professional work.
        Yes they’re really doing data entry but they could be working closely with say the client relationship manager or something alike and learn more about the clients they’re adding data in for and more. Yes, working from home is great. I don’t get to do it often but when I do it is nice to be comfortable and focused but I couldn’t do it long term. I think OP has a bit of rose tinted glasses that working from home is super focusing and they’d get loads done but I actually think (for me and some people for sure) that that focus wears off. You get tired and being at home doesn’t help as you can definitely slack or do things to procrastinate.

        I’d recommend staying in the office, doing the commute (better get used to it now) and learning all you can while you’re there. And you can’t optimise that by working from home in my opinion..

        1. Reburkle*

          +1 on this for sure! I think a lot of the purpose of an internship is to learn about office culture and form professional relationships.

    4. Stephanie*

      Yeah, I agree with this. I did sort of menial work as an intern as well–I was able to have projects with accomplishments, but it definitely was stuff I could have done in early college, maybe even in late high school. I’d guess most places are going to give an intern an interesting, noncritical side project at best just because the intern is a somewhat unknown quantity and new to the workforce (or at least new to the field).

      A lot of the internship then is just learning about how the company and/or industry works and making connections, so I’d imagine a lot of that would be lost if you weren’t in the office regularly, especially since you’re only there temporarily.

      1. Natalie*

        There’s also some value in learning to do a boring job. Data entry sucks – probably one of the most boring jobs* I’ve ever done in my life unless you can listen to an audiobook or something. But that’s life in a lot of jobs, so it’s helpful to figure out what you can do to make such a job tolerable.

        *Most boring job ever was cashier at a big box store. I wasn’t allowed to go more than 2 feet away from my cash register, couldn’t read, and didn’t have anyone to talk to unless they were assigned to the cash register next to mine. I literally started calculating how much I made per minute and then per second, in my head, because I was so incredibly bored.

        1. Artemesia*

          Nothing wrong with an intern doing grunt work, but very much wrong with that being most of what they do. Of course they will not be in charge of big projects normally but they should be doing a variety of things, observing in a variety of settings and participating in more advanced work. (although I have supervised interns who have in fact developed marketing campaigns, deigned web sites, created training etc etc for small businesses or agencies when they had the skills and the business didn’t have specialized resources. These were usually grad student interns with considerable expertise.) One of the big advantages of a good internship even for a student with limited professional skills is that they can move across boundaries and observe parts of the organization that a low level employee would not e.g. the boss invites them into meetings, or to observe client interactions etc that they would never experience as someone hired to enter data. I have also seen companies simply exploit free labor with little attempt to provide these other instructional elements. When I worked with interns, I did not authorize such placements although sometimes things don’t work as promised.

          1. Chinook*

            “Nothing wrong with an intern doing grunt work, but very much wrong with that being most of what they do. ”

            But you can learn a lot from doing grunt work if you want to. Right now we have an intern who is doing work I did last year (and will be given back to me when he is gone). There is a lot of mindless data entry, crunching of numbers and filling out of forms. But, from doing that I learned a lot about what the company does, was able to pick out trends and get an overall feel for my department. From the outside, it looks boring as heck, but I do my job as an assitant better now because I paid attention to the details.

            I also worked with another intern to help populate a database from historical data. It was mindnumbingly boring work (think opening up 100’s of pdfs to find a couple pieces of data from froms that were not consistently laid out). After a month of this, we both we able to talk intelligently about the topic in ways that no amount of “creative” work could have taught us.

            1. Melissa*

              It depends on what the grunt work is. Data entry and cleaning, I feel, is part of that grunt work that actually teaches you a lot. Making coffee, making copies, filing? Maybe not so much.

        2. Steve G*

          Data entry isn’t necessarily a low level job. At 2 jobs ago, we used SAP, Excel, Salesforce, and Access… data entry wasn’t just cutting and pasting things from one page or sheet into another…there are a lot of tricks to those computer programs to learn to be able to get the data in their correctly.

          There is a large room for error in things like setting up accounts that already exist under a different name, getting rid of duplicate sites, setting up hierarchies of customer/partner/sales rep, in SAP, I remember a lot of linking locations to nodes to pricing contracts, which had room for error because you also had to make sure you weren’t linking them before a certain date…..

          Then you had to download everything into excel and vlookup it against each and make sure it matched and that there were no gaps (both would come up as n/a) and then had to look into what the N/As were….and since messing up pricing data entry was such a big deal you also needed to download the pricing and put it into pivot tables according to contract and vlookup it against your planned pricing sheets….

          So the data entry was a lot more than just mindlessly typing stuff in.

          These functions weren’t automated because every set of data entry had so many exceptions it was less work to do it all by hand

          1. Natalie*

            Well, I didn’t say low level, I said boring. The two aren’t necessarily synonymous.

            And what you’re describing is precisely my point – by going into the office and doing this work without other comforts/distractions, perhaps the OP will learn that practicing more efficient techniques or learning shortcuts is something that can help take the sting out of an otherwise dull task.

          2. kd*

            Agreed. Our ‘data entry’ is incredibly complex. It might seem menial, but it takes some smarts and innovation. Over the years I have actually used data entry assignments to see how well an employee performs – attention to detail, checking work, thinking about the entry – does this look right? and correcting if not.
            It actually proved itself to be a great tool in weeding out the who can and who can’t. Of course the can’ts then can be sent in other directions.

      2. Lead, Follow or Get Outta the Way!*

        For one summer internship, I had to go through the Marketing Dept’s library and catalog and organize everything. But I also read a lot of the information and reports there and learned a lot about how retail store planning, target markets, and advertising campaigns can change drastically depending on the region, audience and even which side of the block a store is on. So even though data entry may seem boring, perhaps you can learn a lot from what you are entering.

        I also believe it’s not in the best interest of the intern to make this request. There is so much they can learn simply by being in the office, watching and listening. My internship program included weekly lunches with the executives doing presentations for us. We learned what path they took to reach their current level, what they look for in employees and where they see growth and development for the business which also included a Q&A session. I wonder if there is some additional programming for the intern program that hasn’t been included in the original letter?

    5. Monodon monoceros*

      I agree with this. My interns were usually assigned boring tasks as their main goal (data entry, updating our reference database, etc.) but the good ones who were around a lot often got brought into much more interesting tasks. Even if #3 is doing a great job at her data entry but she’s at home, she’s a lot less likely to be available, or even thought of, for the more interesting tasks or potential full time work later. Or even for job references later (who is Jane? Oh yeah, that intern that worked from home and I never saw…her data entry was good, but I wonder how she’d be in other situations?)

      1. Cheesecake*

        I really hope OP3 reads your comment!

        I don’t think this request will fly because OP doesn’t ask this for right reasons. The job turned out to not be what OP expected and now OP wants to sort of hide at home. But “expected” doesn’t mean employer communicated completely different job duties; it is just a harsh reality of office tasks. There are things OP can do by trying to network, show some initiative and help colleagues with projects or talking to the boss about assigning different tasks. But doing this you need to steer clear from sounding “Boring data entry is not for me!!!” you need to be more like “I have learnt and done it well, not i am ready for additional things”

        Also, doing boring data entry at home will such even more than in the office.

        1. SJP*

          Spot on! I’m glad I’m not the only one who thought this when reading it. I was worried my reply was going to be harsh but I literally just shaking my head a bit at how short sighted this person was. We all have to start somewhere and interning is usually it and to miss like 80% of what you could learn cause you wanna work from home will totally backfire for reasons already mentioned…

          1. AdAgencyChick*

            Nope, you’re not the only one!

            Without having the details of how the company presented the job description, this is speculation on my part, but I have a feeling the job was never presented to OP as “you will be doing big things in the marketing department.” I’m guessing that OP and the company simply have different interpretations about what “marketing intern” should mean.

            Interns often do boring things, at least at first. Someone has to do these tasks and they don’t require a lot of skill, and by the principle of “assign tasks to the least qualified employee who can do them, so that more qualified employees are freed up to do the things only they can do,” these tasks quite properly go to interns, who don’t yet have the know-how to take on more interesting tasks. The intern who works diligently at these boring tasks while observing and asking questions about the field and the workplace, and also while building relationships with others in the office, is the intern who starts getting assigned more interesting things to do — and the intern who has the best chance of being hired for a permanent position.

            So even if OP really would get more of those *tasks* done at home, she’ll get more accomplished for her *career* if she goes into the office, and I agree with all of you who said the question was short-sighted.

            1. cuppa*

              And doing boring things still advertises a lot about you: your attention to detail, focus, ability to follow instructions, etc.

          2. Natalie*

            I don’t think your comments were off base at all, I just wouldn’t necessarily describe the OP as shortsighted. They are a student, presumably, and probably just ignorant of all of the reasons aside from one’s specific tasks to be physically present in the office. And now they know!

        2. INTP*

          “Feeling more refreshed” at home also sounds like a really bad reason for an intern to mention. I know it wasn’t the primary reason but even mentioning it in a list will stick out as absurd. You’re weeks into an easy, part time job at the start of your career telling people who have been showing up every day for years that you don’t want to come into work because you don’t feel refreshed there. We all feel more refreshed at home and most prefer to work there but at this point in your career, you’re expected to be willing and ambitious and trying to get more face time and responsibility-if you ask for the opposite, it will stick out and raise concerns about your work ethic.

      2. anonyclass*

        In an office where the handbook clearly states that wfh is only a last resort exception if you can’t get into the office (and often this goes with needing to clear it with your manager case by case), I agree that I don’t think it’s at all ok for an intern to ask to wfh regularly. As others have pointed out, an intern needs face time in order to build a reputation that gets a good reference for when s/he is looking for full time employment. The soft skills you learn in the office setting like getting along with others and learning how to conduct yourself in a business setting are a big part of the point (when interviewing for my first full time role and explaining how my internship at all related to or helped me develop skills to succeed in new job, I definitely sold the soft skills part — and got the job) . Most internships aren’t glorious and I think this letter writer may feel cheated out of “cool” work when instead s/he should be asking what else can be done in addition to the data entry that may align with interests/career development goals, even if it’s just opportunity to shadow once a week or sit in on some types of meetings, etc.

      3. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Absolutely. It sounds like the OP just started her internship, so the fact that she’s doing data entry doesn’t alarm or concern me– it might be a great place to start to get to know the company and its client base, all while doing something tangible and useful. Most internships I know have to start somewhere, and once the intern proves him/herself, tasks increase. Working from home means the intern misses out on a lot. The only way I could see it working is in a company like mine, where we’re scattered all over the country and communicate primarily by phone and Skype.

        1. Meg Murry*

          Yes – how long have you been there OP? It is possible that the data entry is just step one of the project they are going to have you doing, and then they will be getting into doing some analysis of the data – which you definitely will want to be in the office for.

          If you are still taking classes, I think its one thing to say “hey, I have a lot of exams to study for tomorrow, can I take this stack of papers home and do my 3 hours of data entry there and then I’ll be back the day after tomorrow” but its another to ask to make it an all-the-time work from home position.

          Also, they may have reasons to not have the files leave the office, especially with a new, unknown entity like an intern who could flake on the data entry and not bring the files back. Not saying you would do that OP, but I’ve been burned by one too many flaky interns to allow that without the intern having built up a lot of trust over several weeks/months.

        2. plain_jane*

          Completely agree. And if the data entry is done quickly, then a good intern will then ask around “what else can I be helping with?” and they get pulled into the interesting meetings and asked to take notes. And then they’re the obvious choice when that project needs an extra set of hands, etc, etc.

        3. INTP*

          Yep – plus, your reliability and skills are pretty much untested at this point. They can’t just give you important work before knowing that you will get it done by the deadline. Most people spend the first few weeks of their job doing something a little different than what they were hired for – it’s normal while you’re being prepped for higher stakes work.

      4. A Reader becoming QAT Contractor*

        Exactly. If they are not in the office they are very much less likely to be though of at all. I do tend to do a lot of remote work but that’s because many of my clients are in different states or even countries. It’s MUCH harder to be there in person every day. However, if the client’s budget allows for it my company prefers that we go onsite at least the first week or two so people get to know us a bit.

        The other benefit of being in the office is overhearing conversations. Again, this happens for me a lot. While I’m doing my normal daily work, someone might come up and talk to a developer on the project and ask about some issue they are seeing. If the issue is resolved on the spot, it usually isn’t brought to any one elses attention which means when I need to verify that functionality I wouldn’t have known about it.

        There are a lot of little things that can be picked up just by being in the environment vs working from home. And as Monodon points out, additional work could be brough up just because they see you and think “I wonder if would be interested in something like this.”

        Even if it’s only a 3-4 hours on a day, it might not be the best idea to work from home every time unless it is an emergency. Maybe work on a schedule that allows you to have the maximum number of hours for the maximum number of days (30 hours being five 6 hour days rather than three 8 hour days and a 6 hour day). Basically the more days someone sees you, the more they will remember you.

        1. JMegan*

          Overhearing conversations is HUGE. I spent a summer working in a French-speaking office – my French at the time was good enough to do the work, and for meetings and face-to-face conversations, but not good enough to understand the conversations that were going on in the background. And it had a real impact on my quality of life in the office. Although I was able to do the work, I was never able to connect with my team on a more social level. Don’t underestimate how important it is to be able to jump into an existing conversation, whether it’s about work or weekend plans or your favorite sports team.

          I’m with the others in thinking that the internship is about more than the data entry, and that you’ll get a lot more out of it by staying in the office.

        2. Zillah*

          Maybe work on a schedule that allows you to have the maximum number of hours for the maximum number of days (30 hours being five 6 hour days rather than three 8 hour days and a 6 hour day). Basically the more days someone sees you, the more they will remember you.

          Eh, I feel like this might be going a little overboard. In theory, I suspect that you’re right, but in practice, this might just not be super feasible. I know that for me, what I’d gain from having an extra day where I didn’t have to go into work would far outweigh the potential benefit from someone seeing me five days a week rather than four.

          1. A Reader becoming QAT Contractor*

            Completely understandable. Everyone has different schedules and priorities.

            I would still say more is typically better to many people, and while one day away for you is beneficial to you, that day away could have an impact on the others from the office.

            It’s hard to give a general “best practice” due to so many company cultures being so different.

      5. Olive Hornby*

        Yes, this, absolutely. If the intern wants to move beyond data entry projects, the answer would be to 1) do a really, really good job with the data entry and 2) talk to her supervisor about opportunities for long-term projects. Whether intentional or not, asking for wfh will signal “I’m just here for a paycheck, not to learn about the industry.” That’s perfectly reasonable for most jobs, but if you’re in an internship, part of the point (in theory) is to learn by immersion, and to make connections with others in the office. If I had an intern who asked for this, I’d take it as a sign that she wasn’t particularly interested in the field, and I’d be less likely to forward her job listings, etc.

      6. LBK*

        Totally agreed with this. I interned for a very well-known and well-respected magazine one summer. The majority of it was boring data entry/data cleansing stuff, but because I did that efficiently and without complaint, I was also entrusted with choosing the photos that went on one of their websites. Being 19 and getting to sort through pictures taken by some of the most famous photographers in the world, deciding which ones were the best and putting them on a site that would probably be viewed by thousands of people…not a bad gig. I’ll gladly do data entry to get that privilege.

        1. Natalie*

          I had a similar internship experience in college, working for a historian. Lots of boring data entry, but I got to do some cool historical research at the National Archives and Library of Congress and do oral history interviews. And my name is in the acknowledgement page of a book!

      7. girlonfire*

        Yeah, I think even if WFH is accepted by the company, as an intern, your main goal isn’t really to have a more comfortable work environment. It should be to network and to learn. Working from home doesn’t allow you to do those things, and if you’re out of sight a manager will likely overlook you for a meeting that just came up that it would be cool to observe, or an all-hands fire task that would give you great experience.

        I think even asking to work from home might give this intern a reputation for not really caring about advancing or learning. Typically internships start with low-level work, and then often interns are given more and more responsibilities as they prove their reliability.

    6. Jamie*

      Cosigned on this. I think the most important thing I learned in my internship was to network, network, network. I still am in touch with quite a few people I interned for (I’ve been out of college 10 years now — wow, now I feel old) and they’ve helped me get in touch with job openings, offered to be references, etc. Don’t lose the opportunity to meet others and really wow them with your work — no matter how dull you think that work may be.

    7. hayling*

      I agree. Also I’m not sure how old the OP is, but internships are where you learn about office norms, get mentored, etc. It’s really important to be in the actual workplace.

    8. grasshopper*

      As the least experienced member of the team, interns will be asked to do the jobs requiring the least amount of experience. There are no shortcuts and I feel like a grumpy old “get off my lawn” person saying that as an intern, you aren’t above doing data entry, even if you view it as menial or beneath you. That never gives a company the right to exploit you and if the job description is totally different that should be addressed. However, at an intern level you do have to demonstrate that your work is good to prove that you are ready to take on bigger projects and move forward. I might be showing my age again, but think of the Karate Kid. There was a lot of practicing “wax on, wax off” before he got to do the fun stuff.

      Also, the real purpose of an internship is to make connections and build relationships. If you make a request to work from home, you won’t get that and you definitely will make a bad impression.

      1. Chinook*

        “There are no shortcuts and I feel like a grumpy old “get off my lawn” person saying that as an intern, you aren’t above doing data entry, even if you view it as menial or beneath you. ”

        I have to agree with this because I so often want to ask “who do you think should be doing it instead?” Someone has to do it and the intern is often the most logical person, especially at the beginning of their internship.

        Aslo, don’t forget that interns are an unknown quantity professionally and they will bejudged more than most employees on how they treat colleagues and support staff and whether or not they modify behahaviour if something is pointed out. this can impact future employment opportunities there or references elsewhere. If you work from home, your references will have no idea how well you fit into the office culture.

    9. Judy M*

      Exactly. Your internship is where you work side by side with people to learn the ins and outs of the job. If you already knew how to do it you wouldn’t be an intern, you’d be a seasoned professional, with which comes some potential benefits (depending on the company) like working from home.

      Even if you do know everything you need to know: Intern = Temporary
      If you’d like this to become permanent at a higher salary once you graduate it behooves you to get to know people so they realize they cannot live without you, this is way more complicated to achieve in a remote situation. Even if you don’t want to stay with that company, I assure you the connections you make there can help get you moving into a position you want somewhere else.

      1. Pescadero*

        “If you already knew how to do it you wouldn’t be an intern, you’d be a seasoned professional”

        In engineering… not so much. In my internships I did the exact same work as low level full time engineers – just less volume.

        No filing. No getting coffee. No copies.

        You just worked on 1-2 blocks vs. 4-5 of a permanent employee.

  3. hbc*

    OP2: “I don’t want a title I can’t live up to.” If you really don’t think you can ever live up to the title, then don’t waste your time and theirs on an interview. But hardly anyone goes to a job having 100% of the items nailed, whether it’s because the job description is a wish list or because any sane organization knows that people learn while doing. There may also be something on your resume that they didn’t explicitly ask for that’s worth the extra training. (For example, my company is Dutch, so while it would be crazy to make that language a requirement in the US, I’ll be all over you if I see it in your resume.)

    They thought you were good enough to talk to, so go and find out if you can realistically do a good job six months or a year in. Be honest about your starting point but realistic-bending-towards-optimistic on your ability to get there. “I only have 5 months with system X, but I pick up software fast and had quick learning curves with similar systems Y and Z.” Don’t sell yourself short.

    1. Cheesecake*

      Yes to don’t sell yourself short. The employer did not randomly choose OP; they found something worth their time to at least interview.

      Where i live and i’d say in a lot of other places, engineers are very much needed and hard to find. So what companies put out there is more like a “wish list” than a job description. They want 10 years of work experience, reality is – 5 is what they can find and that will do if person is a fast learner.

      1. Steve G*

        +1. I am having a hard time coming up with a computer program that you need so many years of experience with just to do a job, besides some programming languages…..but even with programs like Excel Macros, after 2 yrs experience – or even 1 intense year – you usually know enough to figure out the rest on the job. You shouldn’t have to know every last thing about the computer program to be hired.

        1. Cheesecake*

          IT field has its own place when talking about job description vs reality. Again, where i live there is a shortage of IT professionals and not because of poor salary (the salary is in fact more than great). I know stories about companies wanting to hire a senior developer and ended up hiring a recent graduate (but a very smart one – lets give him credit). It happens because a) IT is still “unknown area” and sometimes people who advertise know nothing about who they need. Sometimes hiring managers don’t know because they are not IT. So they might ask 10 years of experience in a particular language while in fact 2 years of experience with other language can do.

    2. Helen*

      I think that if they brought her in for an interview, she was one of the most qualified candidates. If she’s not the most qualified candidate, they’ll give the job to someone else–not give her a lower job. So I don’t see how offering to have another job title would help. And if she is the most qualified, then I think she’s earned the title.

      1. AnotherHRPro*

        It is possible that the OP has other skills that they are interested in. If they value those other skills, they may be willing to modify the job, provide training, etc. in the areas the OP is light on. OP – be confident, focus on what you do offer, what you can learn and be honest about what skills you do not have.

      2. LBK*

        Exactly. Let the employer decide if you’re qualified for what they want you to do. It’s the inverse of people who insist they ARE the most qualified for positions they don’t get – either way, you can’t possibly know as much as I do about what I want for the position because you’re not the one offering it.

      3. AdAgencyChick*

        Either they are separately hiring for a different job and the recruiter was smart enough to realize that although OP’s resume wasn’t right for the job she applied for, OP might be a good fit for this other job; or, as you say, they think she’s one of the best candidates. Either way, OP has nothing to lose by going in for the interview and just being honest about her strengths and weaknesses.

    3. Aknownymous*

      I totally agree. They saw your resume and brought you in for an interview, so they already know your background. It’s always nerve-racking to start a new job, especially if you’re worried that you’ll fall short. But if they hire you, it’s because they believe in your abilities and your potential. Do not underestimate that, and do not underestimate yourself. It might be a challenge, but as long as it’s one you can reasonably meet over, say, 3-6 months, I don’t think you should worry about it. It takes the same amount of time for any new employee to pick up speed in most cases anyway.

      And I think a challenge is a good thing – it forces you to grow, and imo it’s certainly better than staying in your comfort zone, especially if you are looking to advance in your career. I also think most people don’t feel truly ready when they are offered these kinds of increased responsibilities, so you just have to trust your education, skills, and experience, and take a leap. I think you’ll be surprised at how well you’ll do when push comes to shove.

    4. Not Here or There*

      It might also be that they’re looking for someone who is in a transitional phase between analyst and senior analyst. It may be that they would prefer to train a person with less qualifications than retrain someone who meets all the marks but doesn’t do things the way they do. I was encouraged to apply for a position that was way above my title, and did not meet all of the qualifications they were looking for on the job ad. It turns out the talent recruitment dept has blanket job descriptions for certain types/ levels of jobs and they don’t necessarily match what the hiring manager is looking for. I think this is a very silly way to go about doing these things, but it doesn’t seem all that uncommon, esp with large companies that hire thousands of people.
      Also, I find that a lot of job ads tend to fall into the fantasy wishlist category. As in, the hiring manager sits down with HR and HR asks, what qualifications would make for the perfect employee? The manager answers: 10 years experience, a masters degree, fluent in 18 languages, can fly, and is willing to work for a salary at 50% of market value. The manager than says, but what’s most important is that we get someone with 5 years experience and a masters degree. The HR person then goes and posts the fantasy wishlist just to see what sort of bites they get.

    5. Anonymous Educator*

      I don’t know if the OP is suffering from imposter syndrome or not, but I highly recommend not caring about “qualifications” and caring more about “can I do the job?” I’d say easily half the jobs I’ve had in the last 15 years are jobs I’m not technically (on paper) “qualified” for, but I didn’t care, and neither did my employers. I cared more for myself about whether I knew I could do the job or learn the skills quickly. So did my employers. It all worked out.

      Do X number of years really matter? I don’t know what analysis engineers do exactly, but would 5 years or 10 years really make that much of a difference in terms of competency? I don’t know.

  4. Stephanie*

    #2 – Is the position one where it was advertised as Analyst/Senior Analyst? Even if that’s the case, I wouldn’t say anything about the junior role and just let the company determine the appropriate level if they do make an offer. If the experience you lack was truly an issue, they wouldn’t have called you in for an interview.

  5. Elkay*

    #2 You might find that they’re already interviewing you with a view to offering it to you at a lower level, that’s what happened to me in my last job (although I didn’t realise that until I came across the original advert when I was clearing out some paperwork at home).

    #3 I’d raise an eyebrow at an intern wanting to switch to telecommuting purely because I think that part of an internship is learning to interact with people in a professional environment and being in the office is a good way of doing that.

    #4 I’m curious as to what requirements they don’t have, if you’re being expected to teach them how to use your database that seems reasonable (even if it is Microsoft Access). I can’t imagine anyone taking a job and knowing how to do it without any training.

    1. AggrAV8ed Tech*

      With #4, perhaps it’s a hire that lacks the basic skills necessary to the job and not the more employer-specific skills/knowledge. For example, I was responsible for “training” someone that got transferred into my office and he was wholly underqualified technology-wise for the position. He didn’t even possess a rudimentary troubleshooting acumen and would often give up on any tech problems he encountered, leaving me to sweep up the mess.

  6. Buu*

    On #1 is she possibly also mad because she could have gotten a referral bonus if she’d referred you?
    Other than that she’s probably feeling hurt that you didn’t talk to her, and probably valued the friendship more than you do. 18 months is actually a pretty decently long time to know someone! She probably didn’t congratulate you on your engagement because she’s hurt and is questioning if you’re even friends with her.I think it’s also normal to cancel out on events if you’re mad with someone so you have time to cool off or don’t spoil the event for the host.

    She shouldn’t be snapping at you at work, but you need to sort out what kind of friends you are. It’s not fair to turn up at someone’s work without telling them because’ you don’t know them well’, but then expect them to attend every social function /special occasion ! If you don’t know her well why does she need to congratulate you? Why are you angry that she didn’t turn up to the social event, are you disappointed you couldn’t hang out with her? or is it more like you felt ignored by it?

    BTW I know I may sound harsh, this isn’t a personal attack! Ask yourself these questions and sort things out. You two are going to be seeing each other everyday and you don’t need this hanging over you.

    1. the gold digger*

      18 months is actually a pretty decently long time to know someone!

      Yeah, I would have to like someone a lot to meet her twice a month for dinner or whatever during my precious spare time when I could be at home by myself without other people bothering me.

      1. Judy*

        I could count on one hand the people who don’t live at my house that I see twice a month socially, not work, church or scouts. And I’m not sure there’s anyone who isn’t related to me by blood or marriage. I guess back before the kids, there were one hands worth of people I saw that much.

        1. Judy*

          I should amend that. My kids have neighborhood kids in and out all the time, so that might count. But really, they’re not my social interactions. And I do talk to a few people before the classes I go to at the Y, but that’s not planned.

        2. fposte*

          I was thinking that myself. Though I do think there are social groups, especially in younger crowds, where there’s a lot of group activities that don’t confer much intimacy–maybe that’s what the OP is experiencing. I still think that’s too significant an acquaintanceship to make the OP’s brushoff wise, though.

          1. LBK*

            Yeah, I can think of a few people who are friends of friends that I see regularly but only in a group context, and only when they’re invited by the person I’m actually friends with – they aren’t people I would purposely schedule time to hang out with. I still consider those relationships close enough that I would find it super weird if they knew they were interviewing in my department and didn’t say anything to me.

          2. Koko*

            I wondered at that too – whether these are one-on-one dinners and movies, or a group of 6-8 friends who get together a couple times a month. I have a group like that where I’m only really close to a 2-3 of them, and I probably wouldn’t talk about a job hunt proactively with the other 3-4 people that I’m not as close to (I rarely have direct one-to-one communication with these people anyway), but I probably would if it was their company, and almost definitely if it was their department AND they saw me leaving the interview!

            1. Melissa*

              Yeah, I have a group like that too…but there are people in that group I see even less than 2x a month and I would still tell them if I got offered a new job in their department and was going to show up in their office on Monday.

        3. Kyrielle*

          I need two hands, but only because we have a weekly social gathering of (mostly) the same group of friends at our house. But I very rarely see them outside of that context…and there’s no one outside that group and my immediate family that I see twice a month socially.

      2. Laurel Gray*

        Right. And the OP calls this person a social acquaintance. The OP mentions this is someone she wouldn’t tell secrets to. I think this has more to do with the OP being a mature adult who is private over her level of friendship with this person. As someone who is super busy, seeing someone 2 times a month socially is friendship so I too would have felt some ways about the OP not telling me about her job search and then doing the “sort of” lie when she saw me at the job.

    2. Elsajeni*

      This is what I was thinking, too. I definitely have people in my social circle who aren’t close enough that I would proactively reach out and tell them that I was interviewing at their company — friends of friends, people I see at big group activities but not one-on-one, that sort of thing — but by the same token, I wouldn’t expect them to proactively reach out and congratulate me on my engagement, and I can’t imagine a situation where I’d be the person they’d text to say they weren’t coming to something. I don’t know exactly how the “silent treatment” has manifested here, but OP, is it possible she’s just picking up “yeah, we’re not that close, pal” cues from you and pulling back?

  7. Marzipan*

    #1, I’m ferociously private (to the point of ridiculous secrecy) so I get not wanting to tell her while you were interviewing. However, I also get how it must seem quite odd to her – since you’d hardly be able to work there without her noticing.

    I think saying that you didn’t want to jinx the possibility of an appointment is probably your best bet – you’ve mentioned it in your letter, so I assume that’s part of what motivated you. I’d suggest you apologise, and say you know it was silly to be so superstitious but that you didn’t intend to snub her or deceive her, you were just anxious about whether the interview would turn into an offer and wanted to keep the recruitment process private in case it didn’t pan out. With hindsight, it would probably have been better to contact her sometime between your appointment and your start date to let her know you’d be working with her, but that can’t be helped now.

    Unless she’s someone with a long history of inappropriate nosiness, though, (and, to be honest, even if she is) I do think you need to move away from thinking of her question about whether you were there for an interview as ‘prying’ that needed to be ‘curbed’. A normal reaction to seeing a friend suddenly appear in your workplace would be to ask what brings them there, and as she works there she would presumably be aware of vacancies which were being recruited for. Maybe it made you uncomfortable because you were nervous about your interview, and not expecting to see her then, and that made you gloss over why you were there, which is fair enough – and you can explain that to her now. But I don’t think it was massively nosy or inappropriate of her to ask, and I think if you go into your future interactions with her thinking that it was, it probably won’t help matters. Own it as a moment of weirdness at a tense time, apologise, and move on.

  8. Juli G.*

    OP1 – My assumption is there has to be more going on. If you show up at someone’s place of work and it’s not generally open to the public, I don’t think asking about that is prying. I’m wondering if there’s a history that you omitted.

    OP4 – I understand this feeling but as Allison said, training someone is not unusual. My team once interviewed someone that was awful in my opinion – she made it through three questions in an hour and a half and there were several unprofessional comments. For some reason, everyone else found these things charming and she was hired. None of my four teammates wanted to train her though so at my manager’s request I sucked it up and did it professionally because it was in my best interest that she learn how to do her job.

    1. Anonymous1973*

      #1 Another vote for “is something omitted?” I just don’t see how the friend was being nosy and why you needed to shut her out, and now you’re mad at her for not congratulating you?

      As an aside, at my workplace, we’re told to ask strangers why they are in the building as a security measure. So her asking could have been due to security concerns.

    2. Oryx*

      Yes, the use of the word “prying” was bizarre. You’re at HER job — of course it’s natural for her to ask why.

    3. Laurel Gray*

      I agree with this. Without more context it is hard for me not to draw the conclusion that some of the social awkwardness displayed by OP1 wasn’t mostly just immaturity.

  9. Chriama*

    OP 1 – I have a similarly awkward story. I just graduated last spring and moved bsck to my hometown to work. I accepted the job a few months before graduation, but didn’t speak to anyone about it because I’ve heard too many horror stories here of offers rescinded. Anyway, since I was coming back home a lot of people at my church asked me what I would be doing and I told them I was ‘planning to find work’. (Depending on the way they phrased the question it was sometimes a lie of omission and sometimes a deliberate falsehood). Anyway, unbeknownst to me, my mom had started telling people about my new job to-be (thanks mom, even after we discussed how I wasn’t planning to tell anyone and you sounded like you understood!). So I ended up telling one woman that I didn’t have a job yet, and when we got home my mom was like “btw I already told her about your job but I also mentioned you wouldn’t be telling people until you’re ready haha!” After I’d started working, I ran into the woman again and she asked how the job hunt was going and I told her I was now working and she said something like “oh, so you can tell me about it now haha”. That was kind of embarrassing…

    Anyway, the point is that I can understand you wanting to keep personal information private for a number of reasons. However, sometimes people will be put out because they were only asking to be friendly, and the fact of your lie makes it seem like you don’t trust them or something, turning an innocent question into a much bigger deal.

    Anyway, I do think it’s a little weird that you seem put out that she didn’t reach out to congratulate you on the job or your engagement when you made a point of keeping stuff private from her. If you’ve made it clear you don’t want to share these things with her, she’s not out of line for respecting your wishes by not discussing them with you. The passive-aggressive behaviour and silent treatment are out of line though.

    1. Molly Smith*

      OP #3 I agree with the comments above that the purpose of the internship is about much more than you entering in some client data.We also have paid internships where, like yours, the pay is higher than market for the tasks required, and that is because we view it as more than just getting the low-level tasks completed. For us, it’s an internship – not “temp work” – even if a lot of what you are doing seems like temp work. It’s about getting to meet and know people in the office, understanding the job and business better, and allowing the company to get to know you. We really work to give interns those opportunities over the life of the internship (I this doesn’t always happen.) We also have a WFH policy where it is for exceptions and not the norm. If an intern asked me to regularly WFH (and not an unusual, one off request), we would likely just end the internship because it is clear the intern isn’t interested in the job/business or isn’t going to be a good fit for our company. If you know this isn’t a job/work you want to do (based on the internship) that might be fine, but if you are just miffed you are doing data entry, this may not end the way you hope.

    2. Artemesia*

      Wow. You must have been furious. I’ll bet the person you don’t tell something private next will be Mom. I had my mother on total information embargo about any health issue for years because she could be counted on to casually discuss everyone’s most private information with the clerk at the supermarket, her hairdresser, and any random person waiting at the bus stop.

      1. Chriama*

        I think I might have been annoyed, but I don’t even remember it now. I know moms have this need to brag about their kids’ accomplishments to other moms :P It wasn’t a secret the way health issues might be a secret — I just didn’t want to ‘jinx’ things before I started working.

      2. Melissa*

        Oh, there are lots of things I can’t tell my mom because she’s a total blabbermouth and if I tell her, everyone else will know. She’s definitely the “tell the clerk at the supermarket your deepest darkest secrets” type of person.

    3. Monodon monoceros*

      Moms…the worst people to tell stuff to. I don’t tell my mom anything anymore unless I want the whole family (cousins, aunts, 5th cousin’s dogwatcher, etc.) to know.

  10. The Cosmic Avenger*

    OP #4, look at it this way: do you want to be blamed for the new person’s shortcomings? You need to do your professional best to train them, and if they aren’t up to the job, you need to make sure that it’s solely based on their ability or drive, not their training. If they truly aren’t right for the job, it will soon become clear. (I wish I could say they’d soon be fired or, better yet, moved into a position more suitable to them, but that depends on how good your management is at their jobs.)

    But it sounds very much like this is mostly about them being paid or given responsibility on par with you, and comparing yourself to others is always a losing proposition. If that’s really what’s bothering you, start cataloging your achievements in preparation for making a case for yourself at your next review, and you can start with the fact that you’re trusted to train new people, which is a very good sign. Only those whose work is considered exemplary and who also have good communication and interpersonal skills are usually selected to train new employees. Look at this as a sign of respect, and possibly a tryout to see if you’re ready for more responsibility.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      This. All of it. Be sure to mention the extra assignment of training someone when it comes to raise time. One of two things will happen: It will be a feather in your cap or they will say that everyone has to train and the next trainee will NOT be assigned to you.

      I have trained a lot of people. The best part is people are interesting to watch. They come up with clever stuff that I miss because of their fresh eyes. But another interesting thing is that it actually helps me to clarify my work, streamline it, etc. In the process of training someone I have developed new cheat sheets, organized information and put up handy little signs on things that I actually use. In some ways having to train has made me a better worker.

  11. NinaK*

    Re OP 1: I am a little surprised by these responses because I feel completely differently about it. To be clear I DO NOT KNOW the social situation among you and the friend or the group you hang out with so take this for what is worth. If the group you hang you with is very social, the dinners and BBQs involve heavy drinking (whether you and the friend do or not …), I can completely understand why you wouldn’t loop her in.

    The person you are in your private social life could be completely different from the person you are in your professional life. If the friend knows you only socially and you tell her about the interviews, what’s to stop her from saying casually “I know Jane, I saw her drunk at a BBQ a few months ago and she was twerking with her boyfriend” or something other thing she may find funny but casts in you a bad light.

    This may be extreme, but my point is that I CAN understand why you might keep her in the dark. Further, since she is now being passive/agressive about it instead of asking you about head on, maybe you made the right decision.

    You mention the company is highly competitive. You snagged the interviews and wanted to project complete professionalism – which you did and got the job. Congratulations.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I have to disagree with a few of your points. First, I tend to give the people in my circle the benefit of the doubt– I can’t see jumping immediately to, “Don’t tell Arya I’m applying for a job– she might tell everyone about that crazy drunken night at a party.” (And if that was really a concern, why not pull the acquaintance aside and say, “Hey, I’m applying for a job at your company. I would love a good word, but I’d also appreciate it if you don’t tell them how we know each other”?) Second, I don’t see the OP’s behavior as professional– she was cagey with a potential future colleague, and that sets a terrible precedent for the future office relationship. The acquaintance’s response isn’t perfect, but I totally get it because the OP set the tone.

      1. Sadsack*

        Also, the acquaintance was not passive-aggressive, she was pretty direct in asking why OP straight up lied to her face about the interview. OP should apologize to the other person and explain that she just wasn’t sure of the right way to handle the situation where she knew someone at the place she is interviewing and that she is sorry that she acted the way she did.

        1. Sadsack*

          I just realized that maybe the decline to the party thing might be the passive-aggressive part, but the rest of my comment still stands.

      2. Cheesecake*

        If an acquaintance shares a drunk twerking accident of the candidate with the hiring manager, the only person he can harm is himself. It is stupid and irrelevant. Now, if they worked together or that acquaintance knows OPs work history, i’d understand all the secrecy.

    2. MK*

      To begin with, the OP’s aquantaince did ask head on and the OP lied to her. I would assume that the silent treatment came as a result of the aquantaince finding out about the lie.

      Second, if you want to keep your work life completely seperate from your professional one, don’t apply to companies where your friends work, especially if you think said friends are likely to share embarrassing stories about you. By the way, secretiveness really doesn’t pretect you from that; the OP got the job, but they now have a decidedly unfriendly coworker, who additionally has some access to their private life.

    3. fposte*

      I can understand that the OP wanted to keep the information private. The feeling itself is understandable.

      The problem is the behavior was short-sighted–she’s now pissed off somebody at her new workplace (and even in her own department), which was a pretty predictable outcome. So was it worth it to frustrate a co-worker who could otherwise have been not only not annoyed but an actual ally? Is that something the OP would like to change going forward? Then she needs to do repair work. If she’s not prepared to do repair work, she needs to accept that she’s created an uncomfortable relationship with a colleague.

      Between that and the startlement that the colleague didn’t congratulate the OP on her engagement, I think the OP isn’t thinking about the impact of her actions on other people here, and why that might make an approach practically undesirable even if it feels like something you want to do.

      1. the_scientist*

        I so agree with this comment. Lots of people are commenting on how short-sighted the intern OP is, but I really think it’s OP1 who was wildly short-sighted. I guess it’s one thing not to mention an interview (you don’t want to jinx it, whatever) but to not tell the acquintafriend about the job was incredibly short-sighted because she’s burned a bridge with someone who could be an important ally as she feels out her new workplace. I just started a new job and I feel like I need all the friends/allies I can find on my team because they are the people I go to when I have “cultural fit” questions, like “do I need to tell someone when I’m leaving for the day?”, and my fitting in and getting along with them is a requirement for success here. I have several friends/colleagues who were already working at this organization and I made darn sure to get in touch with them, both before my interview and when I started, because a) they gave me a lot of helpful hints for my interview and b) it would have been weird had I run into them in the elevator!

        The follow up comment about the engagement thing makes me wonder if OP1 is generally poor at reading social cues/understanding the ramifications of her secrecy and social behaviour, as you mention. No judgement if she is- I can be hell of awkward myself, but now OP’s behaviour is affecting her work life so it might be worth thinking hard about this and potentially working through it with a mentor/coach/good friend.

      2. cuppa*

        I like to call this the sitcom factor — you may have had legit motivations at the beginning, but when someone finds out, or circumstances change, you need to just explain what was going on instead of covering further — it just makes a huge mess otherwise.
        In my opinion, OP should have been forthcoming when her friend asked her about her being at work. If this had happened with me, and the OP had just said that she didn’t want to say anything about it yet, I would have completely understood. But the deliberate cagey-ness would have rubbed me the wrong way.

        1. fposte*

          Oh, the sitcom factor is a great way to phrase it–I know exactly what you mean. The OP’s going to have to eat three Thanksgiving dinners now.

        2. Natalie*

          Ah, perfect metaphor.

          Interestingly, it seems like even sitcoms are moving away from this trope to get plot lines. I’m kind of struck by how often it’s used in older shows when I re-watch them, and how rarely I see it in modern shows.

    4. Cheesecake*

      Professionalism does not mean arrogance. Lying to your 18 months long “acquaintance” and expecting her to give you a warm welcome is not professional. Maybe there is more to that story. But i comment based on what i’ve read.

      On the side note: I can completely not understand, why won’t you loop an acquaintance in when she works in the company you apply for? There are a lot of questions she could answer upfront and honest “who will be my interviewer, what are they like” “what is the office culture” the list goes on. We are always reminded to come prepared before interviewing, here it is, done homework! When i apply for a job and know someone, anyone, a cousin of a friend of a friend’s girlfriend, i will get in touch.

      1. Judy*

        My first contact with my current company (Teapots LTD) was 2 years before my hire. They were looking for someone, and an engineer who used to work at a place I was at in the 90s worked there. They searched linked in for local candidates, and saw me, and had a mutual connection introduce us. I just “came over to see the place” at that time, but before I came, I talked with my husband’s coworker’s son who worked at Teapots LTD. At the time that I was willing to start interviewing, there were 2 people from the immediately previous job working at Teapots LTD. Before my real interview, I talked with both of them about the company and culture.

    5. Colette*

      If you really want to keep your personal and professional lives separate, though, you shouldn’t apply for (or accept) jobs where you already know someone socially.

  12. Helen*

    #2–It bums me out how many interns are used to do basic administrative work nowadays. I know of interns who worked as receptionists–that’s not an internship; that’s a free receptionist. I get that you can still learn about the industry that way but it’s my understanding that internships are supposed to involve more shadowing and learning skills/concepts that are more industry-specific than data entry.

      1. Iro*

        It’s likely paid a lot less than someone performing in that role would be getting though. I made a point of only doing paid internships, but I typically got minimum wage despite doing things like applied Principle component analyses or decision trees – something you would typically get paid a lot more for.

        The trade off for an internship, even paid, is that you get experience and get to jump into a role that usually wouldn’t be open to entry level employees.

        Running a good internship program is really, really, hard but I’ve seen it done.

        1. Natalie*

          There’s trade offs from the employer side, too. An intern is less experienced that someone performing the role on a permanent basis and will probably produce a lower volume of work and/or work that needs to be reviewed more carefully. And it’s time limited, so you’re refilling those positions every summer.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Yep. Paid quite well.

            I agree that there are problems with some internships, but I think people are starting to react too harshly with anything with the word “intern” in the name, before getting all the facts.

      2. Pescadero*

        It doesn’t matter how much it’s paid – internships are supposed to teach you about the job.

        If you aren’t learning, it ain’t an internship even if they’re paying 10x the normal wage for the job.

  13. illini02*

    #1, sorry, I’m on your friend’s (or acquantances) side here. I’ve just interviewed with companies that people I just kind of knew in passing, and I’ve at least sent a facebook message. It just looks really shady, especially since she ran into you in the elevator on your way out. It definitely seems like you were being too sensitive. And while I guess its true that its none of her business who you interview with, the fact that you will be working with her does kind of make it more of her concern than if it was just some random company. I think the silent treatment is always stupid, but I don’t fault her at all for being upset.

    #4 This seems REALLY petty to me. It doesn’t matter that you were out on leave while this person was hired, it wasn’t your decision to make anyway. And now you think you have the right to judge who does and doesn’t deserve to be there? Get off your high horse. If you refuse to train this person, you look like the smaller person here. If I was your manager, I may at that point be looking to replace you soon since you clearly aren’t a team player.

    1. ism*

      As for #4, it’s not clear what requirements the new hire lacks. Depending on the answer to that question, I might sympathize. If a significant part of the job requires Excel knowledge for example, then I’d resent having to train someone who’s paid the same as me but doesn’t know how to copy and paste text, much less create a formula or do multi-level sorts or whatnot.

      1. Alternative*

        That is a really good example, glad you pointed that out. I too, would be pretty annoyed if a new hire (paid the same and at the same level) lacked a basic skill like that.

        As someone with a bit of a quirky professional background, I often don’t meet all the exact requirements for a job either (for example, my degree from forever ago was in X, while they usually hire people with degrees in Y). So my initial reaction to #4 was “oh brother, stop judging people like that.”

  14. Oryx*

    I feel like there must be something I’m missing in OP #1. I keep my professional and personal lives very separate but still, the whole situation is very odd to me. Also, what’s with the OP wanting all this different congratulations about stuff, first her engagement than the job. Maybe since you didn’t tell her about the job she thought you didn’t want her to know and therefore didn’t reach out. I mean, if I hear something third hand about a friend, even something positive like that, I’m not going mention it until they do.

  15. Another Job Seeker*

    OP #3 – I had 3 internships while I was in college. I did work I truly enjoyed in one of them. I was not fond of the work I did in the other two. However, they were all valuable experiences because (1) they showed me what I enjoy doing and what I dislike doing (2) they allowed me to produce work that the company needed – so I was able to use my talents to help the organization (3) they helped me begin to learn some basic skills that most employers in my field expect employees to have (4) I had a great time with other interns! Some companies are very good at organizing events that allow their interns to network and socialize. I’m not sure how to identify companies that treat their interns well. I received my internships through my university, so I guess they vetted the companies for the students. There might be standards organizations that companies can join if they meet specific criteria – not sure about that, though.

    I understand why you want to work from home, but I think asking to do so is not a good idea. Learning to read between the lines is an invaluable skill for you to develop in the workplace. Your employer will not always state all of the facts. I have learned to look at the facts to identify what is really being expected. The fact that the employee handbook states that working from home is acceptable when required or during emergency situations tells me that the company does not want everyone working from home – but that they will allow some people to do so under specific circumstances. Who are “some people” and what are those “specific circumstances”? It would be unlikely for those of us who do not work there to know for sure, but I suspect that long-term employees who have proven themselves would be given a WFH opportunity. As an intern, if you ask, you run the risk of being seen as unprofessional and lazy. This might not be a fair or accurate assessment, but people often make decisions based on their perceptions of reality instead of true reality. On another note, maybe this internship is an opportunity for you to experience the “real world” and meet some people who can help you further your career. Perhaps you could return the favor one day. Also, this experience may let you know that you prefer working from home and you may wish to seek out companies that have a flexible work policy. I’m not sure what your field is, but mine is IT. I would LOVE to work from home – I really don’t enjoy the politics that are part of so many companies. However, many companies would just as soon outsource jobs that can be completed remotely overseas where they can pay less for comparable talent. I am not seeking work-from-home positions for this very reason. Might be something to consider. Can you try to use your lemons to make lemonade? It’s a good skill to have. At some point, you may find yourself in a permanent position that you do not enjoy. You would probably want to find a new job, but how do you stay healthy and sane while you are at the job you do not enjoy? You can begin to develop those skills now.

    I do think that companies do themselves a disservice when they give interns duties that are different from the duties that were described during the hiring process. Business needs change sometimes. If an intern’s duties need to change after the fact, that is understandable. You never know – that might be the case here. Even so, interns are looking at the company to decide whether they want to work there. If employers want good hires, they should do their best to represent themselves accurately to all potential employees – permanent, temporary, part-time, full-time, interns, co-ops, etc. If an intern is going to be assigned the responsibility of data entry, the job description should be clear about that. I was a computer science major in college. If I had accepted an internship that was described as software development and then been asked to do data entry, I would have done it because I would have felt an obligation to my employer – since they were paying me. However, I would not have been interested in interviewing for a permanent position with that department. I would have felt that my internship time would have been better spent if I had been working in my field. All three of my internships were in the IT field. The time I spent on the two that I did not enjoy was beneficial because they allowed me to understand IT positions that do not interest me. A fulfilling, educational internship where the intern produces material that the company can use is beneficial to both parties.

  16. matcha123*

    #4 seems a bit petty to me. There are so many things that can factor into hiring someone. The written requirements on a paper are not always all you need to check off to be hired.
    I think she should train her coworker in good faith. If the new hire turns out to be crap at her job, then she can secretly feel justified. But, I don’t think it’s right to write someone off before giving them time to get settled and see what they can do.

  17. Not an IT Guy*

    #5 – So does this mean it’s acceptable to group all your accomplishments with one company regardless of change in title as per the example? This is what I’m struggling with currently, I fear that employers will assume that for one position I was in I have a great deal of accomplishments based on the department I was in when in fact I wasn’t allowed to accomplish anything. It would be great if I could highlight my accomplishments overall with the company without that one eyesore.

    1. The IT Manager*

      I think is is okay to group all your accomplishments at a company together in a single section. It makes the most sense when the title change has little or no change in duties, but it also works for increase in responsibilities or in your situation.

      1. Iro*

        What if responsibilities and accomplishements were varied or numerous?

        For example i have something like this

        Current BadA** role; Jan – Present;
        Tea Pot Operator: Tea ceremony division N0v – Jan
        1) Major acomplishment
        2) Major acomplishment
        Tea Pot Operator: Tea time division Jan – Nov

        To me, I think it’s important to highlight that the two major accomplishments (which happen to be 2 of the 3 biggest accomplishments in my working career) came at a division that I had only been working in for 2 months. It was impressive so I got promoted.

        It does however make my resume longer, but since I am only barely at 2 pages, I don’t really see an issue with it. Thoughts? Should I change this or is this situation unique enouch to keep it on?

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          You could do it that way, but if you want to highlight the two-month thing, I’d actually do it the way I recommended to the OP, and then make it even more explicit:
          * Two months into role as Y, accomplished X, resulting in promotion to Z

    2. OP5 Here*

      I’m re-doing my resume today based on what AAM gave me. Recording my time here has been such headache so I’m just going to go with it and how it comes out. I’ll circle back later and let you know how it goes.

  18. Allison*

    #3, if working from home is only done “as needed,” I would take that to mean that they expect everyone (as in, all workers at all levels, save for sales people living in different regions) to work in the office on a regular basis and only work from home if they’re sick, if they have to go to the doctor or have a sick child, if the weather’s dangerous to drive in, if they’re expecting a delivery or repair or need to take their car to the shop, or any similar reason. It doesn’t seem like an office where some people work from home just because they prefer it. In this case, asking to switch to doing ALL your work from home may seem like you’re asking for special treatment, and since you’re an intern that may not go over well, so it may be best to stick with working in the office for now. It may raise some red flags regarding your work ethic, or your ability to be a team player. But if you do decide to ask, ask if you can work from home once a week, or once every other week, to start.

  19. Katie the Fed*

    #3 – I’m going to disagree with Alison. I think it would be out of line to even ask.

    You’re an intern. Your job is to watch and observe and learn and do some work but mostly to learn. You can’t do that as well from home. And you’re probably younger than a lot of the office, who is probably already inclined to think of young’uns like you as entitled, and you’re going to come out with a fairly outlandish request and confirm all their suspicions. I would think an intern who asked something like that was clueless at best.

    I wouldn’t. It’s only 6 months – you’ll be fine.

    1. Lia*

      I agree. In a previous job, I was responsible for hiring, training, and supervising our interns. If one had asked me about WFH, I would have looked for another intern. Now is not the time to ask for special treatment, especially because their policy is already in place to allow WFH only in special circumstances, and “bored” is not one of them.

      Internships are often what you make of them. I had interns who just did the bare minimum, and I had some that went way above and beyond in trying to learn new things and help wherever they could. Guess which ones came back in following years for regular positions?

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      This whole line of discussion– and I agree with you, for the record– is making me smile because of an interview I conducted once. I was talking to a potential intern and I asked her why she wanted the job. She responded, “I want to know what it’s like to work in an office.” Honest, and that is indeed a useful skill, but we needed a leeeeettttllle more drive and desire to learn about our business. I kind of wish OP #3 understood that crucial part of an internship, though!

    3. Joey*

      Yep. Out of touch would be what comes to mind if an intern asked me to work from home. Sort of defeats the purpose of learning about office/industry dynamics and norms.

    4. OriginalEmma*

      Yes. And it IS clueless – because interns (rarely) have enough experience to be wise in the needs of the business, office norms, and the culture there, and to know whether asking to WFH is reasonable or outlandish. I count myself as a clueless intern once upon a time.

  20. jhhj*

    OP 1, I am impressively/obsessively secretive and can see myself doing what you did. But I would have been wrong.

    Look at it from your friend’s side. She works at a company. She knows they’re hiring. She sees you at her work and — hey! now that I think of it, my friend would be great for this job! So she asks what you are doing, and you say you had an informal interview. This is obviously a lie, so she thinks, well, maybe she just felt put on the spot. But you never brought it up again and she found out that it was a normal interview and that you have been interviewing for two jobs in her company.

    Then you GET the job and don’t mention it to her. Then you START WORKING at the job and don’t tell her you’ll be there and look forward to seeing her. (This is where your high-but-normal level of secrecy goes off the rails.) This person I was friendly with, friendly enough to see twice a month socially, lied about an interview, and then when she got the job just didn’t bother to tell me. Obviously she actually didn’t like me. Then she runs into you and says something nasty because she is hurt.

    You should apologise to her. Your friendship might or might not be repairable, but you are coworkers and the vast majority of the mistakes in this story are yours.

    1. TeapotCounsel*

      +1 Tell friend that you would like to take her out to lunch, your treat, and give an unqualified apology, e.g., “I’m so sorry, I wasn’t looking at things from your perspective, and I can now see how my actions/secrecy must have come across. Please know that I regret that and value your friendship. What can I do to make things right?”

      That may seem like a little much, but I think you should do it. No good will come from your co-worker being pissed off at you over this.

    2. LBK*

      Agreed. Keeping the interview a secret is one thing…but I can’t understand the impulse to continue to keep it a secret after she got the job. What’s the point? She’s clearly going to become aware that you got it when you show up at the office to start working…

  21. Sally*

    #1 – Imagine how different this all would have played out if the two acquaintances were men. There’d be no passive-aggressive remarks or projected feelings because emotions likely would not have played a part in any of the interactions. Working as a woman, with women is tough because we often complicate simple, matter-of-fact scenarios with emotions!

    1. the gold digger*

      Sally, I am so happy in my new job. I work with all men. There is no radio. There is no drama. There is no “Can you believe what she did?” There is just an attitude of, “Yeah, whatever, you have a black eye. Could we get to the point please? We have work to do.” I am in work heaven. (Except for the cubicle.)

      1. LBK*

        I find that in a male dominated office, I trade off the gossip and drama for tons of gross casually sexist jokes, incessant fantasy sports talk and no one to dish about the latest episode of Real Housewives of Atlanta with. I think I’d rather have more women.

          1. Kelly L.*

            Oh, certainly. I had one workplace that shifted over the years from mostly men to mostly women and back again, and the drama level stayed juuuuust about the same. :D People=drama.

            1. Juli G.*

              That’s why a healthy mix is so important. I had an almost equally split team that was fairly low drama. Then I moved to a team of all women and it would be hugs and kisses one day, silent treatment and passive aggressiveness the next. Now I have a team of all men and it’s solidarity one day, screaming matches the next.

              I’m a believer in diverse teams.

              1. fposte*

                True; it’s also good to remove the sexist lens from how you view your team, to avoid your own cognitive biases affecting your read on their behavior.

        1. Anon for this*

          My male-dominated office has more gossip than it did when there were only two men.

          It’s like they’re individuals who don’t all fall into stereotypes or something. Crazy.

          1. LBK*

            Seriously. And I realize now my comment probably came off pretty stereotypically, but only because my office does actually fall more or less in line with the stereotype – I didn’t mean to imply that every male-dominated office is like that.

        2. the gold digger*

          I haven’t overheard any of that kind of talk – maybe they just don’t do it around me? Not sure.

          I am, however, quite up to date on the ice fishing exploits of the guy who sits across the aisle from me and the associated problems of where to store ice fishing equipment when one lives in an apartment. The only mention of women has been when he told a co-worker that he was going to ask this woman to go ice skating with him, which I thought would be a good test to see if she might someday want to go ice fishing with him. He clearly needs to be with someone who likes ice.

          1. LBK*

            I think they’re probably more comfortable saying it around me because I’m also a guy. They definitely keep the majority of it down when the women in our office are around.

      2. Iro*

        Uh, I’ve worked with PLENTY of passive agressive and emotional men. They tend to default to one emotion, angry, and then they use that anger to stick it to you however they can.

        Point? There are jerks in both genders. Working with all women isn’t sugar and spice, but working with all men isn’t all fun and games, there’s just as much politics on both sides. Look at congress for example – mostly men there and look at the drama!

        1. Michele*

          Congress is a great example. I work in a male dominated field, and there is no way a woman could get away with being as sensitive, hot tempered, or otherwise emotional as some of these men.

        2. Just Another Techie*

          Yeah, I really like how the people who complain about women being “emotional” don’t seem to recognize or understand that anger? Is an emotion!

          1. Roadrunner*

            At one of my strangest jobs, I had a male coworker who was bigoted everybody who wasn’t exactly like him. The most heated conversations I ever witnessed was between him and other men in the workplace. I was also warned to call the police if 2 former male coworkers showed up because they were fired for threatening him.

            But, yea, anger is not only an emotion but it can be a damaging one at that.

    2. Labyrinthine*

      Imagine how different your comment would have been without the offensive stereotypes.

      Men have emotions too. I’ve known plenty of passive aggressive men. I’ve known plenty of women that keep emotions in check. Stereotyping genders is offensive, wrong, and one of the ways women are kept down in the workplace.

    3. some1*

      If *you* have trouble working with women, maybe it’s because they don’t appreciate being stereotyped and pigeonholed.

    4. Just Another Techie*

      I’m super uncomfortable with the gender stereotypes there. I’ve known and worked with some very gossipy, passive aggressive, back-stabbing, office-politicking men, and some very straight forward, no-nonsense, strictly business women. I’ve also worked with a ton of men who were grossly sexist and used the “fact” that women “just are” overly emotional to deny highly qualified and productive women plum assignments, promotions, etc. It sucks, and I really hate seeing incorrect stereotypes promoted.

      1. Three Thousand*

        Seriously. Just about every woman who propagates sexist stereotypes seem to think she’s immune to this stereotyping because she’s exceptional and better than other women, who deserve to be kept down. Very sad.

    5. Zillah*

      That’s a common stereotype, but I don’t think it’s actually true.

      Even if it were, though, I have some really serious issues with holding up the way men tend to operate as a benchmark women should aspire to. People who aren’t bothered by something like this are also far more likely, IMO, to be people who aren’t overly concerned with others’ feelings in general, which isn’t actually a good thing.

    6. Nerdling*

      This sort of generalization is pretty damaging to women in the workplace, on top of not necessarily being at all accurate. After listening to my husband and his friends gossip about some drama revolving around their shared interest, I told them all that I never wanted to hear any of them complain about drama coming from women again. There was maybe less gossip when this office was all men and me for a while, but it was offset by different forms of ridiculousness that were no less distracting and emotionally-fueled.

  22. Kathryn*

    OP #3, I run our department’s intern program for a company with a very liberal work from home policy.

    I wouldn’t suggest that you ask to work from home upfront, and you should think hard before wfh at all through this internship. The greatest value to you of an internship comes from the skills you learn about being in an office in your industry, and then you get value from the resume building and networking. All of which are much, much harder to gain from home. Even in my office, where half of the staff is remote or working from home at any given time, it is easier to get involved in the off hand cool projects with awesome but unlikely mentors if you are in the building. While I work hard with my intern managers to make sure that the planned projects are useful, able to be finished in the time of the internship (so interns can show them off later) and will shine on a resume, the best projects are the ones that got started because someone was headed to a meeting and invited an intern along because it looked interesting or the ones where someone mentioned what they were doing in a staff meeting and the intern asked if they could help.

    This is how we have interns showing off work to VPs who ask to make it into a product, or ending up working with a tool that only about a 100 people on the planet can use proficiently (and impressing one of the creators of that tool).

    My full time staff have more time to make those connections and be seen in those spaces. My interns have three months. Every day counts in an internship. Use them wisely.

  23. Xarcady*

    Dear LetterWriter #3–I think the question you should be asking your supervisor is some version of, “After I learn this data entry component of the job and am familiar with the database, what other opportunities will be available to me here? The job posting listed X, Y and Z, and I’m very interested in learning more about Z.”

    It could very well be that they have given you this basic task to see what kind of an employee you are, and have other things planned when they see how well you do. At the one internship I did in college (which was unpaid and for which I had to pay tuition to my school), I started out counting out newsletters and delivering them to the various departments in the company (pre-internet days). Then I was allowed to proofread, then to write up tiny blurbs for the newsletter about who got promoted/transferred/had a baby. By the end of the 4 months, I was writing feature articles for the national newsletter for the company.

    It is possible that the data entry you are doing is the first step in a larger, more interesting project that they have planned for you. They just want to start you off slowly.

    Take this as an opportunity. Work on getting faster and more accurate in your data entry. Learn the heck out of that database–when I was laid off, I supported myself with temp jobs for two years, and knowing several different databases got me more jobs. Ask fellow employees who use the database what their favorite shortcuts and tips are. Be the best darn data entry person they have ever seen.

    And be in the office. You’ll hear about the big project someone is starting up, and maybe you can volunteer to help. At the very least, you’ll hear about the problems and successes related to the project as it advances. You can always ask the person spearheading the project if they will take half an hour to explain it to you. After all, they know you are there to learn.

    I know, you are bursting with great ideas and want to do more. But as an intern, you are an unknown quantity, with no employment track record. You are going to need to show your supervisors that they can trust you with more interesting work. It’s a risk for them to give you that work–they have clients/customers who need to be kept happy, and they don’t know how you will do at that. Prove yourself first.

    You are focusing on the very short term. It could well be that they have plans for you, once they see how you are in a business environment. If you ask to work at home and they grant that, you will really not be getting anything out of the internship. If you stay at the office, you could learn a lot, even if you do data entry for most of your internship.

    1. cuppa*

      I promise you that you will use those skills somehow or another in your life. I did a ton of data entry in my early career stages and it really helped me learn about databases and data relationships and all sorts of things that I still use to this day.
      And, I impress people with my awesome lightning-quick number typing. :)

  24. Letter Writer #2*

    Thanks Everyone. I am the letter writer for #2 with the interview tomorrow. I think I will just swallow my fears and do the interview tomorrow. Thanks for your advice.

    1. Artemesia*

      Good luck. And never rank yourself down. If they suggest a lesser role that you find attractive you can graciously accept if you want to, but never suggest to them that they should expect less of you or see less in you than they appear to see.

  25. Kay*

    Re: OP1.
    I’m not really sure why you expected a cogratulations from your friend when you’d kinda showed that you didn’t trust her enough to mention the job. it feels like a strange expectation that you refuse to confide in her, but expect her to reach out to you.

  26. soitgoes*

    OP1 sounds like she’s stuck in that very modern dilemma of having a friend who’s really a “facebook friend” (a drinking buddy, basically). They’re not really friends outside of a larger group that does generic sort-of-fun stuff together. It’s telling that OP doesn’t trust this woman enough to tell her about the job; outside of feeling like this woman’s eyes would be on her, now she has to deal with blowback from the group. I’ve been in situations like this before, where there’s one drama queen who sets the tone for the the whole group and…it’s just not worth it. You might not want to lose all of those other tangential friends all at once, but there’s no avoiding it. I know what it’s like to be constantly worrying about whether that one unpredictable person was always mad at me for something that wouldn’t bother anyone else. I may be speaking out of turn here, but you kind of need to make a decision about this sort of thing, as it’s already affecting you at work.

    1. Iro*

      I think OP1 is the drama queen/king in this scenario.

      “Fast forward to today, I had finished my first day and we got into the elevator together and she passive aggressively started talking about my lack of disclosure about the job. She also told me she had known for a while that I had accepted the job and that I had various opportunities to tell her about it.”

      To me there is nothing passive aggressive about this situation. The two of you get in the elevator (assuming alone else the OP probably would have stated in front of others) together and the aqcuaintafriend (I found it interesting OP thought someone she had hung out with every other week for 1 year and 6 months was just “an acquaintance, I don’t see my BF’s that often!) starts asking why you didn’t tell her you got the job. She also explains that she’s avoided you for a while (why not, it would hurt my feelings too if a friend did this and I wouldn’t want to be around them much until they apologized) because she had known for a while that you had accepted a job here and yet didn’t want to talk to her about it.

      1. soitgoes*

        That’s definitely a possibility. I only brought up my particularly interpretation because that’s truthfully how I’ve experienced similar situations of having to walk on eggshells around someone in my friend group that I didn’t even really like.

        I’ve hung out in large groups once a week (I’m thinking of my poetry reading group in particular) without feeling close to everyone or even fully knowing who everyone was, but we were all “friends,” except we weren’t. We only hung out because we liked to do that one thing, and because we wanted to FEEL like we had a lot of friends. My description is very specific to my life, and the OP could very easily be skewing the story, but I couldn’t help but point out that I’ve dealt with scenarios that are exactly as the OP describes it.

        1. Iro*

          Okay that makes sense. However, if there really was a person in say, your Toastmaster group, who you felt you had to walk on eggshells and accomodate … why would you ever apply to work on the same team as them? You know this person is difficult so … steer clear.

          Also why would you expect Toastmaster person, whom you don’t trust enough to divulge you are starting at their company, to congratulate you on your engagement? I had a lot of casual acquantances at work who didn’t congratulate me during marriage and it did not bother me at all.

          1. soitgoes*

            I agree that there’s a lot here that isn’t lining up, though I stop shy of wondering why the OP would even apply for that specific team. We don’t always have the luxury of turning down job offers because we happen to not be on the up-and-up with one current employee, especially since the OP sounds very young and probably doesn’t have a strong foothold in her industry yet.

            I have a few casual friends who worked for very large organizations – corporations, community colleges, etc. These places interview constantly, even if they’re not necessarily hiring, so I’ve never bothered telling my acquaintances that I was interviewing. I figured I would tell them if I got the job, since I didn’t want to set myself up for the embarrassment of feeling like I couldn’t get a job that my peer already had.

            Again, I realize that this is all very idiosyncratic of being somewhat young and living in an area with a very bad job market…but that’s the point.

        2. Natalie*

          I totally get the eggshells experience – there is one person in my friend group (my best friend’s boyfriend, actually) that I REALLY dislike and a few others that I am pretty meh about.

          That said, I still don’t think the OP is handling this in a sustainable way. Even though I strongly dislike Joe, we can make nice in social situations (or at work, were it to come to that), nor would I feel remotely slighted if he, for example, didn’t congratulate me on my engagement.

          If the Friend is actually untrustworthy with information, presumably OP’s circle knows that and there wouldn’t really be blowback from not telling her something. If they don’t know that, or think that information shouldn’t change OP’s actions, then they frankly wouldn’t be very good friends.

          1. soitgoes*

            Oh I agree with most of your comment. I wouldn’t be handling it the way the OP is, which is why I only addressed the part of the letter that I have experience with.

      2. Laurel Gray*

        I agree. I get more drama queen vibes from OP1 than her “social acquaintance”. OP says they hang out twice a month but did not say this was in group settings. Whether you know someone 18 months or 18 years hanging out socially 2 times a month is a level of friendship so choosing not to mention the job at any level of the interview process and then even lying in the moment makes OP look shady. Given how the OP treated this “social acquaintance” why would she congratulate her on getting the job she had been so top secret about and even lied about interviewing let alone congratulating on the engagement?

        1. Michele*

          I can’t think of a single friend that I consistently see twice a month, but if I were applying for a job in the same place as them, I would let them know. If nothing else, they could put in a good word for me.
          Besides, if I were interviewing someone and found they snubbed a friend of our that I worked with, I would think that was weird. Heck, one time I was interviewing someone who ran into an old college buddy of his who works in different department. We were doing a tour of the building, and they stopped to chat and even hugged each other. I thought it was kind of sweet.

    2. illini02*

      Eh, I think thats a stretch. Even if they are simply facebook friends or drinking buddies, the point is I highly doubt the OP didn’t know this person worked there. And then to go through the interview, offer, and starting stages without even mentioning it seems a bit much. Unless this was an EXTREMELY fast hiring process, if they are seeing each other twice a month, they probably hung out sometime between the offer and starting date. To me that would be just weird to have them not tell me they are starting at my company, let alone in the same department. If the friend tells the rest of the group and they shun OP because of it, OP brought it on themselves, not the friend.

    3. Bwmn*

      I was once in a professional situation with a facebook/bar friend who was friends with friends of mine (but who I did not like) and he worked for a similar organization to where I worked and where there was a lot of collaboration. I definitely had to make sure I heavily minded my p’s and q’s around him on work topics because I wanted to make sure that no gossip cycled around from him that came from me (and did generally try to avoid him).

      However if at some point I had wanted to work where he did, I would have needed to come up with a more cordial game plan. Just because he was someone who irritated me in a social context, if he had ever become my coworker – my social manner of dealing with him would have been highly inappropriate (i.e. short answers, trying to divert conversations, general avoidance). Having such friends/frenemies/aquaintances (particularly with the over announcing via facebook) can often be difficult, but if there’s a professional overlap – a different tactic needs to happen. Just because someone’s a passive aggressive horrible gossip (and yes, this was a guy) doesn’t mean they don’t necessarily contribute value professionally and if you end up working together, you need a new approach.

      1. soitgoes*

        Definitely, 100%. I was just explaining the friend scenario, as I find that this kind of thing is very common among people are who a bit younger than AAM’s typical demographic.

    4. Episkey*

      There is someone in my friend group that I don’t particularly care for, but we are forced to hang out because our husbands are very close friends and I can’t leave her out of group get-togethers because it would be an intentional snub and likely start drama. She feels the same way about me; actually, she’s the one that doesn’t like me more than anything, but of course it’s awkward to have to hang out with someone you know doesn’t like you. And, like you said, I often worry about what I say or do because she tends to get annoyed with me when others wouldn’t think twice about it — I know this is because she is already predisposed to dislike me, but it still sucks.

      Anyway, I’m not sure if I would apply to work at her employer because I do feel it would be very uncomfortable — however, if I did decide to apply, I’d certainly tell her if I had an interview and then was offered the job. I feel like it would just be SO STRANGE to show up one day as an employee without ever mentioning it to her once.

  27. Joey*

    #4. Think of it this way. If you don’t think the new person is qualified that’s in essence telling your boss that you don’t trust her judgement.

    While that might be true that’s not a message you want to send.

    1. Joey*

      Whoops. Not finished.

      You don’t want to send that message unless youre coming to your boss with new info like performance feedback after the new hire has been on the job for a while.

    2. LBK*

      Agreed – I don’t see how the OP is in a position to judge this person’s ability to do the job before the training has even started, and doing it based just on their resume is a pretty serious insult to your manager’s ability to hire.

      1. Bunny*

        Definitely agree – for one thing, a CV doesn’t cover everything an employer might need to know about someone’s suitability for a job – if they did, no one would bother with interviews.

        My other half interviewed successfully for his current job – first line of support tech help – despite having never worked in a callcentre, office or tech-help oriented role in his life prior to it. His CV wouldn’t look terribly relevant to the role at all. But in terms of personality and skills he’s perfect for it – wildly intelligent, a people person with a great telephone voice and infinite patience for dealing with tricky people, decades of intimate experience working with computers and performing diagnosis and repair on stuff in his personal life, and he’s not afraid to admit when he doesn’t know something or needs guidance from a colleague. He is thriving in this new role and has the trust and appreciation of both clients and co-workers already. He needed more training than someone else might do, but in a work environment that typically has the difficult combination of a high staff turnover and a long training period no matter how experienced the staff, he’s an asset.

        If you didn’t interview the person, write up the job ad or get involved in the hiring process, then you don’t know why someone was hired or what strengths they’re bringing to the role.

  28. Iro*

    #4 It is very common to have to train co-workers and it doesn’t mean that they do not meet, or even exceed, the minimum requirements for the job. I myself just started in a new position, and I had zero experience with most of their software programs. This is completely understandable and expected because a) these softwares vary by companies withtin the same industry and b) even the same software is adopted uniquely to each client (think data warehouse implmentations/utilization).

    I also had to deal with a co-worker who was reluctant to train me in my new position. He made a lot of passive aggressive comments about how I “should know” or “be able to figure out” certain aspects of their software that I was clear from the begginning I had no experience in. Despite this, I was still able to clear a 6-month backlog of reporting in 4 weeks and am already moving on to more interesting projects. Suffice to say, my co-worker didn’t look to good through all of this and ended up getting a talk from our supervisor. Since then he’s been showing me the cold shoulder, but I just continue to be nice to him and mostly work around him when looking for answers to my questions moving forward.

    Please don’t be this person. If you trust your supervisor, you should trust that they made the right hiring choice. You also never know what other skills this person may have been hired for. Have you tried talking to them about their background at all in a friendly way? While I am sort of the odd one out in my division, in that I don’t have the same educational background, the field I came from is related and is in the direction the supervisor wants to take this team. Less reporting, more analysis and statistics. I’m also an automation expert, so my first project here is to automate everyone’s monthly reports. My reluctant co-worker has no idea this is what’s in store for me, yet I believe I’ll be making a signficant contribution to the organization and the team. Your co-worker may be in the same boat.

  29. OP5 Here*

    Thank you for answering my question!!! I was so pumped to see an email letting me know this was coming. I know it probably sounds simple it was such a headache deciding how to be accurate without misattributing career steps.

  30. Haddie*

    OP#1 – What’s up with the need to be congratulated on everything, especially from a friend who you make clear you’re not reallyyy friends with? Are you going to hold it against her that she isn’t bending over backwards to congratulate you on everything you accomplish while simultaneously pushing her away and making it clear to her that she is not a close friend?

    1. Laurel Gray*

      Good point. OP1 has some social awkwardness that she might have to put in check. You don’t really get to define a friendship and deal with a person on your terms – then call them out for behaving in a way that does not fit said terms.

  31. Natalie*

    #1, what’s striking me about this letter is that none of the Friend’s behavior that’s actually described sounds at all negative or out of line, but the OP uses negative terms for it (prying, for example). Unless Friend was talking about OP in the third person, I don’t see how bringing up the secrecy in the elevator was at all passive-aggressive, although I might be inclined to not buy that because people use that term as a blanket for “behavior I don’t like” a lot.

    So, OP #1, how do you actually feel about this person? Are they really you’re friend? It doesn’t sound like you actually especially care about them, in which case why on earth do you care about whether or not they congratulated you on your engagement?

    1. Iro*

      +10 on the whole “passive-agressive” being used as a blanket term for “behavior I don’t like”!

      I’ve been called passive-agressive once in my entire life and it was because the manager didn’t like the answer I gave to the question they gave me. I’m the most direct person I know. I’m too direct in most situations, I know this but it’s challenging to adjust sometimes. I say things how I see them, confront issues head on, and am not afraid to say what I think/feel. Some people find this endearing, others hate it.

      So yeah, I tend to take the term “passive aggressive” with a grain of salt unless someone provides some clear examples of that behavior (e.g. if the OP had mentioned that friend had put a sticky note on her cubicle asking “why didn’t you tell me” or that the OP was purposely leaving her off of work related emails, or any other actually passive aggressive behavior.)

      The silent treatment *may* fall into this category. But only if it’s something like “Hey. Cindy how are you?” [silence] and not code for she’s not chit chatting with me and has avoided me at work during social situations.

      1. Natalie*

        Oh, good point about the silent treatment – I totally glossed over that when I read the letter. Actually doing the “cut direct” is one thing, and totally out of line in in an office. But I would totally understand why Friend doesn’t want to initiate chit-chat or whatever.

        I have a friend group that includes some people I’d describe as social acquaintances – I don’t have their cell phone numbers and I’d never do something with them one on one, but I see them a lot (probably 1-2 a month on average) at social events with other friends. If one of them lied to me about interviewing at my company and so on, it would be hard not to take that as an indication that they really don’t like me, and I would not be especially interested in spending a lot of time with them going forward.

    2. Steve G*

      The only thing is that if I meet someone twice a month for 18 months…that means we’ve met 36 time…that person is definitely a close friend! Especially as an adult. There are many people in my life I only see every 2 months or so and we are really close. Maybe I just get closer to people more easily, IDK…..I think the wall between the OP and the other person is the odd thing. How can you meet with someone so often and not have developed so strong of a bond that you aren’t comfortable taking about everything with eachother at this point? You couldn’t have been carrying on small talk for 18 months….that is the real confusing part to me.

      1. Natalie*

        Well, everyone’s different of course. I’d say I have really close friends – someone I’d be willing to talk about my sex life or my family problems with – and I have casual friends – people I see a fair bit and will talk politics, current events, and medium-personal issues with. For me, it takes more than just the number of times I see someone. I used to do weekly trivia with roughly the same group of people, for probably 3 years, and though I’d call my former teammates friends I wouldn’t say we’re close friends.

      2. MK*

        I think it’s perfectly normal to have casual friends, people you spent any amount of time with, but are not very close to (it hardly takes emotional closeness to watch a film together). But I do think it’s somewhat odd to not want to talk to these casual friends about applying for a job at their company. The OP’s letter does betray an amount of mistrust and almost dislike for that person, which doesn’t seem to fit the picture of even a casual friendship.

        1. Zillah*

          Right. If the OP says they’re not super close, I don’t doubt them. But we’re not talking about super personal stuff here – where you work is pretty general information.

      3. Bunny*

        This. Maybe I’m just not a social person, but between the fact that my various friends don’t all belong to the same friend groups, that we all have jobs at different places with varying shift patterns and demands on our time, we’ve all got health issues and many of us have children or other family commitments, and most of us not living in the same town…

        Well, it’s not at all unusual for any one of us to go a month or more without seeing the other. Hell, I’m part of an enthusiastic tabletop gaming group with people I consider really awesome friends and we’re lucky if we can find one evening a month where we can all get together to play our current campaign.

        If I’d seen someone socially twice a month for over a year I’d probably consider them practically family by that point.

  32. Scott*


    I know from experience that job descriptions posted are often VERY different from the actual jobs. Many companies have job descriptions they’re required to use when posting positions that bear little resemblance to the actual job. Getting H.R. to change these is often an arduous task, so many people just go with the “official” description which makes it easier to post the job and start the hiring process.

    You shouldn’t lie about your experience, but don’t come off in the interview as “well, I’m only x” or “I’m not good enough to be y”.

    As for learning software, I have a knack for it and don’t even worry if I don’t have as much experience in that as a company requires. Just read a book the weekend before the job starts.

    1. Steve G*

      I concur, every job I’ve had except one has been less intense than they made it sound in the interview.

  33. Allison*

    For OP1, does the company have a referral program? Mine does, and let me tell you we have employees who always seem to be chasing that referral bonus by referring anyone they know who might be qualified for a job opening. Maybe your friend is upset that she could’ve gotten a referral bonus, but feels that you robbed her of that chance by applying independently and not going through her?

    OR, maybe the fact that you didn’t tell her set off alarm bells in her head, and she suspects there’s a reason why you kept it from her. Some people get really mad when they feel as though their friends are keeping stuff private and not letting them in.

  34. KJ*

    I just want to say how much I loved this: “No judgment! I am weird all the time.” That’s going to be my new motto.

  35. Jessie*

    OP #1: Do you know if your new company has a reward policy for referrals? It’s possible your friend is assuming that you found out about the company through knowing her, and is upset that you didn’t go through her.

    Whenever I was looking at applying for a job with a company a friend already works for, I always brought it up to them. Not just for my benefit (because they would know what positions the company needs filled and whether or not I would be a good fit), but also because it gives my friends a shot at that referral bonus. That’s especially true if I only really know about the company through my friend.

  36. Another Job Seeker*

    OP #1, congratulations on your engagement and your new job! I hope that they are both fulfilling.

    I understand the impulse to keep your interview private. Only a few people I know realize that I am looking for a job. None are acquaintances who I see from time to time because I don’t trust them to keep my search confidential. Doesn’t make them bad people – some of them are very nice and fun to be around. And I”m not angry with them. Just means that I am looking to protect my current position and the potential for a new one.

    That said, I think that lying to your acquaintance was the wrong decision. It might have been better to respond to her question with something along the lines of “oh, I’m just doing a little of this and a little of that” – quickly followed with, “well, I’m heading out. I’ll talk to you later!” I also think it would have been better for you to have told her about the position once you had accepted it and there was no reason to keep it quiet anymore.

    It might be good for you to think about it from her perspective. Sounds like the fact that she did not congratulate you on your engagement or your new job hurt your feelings. She is likely feeling the same type of hurt because you did not tell her about your job search and then lied about it. (I am not trying to be harsh – just think it might be good to try to see things from her perspective). Maybe also ask yourself this question: if she is not someone you would tell about your job search, why would you care if she does not share your joys with you? Perhaps modify your expectations of your relationship. I think you should apologize to her for lying to her. If you want to repair the social relationship, you both need to identify what you want and expect from it. In either case, it’s best to have a professional relationship at work – and don’t allow hurt feelings to impact your work (easier said than done!)

    Again, congratulations on the engagement and the job. Hope it all works out for you!

  37. Cupcake*

    #1 I’m amazed at the number of people (including Alison) who think it is strange to not make public their job applications and interviews. To my mind it is really the OP’s call, and not weird at all. There’s many a slip twixt the cup and the lip, and a wrong move or word along the way could derail the whole train. While it may have been polite to give an acquaintance a heads up before her start date, so she isn’t caught looking awkward in front of her peers, playing down an interview weeks before does not seem unnecessarily unfriendly. OP, you are not weird, but if you must satisfy your friend, you can always fall back on “I didn’t want to jinx anything.” People who don’t understand conservative caution could very likely sympathize with superstition.

    1. jhhj*

      If OP 1 had, after she got the job, said to the friend “Hey, I got a job at your place — I’m sorry I didn’t tell you when I was interviewing, I just didn’t want to jinx anything”, then she would have been fine.

      1. Zillah*

        Yep. It’s the combination of not doing that and referring to pretty normal behavior as “prying” and “passive-aggressive” that’s weird.

        1. fposte*

          While simultaneously being hurt that this person hasn’t been congratulating her, too. I could get on board with a narrative where the co-worker is awful and the OP didn’t want to engage with her, which seemed to be where she was initially going, but then there’s the disappointment that the co-worker she didn’t want to engage with didn’t want to engage with her either.

    2. Artemesia*

      I agree that being private during the process makes sense — but not then letting this person know especially since she had seen her at the office during the interviews, seems awkward. This is the point where you say ‘I didn’t want to say anything about the interviews because I didn’t want to jinx the process or count my chickens, but I wanted to let you know I am going to be working at the tea reprocessing operation starting next week.’

  38. VW*

    Regarding #5 – Would you suggest the same approach for an individual who worked on a number of different titled roles in a number of different companies, all based under one corporate umbrella?

    For Example:
    -Company A
    -Role X – work dates
    -Role Y – work dates
    -Role Z – work dates
    -Company B
    -Role X
    -Role Y
    -Role Z
    -Company C
    -Role X
    -Role Y
    -Role Z

    Or would you just recommend trying to list the corporate umbrella and all companies and roles under one section of the resume?

  39. LizNYC*

    OP #3 — Either talk to you boss about the direction of the internship (which you should be going in to the office every day) or find another internship. Seriously. An internship is supposed to give you exposure in what you’re interested in, and, I would say, challenge you on a daily basis. Data entry sounds mind-numbing. I wouldn’t ask for WFH, since that pretty much defeats the point — you’ll need the references and you don’t want your coworkers/managers to say, “I don’t know. She was never in the office.” There are other internships out there, if your current one can’t diversify your work enough.

    1. Melissa*

      I actually agree with the latter. Part of an internship is making connections and meeting people. I interned at a really great company with awesome people and although I was allowed to telecommute one day a week in the beginning, the days I was in the office were great and I made lots of mini-meetings with people to talk to them about their work and what they did and let them get to know me. (In my case, though, my direct supervisor actually didn’t even work in the same city – so he saw me exactly the same amount in the office as when I was home.)

  40. Xarcady*

    #4. I have to admit that I enjoy training new co-workers, largely because I get to warp, er, mold them to my way of doing things. If there have been things that your colleagues do that make your day to day work more difficult, or less efficient, this is your chance to start the new employee out on the right foot.

    As for the new employee not meeting the requirements of the position–a lot depends on what it is that they are lacking. Knowledge of a specific software package? That can be easily learned on the job, in many cases. Even if the job is totally about using one piece of software, if the newbie is familiar with 5 desktop publishing programs, for example, it shouldn’t take her long to learn a sixth one. Lack of a degree, but more than adequate job experience to make up for it? Again, not really a problem. Needing to know Spanish for a bi-lingual position and only knowing French? That’s a problem.

    So it could be that the new person has all the skills and abilities needed, just not a few specific pieces of the job description that can be learned on the job.

    I’d wait to cast judgement until she’s been in the position a while and you see how she works out.

  41. Melissa*

    FWIW OP #3, I was an intern one summer at a company, and my boss allowed me to telecommute one day a week (at least until HR found out – apparently interns weren’t supposed to telecommute, and we didn’t know that). Once the telecommuting got the kibosh, they allowed me to work a few days at an office that was closer to my home – normally the commute was 2 hours each way but the office they had in the city was only 45 minutes from me.

    The arrangement started a few weeks into the internship – they were impressed with the speed and quality of my work very quickly, so they decided to treat me more like a temporary employee than an intern.

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