why won’t my manager let me work extra hours?

A reader writes:

I graduated in May 2015 and accepted an internship position in December. I work for a very large corporation and am part of a two-person team (me and my manager). After two weeks, our full-time, permanent recruitment coordinator (RC) gave her notice and officially left at the end of the year. My manager decided to just “give” me this role, while still expecting me to do my internship tasks. Of course I was excited about the opportunity. To clarify, my internship role and the RC role have completely different responsibilities – literally no overlap. Before the RC left, she trained me but also just threw everything to me. On her last day, she gave me things which should have been done before she left and which she could have easily done compared to me.

When she left, to catch up with work (her slack), I had to go to the office on a holiday, one weekend (Saturday and Sunday) and stay until 11 p.m. on a Monday (the first day I was officially taking over her role). Initially, I did this without my manager knowing because it could also look like I can’t manage my time, when in fact I’m just trying to catch up with things that should have been done by the previous person. However, I eventually told her that on Tuesday by saying “I was here on the weekends and stayed til 11 last night.” I wasn’t even complaining; she asked me how I was, so I answered it just to give info. I’m paid hourly but wasn’t even planning to put the extra hours in my timesheet. She was not pleased at all that I worked on the weekends and stayed that late, saying that “we don’t hire people to work overtime and work on the weekends here.”

After this, she would constantly check up on me, asking when I plan on doing certain things for her. Daily. She has also started making sure I leave no later than 6 p.m. (even if I’m not done work).

My manager also told me she will fire me if I don’t stop doing this (working long hours and weekends – I’ve only done this once). I want to clarify that the reason I’m working this much is because I care about what happens to the company. I handle the whole onboarding process for full-time experienced hires, and I want new hires to have good first impression of the company. I’m not doing this to get overtime pay. I never even thought of putting down the extra hours to get more money.

I’m frustrated that I’m being “punished” for doing work that needs to be done. I don’t go on breaks, don’t do chit chat, don’t even check my phone. Am I doing something wrong? I am completely lost. Would a company rather have someone go home right at 5 p.m. when there are strict deadlines to meet? Is it reasonable for her or anyone to expect someone to finish tasks for two people in eight hours per day?

She also keeps telling me that when she was younger, she used to the same things I did (two roles in one person). I feel she’s being passive aggressive and wants to imply that my situation is common. I feel she’s being unfair to quickly compare me to her when she’s not even clear what I do in this new role (I’ll be having a meeting with her about the RC role this week — she initiated). My compensation was not changed as well. I am really confused and I just want to do work. I really love my job, but it’s extremely frustrating to be expected to only have eight hours in a day. Again, I don’t ever plan on putting in the extra hours.

I’m thinking you might not realize that your company is required by law to pay you overtime (time and a half) for all hours over 40 that you work in a week!* You can’t waive that right; there’s no amount of “but I’m volunteering to do it” that gets them out of the legal requirement to pay you for that time. And you not recording the time on your timesheet can get them in trouble down the road; you’d legally be allowed to claim back pay and penalties from them later on if you change your mind.

That in itself is a reason for your manager not to let you work extra hours. But there are lots of other reasons too:

* People burn out if they work long hours over time, and good managers want to avoid that.

* By working all those extra hours, you’re potentially making it harder for your manager to get approval to fill the vacancy your coworker left — because if all the work is getting done, the company has left incentive to spend resources on a new hire.

* Good managers often want to limit people’s hours even if you’re willing to work more because they need to know what can reasonably be accomplished in 40 hours, so that when you leave, the person who replaces you doesn’t get stuck with an unrealistic workload or unrealistic expectations.

* Your manager probably knows more than you do about the priority level of the work that you’re staying late to tackle, and may know that it doesn’t warrant putting in extra hours.

* Your manager may know that the workload should be doable in 40 hours a week and, if that’s not happening, wants the chance to help you figure out how to approach it differently.

If you find that you can’t do everything assigned to you in eight hours a day, by all means talk to your manager about that. Find out if she wants to reprioritize or shift work around or even get rid of some projects altogether. Or, who knows, maybe once you lay it all out for her, she’ll authorize overtime. But that needs to go through her; you can’t circumvent her by just deciding on your own to work overtime after she’s told you not to.

* At least, assuming that you’re non-exempt — which, based on your description of your role, you almost certainly are.)

{ 200 comments… read them below }

  1. TotesMaGoats*

    I would want to sit down with the boss (especially after multiple comments about working late) and lay it out on the table as to why you did it. Be up front that you now know you should’ve said something right away but, while not speaking ill of the departed, there was some major work left undone. In trying to do the right thing, something all bosses want, you made a mistake when it comes to overtime.

  2. voyager1*

    Wow. OP. What jumps out at me is the idea of you the intern working two jobs basically. Well at least your internship is paid I guess.

    I agree with AAM that they do have to pay you if you work overtime, glad to see someone at your company has some ethics. As for the caring for the company, while that is noble and all, if you are not carefull you will become the office doormat. The one everyone comes to because “you will do it.”

    Good luck.

    1. LisaLee*

      Paid or not, I am SUPER skeptical of a company that gives an intern the work of a full-timer plus their regular internship duties, let alone with no change in compensation. The OP (apparently) isn’t even getting a job title change that they can put on their resume to reflect their increased responsibilities.

      1. Former Retail Manager*

        Yes….THIS! In my experience, this reeks of a company that is trying to save money by having people do more than one job. It make no sense to place an intern, even if they’re paid, in this role. While the overtime is an issue since OP is hourly, I think it reflects badly that the manager wouldn’t even consider that OP would need to work more an 40 hours considering that she’s filling two roles, even if there hadn’t been a backlog of work from OP’s predecessor, and that manager is immediately jumping to discussion of disciplinary action rather than looking behind the actions for their reason.

        1. TootsNYC*

          The time frame on this is really tight–our OP accepted this spot in December. The exiting employee gave notice in the middle of the month (holidays coming, other year-end projects making it awkward to have in-depth planning sessions), and left at the end of the year.

          It’s only January 12.

          The manager hasn’t even had a chance to really give much in the way of direction–and our OP went blithely into working on the weekend RIGHT AWAY:
          On her last day, she gave me things which should have been done before she left and which she could have easily done compared to me.
          . . .
          “I had to go to the office on a holiday, one weekend (Saturday and Sunday) and stay until 11 p.m. on a Monday (the first day I was officially taking over her role)”

          So if those days are listed in chronological order, she did her weekend work BEFORE she was to officially take over the role. She mentioned all this completely unplanned and unexpected overtime on Tuesday, the next day.

          She got all the “stuff to do” from the exiting employee, not from her manager. It doesn’t look as though she reached out for any instructions from her manager. And she should have.

          Now, it’s true, her manager “doesn’t know what she does” for this role, and her manager should have laid out some timeline for “when we will talk about the duties and how to prioritize them.”

          But she may have meant to do it on that Monday. The OP went barreling ahead on her own.

          And the OP should have been asking for instructions and clarification before she started.
          It’s a rookie mistake; now she knows. A very dramatic way to learn the lesson that you need to reach out for direction when you’re starting something new.

          1. OP*

            I will definitely take note of your advice. The week before the OT weekend, my direct manager was away on vacation. So I didn’t had the chance to speak to her about it. The things I did on the weekend were things that should have been done on Friday (creating IDs for new hires, etc.) We are not supposed to onboard someone without an ID, but they were to start on the following Monday. This Monday was my manager’s first day back from her vacation. I told her on Monday that I worked on the weekend and told her there was so much work. So she was aware I’m doing a lot of catching up.

            That same Monday, I stayed late because I still have to fix things that were passed on to me by the previous RC. On Tuesday, I told my manager I stayed until 11. Hope this provides more info!

            1. nofelix*

              The smart move here would have probably been to accurately note down all the work that was past due and show the urgent ones to your manager at the beginning of the week. It’s important to be able to prioritise your duties in the office. Sure, the department is not supposed to onboard people without an ID, but that wasn’t your responsibility. The departing RC is not your boss and so cannot assign you work – the ‘work’ she gave you was just information that may inform what your boss asks you to do.

              Your employer doesn’t look great here either. It’s hardly a surprising result – the point of interns is that they are eager and inexperienced, and you did what any eager and inexperienced person would have done if left unsupervised.

            2. TootsNYC*

              Well, the really smart thing to do would have been to reach out to ANYone about all the undone work. Like, the outgoing employee’s manager, who was supposed to manage that role. Or even any other coworker.

              Problems aren’t to be hidden at work. Other people will help you solve them. I think that’s your big takeaway from this.

              1. Thomas W*

                Great advice Toots. This was an important lesson when I was new to my current role. I’d stress out and put in insane hours to solve problems — then my manager informed me that most of it wasn’t my problem to solve alone!

      2. TheAssistant*

        Me too! And then not setting clear guidelines for priorities, not addressing “my goodness, this is a lot, so please stick to 40 hours”, not offering a timeline for relief, etc. It’s like the OP is being set up to fail. I understand why the overtime is such a problem, but if I’m the manager, the onus is on me to have a serious, educational conversation about it with my new employee. I think the manager is forgetting the employee is AN INTERN and probably doesn’t know how to manage these kinds of things right away.

        OP, I’d recommend you read a lot of the archives on time management, talking to your boss about priorities, articles about first jobs/internships, etc. In my first job, the learning curve was awful steep in just basic office norms (like overtime!) And I wasn’t thrown into a second full-time position two weeks after starting. This blog was an incredible resource as I navigated it. I wish you luck.

      3. INTP*

        IA if there are no plans for a new title or more pay in the near future, but I’m also wondering if maybe this wasn’t the permanent plan and the OP jumped the gun a bit on assuming that they will continue to do both jobs fully with no adjustment to deadlines. I wonder if the “conversation” mentioned by the supervisor about the new position’s duties is meant to iron out everything regarding duties, workload, deadlines, etc, and adjustments to title and compensation will come after that.

        1. OP*

          I want to clarify some things:

          RC reports to me another manager.
          Me (intern) is reporting to my current manager even now with me doing RC tasks.

          On the day the previous RC gave her notice, my manager spoke to me about taking on the RC role and “let her know if I could handle it with my internship duties.” That’s how I understood the conversation. The next day, I went to clarify with her when she wants me to get back to her on whether or not I can handle it. She goes “it’s not an option. You have to take it. It’s the holidays and we won’t be able to find anyone.”

          Since then and until now, there has been no clear indication that I am only doing this temporarily. However, after the OT event, she told me to tell her if I feel the company needs to hire another person for the role. I am hoping to bring this up to my manager tomorrow.

          1. OP*

            Given that the previous RC didn’t report to my manager, she doesn’t have a clear understanding on what my new role entails. That’s the agenda of the meeting she initiated – is for her to learn what I’m doing in this role.

            1. TootsNYC*

              This knowledge is the thing that should have taken you to the OTHER manager to discuss those tasks. And the OTHER manager should have been focusing on the remaining tasks, etc., and touching base with the outgoing employee and with you. I think the other manager dropped the ball WAY more than your internship manager did.

              1. Ms. Anne Thrope*

                I seriously can’t believe they’re dumping all this on a new hire fresh out of school. How irresponsible is it to have this person who is new to the company (and work world!) herself being responsible for orienting new employees! It’s insane! Of all the people in the company who they should have just dumped this work on w/ no notice, OP is the last one.

          2. nofelix*

            Before you respond to her, think about the outcome you want. If you want to become the new RC you are in a strong position to do so. Other commenters can advise better on how to word this, but “Yes I feel the company needs to hire another person for the role, and I would like to throw my hat in to be interviewed for it” is an option.

      4. Jeanne*

        An intern should not be thrown the duties of a full time employee without proper training. This manager completely dropped the ball. The manager should be taking on the extra duties, not an intern.

          1. One of the Sarahs*

            Yes, the intern’s manager can’t be expected to know the outgoing employee was so behind. (I am also side-eye-ing the outgoing employee for dumping this on intern, rather than her manager)

      5. PegLeg*

        Also, no matter how prepared you are and how good of an impression you are striving to make, I personally would be second-guessing my choice to work at company that had an intern running the whole onboarding process.

      6. Green*

        This intern has already graduated though. I would ask your manager about their long-term plans for the role (i.e., you may be a gap filler until they can hire somebody), how to prioritize your work

  3. neverjaunty*

    OP, in addition to all the problems AAM mentions – if your manager says “don’t do this” and you continue to do it, you are disobeying your manager’s direct instructions. That is a firing offense. And no, it doesn’t make it OK to say ‘yes, but I didn’t put those hours on my timesheet’ doesn’t make it okay. All that does is tell your manager “I will disobey your direct instructions, but I’ll do something else to try and make up for what I think your reasons for those instructions are.”

    If you literally can’t do the work, or do the work properly, in the allotted time, then you need to have that conversation with your manager and point out that it’s a no-win situation, and how can the problem be resolved?

    Frankly, your manager must think very highly of you, or be cutting you slack because you’re new, because the first time I told a new hire “do not do X” and they kept doing X or trying to sneak around and do X anyway, she’d be out on her ass.

    1. Shannon*

      “All that does is tell your manager “I will disobey your direct instructions, but I’ll do something else to try and make up for what I think your reasons for those instructions are.””

      Also, though your intentions are noble, it becomes an integrity issue. It says that you’re ok with falsifying paperwork.

      1. BananaPants*

        Which is not a positive attribute for a person who handles recruitment and onboarding of new employees.

      2. Nobody*

        “It says that you’re ok with falsifying paperwork.”

        I think that’s a little harsh. Particularly for someone new to the professional workforce, it can be hard to understand that you can’t choose to volunteer your free time to your employer. I certainly didn’t know that when I first started working, until I got in trouble for the same thing. The OP didn’t intend to be dishonest; she simply didn’t know or understand the labor laws related to this issue (and it doesn’t look like her manager did a very good job of explaining it). This sort of thing can also be confusing because of the mixed messages of being given an impossible workload that you absolutely must finish while simultaneously being told not to stay late — it feels like a no-win situation.

        When people write in about situations where their employers are breaking the law, Alison usually recommends addressing it with the assumption that the employer doesn’t realize they’re breaking the law and saying something polite like, “I’m concerned that we could get in legal trouble if we do it this way,” rather than jumping straight to hiring a lawyer and suing the employer. Well, here the situation is the other way around, so shouldn’t the manager give the employee the benefit of the doubt and explain politely that this could cause legal problems, rather than jump straight to threatening to fire her?

        1. OP*

          Thank you, Nobody. I admit I was not fully aware that there were legal liabilities to what I was doing. Now, I am informed and have a better understanding as to why my manager reacted the way she did. She never once mentioned that they could get into legal issues if I continue what I was doing. If I knew, I would have understood the gravity of the situation much better. Thank you to you and the other AAM readers for helping me.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            OP, I just want to say that your responses here are so impressive — open and gracious even when you’ve been taken to task a bit. That speaks so well of you!

        2. Leeza*

          Right, I didn’t know it was illegal for employees to volunteer to work overtime without pay until I read it on AAM!

    2. ThursdaysGeek*

      It’s not clear that the OP is continuing to work extra, only that she really, really wants to, and wanted Alison to understand why it was needed:

      My manager also told me she will fire me if I don’t stop doing this (working long hours and weekends – I’ve only done this once).

      1. neverjaunty*

        It isn’t 100% clear, but OP has said that she skips breaks – which, if she’s hourly, may also put her employer at risk of violating the law – and that her manager is checking up on her to make sure she doesn’t work extra hours.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Depends on the state, but you’d have to check with that state’s department of labor. Ours (Missouri) says that is up to the discretion of the employer. If she’s only working the 40 hours, it might be legal to not take breaks (though you should–it helps reset your brain).

      2. Mike B.*

        I noticed this too. It’s a little troubling to me that a manager would raise the possibility of firing after a single mistake made with good intentions. That’s a conversation you have after insubordinate or otherwise egregious behavior.

        We might not be hearing the full story though; perhaps OP was arguing the point and the manager finally said “Look, you need to do what I say or we’re going to have to think about terminating you.”

        1. KH*

          I work for a major Fortune 100 company. It is a fire-able offense for a non-exempt employee to falsify their time sheet. No warning. No “I didn’t know”. And if you work hours and don’t document them, you are falsifying your time sheet. A lot of people think it only goes the other way – that it’s only falsification if you put hours you didn’t work – but lying about what hours you worked is lying about the hours you worked, from either side.

          1. neverjaunty*

            LW is an intern taking on additional duties; if the rules weren’t explained to her, I think she gets a little slack for not knowing better under the circumstances.

            That said, it doesn’t sound like the LW’s manager’s first reaction to hearing about the overtime was “do that again and I’ll fire you”, but that in the process of monitoring LW (who clearly doesn’t want to comply), Manager had to point out that it’s a firing offense.

            1. KH*

              Right and I agree with this. It’s just that Mike B said above that he found it troubling that the manager would raise the possibility of firing. But there’s no reason it should be troubling … it’s likely company policy for a very good reason.

              1. Mike B.*

                Yes, there’s a very good reason it’s against the rules. A good manager will explain that it’s against the rules, explain the reason for it, and express the gravity of the issue in a way that ensures the worker doesn’t repeat the offense. But there’s no need to frighten the employee by mentioning termination at this point even if that punishment is theoretically on the table; it was an innocent mistake.

                It sounds to me like the manager left the impression that she was being a hard-ass about it but didn’t successfully convey why it was important, and OP didn’t/doesn’t realize that unauthorized, unbilled overtime causes her organization more problems than it solves. That conversation could have gone better.

              2. TootsNYC*

                And it’s a risk this intern wasn’t even aware of. It’s crucial that she realize how big a deal it is.

      3. OP*

        I am no longer working OT after my conversation with my manager. She always tells me to leave and people in my dept also tell me to when they see I’m still at work.

        1. Bibliovore*

          OP- this has to stop
          “She always tells me to leave and people in my dept also tell me to when they see I’m still at work.”

          From what you have said, you must work your scheduled hours then leave. If I was your manager or colleagues I would be annoyed to have to “remind” you. Follow directions.

          on the time management front- take time to document what you are working on and the time it takes on something like google calendar. schedule a meeting with your supervisor to prioritize tasks. Give the supervisor ammunition for hiring additional staff.

          1. OP*

            Hi Bibliovore. Thank you for your advice. During tomorrow’s meeting, I will confirm with my manager what time does she want me to leave specifically to ensure I can match her expectation.

            1. JoJo*

              It also could be a budgetary issue. If the manager only has enough money to pay for a 40 hour work week, your working overtime could seriously mess up her budget.

        2. neverjaunty*

          OP, I know some of the feedback you’re getting is kind of harsh, but you have to get past that tone and see that there is still a problem. It sounds as though your manager and your co-workers are still having to constantly remind you to do something you have been explicitly told to do (leaving at the end of the day). That’s a problem, just as it would be if your boss and co-workers kept reminding you to show up on time.

            1. Leeza*

              And make sure to take your breaks. Breaks are important. No, more than important – they’re sacred! :-)

    3. TootsNYC*

      “I will disobey your direct instructions, and I will lie so that you don’t find out.”

      That’s what that says.

      Also–I noticed that you are feeling frustrated because only once did you work so late and also come in on the weekend at the end of that week, and your boss keeps mentioning it, as if it were an ongoing problem.
      She may be mentioning it because you are arguing back or “leaking” your internal opposition to her orders. So she may be picking up on a defiant vibe and feel that the issue isn’t over and settled.
      You need to act so that she will believe you will comply. Agree with her–apologize for not realizing that this was an issue, explain your inexperience with labor laws and the company’s standards. Be open on the issue.
      Then she might believe that you will do the right things.

      It’s also very bad for you that you are sacrificing your personal life (i.e., not even getting paid for the hours you’re giving) for this company. Good for your boss!

  4. literateliz*

    “She also keeps telling me that when she was younger, she used to the same things I did (two roles in one person). I feel she’s being passive aggressive and wants to imply that my situation is common. I feel she’s being unfair to quickly compare me to her when she’s not even clear what I do in this new role (I’ll be having a meeting with her about the RC role this week — she initiated).”

    I wasn’t there and don’t have tone, etc. to go on, but to me this seems like a very uncharitable reading of what your manager said. It sounds to me like she wants to help you avoid making the same mistakes she did early in her career – and believe me, sacrificing your nights and weekends “for the good of the company” IS a mistake. It’s great that you care about the company and making sure you make a good first impression, and this sort of thing can make sense early in your career when you’re trying to prove yourself, but eventually you come to realize that you want the work you do to benefit you in some way, and not just the company. (If you got suddenly laid off, or thrown under the bus in some way, for example, would you regret giving all those unpaid hours to your employer?)

    “Would a company rather have someone go home right at 5 p.m. when there are strict deadlines to meet?”

    I don’t know how your company would deal with this more generally, but in your case, your manager likely feels the need to be strict with you because you came in on the weekend and stayed until 11 p.m. on a weekday – much more extreme than occasionally staying until 5:15 (or even 6) to meet a deadline. In your manager’s position, I would be concerned that allowing you any leeway to use your own judgment on when to leave would result in you working these long hours again. It’s simpler to draw a bright line.

    I also don’t see you mention that your manager is penalizing you for not getting everything done in 8 hours. Perhaps you left it out, but the way you’ve written it, it sounds like this is your own expectation, not hers. Yes, you are now performing both roles, but it sounds like you need to prioritize and perhaps let some tasks go. I would hope that this is what your manager wants to meet about (although I guess I’ve been reading this site too long to be fully confident of that…)

    You seem very convinced that you are in the right here, but if you can, I would let go of that as much as possible and try to listen to what your manager is saying (really what she’s saying, instead of what you’ve decided her agenda is). You say this is your first job out of college, and there’s a lot of this sort of work-culture-and-expectations thing to learn in a first job.

    1. J.B.*

      I agree with this assessment. I think a great place to start is by talking to your manager in detail about what your tasks are now and how to prioritize them. See what she answers and go from there. It will still be there tomorrow.

    2. Ad Astra*

      I agree that OP is likely misinterpreting her managers’ words here. The manager needs OP to stop working unpaid overtime because not stopping would put the company on the wrong side of the law, and she’s probably trying to relate to you by mentioning her past experience as an overworked eager beaver.

      OP, talk to your manager about your workload and her expectations, and explain to her what you can realistically achieve in the number of hours you’re assigned to work. The manager may want you to drop some tasks, or she may want you to find a way to work faster, but it’s clear that she doesn’t want you to work more hours.

      1. TootsNYC*

        explain to her what you can realistically achieve in the number of hours you’re assigned to work.

        Or, since you are really a rookie, maybe not explain to her–it’s possible you don’t have enough work experience to know wha tyou can realistically achieve.

        But explain to her what you have been accomplishing–what tasks you have been specifically doing (she doesn’t even know that, and you should have been telling her all along–you should have told her what specific tasks you were going to do that were going to keep you late), and how long they are taking you.

        It’s quite possible that someone with more work experience than you will know what can be left undone, or left or later, or shifted to someone else.
        It’s possible that all that stuff the outgoing person didn’t do is stuff that wasn’t necessary to do at all, and that’s why it was undone.

    3. StaceyMcGill*

      This advice is perfect. You’re young and eager to prove yourself, which is great, until you burn out spectacularly. Ask me how I know that. And that doesn’t even touch the legal ramifications from your company’s side.

      Honestly, I’d be wary of your company. It really isn’t appropriate to pile a full-time staffer’s job onto an intern’s plate, especially without any extra compensation, title change, etc. You’re being taken advantage of, sorry to say.

    4. OP*

      Thank you for your advice! I wasn’t fully aware of the legal issues that can arise from doing OT and not tallying it.

      Regarding the passive aggressive comment, I feel she is implying that I should be able to do these 2 jobs (intern and RC) because she used to be able to do it before (in a different company). She made this comment without fully knowing what I do as an RC. The previous RC did not report to her. The RC reported to another manager in our dept.

      1. Laurel*

        Given that you’re an intern, it could be possible that there is a more efficient way to go about some of your tasks that you haven’t discovered yet. That could be what your manager was trying to suggest when she was saying she used to be able to do the same two roles at another company. It could also be why she has requested a meeting with you to go over the work you have been doing in these two roles; so she can suggest possible ways to make the process more efficient, allowing you to complete all the work you need to get done within 40 hours.

        Yes, your manager doesn’t fully know what you do as an RC, but at the same time you may not be aware of ways to simplify processes so that your tasks could be completed quicker.

  5. The IT Manager*

    When you work overtime without claiming it, you are causing your company to break the law. Your boss is trying very hard to stop you from breaking the law on behalf of the company. You cannot choose to be a volunteer instead of an employee for a few hours a day or a weekend. The reason your hours are now being micromanaged is probably because you’re resisting so hard. I think you view your “free work” as a plus, but your boss appears to view it as a problem. It’s not winning you points. You need to stop. Get his priorities and work on the highest priorities and let him know what is not done at the end of the day/week.

    I feel your pain. I was salaried exempt for a long time, and now I am not even though it’s the kind of position you expect to be exempt. It’s kind of a pain to have more work to day than hours in your pay check, but you need to accept that that is how your job is. You need to work your 8 hours a day – maybe a bit more if you work while eating your lunch (probably not legal but sneaky way to get a bit extra time in), and then leave.

  6. Snarkus Aurelius*

    I wish this resource had been around when I was your age because I was just like you.

    I also got egregiously taken advantage of via little to no pay and and extra workloads.  I would like this to stop happening so I’ll try it with you.

    Here’s what I wish someone had said to me: you need to care about money, and you need to care about whether or not you’re being paid your worth.  Not only because it’s the law but because it’s very easy for someone, like my terrible ex-boss, to take advantage of your passion, dedication, and naivete on these issues.

    If you’re willing to work these long hours with no proportional pay and no expectation of a workload redistribution, you’re not giving your employer or any other potential employer any reason to give you more than what you already have.  Employers aren’t going to proactively seek you out and insist on paying you more.  You have to self-advocate and know your worth in relation to the work you do.

    A good employer, like yours, will insist you work the hours in the day and no more than that; a bad employer, like mine, will pile on more and more and more because of that passion and love of the job to get cheap labor.

    1. neverjaunty*

      I also wish you had a time machine to give many Past AAM Readers this advice.

      The fact that OP’s manager cares about following the law and making sure she doesn’t work unpaid hours is a good thing.

      1. Snarkus Aurelius*

        I can’t emphasize this enough. Your employer isn’t just doing the right thing but your boss is actively looking out for you.

        If nothing else, you can trust that.

      2. Silver Radicand*


        In addition, the manager is now providing her with extra direction, which in this context (as an intern serving fulfilling new responsibilities) is a good thing! Asking for estimated times to complete tasks may not feel like direction, but it really is. This ensures that the manager is aware of the intern’s priorities and gives the manager a chance to adjust any priorities that don’t match.

        1. Yetanotherjennifer*

          It’s also a valuable skill that will serve you well your entire career. That and being able to prioritize your work. This is a great learning opportunity.

          1. TootsNYC*

            Agree. And so, it’s wise to approach it that way.

            Think of it as science. It *is* the scientific method.
            You see a task, you say, “I think it should take 25 minutes.” That’s a hypothesis.
            You do the task. That’s an experiment.
            You check to see how long it took. That’s the measurement, the results.
            You compare the results to your hypothesis. Was your hypothesis correct?

            Look on every one of these things as a way to build your knowledge, and a way to build up the database of information that will make you effective at your job.
            If you have to make photocopies, you can’t make that happen faster. It’s X minutes for the machine to go.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          When I had to cram a super amount of work into one day, I laid out my day. I knew how much I needed done by a given hour in order to have everything done by the time I went home.
          It sounds like she has had to work this way, so she is showing you what it takes to juggle what you have.

          If you want to look at the whole picture, OP, you should have said that you were behind the eight ball at the start. Without naming names here is one way to do it, “X, Y and Z were not completed last week/last month, so I will be adding that to my to-do list.” It’s really not a choice, you have to let the boss know if there are any problems or if something is not going as expected. Things have ended up in courts because an employee failed to tell the boss that things are not going as expected. It might seem like a little deal now, but it is a good skill to grow. It will be handy through out your working life.

          1. TootsNYC*

            I want to underline this: it is actually a crucial duty of your job–to keep your manager informed. Especially at your level, and at your experience level.

    2. the_scientist*

      A++. OP, if you take nothing else away from this comment section, please take this comment to heart.

    3. SanguineAspect*

      Yes. THIS. Everything this. And OP, from one obnoxious over-achiever to another (and I mean that affectionately): learn early on to moderate yourself. If you don’t, you will BURN OUT. I’ve been there. I have had two friends (also over-achievers) who ran themselves into the ground and had to be hospitalized as a result (one for mental issues, the other for exhaustion). And employers who encourage burn out suck. It sounds like you’re interning for one of the good ones.

  7. Meg Murry*

    Also, given the title “recruitment coordinator” I wonder if OP is working in HR or an HR adjacent field? HR especially needs to walk the walk and talk the talk on either:

    -getting paid for all the overtime all employee put in
    -getting employee’s workloads down to be able to be completed in a 40 hour workweek

    HR not complying with these things sets a bad precedent.

    OP, good for you for wanting to be awesome, but you are one human being, so sometimes you have to settle for “good enough”. Can you meet with your boss and go over your priorities, and discuss which of the intern or RC coordinator responsibilities need to either slide or be back burnered until you get another person? Make your “A” “B” “C” and “maybe if a miracle happens” priority list, and stick to it.

    1. Afiendishthingy*

      There have been some good discussions here about perfectionism, which I think impacts students and employees/companies differently. As a perfectionist student you want to throw all of your efforts into every assignment, which could mean a difference between an A or a B or C. You’re not being graded at work, and it may not make sense financially for your company if you throw A+ effort into a task that really just needs to be complete and satisfactory. I am required by law to document all clinical activities I complete for my clients, but my agency is not reimbursed by insurance for time I spend writing progress notes; that documentation time doesn’t count towards my billable hours/productivity quotas, and I can get in trouble if my billable hours are too low. so I’ve had to learn to remind myself that I can’t earn bonus points for style on my notes. They need to be accurate and timely, not great literature. It’s difficult to let go of perfectionism but a lot of times it honestly isn’t an asset in an employee. To be honest time management and prioritization are pretty major innate weaknesses for me so I sympathize with OP. Check with the RC manager to see what deadlines are flexible – in my experience office deadlines often have more give than academic deadlines.

  8. GigglyPuff*

    I’m curious, the OP says their compensation hasn’t changed. Isn’t that also concerning? That they went from an internship, with, I’m assuming, internship pay to essentially getting hired for a full-time role.

    1. S.I. Newhouse*

      That’s enormously concerning. In a positive reading of this letter, maybe the manager is trying to prevent the OP from being taken advantage of any further.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      It depends on the original pay. Some internships actually pay well. But yes, if it was something like minimum wage and that hasn’t changed, that’s concerning — and is something the OP should raise in her meeting this week.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Although honestly, it’s not so black and white. For example, if giving her the RC’s pay would mean that they do a full hiring search first and end up hiring someone more experienced, thus putting the OP back into her internship role, the OP could reasonably conclude that she’d rather do things the way they’re doing it now — she gets a leg up on experience that she wouldn’t otherwise get, in exchange for being underpaid for the role, and in a year can parlay that experience into a better-paid job somewhere else. I would have made that trade-off myself early in my career and been quite happy to do it.

        That doesn’t mean that the employer would be in the right — they’d be in the wrong, and if they wrote in, I’d tell them they needed to pay her what the job would pay anyone else — but from the OP’s perspective, there are lots of factors that could make this outcome the one most in her interests (which include money, yes, but other things too).

        1. SL #2*

          I made that trade, but I also left the internship 4 months later with a full-time offer in hand from a different company because I couldn’t work that much for so little pay in a very expensive city. The experience is so beneficial for the intern, yes, but the company should know when to pull the plug and not use the intern as the permanent replacement so they can cop out of hiring someone full-time. A month or two, to fill a gap while the search is on? Sure, but not for months on end.

        2. OP*

          “she gets a leg up on experience that she wouldn’t otherwise get, in exchange for being underpaid for the role, and in a year can parlay that experience into a better-paid job somewhere else”

          ^ As what Alison said, this is what I am thinking. I see this as a great opportunity for me to get more exposure in this field.

      2. Paige Turner*

        I’m more concerned about the difference between intern and employee, since interns aren’t legally protected against sexual harassment, etc.

          1. Student*

            Not all paid interns have those protections. At a university, many paid internships and graduate student payment arrangements are actually “fellowships” which fall under a different category of law. They aren’t official jobs, so you legally can’t be “fired” from them for the same reasons as normal jobs, but you can still “lose” them pretty easily through the provisions of the fellowship. They offer virtually no traditional employment protections, especially not minimum wage provisions. It doesn’t apply here (probably) but it’s an interesting wrinkle in this area of law.

            1. fposte*

              I wouldn’t consider those the same thing as internships, though; they’re their own animal, governed by their own rules and lack thereof. (And in addition to what you note, the pay may not count as income that would allow you to contribute to an IRA.)

              1. Miki*

                This. I was a graduate assistant (had tuition covered) for a year and a half, and when I started full job at the same place (3 years later) I was given an option of buying back those 18 months. Luckily interest is only for the 3 years difference.

  9. S.I. Newhouse*

    OP – I understand where you’re coming from and admire your work ethic, but my feeling is to be grateful for your manager’s actions here. She’s trying to prevent you from burning out right off the bat. (Or maybe trying to prevent a sizable overtime payment and/or future lawsuit, but I’ll prefer to see the glass half full here.)

    It’s not on you to solve your company’s problems single-handedly. What your manager should be doing is having a conversation with you on what can be done to make the job more achievable within 40 hours per week.

    Good luck!

    1. Not So NewReader*

      “It’s not on you to solve your company’s problems single-handedly.”

      OP, if you stay on the road you are on, you will be a prime candidate for a heart attack in 25 years or so.
      Deliberately learn when to ask for help, when to say you are having a problem, and learn to go home when it is time to leave.

      There’s a lot involved in each of these. I’ll just do one. Learn to go home when it is time to leave.
      Plan out your day, preferably have a rough outline by the time you go home the day before.
      This could look like a hand-written schedule with hourly goals. Or it could be just a list of ideas firmly planted in your brain. In doing a new job, I like the written list, although once I am used to it, I can do the mental list and be fine.

      Make it your habit to learn something new each day that will help you in doing your work. Don’t run from one fire to another.

      Make it your habit to find ways to streamline your work so you are not double handling things unnecessarily. This is an on-going habit. I have been a jobs for greater than five years and still developed new and easier ways to accomplish something.

      Remember you run the work, if the work is running you then something needs fixing. (In extreme cases, the fix could be a new job. However, there are other answers that are much less radical than that.)

      Learn why breaks are important. If we are not properly hydrated or nourished, the first thing that quits is our brains. Lack of food, water and bathroom breaks can make a 15 minute job take 45 minutes or worse because of sheer mental fatigue. I am wondering if I am detecting mental fatigue in your writing for this very reason here. Want to work quicker? Sometimes the answer is to walk away for a break.

      Here is something to try. Just for one week tell yourself that your boss is your ally, she is in your corner. She is probably sensing that you want to work late and you want to work weekends. So just for one week, let go of that want. Just let it go. See where that puts you.

      1. Afiendishthingy*

        Sigh. I’m 10 years out of college but 1.5 years into being an exempt salaried employee for the first time. I am utterly failing lately at the “leave when it is time to go home” piece lately. Inattentive ADHD, a lot of deadlines at once, plus a lot of pressure from management lately about our department not logging enough billable hours. I do like my job but I have got to learn to get more done in fewer hours if I don’t want to burn out.

        1. Vicki*

          And here is the difference between exempt and non-exempt.

          A non-exempt employee MUST be paid overtime (whether they want it or not). Many companies don;t want to pay overtime. Manager says “Go home”.

          An exempt employee can work 60 hours a week or 80 hours a week and everyone smiles at their great work ethic until they end up in the hospital because no money is spent and no hours are recorded.

      2. Jean*

        Someday I hope to be as wise and concise as Not So NewReader. I’m learning at least three worthwhile ideas from this one posting! (There may be more, but I’m reading while tired which means I’m probably overlooking something.)
        1) Take care of your body because physical fatigue leads to mental fatigue.
        2) Learn to work effectively, and accept that this is an skill you’ll be polishing for as long as you are working (or as long as you are alive, because so much of human activity is work–this last part is my addition).
        3) Keep your grouchiness under control by crediting the other person for acting with good intentions.

  10. AMG*

    When I was an intern, I was paid from a budget specifically for interns. Working overtime wreaked hell on the budget of the HR manager responsible for the internship program (it was a consulting firm and they didn’t want to bill the client for the interns). If she isn’t funded for the other role, her budget may have dropped when the other person left and she doesn’t have the funding to pay OT.

    We have multi-million dollar projects at my work, and we do NOT go over budget. Ever. It isn’t done. The same dynamic could be at play here.

    1. Liz T*

      For my only paid internship ever, we were all called in by the Education department (which ran the internship program) and told that we were using too much overtime. We looked at her blankly, because none of us were doing it on a whim—we did what our supervisors told us, worked the hours they set us and completed the tasks they gave us. Did she want us to tell our supervisors no? Apparently. So we all went back to doing exactly what we’d been doing, with no change, and instead of telling our supervisors to limit our hours, it was never brought up again.

  11. Elizabeth the Ginger*

    Your manager also might possibly be concerned about security and the safety of an employee being in the office alone late at night or on weekends. At my job, even though I’m exempt, we are supposed to let the building manager know if we’re going to be in on a weekend – and they much, much prefer it if there is more than one person around. If I need to come in on the weekend I try to find a buddy who’s in a similar crunch time.

  12. SL #2*

    You and I were the same person last year, OP. I too was an intern whose full-time, entry-level coworker left, and suddenly I was asked to take over his job for the time being while there was a search for a replacement. Granted, I was not paid hourly, and the nature of the job meant I did have to stay late some nights for events and whatnot, but the expectation of me was that I was supposed to be in the office 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, and whatever couldn’t be completed in time could wait for another day. Staying late for events and other circumstances was on a case-by-case basis.

    Let me be the first to tell you that this is not the hill you want to die on. Your manager, when giving a reference, is not going to say “OP was such a hard worker that she came in on weekends and did unauthorized overtime just to finish the job!” Your manager is going to remember that you defied her direct order to not work unauthorized overtime, and that you also suggested breaking the law by not reporting your unauthorized overtime on your timesheets.

    I don’t mean to be harsh or unforgiving. You’re an intern, intern make all sorts of mistakes (lord knows I did!) and that’s just part of the learning curve when you’re fresh out of school. We’ve all been there. But the key here is that your manager isn’t your enemy, no matter how much you think she might be. Your manager is trying to help you, as best as she can, and part of that is showing you how to maintain proper work-life balance. It’s a good thing, because a lot of other managers won’t do that.

    1. Ad Astra*

      You weren’t paid hourly? Was there like a semester-long stipend or something? I can’t imagine it’s legal to classify an intern as exempt.

  13. TootsNYC*

    You’re also an intern.

    Her job is to coach you–that’s what internships are all about: learning. It’s the ONLY reason for something to be labeled an internship.

    She has an obligation to teach you about the work world, work ethic, appropriate office behavior and attire–“how the world works.” And she’s teaching you right.

    She is trying to set you up for a healthy relationship to your job. This is a job–so it’s not really healthy to work so much “because I care about this job!”
    She did what you are doing, so she knows first-hand what a bad idea it is, and what bad habits it creates in people.

    I think your manager rocks! Stop fighting her (mentally), and start listening to her.

    1. Paige Turner*

      The manager is definitely right, but it’s hard to tell if the manager has clearly explained her reasoning to the OP. Since the OP is an intern and is less familiar with office norms and employment law, I think that the manager has more of an obligation to explain things bluntly to the OP than if she were a more experienced employee. It’s possible that the manager did explain things, but based on the letter, it sounds like the OP doesn’t get it yet. (And I’m not trying to be hard on the OP, since learning these kind of things is what having an internship is supposed to be about!) What Alison said is what OP’s manager should have already said, ideally.

      1. TootsNYC*

        I agree–the manager should have spelled out all the things that Alison did. Because of that obligation.

  14. AndersonDarling*

    Working off the clock is such a huge, huge deal that it took me a while to learn the lesson. All the OP needs to do is call the Department of Labor and tell them she worked off the clock and the company will be in all kinds of hot water. Now the company has that liability hanging over their heads. The OP may be happy today, but tomorrow she may be disgruntled and make that phone call.
    It may seem like volunteering your time is valuable to the company, but it actually is a risk.

    1. LoveHR*

      As an HR professional, I agree with Alison’s response. I also want to add that for SAFETY reasons, the company does not want you work when they don’t know you are inside the office. If a fire breaks out, we have to let the authorities know who’s inside so that they can determine how to deal with the fire. Their strategy will depend if some is inside or not.

    2. Red*

      Part of my job when I worked payroll was explaining to non-exempt employees and their departments why not entering time worked into their timecards was a violation of FLSA. I observed the termination of at least one person who consistently failed to enter their hours. I also saw other managers (whose roles included timekeeping!) let go for regularly failing to ensure their non-exempt direct reports were paid. OP, this is a big deal for you, your company, and your fellow workers.

  15. LawBee*

    1. Don’t work for free. Seriously, don’t. You need to value the work you do, and that includes money. The landlord can’t take your work goodwill to the bank.

    2. You have weekends and evenings again, for probably the first time since you went to college. Enjoy them! I’m guessing you’re in your early twenties (based on the graduation date). Having a job you like that allows you to have weekends and evenings is wonderful, and something you should wallow in while you can.

    3. All of the above re: do what your boss says, don’t get them in legal trouble, etc..

    4. Don’t fight your boss on this. Let her help you. If you legit can’t get the work done in eight hours (and please make sure you’re taking a lunch), then she needs to know that so she can adequately staff the position.

    1. LawBee*

      My point about the early twenties is that I was that age the last time I had work-free weekends and evenings, and I *loved* it. You can be a solid hard worker and still have time for yourself.

    2. KR*

      Honestly when I was in college I didn’t have any free time because I was in school during the week and working over the weekends. Just an aside.

      1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

        I think that’s what LawBee is saying – students are less likely to have the luxury of truly “off time,” because even when they’re not in class or working at a job, there’s always the feeling of “but I could be studying right now…”

        The summer after college I worked at an office job which in many ways was not ideal, but one thing that WAS awesome was that when I left the office at 5 there was literally no way for me to keep working. I didn’t have to have any guilt that I should be getting a head start on an essay, or tackling my problem set, or reviewing vocabulary. I was just done for the day!

        1. Tau*

          I am in my first real job post-PhD and I am luxuriating in the lack of guilt in my free time. I visited my family for two weeks over Christmas and in the last week I’d keep having these reflexive moments of “shouldn’t I be working on my thesi- NO I should not be working on ANYTHING this is PTO!!!” Honestly, it’s one of the big reasons I decided against academia, and why I’ll fight back tooth and nail if a job starts to seep into my free time.

        2. SL #2*

          I’ve been out of school for a year and a half and I’m still enjoying the sudden free time I have as soon as 5:30 pm rolls around!

  16. Dan*

    I think AAM’s answer sort of down played the major crux of the issue: An intern got a full-time employee’s workload dumped on them, without much of a conversation about workload expectations.

    A manager shouldn’t just do that to an intern.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I agree, but (a) I’m advising the employee, not the manager, and (b) it’s possible there are reasons for the OP to actually be happy about this outcome, as I talk about in a comment above.

    2. SL #2*

      I was pretty happy about my similar situation when it happened to me, but I also had a meeting with everyone involved to make sure that a) yes, I was okay with this additional work, and b) that I understood the expectations and job duties and how they might be similar or different from what’s expected of a full-time employee in the role. I think with the intern’s input, it could be a great learning experience, but the key is that the intern needs to know what’s happening and have that conversation with all higher-ups involved.

    3. Ad Astra*

      Yeah, that struck me, too. I’m wondering if the OP felt she was supposed to take on all the responsibilities of a full-time employee while the manager was just expecting her to fill in as time allowed. It’s definitely time for a conversation.

    4. Meg Murry*

      Yes – as much as I’m hoping all the “your manager is great for pushing you to have work life balance” parts are true, if manager is also saying “when are you going to do A? B? I need C, D, E and F tomorrow!” and then at 5 pm say “you aren’t done with that? it doesn’t matter, go home!” and then then next day ask about C, D, E and F plus add G and H to the list.

      I was OP when I was a new grad – thrown into a position I was completely unprepared for, and wanted to do an awesome job at it, but I just didn’t know what I was doing well enough to be efficient at it and really get things done. And my boss was constantly on my back about all the things I needed to do, and I didn’t want to admit that being smart and hard working wasn’t cutting it – I really was drowning and didn’t know what I was doing.

      OP, talk to your boss. While you want the new hires to have a good onboarding process, sometimes that isn’t going to go as smoothly when you are a new person trying to do 2 jobs. So do your best, and ask your boss what things can be de-prioritized or delegated. While it is great (wonderful, amazing, OMG awesome) to have every I dotted and T crossed when people come on board, what they really need is:
      -tax paperwork completed
      -direct deposit stuff filled out
      -insurance paperwork provided

      Everything else falls into the “nice to have” category, not “need to have” category.

        1. Darth Blivious*

          Employee handbook. The president of my new employer finally admitted that there is no employee handbook – three months after my start date. This isn’t a tiny startup, either; they got their “Inc.” suffix about 3.5 years ago, and have a few dozen people now.

      1. TootsNYC*

        Actually, most of that stuff could be given to them a day later.
        And, it’s not HR’s job to do most of that anyway.
        They complete their own tax paperwork; they fill out their own direct deposit stuff; they fill out their own insurance paperwork. The HR folks just hand them the forms.

        I got my ID badge on day 2, because -I had to be there- to get my picture taken.

        So handing people a packet is really the only thing the company does. Assembling those packets could have been done by everyone in the department in a huge rush while the head of HR was “entertaining” the new hires.

    5. TootsNYC*

      but also note: the time frame on this is so tight.
      The manager found out about the overtime on the 2nd day of this new responsibility; the OP worked the overtime before her official assignment to that role had begun, and continued it on the Monday of her first day with those duties.
      The manager may not have thought there was anything really to do on that job yet; the OP had only barely taken it over.

      The manager’s vision of “taking over those duties” may simply have been “handle coordinator duties as they come up.” She may not have thought that the interim tasks would actually be the difficult.
      And they may not have been–the things that kept her late weren’t the basic day-to-day duties, but this backlog of stuff that the outgoing employee didn’t do, and that the OP assumed had to be done right away.

    6. Hiding on the Internet Today*

      Add me to the chorus of people who actually enjoyed that situation. I was an intern for a tiny team that supported a 24/7 operation and the experienced full timer who was supposed to be my manager was struck by serious illness about 2 weeks into my 3.5 month internship. It was an awesome experience.

      Maybe not perfectly ‘fair’ to me, but it gave me an opportunity to step up in a big way with the minimum necessary oversight. The team didn’t have anyone who could fill in other than me, so I ended up doing the full time work rather than most of the planned internship projects. (I did the main project, but none of the side ones.) I also didn’t completely fill in for the FT employee, because you can’t swap an intern for 30 years of experience. But the necessary work got done, I learned a ton, the team didn’t suffer, it was a win for everyone.

      Would I ever want to put an intern in that position? No. Those are emergency responses. But its not the end of the world. It requires the manager to be really aware of what expectations are reasonable and to be clear about what work is getting deprioritized (which is to say “Not Getting Done”) – but that’s management.

  17. my two cents*

    ditto to what others said – stop working overtime. it costs a LOT more money, which might not be in the budget. if it was an occasional 30min extra every week, that’s MUCH different than say, 20 additional hours and 1.5 x’s pay. your manager is trying to check-in with you constantly to insure you’re not quietly drowning in work. it might seem helicopter-y or scolding, but they’re really trying to help get your hours back down to a normal work week because it’s their butt that’ll get reprimanded for not managing the team and the budget.

    one big proactive thing you can start doing is start providing a daily task list of priority items to your manager. a quick email when you arrive in the morning would likely be sufficient, and it gives your direct manager a chance to check the current ‘hot’ items and address any changes.

    my previous manager was not at all technical, and trying to manage the sole engineering support contact (lumped under ‘customer support’) for the small team became difficult when she couldn’t accurately describe and report my daily tasks to our general manager. she knew i was busy during the day, and i was getting things done because customers weren’t complaining, but she couldn’t summarize beyond ‘got some stuff done, resulting in no angry customers”. i would fire off an email whenever i completed a task with as many details as i could include, knowing she would simply print it and file it for when she needed to give her manager an update.

    another happy unintentional outcome is that i had very clear record of everything i had completed day-to-day for when i completed my annual self-eval.

  18. Anonymous Educator*

    I wasn’t in this exact situation, but I ran into a similar issue and had a similar mindset when I was in my early twenties. I was super enthusiastic and wanted to do everything… and then I got burnt out. I had a slightly-older unofficial mentor figure who was really good at being helpful but also really good at saying “No.”

    I asked her for some advice, and she basically said (I’m paraphrasing): “If someone asks you to do something, you don’t have to say ‘No’ right away. Say ‘Right now I’m doing this, this, and this. What do you want me to drop so I can do that?'” My paraphrase is horrible—she put it far more eloquently and tactfully, but the gist was basically “What do you want me to prioritize?”

    OP, I think you know this, because you ask Alison these very questions:
    Would a company rather have someone go home right at 5 p.m. when there are strict deadlines to meet? Is it reasonable for her or anyone to expect someone to finish tasks for two people in eight hours per day?

    Your best bet here, especially since your manager is limiting your overtime, is to ask your manager what she wants you to prioritize. Do you have a weekly meeting with her? Or does she reply to emails quickly? Either way, find a way regularly to bring up with her “I wanted to touch base with you. I have X, Y, Z, A, B, and C to do before Friday. Should I be prioritizing A, Z, and X?” If she tells you “X, Y, Z, A, B, and C are all important and all need to be done by Friday,” you can then follow up with “Can you approve me for overtime this week, then? Because I may have to stay late Wednesday and Thursday to finish up all those projects.” And if she says “Yeah, prioritize A, Z, and X,” then just do A, Z, and X… and if you have time (without working extra hours) to do Y, B, and C, do as much of those as you can.

    You may also, aside from regular check-ins, want to have a larger conversation about your workload. It isn’t feasible (regardless of overtime pay and your dedication to the company) to maintain two full-time jobs. At my last job, I was working four full-time jobs (I’m not joking), and I had numerous conversations with my boss about how it wasn’t feasible to maintain this. I kept asking for him to change my job description or take something off my plate… nothing changed. Guess what—I left in less than a year.

    1. Yetanotherjennifer*

      I knew someone who when asked to do something big would say something positive and vaguely affirmative and then say “but I couldn’t possibly commit until I check my schedule/clear it with my manager…” It’s such a wonderful phrase to have because it conveys a ‘yes’ while giving you an out or at least time to think and plan.

      OP, you also need to start assuming you will leave on time unless there are special circumstances. As an hourly employee, this is going to be the case more often than not. When I first went on salary my boss told me that now I would be doing a job vs punching a clock. It’s not the greatest expression but the reverse is true for you right now. Punch that clock and work with your boss to determine how to get the job done.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        I knew someone who when asked to do something big would say something positive and vaguely affirmative and then say “but I couldn’t possibly commit until I check my schedule/clear it with my manager…”

        I do that when people outside of my department ask me to make larger commitments to projects. Part of it is protecting my time, but part of it is also respecting my boss’s authority and delegation. My boss may not want me working on same random other huge project, so asking the third party to clear it with the manager is also good CYA, too.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        Glad to help. You sound as if you have a really positive attitude, so it’d be a shame for you to get overworked and burnt out. Best of luck!

  19. Lynn Whitehat*

    I think other people have covered the legalities pretty well. There are some other reasons you don’t want to work crazy hours (especially uncompensated!) to heroically do the impossible.

    1. As long as you “magically” make things happen, it looks to everyone else that there isn’t a problem. There *is* a problem, of under-staffing or lack of priorities or not having the right equipment or something, but you’re covering it up. So your boss can’t get the real problem fixed because she doesn’t have any failures to point to. As soon as she can say “I had a room full of new hires and no on-boarding materials to give them because our printer is a dinosaur”, she can justify a new printer a lot better. This was a really hard lesson for me to learn (FAIL? On PURPOSE?), but sometimes it needs to happen.

    2. Once you talk to your boss about how you can’t get everything done, there’s a very high chance that she’ll say some of it can be done later, in a minimal way, or not at all. That’s part of being a boss, setting priorities and deciding what’s most important of all the things that could be getting done. It’s not like a school assignment where you have the list of things to do and the date and that’s it, find some way to get it done.

    1. KR*

      I really like your response under #2. In school if you stay up half the night to complete a project by deadline, it’s generally looked upon as favorable but it’s not true in the working world because they have to pay you for whatever work you do. There are companies that will reward you for working 80 hours a week, and not just in overtime, but you have to find those companies in and in the meantime work with the company culture where you currently work.

    2. One of the Sarahs*

      Re #2. OP, another thing you need to talk to the manager about is how you handle working to 2 managers, as presumably the outgoing employee’s manager is still managing her work? If you approach it as early as possible, and ask what to do if you have conflicting timescales and deadlines, that will make your life easier, I’m sure. I would also advise that when you have your next 1:1, asking if you can clarify the priorities across both roles. As someone said above, it is ideal that new hires get their ID badges on day 1, but is it essential compared to other tasks? And don’t make the rookie mistake I made, in assuming that the managers are communicating about this between them – of course we hope they are, but it is so important, if you’re getting snowed under, to check with your manager which the priority should be.

  20. HRChick*

    We have to get approval from our VPs before we can work overtime – and as others said, you MUST get paid for the time you work.

    That’s what we have the hardest time teaching our student employees. No, you cannot work for free. They see it as doing us a favor, we see it as a legal issue.

    If an employee continued to work OT without permission, they would be let go. This is not to be mean. It’s because they’re an unreliable employee who (1) is not following instructions and (2) they are putting us in a bad position (3) all our positions are supposed to be FT not FT+, so if they are continuing to have to use overtime to do their work, there is something going on.

    I would have a sit down meeting with your manager to go over your duties, your managers expectation for your work and your expectations of your work. It may be that a lot of things you are doing because you care are things that your manager doesn’t need or want you to do if it means you can’t complete a project.

  21. Interviewer*

    I’m trying to figure out how a manager decided that the best possible person to fill a vacant recruiting role in “a very large corporation” was the intern who started last month.

    1. HRChick*

      I could see it happening with several essentials:
      (1) the intern is not currently heavily burdened with the internship itself
      (2) the intern has been shown to be advanced
      (3) the intern is not expected to take on ALL the roles and responsibilities of the vacated position, but rather take over a few of the projects until the company can fill the position

      I’ve seen a lot of employees complain that they are working two jobs when, in reality, they are not. But because they really did not have a full grasp on what the roles and responsibilities of position they “took over” were, they full-heartily believe it. But, the truth is they were just given a couple additional tasks or projects.

      1. Meg Murry*

        And the intern has graduated, so it could be a good fit if the RC role is truly entry level – but in that case the internship project/duties have to go, or be de-prioritized until OP gets her feet under her.

      2. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yes, yes, to that last paragraph.

        Also, when two jobs are combined into one, it doesn’t usually mean that you’ll literally be doing the work of two people. You’ll be doing work from two different areas, yes, but generally not “the work of two people.” If two people were doing the work, typically there would be more work, it would be more in-depth, and there would be more responsibilities.

        1. Ife*

          Yes, “The work will expand to fill the time available.” Conversely, it will contract too when you combine two roles into one.

  22. hbc*

    “I want new hires to have good first impression of the company.” This is not your responsibility, and it’s actually misleading them if your company doesn’t have its crap together. (I say this as someone in a company that doesn’t have its crap together.) There’s no point in making beautiful on-boarding packets and a seamless transition to their desks and then find out they’ve got to bring their own stapler from home or wade through three years of outdated contacts to find the person who can order them a new chair.

    Basically, it’s not your job to disguise the fact that people are coming into the kind of company where an intern can get someone else’s entire workload dumped on them.

  23. Gene*

    Way back before I became a sewer cop, I was taking what jobs I could find. One only lasted a month because I didn’t understand this concept. I was working at an auto parts warehouse and our schedule included an hour unpaid lunch. Being fairly fresh out of the Navy, I read that as punch out, go out and find lunch, eat quickly, punch in, and get back to work. First week the supervisor asked why I had overtime on my timecard and I replied that I didn’t need an hour to eat lunch. He told me not to do that anymore, so I started coming back and working until it was time to punch back in, then punching in and continuing to work. That lasted until he noticed and I was unemployed at the end of the week.

    Don’t be me, be smart.

      1. LawBee*

        it made me think of that old Beauty and the Beast show. The one with Ron Perlman and Linda Hamilton, not the CW whatever one that’s on now.

      2. Gene*

        I’m an Industrial Waste Inspector. We regulate what non-residential users discharge to the sewers. While I can’t arrest you, I can shut off your water and sewer service and fine you $10,000/day/violation.

        Combined sewers in old cities can be beautiful, nothing like that here. If I ever manage to get to London or Paris, I plan on doing a sewer tour; in Paris, there are street signs in them so you know where you are. Largest one I’ve been in was an 84-inch line with about 2 feet of sewage flowing by.

        Storm sewers tend to be relatively large, too. And they (usually) don’t have sewer trout floating by. There’s an entire community of people living in the storm drains of Las Vegas.

        1. Miss Betty*

          Which sounds really dangerous, kind of like living in a dry wash. When it storms in Las Vegas, it floods. (I used to live there.)

    1. Vicki*

      Your supervisor was a jerk.
      Yes, you were working unpaid time. did he _tell you that_? Apparently, not.

      How are people supposed to know these things if someone doesn’t tell them? “Do this do that” doesn’t work for many people. Many people need a why. Even “It’s illegal to work off the clock” is a “why”.

  24. Evergreen*

    OP, if I’m reading this correctly, you worked overtime one weekend and one night, at which point your boss told you not to. You complied, but she’s hassling you to make sure it never happens again?

    Assuming you haven’t been arguing with her about it, or attempting to go against her decision subsequently, this seems unreasonable to me.

    When you sit down with her to discuss workload and priorities, it might be good to mention this also. Something like ‘I just wanted to let you know that I understand that I shouldn’t be working overtime and will not let that happen again. I’m sorry for the original misunderstanding’.

    1. OP*

      Thank you for your comment, Evergreen! Yes. I haven’t worked OT since I’ve told her. She keeps an eye out very closely that I leave no later than 6pm. Will do as suggested!

  25. Sarah TX*

    I am speaking from experience:

    If you have too much work to do in a week and your manager doesn’t seem to understand that, then as an intern (or a regular employee for that matter), you should make a list of all your tasks in what you think is priority order, make estimates of how long each task takes you, and sit down with your manager to figure out where the discrepancy is and what needs to be passed off to another employee. This would be a huge benefit to your boss as it gives THEM justification to take to their boss to either authorize overtime or hire another employee.

  26. KH*

    What is sticking out to me glaringly is that OP, you never went to your boss and spoke with her about the volume of work that the departing person left. You never asked for direction/guidance on how to incorporate the work into your current duties or how to handle the undone tasks. You said you did the work and came in nights and weekends without your manager knowing because you didn’t want to look “slack” or unable to manage your time.

    From a managers perspective, I don’t see that as slacking or poor time management. I see that as you failing to communicate VITAL information back to your manager – both about about necessary work that was left undone, and about the volume of work overall. Then, while hiding that information, you proceeded to do something that has serious legal implications for the company. That displays poor professional judgement on your part.

    Now, obviously, you’re an intern, you’re still probably learning all of this and so your manager really should have explained that to you much more clearly. But you seem to feel that your manager is being totally unreasonable and passive aggressive … and she is not, IMO. She might be failing to take advantage of a teachable moment, but her expectations that you would keep her informed of your workload and time are not unreasonable. And she’s probably micromanaging you at this point because you are giving the very strong vibe that you don’t get that.

    1. OP*

      Hi! Thank you so much for your sharing your thoughts. To clarify, the week where I worked on a weekend, she was away on vacation. So I didn’t had the opportunity to tell her. She came back Monday – I told her then. It was also on Monday that I stayed late. So on Monday, I’ve spoken with her how there’s so much to do. Hope this clarify things!

      1. KH*

        Ah. I gotcha. So really … this was one of those unavoidable life lessons. :) Now you know … and even better you know the why’s and wherefores. And you’ve gotten some really good advice on this thread to help you with future events.

    2. TootsNYC*

      Thisis an important point.

      But also note–it’s one weekend and one night–apparently done before the official start of her taking over these responsibilities. Before it was even officially her job. And based on stuff that the outgoing employee handed to her.

      This is a really short timeframe here.

      And given that the manager was out when the exiting employee handed off all this work, the OP couldn’t ask–but it’s all the more reason why she should not have been doing as much as she did–she didn’t have direction.

      I get it, she was trying to be a self-starter, be invested in the job, etc., etc.

      It’s a big lesson in how it works. In the future, she’ll know not to just jump on in, but to have a frame of reference and clearer direction -before- she begins.

      1. Doodle*

        My guess is that, as an intern, she(?) still sees everyone as her potential boss — so when the outgoing employee gave her a list of things to do, she treated that as an assignment that needed to be done. It sounds like this is magnified by the fact that her current boss wasn’t the boss of the departing employee, so wouldn’t have known about the incoming assignments.

  27. KR*

    From my point of view I can understand where the manager is coming from bu i also think the OP is getting carried away in the frenzy of work they enjoy.
    I know it’s hard, OP. Like I can only work 29 hours a week at one of my jobs. I could stay 50+ hours a week if they would let me, but they don’t because I’m classified as part time and I have to respect the culture of the company and the rules that they put in place.
    Most companies don’t budget for or allow overtime because they don’t want the added expense. I think you need to take a step back, remember that you are still very new in this role, and take direction from your manager. It sounds like there is a lot of work and I sympathize with that, but also sounds like your manager is trying to help you organize and prioritize your work load in a way to makes sense and you need to let her help you if you want her to formally hire you for this role.

  28. hnl123*

    my awesome former manager got FIRED for letting someone “volunteer” to work extra unpaid hours. (This person really wanted to complete a project she was emotionally invested in).

    So… your manager isn’t being passive aggressive. She’s being responsible. And all the points Allison raised.

  29. Sara M*

    OP, I wonder. Are you a) recently out of school, and b) a super-high achiever?

    Because it took me a while to understand that the work world is NOT like school. In school, I did all my homework–no matter how long it took me. I turned in every assignment. And I knew if I did all that, I’d get A’s and my teachers would praise me, etc.

    The work world is different. There’s no A for doing every single thing assigned to a job. With most jobs, there’s an ever-expanding list of things that need doing. Some of them may never get done, ever, and they just sit at the bottom of the priority list for three years. This is kind of alien if you’re used to academics.

    Instead of doing every single thing possible, the work world expects you to do as much as you can within the time available. If your work world limits you strictly to 40 hours a week–well, that’s all you get. Learn which are the most important things ever, and which can be let go. If you can’t even do all the important things, that’s something you discuss with your manager and see what can be done. If you don’t know what’s important, ask your manager for help deciding.

    It’s a new kind of challenge. Good luck! And ditto what people said above about making sure you get paid properly for the work you do, and that you get full employee status.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      The work world is different. There’s no A for doing every single thing assigned to a job. With most jobs, there’s an ever-expanding list of things that need doing. Some of them may never get done, ever, and they just sit at the bottom of the priority list for three years. This is kind of alien if you’re used to academics.

      I don’t know if this is true of “most jobs,” but every single job I’ve had I was expected to get everything done and done well. I’ve always worked in education, though—not sure if it’s different in the corporate world.

      1. AcademiaNut*

        If you’re in an exempt position, and your employers aren’t particularly considerate, jobs can easily recreate the school experience – “Here’s your tasks, here’s the deadlines, do what you have to to make it happen!” But unlike school, you never actually clear away the pile.

    2. One of the Sarahs*

      Co-signing about learning new challenges. When I was working in the voluntary sector, after a few years doing less interesting jobs, I used to work all unpaid extra hours, thinking it was a sign of being a great employee, and dedicated to the cause – and used to burn out every 6 months or so. I moved to the civil service where people logged their hours meticulously, down to breaks, and travel time, and claiming Time Off In Lieu (with agreement of managers of course) and at first I thought they were being jobsworths and playing the system, but I realised it helped me be a better worker. I could still work late up to deadlines (with manager’s agreement) but I had to take it back within a set time, and if I couldn’t get my work done in the hours, we dealt with it. I learned to work more efficiently, look after myself, and I stopped burning out – I wish I’d learned this earlier!

  30. OP*

    Alison – thank you very much for posting my question and sharing your thoughts. I really appreciate it.

    Just got off work and still going through all the comment.

    To AAM Readers – thank you for taking the time to give me advise and to share your experience. I am extremely grateful. I was never aware of legal issues regarding this but thank you for shedding light. I have also apologized many times for doing OT, and my manager has told me every single time “don’t apologize.

    I haven’t read every single one but wanted to answer some questions.

    1. Yes, recent grad. Graduated in May 2015
    2. Manager mentioned many times there will be title change. I’ve asked twice when I can get the new contract. The last time we spoke about it, she said I could expect it “that same day.” That was last Tuesday. To this date, no bew contract still.
    3. Compensation is good for an intern role. But for the RC role + intern role, it’s very low pay.
    4. My intern role is also in HR, but has zero overlaps with the RC role. The RC role also has a different manager that it previously reports to.

    I will continue to keep on reading the comments. Tomorrow, I will definitely reiterate to my manager that I was in the wrong for doing OT.

    1. Oryx*

      If you’ve already apologized multiple times for the OT and she’s told you “don’t apologize,” then heed her advise. That means not to reiterate you were wrong. She doesn’t need you to tell her that you know you’re wrong, she needs you to *show* her that you know you were wrong. Actions, not words, now.

      The transition into the working world can be tricky, but being an AAM reader is a good way to get ahead of the game. I certainly wish I had this when I graduated from college 10 years ago!

      1. Afiendishthingy*

        Yes, please don’t tell her you were wrong again! You apologized, she heard it, move on- otherwise you’re just ignoring what she tells you (not to apologize)!

    2. misspiggy*

      You might want to double check with your manager that she oversees and performance manages all your workload. So although the RC manager can give you tasks, your main manager should have an overview of your intern and your RC tasks. She should be able to advise you on what to prioritise and what to leave out, so that you can deliver on both roles within your allocated hours. Then if the RC manager complains that their stuff isn’t getting done, you refer her to your main manager.

      If it becomes clear that you don’t have one overall manager who advises you on prioritising your whole workload, this sucks. It would help to draw up a list of all the tasks you have, with the ones you understand to be high priority at the top. Draw a line underneath the tasks you can realistically get done in the time you have, assuming an equal split of time between the two roles (I learned that from AAM commenters!).

      Ideally meet both managers to review the list, and ask them decide between them how many hours each week should be spent on each role, which tasks are priorities and which should drop. If you can’t get a meeting, send your list to both by email and propose whichever split of tasks makes most sense to you, based on what you know about both managers’ priorities. Then work to that proposal until you get clearer guidance.

    3. neverjaunty*

      #2 is a serious problem – rather than ask about it, set aside some time to have a conversation with your manager. You don’t need to be either demanding OR hesitant – but rather than asking when you will get it, pick a time when your manager isn’t running around in a panic, and say something like “Manager, given that I’m handling this new job as an employee rather than an intern, I’d like to take care of the contract right away. Can we do this today?” If the answer is no, then ask “What’s a realistic time frame?”

      If your manager keeps putting it off and putting it off, then yes, you’re being ripped off and should find another job.

  31. TootsNYC*

    One thing about making yourself leave: it forces you to pare down your tasks, and to make them more efficient.

    My brother is in the U.S. Army. He was telling me once about the barracks inspections, uniform inspections, locker inspections, and the demerits that apply. Some demerits expire daily. Some expire weekly. Some don’t expire.
    He said that it was not physically, chronologically possible to do all the things that were required. He ended up finding “cheats” (he waxed his sink, so that water spots couldn’t form; and he put tiny marks on the sides of his drawers so that when he had to pull them out exactly 4 inches, he could hit that mark).

    Interestingly, inaccurate spacing of your hangers in your locker earns you a demerit that expires daily. But having your boots laced the wrong way got you a demerit that lasted a month. His theory: “The hangers is just an error in measuring. Not lacing your boots correctly is a disdain for the orders; that’s a much bigger issue.”

    And he said, “I think they are trying to teach us to prioritize. Since you can’t get zero demerits, you have to pick and choose which ones you’ll live with. So you focus on the ones that matter more.”

    That pressure taught him to tighten up.

    Making yourself go home on time can do the exact same thing at work.

    1. Afiendishthingy*

      That is fascinating. Of course the cost-benefit analysis of prioritizing in most jobs isn’t so clear cut, but I’m intrigued by the framework for prioritizing the Army taught him.

  32. Alis*

    Graduated in May and accepted in December? Does that mean you’ve been there only a few weeks? I can’t help but get the impression that you may be coming off as overzealous here, without the experience or wisdom to recognize whether or not it is appropriate in this situation. I believe your manager is kindly trying to make this clear to you. I get that you are eager, but sometimes that creates tunnel vision.

      1. Alis*

        Thanks for clarifying. In addition to already-posted concerns about things like burnout, I would really caution you to take the time to get to know the role better, before putting so much effort into what you perceive as poorly completed work in the last. They didn’t hire an experienced person to “overhaul” previous issues – they hired an entry-level intern. Don’t try and make your role into something it’s not, or it will be perceived as arrogance and disrespect.

  33. Katie the Fed*

    OP –

    This is not passive aggressive (not sure why would think that at all), but when I was younger I did the same thing too. Yes, you care about the company and the work and the outcomes. But the problem is when you work long hours and weekends, you mask the personnel issues, because everything looks like it’s being handled well. If you just worked the hours you were supposed to, they would see that they need to hire more people. And in the process, you’re going to burn yourself out.

    So, stop it. Your manager is trying to help, but you also do need to listen because you could be increasingly legal liability for the company if you continue.

    1. Tau*

      I’ve just started as a chocolate teapot maker, replacing Wakeen who left in December. Wakeen was pretty experienced, highly familiar with the extremely complex teapot creation system the job is about, and – oh yeah – liked putting in lots of unpaid overtime even when he was definitely not allowed to. I am fresh out of training, completely unfamiliar with this system, and not going to be doing overtime unless it’s official and I’m being paid time and a half. I suspect that if I end up doing half as much work as Wakeen did, I’ll be doing well.

      Today I had a meeting in which my new boss calculated what kind of staffing our department needs to keep up its day-to-day business and came up several chocolate teapot makers short. If that calculation accounted for Wakeen not being there, he might very well be the reason *why* we’re short in the first place. If it didn’t, the shortage will be even worse than anticipated and we might end up with serious problems.

      I suspect the boss isn’t particularly happy about Wakeen’s long hours right now.

  34. Sketchee*

    OP, from your comments on the site I just want to say that you’re really being thoughtful and open to ideas. You’re going to do well!!

    So relax, for now. Sshow your manager that you’re top priority is to be there to help that person specifically. And just enjoy your nights and weekends doing other things you love!!

    The number one thing I have found (15 years into my career) is that diversifying your happiness is super important. Have hobbies, friends, Netflix, volunteering, trying new things. Because some days work just is work. Having other things to put all of that motivation and amazing energy you have will cut away at all of that stress <3

    1. TootsNYC*

      I want to underline this.

      Despite being married, having kids, being organist at my church–I let myself get to the point where my job was really the only “real” thing–it was my source of happiness.

      When that specific job got stale, went sour, became a “not a good fit” situation, I was devastated.

  35. Sunshine*

    OP mentioned within the comments that she was unaware of the legal issues with working unpaid overtime, which means that the manager never explained why the unpaid overtime was an issue. Manager brought up “firing” without even bothering to explain why it is an issue? Manager also tells OP all about how she worked the job of two people when she was OP’s age, but again, does not bring up WHY this is an issue… Seems like a very important part of the process on the manager’s end, and I can definitely understand why the OP felt frustrated and possibly took the manager’s comments as passive aggressive. When we do not understand the reasoning behind things our minds just naturally fill in the gaps based on our limited information.

    I’m not a manager, so I’m going to put this in the context co-worker. If I had a co-worker who was faced with the OP’s dilemma (stuff was not done, undone stuff that will adversely effect other employees/company, could not ask manager for guidance, and had two options: say “Screw it” and go home or work unauthorized overtime to get stuff done), I would be extremely grateful for this co-worker. Was it the wrong choice, absolutely (and I think the OP get that now). I would still be impressed with this co-worker’s work ethic (obviously if it happened more than once this would not be the case, this is based on a single mistake) and would be really happy to work with someone that cares that much about getting the job done.

    OP – I’m sure you’ve learned from this experience and good luck in your talk with manager! It really sounds like you guys just need to have an in-depth conversation about this new role – what exactly it entails, priorities, time management expectations and all of that stuff. Also, don’t be afraid to ask why in addition to what! Sounds like your manager might be taking their experience for granted and might not be doing a good job of putting themselves in the shoes of a new-to-the-work-place intern.

    1. OP*

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Sunshine! It is so encouraging to read your comment and I will definitely be mindful to always ask why and what. Thank you very much.

  36. techfool*

    It’s kinda funny that a legal requirement that’s meant to help employees can end up making things worse.

  37. TootsNYC*

    OP, since you’re so very green, that makes this a huge learning opportunity for you. I wanted to come back and point out a few “things that should ahve happened along the way.”
    Not to scold you–in fact, many of them are things someone ELSE really should have done–either they were obligated to, or it would have been wise. (and I don’t even want to trash the other people–they may have planned to do these things at a different timing). But I think that you’re new enough at this that it will help you to see what a good transition would have looked like.

    The manager of the outgoing employee should have met with the outgoing employee to lay out a transition plan, review duties, review the state of things like “are there enough packets already assembled to get us through a month of new hires?”

    The manager of the outgoing employee should have met w/ you and the outgoing employee to go over what your new duties would be (and the managers should have talked as well) and decide what the limits would be of your involvement.

    The outgoing employee should have let HER manager know, in the middle of her last week, that she was probably not going to be done w/ XYZ tasks. (Note here: this means an employee needs to be able to forecast and predict her own workload, to know how long they’ll take—and to be realistic, maybe even pessimistic.)
    Then her manager should have made a plan to prioritize, reassign, etc., to get the most important things done.
    In fact, that manager should have been initiating this conversation if it didn’t happen.

    On her last day or the day before it, the outgoing employee should have let her manager know where she stood, and what reality was (in comparison w/ her earlier prediction). If that didn’t happen, the MANAGER should have been saying, in the morning on that last day, “OK, where are you with things, what’s not done that absolutely has to be ready by Monday?”

    The manager should have been the one to say, “OK, here’s how we’ll have the bare minimum ready on Monday.”

    On that last day, when the exiting employee dumped all that stuff on your, YOUR task should have been (remember, you’re a new employee in this role) to go to that manager (not your manager, who doesn’t supervise that role) and say, “Here’s everything she gave me, and here’s what I think I need to do. Please review and confirm.”

    Let’s say that manager was out (which she was, I think). If you have any after-hours way to contact her (email definitely, even if only so she sees it first thing; but phone if that’s allowed), use that right away.

    And, you should go home. And come in bright and early on Monday so you could catch her as soon as she arrives, and say, “Help! This is what she gave me; it looks like it’s going to be a problem. What do we do? Should I do X?”

    Here are the principles I’m applying.

    * You are your manager’s eyes and ears. When things are snagging, your manager MUST know this, and you must tell her. That’s a huge reason your manager’s role exists–to remove snags so people can get their jobs done. To solve problems, to train, to clarify priorities, to procure resources and information, to communicate outside your department on your department’s behalf.
    All of these are things that a manager would have done in your situation. But neither manager could do that, because neither of them knew about the problem. There were two people who didn’t bring this problem to them–the outgoing employee, and you.
    Sure, bring a possible solution along with that problem–I think that’s often a requirement of you as well. (Don’t tell her how to do her job, but tell her of what you’ve thought of that -you- can do.)
    But bring her the problems.

    * Every employee needs to build a knowledge of how long their work takes, how involved it is, etc. You’re too fresh right now to have that knowledge, so you are in “ask a lot of questions,” “get a lot of direction,” “ask for priorities” mode. Do what you need to in order to build that sense in yourself. Write down what you do and when; if there’s some task that happens often, time it.

    * As you build your sense of how long things take, and how things work, and what’s important: Remember that there is no such thing as multi-tasking. Only a very few things can truly be done at once. (Walking and chewing gum is usually OK to combine–but try to pat your head and rub your stomach, and see how well that goes. It’s a metaphor, but it’s true.) There is only juggling tasks and jumping from one to another. And some things simply cannot be rushed (photocopying, for one example). And some people shouldn’t be rushed (don’t piss off the badge guys by making your problem theirs, and then when you truly have a crisis, they’ll be willing to rush on your behalf if you ask nicely).

    * bringing problems to your manager is part of a MUTUAL training program. When you’re new, this is an incredibly crucial process, but it is always ongoing for everyone. It changes as you progress (in rank and in experience), but it is always happening.
    You say to your boss, “Alert! I think there’s a problem.” Your boss learns how you think by what you say. You say, “I thought of solution X, or Y, or Z.”
    Then your boss says, “Here’s how we’ll solve that problem. X makes sense but it costs too much. Y is too clunky. Z doesn’t involve the right person. We’ll do M for this reason.”
    You just learned how your boss thinks.
    Starting this process is your responsibility.

    You wrote this: “Initially, I did this without my manager knowing because it could also look like I can’t manage my time, when in fact I’m just trying to catch up with things that should have been done by the previous person. “

    * You made a big, self-blaming erroneous leap of logic that I want to encourage you to pick apart. You just got this job. You think it’s going to look as though you can’t manage your time? You haven’t had any time on this job to manage! Surely your two managers are intelligent enough to recognize this. Are they blame-y sorts of people?
    Remember that when your boss corrects you, or gives you directions, or questions you, it’s not automatically a criticism. I just worry that this comment from you indicates that youa re too quick to assume condemnation from others.

    * Having a one-time crisis hit (a lousy hand-off of tasks w/ a hard deadline) is NOT going to ruin a good manager’s opinion of your GENERAL ability and skill. Turning for help is going to look better than slogging through in a bad way.

    and, regarding this same comment from you, I want to add this:
    * If you can’t get your job done in the time allotted, that’s not necessarily a reflection on YOU. Especially not now, when you’re an intern (remember: “intern” = “everybody knows this person is learning; ‘learning’ is in her job description”).
    The worst it could mean (about you) is that you’re simply new at this. You don’t know the tricks to organizing the photocopy job so that it’s as efficient as possible, or you don’t know which things could be set aside to be done later. Maybe you don’t know who to ask for help. (OK, maybe much later, when you’re chatting a lot in the hallway, it will look like you don’t know how to organize your time.) All of those things are things your boss can correct–but ONLY if she knows you’re having trouble getting it done.
    But if your boss finds out that you can’t keep up with the workload, it is FAR more likely to mean something like one of these:
    *there’s too much work
    *there’s too much work
    *you’ve been given work that should be done by someone else
    *you weren’t given clear enough priorities
    *someone didn’t get you the info/resources in time
    *staffing doesn’t match the timing of when the work arrives
    Your manager can’t fix those problems if she doesn’t know about them.

    In my job, I have subordiantes who come to me and say, “I’m sorry to interrupt you” or “I hate to interrupt you.” I was asking my deputy last night–“Do I give of a vibe that I don’t want to be interrupted, or that I’m so busy that I shouldn’t be interrupted?”
    But if they go to someone else on the team with the question, I don’t realize that the procedures manual needs to be updated, or that a certain colleague in another department needs to be reminded how to treat my team.

    Managers manager using information.
    That information comes from you.
    Providing it is a huge part of your job.

    Good luck–welcome to the working world!

  38. AtomicCowgirl*

    One thing your reply didn’t cover but that I think might be pertinent: As a departmental manager, I’m responsible for budgeting for my department. My company has a very heavy seasonal swing and there are certain times of the year when our overtime expenses are astronomical; the rest of the year we have to be careful how much overtime we allow. Because I’m in operations with a sizable staff, my expenses hit the P&L and therefore budget variances are a very big deal. Employees often want additional overtime for various reasons but I’m not always able to allow it, knowing that I have to answer to my director and the execs when someone’s working a lot of overtime and it isn’t a traditionally busy time of year. I normally wouldn’t just say no to a request for overtime work, but I would be diligent to understand exactly why the overtime was being asked for and if I couldn’t validate that the tasks the employee was wanted to work overtime to complete were actually time-critical, I would probably not approve the overtime. I would also give my employee an honest explanation as to why I am not approving the overtime.

  39. Younger*

    OP, I’ve been a bright eyed bushy tailed intern myself not too long ago. I get it. You want to make a good impression in your first professional experience. You sound like you are ready to go nose-to-the-grindstone for this company. And that is good, to a point.

    But, here’s my question for you: What, exactly, are you getting out of working more on these extra responsibilities? Have you gotten a raise- do you know how much the FT person was making? Did you get a title change so you can put it on your resume? A promise that you will be considered for this position when they post it? If not, a guarantee that this is a short-term fix or that they WILL post the job? It sounds suspiciously like they have re purposed you as an intern doing a full time staff member’s job. I know several people who have been in that situation (its depressingly common) and my takeaway is PROTECT yourself. You may think you know the answers to the above questions but overall I would argue not to give your employer the benefit of the doubt.

    Even the benefits you think you may be getting- impressing your supervisor so you can get a job/ recommendation when your internship is over, your professional reputation, the ubiquitous “it’ll look good,” in my experience those are NOT automatic and, more importantly, aren’t worth that much when you’re looking for your next job. You need to have a conversation with your supervisor about A. the reason you want to work more fact that you are stressed by the (unreasonable, unanticipated) workload B. the future outlook of this position/your position with the company. And you need to think yourself whether putting in this much extra effort for almost nothing- what goal are you trying to achieve and is it realistic?

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