does a good college mean you don’t have to do internships, employee refuses to use cell phone, and more

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

1. If you go to a good college, do you still need to get work experience while you’re in school?

I recently had a dispute with my younger brother, a senior in high school. I suggested that when he goes to college, he should take advantage of connections through the school to get an internship or two over the summer, for the experience and flesh out his resume, since degree =/= job in this day and age. He doesn’t want to, since he’s guaranteed admission into [pretty good but not Ivy League school], and thinks that it would be pointless to do internships since having the school’s name on his resume would put him ahead regardless. He’s a good student with a stellar GPA, and his field is accounting, if that makes any difference.

So if you were hiring, would you take a graduate from a good school with a great GPA, or someone from a more ordinary school who did internships and volunteer work?

Someone from a good school with a great GPA and no work experience? Nope, because there are going to be loads of other candidates from good schools with good GPAs and work experience, and they are pretty much always going to be preferable — because they’ve had some exposure to the work world and I won’t be starting from scratch with them.

Employers really, really don’t like to hire people with no work experience at all, regardless of what school they went to. An Ivy could maybe minimize that a bit, although I wouldn’t count on it, and other schools — even very good brand-name schools — definitely won’t. I think he’s overestimating the impact of a “pretty good” school on his resume; it’s certainly a plus, but not so helpful that it will make up for having no work experience.  He’ll still need to work or intern over the summers or he’ll have a much tougher time when he graduates.

(I will say that for accounting, I think it used to be true that he could pull this off, but now internships are so common that it’ll put him at a disadvantage.)

All that said, his thoughts on all this may change once he gets to college, so I wouldn’t worry about arguing it too hard with him.

2. I was chastised for talking to a reporter after being told to use my best judgment

I work at a small nonprofit where we all wear multiple hats. I am in a director role. I have only been in the position for a few months but was hired with the understanding that they brought me in to take charge of these departments and help strengthen the programs. Yesterday, I got an email from a reporter requesting that I answer a few questions. This is about the fifth time this has happened. The first few times, I asked my boss and she told me to go ahead, and by the third she said to use my best judgement. So, I went ahead and answered this reporter without asking her. She found out about it and sent me an email saying that she knows that hasn’t covered this with me, but that there is a certain way media requests should be distributed, and added, “Not a reprimand, just a disappointment.”

I’m confused as to what I did wrong. I’ve asked several times and not only about this. I’ve received ZERO training since coming on board and have had to figure things out on my own. When I ask for guidance I get some, but with this tone that I should already know the answer and am wasting her time. I’m at a loss.

I’d reply this way: “I apologize — I must have misunderstood. When I’d asked you about previous interview requests, you’d told me to use my best judgment — which I took to mean I could respond to reporters on my own. It sounds like I misinterpreted that, though, and I’ll alert you to any future interview requests.”

The “I apologize” isn’t in there to be obsequious in the face of unreasonableness, but because it’s possible that you really did misunderstand (having a central gatekeeper for media requests is actually pretty common, and she might have meant “use your best judgment” on those particular requests, but not as a carte blanche to respond to all future ones) and because as long as this isn’t constantly happening, it’s an effective way to smooth it over, even if it’s irksome to have to say.

But it’s pretty obnoxious for her to say she’s “disappointed” at the same time she’s saying it’s something she hasn’t covered with you in the past. And far more than this specific incident, I’m concerned about the broader pattern of the way she talks to you. I’m not a fan of your boss.

3. Employee refuses to use cell phone for an outside office event

My direct report, who is salaried and exempt, is attending an event on behalf of our agency. The event organizer requested her cell phone number, as did the client who will be speaking. She stated that she prefers I give them her office phone, while VERY firmly stating that she will not be available 24 hours a day. She refuses to budge. While I could just hand it over anyway (or not have informed her at all), our office culture would consider that too heavy-handed of me. I am not asking her to be available 24 hours a day, but fully accessible immediately before and during the event. It’s good customer service and our job is to make sure a volunteer or client feels comfortable with their task. Part of that is knowing they can reach someone if there is a last-minute issue. This would be necessary maybe four to five times a year. Is this unreasonable? Is there any illegality in my request? She has a performance review coming up and I’d like to tactfully address this instance of defiance and non-teamwork but am not sure how to do it.

Other questions you’ve answered on this come from the perspective of the employee and seem to address incessant, not occasional use, and reimbursement of the bill. I was hoping for an answer with a bit more teeth that I could use as a supervisor.

You’re not being unreasonable at all, and it’s 100% legal to require her to do it. I would say this to her: “No one expects you to be available 24 hours a day, but part of doing this work is that the client needs to be able to reach you in case there’s a last-minute issue. It’s rare that this happens — I’ve seen it maybe four or five times a year. But this is indeed part of staffing this event, and we do need the client to be able to reach you in case of emergency.”

4. When the email name doesn’t match the resume name

I do hiring for a small-ish company (about 150 employees) and was curious on your opinion concerning resume names not matching email names. Frequently when hiring for our more entry-level jobs, I will get emails with resumes where the two do not match. Normally, this isn’t a big deal, like when someone uses a shortened name such as “Bob Smith” instead of “Robert Smith.” However, every one out of 100 or so I’ll receive a resume/cover letter clearly from a spouse or relative. Something along the lines of it coming from a Mrs. Amanda Smith and then the resume applying says it’s for Mr. John Smith.

I tend to rule out these resumes quickly because they either don’t realize they are using someone else’s account, or the person is applying for them. This to me shows either a lack of attention to detail or that they aren’t proactive enough to do something themselves. Do you have any thoughts on this?

Yeah, this bugs me too. Email accounts are free, and there’s no reason someone can’t send resumes from their own Gmail account, so it does make it look like someone else is applying to jobs on their behalf — which certainly doesn’t make them an appealing candidate. If they otherwise seemed to be a really strong candidate, I’d move forward with them and just ask about it at the phone interview stage … but at least in my experience, the people who do this are never particularly strong candidates anyway, so it never gets that far.

5. We’re not allowed to shop in our store on the days we work there

I work at Salvation Army. Is it legal for my employer to prohibit employees from shopping after work hours? They just announced to us that we are only allowed to shop on our day off. They no longer allow us to shop the store when our shift is over on the same work day. For me, this means I have to travel an extra half hour on my day off if I want to shop the store I work at. Is this legal? It seems extraordinarily unfair, especially because many of us there only get one day off if we intend to shop.

Yes, it’s legal, although I can see why it seems unfair. You could ask them about the reason for the policy though. Say something like this: “Are you able to share the reason for the policy? I’m curious what’s behind it.”

{ 669 comments… read them below }

  1. Gaia*

    I hire folks and, to be honest, I put very little stock in where someone went to school unless it is exceptionally good or exceptionally bad (think Harvard or University of Phoenix). Even then, I consider actual work experience before I ever consider where you went to school. Why? Because you can get a great education at a state school if you put in the effort and work hard, or you can get a mediocre education from a “great” school by not pursuing the opportunities available or pushing yourself. But more importantly education =/= understanding of professional norms and that is what I really want.

    1. DragoCucina*

      This. There is theory and reality. Accounting is no different. There are many types of accounting positions and internship experience may also help him determine a direction.

      1. KarenD*

        Very good point. We’ve had a few new hires who came in thinking the job was all fast-paced glamour and glory who absolutely flamed out when they realized that even the best jobs in our field involved at least 40-50 percent scutwork.

        My former boss (an Ivy Leaguer himself) said he’d rather have an old war dog than a pedigreed puppy that piddled on the floor.

        1. MashaKasha*

          I am now tempted to update my resume to include the term “old war dog”. Definitely rolls off the tongue better than “office dinosaur”. Thank you, I now feel better about myself.

        2. BeenThere*

          Such an apt analogy. My current job which I love, has the wrong ratios of puppies to dogs. This old war dog is finding it challenging to hand so much toilet training daily.

      2. De Minimis*

        It may actually be more important to intern or otherwise work in accounting.
        It’s assumed the best students will have interned somewhere, usually at a Big 4. Like anywhere else, measurable work experience is far more valuable on a resume than grades [assuming the grades are adequate.] The good schools in accounting are the ones where firms and other employers are hiring interns [who most of the time will be offered a job at the end of the internship.]

        An accounting student who hasn’t interned and didn’t work anywhere during school is definitely going to get the side-eye, regardless of grades–again I think in accounting it may be even worse because there are a ton of student work opportunities in accounting compared to other fields. And yes, I can speak from personal experience on this, I goofed up by not working that much in grad school and it definitely hurt me later on.

        1. BusSys*

          As an accounting grad within the last decade, those internships are how one typically lands the first job in the field, particularly for the Big 4.

        2. Melissa*

          Yep… it’s not a death knell, but trying to get a job in public accounting with no internship/work experience during school is going to be a serious uphill battle. Public accounting tends to be fairly rigid about new grad hire expectations (at least in the US).

          There are other paths to pursue with an accounting degree–I did! But if public accounting and then exiting to a cushy private industry job are part of the plan, getting an internship is pretty important.

    2. MillersSpring*

      +1 A resume for a new grad with no part-time work experience or internships would be absurdly thin and, to me, not worth consideration.

      1. Foxtrot*

        What advice would you give to recent grads who tried to get internships in school but didn’t get any offers? I’m a senior in engineering and I’m lucky that I have experience and a full time offer, but I’m seeing some of my classmates start to panic. These kids went to career fairs, got resume advice, worked hard, just never seemed to land the offer during college.

        1. Marmalade*

          But they must have some work experience, right? Even if not an engineering internship, they’ve presumably done some kind of part-time work in the past.

          1. Foxtrot*

            Yeah, most people have regular part time jobs like the book store, grocery store, etc. We’re proof though that lower GPA + internship leads to better career prospects than just a high GPA alone. I feel bad for some of these guys because they did everything “right” in school and tried to get internships….they just couldn’t.

            1. sunny-dee*

              FWIW, I had part time and on campus work experience and no internships (because no car and small enough city for poor public transit). My first couple of years, I worked small level entry jobs, but after that, it has made no difference in my career path. If they are willing to start a little small for a year, they can progress very well through their careers.

            2. MillersSpring*

              I’m not in engineering, but I would want to see a resume that lists your part-time positions. I don’t care if it was retail, waiting tables, or lifeguarding. If you had a boss , coworkers and responsibilities, that shows at least that you didn’t spend each summer or evening playing video games. You’ll have job references too, not just from professors

              1. Marcela*

                I truly hate that mindset. Why does it matter to you if I spend time just napping or playing games? For my husband’s job, there have been some times where I could not get a job (visa reasons) and all I did was play video games for months. And yet, when I got a job, I was working hard, giving all my effort to my job. I am a good worker, and right now, after only 5 weeks in my current job, my boss left on a 2 week holiday, leaving me alone in charge of the server and the systems. There is no relationship between my love of games and my hard work. And as in my country students don’t work internships (which are for me another way to make people work for free, which is just immoral and indecent), well, I have a country full of people who played and rested for months, and then went to have a productive and hardworking life.

                1. Gaara*

                  The issue is you’re working from limited information when you’re hiring. So if you don’t really know how hard two candidates work when they have jobs, well, you can gather some information and make a more educated guess based on whether they can find some recent experience to fill their resume with, whether it’s part-time work or volunteer experience.

                2. Koko*

                  It’s not that playing games indicates you don’t work hard. It’s that the game-playing was in lieu of gaining work experience. It isn’t about your character, it’s just that someone who was working and gaining skills has an edge over someone who wasn’t gaining skills.

                3. Unegen*

                  I suggest you smooth out that chip on your shoulder. Napping and playing games are what people do when they don’t have other responsibilities. *You* have a job, so what you do in your spare time is your business. When you *do not have any work experience to put on your resume*, you can’t expect someone to hire you for napping and playing games. Which I think you understand just fine, you just decided to make this all about you for some reason.

                4. MillersSpring*

                  It’s not the video gaming that’s bad; it’s laziness if you’re so privileged that Mom and Dad say you don’t have to work. Then when you graduate, you’re competing for jobs with your peers who have actual work experience–they’ve had a boss, a work schedule, coworkers, responsibilities, and exposure to workplace norms. They have professional references, another boss who can attest that they’re a good worker.

                  College/university students need to understand the competitive strengths their peers will have when they graduate and are interviewing.

              2. MashaKasha*

                Re the evenings. We were told at both my kids’ college orientations (two different state schools) that, for each hour a student spends in class, they’re expected to put three hours in doing homework and otherwise reworking the class material. At 15 hours of class a week, that’s 60 hrs a week total. Is it really a reasonable expectation that someone work evenings on top of that?

                I’m asking as someone who had once failed, and had to retake, several final exams, and was this close to flunking out of college altogether, all because I’d decided to take a full-time second-shift job, which really interfered with my schoolwork, even though I came to my senses and quit it after a month. I’ve been telling my kids to go easy on part-time jobs, so this does not happen to them. Not that they ever listened; but for a student who is trying to maintain a good GPA and possibly keep their scholarship, while also working towards being employable in the future, the expectation to work retail while going to school fulltime sounds like a lose-lose situation to me. Either the student will see their grades drop because they worked retail, or they won’t get hired because they didn’t. Or am I missing something?

                1. Anon367*

                  I worked 8-10 hours a week through the work study program. Got office experience, references, and it didn’t impact my studies. Working a few hours a week is very different from full time.

                2. KellyK*

                  Working full time while taking classes full-time is *a lot*, and most people can’t pull it off. Working part time is usually doable, depending on the job, the commute time, your specific program, etc. I worked 10-12 hours a week through most of college, and still had time for a social life and a high GPA. While I was student teaching, I worked a single 2-hour shift at the wellness center, and even that was pushing it.

                  One thing that made it much more doable was that these were on-campus jobs that specifically hired students. They expected to work around class schedules and to have availability change during finals. And, if you live on campus, there’s basically no commute. I knew a few people who worked regular retail jobs off campus, and it seemed like they were pretty busy.

                3. Stranger than fiction*

                  They all love to say that stuff about the hours needed to be spent outside of class, but I think that’s based on the absolute worse case scenario. They exaggerate to make the kids take their time seriously. (I’m sure there are certain times and courses that may be true, but generally speaking, I didnt find that to be the case when I was in college and from speaking with friends and family). But a full courseload + a fulltime job? That’s a lot to handle regardless.

                4. JAM*

                  My college definitely believed in that amount of homework. They were all for quantity over quality but that’s another story. I absolutely was able to keep up with schoolwork while working and when I had 10 hours to do a week I really had the best balance because I was forced to use time management skills. I did a stint at my university’s (excellent) career center. I did 10 hours a week, 5 for my scholarship and 5 for pay with the option to reduce the other 5 hours if I needed to, which I didn’t. I could do homework during 5 of those hours if there was no one to assist which was about half the time.

                  That usually meant working small shifts. A typical week for me included working an hour before my first class a couple of days a week, working the 2 hour gap I had between morning classes the opposite days a week, and one afternoon of doing a 3-hour stretch before I went back to the dorms for the day. A lot of my classmates worked with professors grading papers or hosting a tutor session before a test which helped with their skills too.

                5. TheCupcakeCounter*

                  I set my schedule up so that at least one class (ideally two) per semester was an easier class (generally those lower level gen eds that most people try to get out of the way at the beginning I spread out so it was really only my last 2 semesters that were all core classes). My husband didn’t work in college but took extra classes so he would graduate in 4 years and then worked 60+ hours/week in the summer and school breaks so he would have work experience.
                  Even working just Saturday or just Sunday is better than nothing.

                6. Vella*

                  I worked part time all throughout my university time by doing 4 classes in the fall and winter semester and 1-2 classes in the spring and summer sessions. I knew going into higher education that I would have to work as I was the only one putting myself through school. Not every degree/program requires the same number of hours of study time per week.

                  You don’t have to have a full time job while in school, just so you look good on a resume. Even having a steady part time job can really help give you a leg up because you have work experience than others may not have.

                7. Christopher Tracy*

                  I don’t think I could have worked full-time and gone to school and had time for my extracurriculars, but I worked 20-25 hours a week on campus all four years and managed to graduate with a respectable B average (3.02) and two different internships/co-ops under my belt.

                8. Rachel*

                  I wasn’t fortunate enough to have the option to not work during college. I was a commuter and had to pay for my own apartment, car, and other living expenses starting at age 18. Therefore I worked full time (and sometimes a job and a half) while getting my associates, then bachelor’s and now master’s degree. It did take me an extra semester to finish my bachelors but I did finish with a 3.5 GPA. It certainly wasn’t easy… it was a stressful experience and I wouldn’t put my own kids in that position, but asking them to work a few evenings for some work experience is not a big deal in my opinion. I also worked about 20 hours a week during my junior and senior years of high school while taking several AP and dual credit (gives you credit for high school & college) classes. Again, I wouldn’t put my kids in that situation but working 5-10 hours a week or every Saturday or something seems reasonable to get some experience and I can attest that it IS doable if you’re organized and prioritize and use your time efficiently.

            3. A. Nonymous*

              I am in engineering and I would say that if you can’t find work then try volunteering too. There are a lot of local STEM charities and diversity charities out there that look really good on a resume. It shows that while you didn’t go into an Engineering Internship ™ you do care and you’re able to do that, hold down any part-time job, and graduate. That’s a driven worker, imo.

            4. Lora*

              I will say this: Engineering is really a special case. You will be competing with people who went to schools (and not even MIT/Ivy/near-Ivy, but selective-ish schools like Northeastern) where engineering internships are arranged by the university with close ties to the industry.

              It also depends on what kind of engineering you want to do. I mean, there’s not a ton of people trying to get into packaging design. There’s loads of people who want to get into energy and pharmaceuticals and renewable energy and consumer electronics though, so if there’s a lot of competition for the field, then yeah, internships (several of them) are not really optional.

              Which isn’t to say you won’t get into an engineering job, it’s just the difference between doing full-time in-house reactor process design vs. validation at a contract engineering firm getting paid by the hour with minimal benefits. You don’t get into JPL, Boeing, Raytheon, Bose, Tesla, Apple, Dept of Energy, Merck etc with no internships. Parsons, Gilbane, Fluor would be more realistic.

              1. Trout 'Waver*

                Note: I hire ChemEs.

                Internships are highly overrated. They’re better than nothing. But they don’t matter one bit after you get a job. Internships are great at getting a job where you interned. But otherwise, relevant experience in the industry (even a year in a contract position) is more valuable than an internship.

                By focusing too much on the internship, you’re missing the fact that everyone has to pay their dues. A high-profile internship doesn’t count.

                1. BananaPants*

                  See, I disagree. Some internships are nothing more than thinly-veiled scut work (which are easy to suss out when you interview) but some are relevant experiences in the industry.

                  I’ll gladly take a 3.3 GPA who interned at NASA’s JSC and Boeing over a 4.0 GPA who didn’t work at all during college in any capacity (these are real examples I’ve seen in recruiting). I find that those who have high GPAs but zero internship experience really lack the ability to function in real-world engineering roles versus getting answers right on problem sets and exams. They’d make great academics, usually not so great as working engineers.

                2. Lora*

                  Honestly, even if it is scut work, I’d rather someone have an internship than not. I mean, in an ideal world you’d get a real project that you could mention on your resume and say, “built prototypes for Awesome Thing, leading to commercialization in 2025” or whatever. But I’ll take the UMass kid who did an internship testing circuit connectivity for three months over the MIT kid who spent his summer playing guitar or taking summer classwork to graduate early.

                  Because, as Trout ‘Waver mentioned, everyone has to pay their dues, and my experience with the fancy-school grads is that they often have a hard time wrapping their brains around this concept, that no, YOU go over there and help the electrician/operations technicians/machinists when they need help. You, personally, will need to understand how things work in order to be a decent engineer, so you don’t make ridiculous requirements that won’t happen in real life. The folks who spent a summer doing boring PID loop tuning on a prototype will dive right in when you need weld inspections done and drawings walked down.

                3. Trout 'Waver*

                  BananaPants, I think you misunderstood me. Of course an internship is better than no work experience at all. But once you have a job and work experience, nobody cares about the internship anymore. What matters is how well you perform at your current role.

                  Engineering majors freak out about getting the best internships way more than is really healthy for them.

            5. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Just to be clear, I’m not saying it has to be internships. It just has to be work experience. Internships are great, but if you can’t get them, then any other kind of work, and even if it’s just over the summer.

              1. catsAreCool*

                When applying for a job that I would use my degree in, I was able to reference my experience at a fast food place to explain an area I’d be able to deal with (dealing with customers). It was well-received.

                It helps to have real experience in the work world, even if it’s very much not glamorous.

        2. Nikki T*

          Sometimes it’s ANY kind of work experience, not necessarily in the field of study. It won’t help your classmates, but maybe you know some underclassmen.

          Heck, I worked at a summer camp at a local school for two summers. I did some office work on campus. It meant that I had SOMEBODY who could attest to my reliability, my work ethic, it doesn’t have to be the perfect job, but something, anything, is better than nothing.

          1. NotAnotherManager!*

            Yep, I used to have a supervisor under me who’d pull all the new grads with food service and retail experience first, because she said if you could deal with the general public, the difficult people she supported were not likely to be a problem.

        3. Anon for this*

          Student organizations, volunteering, and service-learning classes. My own internship came from a service-learning course in which every student was matched with an internship. Also, my first hiring manager liked that I was in the leadership team of two student groups (and I handled social media and wrote weekly newsletters – I wasn’t a club president or something).

        4. Trout 'Waver*

          Do a really strong senior design project. It’s not as good as an internship, but can work. Also, approach professors with classes they were good at and ask if they have openings for technicians in their research labs. That’s another great way to get experience. Senior year is pretty late to do this, though. The professors usually want at least a year’s commitment. Given that the school year just started, I’d recommend getting on it immediately. You can also ask your academic advisor for a list of labs that take undergrad techs. My experience at a big state school was for people with decent GPAs, there were way more openings than undergrads interested.

        5. Just Another Techie*

          I would 100% rather hire someone with a 3.3 average who worked their way through college and maybe was involved in a student activity (student government? engineers without borders? FIRST robotics? I don’t even care what as long as it demonstrates investment in their educational community) than someone with a 4.0 who did nothing but go to class. I don’t want to hire lone wolf rock stars. I want to hire people who know how to function in a team, know how to communicate, know how to show up every day. I can teach whatever industry specific skills I need.

          1. Tattypoo*

            This.^ I’ve learned the same lesson–stop focusing on dazzling resumes. Do focus on actual real work for pay and the candidate’s ability to maintain same.

        6. Koko*

          I never did any internships in school because I had to work to support myself. I worked in food service/delivery in high school and for the first couple years of college. My junior year I managed to get a job on campus with the school’s survey research lab doing data entry, which I stayed at long enough to be promoted a couple of times before graduation. And in grad school I earned a stipend by assisting a professor for 15 hours a week doing data entry and grading papers.

          Getting into an office job probably helped me compared to if I had exclusively stayed in food service, but I had plenty of work experience on my resume by the time I dropped out of grad school to join the real world.

          The kids who worked hard and didn’t get an offer…what did they do with their time once they didn’t have an internship lined up? Did they get a job? Volunteer? Join some clubs or take on a leadership role? Hopefully they didn’t just do nothing.

        7. BananaPants*

          Yeah, that’s really not ideal. Internships are basically expected for engineering majors now, and not seeing any internship experience, engineering-related work experience, or on-campus research experience on a resume is a big red flag. Particularly with some schools requiring internships/co-ops to graduate, it can really be a liability not to have anything relevant on your resume.

          I help with hiring and recruiting for a Fortune 50 company – we might consider an applicant with a high GPA and no internships (but some other form of work experience) but I can’t think of an entry-level engineer we’ve ever hired with zero internship experience. Frankly it’s going to be difficult to even land an interview at a lot of bigger companies; most will go with the new grad with a 3.4 GPA and two great internships in the field over a new grad with a 3.98 who worked at Starbucks or not at all.

          My recommendation for your classmates is to get in as a contractor or temp-to-perm hire with Aerotek or another one of the temp/recruiting firms, or apply for entry level jobs with small companies/firms, which are usually more lenient on that sort of thing. Once they’ve landed the first “real” job in engineering and have worked there a while, the lack of internships in college won’t matter anymore.

          Most decent engineering schools require a senior project or capstone and the details of those should be on a resume. It gives us something to ask about if the rest of the resume is sparse.

          1. Dan*

            It’s worth pointing out, for the sake of discussion, that engineering students should (almost) never be saying “I had to work to pay the bills so I couldn’t intern.” Why? Because IME, in engineering/tech/analytics, all internships are paid. And even if not all of them are paid, enough of them are where finding one shouldn’t be difficult.

            Put it this way, if you graduate in these fields with no work experience whatsoever, your resume screams “book worm, no real world experience.” If after four years of school, all you have is the typical food service/retail/work study experience, I’m going to want to know why you don’t have major-related internships. If you couldn’t find one, then I’m going to want to know what’s wrong with you.

            1. Foxtrot*

              I don’t think it’s a case that anything is “wrong” with these people. Some of my classmates only looked for summer internships when competition was fierce and didn’t get anywhere. I took a semester off way back as a sophomore and now I’m graduating in December with a job lined up instead of back in May when I was originally supposed to. Some of my original cohort who graduate in May, though, still didn’t have anything lined up by August.
              Internships during the school year are less desirable and there’s less competition. I don’t think anything is “wrong” with me, but I could easily be in the same boat if I decided 2 semesters into school that I didn’t want to push back graduation, or be gone for that long.

              1. Dan*

                Well, I’m still going to wonder that. As a candidate, you have to be aware that you have a lot of competition who do have these desirable qualities. And the worse the economy is? The tougher your competition is going to be. Remember, a hiring manager is looking for the best person they can find at a given budget. If they have people who meet their desired criteria, then they don’t have to look beyond that.

            2. Anna*

              This leads to all sorts of biases and unintended discrimination and I wonder if you’ve considered that. There are myriad reasons why someone might take a different path and if you are so tied to lockstep “this is how it’s done” you tend to get a roomful of the exact same type of person.

            3. Jack K*

              I understand the second part, but for the first part — internship income for a term just isn’t the same as full-time job income. I’m in my 4th year of university and I couldn’t justify quitting a reasonably-paying full-time job to try to pay rent off internships… please understand that it’s a real trade-off.

              1. Foxtrot*

                Totally depends on your field too. The average engineering internship pays $21/hour and I had an extra housing stipend on top of that for my co-ops. We got time and a half for overtime too, and there were generally about 5 hours of overtime a week if you wanted it. For me and my classmates at least, internships pay better than any other part time work you could find.
                I know there are a few field where interns are considered free labor, but engineering isn’t one of them.

                1. Jack K*

                  My field is similar, but my job pays much more than minimum and my financial requirements are pretty high (supporting myself in a high-cost-of-living city) so I would be taking on a lot of student debt if I switched to an internship plus a part-time job during the year. $21/hr for only 12 weeks doesn’t go so far.

        8. Cassie*

          It might be too late since they’ve already graduated, but working with faculty doing research could be an alternative (if you get paid for it, even better!). At least they can show some on-hands experience related to their field.

      2. Barney Barnaby*

        From what I’ve heard, a lot of hiring managers are very reluctant to take people on who have never worked. Entry-level jobs, regardless of industry, have some boring grunt work. The last thing someone wants is an employee who thinks he’s too good to be a team player.

      3. Lemon Zinger*

        I work with high school seniors and their parents on college-readiness, and I make it a point to talk about the importance of holding jobs/internships prior to graduating from college. Nobody wants to hire a fresh college grad with zero experience.

        I see the most problems with upper-class families who can afford to finance their child’s education entirely. They say “Why should he work? He needs to focus on school.” To that, I say “Why would anyone want to hire him?”

        1. Non-Prophet*

          I think it’s great that you’re having this discussion at the high school level. When I was a high-schooler, my parents discouraged me from working during the school year. Their position was, “school IS your job.” They didn’t want me to work during the academic year because they wanted me to focus on taking as many challenging classes as possible and doing as well as I could. This was a very common perspective in my largely Asian-American, middle class community. It worked out fine in my case, because I was fortunate enough to get a scholarship that was worth far, far more than I possibly could have earned while working in high school.

          Fast forward to college, and I applied the same logic as I had in high school: I overloaded my course load every single semester, trying to beef up my transcript and resume as much as possible. I didn’t do internships over the summer, because I thought it was more important to take extra classes. In hindsight, I wish I had sought guidance from the career center, because they would have helped me realize the importance of adding work experience to my resumed using college.

          1. Non-Prophet*

            That last sentence was supposed to say “resume during college.” Thanks, autocorrect!

            All that to say, I think it’s great that you’re encouraging high schoolers to think proactively about the type of work experience they should seek out in college!

          2. Sofia*

            I come from an immigrant family as well. As you mentioned throughout high school my parents encouraged me not to work because “school was my job”. In the summers, I was part of a pre-collegiate program since my sophomore year taking college or college prep classes and like you ended up getting up scholarship. In college though, I wanted to get to a job because I wanted some sort of independence so I got a job working retail. My father’s family back in his country asked if my family was struggling financially and that is why I needed to work. My father comes from an upper class family in his home country, but my parents decided to live in the US because middle class in the US is better than upper class in their home country (in terms of living conditions).

        2. ChelseaNH*

          I worked for Oracle in the 90s when they were a top-of-the-food-chain company. They would only hire new graduates from maybe 16 schools — but those hires weren’t counted towards headcount totals because no one knew how they’d work out. Meanwhile, they’d happily hire people from other schools who were working for another company.

        3. The Rizz*

          Is this an ‘upper class’ sentiment? My parents came from very reduced circumstances, my grandparents were bus drivers and maids in a segregated area and they made sure I focused on school. I’m sure this is common with many immigrant parents too. It is a luxury that many people work for decades to attain to have their children be able to focus on school and doing well and getting ahead (and honestly, enjoying childhood!) rather than having part time jobs that suck up their time and energy. It’s something that was denied to most of them.

          Sometimes I feel this is just moving goalposts all the time. Oh, well now the minorities and women are doing well in school, well, grades don’t mean anything, it’s the internships that are key!

          1. Anna*

            I think in a LOT of low-income and immigrant families there are sometimes difficult choices that have to be made between keeping the family afloat with an extra income or having their kids not work at all. I work for a free education program and have students leave because their families needed the income the student brought in to survive.

            Your last sentence there? That wouldn’t surprise me at all. It feels like there’s a constantly changing list people have to checkmark off and if they don’t hit them all…well, it’s going to suck for you and your career will be irreparably damaged. Never mind the tons and TONS of people working in these fields who didn’t go the proscriptive route and bring a wealth of interesting perspective and different experiences to the table.

            1. doreen*

              There are different types of low-income families. There are the ones where a parent takes on a second job so the college student doesn’t have to work, there are the ones who need the kid’s income to survive and there are the ones like mine, who could afford to continue to feed me and house me as they did through high school but couldn’t manage the couple of thousand a year needed for tuition and books.

    3. LeRainDrop*

      Yup, I completely agree with Alison in response to OP #1, including her note that he very well could realize he’s wrong once he’s actually in the college program. If he’s in a very good school, pursuing accounting, then the odds are high that the school will be educating the students about the value of internships and so he’ll be competing with his colleagues for those spots. He’ll soon come to realize that getting the work experience during college summers is the norm, that is for students who are forward-thinking about what they’ll do after graduation.

    4. RobM*

      Very much the same.

      The fact is, the person with the great University on their side might do well out of that but when he comes up against the person who went to the same place or one equal to it and also did well at a job during her breaks, well if everything else is equal, she’d get the job but the fact is that having the experience on her side means that everything else _won’t_ be equal.

      Where I work we do a lot of temporary work for Uni students (think paid internships, for those in the US) and we do get requests for references from employers when those students graduate. It’s actually very rewarding to see students I’ve “mentored” through this program graduate and do great things.

    5. Sophie Winston*

      I’m a CPA, and he’s wrong. If he wants big 4, those jobs are super competitive and he needs every advantage he can get.

      For me in private practice, an internship is a big plus but isn’t a deal breaker. Not having consistent work experience is. The work you do as an entry level accountant/ auditor is…not exciting. Those summer jobs at Burger King or a landscaping company or what not are important in showing you have a good work ethic.

      1. Finman*

        My first thought would be what was he doing all summer that he didn’t put forth the effort to find a job. If he wasn’t taking a full load of summer classes, my first instinct when reviewing his resume would be that he didn’t have initiative and it would question his initiative in the job.

    6. NYAccountant*

      I am a recent accounting grad and know first hand that even with a good school you are going to struggle without an internship. I did not intern in college because I worked. When I graduated the job search was rough but luckily my school name did end up helping (CFO who hired me went to same school). The school I graduated from is known as THE school in the region for accounting and it didn’t help until an alum was the one hiring. About a year after that I was able to apply and got my dream job. My suggestion is intern as much as you can, and with accounting it is so easy because there are so many internship opportunities!

      If you want to work for a big 4 accounting firm you will NEED to have internship experience and a great GPA. School helps with them but if it isn’t Ivy League it makes not difference.

      1. Chocolate Coffeepot*

        I was a paralegal, and attorneys told me many times over the years that restaurant work is a good predictor of who will be successful in a fast-paced law firm; the ability to handle competing priorities is central to both.

    7. insert witty name here*

      I’m not disagreeing with any of you, but rather reflecting on how things have changed: when I graduated in 1996 I attended a resume workshop with actual hiring managers for my industry and I was advised to remove ALL my work experience as “nothing you did before receiving your degree is meaningful.”

      1. MK*

        Eh, I don’t think that’s so much norms changing as simply bad advice. I doubt there ever was a time in the history of employment when never having worked a day in your life was an advantage.

        1. Christopher Tracy*

          Right, or it’s very industry specific. I was a journalism grad, and none of my college work would have mattered if I had been applying to newspaper or reporting jobs in my area because I didn’t work in a newsroom (I had office jobs in unrelated fields all year round except the first two years when I went home for the summer). Some fields do require direct experience of some kind and anything else is a nonstarter.

      2. Tattypoo*

        I’m not sure the advice to leave pre-college jobs off the resume was bad advice for its time. I recall this situation as well and believe it was/is related to social class. A person who had to work scrubbing toilets or pruning a yard reflected poorly on the company, and what if a fellow laborer saw you once you began a professional career? Good Gawd, what would our customers think if they suspected we hired common people who came from modest homes?

        1. MK*

          It’s the totality of “remove all work experience because nothing you did before receiving your degree is meaningful” that I think is and always has been unquestionably bad. Tailoring your resume to fit the company (not mentioning wildly irrelevant jobs, or blue colar ones if you are trying to break into a snobbish profession) is actually good advice even today.

          1. Anna*

            Well, it’s classist and on many levels can be racist, so…it’s bad advice in that sense, no matter what.

            If your profession looks down on people who have experience in trades or with physical labor, your profession sucks and the people who work at it suck too.

    8. Darkitect*

      I have a master’s degree from Harvard and I still think it’s a mistake apply for a full time position without the internship. While I can’t speak to other professions, in mine (architecture) schoolwork has no correlation to the professional world at all. The internship is actually an apprenticeship and an employer would much prefer that you’ve begun this process before they’ve hired you full time, with commensurate salary.

      1. Jill*

        I am an accountant and I came here to say this. I think OP’s brother is maintaining his position about “good schooling” because he’s in high school – the year that EVERYTHING is about college – you’re taking SAT’s and ACT’s and touring colleges and meeting with recruiters. It makes it seem that ALL it’s about is getting into the right school.

        I had to pay my way thru college (no help from the folks, no scholarships, and I didn’t want a debt snowball upon graduation). I had no time for unpaid internships and worked 35-60 hours a week between two jobs. It sucked. But then my fellow grads were getting their 1st jobs out of school at about $35k, and I banked on my previous work history to land a job at $55k upon graduation. And, debt free, I also bought my first house too while fellow grads were still stuck living with their parents. The degree is a piece of paper that says you went to school and finished. A work history (paid or not) says you’ve got skills and experience.

        1. Sofia*

          I agree with you Jill. When I was in high school, everything was about having extra-curricular activities, volunteering, having good grades, etc . Our college counselors never said anything about working. I think there is a big difference between graduating high school with no work experience and graduating college with no work experience. But when graduating high school, your “work” history can include volunteer work as well – at least that’s that I was told.

          When graduating college, I was told to have a “relevant experience” section, where I listed internships and volunteer experience or any other experience related to my field and an “other experience” section where I listed paid jobs .

    9. Tax Accountant*

      So, accountant here. If he wants to work in public accounting, internships are important and frequently lead to full time job offers. But honestly, if he can start passing sections of the CPA exam, and has a good GPA he will almost definitely get a job somewhere. If he wants to get a job somewhere *specific*, he should try to get some relevant work experience. I have a history degree and didn’t do an internship, but I had two sections of the CPA exam passed when I went through interviews in public accounting firms, and got two great job offers. Another idea is for him to do some temp work on the side if he cant get an internship. At least where I live, internships are ridiculously competitive. I temped as a part time bookkeeper while I was in school getting my additional classes to take the CPA exam, and that was good experience and made my resume look better.

      1. Kimberlee, Esq*

        Yeah, this is my understanding as well; the CPA is a hard enough test that if you’re passing sections, you’re probably going to do fine in the profession. Depending on where OP is focusing, it could well be a better use of time to prep hard and take sections than to spend that time in an internship or temping. (Obviously, both is better, but if its a necessary choice that must be made, and OP is interested in jobs where the CPA cert is helpful or necessary, that’s probably the better choice.)

        1. Sophie Winston*

          Are they letting folks take the exam without a degree now? I took it before it went electronic, and had to wait for November because the May exam was two weeks before graduation.

    10. Rafe*

      And here’s the thing: Harvard students absolutely do internships. In fact they get the primo internships that other people can work their entire careers toward and still not reach. (I did a magazine internship in NYC years ago and had already interned at regional and even national magazines when I did. I was the token non-Ivy League student at the internship, where one Harvard student had as his very first internship ever a slot a Sports Illustrated and did on-site Olympics coverage, while another Harvard student was on her second internship — her first the summer before had been at People magazine.)

      1. LizB*

        This is what I was thinking — isn’t one of the major advantages of going to a really good college that you get access to prestigious internships that people at other schools don’t? Name recognition is a much more tenuous advantage; employers would rather see a degree from Fancy University PLUS an internship at Big Impressive Workplace (that you got through Fancy University alumni connections) than the degree by itself.

        1. Darkitect*

          Yes, and I can attest to it. Although Harvard provides access to internship opportunities at the most famous architectural firms, they are all unpaid and in very expensive cities. I took a paid internship at a non-famous firm in my hometown because that’s what I could afford to do. I would not have been able to translate that into job at Big Impressive Workplace had I tried.

      2. Rosemary*

        Yeah, I graduated from Stanford five years ago, and EVERYONE I knew did internships. Fancy degree != job.

    11. Stranger than fiction*

      I totally agree with you, but there are companies out there that put education and degrees first. The company my BF is currently working for is causing him much chagrin because they do this. Their clientele just happens to be higher ed institutions, so they tend to hire people straight out of school (and pay cheap) and allow them to learn on the job. This makes it excruciating for the handful of employees there with more work experience, because they tend to run circles around the directors and vp’s who spend more time strategizing and going to trainings themselves, then they do actually applying their knowledge and getting stuff done. A lot of employees are taking advantage of their tuition reimbursement and even study during their workday instead of getting work done, then get a raise and/or promotion almost immediately after they get their masters degree. So this place is filled with people with big titles and almost no applied experience. I suppose the Op’s brother could always find a dysfunctional place like this to work.

    12. Koko*

      I actually have a theory that the only people who care about school reputation are largely people who went to elite schools. I went to a good state school that’s not particularly famous (except for its medical school, which I was not enrolled in) and I can’t say that I’ve ever really given much thought to where someone got their degree when I’m looking at resumes. Elite schools are just a way that the upper class reproduces itself, so the upper class has an interest in using elite schooling as a filter to weed out social climbers, but the middle/lower classes have no such interest. (I do realize this is my opinion, but it’s one that a lot of hiring managers probably share.)

      TBH I barely even look at the education section of a resume, and when I do it’s usually so I can make polite small talk (“Oh, you went to Opposite Coast University? Did you grow up there? How are you finding current coast since you moved back?” or “I see you majored in rice sculpture, how interesting. What drew you to that? Di”) during the initial warm-up part of the interview. I could be forgetting but I don’t think I’ve ever received a resume with no work experience, so the job stuff is always 100x more relevant to me than the school stuff.

      None of the positions I hire for even really need a college degree, just general reading/writing/logic/time management skills, so I have no reason to believe that any difference between Harvard and Nebraska Tech matters.

    13. Dan*


      I’ve worked with four MIT grads (that I know of). Without knowing that they went to MIT, you cannot tell just by working with them. Don’t get me wrong, they’re good at the technical aspects of what they do, but on average, they’re not obviously better than four random people I work with who didn’t go to MIT. And hell, some are challenged in the soft skills areas.

      Point being, name alone only gets you so far.

  2. Dragon_Heart*

    #4 So if my name is Robert Smith and I apply using my email account lets say that would be a red flag or is that just for given names only? Or should I never use that email in applying, and I should make one that has my real name on it?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      No, we’re just talking about cases where it’s obviously coming from someone else’s email account — for example, you’re Robert Smith and your application comes from an email account that says Janet Smith or Amy Jones. If it’s something like firebolt@, no one cares.

          1. Bigglesworth*

            Just to make sure. My personal email is –

            I don’t have my married name on there, but any application can see the first three initials are the same. Does keeping this email raise eyebrows or cause questions? More people still know me by my maiden name than my married name. Just want to make sure I’m not accidentally tripping myself up.

            1. Aisling*

              It’s not so much the email address as the name that displays when the email is received. In your inbox, you can see an email from “John Smith (”. The issue is when you get an email from that address and open an application for a Mary Smith. It’s about the name that displays.

            2. SpaceySteph*

              This was my concern when I read that as well. I go by First Maiden Married on my resume but my email is first.maiden@website. I know a new email would be free but I’ve had that email for years and changing it all over the internet just seems like a lot of unnecessary work. But I did change my display name to be First Married so I guess I’m safe.

              I do wonder how often the LW is inadvertently excluding out older candidates, though. In my experience it’s more common for old couples to share an email account (like my grandparents, who still share a email address) and not realize it would reflect poorly on their job search.

        1. BPT*

          Is there a reason your email uses names you don’t normally go by? It would probably give me pause, just because it would seem like someone else was applying for you (assuming you only listed your first name and married name on your resume – if you listed it as First Middle Maiden Married then it wouldn’t be an issue). You could always set up another email just for applying to jobs that’s your First and Married, which could automatically forward to your regular email address.

          1. Liz*

            Some people share their email account with a spouse. I can think of at least 4 couples without even trying. Some people also like it for accountability reasons too.

            Now when it’s twins with the same initials sharing the same email address while applying to colleges… but that’s another story.

      1. Elf*

        My trusty gmail is still firstname.maidenname@ but I did the maiden-as-middle swap, so I have Firstname Maidenname Marriedname on my resumé. I hope that won’t cause confusion/difficulties, but it’s a lot harder to switch from a fully entrenched email address than to change even something so bureaucratic as a passport :)

        (I maintain that I had no choice whatsoever in the name change, because it resulted in the completely awesome initials you see as my comment name.)

        1. Elfie*

          Almost snap! My initials are FirstName MiddleName MarriedName, and I have been known to tell hubby that I only married him to get the cool set of initials!

      2. Duck Rover*

        One thing to consider: I work with the transgender community. Many trans folks who have not legally changed their name will create an email account with their chosen name, but mistakenly think they HAVE to put their legal name on their resume.

        I always tell the HR folks I’m training to bear this in mind when names don’t match, and to not automatically reject someone or assume there’s fraudulent behavior occurring. It can be really tough for trans folks on the job market, and it’s important to take a moment to find out why the names mismatch (if the applicant’s materials are compelling).

        1. Nikki T*

          Our applications come into the electronic system, so I don’t usually see who sends it. But it is confusing to get emails signed by Kimberly Jones from Janice Smith’s email address (happens with prospective students). It happens often enough that I wouldn’t discount the person outright, but I’d have an asterisk in my head.

          Though I have wanted to, I have never asked Jake Johnson why he’s using Billy James’s email address. I just make up in my head that it’s their alto ego and wonder what people call them in real life, it passes the time…

        2. Anna*

          This is an excellent point.

          Maybe the answer is, “don’t worry so much about what the email address is and see if it’s someone you want to talk to based on the resume and other materials in front of you.”

        3. OhNo*

          I was just coming here to say this, so thank you for bringing it up.

          It’s really impossible to know if the email account is theirs or not – they might be transgender, or maybe their email uses their first name and their resume uses their middle name, or maybe they just prefer to go by a different name that’s not officially/legally related to their given name at all. It’s a silly thing to judge someone for.

          Also, why on earth would you assume that someone is applying for someone else just because the names don’t match 100%? If they’re a strong candidate, I would hope you would give them a call anyway.

      3. Anon367*

        What about trans* individuals who haven’t gotten around to fully switching over to their new name? Although I think my friends who are transitioning put something like Legal First (Preferred First) Last, so it is probably fairly easy to see.

      4. eplawyer*

        Sometimes it’s a family account. Hubby sets up and the whole family uses it. I know, email accounts are free, but sometimes setting one up is not possible. I run into this in my law practice. I have to tell clients NOT to use the family account for communication with me. Goodness even convincing clients in DV situations to change their password can be a challenge.

      5. minuteye*

        For #4, I’d suggest not excluding people based on even a very significant mismatch. Someone in the comments above already mentioned the trans* person issue. Additionally, though, I work at a university, where email addresses are generated automatically. A new colleague of mine has been given the email address, but she only ever goes by MiddleName, which is completely different, and it doesn’t appear to be possible to get it changed.

        And that’s not even considering name changes due to Marriage, Divorce, using a stage or pen name in some industries, moving to a different culture (it’s not uncommon for people to pick an English name when they move to North America), or even a change to reflect a new perspective on your family of origin.

        Sure, ideally you get a new email address to reflect the change, but if you’ve had the email for years, your contacts may all know that one, or possibly it’s an institutional one that’s difficult to get changed (as in the case of my colleague above). If you want to take it as a warning that the person applying might not be doing it themselves, or that they might be techno-phobic enough not to have their own email, by all means keep an eye out for other signs of that. But please don’t trash an otherwise good resume because of an assumption about mismatched names.

      6. Us, Too*

        My email address uses my first initial and maiden name and there is no way you’d necessarily relate that text string to my applicant name. As such, I really don’t care or look at the email address an applicant uses unless it is clearly inappropriate for work.

        That said, it’s pretty unusual that I’d apply for a job “cold” anyway. I tend to use my network for this kind of thing, but I guess if/when I do apply for an anonymous job, I will get a fake/new email address! :)

    2. Sami*

      Firebolt would (and does) make me giggle. (Unless there’s some innuendo I’m missing.)
      Hotsexybeast @whatever. com would get passed over pretty quickly though.

      1. Cody's Dad*

        I once had an applicant send me a cover letter and resume that had a very specific skill set we were looking for….otherwise he may have been passed over with his tightywhities55 email address! Come on, make a professional email acct.!

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          I heard about someone who applied for a job in a university town (say Springfield) with an email address along the lines of springfield_u_sux. He was a graduate of a university with a rival football team.

        2. Jadelyn*

          That’s good, but I have to say it still doesn’t compete with my favorite applicant email address I’ve ever gotten something from, which was – and I swear I am not making this up – “TRUCKNUTZ69@[whatever].com”. As in, it was on his resume in the contact section in all caps like that, too.

      2. stk*

        I once had a CV come in with email listed as hotstuff69@[] listed as the contact! I laughed a lot.

        Funnily enough, that guy did not get an interview.

    3. Today's anon*

      Although I got one email that was something like sexypants@ and it made me wonder about the wisdom of using such an email for a job application. It was for a very entry level position where people tend to be very young but still.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        Dear Sexypants:

        We refuse to consider your application until your email address doesn’t say “sexypants”.

      2. TeaLady*

        Over here in the UK, one of the big banking chains has taken out TV adverts on this very topic as part of their careers support (company CSR) for young people.

      3. MK*

        My first e-mail address (never used for work) was “”, the result of frustration at the forum that refused to accept any and every combination of my name I tried to log. Back in the Middle Ages (before personal computers were almost-obligatory and broadband internet didn’t exist), I was in an internet cafe googling things. While I was waiting for the dial-up connection to download my webpage, I was looking around to distract myself and my eyes sort of fell to the screen next to me, where a monk (actual cleric wearing a habit) was checking his e-mails. His address was “”; I was still a teenager and it was one of the most embarassing moments if my life, even though nothing actually happened.

        Why do people do this?

        1. Lady Blerd*

          There is an employee who’s email address is Shaitane69@… Curious, I looked up Shaitane and it’s satan in arabic. I confirmed a vibe I had about him.

        2. Elsajeni*

          I had a doctor, a very low-key and fatherly type of dude, who once gave me his email address in case I needed to contact him outside of office hours: Vampire[Firstname] I’m STILL laughing about this.

      4. Hellanon*

        A friend of mine let his younger daughter set up an email account under the name PinkCheeks1995. I never had the heart to tell him that Pink Cheeks was a Hollywood salon that specialized in celebrity waxing….

      5. Whats In A Name*

        I used to teach a freshman seminar and after a year of working in college admissions I added an entire section about professional and appropriate email handles, even when using a personal email to apply for work study positions or contacting professors. I had quite a few people who didn’t understand why bootylicious_one@ & justagangsta@ were hard to take seriously.

        1. TheCupcakeCounter*

          I had a professor like you once and it shocked me that so many of my classmates had to be told that.

    4. LawLady*

      I’ve done some hiring work and would get some sideeye. Not necessarily thrown out immediately, but it would be a mark indicating immaturity/lack of understanding of professional norms. Like Alison says, email addresses are free. Get a professional one. (Though I do recognize that the industries I’ve been in have been a bit stodgy.)

    5. Allison*

      It wouldn’t be a red flag for me per se, but most application-receivers are turned off by e-mail addresses like that, at least for office jobs. I know it doesn’t contain anything inappropriate like “sexy” or “baby” or “420” but still, it doesn’t cost a thing to create a new gmail account with your full name.

      1. Kyrielle*

        By the time I joined Gmail, most variations of my name were not available. I could probably still get FirstMiddleLast, but not with middle initial, only the full name. Which would never, ever be used for anything but job searching because no, I’m not sending emails from that account – I don’t dislike my middle name, but I do consider it private other than where needed (air travel, social security, medical forms, that sort of thing). It’s not part of my actual used name.

        And I have always thought “FirstLast1257” looks less professional than “TypeOfPoetry” or “FirstPoliteNickname” does.

        That said, I would -absolutely- make sure I’d set the -name- (not address) field appropriately when emailing related to jobs. (First Last, not middle, because that’s overkill for an email name.)

        1. DaniCalifornia*

          This is what happened to me. My maiden name was unusual and long so I have a gmail with that name. But my married name is much more common. And I don’t like having the numbers at the end either. Plus my formal name + married name (I go by a nickname) is some actress so she has the market covered on accounts. I made a new gmail to match my husband’s (firstnameofthehouseoflastname) and while people think its cute I don’t know if I’ll use it to search for jobs once school is done. I might just use my school account since it has my full name.

        2. many bells down*

          Yeah, I’ve had to use “abclastname” where A is my first name, B is my middle name, and C is my maiden name. My married name is common enough that I couldn’t even get it when Gmail was still in beta. My daughter’s name isn’t nearly as common and I still had to do the same thing to get her an “adult” email address.

          And I’ve received multiple emails for women who share my name. Private emails, like … health insurance information for someone in a state I’ve never been to.

        3. Serin*

          My real name is not that common, but any more if I need to create an email address or a username, I don’t even try firstnamelastname; it’s always taken.

          Lastnamefirstname usually works, though.

        4. Michelle*

          I sometimes regret including my middle initial in my email address, because my first name ends in the same letter. I’m forever telling people, “Yes, two E’s in a row. It’s not a mistake. It stands for E——–.”

          That said, you can have two Gmail accounts that are connected to each other, and set the one you use more frequently to check the other. (Not forwarding, either.) You can even send emails “from” your professional email address while logged in to your cute nickname address. My husband does this for his personal and professional emails, and I created email address for all of my young children that I check from my own. So that way you can have your that you only use for sending out resumes, without the hassle of having to keep track of an extra email account that you rarely use.

          1. twenty points for the copier*

            that’s what I do although I’ve found on some outlook systems the emails come in as “ on behalf of first.mi.last@gmailcom.”

            I’ve tried to switch which is the primary email I log into, but somehow all my settings get messed up if I’m logged in as first.mi.last instead of my less professional email. I could switch as a on-time thing, I guess, if it’s really important, but for most things I figure “meh, if the doctor’s office knows I have an email address that is different from my name, I’ll live.”

  3. NutellaNutterson*

    #5 I wonder if the policy came about from some problems around employees trying to get bargains by stashing merchandise? Not shopping after work would mean you couldn’t retrieve a misfiled item by coming back in on the same day. Not sure if your store would let you put things on hold, in which case this would be moot. But it’s the first reason I thought of.

    1. Gaia*

      Or maybe if people are shopping right after shifts and are still in a uniform or have badges on it is causing issues with customers?

      1. Allison*

        It could be an issue, but it’s possible to let people shop after their shifts as long as they do so out of uniform, if that’s the issue. No reasonable customer is gonna get cranky seeing a familiar face buying stuff in plainclothes.

        1. MK*

          As long as they are not jumping the line, I don’t care, but sometimes in the market I grocery-shop an employee will open a check point to accomodate a coworker and then close it immediately; if there is a long line of customers waiting, it gives a very bad impression. Or will ask you “Do you mind if I just swipe my coworker’s couple of things?”, which also can turn customers off.

          1. Beezus*

            I’ve seen that at my grocery store, but only with employees clearly on a lunch break, buying lunch. I don’t mind that – they usually only get half an hour, and who wants to spend ten minutes of that in line?

            On the other hand, in one of the department stores I frequent, I once had an employee who was clearly off duty and clearly shopping, but she was getting behind the register and using it to check prices on things, and she had a pile of clothes on the register counter in the shoe department and was monopolizing her shoe clerk buddy with store gossip, and then she directed me to take my shoe purchase to another area because they were “going to be busy for a while”. I had a shoe question, but I got so mad that I just put the shoes down and walked out, and called to complain to a manager later. Either you’re a customer or an employee; you can’t behave like an employee while you’re shopping.

          2. Lady Blerd*

            Like Beezus, I would assume the person has a short break because otherwise, I’ve always seen employees in queues like any other customer including at Mickey D.

        2. Gaia*

          I wonder if perhaps they have tried this without success? I just remember in my retail days that this was a huge issue and it is what brought about the same restriction for us.

          Also, reasonable customers were like godsends. So few.

          1. Not the Droid You Are Looking For*

            Yup…I worked retail over the holidays during college and had a moment where a customer got *so* mad when I wouldn’t help her shop during a weekend I was home visiting my folks.

            I was flattered she remembered me from the Christmas madness, but she would not listen when I politely tried to explain that I was no longer an employee and couldn’t help :(

        3. VintageLydia*

          I wish this were true. It’s not even customers being cranky for you existing-not-at-work, because that’s rare and those folk would complain at every little thing and therefore are 100% ignorable. It’s them expecting you to drop your shopping to help them, regardless of you being out of uniform, so it’s an issue of you working off the clock and getting in trouble for it, or having a complaint lodged about you for not helping them… and still getting in trouble for it. To their credit, MOST customers are understanding when you say, “hey, I’m off the clock, but I think Cindy is in so let me get her,” but some get pissy because, well, you’re RIGHT THERE. Bonus points for when the store is busy and Cindy, or anyone else for that matter, is already with other customers.

          1. Dare*

            I told a customer ONCE I was off the clock and couldn’t help her- but my colleague right there could. She complained, and I got told I had to (but to have my time adjusted for that work).
            That was already a shitty day and I still get irritated when I see her.

    2. Diatryma*

      This is almost certainly the case, and at least the local Goodwill stores have the same policy. Some thrift stores in the area allow volunteers to buy things from the back room, but Goodwill pays hourly, so it’s not a thank-you gesture, and they do not want to get a reputation for being picked-over or have an employee price something super low and grab it immediately after a shift. I don’t know what other stores do when they have paid employees and support a larger cause, but n=2 on the no-shopping-on-workday thing.

    3. AcademiaNut*

      That’s what I figure too – it would be very tempting for employees to scoop up the best stuff before it hit the floor, which would hurt the business.

      My mom volunteers at a thrift shop, and while they are allowed to buy, they have to have someone else price it.

    4. T3k*

      This is what I was thinking. Heard many stories of those who volunteer or work in goodwill stores that will do a first dibs over items in the back before they are even put out on the floor.

      1. Jason*

        This is precisely why that policy exists at most thrift stores. They do not want their employees to be perceived as having the first and best shot at the choicest goods.

      2. Anja*

        Large chain thrift store I worked at had X number of colours for their price tags (I don’t remember) and they’d cycle through with a colour every week. Those colours were then used for sales (so the oldest things on the floor had the largest discounts and to keep staff from buying new items. Staff was not allowed buying anything that was tagged with that week’s colour which meant we couldn’t buy it until it has been on the floor at least a day or two (last day for pricing in a week was Friday, Sunday I think the colours switched over). Annoying at times seeing nice things go out the door, but definitely more fair to the customers.

    5. Jack the Treacle Eater*

      I don’t think necessarily stashing or mispricing merchandise, but yes, it’s likely this is to prevent employees taking first pick of new stock, which would affect the store’s business and the charity’s income.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        It’s probably not just because employees can get first pick – if they have to wait until after their shift is over, they don’t have a better shopping opportunity than anyone else does. It’s more likely that they’re trying to prevent stashing.

    6. Excel Slayer*

      I would guess that as well. It might have been due to people deliberately mispricing things as well?

    7. Rafe*

      That absolutely was my first thought — that primo donations to the Salvation Army or Goodwill might either be immediately snapped up by workers or stashed away and then snapped up by workers instead of the population for which the donations were intended.

    8. Turquoise Teapot*

      I have heard of thrift stores doing this so that customers get first pick with new donations. You get all kinds of stuff in thrift stores. You want the really cool stuff to be available to customers so they’ll keep coming back.

    9. Tattypoo*

      #5 I used to work in the same charity field. The reason for the policy is that employees/volunteers would set aside the nicer clothing and household goods for themselves, leaving SA with a lot of junk. Sales go down because all the good “finds” never see the sales floor.

      When I saw this firsthand, I mentioned that it didn’t seem very fair to the population we served.

      The employees/volunteers offered that first dibs on merchandise should go to them because they worked for a living, unlike the lazy clients who chose not to work and have babies instead.

      I wish I was making that up …

    10. Blunderbusst*

      Having worked at a TSA thrift store, I can confirm that (at least at our store) our policy was that items had to be on the floor for at least 24 hours before employees, volunteers, and people doing community service could purchase them. This wasn’t just to combat those few people who would deliberately underprice and/or stash items (we usually handled that behavior quickly), or to make sure the best items were available to customers, though those were concerns. The biggest reason was to give the store 24 hours to sell the item at full price instead of at the employee discount.

  4. AW*

    #4 – Sounds like two people use the same computer and they didn’t make sure they were logged into their own Google account before sending the email. Still not great but I don’t think it’s a case where there’s a bunch of people who think this is OK and not confusing.

    #2 – I’d be angry too. What’s she disappointed about, the fact that you didn’t read her mind about this thing she says she didn’t tell you yet? How does that even make sense?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      #4 — I don’t think that’s it. I’ve received applications mailed from someone else’s work account, so it’s definitely not an issue of someone else forgetting to log out of gmail.

      1. Myrin*

        And even if that’s it, it shows a lack of attention to detail because if computer-sharing is something you do, whether you’re using your own account or that of another person is something to be triple-checked in important cases like a job application.

        1. Anna*

          I wouldn’t file it under “lacks attention to detail” for something like that. I feel like people are getting a might nitpicky around here.

      2. AW*

        Well that’s just…baffling.

        The only reasons I can think of for sending the application from someone else’s address on purpose have unfortunate implications.

      3. Smiling*

        Similar last names with different first names don’t bug me. We have a large amount of over 50 applicants who are great in their particular field but technology things such as email still confuse them.

        What does get me is the flashy email name, i.e., MizHotnSparkly@***.com, or ImaClown@***.com. I’m looking for professionals. If you know enough to set up a free account, then setup a separate free account for sending out resumes.

    2. Jen RO*

      #4 – If this is the case, it falls under “lack of attention to detail”, which may be just as bad, if not worse.

      1. AW*

        That’s what I was thinking of when I said it’s “still not great”. It just still made more sense to me that it would happen on accident though that appears to not be the case.

  5. Ellen N.*

    Regarding the poster who works at The Salvation Army thrift store and isn’t allowed to shop there after his/her shift. I would guess that the reason is to prevent employees from hiding choice things that come in during their shift so that they can buy them after their shift. Yes, this does happen.

      1. Blueismyfavorite*

        Look at the time stamps on the two posts. They’re a minute apart so she probably didn’t see the first one. And are you suggesting that someone needs to read EVERY comment before adding their own? Some of these post have hundreds of comments so it’s just not possible. A small amount of duplication is to be expected.

        1. Kelly L.*

          +1. Sometimes a comment is posted while you’re reading, too, so it doesn’t show up until you’ve posted your own or reloaded.

        2. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Yes — and there are a bunch of different styles of commenting; some people read everything and treat it as a conversation; other people just leave their own comment and go. Both are fine!

      2. Oryx*

        Seriously? Duplication happens all the time here, it’s the nature of comment threads which garner 100s of responses. It’s not worth a passive aggressive response like this.

        1. Jack the Treacle Eater*

          Now hang on a minute – I think it might be you who’s being aggressive. I just posted a link – you can have no idea of my motivation for doing so.

          Unfortunately because of the way these comments are threaded they inevitably get chaotic, the conversation gets scattered and discussion ends up fragmented. In such circumstances I’ve found it very helpful when someone else has posted a link to similar discussion elsewhere. Not that I should have to justify my post, but in this case I’d seen very similar comment and felt that linking to it helped me, possibly helped Ellen, and might help anyone coming after.

          That might or might not be the right thing to do, it might or might not be helpful, but there was certainly no criticism of Ellen N or her completely valid comment, and I certainly was not making a comment on what she should or shouldn’t have done.

          1. fposte*

            Which is why it’s good to include a note explaining why you’re posting a link. Absent an explanation, I usually wouldn’t read it as an attempt to be helpful.

            1. LizB*

              Yep, in my experience, dropping a link with no commentary or context is usually a way of making a snarky and passive-aggressive rebuttal to someone’s comment.

            2. Koko*

              This is a golden rule for the whole internet. Posting a link with no commentary almost always comes across condescending, unless you’re posting in response to a, “Does anyone have a link to…?” question.

              Otherwise it reads very, “You’re wrong but I can’t be bothered to explain how or why, here, educate yourself.” If it’s important enough to correct the person or share information with them, then it’s important enough to include a polite comment explaining why you’re sharing the link and what you want them to look for there.

          2. Oryx*

            Then next time, as fposte says, include an explanation for why you are just dropping a link. Without context, it looks passive aggressive and very unhelpful.

  6. Christopher Tracy*

    #1 – I went to a really good private university on the east coast, worked part-time all four years, did one six month co-op, and then a voluntary three month internship and still didn’t get a job until almost a year after graduating. Your brother may be a unicorn of a job candidate in the future, who knows, but if it was hard for people with plenty of work experience to get a job after school, it’s likely to be even worse for someone with none. I hope he rethinks his stance when he sees other students around him working.

    #2 – So your boss was disappointed that you couldn’t read her mind and intuit that she didn’t want you to speak to the press? That sounds reasonable – whatever were you thinking?

    Seriously, I’d go with Alison’s script, but if she responds with anything short of, “That’s okay – I should have been more clear with my expectations,” I’d start looking for something else. Not saying you have to up and leave right away – just be prepared and know what’s out there in case she gets worse. Your boss sounds like a piece of work.

    1. MadGrad*

      I love that the boss in #2 is giving LW almost word for word the classic parental “I’m not mad, I’m just disappointed.” It a wince-y way, of course.

      1. Zoe Karbousina*

        The only person I react well to hearing that from is my father, because I know he is actually disappointed.

        Anyone else, I assume manipulative intent.

        1. Christopher Tracy*

          Yeah, I had one of my advisers on my high school newspaper use it on me when I resigned my post as entertainment editor. She was definitely trying to manipulate me to stay on, I sat at the feet of the Queen of emotional manipulators growing up (and turned out to be one myself at that age) so knew how to spot it, and I just shrugged her off. I didn’t care about how she felt, and didn’t particularly like her otherwise, so her guilt tactics were ignored.

        2. Kelly L.*

          Ha, the way my dad used the word “disappointed,” I’m pretty sure I grew up thinking it was an even madder stage of mad.

          1. Mallory Janis Ian*

            The way my parents used it meant exactly that: they were mad, and they wanted you to feel like shit about it.

  7. MillersSpring*

    #2 I’m not a fan of your boss either, but regarding media relations, yes, absent a PR department or agency, it’s common practice for one person to be a gatekeeper for media opportunities. Each one is different, and being told a few times to handle it on your time would not be a blanket approval to continue handling each one on your own, even from the same reporter at the same media outlet. But of course, although you shouldn’t have assumed, she should have made it clear. Many organizations have something in their employee handbook and/or new hire training about referring all media inquiries to a certain person or department.

    1. Natalie*

      The LW didn’t assume, though – “the first few times, I asked my boss and she told me to go ahead, and by the third she said to use my best judgement.”

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I think it’s possible that it was “use your best judgment about how to respond to this particular reporter” rather than “use your best judgment about all future media requests.”

        1. Mookie*

          But the odd thing is that the LW’s boss is now implying she’d rarely, if ever, assign a new or inexperienced employee like the LW with the task of speaking to a reporter, and yet she has done so with the LW three times. Combining that weird omission with the suggestion that they’d never talked about this contingency before (“protocol that I have not covered with you”) and it almost sounds like the boss is confused or seriously forgetful, given that all of this has happened in the span of only three months.

          1. MK*

            That’s the weird part: the manager starts off by admitting they haven’t given proper instructioon about this matter and then goes on to imply that the OP should have known better. Why?

              1. MK*

                The odd thing is that they first initialy accept responsibility and then turn around and blame the OP. It’s one thing to say “this is common sense and you should have known better” and another “well, you didn’t have crucial information that I should have given to you, but it’s still your fault”.

            1. Chalupa Batman*

              That’s what annoyed me about this boss. SHE was the one who was unclear. Nothing wrong with “hey, for future reference, this is what I want, sorry that wasn’t clear from my past communications,” but “I’m disappointed” was unnecessary. What for? OP made an assumption that sounds to have been perfectly reasonable in the context-“use your judgement” means “stop bothering me with this and just take care of it” in a lot of offices. For the boss to say OP hadn’t received instruction, but somehow should have magically known is pretty obnoxious.

          2. MillersSpring*

            No, as Alison posited above, it sounds like LW’s boss wants each media opp to come to her so that she can mull them, vet them, and assign them. Getting to handle two or three does not mean that the LW is now an organization spokesperson with no oversight. But still, LW’s boss sounds bad.

          3. Rusty Shackelford*

            I agree with @Mookie. It’s not weird that the boss wants requests funneled through her. It is weird that she’s backtracking and rewriting history.

        2. Gaara*

          Even if that’s the case, since the boss didn’t cover this gatekeeper protocol, and since the pattern never varied, it was a reasonable inference that the OP can use her judgment about these in the future. I think it’s hard to quibble with the OP’s understanding, regardless of the boss’s intended meaning.

          But really. It’s fine that the boss clarified, but it shouldn’t have been framed as being disappointed with the OP. That’s just grating.

    2. Linda Johnson*

      I had a boss just like this. She drove me to therapy because I could never figure out what the hell she wanted and she made me feel like the worst employee ever. So my advice to the OP is to keep track of crap like this, journal it carefully and after the 3rd “strike” get the hell out, it will NOT get better (give her 3 chances just in case this is an off day or something). You could address it with her boss, but if she’s the ED, that’s the board and the board is probably pretty dysfunctional (okay, I’m projecting) and addressing it will just hurt you, not her.

      A year away has made me realize it really was all about her and not about me at all. I’m glad I left. I wish I had done it better and I wish I had had something to leave to, but it had to be done. I still carry around an unreasonable amount of anger towards old boss (which is why I’m continuing with therapy). I did send a letter to the board letting them know why I quit and old boss is still VERY resentful of that – I don’t really regret it, but I have been “punished” for it and there’s no end in sight for that punishment (might be why I’m still holding onto the anger).

      1. Serin*

        I’ve had a boss like that, too, and it wrecked me for the longest time. I agree with this advice.

        Any time a person makes a decision, there’s a chance that it will have an unanticipated negative outcome. A boss who won’t provide instruction wants that little bit of fogginess, so that if things go wrong, she has someone to blame.

    3. Kira*

      We had a really clear policy to send all media requests to the executive director. I got most of the requests, and sent them to her, and it worked fine. But then we had a launch event and she asked me to host the reporter and answer their questions. Next thing you know I’m being quoted in the article, and the executive director lectured me about the media policy. It turned out she was impossible to please in a lot of ways.

  8. Amber*

    #1 I went to UC Berkeley, that’s a really good school and I’m not automatically given jobs, it’s never once come up in a job interview, the questions that are asked all have to do with the skills that I’ve gained and my experience. He’s got to see the job opening from the view point of the company. Think of an entry level task, lets say you needed your oil changed and needed to hire someone for it. Who would you hire? The person who took some classes on how to do it? The person who took some classes at a really good school to do it? Or the person who has been changing oil for the past 3 month? You might have 100 people who send you resumes who all want to change your oil but you can only hire 1. They might all technically be able to do the job but you have to find the best one. So how do you narrow it down?

    You probably start with sorting the resumes by who has changed oil before and who hasn’t. That’s where I’d start. If one applicant learned to change oil at Harvard School of Oil Changing and another went to University of Phoenix School of Oil but also has successfully been working for 6 months changing oil, I’m going to take the Phoenix graduate because of the experience, especially once I talk to their references who tell me about how well they get along with their coworkers, how quickly she learns, etc.

    You can present him with the info but it’s his life and his mistakes to make so it’s not on you if he doesn’t follow you advice.

    1. Beezus*

      “it’s his life and his mistakes to make so it’s not on you if he doesn’t follow you advice.” This! and this from Alison’s letter:

      “his thoughts on all this may change once he gets to college, so I wouldn’t worry about arguing it too hard with him.”

      Give your brother your advice, and move on. Down the road, if you have another opportunity, give it again. But remember that, hopefully, he’ll be hearing the same advice in school, and his friends will be getting work experience in college, so he’ll have time to hear it from them, too. Yours is not the only voice he’ll hear on the subject. I wouldn’t worry about pushing him too hard now, and this might be an area where peer influence is the best influence, if he’s not listening to you.

  9. Jen S. 2.0*

    #1: If you are competing for a job after college, you likely are competing against your peers. If you went to a “good” school, as the folks who are your peers did, and took advantage of the opportunities afforded by that school, as many of those peers did, the deciding factor will be work experience. Why would you not make yourself a stronger candidate?

    Also, getting out of college without ever having earned a dollar by your own hand will cause people to wonder what on earth you were doing with your time during weekends /summers, when your peers (remember those people mentioned above, with whom you are competing for jobs?) were working. Playing video games? Watching TV? Just sitting around? Those likely will be the assumptions, and none of those make you a stronger candidate.

    (Note: I sit on a scholarship committee for my own great-but-not-Ivy alma mater, and I ding candidates if they’ve clearly never earned a dollar by their own hand in HIGH SCHOOL. Unless they were busy being a concert pianist, or assistng in a family business, or doing thousands of hours of volunteer work, I want to know what on earth they have been doing with their time before college that has landed them up with no resume, let alone at the age of 23.)

      1. Jen S. 2.0*

        I should note that I don’t care if you flipped burgers, or started your own business mowing lawns, or lifeguarded, or babysat, or assisted a famous researcher in a lab on an award-winning project and got your name on a paper (and I’ve seen all of those). The more impressive the better, obviously, but I definitely draw a distinction in my scoring between those that did SOMETHING and those that apparently have been just sitting around.

      2. Darkitect*

        I mean absolutely no disrespect to either you or Jen S. but I really disagree. As I’ve mentioned elsewhere on this thread, I’m an Ivy alma mater and the recipient of several merit-based scholarships. I attended one of the best public high schools in the country, was one of the best performers (4.4 GPA, high SAT, top 5% of my class) and it was ROUGH; AP/IB courses, 5 hours of homework nightly, on weekends, on holidays, summer reading lists, etc. This is not a boast – I don’t think any kid in school should have that kind of workload. One of my classmates had a nervous breakdown. But what you’re saying is that it isn’t enough.

        I watch my colleagues spend thousands of dollars on their kids’ extra-curricular activities, with college as the goal. The kids participate in school leagues and weekend travel leagues in more than one sport. They play musical instruments. Kids spend hundreds of hours volunteering, not out any particular sense of purpose, but because their scholarship is tied to it. Now the kid has to get a job too or else they’ll get dinged. Some will manage it all, but I don’t think they should have to. Why does every minute have to be programmed? These are kids, after all.

        Please rethink this.

        1. gmg*

          I would respectfully argue that no one is saying this isn’t “enough.” The question is one of priorities. Kids can do endless travel sports and canned “volunteer” opportunities (that you admit don’t really mean anything — yeesh), but a job gives them a chance to live in the real world, even for 5-10 hours a week. I know you likely think your experience is the norm, but it isn’t. And a working-class kid whose parents can’t spend thousands of dollars on extracurriculars, but who makes the grades and also has some job experience under his/her belt, should have just as good a chance to get into a top school as someone from a background such as yours should. I hope you see/understand that. The “rethinking” should come in regard to well-off parents’ unquestioning assumptions that they have to push their kids harder and harder and harder in the “programmed” activities you decide.

          1. Darkitect*

            I think you’ve misunderstood me. My family was working class and I didn’t do any of those extracurricular activities either, aside from volunteering. Frankly, I wouldn’t have been able to handle it with my school work load. But now we’re telling kids that they can’t just be good students. The well-off parents will push their kids into additional activities to give them an edge, which then codifies the requirement for everyone else. I’m reading that the job is another prerequisite for parents to push their kids into, not a substitute for some rich kid activity. I feel really bad for these kids; I think it’s wrong, and I don’t know how they manage it all.

        2. Temperance*

          On the flip side, though, only the wealthy can do all of those activities and volunteer without working for a paycheck. I’m glad that she’s including work as a valuable activity, because my need to work as a teen limited my volunteer/extracurricular availability. It’s much more considerate of low-income kids this way.

          1. Darkitect*

            I think it’s more considerate to look at academics, since the cost associated with doing well in school is very low.

            1. Anna*

              I think you might be getting hung up on the academics thing because you did very well in academics and went to a great school. If we’re looking at academics, should we ding you for going to a school that has a great tax base on offered a lot of tough courses and extracurricular activities? Or should we ding the students at the school without the great tax base because no matter how well they do in that school, they will not do anything near as spectacular?

    1. Kathlynn*

      Or being poor and living out of town, with no access to transportation. Taking care of younger siblings, and having a large course load. Dealing with mental illness. Living in a small town with little or no employment opportunities.
      There’s plenty of reasons one might not work as a teen. If I hadn’t been required to get some type of volunteer or employment hours to graduate high school I wouldn’t have gotten a job. And it was bad for my mental health that I did (I wasn’t in treatment for it, and summers with my grandmother were a life saver.) . I mean, yeah I liked the bit of money I earned, and I needed it (dirt poor), but there are reasons just as strong for me not having a job. And during the school year, I usually had about 4 hours of homework. Sometimes at least 2 hours just from one class. And I had to get up at 6am to catch the bus.
      If it isn’t clear, I’m against teens working, because to me, school is a full time job. And they should focused on learn and figuring out their future, not stressing on how to balance school, work, sleep, and chores. (and depending on the field, this goes double or triple for post secondary education. Like medicine careers especially)

      1. Kerr*

        THIS. I did some volunteer work as a teen, but holding a job before graduation was not in the cards, for many many reasons, and not just because I was “sitting around.” I wish the rat race didn’t have to begin in high school!

        That said, by college, an internship or job during the summer will probably give you a leg up. I wish I’d been able to do another internship during my college years, but I couldn’t afford to do it unpaid.

      2. Gaia*

        I will just say that I also had 4 hours of homework, took AP classes, graduated with great grades…and worked 10-20 hours every week for two out of my four years in high school (as soon as I was old enough). We lived out of town and I biked in and biked home because we couldn’t afford a car or gas for me.

        The idea that teens should do nothing but school is going to put them at a disadvantage these days. When they get to college and need part time work they will be competing against people with work experience. If they don’t work during HS or college they are going to be really hurting when they graduate.

        1. Kathlynn*

          I didn’t have a bike, wouldn’t have been able to afford one, and the equipment to make it safe for night biking. and it would have expected taken at least an hour to bike I to work.

          1. Gaia*

            I didn’t have any of the “equipment to make it safe for night biking.” This was almost 15 years ago and that just wasn’t a thing.

            It was exhausting, to be sure, but I did it because it served me better as an adult.

              1. Grapey*

                I’m truly sorry about your lack of luck growing up (and I happily pay taxes so you and others can get a leg up where your parents/society/brain chemistry kept you down in life) but at an individual level, I’m going to hire the person that “Did It” over the person that didn’t do it.

            1. Observer*

              Even 15 years ago people knew that lights or the like are necessary. Getting hit by a car would hardly have served you well as an adult, you can be sure.

              Just because you were lucky doesn’t mean everyone else is.

              1. Gazebo Slayer (formerly I'm a Little Teapot)*


                I grew up on a hilly, fast road with no shoulder and often poor visibility, where drivers were not expecting bicyclists because almost no one biked. It would have been dangerous, especially after dark, and when I was a teenager my overprotective parents would never have allowed it.

              2. Temperance*

                This is so not universal. We had reflectors, but not the fancy, expensive lights. Couldn’t afford it.

            2. Whats In A Name*

              Wow, Gaia. Sorry everyone is piling on you for figuring out a way to make it work for you. I didn’t read it as saying you were better than everyone and feel bad that people are attacking you for that.

              1. Koko*


                The world is unfair and some people have access to opportunities that make them better job candidates and other people don’t have access to those opportunities. That stinks.

                But at the same time, as a hiring manager, you want the person who has worked before over the person who hasn’t.

                Getting that work experience is easy for some people, harder for some, impossible for others. It stinks that some people have to work twice as hard to be half as good, but it doesn’t invalidate how much work experience strengthens a resume.

                For those in the “impossible” category, they have my sympathy, and some things that might ameliorate the situation, like getting work-study campus jobs once in college, taking on a leadership role at school, running an online store, writing a high-quality blog, volunteering in their community, working on some kind of project at home to solve a problem…somehow use your free time to gain experience completing a project, learning new skills, working alongside others, etc.

                If you can’t do that it doesn’t mean you’re a bad person, but it does unfortunately mean you’re going to struggle to find work in a competitive job market.

        2. TL -*

          I lived 15 miles from the nearest town on a highway with no public transit.
          I worked for my parents but I also lived on a ranch and had plenty to keep me occupied without needing a job, even in the summer. (In college, I worked.)
          Sorry but there are plenty of really legit reasons not to work in high school.

              1. Pwyll*

                Frankly, it should (if there is no other work experience on the resume). When you have no experience, any volunteer or work experience can put you ahead.

                1. fposte*

                  I think we’re mixing situations a little now, though. Jen S was talking about evaluating kids for a college scholarship, so I don’t think that’s a resume situation. I think if you’re graduating college and you worked at a ranch, family or otherwise, during college, that absolutely can go on your resume. (But I wouldn’t put high school work on a ranch on a post-college resume unless you were going into ag management or something and had nothing since then.)

                2. TL -*

                  @fposte – it helped with my scholarship through the FFA (ag organization) but not with any other scholarship. They were definitely looking for different achievements in their criteria.

            1. TL -*

              Right, but there were plenty of other kids who grew up in the same area that I did that didn’t work on a ranch and also couldn’t get to jobs.

              Not as relevant, working on a ranch doesn’t impress at most colleges, especially the ones that aren’t agriculture-based. (ask me how I know…)
              Plus – I worked for my parents. It’s not the same thing as working for a non-family member – I doubt most bosses would’ve let me off because I had homework or was having a bad day or got frustrated and went for a ride.

        3. Anon for this*

          I was physically unable to work in high school. Teenagers can be affected by all of the same things that keep adults out of work temporarily or permanently.

          Yeah, I agree that more experience is good for young people. I just don’t think it’s realistic to expect it from all of them.

            1. Rusty Shackelford*

              I’ve seen a few things my daughter fills out. They ask about activities. There is no space to explain whether you have “legitimate” reasons not to have participated in these activities.

        4. Mustache Cat*

          Well, I worked uphill both ways in the snow for thirty hours a week!

          There’s no point in dismissing other people’s experiences. Also, by my calculations, assuming that you had eight hours of school like me, and got eight hours of sleep (which is incredibly important for teenagers!) you only had four hours of time every weekday, plus weekends. If teenagers want to use that precious little time to work, that’s fine, but there is nothing wrong with simply using it to be children.

          1. fposte*

            Though “using it to be children” is a very culture and class-loaded concept. Being children and doing work aren’t inherently contradictory.

            1. Xay*

              Especially in families where being a child includes contributing to the household through housework, childcare, etc.

          2. Koko*

            I think there’s some faulty math there… 24 – 8 hours sleep = 16 hours. 16 – 8 hours school = 8 hours remaining.

            3-5 hours was a typical shift length at the pizza and sandwich shops I worked in as a high schooler. I usually worked around 3 school nights for 3-4 hours and once on the weekend for longer 5 or 6 hour shifts. I still had two school days without work every week, and the better part of my weekend. Most of my classmates worked similarly light 15-20 hours a week schedules to earn pocket money.

            FWIW I also liked working. My parents didn’t make me work unless I wanted to and on two occasions I quit a job and didn’t get a new one for 2 or 3 months because I was feeling like I wanted some free time back for a little while. I worked because I wanted to. I liked having my own money to spend, it made me feel mature and proud of myself, and I always made friends at my jobs who I wouldn’t have met otherwise. I dated a boy from another school for several months who I met at SandwichJob, and I met the 21 year olds who supplied me and my high school friends with alcohol at PizzaJob. And of course, it made it easier for me to find work in college because I already had a resume.

            1. Kathlynn*

              you forgot to subtract time for homework. Most jobs in my home town weren’t 4 hours shifts afaik, they were 6-8 hour shifts, even for high school students.

        5. paul*

          how far out of town?

          I lived about 20 miles from a city. I had a car gifted to me at 16 (a 20 year old, mostly-ran sort of car), with the understanding I’d use it to get to and from work. But without a car I sure as hell couldn’t have had a job.

        6. Observer*

          The idea that the kind of schedule you describe is reasonable is doing no one any favors. It’s unreasonable, unrealistic and unfair. And, in many cases, it’s simply impossible, or seriously damaging to someone’s health and ability to actually do well in any of these roles.

        7. Myrin*

          Look, I’m not disagreeing that working while still in school is a positive thing but can we maybe not with the “Well, I did this thing so everyone in a somewhat similar situation better have done it, too” attitude?

          1. Purple Kate*

            So much this! Just because it was possible for you, doesn’t mean it was possible, or even reasonable. And I say this as someone who was enrolled in AP classes and a competitive figure skater throughout high school (I skated 3 hours a day 6 days a week, and also took ballet and pilates classes every week). But that doesn’t mean because I had a demanding schedule, it means everyone else was just lazy. Each individual has different needs, obligations, opportunities, and access to the right information to get to these opportunities.

        8. Dankar*

          I disagree. I didn’t get a job until my second-to-last year of college and, while I regret that I didn’t try for one earlier, it was only because I knew the person vacating the position. It ended up being a job relevant to my career path and one I still list on my resume. Not having worked up until that point didn’t even come up in the interview.

          Asking kids to work in high school, where they’re expected (in some places) to be there from 7am until 2pm, with at least 3-4 hours of homework per night is unreasonable. And even if they don’t have the same course load as someone in an advanced or dual-enrollment program, many are assisting at home with childcare. We often forget that the situations are very different in college and high school, where the child may have additional responsibilities to his or her family.

          1. forte*

            I don’t think it’s unreasonable for everyone. I took AP classes and was involved in some after school activities, helped take care of the animals/yardwork on our little farm (we had chickens which were my primary responsibility and I helped in the gardens spring/summer/fall) and I certainly had plenty of homework, but I was expected to work on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays during the school year, and 40 hours a week during the summers once I turned 16. It was basically presented to me as “We will help pay for college, but you need to be making and saving money for it as well.”

        9. KM*

          And if they don’t work in grade school, they’ll be at a disadvantage when they get to high school. I think the real answer is to get six year old kids back in the workforce the way we did before we HAD schools. I mean, who are you going to hire? The kid who had a shoeshine stand or the kid who wanted five GD minutes to himself where no one judged him over how he spent his time?

      3. James*

        Thank you! My parents were abusive and wouldn’t let me leave the house, I wasn’t unemployed because I was out having fun.

        1. Kathlynn*

          Yeah, my mom didn’t have to pull that card, because we lived out of town, there was no where to go. But if I would have had friends, or we lived in town, I’m sure that would have happened. (proof, I had to ask to phone anyone, including family).

        2. Boo*

          Yeah, this. I was brought up in a cult. They didn’t want me going for a part time job around school. I had no control over that and nor would I want to feel comfortable disclosing it to any kind of committee. Sure, some kids can work around school, but others can’t and others may not want to, and I don’t think it’s fair they should get dinged for it either way. It feels very discriminatory to me.

      4. Anon for this*

        This. Physical and mental health problems kept me from working as a teenager. Yeah, I was home watching TV, that was all I could do at the time.

      5. Gazebo Slayer (formerly I'm a Little Teapot)*

        This, thank you. I grew up outside a small town with no public transit nearby, nothing in walking distance, and my parents didn’t let me learn to drive. I also spent 4 hours a night most of the time on homework, partly thanks to a learning disability that really wrecked my ability to do math. If you think less of minors who don’t have jobs, you have some screwed up assumptions you really need to examine.

      6. Anonymous Survivor*

        Kathlynn- I agree with you 100%. People who have never been extremely poor or grew up in abusive households sometimes do not realize that many poor & abused people do not get the same opportunities as those who grow up in homes where there was always money to pay bills and buy decent clothing and you didn’t have to worry about what mood your dad was going to be in when he got home.

        I managed to get a job in high school by begging my aunt to talk to my dad and it took months for him to agree. In order to get the job, I had to promise him that I would keep up my grades and keep up all my chores around the house and if I failed, even once, to have supper on the table, laundry done, homework done, checked little brother’s homework and all the other things I was responsible for, I would have to quit. It was hard as hell, but I managed to do it all until I made the decision to leave my father’s home and move 2 states away to my mother’s home (parents divorced when I was 8).

        The thing in my situation is everyone thought my dad was such a great, upstanding guy. The didn’t see the monster that came out when no one else was around. Luckily, I had a supervisor that saw through that facade my father fooled others with and helped when my dad showed up on my job making a scene. That job saved my life. My dad was becoming more abusive every month because he knew that eventually I would leave and have my own life he couldn’t control and that job gave me the ability to squirrel away money that I used to purchase a used vehicle from my uncle just weeks before I left. I had to show my dad my check before I cashed it and was required to use some of it to help around the house. I didn’t mind buying groceries or helping pay the electric bill or buying my little brother some decent clothes. It was a lot better than beans and potatoes every night or going without power for days until father got paid again or having to wear outdated hand-me-downs. Nothing wrong with hand-me-downs, but middle/high school in hand-me-downs that aren’t the normal brands middle/high school students wear, don’t fit quiet right and are obviously worn and outdated is not real fun.

        So before you ding candidates for not having jobs in high school, just factor in that not everyone can get a job, especially when you are poor, have no transportation, no decent clothes to wear even if you got a job and maybe be living with a monster who is disguised as your father (or mother). Those that manage to survive the hell that is home and are so lucky they made it out, to then have a hiring manager that dings them because they didn’t work in high school is just another blow that confirms what they have been told for years: nobody wants you, you are not good enough and you should just give up.

      7. C Average*

        Your story is compelling, and stories like yours suggest that a blanket policy (we won’t consider you if you don’t have work experience) probably isn’t fair.

        I have to quibble with a blanket policy AGAINST teens working, though. I had a job of some kind–babysitting, Forest Service trail crew, bagging groceries, waitressing, making lattes, etc.–from the age of 14 onward, and it honestly was the best thing in my life much of the time. I didn’t enjoy school, though my grades were generally good enough. I was socially awkward and wasn’t into sports or most other extracurriculars, but man did I love my job. It felt like an oasis from the insanity of high school: a place where people made clear what they wanted from you, you delivered, and they gave you money for your trouble. I think in a lot of ways work was what KEPT me in college. I knew that if I got that all-important degree, I’d have even more work options open. Because I loved work, that was a huge incentive to keep plodding through my coursework, which variously bored and confused me.

        Having a job didn’t just give me experience. It gave me a work ethic, time management skills, and an alternative to getting into trouble. If my stepkids express an interest in having jobs during their teenage years, I’ll absolutely support them doing so. For certain kinds of kids, a job can be a great thing.

        I know n = 1, but for THIS teen, a job was really, really beneficial.

        1. Kathlynn*

          I’m not against them working if they want to. But I don’t think they should be required to by school policy or by employer’s expectation. A teen having a job while school is in session is like having a second job. And I don’t think they need that type of stress forced on them.

          1. C Average*

            I was responding to your last statement, “in case it isn’t clear, I’m against teens working . . . ” It sounded like you were against any teens working, as their focus should be only on school. And that just didn’t gibe with my own experience. If I’d been forced to focus only on school, I’d have gone batshit insane. My job was a very effective refuge against the tedium, social challenges, and overall unpleasantness of the academic environment for me, and I’m grateful for all that those first few jobs taught me. Having jobs throughout high school and college was a 100% positive experience for me.

            1. Koko*

              At one point in high school I had quit a job I was getting bored of and in the meantime I started dating a new guy. He ended up being super-clingy and I applied for my next job in a right quick hurry just so I could have an excuse not to spend every waking hour outside of school with him. (He would have his parents drop him off at my house in the morning so we could walk to school together and then assumed we would hang out after school every day unless I had plans.)

              It was such a relief being able to go to PizzaJob and laugh and joke around with my coworkers there and get a break from my suffocating boyfriend. (That relationship didn’t last much longer.)

      8. smokey*

        Yeah, I was busy riding the schoolbus for four hours a day because I lived in the middle of nowhere. After that 11-hour day and then 2-3 hours of homework (can’t do it on the bus, get carsick), it was pretty much dinner/shower/bed.

      9. Xay*

        THIS. My mother and stepfather worked long hours, so my high school “job” was to care for my brother, who has special needs. I was able to participate in extracurricular activities that took place during school hours with the occasional evening event, but most of my spare time was spoken for. I went to college out of state so at that point I did work (but didn’t do internships because the majority were unpaid, full time, and in high cost locations).

        I don’t think it is unfair to expect college students and high school students to have some work experience, but I don’t think you can assume that anyone who doesn’t was sitting around doing nothing in their spare time.

      10. Robin Sparkles*

        I agree with everything you said.Expecting someone to work outside of school before they even get to college means you are more likely to get the privileged folks into your school.

        1. Robin Sparkles*

          And by privileged I mean anyone who had the ability/means/support to work. Not everyone has the parents, money, commute that allows them to work.

          1. gmg*

            Most of the very highest privileged teens don’t work either. Not because they have no way of getting to a job, but because they’re too busy. (See comment from an Ivy League grad complaining that a work requirement of any kind is too much on top of travel sports and unpaid internships and canned “volunteer” opportunities for which parents pay thousands of dollars.)

            Some blue-collar kids, maybe even many of them, DO work. And this experience should give them a leg up, just as any valuable experience should. But coping successfully with any kind of personal struggle is valuable experience, too. Kids with the issues you describe that don’t allow them to get a job, an admissions committee is for similar reasons going to understand if you tell them how you had to cope with X, Y and Z and you made the grades anyway.

          2. Anna*

            I am confused by the idea that you need money to be able to work. The commute thing makes sense. If you cannot afford a car and live well outside public transit coverage, there’s no way you can reasonably get to a job and back. But most high schoolers I currently know work because their incomes help keep their families afloat. It’s so odd to think people between the ages of 14 and 18 work because they’re in a privileged situation. They may be “privileged” enough to live in a city with good transit, but none of the students I work with who have jobs are doing it because it’s fun and they come from supportive and nurturing backgrounds where that’s encouraged.

    2. Sue Wilson*

      By “ding” I hope you mean “ask for more information”. Not gonna lie, this, at least on the surface, is going to rule out some people with disabilities, who already have trouble getting anyone to give them a job if they can work, and having people think they’re lazy if they can’t.

      1. Jen S. 2.0*

        “Ding” here means I reflect it in my scoring, not that I disqualify them entirely. I’m also part of a committee, so my score is one of several. But there are multiple opportunities on the application for them to explain an extenuating circumstance, to talk about what they DO do with their time, and so forth, and this is for a scholarship worth tens of thousands of dollars to a (great-but-not-Ivy) school. If the competitors have work experience or an extenuating circumstance, it usually gets mentioned.

        If there is no mention of an extenuating circumstance, AND no mention of a job of any kind (summer? volunteer? weekend? after school?), I subtract several points.

        1. Gaia*

          Good for you. I know there are rare (and I mean *rare*) instances where teens really cannot work, but often “cannot” means “didn’t want to.” They should explain why they chose not to and, if they can’t, those that worked harder should be given credit for that.

        2. Sue Wilson*

          I mean, scholarships, and you, can do whatever they want, but there’s something about having to justify your inability to work that doesn’t sit right with me. I would in no way want to disclose my disability (especially mental illness) in order to be able to afford college, and it’s clear there’s some judgment to more frivolous pursuits.

          Again, you can do whatever you want, but I hope you understand that “you don’t deserve this as much as someone else if you can’t or don’t labor or explain yourself” can be somewhat alienating.

          1. Kathlynn*

            Yeah, I agree with this. Especially given the stigma around mental illness. I wasn’t even diagnosed until I was an adult and sought help myself. But I’d been dealing with the effects of multiple undiagnosed mental illnesses for at least a decade before I was diagnosed. And before I got help, I wouldn’t have admitted to anyone outside a few forums that I was struggling. Might mention I was poor and grew up on welfare. There is also negative reactions when people talk about parental abuse or neglect. Which can effect one’s ability to work or mental health. Like, remember the earlier letter, where parents won’t give the kids their ID, some parents won’t let them get the ID needed to get a job. And you usually need to be a legal adult to get them yourself. And of course, getting the ID costs money, which someone in an abusive household might not have access to.

          2. AcademiaNut*

            But that’s true of *any* scholarship criteria – there can be mitigating circumstances (poverty, mental and physical health, family commitments, location, etc) as to why a student has never worked for pay, or didn’t participate in extracurricular activities, or never won any awards, or struggled in some of their courses, or blew the calculus final. But the people evaluating the scholarship applications have to make decisions based on what is in the application, both the concrete things (like grades, job history, awards, extracurriculars), and any explanations the students give about their lives and circumstances.

            If an application is below the threshold for getting a scholarship, and the student doesn’t explain any mitigating circumstances, they won’t get the scholarship. I think that giving a students a chance to describe their background is a good way to help balance what otherwise happens – the student is evaluated completely on the concrete things, with no consideration for circumstances.

            1. LaurenB*

              Yes, taken to its logical conclusion there would be no way of making scholarship decisions beyond first come first serve. There are also dozens of mitigating factors that would explain poor academic performance, lack of involvement in extracurriculars, and every other criteria. Unless these are strictly means-tested bursaries, why is a decision based partly on job experience more discriminatory than one based on GPA?

          3. Jen RO*

            But how is OP supposed to know if Jane didn’t work because of mental illness or because she didn’t feel like it? OP can’t read minds…

            1. Mookie*

              That’s assuming that there isn’t any stigma about mental illness (and chronic pain, for that matter) to begin with, that most people are aware of and empathetic towards people with “silent” or “invisible” disabilities rather than quick to fault them as exaggerators lacking bootstrapping gumption (cf posts above). Disclosing mental illness is a tight rope-walk because it could very well endanger your eligibility for the job / internship / grant / scholarship / fellowship because of the biases of those evaluating you.

              1. Mookie*

                Also, we seem to be overlooking the fact that it is more difficult for people with mental illnesses* to land a good, career-building job, so the problem is cyclical. Can’t build up a work history without the initial gig.

                *who are more likely in the US to be poor and lack access to education, training, and mentorship their peers enjoy

          4. Temperance*

            If you’re comparing two applicants, and one has a job, great grades, and a lot of extracurricular activities, and the other doesn’t, of course the first applicant is going to outshine the second.

          5. hbc*

            I know that people with disabilities have a tougher row to hoe, but someone who is giving away money is looking for some sign that their money is going to be well spent. If you refuse to disclose anything that distinguishes you from the lazy bum who spent his summers sneaking into movies and hanging out at the mall, you’re not going to rise to the top of the pile.

            A story about how you managed to maintain a 2.8 GPA while cooking and cleaning for your household or being forbidden to go to the library or going through 10 hours of PT a week is going to make people believe you made the best of a bad situation, and that you’ll make good use of an opportunity. But if you’re only willing to provide “GPA: 2.8, Work: None, Extracurriculars: None”, you can’t be surprised if people don’t fill in the blanks correctly.

            1. Kate*

              Too many people on this thread seem to be under the impression that controlling parents* have nothing to do with their children’s college/scholarship applications. In my experience when someone is otherwise controlling, they don’t let the control slip in that area either.

              For kids who may be in that situation, if there’s a guidance councellor at your school that you trust they often have the ability to add a note to your application/transcript for college that your parents won’t see that details how they know you and what mitigating situation there may be.

              *or even many well meaning ones

          6. Koko*

            I would agree with you if this was just a need-based charity. But it’s a competitive scholarship. You have to be competitive to get one.

        3. James*

          “If there is no mention of an extenuating circumstance, AND no mention of a job of any kind (summer? volunteer? weekend? after school?), I subtract several points”

          So…. I should mention upfront having horribly controlling, paranoid parents? *Raised eyebrow*

          1. Overeducated*

            It never occurred to me to mention my babysitting and tutoring on college applications. I didn’t have a regular W2 job, and what I did was so ordinary that it would not have struck me as worth a scholarship committee’s attention.

          2. That Would Be a Good Band Name*

            I did. I wrote my entire college essay about the hell I grew up in. I got accepted to every school I applied.

            1. TL -*

              Whereas I did not realize how unusual my circumstances were until I got into college and hung around with kids who weren’t from poor areas where most of the families ranged from very to somewhat dysfunctional. I think less than 10% of my high school had parents that were married to each other and of those, most of them had half siblings from previous marriages.

              It literally did not occur to me that I had extenuating circumstances because where I grew up, almost everyone had extenuating circumstances.

        4. Jen Erik*

          I can see why you do that: but equally there are societal and familial pressures not to talk about some kinds of extenuating circumstances – I’m thinking about a friend of my daughter’s who is very clever and hard-working, but whose home circumstances were difficult in several different respects.
          I don’t think, as a teenager, she’d have explained those circumstances to a stranger. And she’s exactly the kind of person scholarships were designed for – someone who will really benefit from an opportunity they can’t get any other way.
          (It just always seemed unfair: my daughter’s university application was bunged with the kind of stuff you look for: but that was at least in part because of her home circumstances. But her friend’s achievements weren’t the sort that counted – it must be at least as difficult to be your cousin’s birthing partner as to win a public speaking competition, but you can’t put the former on a form.)

          1. Temperance*

            I had a terrible home life, with a mentally ill parent who couldn’t handle parenting. So I did whatever I could during the day or the extra periods to beef up my college applications. I also had to work, because it was the only way to get away from my mother.

            1. TL -*

              Yeah but not all kids from terrible backgrounds know/figure this stuff out; in fact, most don’t. And you shouldn’t have to be extraordinary to have a chance to get out of circumstances like that.

              1. Koko*

                I think this is all a really valid discussion of social inequality and the need for better resources for people from impoverished and challenging backgrounds, but I don’t think it puts the onus on merit-based scholarship committees to give scholarships to everyone who applies. There are need-based scholarships that don’t have these standards.

                People here seem to be essentially arguing against the whole concept of merit-based scholarships on the basis that society is unfair, because home life is a powerful factor and *every* way that you can prove merit is influenced by your opportunities growing up…but merit-based scholarships *do* help ameliorate some of that unfairness. They just don’t do a perfect job of it.

                1. Darkitect*

                  I don’t disagree with the concept of merit-based scholarship; I’m the recipient of several and am thankful for them. But using high school employment as a disqualifier is overreach. How does that prove academic merit? What I picture are well-meaning, misguided helicopter parents forcing children into yet another activity that will eventually be solidified as a prerequisite for everyone else.

                2. TL -*

                  That’s a valid point. I just hate it when people say, “I did that. You should to.”

                  And I don’t know that merit scholarships help as much as people say they do; most, though not all, of the people I knew in college who had them would’ve been okay without them – and honestly, the more money the scholarship was, the more likely it went to someone from an upper-class background.
                  The really poor kids who got into college usually went mostly on grants. (I know one kid who went on grants+an amazing scholarship that actually factored in spending money each semester, so definitely there are some exceptions.)

                3. Observer*

                  No, it means that “merit” needs to be rethought to allow for the fact that the parameters your are setting are quite discriminatory. Now if you don’t care about that, that’s fine. But, if you have any claim to helping those who most need it, don’t set up parameters of “merit” that penalize people in bad circumstances.

                  The simple fact is that there are SO many *legitimate* reasons why a high schooler would not have any formal work and / or volunteer experience on their application, that the idea that it may reflect poor character or inability to succeed in college is just not based in the real world. And, there are so many reasons that those “extenuating” circumstances would not show up on an application, that it’s just not realistic to expect that. In fact, there are SO many reasons that a kid wouldn’t have these things to list that it’s almost silly to call them “extenuating” circumstances, unless you are looking at a fairly small subset of the population.

                4. Koko*

                  You could say the same thing about grades, though. Kids from impoverished backgrounds might not have anyone to help them with homework, might not have a computer/internet at home, might have to spend so much time working/helping with childcare that they don’t have time to study, might miss too many classes because they don’t have reliable transportation to school. There is no criteria you can use that there won’t be an underclass that doesn’t have equal opportunity, other than awarding them at random or first-come, first-serve. Which is why I said this seems to be making an argument against the concept of merit-based scholarships.

              2. Temperance*

                I think that you really *have* to be, though. I’m lower-class, and the mindset just keeps you down.

                1. TL -*

                  You have to be, as it currently stands. But you shouldn’t have to be.
                  In other words, opportunities that claim to be there to help those who need it shouldn’t be there only for the extraordinary lower class kids, the very good middle class kids, and the average upper class kids.

        5. Anon too!*

          So, you would expect someone to talk about physical or mental health issues in an interview?????????

          Or that they had abusive parents?

          I think you should reconsider your position. What children do is seldom within their control. And, in high school, we are talking about children.

          I didn’t work in high school because I was not allowed. Full stop! I begged and pleaded with my parents, but never got anywhere. I don’t think it would have been beneficial to lie to them, get a job, and then get beaten!

          1. NotAnotherManager!*

            Yep. My mother 100% forbade a job in high school or college (the latter under thread of not helping pay for school if I got a job without her consent, and she was able to provide more tuition money than jobs for which I was qualified would). I also did not have a car nor was I allowed to drive my parents’.

            I also put in a lot of hours of time every week for an expensive extracurricular activity I mostly paid for myself via organization fundraising activities, helped out at my family business (which my father would not have corroborated because his twisted logic felt that would kick off a labor law violation investigation), and was essentially my mother’s household servant and live-in babysitter when I was in high school (because my father also refused to help out around the house and would leave the five-year-old home alone if left unattended). I also would not have wanted to tell a bunch of strangers how fucked up my family was.

            Basically, I think dinging people from scholarship consideration because they didn’t have a part-time job is high school is excluding a population that may need help the most. Of the people I knew who didn’t have part-time jobs in high school, very few of them did not out of sheer laziness.

          2. fposte*

            No, she expects that a scholarship is best spent on people who have a track record or other indications that the money will be well spent.

            There’s a finite amount of money involved, and not everybody applying is going to get some. If you want some, and you don’t have a track record, and aren’t willing to say why, then I don’t think it’s unreasonable for them to give money to somebody who *does* say why instead. It’s different from a job but not completely, in that it may not be the individual’s fault that they aren’t as strong a candidate as some of the others, but it’s not the awarder’s/hirer’s task to compensate for that.

            I agree there’s a larger suck about access to higher education and the costs thereof, but it’s not the job of this single scholarship committee to fix that.

              1. fposte*

                I think it’s the higher education system that people are mostly unhappy with, and it’s tough to argue with that.

                1. TL -*

                  Yes, this.

                  It was incredibly frustrating once I got to college and realized how many opportunities I didn’t even know existed I had missed out on, even though I had pretty much everything I could/was interested in at my high school. I was essentially punished for not taking opportunities I never had or knew about and the things that I did weren’t valued by most.
                  So merit-based scholarships are really frustrating in that aspect; there were surprisingly few that could look at my achievements and understand what they meant – not in an extenuating circumstances way, but in a way that actually put value in the work I put into my extracurriculars.

                  And that’s not even the angle of “what do you do when you can’t X, Y, and Z” that a lot of other people are mentioning.

      2. Florida*

        You are right about the disability issue. I have epilepsy. In high school, I couldn’t drive. I participated in extra curricular activities, but I took a year off of that because I was recovering from brain surgery. Technically, I could still work but it is hard to find a job without reliable transportation. (My city has terrible public transportation.)

        It drives me crazy when people have blanket “rules” like, “I will disqualify someone if they did _____ )or didn’t do ____).” My blanket rule is that I will always look at the totality of the situation before deciding someone’s fate.

        1. neverjaunty*

          But keep in mind that hiring is a two-way street. Just as the employer is looking at the best candidates, the candidates need to determine if the workplace is a good fit. That an employer has particular arbitrary criteria may be a good signal that this is not a place the candidate wants to work.

          1. Florida*

            I agree 100% about work and hiring being two-way. The blanket rule I was referring to was the one about not giving a scholarship to students who don’t work in high school. Unfortunately, scholarships are typically not two-way streets. A commenter (can’t remember which one) said that they would ding a scholarship application because a student didn’t work in high school. My problem is not the criteria of working in high school — it is any random criteria. For example, if someone said, “I would ding your application if you were not on the homecoming court,” I would think that would be ridiculous. I think the working criteria is equally ridiculous. Even a criteria of GPA is not black/white. The classes they took are as important as the GPA.
            To me, a better approach would be to look at the totality of the application before passing judgment.

    3. Scotty Smalls*

      By that logic, you wouldn’t ding me, as I worked all of 6 hours a week in high school. But you would ding my little sister who took AP classes, did 3 sports (all 4 years), taught Sunday School, and sold candy at school instead of working a real job. You would also ding my other sister who also took AP classes, did Academic Decathlon, did marching and concert band, and never earned her own money in high school. They did all of this, while fighting anxiety. So maybe you should take it easier on those high school seniors who apply for scholarships. Judge them on what they’ve accomplished not on whether or not they earned a dollar.

      1. Jen S. 2.0*

        I mentioned that, though. If the applicant has a heavy schedule that doesn’t include a job, then that explains what they were doing. I said above that I want to know what they were doing with their time if they did not have a job. There are plenty of acceptable answers to that, and I even mentioned as examples a heavy volunteer schedule or a demanding music discipline. Plus, I would consider selling candy and teaching Sunday School to be jobs, and I’ve seen plenty of young people sell that type of experience really well.

        But I’ve also seen plenty of folks who don’t show us a good resume or discuss any experience beyond the high school classroom, and when I’m comparing them to young folks who’ve started businesses or sought out internships or shown a lot of initiative to get some experience (especially when they are all equally good students), that part of their background comes up short, and I notice it, and my score reflects that. Just like it would 4 years later under similar circumstances when looking for a job.

        The good news is, that’s only one part of the application. If they can make up those points elsewhere, great for them.

        1. anonymouse*

          This is raising my classism hackles. A lot of kids who start their own business or seek internships or get good jobs in high school have someone helping them along the way.

          You would have dinged me because I grew up dirt poor and lived too far away from any job to walk or bike, and in an area where it wouldn’t have been safe for me to go alone, and there was only one car for all of us. As a teenager, there was already stigma and embarrassment for being poor, and there’s such pushback on “poor people getting handouts”, that I would feel ashamed and embarrassed to “explain” that I didn’t work because I really had no way to, especially when in high school I was told that scholarships would probably be going to the kids who would do something with their lives and had nice, shiny resumes of jobs and volunteering that their parents helped them fill out.

          This is why so many poor kids find it so hard to seek financial assistance. Because they can’t work or they don’t have money for fees to join clubs, activities, or sports, they’re looked down upon compared to the kids who can pay for those activities. My school didn’t subsidize or waive fees based on income levels, and a lot of kids like me were ashamed to explain their circumstances and because no one is helping them the way middle class kids get. Scholarships end up helping out more middle class kids than poor kids because of this stigma.

          1. Kyrielle*

            Oh man, the money and fees for the clubs and sports and so on. We’re not poor, and my kids benefit from that hugely. I still have been slowly losing my mind over the explanation given that the uniform for one event, besides being necessary, is a “good deal”. This is because the kids will wear it on average once every week or so, so even though it costs over $100, it’s just over $2 per wear.

            I’m staring and thinking ‘really??’ I understand why they have a uniform and don’t see a real problem with providing it for *us*, but seriously, just over $2 a wear is a good deal? I hate to tell them this, but my oldest son’s school outfits usually last a year, and they cost about $20-40 an outfit…and yep, worn every week or every other week. Way less than $2 a wear, and at the end, 80% of them are in good enough shape to pass on to his younger brother.

            Uniforms are a huge cost, and yep, that pluss enrollment fees and the like are going to push out a lot of kids based on income.

            1. Kathlynn*

              I was really lucky for 2 years, when I was in elementary school, we had a choir (I loved it), and we did bottle drives to help fund it, so cost expenditure was minimal. And the teacher who lead it encourages parents to sell the shirts their kids had outgrown (I know this isn’t always an option). So we would get cheap shirts. and be able to participate (they were only like $40-60 sweaters. but still outside our price range otherwise)

              1. Kyrielle*

                Yep – in a lot of cases there may be ways to reduce the cost. Assuming you have access to them and all that. In some cases that may work better than others, and some gear (safety gear, things labeled with names) may still need to be bought new for each child participating.

                My big objection to the situation was the claim that it’s a “good value” because it works out to less than $3 a wear though. (Especially when it’s mostly “worn” for an average of 3 hours a week – the everyday clothes I mentioned that are cheaper are averaging way more hours worn for less money.) It’s -not- a good value on time. It’s the uniform needed for the activity, and one of the expenses associated with it, and here are some ways you can try to access it if you can’t afford brand new…sure. But don’t gaslight people by trying to convince them it’s a really good value based on cost per wear when that argument does not hold up.

          2. Elizabeth West*

            This is a good point. There’s a reason poverty is intergenerational–how is someone supposed to get out of it when the adults don’t know how to get out of it either? Or can’t provide support for that?

            1. Grapey*

              I personally am choosing not to have kids for this reason. I’m well off today, but I can’t guarantee I will be in 5,10,15 years. I grew up poor and ‘bootstrapped’ my way out but I still have money anxiety I wouldn’t feel comfortable passing onto any kids. Being a mentor to kids that already exist that I can help TODAY is a much better option for me!

              1. Candi*

                Yay you! I love people who mentor kids who are in need of someone steady in their lives.

                Heck, even the right word at the right time could divert someone from a bad path.

                Keep it up. :)

          3. Xay*

            Exactly. I interview kids for my undergrad and yes, it is impressive when you talk to a student who started a business and mentors teen entrepreneurs while taking 4 AP classes and maintaining a perfect GPA.
            It is equally impressive when I talk to a student who is a first generation immigrant who focuses on school and doesn’t work because they have major responsibilities at home including handling all of the translations for their family because their parents struggle to read and write in English or a rural student who has a 4 hour round trip to get bussed to school and doesn’t work because there are no jobs in their area and their family shares one car.

        2. Scotty Smalls*

          I think the point a lot of us are trying to make is that, dinging high school kids on their scholarship application for not working seems wrong. By all means look at what they did. But they shouldn’t have to explain that they didn’t work because: parents couldn’t afford car insurance, or a car, they lived in the middle of nowhere, highway was dangerous to ride a bike on, the economy wouldn’t allow for high school workers, you needed a work permit from school, there weren’t enough dogs to walk, lawns to mow, or you just plain couldn’t handle taking care of kids. Or the very simple explanation that a lot of parents don’t want their children to work in high school. Most kids, and even their counselors aren’t going to think to explain any of that.

      2. Apollo Warbucks*

        Jen said that without some formal of employment or extra curricular activities it would count against the person. Both of your sisters have plenty of activities they’ve been involved in so I assume they wouldn’t be penalised for not having a formal job.

      3. Jen S. 2.0*

        “Judge them on what they’ve accomplished not on whether or not they earned a dollar.”

        I do. And there are many types of accomplishments that get discussed in these applications, from Eagle Scouts to National Merit Scholarships to school club presidencies to honor rolls…but I also view having gotten some kind of work experience as a teenager as an important accomplishment. That is **especially** true of someone who is now asking me to help fund their college education. I make a point of valuing your effort if you, as the applicant, have done something to put some money toward your college education as well.

        1. Kathlynn*

          And ideas like your last sentence is why I don’t think scholarships and bursaries actually help the poorest people. Rather they help those who have the time and money to actually participate in things. (I grew up on welfare in Canada, and there was no extra money. And any money I earned would be taken off my mom’s check.)

          1. Myrin*

            And any money I earned would be taken off my mom’s check.
            That is such a shitty system, oh my god! My mum had to go on welfare when I was already off-age but my sister was still underage. But while they count as one unit with regards to file number and whatnot, they’re still treated as separate people and my sister’s now earning quite a lot only influences how much money she gets, not my mum. Which I find quite reasonable because it allows children to get money on their own and not be punished for working or being gifted some money. I believe it would be different – or is about to be different, they’re changing some stuff with the laws right now – if my sister suddenly became a millionaire but as it is, they’re handled as two distinct units.

        2. Anon too!*

          “I make a point of valuing your effort if you, as the applicant, have done something to put some money toward your college education as well.”

          So you are basically discounting all of the students who need the scholarships the most. The kids whose families are so poor that they had to stay home as the babysitters while the mom worked? But, given how we discount the value of childcare, that doesn’t seem like a job. Or maybe they are so embarrassed by it that they don’t think to put it on their resume.

          Isn’t the point of scholarships to give people a chance who don’t have one?

          1. neverjaunty*

            Sometimes the point of scholarships is to give prestige and assistance to those who need it the least.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              If I ever become rich, I will make a scholarship that doesn’t do that. And if anyone changes it, I will yank it and find another way to give it so they can ‘t get their grubby little hands on it!!

        3. Observer*

          You seem to be contradicting yourself. You say that you value all types of accomplishments, then you say ” I make a point of valuing your effort if you, as the applicant, have done something to put some money toward your college education as well.”

          So, working at a paying job trumps everything else. And not being able to engage in extra-circulars puts you at the bottom of the heap. You had ONE student who actually admitted to having controlling and abusive parents. How many kids in that situation are going to admit that? How many of them CAN?! Think about it – if your parents are controlling and abusive, they are most likely looking over your application. Do you really think putting that on something your abuser is going to read makes any sense?

          College is one thing. But in high school, there are so many good (or sad but totally legitimate) reasons why a kid would not have a bunch of extracurriculars on their application, without being able to explain it, that’s it’s just stupid, unfair and frankly classist, to ding kids for this.

          1. Lily Rowan*

            So how would you suggest someone evaluating scholarship applications do that? How do you distinguish among all the different possibilities for why a kid’s application would just show her going to school and that’s it? If the kid can’t or won’t explain, the person reading the application can’t tell if she is dealing with depression, or poverty, or laziness, or what. You have to rank applicants in some way.

            1. Observer*

              In high school? To be honest, I’d pretty much ignore it. There is just too much potential there for missing out on the kids who need it the most, and would benefit the most. If the kid were from an immigrant family, from a low income family, lived in a neighborhood with poor public transportation (that even happens in cities with otherwise decent public transportation) or I got the FAINTEST whiff of helicopter or controlling parents, I would definitely ignore it.

        4. Vin Packer*

          For what it’s worth, I grew up poor too, and I’m not furious with you.

          When you’re poor, life is harder for you. It just is. It would be cool if “needs the money” or “is not a rich kid” earned some bonus points for all scholarships, but having no standards or criteria that involve work, community service, or disclosure of some other kind of labor that demonstrates an opportunity will be well-used isn’t practical.

          And appreciating that a job can mean as much or more than AP classes (which my crappy school didn’t have) is actually helpful in a lot of ways too.

    4. Time Immemorial (OP #1)*

      > Also, getting out of college without having earned a dollar by your own hand will cause people to wonder what on earth you were doing with your time during weekends/summers when your peers were working. Playing video games? Watching TV? Just sitting around?

      Likely as not, that will be exactly what he does in his spare time. Finding him not glued to some kind of screen is a rare occurrence indeed.

      1. neverjaunty*

        If the issue is that he just wants to rationalize sitting around playing video games, then might as well be blunt with him about that: it’s a decision he’s free to make, but he’s making the trade-off of games now vs. competitiveness later.

        Of course, as AAM mentioned, people often change a whole lot in college.

    5. Dip-lo-mat*

      Remember us kids of divorce. I didn’t have a paying job until college (and I did not put babysitting on my resume for school or anything else). Why? Every other weekend at Parent B’s, plus a month in the summer and half of every school break. I worked in exchange for things at my barn; volunteered; ran clubs. But paid employment would not work with seeing my dad. I never played a team sport for the same reason.

    6. Allison*

      I didn’t work in high school. My parents wanted me to spend the school year focusing on school and extracurricular (dance and theater) and they only passively encouraged me to get summer jobs, but didn’t really lay on the pressure to work in the summer until I was 18. I didn’t get my first job until I was 19! I did get a little flack for that, my trainer in my first job assumed I’d had other jobs because of my age and was taken aback when I didn’t immediately know how to use the register.

      That said I do wish I’d started doing state house internships much earlier than I did.

      Honestly, I think it’s fine for a teenager to use their weekends and summers to kick back, but I do see how if you’re trying to get into a prestigious college, you need to show that you’ve done something other than school during your teen years.

      Overall, I think there’s a huge difference between graduating high school with no work experience, and graduating college with zero work experience in your desired field.

      1. forte*

        I had to work in high school and college because my parents told me they’d pay for tuition and fees, but I was responsible for my own room and board and books. I lived at home the first two years and attended a branch campus, then transferred to the main campus for my junior and senior year, and was able to pay for my rent and other stuff off the money I’d saved in high school and through college jobs.

        1. Darkitect*

          I think a lot of people are in a similar situation, working out of necessity. I’m not sure that having a job in high school should be a prerequisite for an academic merit scholarship though. Who knows, maybe those kids are now taking summer jobs away from kids that actually need to work.

      2. Observer*

        Overall, I think there’s a huge difference between graduating high school with no work experience, and graduating college with zero work experience in your desired field.

        Really. I would probably edit to say “zero work experience” full stop. But either way, there really is a huge difference between college and high school.

        1. Darkitect*

          Agreed. I came out of undergrad with zero work experience in my desired field. Mainly because there was no work in my town in my desired field. I ended up taking a year off between undergrad and grad school and taking a paid internship in a different city.

    7. Jaydee*

      I think educational institution is usually a factor in hiring decisions long before the actual hiring decision takes place. It comes into play pre-interview. Attending a good school may get you an interview with a slightly lower GPA or slightly less experience than someone from a lower-tier school. It might cause employers to recruit more heavily from your school than from other schools. But it’s not a guarantee of easy employability or your pick of jobs.

    8. Whats In A Name*

      A lot of people are piling on here saying people shouldn’t expect kids to work in high school and I think circumstances dictate different things in high school and this debate could go on all day. Some people can, some people can’t. There are a variety of reasons, from illness to family responsibility to laziness.

      Personally, I worked the last 2 years of high school so that I could afford school lunches, clothes, car insurance, tires, gas, etc. I was given a car when my parents realized they would only get $200 for it on a trade in so I gave up my allowance in exchange for the car and part of the agreement was I was responsible for 100% of the cost of operating a car.

      BUT I still think I was lucky to have the chance to do that. Some kids don’t get an allowance or have an opportunity to “trade” services for a car. Yes I graduated top 10% of my class despite working 30 hours a week but I also know that is NOT a realistic expectation from anyone else.

      The LW though, is specifically asking about COLLEGE. If brother is going to college he will be on campus at some point, even if commuting. I think even finding an on-campus job would be better than nothing at all. We had departments where you could work anywhere from 4 hours – 10 hours a week – depended on what you wanted and what they needed. We had a cap, but it was mega flexible.

    9. Darkitect*

      Have to admit, I find this really depressing; these poor kids have every minute of their lives scheduled. I worked my ASS off in high school and used the summers to decompress. Luckily, I received full tuition undergraduate scholarships at my state school based on my academic merit. I then worked my ASS off in college and used the summers to work retail and decompress. Luckily, I received a half-tuition graduate scholarship at Harvard based on my parents’ financial situation.

      Even with summers off, I feel like a missed a lot of the fun of being a kid, especially in high school. (I graduated in 1997). I’m still not sure it was worth the tradeoff. And now, if kids want any chance of offsetting the egregious costs of college, they have to be “on” at all times.

      1. Caity*

        Thank you, I asked to get a job in high school and my parents said this was the last free time I’d have til I was 65 and I better enjoy it. Also, school took up the same amount of time as a job. Would people expect people with full time jobs to get a part time job?

        I was lucky enough to have a car in high school too, living in a rural community, if you didn’t have one you weren’t going anywhere. My boyfriend had a car but had exactly enough money just to get to and from school and JROTC commitments that precluded a job but got him into one of the best military colleges in the country. When he wasn’t doing that he was going scrapping with his dad to put food on the table.

        1. forte*

          Oh damn, I got that speech when I was 11. At 12, I had to start babysitting my two younger cousins from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. every weekday during the summer for $20 a day so I could start saving for college. I did that until I was 16 and then I was expected to get a real job, i.e. McDonald’s.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          Would people expect people with full time jobs to get a part time job?

          Well TBF, plenty of people have to do that because their full-time jobs don’t pay squat. But in my experience, I really think it depends on the kid. Some kids can manage their time and handle a job better than others.

          1. Darkitect*

            It’s not always simply managing time. Some students have significantly heavier academic work loads than others and it interference with the ability to handle a job.

    10. Ineloquent*

      What I’m getting from this thread is that I was insanely lucky to get high school credit as well as money for the part time jobs I had in high school. I feel like that should be an option at more schools – it’s probably way more useful than some of the electives currently available…

      Kudos to everyone who was able to work even in difficult circumstances. It does suck a lot for everyone who was prevented from doing so, but would have if things had worked out to allow it. However, I’m with everyone who has said that they’d pretty much always hire the person with experience, even unrelated or in low level jobs. No one owes anyone a job, no matter how crappy the applicant’s background was. The hiring manager has a responsibility to get the best possible bang for their buck – that means finding someone who is most likely to get up to speed fastest, based on the limited information available.

      No one wants to screw over the people who have had it tough. No one on this thread is a heartless monster. Opportunity breeds opportunity – it’s just the reality of the way the world works.

    11. Emmbee*

      Some of my literal best life memories are from the summer jobs I had in high school and college. From that perspective alone, I feel bad for kids who don’t work (at least during the summers) if they have the means/opportunity to do so. You learn SO much about yourself, and life, and other people. (And yes, I was salutatorian, took AP classes, ran two clubs, and played varsity sports for 2 out of 3 seasons. Still worked two – yes, 2 – full-time jobs every summer from age 17-21, and one full-time job starting at age 14.)

    12. gmg*

      I’m finding this whole conversation interesting because I assumed the question of whether to work and why would fall much more simply along the dividing lines of well-off kids (who don’t need to work) vs poor kids (who do). Instead it seems that a job is an irritating surplus requirement for the most well-off teens BUT at the same time an unattainable luxury for many others. So I appreciate the many comments that made that divide more clear. I worked as a teen, but I had parents who encouraged me to do so and drove me to work as needed. I took that for granted.

      My dad taught high school, and when I was a kid in the 1980s his summer gig was counseling low-income kids in a state-sponsored summer jobs program. I’d like to think such programs still exist, but maybe they don’t, and if they don’t, that’s a real shame. It wasn’t just “show up to work” — the program helped kids find transportation, the counselors would talk to their parents as needed to help get and keep them on board, and anything else that was needed (I even remember my dad arranging for a kid from a troubled home to be able to take showers and do laundry at his workplace). I know that for the kids who participated, this was a valuable experience that helped pave the way to adult life, whether it be college or straight to work.

    13. Indoor Cat*

      Just throwing this out there: everyone has different abilities and different values and that’s fine.

      So, when I was in high school, I went to a fairly average, large-ish public school (about 1200-1600 students total). In school I did a mix of AP classes, art classes, normal (CP) classes, and independent studies (which were much easier than any class). I did drama club either 1/3 or 2/3 of the year, depending on how many plays I got into. Aaaaaand that’s it.

      Other than that, I read a lot of books, made YouTube videos with my friends, drew pictures, hosted Open Mic nights, wrote stand-up material, poetry, and short-stories to read at Open Mic nights, and ran the Literary Magazine that came out once or twice a year. Many Fridays after school, we’d hang out in my kitchen and improvise recipes like “salami pasta” or “deep fried cupcakes.” I made a lot of close friends. I spoke at graduation and got a standing ovation, and people laughed at the funny parts. I never had a paying job.

      My family was staunchly lower-middle-class. Not at all poor–we had a house and two cars, good health insurance, and lived in a safe, if weathered, neighborhood. We went on summer vacations, but to a state park, or a weekend at a lake, not Disney World. My parents didn’t have enough money to pay for everyone to go to college, but I was able to get a tuition waiver if I went to the State University where my Dad worked, so that’s where I went.

      I was in Honors. I graduated with a 3.1 GPA. In college, I did work–I did freelance writing, tutoring through the campus library, and had a summer internship at a regional publishing company.

      Fast forward to now: I’m 24. I graduated in December; it’s May now. Though I’ve only been out of school for six months, I’m already living on my own, making ends meet and saving a bit. I’m a freelance writer, mostly writing grant proposals for non-profits, technical manuals, and blog content / marketing materials. I’m also a theatrical designer and teacher for a regional Children’s theater company. I work no more than 30-hours a week. My writing averages out to about $50/hour. My theater works pays a lot less than that, but it’s more fulfilling.

      I still have a lot of free time to work on personal art projects, socialize, and do other things I find valuable and important. While I’m not exactly rolling in it, I feel good about where my life is at right now, and I feel like I can build up my career over time.

      All of this to say: don’t kill yourself in high school, yeah? That’s…dumb. Doing six AP classes, extracurriculars, and a part-time job is, er, unnecessary. You don’t need to do it. You’ll be fine without all those things.

  10. Belle*

    I also prefer not to give out my cell phone for business purposes. I just forward my office phkne to my cell on days I need to be available outside of normal Business hours (such as events). This way a client doesn’t have my personal number but can still reach me. This might also be an option for some.

    1. Al Lo*

      I work with many events as both client and organizer, and my initial mode of communication during an event is almost always texting. It’s easier than finding a quiet place to have a conversation. I can’t imagine not being accessible during an event, and I really dislike having to allocate my staff to run around trying to find someone when they’re not available when I need them.

      I would want to know that your phone was forwarded and you (presumably) couldn’t receive texts. It’s a valid way of doing things, but means that I need to adjust my way of getting in touch with you (leave my event, find a quieter space, find a less quiet space [if I need to get in touch during a panel or something], or whatever).

      Having a cell number available during an event doesn’t seem unreasonable at all — it’s pretty necessary. If nothing else, the employee can get a Google Voice number that she only uses for those instances, and she turns off notifications at all other times.

      1. Drew*

        I agree with you and with Bookworm, below. It is not unreasonable to tell an employee attending an event that they must have a way to be reachable during that event. If this employee won’t set up a Google Voice number and won’t consent to providing their cell number to the organizer, I think it’s fair to warn the employee that this is a seriously career-limiting move, because you won’t be able to send them to future events.

    2. Penny*

      Absolutely the organiser needs to have a cell phone number that the employee has. There could be all sorts of issues that come up while, for instance, the employee is travelling to the event, that should be dealt with as soon as possible.

      However, I agree with others that if it is a requirement, than the employer should be willing to have an office cell-phone that the employee can use if they are not willing to use their own phone. But this then leads onto questions as to what happens if someone tries to contact the company via that phone – who is responsible for ensuring it is answered then?

    3. sam*

      we have something similar at my office – once set up, I can push a button on my office phone and my cellphone becomes another “extension” of my desk phone – so it’s not forwarding, per se (it rings immediately and concurrently, rather than waiting for the desk phone to ring and then flipping over to my cell). I can turn it on or off at my choice.

      But it’s incredibly handy – I can avoid giving out my personal cellphone number if I don’t feel comfortable (my regular colleagues have my cellphone, but for more tenuous connections, it’s good to have the option),

      Even better, if I call someone in my office FROM my cellphone, the caller ID on THEIR desk phone makes it look like I’m calling from my office. That has confused my boss a few times when he knows I’m not in my office right across the hall from his :)

    4. Queen Anon*

      My cell phone number is my home number. It’s private. I would be very angry if an employer gave out my private number to a client for any reason. If they want me to be available to clients after hours, they should provide a cell phone to me. My home number is sacrosanct. (And even if I did have a land line – my cell phone number is still a personal, private number and it’s up to me to decide who may have it. It’s not a business phone.)

      A Google Voice number and forwarding the office number to the cell phone are both excellent ideas and if I were in the OP’s situation, I’d use them, but I still think the onus is on the employer to provide a business cell phone to any employees who need to be reachable by clients away from the office. Not to do so is petty and unreasonable.

      In no law firm were I’ve ever worked would anyone give out an attorney’s cell phone number to a client – or even other attorneys outside the firm – without their express permission – either blanket permission for any client or on a case-to-case basis, as the attorney saw fit. (Not an attorney myself; just worked at a lot of law firms.)

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I agree–if this were a one-time thing, forwarding would be the best way to go, but the OP said it happens four or five times a year. Who’s to say it might not be more at some point? If the employer were not willing to compromise somehow, I’d seriously consider whether I wanted this job.

        At Exjob, we did not give out anyone’s cell either. If someone called for BullyBoss or GM and they were at a trade show, etc., I would take a message and call their cells. Presumably, they could then decide if they wanted their numbers on the person’s caller ID or preferred to handle it when they got back to the office.

        1. MegaMoose, Esq*

          I used to be in the “what’s the big deal?” camp on occasionally (or even frequently) using a personal cell phone for work, but you are 100% right to have issues with BYOD policies. I am seeing younger attorneys increasingly move toward dual phones in a full-circle sort of trend for a profession that was an early adopter of cell technology.

        2. Melissa B*

          Also, most people will save the number and assume they can use that one in the future if they can’t reach you at your work phone. That’s the main reason I try not to give my personal cell number to clients unless I absolutely have to.

  11. phoneuser*

    Re the cellphone. I think it is 100% unreasonable as I do not HAVE a cellphone. (Even a dumbphone). I much prefer the call quality of a “regular” phone.

    1. phoneuser*

      I should add that once when it was needed I forwarded my desk phone to my house for a day or two but it is really never needed in my line of work. Nor would I freely give out an unlisted number to strangers. Would rather defeat the point of paying to have it unlisted.

    2. Al Lo*

      But an event is different. At a trade show, or a conference, or a rally, or a gala, or whatever, it’s 100% reasonable for a client or partner to be able to reach an employee wherever they are during the event — which, in my experience, isn’t anywhere tied to a landline. If your job doesn’t require that, that’s fine, but it’s a pretty integral part of a job dealing with those kinds of events.

      1. Colette*

        I agree it’s reasonable to be reachable before/during an event, but I’ve also had issues with people saving phone numbers and using them days or weeks later. If I thought the client might do that, I’d be reluctant to give out my number. Ideally, the business could make a phone available.

        1. Anon Acountant*

          THIS!! And that’s the driving factor behind why the employee says she “doesn’t want to be available 24/7”. I can almost guarantee it.

          Google Voice can be an option but I can see where she’s coming from, especially if she’s had issues with that before.

          1. MikeP*

            Google Voice isn’t an option if you’re in a country that doesn’t offer it. LW didn’t say where they lived.

            My own position is if I’m needed to be reached by cell – regardless of the hour – for work-related purposes, then work should provide me with a cell, and I’ll give that number out when it seems warranted, with the caveat that they should try my desk phone first in any case. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to say “if this event is important enough I need to be immediately and directly reachable, then it’s important enough to provide me with a cell phone during.”

        2. INTP*

          Yes, when I was recruiting as an independent contractor I NEVER gave job candidates my personal phone number. I used a google voice number. There are people that are flat-out crazy, or just feel entitled to your time.

          I think google voice is a great option assuming this employee has a smartphone and is in the US. It’s easy to use, the recipient never sees your phone number, and if it all gets too overwhelming, you can just delete the app entirely and become unavailable. Instead of pushing back about defiance and teamwork, I think the OP should hear out the employee’s opposition to sharing her phone number and suggest solutions like this to work around them.

      2. the gold digger*

        it’s 100% reasonable for a client or partner to be able to reach an employee wherever they are during the event

        Then the employer can provide the employee with a phone. If it’s a requirement of the job, the employer needs to pay for it.

        1. INTP*

          I do have to agree with this. If I were the employee I’d probably just set up a google voice number and deal, but if the employer wants to make it a requirement they should be willing to pay for it. If this is really just a 4-5 times per year occurrence, then it shouldn’t cost much at all to set up a pay-as-you-go phone for this purpose.

          1. OlympiasEpiriot*

            I wasn’t sure which was the reason from the posted question.

            I agree with those saying the company should supply a phone or a forwarding-to-mobile option to eliminate someone having to give out a personal number.

            Also, although they are rarer these days due to the available plans, many people have limited minutes and taking work calls could put them over their plan. The job should reimburse for that.

      3. Anon 2*

        Exactly. You must be reachable.

        And if we had an employee who didn’t have a cell phone then we’d be telling them to get one. You simply can’t function appropriately without one these days. To me this is no different than expecting an employee to travel for work. It’s part of the job. However, I do think that if a cell phone is required it should be disclosed during the interview process. Because I do think it gets overlooked frequently during that process.

        1. Vizzini*

          Do you expect your employees to provide desks, chairs, light bulbs, computers, printers, paper, paperclips, envelopes, stamps, etc.. to do their jobs? Do your employees have to personally purchase Microsoft Office licenses? Do you make your employees pay for the landline or VOIP system at your office?

          1. Anon 2*

            No, but those are items are that are needed on a daily basis and for every employee.

            Where I work a select group of staff need a cell phone for 3-4 weeks a year. It makes no sense to purchase equipment and plans for such limited time frames, especially as it’s not cost-effective (and we do cover call/text/data usage that exceeds whatever plan the employee is on during those times) and it’s a complete hassle for the organization and the employee. We provide cell phones for a very small and very select group of employees who need to be reached via cell phone the majority of the time.

            There are often expenses associated with jobs. The same way that you buy certain clothes for a specific dress code, or you purchase a car because you need reliable consistent transportation (and public transit is not available). This is just one more thing.

            1. INTP*

              It actually wouldn’t be expensive to buy a set of prepaid phones and refill the minutes and texts once a year. You don’t have to buy a smartphone and a plan every time. Refusal to do things like this comes across as, “This is not important enough to business to be worth company money, but it IS worth YOUR money.” (Granted, I started my career in California and the view of it being okay for companies to pass on the cost of doing business to employees in the rest of the US is a bit horrifying to me as a result but in this case there’s certainly a cost-effective way to provide employees with phones if the company actually cared to.)

            2. Observer*

              This is not the same as dress code requirements. (And, in California you are legally required to either provide the phone or reimburse the person for use of the phone.)

              I deal with cell phone plans on a regular basis. If you are already providing cell phones to a few people, then adding one shared phone that issued to people on an as needed basis is really not a big deal. It shouldn’t cost too much and it’s not THAT much paperwork. And, I don’t say that lightly.

            3. Vizzini*

              Not cost-effective? You can buy a prepaid cellphone at Walmart with a free month of unlimited minutes and data for $30. Buy some phones, then buy time when you need to use them.

              Just because it’s not an everyday expense for the business doesn’t mean you should foist it on your employees.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          Nope nope nope.

          You want me to use a phone for my job; you provide it. That’s a work phone. For work.

          I have huge reservations about BYOD. If you need me to use a phone to check email, etc. and it gets lost or stolen and you have to wipe it to protect company data (completely understandable, btw), I do NOT want my own device bricked.

          1. miss_chevious*

            This is exactly my position. My place of employment is allowing BYOD, in part because people want the newest fanciest thing and the company doesn’t want the hassle of dealing with upgrades, but I personally am firmly against it.

            My personal phone is my personal phone and is not used for work, ever, which means I do not have to turn it over to the company to protect company information, or to respond to litigation holds, or because they want it. Likewise, it is easy to keep my personal business off the company phone. I haven’t downloaded social media to my work phone, I rarely take pictures on it, I don’t listen to music or video with it. Not to mention, having two separate devices makes it easy for me to disconnect from work on vacation or in the evening.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        My job finds it reasonable to require that I use a computer, so they provide one. If you find it reasonable to require your employee to have a cellphone, you should provide one.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Theoretically, sure. In practice, using your own cell on occasion has come to be accepted in most fields as a really normal thing to expect employees to do. In the fields where it’s a norm, it’s going to look really strange and out of touch to flat-out refuse to do it.

          1. OlympiasEpiriot*

            I have a really bright line between my work and my personal things, to the point of even keeping books related to my profession mostly at the office and those few that are at home are on a different shelf than any others.

            I’m curious as to what fields are in this “most” list. There is a large risk in using a personal device for work from a privacy perspective. These devices are so porous that adding in perhaps well-maintained (but perhaps not) enterprise server connections or other password-access just makes them even more so. Then there is the issue of privacy in that the employer has a right of access to the device, to wipe it and reset when the employee leaves, to access the memory, the files, etc. At the minutae end of problems, there’s a contact list that contains people from work and people from one’s personal life. I don’t want that and I know that my personal device doesn’t have a good option to make sub-categories for the contact list.

            I guess I’m lucky (?) that my company is still willing to provide a device. Otherwise I’d have to buy a separate one and argue with the IRS that it was necessary.

            1. Callietwo*

              This was what I was coming to say- there are very serious legal reasons why I would ~never~ mix my personal cell and my work. If something should happen, my phone could be confiscated for legal reasons and my company would have the right to do so, lawyers would have the right to subpoena my phone, etc. No way, no how. My company provides anyone with a need with a device, but if not, I would not be willing to use it.

              My husband’s company does not provide him a cell phone and he does not provide them with his number but then he has a very contentious relationship with his employer which is far too long to talk about here. But they do not have his cell number. (And he blocked his employer from our home phone about six years ago- again very long story but they know they’re lucky they have him at all so they leave that one alone)

          2. Rusty Shackelford*

            I think there’s a huge difference between using my own cell and providing my personal cell number to clients. Sure, I’d have no problem using my phone to communicate with the office. My manager and admin have my number, and call/text me when needed. But if either of them gave that number to a client, I’d consider it very inappropriate. Of course, I don’t work in a field where this is a norm. But if I did, why wouldn’t my employer either provide a separate phone, or let me transfer my work phone to my personal cell? Since neither of those is prohibitively expensive or difficult, can’t refusing to do so kind of makes the employer look either lazy or cheap?

            1. nonegiven*

              My husbands work used to provide a cell phone and everyone had a list of all the phones, cell and home. The after hours phone service got a little fast and loose handing out personal numbers to callers, they were supposed to make the call themselves, to whoever was on call. DH had a come to Jesus talk with the CEO about handing out our landline to anyone that asked.

    3. chickabiddy*

      You can buy a prepaid phone that accepts texts for about $20 and then pay $10/month for minimal service. I have thought this through, lol. I have a client who, for several reasons, I would not want to give my personal information to. If it becomes necessary, I will buy a cheap prepaid, and if I have to burn it later, I will consider it $20 well spent.

      1. Anonophone*

        I was thinking this too, but in the sense that the employer really needs to foot this cost themselves.

        This would also avoid the same issue happening down the track with someone else but more critically for the business would avoid any awkward situation if the client rings a personal number down the track (like an unprofessional answering message, or call screening, or misdial etc)

      2. Trout 'Waver*

        I was going to suggest this as well. You can get a ‘burner’ prepaid cell phone for ~$10 per event. Just buy the employee a burner phone for the event and chalk it up as the cost of doing business.

        People with firm boundaries between work and home live usually have them in place for a specific reason.

        1. my two cents*

          Sort of treating the Tracphone like a really nice walkie-talkie, and then make it available to any other employees in a similar position.

          I think you can even get the calling card style phones still at Target (no monthly fee)…maybe?

    4. Brussels manager*

      #3. I have to disagree too. If it’s my private cellphone I should not need to share it for work reasons. And I don’t expect my team to be available either. Now if being in contact is a must, then the company can provide a cell phone for the event (or more than one). That’s what my company does. We have a phone that only works in events. And hotels / venues we work with have also sometimes provided us with phones for the duration of the event.

      1. CellPhonesAreExpensive*

        I second this comment. I have limited minutes and data on my phone as we manage it carefully for personal use. If someone were to text high resolution photos, for example – it would end up blowing my budget. I would not mind being reachable at the event, but would not be OK with the incremental cost of the cell usage being billed to me personally.

      2. neverjaunty*

        But the employee didn’t say she refused to use her cellphone for work – only that she refused to use her cellphone for work at specified times.

        1. WorkingMom*

          I would suspect, like other folks have commented above, that the employee might be worried about customers, clients, vendors, etc saving her cell number and using it regularly. That would be my concern, after all. If I were her manager, I would review what my expectations are. That I expect she will share the number with those who need it for the event, and state when I share it, “so you can reach me the evening of the event should there be an emergency.” Then, if that number calls her a week later during any time of day (when there is not an event with that person), that I would not expect her to answer it. I would want the employee to understand that she is not expected to answer work calls on her call unless it’s in the pre-arranged circumstance of an event, that requires the urgent communication. Period. Make sure she understands that, then maybe she’ll be more comfortable.

          1. ES*

            There is simply no reason for a company ever to distribute an employee’s personal phone number to customers, or to require them (in these days of texting and data) to use their own text and data allowances and storage for the boss’s convenience. Particularly now that many people have only a mobile number.

            It doesn’t matter whether the employee is “not expected to answer work calls” on their personal mobile, the issue is those calls and texts coming in on a private line, potentially at disruptive and inconvenient times.

            If it really matters to the company to have someone on a mobile available, no matter how often or why, the company can solve that problem without requiring employees to give up on private personal phone numbers. Our Erudite Hostess writes, “[I]t’s 100% legal to require her to do it,” but I wonder what happens with this 100% legal idea if the employee in question does not have a mobile phone.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Well, it would be legal for them to require that she have/obtain a cell phone as a condition of the job. Some jobs do come with that expectation/requirement.

              But normally if it’s not needed very often, a reasonable employer wouldn’t do that.

    5. Purest Green*

      I have a cellphone, but purchased a plan that has limited minutes per month which I could not afford to use for work unless my employer agreed to reimburse the overage cost.

    6. NotAnotherManager!*

      But surely you realized that, in 2016, you’re the exception and that most people prefer the convenience of having a phone with them at all times to the better call quality of a landline? I don’t recall the last time I ran into someone who didn’t have a cell phone at all, and a lot of people at work now text rather than calling.

      It would make the most sense for me for the employer to provide a company phone for these types of events. I actually think it would be more convenient for the clients/vendors to have one number that is just held by the responsible contact for that event.

    7. Observer*

      If you don’t need it in your line of work, that’s fine. But, that really, really doesn’t fly if you are in a line work where part of your job requires you to be away from a land line but still reachable.

  12. Bookworm*

    OP #1: I want to second Alison’s thought that your brother will likely change his thinking on this. For many people, the high school experience is designed around encouraging them to get into a “good” college. It can be presented as a be-all, end-all and give students tunnel vision.

    I’m sure it’s true that some people don’t ever shake the belief that a pedigreed education is the most important thing, but I think the vast majority of people do.

    In my experience, the idea that your education is a trump card is more common among high school seniors (who have just spent four – maybe seven – years being psyched up on the importance of college) than it is among college seniors.

  13. NewHerePleaseBeNice*

    If a mobile phone is a requirement for a job, then surely the employer should provide that phone? There is no way I would provide my personal number, that I pay for, to work contacts.

    1. Bookworm*

      I’ve never used a mobile phone for work, so I don’t know what the standards are…but I could see the employer just setting up a Google Voice account and directing it to your phone. That doesn’t seem unreasonable.

      1. Cookie*

        Not a good idea. If the google voice calls are directed to your personal cell phone, it could still lead to your own phone being subpoenaed. Best to use an employer provided phone.

        1. OlympiasEpiriot*

          Ahhhhh. I didn’t even think of that. YET ANOTHER reason to not use my personal device for work.

          (Not that I get subpoenaed on a regular basis, but my company does end up part of suits…It could be me.)

      2. NewHerePleaseBeNice*

        I think it is unreasonable – certainly here in the UK if an employee is expected to use a phone for work, the employer provides that phone. Asking an employee to forward calls to their personal mobile is as much as no-no as asking the employee to give out their personal number. The exception to this would be if the employee agreed to this in exchange for being allowed to claim some of the cost of running their mobile back as expenses.

    2. Enleft*

      If that works for you, great.

      I would never want to carry more than one phone. Having to charge both, keeping track, remembering to check both, etc. Seems more trouble than it would be worth.

      HR specifically told me I wasn’t required to use my phone for work, but I’m away from my desk a lot and it easier to deal with a lot of things as they come than run back to my desk to check and respond to a bunch of emails.

      1. Al Lo*

        Yup. I use my own cell phone for work for all of those reasons. I also write off a certain amount of the bill on my taxes (Canadian; from what I understand, the qualifications are different in the U.S.), so I feel like I’m not giving a benefit that doesn’t come back to me somehow. I’m offsite a lot and absolutely need to be able to get in touch with a lot of different people. There are emails that I need to access, certainly, but I also have the phone numbers of at least 50 people from work in my phone that I text or call regularly.

      2. hbc*

        Seems like it could easily be a choice. Having to carry two phones four or five times a year isn’t a big burden, and sounds like it’s a short enough time that you could just charge it once.

        I think the burden depends on how likely those customers/clients are to abuse the phone number outside of the narrow window they’re supposed to use it, how private you are with your phone, whether you can use an app that connects seamlessly to your phone but obscures your number, etc..

        I don’t think you can go into this saying, “No, I don’t want to give out my number *and* two phones is a burden *and* I have no other options to give you, so the client will just have to deal if there’s a last minute snafu.”

      3. neverjaunty*

        YMMV, but it’s very standard in my field for people to have both a work and a personal mobile phone for security reasons.

        1. NotAnotherManager!*

          Yep, my husband works for a federal agency that doesn’t allow use of personal devices for security reasons.

          And also because if the company’s data is ever required to be collected for litigation or investigatory purposes, they will collect all of your personal data from the device as part of that. Text messages, in particular, are all stored in one database, and there is no way to collect only your work-related texts. Many people I know who have two phones do it to completely segregate their personal and work data.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          Same here. Plus, I carry two phones in case one bricks (one of them is a British PAYG phone that doesn’t work in the US, but I can Skype on it over wi-fi). So if I had to do this for my job, it wouldn’t be a big deal. If I had to do it four or five times a year only, I wouldn’t consider that a big inconvenience. Certainly less so than dealing with work calls on my personal cell.

    3. Anonophone*

      Agreed 100%. I wonder if this a US thing though? I’m in Aus and it would be rare for an employer not to offer to provide a mobile if a mobile is required.

    4. aelle*

      I agree. The company can get a cheap dumbphone and a prepaid card if a cellphone is really necessary.

      In a previous job, I attended a lot of events and I regularly had clients or prospects get inappropriate with me – basically use the professional contact information I distributed to hit on me, sometimes bordering on harassment. It would have been a nightmare if on top of it all my personal contact details had been widely disseminated. Also, if she has a smartphone, the ever-shifting privacy settings of a number of apps may mean that professional contacts will be able to find her more easily on social media – also not necessarily something you want.

    5. ReanaZ*

      Yeah. I think this answer is off the mark. It is 100% unreasonable for an employer to expect an employee to give out their personal mobile number to clients. Ugh, this squicks me out. I would absolutely refuse to do this to the point of leaving the job if I had to. I’ve been able to use a forwarding number in the past as a work around but I am still pissed about it. If you want your employees available by mobile, give them a mobile. (Or have a team one available to whoever is current ‘on call’ for events.)

      Having been stalked, abused, and assaulted, my personal contact information is not something that’s I’m cool with throwing around wily-nilly.

      1. Clewgarnet*

        I used to work one week in three on-call. If the customer couldn’t get hold of whoever was actually on-call ‘fast’ enough (SLA was call back within 30 minutes – customer usually wanted instant response) they’d call every other number they had, no matter whether it was 2pm or 2am.

        That was a work phone but I couldn’t just turn it off because I needed to be an escalation point for other engineers.

        Eventually, we got a single on-call phone that was passed between the three of us, and we had to change all our individual work numbers to stop customers calling them.

        After that experience, there’s no way in hell I’d give my personal number to a customer. I don’t think it’s at all unreasonable for the company to provide a cheap PAYG phone to whoever’s covering events. If the company refused to do that, I’d probably buy my own cheap PAYG phone that I could turn off the rest of the time.

        1. newby*

          Exactly. Some clients will save the number and use it later even if they should not. A prepaid phone is cheap and would fix the problem without potentially violating the employee’s privacy.

    6. Marmalade*

      Yeah, I feel the same way. I don’t know if it would be a dealbreaker, but I really wouldn’t be comfortable with giving my personal number to clients.

    7. Camellia*

      Plus there is the whole issue that if you use it for work and then leave, the employer could possibly demand access to wipe the phone, etc.

      1. NotAnotherManager!*

        This is becoming less common as mobile-device management software has improved. If you’re using ActiveSync to get mail, yes, this could be a problem. If your company is using MDM software, this can usually “sandbox” your phone so the work email is in one place that can be targeted for wipe. I’m not sure about text messages, as those are typically stored in a single database, but the full-phone wipe isn’t as much of an issue as it used to be.

        1. Observer*

          That assumes that the employer IS using a good MDM software, and has it set up that way.

          Employers who are not willing to pay for a cheap phone for events are not likely to be paying for a good MDM system and the related set-up costs to protect their employee’s data. There are exceptions, but I would not count on it.

    8. blackcat*

      I actually like the idea of a single phone/phone number for the “point person” at events. The company could get a pay as you go phone and load it up with minutes/text/whatever just for events. That could even be *easier* for outside people (clients, customers, etc) to deal with–they could just store one “events” phone number for the company.

      1. blackcat*

        Oops, and someone had this idea above. I hadn’t reloaded…

        Consider this another vote for that option!

      2. Anon 2*

        Except that doesn’t work. Particularly for large events.

        Not every question is appropriate for every staff person. And no one point person can answer the huge swath of questions that come during large events. I am not the correct person to be discussing an issue with an attendee who is having a meltdown at the hotel check-in desk, and another staff person is not the appropriate person to be addressing the concerns of a board member. By providing one number we would be making the situation far more complicated and cumbersome than it needs to be.

        Where I work, we provide individual cell phone numbers, and then have one landline number in a central location. The landline number is the number given out to random people who aren’t a part of the event, and then the key event personnel (key volunteers, staff at the hotel/convention center, etc.) get individual cell phone numbers for the specific staff person who is most likely to be able to answer their question.

        I do like the idea of setting up a google voice number if someone is uncomfortable providing a personal cell phone number. I think that could be a good compromise.

    9. SMT*

      This is what my work does; we have one (cheap) cell phone that must be carried by the manager on duty – so it gets passed around during the day. Whenever someone calls that number, there is someone to answer the phone.

      This also helps when personnel changes – you don’t have to change the contact information for that venue.

    10. Grey*

      Yes. I’d also be uncomfortable sharing my personal cell number with a client. I don’t have a landline so it’s essentially my home number. That needs to stay private.

      1. Q*

        I agree. In my experience, once that client has a personal cell phone number there is no going back, nothing to stop the calls anytime they want. No way would I use my own, and as a manager, I wouldn’t even think to put my employee in this position by giving out her personal number without permission.

    11. NotAnotherManager!*

      A lot of employers will provide a device subsidy in lieu of phone (at least that’s what my employer does). We get $X/year and are expected to have an email-capable mobile device that can be used to contact us. All exempt staff are included in this program, and are expected to be reachable.

      I don’t see requiring contact information as any different than having reliable transportation. If people need to be able to reach you away from your office, you have to come up with some sort of solution so that’s possible and not just say NO, if that is a requirement of your job. (If it’s not a requirement of your job, that’s a different story.)

    12. Kiki*

      I’d give my personal cell number to work clients…if I was considering going out on my own. They’d still be able to contact me without going through my former employer.

    13. Candi*

      (In our area, from Target)

      Tracphone cell : $20 + sales tax
      Prepaid cards: $20 – $60 + sales tax (the $10 ones don’t have enough minutes for more then bare usage)
      Each card is good for 90 service days, full stop, plus whatever minutes.

      You can also buy minutes and service online or through the phone, as long as you have the number.

      Source: The phones I got my kids starting when they were twelve. No way was I putting them on my plan without a trial run. (Since my son bricked two, and my daughter last three, I think it was a good call.)

      Verizon also has a prepaid plan now, but I don’t know the details of it; I just saw the ad at the store.

  14. Uyulala*

    #3 – If they employee just doesn’t want tomorrow use their own phone, could you get her a company’s paid phone that she I’d required tomorrow carry during their needed times? That’s what you would need tomorrow do if she didn’t have a phone android that would make their transition easier if she ever leaves that role.

    1. JaneB*

      My department owns two basic cell phones on pay as you go plans which it gives to colleagues who feel this way – some don’t have phones of their own, some prefer not to give out their number ever, others worry about specific clients or about taking their nice personal phones into parts of the city… Simple, and avoids a lot of prima Donna behaviour (I work with academics, we’re excellent at that! Drama llamas all)

    2. Cristina in England*

      Came here to say the same. Sounds like there are regular outside events. Why not just get an office cell that anyone takes with them to events?

    3. Anonophone*

      Yes, agreed!

      It would also ensure the company owns the number so the client is able to contact the company on the same number next time.

    4. Anonhippopotamus*

      Exactly! I travel a lot for work and clients ask for my number all of the time. I do not have a company phone, so I am really only giving my personal number out of good faith. My company cannot oblige me to do that without giving me a company phone that I can turn off when I’m not expected to be reachable. So far my clients don’t bug me on weekends or holidays but it happens quite frequently to some of my colleagues.

    5. Dr. Johnny Fever*

      Exactly. If she must be available, give her a paid phone and give the expectation.

      If this is her personal phone, leave her alone. Do you know where those lists go? I still gets occasional calls from a sheet that listed my personal mobile five years ago, unbeknownst to me. Giving her nu ber anyway is super stinky especially since she already refused.

      You have authority, but pick your battles and consider your solutions. Are you using your authority responsibly?

  15. Cat steals keyboard*

    #2 They should have a clear policy and have given you media training. Sorry your boss is being pass ag about this.

    1. Mike C.*

      Seriously this. Not only is the mind-reading part absolute BS, but journalists are trained professi0nals and you need some training to ensure that you’re not being jerked around or being taken advantage of.

  16. Sue Wilson*

    #1 If you want to work on wall street and you’ve gone to an ivy league, then no, you need absolutely no experience to get hired. The way wall street firms scouted my university for fresh meat was quite frankly startling, they seemed willing, and this seemed to bear out, to take people (who honestly didn’t have experience unless they needed to work, ime) based on name of school alone. For everything else, get experience, if possible.

    #2 Are you only asking your boss if you can talk or are you asking also what you can say? If the latter, “use your best judgment” might have meant content not the choice to talk at all. At any rate, I prefer “I’m sorry” to “I apologize” since “I’m sorry” lends itself more to “excuse me, I don’t understand” while still being polite.

    #3 I mean, I would 100% be mad about giving my personal cell phone out to people I could not personally vet. That said, tell your employee to get a google voice number which can route to her phone. And make sure there’s not an upsetting reason for this. The last thing you want is to stop someone’s process for getting rid of a stalker or something.

    1. aelle*

      #3 – that is, if Google Voice is an authorized service in her company – my industry has an almost industry-wide ban on all Google services except for the search engine, for intellectual property protection reasons. Same for Skype, Dropbox, and pretty much any non-vetted communication or storage service.

      (Although a company that wants you to do business on your private devices probably doesn’t have these kinds of concerns!)

    2. E*

      I have the opposite experience re: internships – I attend a Harvard-esque school and 90% of the people I know who got hired on Wall Street received a full time offer during their internship after junior year. The process is ruthlessly competitive even among the super wealthy applicants, and not having any work experience would be a total nonstarter unless you’re the kid of the Goldman president.

      Also, I bet OP’s brother will change his mind – it’s almost unheard of for people not to intern all three summers. The campus is an internship applying frenzy from November – April, and I bet he’ll feel left out if he’s not part of that.

    3. Candi*

      #1 -I honestly wonder if this kid reads old stories( or watches old movies), or is getting advice from someone who does. That’s the kind of thing that happens in some of those old stories (which also might have a touch of wish fulfillment).

      Back (way, way back) when degrees were thin on the ground, I could see hiring someone without experience who had the right degree. They would also either bring connections or a driving force to improve themselves, both good for the company.

      Nowadays -nope, nope, nope. Lots of degreed peoples to choose from. It takes more, especially outside of the really shiny schools.

  17. Cat steals keyboard*

    #1 If you come from a good school and have no work experience, it suggests you don’t understand the value of work experience and have an over-inflated sense of your own value to employers.

    1. Time Immemorial (OP #1)*

      It’s like you’ve met him.

      His objection to internships, as far as I can tell, is that he thinks he’ll be made to do the work of a full-time employee without getting paid. I think this happened like once in Florida, where neither of us lives. Also, he said something about how Europeans work less than Americans (we are American), but they still get the same amount of stuff done, and that working less is somehow better. I really hope you guys are right and he’ll grow out of it because he sure as heck ain’t living in my basement when we’re thirty.

      1. Myrin*

        You can tell him from a German, then: Where he likely heard the Europeans thing is when talking about our holidays. As far as I can tell, we not only have more federal holidays than the US, but also many more vacation days (I think 25 if the required minimum around here?). Purely from reading this site, I also feel like we are, as a culture/people, more invested in a work-life balance with stricter boundaries between the two; I guess that’s where the “working less is better” comment comes from – of course it’s better to not work yourself down to the bone than do exactly that.

        So, yeah, in that sense, we do work less and still generally get stuff done reasonably well. You’d still have a more or less big advantage if you already have some work experience under your belt here as well. Your brother also, if he feels like comparing to other countries, needs to keep in mind that our whole educational as well as work system is extremely different from the US one so there’s only so much he really can use for comparison there.

      2. Liane*

        I don’t know if it is still commonplace, but he could see if his Great U. has a Cooperative Education program/department. These provide semesters of paid internships alternating with coursework semesters.

        1. Liane*

          Forgot to add this, Time. I think it is good you are trying to give your brother helpful advice–but please be careful of tone and words when you do so. Telling you this as a mom who has overheard College Son give High School Daughter advice many times. His advice is good but the tone is often (unintentionally) superior which just offends her.

      3. Dani X*

        and that might all be true, but he is not in Europe so he can’t apply their norms to American companies. I did engineering co-ops in college – they were all well paid. I think that depends on the discipline though – my roommate for Health and Human Services did not get paid.

      4. Rusty Shackelford*

        Also, he said something about how Europeans work less than Americans (we are American), but they still get the same amount of stuff done, and that working less is somehow better.

        Which will be relevant when he moves to Europe, but probably not before then. ;-)

      5. LBK*

        I mean, unpaid internships definitely do get used inappropriately all the time, but that won’t really have any bearing on how future employers view his resume.

        Honestly, some of this comes across as a veneer of acting precociously jaded as a way to mask fear. Like maybe if he can set himself up to seem so *over* the American system, if he ends up failing he can point to that as evidence of just how messed up the way America works instead of having to take responsibility for not putting in the effort.

      6. KellyK*

        It’s totally reasonable not to want to do the kind of internship that is very common and also illegal, where you do the work of an entry level employee and don’t get paid. Both because it’s not fair to the person doing the internship and because it affects wages and job availability all down the line.

        But that doesn’t mean he can’t do an internship at all. He can look for internships that pay, or internships with non-profits (where they’d likely have a volunteer doing the low-level stuff if they didn’t have interns).

        That’s not to discount your frustration with him at all, though.

      7. CMT*

        I’m glad he has a rational older sibling! Whether or not he listens to you is up to him, but it’s good somebody’s trying to teach him. I’m also a little less optimistic than Alison that he’ll grow out of it on his own.

      8. Lemon Zinger*

        Well, if he’s interested in accounting it’s highly likely any internships he’d get at any major firms would be paid hourly, and even eligible for overtime (unlike full-time first year associates, and they’re typically doing the same work). Basically if his worry is that he’ll be taken advantage of by an unpaid internship system it’s highly likely that his hourly rate will work out to be higher than most of those full-time associates. Plus once you get an internship it’s pretty much guaranteed you’ll get a job offer at the end (either for another internship next summer or full-time employment depending on how close you are to graduating) as long as you don’t completely screw anything up.

  18. Sara Smile*

    #1 – If his plan is to work in Big 4, he may find that he may not be able to get a job AT ALL without an internship. I am ex-Big 4 and was heavily involved in recruiting. When I left, we were only employing new grads from the intern pool. If you didn’t have an internship with us, you didn’t even get your foot in the door.

  19. Elaine*

    “Employers really, really don’t like to hire people with no work experience at all, regardless of what school they went to.”

    Alison, when you say things like this, it feels like you want me to believe that employees always have difficulty finding work, have few options, can’t resign whenever they want, and must kowtow to employers at will. This might be the case if your employer pays you $100k. It’s certainly not the case if you’re simply looking for an entry-level job. Of course employers hire graduates without work experience. Otherwise, I would’ve starved to death when I was one of them!

    Employees, please remember:

    1. You CAN find a job after you graduate high school or college, regardless of whether or not you have work experience. Not all employers have the ability to be selective with candidates.
    2. You CAN find a new job, regardless of whether or not your previous employers are happy with you, and even whether or not you have a criminal record.
    3. You CAN leave your job, regardless of whether or not you have a job lined up, and regardless of whether or not you’ve been with you’re employer for one year or more. You CAN find a new job after doing so.
    4. You DON’T have to put up abusive employers.

    Now, will you always be able to afford that apartment in the best part of town? Not always. You might need roommates. You might need to live in an average neighborhood. You might not get a high wage. But it certainly is possible to get by without having your lips pressed firmly against your employer’s ass. We live in America, after all.

    1. Elaine*

      One example: You’ve claimed on multiple occasions job searches can “take a year or more.” I’m calling foul here. It hasn’t taken that long for me to find jobs at all. I’ve done it in a couple of weeks!

      Sure, it might take a college graduate with no experience that long to find a prestigious job with an enviable salary. But if it took most job searches that long, we as a country would obviously be in pretty rough shape right now.

      1. MadGrad*

        Okay, I’ve lived a pretty privileged life, but even I have to point out the flaws in this argument. The ability to find a job and the speed with which you will do so depends on so, so much. Your industry, your experience, your location, etc. That’s not even touching on individual issues, such as disabilities, visa status, parent needs, etc. Yes, you probably CAN find a job at the end of the day – but how long will that take? Can you afford your rent until then? How much will you lose if you get evicted in the meantime? I CAN take a job working 14-hour shifts outside in Texas summers four days a week, but only because I’m able-bodied and don’t need childcare, and only if I want to significantly drop my standard of living. Someone might find plenty of jobs that they qualify for – but if they need their antidepressants and the medical coverage there won’t allow them to afford it, then practically they cannot take the job. Notable also: I can get a lot more than most people because I have a car, which I can drive myself (not everyone does or can). Also, how much do you think a 14-hour four days a week job would hurt my ability to find other work once I have it? Also also, what if I am stuck in a crap location for my job because my spouse is employed there when I get laid off? what if we both work in the same industry (think college professors).

        The optimism and empowerment in your post is great, and it really is important to remember that people aren’t always as helpless as we feel. But that’s no reason to doubt anyone’s lived experiences because they don’t match your own, or to discourage people from being cautious.

        1. Time Immemorial*


          Job search time totally depends on the industry. I found my job in a very short amount of time because companies in my industry have ridiculously high turnover and are perpetually short-staffed, so they’ll basically hire anyone with a pulse. On the flip side, my dad, an experienced programmer, spent over a year trying to find employment in his sector after he got laid off in the recession, and the only job he could find required him to move across the country.

        2. AthenaC*

          “The optimism and empowerment in your post is great, and it really is important to remember that people aren’t always as helpless as we feel. But that’s no reason to doubt anyone’s lived experiences because they don’t match your own, or to discourage people from being cautious.”

          This is perfect.

        3. Anon 2*

          Well said.

          And I know if I were to lose my job, it could take years to find another job in my industry, and probably months (if not longer) to find another white collar job. Sure, I could go and work retail or flip hamburgers, but then I have no time to look a career related job, as I’d have to work 80-90 hours to make ends meet.

          Not to mention, the more senior you are in your career that more challenging it can be to find another job. I have a family friend who was just laid off a few months ago. He was the CFO of a company, he’s happy to take a step down, but many places won’t even interview him, because they fear he’ll walk away the first chance he gets. And there are not that many CFO type level opportunities out there.

      2. Gaia*

        Even when I was in entry level work – I’m talking pumping gas at gas stations, McDonalds, etc – I have had periods where my job search took several months and at least once when it took over a year.

        You may live in an area where this isn’t the case but for huge parts of the country this has been the case for several years now.

        Alison is the first to tell someone to leave a bad employer and the first to call out abusive practices by management. But she does so in a way that empowers workers to think about the big picture. Your words are dangerous, Elaine.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      You’re calling foul because it wasn’t your experience, even though it’s been the experience of many other people, including loads of people here? That doesn’t make any sense. “A job search can take a year or more” doesn’t mean “your job search will definitely take a year or more.” It means “factor this possibility into your thinking.”

      And of course new grads without any work experience eventually find jobs; they don’t stay jobless the rest of their lives! But it absolutely makes things significantly harder, at least for the vast, vast majority of people. It would be irresponsible to encourage people to think otherwise.

      I’m not interested in encouraging people to kowtow to employers; I’m interested in helping them make choices that will lead to the outcomes they want for themselves.

      1. Elaine*

        We need to take context into consideration here.

        It might take a year if you’re looking for “that ideal job” that many college graduates are unfortunately led into believing they’ll get right upon graduation. But I think saying things like “A job search can take a year or more in this market” is misleading. What job searches? Job searches for upper management? Job searches for doctors? Job searches for grocery store baggers? “The best jobs can take a year or more to find,” I think is a much better way of putting it.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          But it’s not “the best jobs.” There are loads of people right here who looked for entry-level and mid-level jobs that were only nominally in their fields, or not at all in their fields, for months and months, and yes, even a year or more. The fact that it didn’t happen to you doesn’t mean it isn’t a thing that happens to other people.

          I’m sure it would feel good to tell people to throw caution to the wind and do whatever they feel like and it will all work out, and they’re not going to be greatly benefited by having a good work history and a good reputation, but it’s not true and I’m not going to.

          1. Elaine*

            But that doesn’t make sense! If that were true, we’d have a lot more homeless people on the streets, that’s for sure. People get fired, most Americans have hardly any savings at all, and they still somehow manage to get by. If it really did take people that long to find a job, we’d have a crisis on our hands.

            And of course people benefit from having a good work history and a good reputation. But they won’t starve to death if they don’t have that. You should put some effort into maintaining a good reputation. That doesn’t mean you have to take abuse.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              I mean, I don’t know what to tell you here if you don’t believe that loads of people have had this experience. And you know, some would say we have had a jobs crisis on our hands since 2008. My mail is full of letters from people who have struggled with this. If you don’t believe other people have had the experiences they report having, there’s nothing I can say to you to make you believe it.

              I’ve never said you’ll starve to death if you don’t have a good work history. I’ve said it will make your life harder, which it will.

              I know you like to pop up here periodically and argue this same point (and that people shouldn’t have to give two weeks notice, and that it’s terrible that I recommend that people cede their power in such a way) but come on.

            2. Mookie*

              we’d have a lot more homeless people on the streets

              In the US, we do. The number of homeless people in urban areas is rising, while the cost of living and housing in these areas are also increasing.

            3. Fauna*

              I was unemployed for six months last year. The only reason I didn’t end up homeless is that between New York State’s paltry unemployment payments and my husband’s salary, we had just enough to pay our bills. I was two weeks away from the unemployment payment getting cut in half when I found work. If I hadn’t, I don’t know what would have happened to us.

              1. Fauna*

                And when I did land a job after six months of searching, it was entry-level. Our lifestyle is still very different than it was before I lost my previous job.

            4. Gaia*

              We DO have a crisis on our hands. Where are you living, Elaine? My town of about 150,000 people has over 15,000 homeless people. Read that again: 10% of my town’s population is HOMELESS. And you know what? That isn’t so unusual. If they aren’t living on the streets, they are adults living with parents, or sleeping on a friend’s couch, etc.

              You need to look outside your bubble.

              1. Omne*

                I don’t think that someone living with their parents would be considered “homeless” otherwise the stats would be triple what they are. The opposite of homeless isn’t home ownership.

                1. Omne*

                  I say that after my wife (now ex) and I lived with my parents for a couple of years after I got out of the military.

            5. Pwyll*

              Hi. I’m on month 7 of my job search without any offers, even for jobs far, far below what I’d call my “best jobs”. In my area I know people 2 years out of graduate school who still can’t find professional work in our over-saturated market. And that’s not even addressing all the press stories about the people who maxed out their 2 years of benefits and are still unemployed.

              1 year can be a very conservative estimate in some regions.

            6. Emily, admin extraordinaire*

              I lost three jobs in three years during the recession. First time, it took me 3 months to find a new one. Second time, 9 months. Third time, nearly a year. By that third time, my unemployment had long ago run out, and the only thing that kept me off the streets was that my parents were willing and able to let me live with them and give me money to pay my student loans and credit card bills. Even now that I have a job, I’ve been job searching for more than a year now, and have gotten only two interviews. And I’m an administrative assistant, which you’d think would be an easy job to find. It isn’t, and it hasn’t been, and your experience does not trump my experience.

          2. cercis*

            And there’s those of us that are geographically limited due to spouses and children. I have two years before I can look outside about a 60 mile range (and really, it’s more of a 30 mile range, as that would take 1.5 hours each way due to traffic), unless I want to leave my husband and teenager and try to work a long distance relationship (which I’ve considered).

            I’ve been job searching for well over a year. There’s very few jobs in my field within the geographic range, and old boss has poisoned the well for me (people at my level and just above know she’s full of shit, but she’s able to sound reasonable enough for the decision makers). FWIW, she’d poisoned the well before I left, she flat NEVER wants to work with me at all and since it’s a small field no matter what position I ended up in, I’d have to work with her.

            I’m lucky enough to be able to consult to keep my skills current and build some new skills, but it’s not something I want to do for more than the 2 years.

        2. MadGrad*

          I have student loans to pay, so saying I should go for a grocery job if it comes up instead of focusing my time on jobs I spent time and money learning to do is silly (and I have way, way less than most people my age). I’m not walking out with my degree expecting to be a CEO – but with a Masters and some good internships, I don’t think it’s ridiculous to look for a job that will get me at least into relevant white-collar work. In addition, every day I’m scraping by bagging groceries is one more that my relevant experience becomes outdated, making me less and less appealing to employers and more out of touch with current industry trends and norms. Again, I’m not aiming for CEO, but it also won’t do me any good to go for chief executive toilet scrubber if I want to be a lawyer.

          1. Elaine*

            MadGrad, the fact that you are able to make such a decision only proves my point. Yes, it might take you a while to for you to find work, but on the other hand, you don’t need any of those lower-paying jobs. You have the luxury of waiting for a job in your field to come up. That’s not saying it would take you a year to find anything at all.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Are you seriously unaware of how many people in the last eight years have moved in with their parents, relied on a spouse’s income or on other family members, filed for bankruptcy, and otherwise struggled to get by?

              At this point, Elaine, I’m going to ask you to move on, because this disbelief is actually getting a little offensive.

              1. HRChick*


                That’s a serious amount of determined ignorance. It’s distressing, honestly, that someone can be that uninformed about the state of our country.

                Blind privilege, that’s all that is.

                1. Mazzy*

                  I just saw a few more Elaine comments and am wondering if they are for real.

                  But for the record, the last time I posted an entry level job I got hundreds and hundreds of resumes. There are LOADS of people with huge employment gaps and or applying for jobs below their skill set.

                  It isn’t because the economy is great and finding a job is easy.

            2. MadGrad*

              I don’t understand. You’re right – I’m LUCKY in that I don’t need those other jobs, because my parents paid my way through 90% of my higher education and I have savings. Most people do not, so applying my safety net to most situations as evidence that you are correct is obtuse at best. I can accept that I and most people probably won’t end up homeless or starving to death in this country, but that does not mean that taking a job flipping burgers will leave me in a good place in the long run if that’s all I can find before I stop being able to pay rent, and it may actively hurt my ability to find relevant, better work in the future. A job that puts me in a worse financial situation all around is not a thing to be happy with even if that’s all I can find.

              I see that Allison has asked to cut this off, so I won’t push this anymore, but please do not use me to try to prove your point. I don’t agree at all with your conclusions.

        3. Purest Green*

          I’ve had two periods of unemployment: 9 months post-college and about 6 months post-awful job I quit. And I assure you I was not looking for a prestigious, ideal, or even great job on either occasion.

          You seem to be dismissing the current state of things, and it’s pretty upsetting for those of us who’ve been through it.

        4. NotAnotherManager!*

          How about this? My mother, who had a solid 30 years of work experience, including as the co-owner of a small business for nearly 20 of those, got laid off because her job of 10 years in a moderate-sized city got outsourced to Eastern Europe. Despite exceptional references (from both former supervisors and client she supported), a strong resume, and being flexible on work hours because both of her kids were grown, it took her one year to find a CONTRACT position and another year to get converted to full-time. She applied for hundreds of jobs — administrative, secretarial, customer support, receptionist, tutoring — and it still took a year to find work that didn’t offer healthcare benefits (great for an asthmatic diabetic to not have health insurance!), retirement, or paid time off. Her “dream job” was something she didn’t hate, paid over the table, and had the potential to offer benefits at some point. Still took a year.

          How did she avoid homelessness? Well, living with her parents wasn’t an options as they are no longer with us. She lived VERY thriftily, including turning off her A/C (again, great for an asthmatic!), and accepted the paltry unemployment our state offers and assistance from her family and church community. I gave her money several times, and it really upset her that she had to take money from her children.

          But do go on and tell us again how it’s totally impossible that it’s that hard to get a job…

          1. Today's anon*

            Yes, I still get resumes from people who were laid off during the 2008/9 recession, who had solid credentials and work histories up to that point, and since then have been cobbling together part-time work, contract work, adjunct work, and I really feel for them.

          2. Mazzy*

            And I know a local clothing designing who had a few dozen employees for years who is closing shop soon because larger fashion houses are outsourcing their production overseas. No amount of willpower is going to help.

        5. Elizabeth West*

          Nope. It took me a year to find this job. I’m an administrative assistant, not a doctor. The market where I live SUCKS. Most jobs here pay barely above minimum wage–I can’t afford to drive across town for that. I has to find something that pays my bills and my student loans. I couldn’t get a job at a fast food place either because my resume is full of office jobs–they probably figured (rightly, in my case) that I would bail as soon as I found something better. I couldn’t find any temp positions either and back in 2005, before the recession, I did pretty well temping after my UI ran out.

          I lucked out, actually–this job pays fairly well for the area. But I don’t expect that to happen again without moving, and I guess I’ll have to get two or three jobs, because if I move elsewhere, my housing costs will go up.

          1. NotAnotherManager!*

            When I gradated (into the last recession), I couldn’t get a food service job because I was “overqualified”. I was told that they take college students, but not college graduates with office work experience. Like you, I would have bailed for an office job, but I would have come in and worked hard until I got a better offer. I had no money and was lucky to be able to live with family and that one of them loaned me the money for a pricey car repair I needed for reliable transportation. I ended up lucking out with a connection from a summer job I’d had within a few months, but it was a parade of rejection, even from less desirable jobs for that time.

            Unemployment in our state it also awful to apply for and receive. I helped my mother apply, and it was arduous, difficult to reach the office you had to make an appointment with (during very limited hours), and required dealing with people who treated you like you were lesser for being unemployed. The whole thing was very unpleasant.

        6. ._.*

          Actually, college graduates, depending on the prestige of the college, sometimes CANNOT get jobs as baggers, baristas, etc. because the employer assumes they’ll jump ship as soon as they find an office job.

    3. LBK*

      I mean, sure, you can probably find a job in a day if you’re willing to take literally any job someone will offer you. I think it’s always implied that job searches can take longer if you’re looking for a job you actually want. If you’ve actually been able to end up with great jobs in just a few weeks of searching, you’ve been extremely lucky, and it’s both rude to be so dismissive of everyone else’s experiences and also extremely bad advice to tell others that their experience will be the same as yours when there’s mountains of empirical evidence to the contrary.

      I’m extremely confused how you think this is about kissing your employer’s ass – it’s the exact opposite. The point of taking your time with a job search is purely, 100% for your own benefit so that you can make sure the job you’re getting is actually a job where you’ll be happy and that will be good for your career. And (good) employers not wanting to hire people with no experience makes perfect sense; if you have a pool of 40 people applying for one role, are you really going to choose the person with zero experience over the person with a full resume?

      Taking the first job you can find is how you’re most likely to end up in an abusive situation where you have to suck up to your employer, because it means you’ve likely done a crappy job at vetting them or you haven’t been very selective. It also probably means they a) have a limited hiring pool, which should be a big red flag, and b) aren’t particularly selective about who they hire, which should be a giant red signal flare shooting up into the sky warning you to run the other way. Why the hell would you encourage people to be so cavalier about something that can have such a major impact on their life?

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        I mean, sure, you can probably find a job in a day if you’re willing to take literally any job someone will offer you.

        Even that isn’t always true. A lot of times if you have advanced degrees, you can’t even take an entry-level job, because they think you’re “overqualified,” so they won’t hire you.

      2. CMT*

        When I graduated from college, I was literally willing to take any job somebody offered (I had to pay my rent somehow!) and it still took me 2 months.

      3. Candi*

        That was my first job. I learned after I started there it was a grab-the-top-resume type of hiring. You just had to be 18, be able to see, hear, and move around the merry-go-round, and be able to count.

        It was a rather toxic place, which combined with… let’s see… at least three of my dad’s jobs post-military that convinced me that you just had to put up with the environment, especially if you didn’t have experience to move on yet. It took me a long, long time to learn otherwise; take an offer, any offer, is a poisonous thought.

        Its opposite, everything will turn out wonderful for you, regardless of skill set, industry, or living area, is just as bad.

        Moderation, as in so many things, is key -but not always possible.

    4. Mazzy*

      I agree with the first quote.

      I’ve rarely seen a resume with no work experience, but I did get one from NYU and one from Columbia, and yes, it was very odd, and I had no clue how to handle them and there were so many other candidates with experience that I tossed them.

      I also google mapped where they lived expecting to see huge mansions (I mean, if you don’t have to work, there must be a reason), and both were from very, very modest places in the suburbs, much more modest than where I grew up and i had to work, which confounded my confusion. I mean, you’re going to an extremely expensive school, didn’t write anything about scholarships, don’t work, and don’t come from money at all. So what do you do all summer? What did you do between HS and college? What have you been doing since college? I was very confused.

  20. Marzipan*

    #4, a couple of things spring to mind. One is that there are not zero contexts in which a person may use both the names John and Amanda, or be in the process of transitioning from one to the other – I have one young client who is currently navigating a very complex minefield of when she can use her preferred name and when she is required to use what’s still her legal (male) name.

    Secondly, we’ve seen examples before of very controlling spouses or family members (just last week, for example, the many stories of parents who won’t give their children their own legal ID paperwork). I’m sure that there are people out there who would love to apply for jobs from an email address of their own, but know that doing so would result in negative consequences to themselves, ranging from endless nagging and arguments through to physical violence.

    I know I’m reaching a bit, and lack of attention detail is probably the most likely explanation, but since it’s not the only explanation I’d suggest clocking the discrepancy but otherwise moving on with considering the application as you normally would. As Alison says, if they’re weak candidates it’ll show up in other ways.

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      #4, a couple of things spring to mind. One is that there are not zero contexts in which a person may use both the names John and Amanda, or be in the process of transitioning from one to the other – I have one young client who is currently navigating a very complex minefield of when she can use her preferred name and when she is required to use what’s still her legal (male) name.

      But her email address is not one of those circumstances. With so many free email options, is there any reason at all that someone who is transitioning can’t have an email address for both their preferred and legal names? Or neither name?

      1. Marzipan*

        But the application itself may be (or may seem to be) a context where a legal name is required. The person I’m working with right now does have multiple email accounts, one for each name – but has told me that she sometimes has to use her legal name rather than her preferred name in all sorts of odd contexts when she’d rather not. Although I agree that an email address which doesn’t specify either name would be a way round this.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Ugh, I have enough trouble just going by my middle name (and anything that needs my legal name has to have my first on it, which then becomes a default). I cannot even imagine how much more aggravating it would be for a trans person. Especially in situations where you don’t want to be out.

  21. Elder Dog*

    If my supervisor expected me to be available by cell phone for clients, I would expect her to supply and pay for the cell phone and the data plan. I would not give my own cell number to clients just as I would not give my home phone number to them. I would give my supervisor my cell number in case she had to reach me for an emergency, but that does not give her permission to give it out to clients or coworkers. No, no, no, no!

    I had an employer give out my phone number years ago. The client drunk dialed me. Repeatedly. At 1 and 2 AM. I can’t imagine a scenario where it would ever be ok for my work to give out my personal phone number.

    1. Once a intern*

      I have to second this. I would at least expect the company to pay for some parts of my phone bill.

  22. Once a intern*

    OP 1 – second what AAM and most replies say, yeah, Ivy League is not a sure promise to get a job. To LW, I wouldn’t worry too much about getting him to hurry up with intern applications though. He is still in high school, and still probably tired out from college applications and exams. I didn’t think at all about internships myself during that stage too! But once I got into school, and during year 2 my classmates began to get internships left and right (and ask friends if they want to work with them in this or that firm over the holidays), I also felt the peer pressure to also step up my game. In some professional degrees, a full year of internship might also be a graduate requirement. So I am pretty sure he would get those applications out a year down the line.

  23. MadGrad*

    OP 1 Another point towards your brother possibly changing his mind – it is scary as all hell to start looking for your first job without any office experience. Having decent internships will do wonders, if only for your confidence!

    1. Foxtrot*

      Not to mention that he’s probably looking at summer through high school eyes still. High school summers are endless hours of fun with your friends. But once all of his friends are busy 9-5 AND have more weekend money too, he’ll probably get bored pretty fast. Once the first few get internships, the rest will follow suit.

      1. Time Immemorial (OP #1)*

        To clarify: I meant getting internships over the summer while he’s in college. He’s working super hard at high school and I’m really impressed, however, he has no intention of interning while he is in college. I’m really hoping everyone’s right. I’d hate to see him unemployed or working a menial job because he doesn’t understand the need for work experience.

        1. Ice Bear*

          I’m worried about my stepson because he’s a freshman in college and has never had a job. His current school schedule is so all over the place (because he waited too long to register) that he couldn’t get a job even if he wanted to… but I’m not sure he wants one anyway. He talked a lot about getting a job in the past but he doesn’t have any motivation when his mother and grandmother constantly give him money. He claims it’s in return for work he does for them but that’s not something he can put on a resume so it’s not doing him any good. It must be a lot too when he can afford to put gas in the car he was given and get large Frappachinos from Starbucks. I really think they are hurting his future by giving him whatever he wants. He doesn’t live with us and due to his current schedule we never see him so our influence is nil. It’s worrisome. I only hope he learns from his peers that he needs a job.

          1. Intrepid*

            When he’s ready to look for something, I’d suggest looking into Phonathon/whatever his school has named “calling alumni for money.” It’s usually strictly after hours and on weekends so it shouldn’t interfere too much with his class schedule. Also, the applicant pool is… limited. At least when I did it, they only hired 1) current students 2) of that university who would 3) put up with what was frankly a crappy job. No one really loves working in phone banks, but it’s an office job with skills that translate pretty directly to a whole host of other things.

            1. KellyK*

              I worked Phonathon, and it was actually a lot more pleasant than food service work at the school snack bar.

              For Ice Bear, you can’t really control what other family members give your stepson, but you can at least suggest to him that he get an on-campus job. Even if he works 5 hours a week, it will look good on his resume and give him people who can serve as professional references. And on-campus jobs that specifically hire students are usually very flexible about class schedules. They expect to have to work around classes, sports, and activities.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          Depending on what he majors in, his program may require an internship later on and be adjusted accordingly.
          And I hate to say it, but he may just have to take some lumps to learn this.

      2. KR*

        This happened to my fiance right after high school. His parents were trying to gently nudge him to get a job but he had some savings and was content with funding himself off that… until he didn’t have enough to go on dates with me and do fun stuff and he got a part time job to tide him over until boot camp. He says to this day a few years later that the job taught him a lot especially since the military isn’t very much like a traditional workplace.

  24. Mx*

    I was a bit backwards in college– despite going to a top university and being pretty academically inclined, from the first week I was there I was focused on how I would get a strong internship and work experience.

    I have to say, its made finding jobs over the last few years pretty easy, since I have loads of experience in tons of industries (plus decent if not extraordinary grades). However I’m afraid its going to kill my chances at grad school since I have 0 research experience. So his mileage may vary.

  25. Em Too*

    #3- I’d give her a company phone. There’re lots of reasons she might not want her own number given out, and one of them is that if she does, she *will* be contactable 24/7. You have the number and she trusts you not to be unreasonable, but others may not be. A company phone she can switch off when she doesn’t need to be contactable.

    1. Anonhippopotamus*

      Exactly! You cannot legally oblige an employee to give their personal phone number out. That is such nonsense advice!

      1. Gaara*

        What law are you talking about? Are you in the U.S.? I’m an attorney who practices in the data privacy area, and I’m not familiar with this claim that you’re making.

            1. OlympiasEpiriot*


              Every place I’ve worked puts a big notice on the internal, personal directory with personal numbers that they put out for holiday card lists Not To Give Out To Clients/Vendors/Contractors. Or the biz office or HR doesn’t issue one at all and is really cagey and suspicious if you inquire for someone’s home contact info in order to send a get-well card.

              That is interesting and disturbing.

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                The thing is, most employers will be reasonable to you if you explain you don’t want to do it and why, if there isn’t a true need. And if there is a true need, you can offer a google voice number or some other alternative as well.

        1. OlympiasEpiriot*

          Sorry for the brusqueness…but, I’m shocked that an employer can force someone to give out a personal number. Or home address. That is so counter-intuitive to me.

          1. E*

            I don’t think they can force an employee. They can state that this is their requirement, but the employee can choose not to, while risking future employment at that company. It would be ridiculous for an employer to not be reasonable, but not all are.

    2. KellyK*

      Totally agree. It’s one thing to trust your boss and coworkers to be reasonable about how they use your personal information, but there’s no way to require clients to be. A company phone or a temporary Google voice really sounds like the best solution here.

    3. TheBeetsMotel*

      This. Although your assurance about no-one calling her 24/7 is well-meant, you may be writing checks that your client has no intention of cashing. Is it possible she had seen or heard of someone in your organization who fell into exactly this trap – giving out their number for what should’ve been a one-time use, and then being called at all hours by a needy/boundary-blind client?

  26. Greg*

    I used to work at Value Village, they have very strict policies about employees buying stuff. They didn’t restrict which days but buying on the clock or getting some to do it for you was prohibited. Talking about buying stuff was prohibited. They clamped down on employees stashing stuff away, giving themselves discounts or anything like that. The Salvation Army is probably doing something very similar here just taking it to the next level.

    In regards to the cell phone number… I’m sorry but I gotta disagree, if I don’t want a client to have my private cell phone number then that client doesn’t get my cell phone number. If it’s not paid for by work then it’s my number, my private info that the company is required to keep private for my security. Contact info has a way of spreading and it’s clear the employee’s concern is a bad client calling her directly outside of work hours, and in a different situation if she’s hiding from abusive partners or relatives. Maybe it’s happened to her before that a client began abusing the contact info. I would see if there’s an office cell phone she could use, or at least an office sim card in her existing phone or call forwarding. I also know that if someone gave out my private number at work without my permission or even knowledge there would be **** to pay.

    1. Anonhippopotamus*

      Yep. I give my number out a lot. Project managers also give my number out a lot but they ask my permission EVERY.SINGLE.TIME, it’s common courtesy.

  27. Jack the Treacle Eater*

    #3, per Greg and others above I too think it’s not unreasonable to keep your personal cellphone private.

    My experience is that once I give out my cellphone number, (1) it gets passed on, (2) some people, clients and colleagues, don’t respect the boundary between work and private life, (3) people default to calling the mobile and not the landline or a normal work number.

    I have every sympathy with the OP’s employee; it’s difficult to see why the employer, if they want an employee to use a cellphone for work, can’t provide or lend a cellphone or a SIM that could be used in the employee’s phone.

    1. Christopher Tracy*

      Agree with all of this. Consider providing your employee with a company-issued phone for events, OP. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy – you can get a burner at Walmart even and call it a day.

    2. AdAgencyChick*

      I do too, even though it’s annoyingly common in the agency world to require that an employee give her cell number out to clients. Yes, OP, you are wanting specific availability, but once the client has the number, she has it and may use it at other times. And if you’re not an agency employee who is supposed to be willing to answer calls at random times, that is damned annoying.

      In my line of work, it’s generally the account executives (that’s Pete Campbell, if you need a Mad Men analogy) who have to give their numbers out, and who are expected to respond quickly to client calls, because they’re the gatekeepers of the agency-client relationship. The creatives (Peggy Olson) are not supposed to get those phone calls. I’m a copywriter, and I have had clients call my cell once it was given to them, so I guard that thing pretty jealously. I’ve only once had to say a flat no to an account person who wanted to give it directly to a client since then. Fortunately, she backed off.

    3. Xarcady*

      Completely agree. My cell phone is for emergencies–I don’t like talking on the phone, no one I know really texts a lot. Basically, I carry the thing around when I leave the house, turned off most of the time, just in case my car breaks down. Or if I have to wait somewhere, I can read a book on it.

      The few times I’ve given the number out, or had to call someone to tell them I’d be late or something similar so they now have my number, people jump on that cell number like I’ve handed them solid gold. I’ll check the phone three weeks later, and they’ve called or texted me multiple times, at all hours–even though they have my email address, and my home phone and in many cases, my work phone. But of course, I haven’t responded, because the phone is turned off.

      For a specific event, I’d be willing to carry a company phone for a few days, as long as it was understood that I wouldn’t be taking calls in the middle of the night. But my personal phone? Nope. Not giving my number out to clients/customers. Also not using my personal phone for company business. Especially not unless I’ve seen the company policy on employees using personal phones for company business–some of those polices end up giving the employee very little control over their own phone that they pay for.

      So while I agree with Alison that the company can required their employee to be available for contact before and during the event, I think it is up to the employer to provide the means by which that can be done.

    4. BadPlanning*

      I agree — I have been burned at work before with inappropriate “social” use of my personal number and I’ve seen coworkers burned by clients getting their personal number and calling them when they shouldn’t (work related, but we have A System and with a direct line, they skipped the System). Subsequently, I guard my personal number more than other coworkers.

      Even if the phone number is a hard requirement — I think OP should check if the employee has been negatively impacted before and how they can address potential issues.

    5. Jules*

      I give my office phone number and use the forward call option when I am not at my desk. It work wonders in having people reach me 24/7 during project implementation time. And keeps my private number private.

      1. Ann in NYC*

        +1 do this all the time – it’s the best of both worlds. People can get in touch with me and I don’t have to give out my cell number

  28. Nicole J.*

    I can completely understand the desire to keep a mobile phone number private – I really dislike giving mine out – but if you work in events there is an expectation that you will be reachable and contactable during an event. Clients, staff etc have to have someone they can contact. That means a mobile number.

    In 10 years of working in catering/events I have never had a client contact me on my mobile once an event is over. There is some out-of-hours contact but that is the nature of the job.

    1. Nicole J.*

      For example, now I mainly work in the office and assign event managers. The client is always sent the event manager’s email address and phone number. It’s just a must; if someone wasn’t willing to be contactable AND responsive in both ways then we wouldn’t employ them to run an event. It’s that fundamental.

      I wonder if somewhere along the way that expectation wasn’t made clear, if events aren’t the main part of the job for #3.

      1. Anonhippopotamus*

        I think most people agree that the employee isn’t trying to avoid being reachable but the problem is that when it’s your personal number that you keep on all day, evening, weekend long, annoying-type clients can disturb you at any time to ask you a question. Easy solution = company phone. When you’re not working, you turn the company phone off and nobody can bug you.

        1. blackcat*

          Or, is some cases, clients can use a phone number to be a creep.

          When I taught at a private school, I *had* to list a home/cell number to go in the directory, so students/parents/etc had it.

          In general, I got very few ridiculous phone calls. A couple times I was really glad that people had my number (a teenager in an emergency didn’t feel comfortable calling their parents called me–I talked then down & called emergency services/parents), a few times I was annoyed (2-3 times a parent called at later than 9:30 pm to wanted to talk about their child’s grade), but one time, I was really, really creeped out. The dad of one of my students drunk-dailed me at 2am and left a very, very inappropriate and creepy message. I was even more creeped out because I knew I was younger than his eldest child. My boss spoke to the dad and it never happened again, but the entire experience made me much more wary of giving out my phone number.

      2. Anon 2*

        It wouldn’t surprise me if the expectation wasn’t made clear.

        I know where I work it wasn’t mentioned at all during the interview process, and I only found out via my co-workers in the run-up to the even that I’d need to distribute my cell phone number. I didn’t have an issue, but this sort of thing should have been shared during the interview process. That way people who don’t wish to do this can self-select out during that process.

        1. KellyK*

          Absolutely! The offer process is also a good time to figure out if some alternate arrangement (Google voice, company phone, etc.) is doable for both parties.

    2. Jack the Treacle Eater*