can I ask my boss why my coworker quit, mentoring a student with questionable social media judgment, and more

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

1. Can I ask my boss why my coworker abruptly quit?

I have a question regarding an awkward situation at my work. I am currently working at my first ever office job, and really enjoying it. The work is a good pace for me, and the office is very small (only around 10 employees) and we all get along well.

Today I was informed by my boss that my coworker (who was always very friendly with me) has abruptly quit, and the circumstances are somewhat murky. My boss didn’t elaborate further on the situation, and I am to keep it quiet as I am the only employee who knows thus far.

When I return for my next shift two days from now (I am a part-time employee), is there a polite/non-invasive way of asking what happened? I don’t need to know any real specifics, but since I won’t be in for the next few days, the other employees may get to ask questions or get an explanation while I’m not there. Is there a way for me to ask without being nosy or rude?

Other people probably aren’t going to get much of an explanation while you’re away. It’s pretty typical to be discreet about the details of this sort of thing; most employers keep the details of firings or abrupt resignations on a need-to-know basis, both to protect people’s privacy and to avoid stirring up drama. (Although sometimes not sharing details can lead to more drama, so managers need to navigate it on a case-by-case basis.)

That said, depending on your relationship with your boss, you can sometimes ask one-on-one and get an answer. You can say it this way: “Can I ask what happened with Jane, or is that not something you can share with me?”

2. Mentoring a college senior with questionable social media judgment

My alma mater recruited me for an alumni mentoring program, which connects successful professionals with undergraduate students interested in similar career paths. I enthusiastically accepted and was assigned a student in her senior year. I ran her name and school in a Google search (as most people/hiring managers would do) and found her Instagram account, which had pictures/videos of her partying, her roommates smoking up, and dressing in lingerie … in addition to her Twitter account, in which she regularly references nude photos, late-night drinking, etc.

I personally don’t care that she does these things, but the world doesn’t need to know, and I have tried communicating to her that it could (nay, *will*) negatively impact her search for internships and jobs. I’m not that much older than her, but I think that her age and/or naivete lend themselves to her carelessness in posting these things. She’s interested in corporate PR, and has referenced her 13k+ Instagram following as a qualification for the field (nooo). I’d love to help her succeed (she understands basic professionalism over the phone/via email), but don’t know how to help her when she won’t register the very basic advice I’m giving. Any experience with this sort of thing? Or is this simply a “You can lead the horse to water…” matter? I’d also like to note that she voluntarily signed up for the mentorship program and was not mandated to do so.

If you’ve been direct with her (as opposed to hinting around) and she’s told you she doesn’t care or disagrees, then yeah, I don’t think there’s much more you can do. If you haven’t been direct yet, that’s your next move, and you might frame it as “it’s so universal for hiring managers to turn down candidates for exactly this type of thing that it’s considered pretty open-and-shut” and “in PR in particular, your social media presence is judged as part of the assessment process, and this is automatic rejection material — can you tell me how you reconcile that with your desire to keep this stuff up?”

But otherwise this is a lesson she’s going to have to figure out for herself.

3. Potluck on my first day of work

I am starting a new job at an amazing organization soon. I have known my new supervisor for several years in a professional manner and am excited to start working with her. On my first day, I will be a part of their annual planning retreat. I think it will be a good way to be immersed in the programming and learn about my new coworkers.

Here’s my issue: while discussing my first day with my supervisor-to-be, she mentioned that the lunch at the retreat is potluck. While she said that I don’t have to bring anything and that she was just giving me a heads-up on the lunch plans, I am still a bit anxious about this.

Do I take this at face value that it will be okay for me to not bring anything? Or will it look impolite for me to not bring anything? I struggle with potlucks to begin with as I am not too into cooking. But then my mind wonders whether if I do bring something, will I have to figure out something that doesn’t have to be kept cold or kept warm? Or do I email the supervisor to ask if there will be a refrigerator or a place to plug in a crock pot? I don’t know the professional etiquette on things like this. I am probably thinking too much about this but I want to make a good first impression.

Take her at her word that you don’t have to bring anything. People will not expect you to contribute to a potluck on your first day (and it will still be fine for you to eat at the potluck despite not having brought anything — you get the First Day exception).

4. My boss put his name on work that I authored

Last month I was instructed to write a white paper regarding some very technical information. I was incredibly proud of myself when I finished a near-perfect paper in less than three hours. What was even better was my very critical manager loved it and made two minor grammatical suggestions before it was ready to be published on the web. I was ecstatic: finally, I felt like I had accomplished something.

Come to find out, when it was officially published online, his name preceded mine under the “authors” section. I was shocked and frustrated: not only did he not contribute any official “authorship” type work on the paper, he barely even edited it! And yet according to the world wide web, he was the primary author.

I have not said anything up to this point, because he is good at redirecting the praise towards me in any office discussion about this project. But now he has asked me to write nearly 10+ more white papers over the course of the next year, and I want to address this head on.

I cannot permit him to put his name as an author on my work if he does not help in any way, regardless of the fact that he is my manager. It’s something I just cannot live with. I’ve thought about approaching the subject next time as, “Would we be able to address it as Written by: My Name, and Edited by: Your Name on all white papers going forward?” What’s the best way to address this respectfully but firmly?

This is pretty field-dependent, but there are a lot of fields where this wouldn’t be terribly uncommon. In a lot of fields, your boss will get listed as co-author with you simply because he’s your boss and the assumption is that, even if he didn’t do any of the actual writing, he was involved in the process behind the scenes, shaping the thinking and stances that went into the paper (very broadly, if not specifically during the writing of that particular paper) and approving the final content.

I don’t know if you’re in a field like that or not. If you are, “I cannot permit him to put his name as an author on my work” will sound really out of touch with professional norms, so you really need to know the norms in your field before taking that kind of hard-line stance.

Either way, though, it’s reasonable to raise the question of how to handle authorship credits. Say it this way: “Before I start work on this new batch of white papers, I wanted to talk to you about how authorship will be credited. As the person writing them, I’d like to be listed as the first author. Are you open to that?”

5. My job agrees to cut back my schedule and then doesn’t

I started school a few months ago and changed my availability for work at a restaurant. It’s the Christmas season and we are understaffed, so I can understand if they need me sometimes. However, I have expressed to all the managers that I am failing classes from working so much and have discussed compromises with them that benefit both parties, which they have agreed to yet do not follow through on. Twelve (and counting) conversations and promises later, no change. Furthermore, they are not hiring new staff, regardless of the fact that they know we are severely understaffed.

I do not want to quit, but I feel so disrespected and cannot continue to have these conversations with them when there is no result, and frankly it upsets me that they will not just be frank with me so I can stop wasting my time. How can I handle this further in a professional way?

I know you don’t want to quit, but are you prepared to do that if this keeps happening? (If you’re failing classes from working so much, the answer should be yes unless you’re dependent on this job to meet your food and shelter needs.)

Making it clear that you will need to leave over this might be the only way to get through to them. If you’re prepared to do that, you’d say it this way: “We’ve talked repeatedly about this and nothing has changed. I need to be very clear — I can work a maximum of X hours per week. If you can’t accommodate that, I need to resign. What should we do?” If they tell you they’ll cut back on your schedule and then again don’t do it, go to your manager immediately and say this: “I’m scheduled for X hours this week when we agreed to Y. I can’t do X hours, so I need you to change my schedule for this week. Which days do you want to remove?”

If you get a refusal, that’s your cue to get out of there.

{ 266 comments… read them below }

  1. Sherm*

    #5 Your education comes first. If you lose this lovely sounding job, so be it. Once, when I was a student working at Big Box Retailer, they told me near the end of my shift to keep working more hours. I flat out said “I can’t do it. I need to study.” They let me go home, I returned to work the next day, and all was well. I can’t guarantee the same result would happen to you, but you might be surprised.

    1. MK*

      I think this approach works when you are dealing with people who are not intentionally ignoring you but don’t make accommodating you a priority either. Also, some people really need to be shown through actions; it sounds as if the OP tells them she needs to work less, but when the schedule her for more hours, she works them anyway, so they are comfortable thinking that it’s not a big deal.

      1. SophieChotek*

        Yes, I agree. The issue is that the OP seems to be a very conscientious worker, trying to do a good job and be a good employee – so showing up to work (unwanted shifts) because don’t want to let other understaffed co-workers down.

        But education in the long run is more important; I think.

        Like MK said (and AAM) said in this case you need to push back. If they don’t follow through, you may need to quit/resign.

        In this day, I can’t say “restaurant/food service jobs” are all around you (because they are not), but you have experience. Also you have a good explanation for why you quit, if needed.

        Perhaps, also, you could find a job on campus? (Although if you are waiter, I understand good tips can maybe make the pay significantly higher than an average student-worker-on-campus.) But with working on campus, the admin (usually) tends to be more understanding of the ebb and flow of classes and finals and are better at accommodating studying/coursework (within reason, and with planning).

        1. The Cosmic Avenger*

          Good advice. I’d say if they’re ready to quit anyway over this, they might want to find an on-campus job, even if it doesn’t pay as well. My on-campus jobs were steadier and more flexible than my off-campus jobs.

    2. Koko*

      I think “Big Box” is key there, actually. In those big corporate places, it’s easier to absorb little labor difficulties – having 11 of the 12 people you normally have on a shift isn’t as bad as having 3 out of the normal 4, and having to find other employees to absorb 12 hours for another employee who needs them off is easier when you have a pool of 40 staff members vs a pool of 12.

      When I worked for big retail places it was a well-oiled machine and they could accommodate without my mere presence if need be. When you work for a small independently-owned restaurant franchise, a neighborhood diner, or a small business, they rely a lot harder on each individual employee and are less willing or able to accommodate.

    3. TootsNYC*

      Also–this “lovely sounding job” is actually an ASSET you can use to get a *different* job that will respect your hours.

      And I also agree that the OP might consider just saying, “I can work these three shifts, but not those. Sorry.” And just not show up. Because, well, the managers are behind the 8 ball–what are they going to do, fire her?

      If they fire her, then they won’t have ANYbody.
      They’re pushing across the line because they’ve been getting away with it.

    4. KarenD*

      Absolutely put education first.

      Here’s a tale from the vaults: I had a full-tuition scholarship to a solidly second-tier university, and a grant that covered much of the cost of my books when I started college. I also had two part-time jobs. Over the course of a few semesters, I let my priorities drift so that the two part-time jobs were consuming more and more of the time I needed for study. I was actually accepting shifts for times I was supposed to be in class. And the less I insisted on my employers respecting my academic schedule, the more they pushed for me to pick up shifts (the retail job was actually trying to nudge me into a management track.)

      I’d love to say that at some point in time I saw the light, but I didn’t. I lost the scholarship, which only signaled to my stupid brain that I needed to work MORE hours to cover the cost of tuition (which was a stretch, but doable) while concealing from my parents the fact that I’d lost the scholarship. My academic performance kept slipping to the point where I was about to be officially ejected from my major and probably, a semester away from flunking out altogether.

      If not for one incredible stroke of luck (I was doing an internship in my major and that company offered me a job, an offer they miraculously did not withdraw when I confessed I wouldn’t be graduating on time, or at all) I would have pretty much zero to show for my college career.

      And in large part, it would be because I let the needs/priorities of my two part-time employers (and, let’s face it, the desire to have cash in my pocket for partying and shopping) overcome my own best interest and torpedo my academic progress. I basically frittered away thousands of dollars in financial aid and a shot at a good, prestigious degree because of that. Yeah, they need you. They’re counting on you “not to let them down.” But they don’t care diddly over squat about your future, and in reality, they’ll be just fine if you say no.

      I did eventually get my degree, but it was the bare minimum from our giant, bland state college. I will regret squandering that opportunity for the rest of my life.

      1. Jill*

        I had a college job that kept demanding more and more hours that I couldn’t do because of school. Because I kept refusing, they “fired” me for poor performance. They were stunned when I protested to the Big Boss because, just a month earlier I had gotten a stellar performance review and a raise. So that bought me some time. I ended up applying for a teller position at a bank, which paid the same as the college job. When I interviewed, they ended up telling me I was overqualified and gave me an accounting position at $5 more than college job paid me. My school hours were never a problem.

        So, OP#5, it pays to stick up for yourself. And it pays to look around for an employer that will respect your desire to pursue an education. You may even end up in a higher paying job for your efforts!

    5. Chaordic One*

      Yes, your education does need to come first.

      I had a similar problem when I was in school, too, back in 2008 at the height of the Great Recession. I could not find an employer that did not want you to be on call 24/7. After a couple of months of getting no where with my applications, I stopped mentioning that I was a student who would need time off a couple of afternoons every other week and took a decidedly “meh” job at a big box retailer.

      Thanks to a bit of luck, I was able to go for six months before my class schedule and my work schedule conflicted. When they did, I (cough, cough) called in “sick” to work and went to class. I was ready to be fired if they were going to make a big deal about it. It’s not like it was all that great of a job. Fortunately, they didn’t make a big deal about it and I was finally able to quit and move on a couple of months later.

  2. paul*

    Social media is such a minefield that I’m glad I grew up before smartphones (hell, we didn’t get internet at all until I was about a junior in high school).

    I think a *lot* of companies are going to have to ease up a bit on how strict they are–I know mine is in the process of evaluating that–but it baffles me that people think it’s OK to post pictures of them committing even really low level crimes (if the “smoking up” references pot–still federally illegal). That should be life skills 101; never photograph evidence of a crime and sure as heck never show it to the world!

    But companies that freak out too much about pictures of someone having a drink or two once in a while are going to lose out on a lot of candidates once people that grew up with social media start entering the workforce; those pictures never go all the way away, and teens aren’t renowned for excellent discretion you know? It’s a dang mess

    1. Taylor Swift*

      I do think it’s going to be really interesting to watch how norms change over the next decade or two or three. I agree that at some point things are going to have to change in some way, or there will be no qualified candidates for anything.

      1. Jennie*

        As a historian I’m also so fascinated by this! I do hiring myself of young people (typically uni students) and I never google them because I figure we have very different ideas about what’s ok publically and I don’t want to bias myself against them during hiring. Maybe so far I e been lucky in my hires? Or maybe the stuff they do online doesn’t impact thier work. I am the only person at mine and related orgs that has this policy though and they all think I’m very weird. So curious to see how it all turns out as time passes

      2. Ama*

        I had a fascinating conversation with my boyfriend’s coworker (who is 5 years younger than me and 10 years younger than my boyfriend) last night at their holiday party and it’s really interesting how even that relatively small gap has made our experiences with and approach to technology very very different. Even the language we were using was different at points.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I think most companies already are fine with photos with alcohol present, as long as you’re not doing keg stands or sloppy drunk or so forth. But a photo of someone holding a glass of wine or a close-up on a fancy whiskey or whatever isn’t generally an issue. It’s if you appear to build your lifestyle around alcohol or glorify drunkenness that it becomes a concern.

      (There are some exceptions to this, of course, but they’re notable for being exceptions — like overly strict expectations for teachers, for example.)

      1. paul*

        My view’s possibly skewed on stuff like this because I work for a non profit that is *very* strict on things like that myself–but I won’t even do things like following an alcohol related FB page. It’s annoying as hell given that two of our major donors are alcohol companies!

        1. Koko*

          Teachers, nonprofit…it’s funny how it’s never the high-paying jobs that want to compensate you for acting like a saint on your own time ;)

      2. DragoCucina*

        True. The company may not have a problem, but may be sensitive to the community. One of our board members received an award at our state convention. The room was filled with beer posters. Our city only legalized alcohol sales within the past decade. We blurred out the beer names in the photo’s background.

        1. Joseph*

          Honestly, I don’t think that’s anywhere near as bad as judging an individual based on their social media pages given that:
          1.) It’s a company’s official communication not an individual’s private page.
          2.) Posters are advertising for that company, so it might be viewed as a tacit approval of that company over others – similar to how TV programs blur the names of non-sponsors.
          3.) A photo of a board member receiving an award is something you’re likely to use for months (years?), probably in a few formal marketing documents. Much different than a typical “here I am at the stadium” photo.

          1. Koko*

            You just made me picture someone posting a “here I am at the stadium” photo on Facebook, but with all the logos and drinks blurred!

      3. blackcat*

        I got a comment from a concerned parent of a student when, after my wedding, I changed my Facebook profile picture (which is publicly viewable despite my super locked down profile) to a picture of me and my husband, at our wedding during the toasts. It was a gorgeous picture. And it had wine in it. And a parent emailed to let me know they thought it was in appropriate, because of the wine. The email did, however, say my wedding dress was lovely, unlike so many “trashy” dresses that are out their these days. (The dress was a medium cut v neck, with short sleeves).
        I forwarded the email to my boss, adding: “FYI, because my name is very common, someone has to go through A LOT of effort to find my Facebook profile. The only person in the school community I am connected to on Facebook is my aunt.” (my cousins attended the school)
        Boss emailed back “I couldn’t find you on Facebook at all. I tried before hiring–always do. So creeped out right now. Will be in touch with a plan to prevent contact between you and this parent soon.” I think my boss was even more creeped out because this was from a dad on the older side (late 50s/early 60s) and I was in my early 20s at the time, only like 6 or 7 years older than the dad’s kid.

        People are weird about teachers. Really weird. My head of school was super reasonable and can and did push back on unreasonable parents. I do not miss parents without boundaries. And if that’s how they treat teachers, just imagine how they treat their kids!

          1. blackcat*

            My boss was not a perfect boss, but he had teachers’ backs in the moments that mattered. It was apparently not that uncommon for relatively young (under 45 or so) female teachers to get hit on by the dads of students, and fortunately my boss had a zero tolerance attitude towards it. I do wonder if it was worse because it was a private school–some parents had the attitude that we worked for *them* which lead to weird dynamics. The head of school was very clear: parents paid for the education the school provided, not the services of the teachers.

        1. Callie*

          When I taught public school I was matron of honor in a good friend’s wedding. I changed my fb picture to the two of us at the reception, laughing/smiling at each other, and we had wine glasses in our hands. It was one of the few rare occasions I drink. I don’t like the taste. A parent (who I had not friended) complained to the personnel office. I was so angry. I refused to change it and I had been there long enough and won enough awards that I felt comfortable taking the risk of standing my ground. Nothing happened.

      4. Auntie*

        I have a nephew and a niece who recently graduated from college and found good professional jobs. Both quickly moved from the Chicago suburbs into the city seemingly because of the long daily commute. They live near Wrigley Field and PARTY EVERY SINGLE NIGHT.

        1. Artemesia*

          ???? Good for them. Chicago is a great city for young and old — beaches, bars, beach bars, opera, jazz, art, great museums, sportsball teams. Hope your niece and nephew are having a ball. Party on.

        2. ThatGirl*

          I’m … not sure of the relevance? I live in the Chicago suburbs and commuting into the city every day would be an enormous pain. I don’t even like my inter-suburb commute all that much. And if they’re in their 20s it makes perfect sense that they would want to live in Wrigleyville and be around the party atmosphere. That’s likely to change as they get older.

        3. Wheezy Weasel*

          I once spent the night in my brother-in-law’s Wrigley apartment underneath an apartment full of the all night party crew. My BIL went down to the basement and switched off their circuit breaker to kill the stereo, and the partiers had to call their parents to come out and find the circuit breaker to solve the problem. (not that I blame that on their age or inexperience, because residential electric isn’t something you want to poke around on a whim). But it soured me on ever living in Wrigleyville.

      5. Muriel Heslop*

        As a teacher: ugh. Seriously. We google everyone who interviews at our campus + student teachers. None of my department really cares what people do but we absolutely care if someone’s so stupid that I haven’t figured out that it shouldn’t be findable online. It’s not worth the headache. Our job is hard enough.

    3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Yes, but I think it also depends on industry and how old the pics are. Social media proxies for discretion and good judgment, and in some fields, those appearances matter more.

      I also worked at a place with a no alcohol policy b/c our client population had high levels of alcoholism. We could drink on our own time if we were in a city where our clients did not live and if we kept any photos of those hangouts off social media.

      1. paul*

        Holy crap, in a city where no clients lived? You couldn’t drink in town? I think that’d cross my limits personally.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          It was certainly a dealbreaker for some folks, although I didn’t find it overly intrusive in light of the unique characteristics and cultural norms where my clients were. The truth is there was no way to enforce the ban, and they probably weren’t going to fire anyone over it, but it was more about expectations setting. My impression was that it was also an overreaction to a super controversial “business trip” in which one office brought controlled substances from a state where use was lawful to a state where it was unlawful (and of course, under federal law it’s all unlawful) in addition to getting sloppy drunk in front of funders and organizational allies (the trip predated my time there). So it was really about poor management—a handful of staff doubled down when reprimanded, and the organization was not really willing to fire people, so they came up with a stupid policy instead.

          But I also worked in a rural area where I lived up to 150 miles away from my clients, so it wasn’t actually an inconvenience because I wasn’t going to drink anywhere but in the city I lived in. I’ve also worked with tribal clients, for example, where there’s a “no alcohol on the rez” rule, which doesn’t bother me because it seems like it’s about being an outsider/guest respecting a host’s rules.

          If I lived in an urban area, however, I think this would be pretty draconian and untenable.

      2. Artemesia*

        I think this is ridiculous and oppressive. Of course you don’t serve alcohol at events with those clients but the idea that you must thereby never be seen with a drink is creepy intrusive.

    4. PinkCupcake*

      A lot of truth here. I was in college during the mid-90s and tattoos were just then becoming “a thing”. At least where I lived. Of course, there was great wailing and gnashing of teeth over this. Anybody with a tattoo would “never get a decent job” or so the conventional wisdom at the time said. Fast forward 20 years later, and now I work for major corporations and frequently see men with full tattoo sleeves and other women with sleeves and full chest pieces. All uncovered and in plain view. So much for conventional wisdom…

    5. Michele*

      I do think that a lot of younger people don’t realize how bad it makes them look, even to people who have only been working for a few years because the norms at college are so different from what they are in the workplace. Here, we will typically have people who are only a step or two above the position that is being interviewed for take part in the hiring process as part of building their leadership skills. This year, we had a recent college graduate interview, and someone who is still in her 20s googled his name before the interview. A bunch of explicit sexual pictures (with his face) came up with open, sexually adventurous FB and Istagram accounts. She told the other interviewers about it. Everyone was professional during the interview, but there was a lot of laughing behind his back, and the guy never stood a chance.

      1. miss lee*

        Hiya, LW #2 here. Agree re: lack of freak outs. I should probably mention that my mentee has not posted a picture of herself enjoying a glass of wine (or whatever beverage one imagines she might like), but rather has tweeted enough times about drinking late and being unsure if she’ll make it to class on time/pass her finals/whatever.

        Do I care if she drinks? Nope.
        Do I care if she rolls in late to class? Not really (I don’t exactly have a way of knowing if she shows up or not).
        Do I care if she drinks enough that it could impact her attendance/performance and feels the need to publicize this information? Yeah–the same way an employer might. I personally favor discretion, though others may see things differently. Just wanted to clarify!

  3. Feo Takahari*

    #4: This answer is weirding me out a bit. I hang out on Retraction Watch, where papers are retracted and scandals ensue when someone who didn’t write a paper claims authorship on it. I’m having a hard time grasping the idea of an industry where that’s normal.

    1. AcademiaNut*

      I think there’s a difference between refereed papers and proposals or white-papers, though.

      In my field, publishing a refereed paper as first author means that you did the majority of the analysis, and physically wrote most of the paper, and it also means you take responsibility for the veracity and ethics of the contents. But for things like grant proposals for a major project, or whitepapers, it wouldn’t be unusual for the project lead to be the first author, even though more junior people put together the a lot of the document. Having a well known senior scientist with a reputation as the lead author will give it a lot more clout than if the lead author/PI were a random junior person. The first author, though, takes professional responsibility for what is in the document – no blaming the intern if there is a mistake.

      1. Aly_B*

        This is super normal in my field (engineering), or at least in my niche of it. The more senior person is assumed to provide technical oversight in general. I’d argue this makes sense especially for a paper that you’re able to put together in just a few hours, where you presumably are dealing with the material all the time and don’t have to go do a bunch of new to you research, and for things you are doing regularly, you are probably following the more senior person’s technical lead on a lot of it. They also, as AcademiaNut said, take responsibility and attaching their name provides clout. The clout part is the main reason we do it.

        In my field this comes with a huge caveat though: you get to claim complete credit for it in interviews or when trying to impress people in your field, and no one will ever question it, even though you’re not listed as first author. Because this is so common, our typical assumption is that whoever signed off on it as the more junior author did all of the actual work, and that the more senior person was providing oversight and strategic direction.

        1. Jessesgirl72*

          The OP says the boss is giving them all the credit and props in meetings and things. That signals, to me, that the OP is new to this, and it’s absolutely the standard in that field.

          1. Koko*

            Yes, that detail stood out to me too that Boss isn’t trying to pull the wool over anyone’s eyes – he’s just following a standard industry convention.

            I did post-graduate studies and that was how we did things in that world, too. Your mentor was almost always first-author because your work was usually part of a body of work organized around their specialty or perspective. Like, they built their career around developing the triple-boiler chocolate distillation method, so all of your papers would be discussions of that method, explorations of broader application for the method, etc. If you were doing something totally independently, like you have a pet interest in chocolate blending, you might solo author, or find a couple grad students or post-docs to co-author with you, and it would get your pub count up and give you more experience going through the independent research and publication process, but you weren’t getting published anywhere prestigious most likely. The chocolate distillation stuff you did for your mentor and put their name as first author, did.

          2. Abby*

            This was my understanding, too. I think the key detail is that the boss is including both names on the paper, and it sounds like that’s pretty standard for the field. If he was putting only his name on the paper, with no mention of the person who actually wrote it, that would be an entirely different problem.

            1. Lance*

              Exactly this; it’d be one thing if no credit wasn’t being given, and LW’s name wasn’t on the paper, but neither is the case. As it is, it may be a personal thing for LW about rearranging the order, since they did the actual writing, but ultimately, credit is being given where credit is due, so I don’t see it as a huge deal.

              1. Michele*

                There could also be some sort of company policy. We have strictly defined (by SOP) criteria for who can “author” a paper, same for approver, SME, and a few others. One of the things is that papers can’t be authored by people below a certain level. When I am trying to expand someone’s responsibility, that can mean that they do the bulk of the writing on something, but they might not get authorship credit. I always try to spread their name around and let people know that they put in the work, but I can’t break SOP.

        2. TootsNYC*

          “our typical assumption is that whoever signed off on it as the more junior author did all of the actual work,”

          That’s interesting! And reassuring.

          1. JB (not in Houston)*

            It’s not uncommon in the legal field, at least in the appellate world. Often Big Fancy Partner is the first name on the brief, associate who did most (or all) of the work is listed underneath.

            1. MegaMoose, Esq*

              Yeah, I was coming to comment that in the legal profession, this is very normal during the first few years of work and even beyond. The second-named attorney often does most of the work while the first named attorney takes primary professional responsibility for the contents.

              1. MegaMoose, Esq*

                And that’s not even to mention working as a judicial clerk, where you’re basically a ghost writer.

            2. Sara*

              Same, I did communications for a law firm, and the company policy was that all material needed to be authored by Partner if not written by a Senior Associate or higher position.

      2. Schmooples and the Binkie-Boo*

        I’ve worked in comms roles where the people who head the organisation get their names on things and you’re ghostwriting for them. Not policy stuff. More: a report on teapot spouts by an expert in the field. If you’re junior, that’s not you yet. I’ve also researched comments that go out in someone else’s name as I’m the researcher and they’re the figurehead.

        OP #4, your language is super emotive. It feels like maybe you’ve been knocked down by this critical manager but is he critical in a bad way or just helping? There’s no such thing as a perfect paper. As there isn’t one perfect ultimate ideal version – only individual takes.

          1. Michele*

            Yeah, that sounds like a good first draft. You never find the problems with a paper until you step back from it for a few days.

            1. Trout 'Waver*

              On very highly technical things, I think you could bang out a finished product quickly. Just work through the technical issue step-by-step in details that allow a skilled professional to follow. Kinda like a recipe.

              Otherwise, I do agree though.

              1. Michele*

                I do highly technical writing, and getting it right is far more difficult than expository writing. Details matter.

        1. Trig*

          Yeah, I have a friend who works in comms for a nonprofit to which I donate. I have fun trying to guess which email we get ‘from’ or which article written ‘by’ the executive director was actually written by my friend (it’s almost all of them).

          The donors don’t know that most of this stuff is ghostwritten, but I get the feeling everyone who works in the nonprofit sphere would 100% understand that, so in future interviews she could point to it as her work and people would accept that.

          I get the sense that OP4 is used to academic standards of solo writing, where plagiarism is a big deal and it’s unconscionable to put your name on something you didn’t write, so it’s unthinkable to let someone do that to you. In reality, it happens all the time.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Yep. For many years early in my career, the majority of what I wrote was published as being “by” someone else. I even wrote a first-person article from a B-list celebrity about her beauty secrets (which I was told to make up, with her blessing).

            1. Michele*

              That reminds me of the underrated “Christmas in Connecticut” where Barbara Stanwick is a writer for a women’s magazine and just makes everything up.

              1. Chaordic One*

                I once read an article, years and years ago, about a writer who wrote a story about a couple of aging celebrities (and their secret love bond). The writer confessed that in those pre-internet days she could not find any evidence that the two celebrities had even met each other.

                However, she investigated everything about them she could find looking for any common interests and she found that they both participated in fund-raising for different animal-related charities. That became their “secret love bond,” that they both loved animals and raised money to protect and help them.

            2. LBK*

              I imagine you may not be able or willing to divulge who it was, but I’m wildly curious now. And curious what secrets you made up.

      3. AcademiaNut*

        To elaborate on my field a bit more (physical science).

        Refereed papers are first authored by the person who did most of the work and wrote the paper, and first author papers are *extremely* important for junior people. A large project will typically be broken up into dozens of smaller papers, one or two by the PI, describing the project as a whole, the others written by multiple other people. A supervisor who tried to poach a junior’s first author papers would be seriously out of line. I only know of one professor who tried it, claiming the authorship should be strictly alphabetical (not done in my field). Papers presented at conferences are usually required to be first-authored by the person presenting.

        I think my field is a bit unusual in that grad students and post-docs are able (and expected) to apply for their own data as PI, not to just work in a senior person’s project. But as a junior person, you would typically be applying for small projects (< 25 hours facility time in a year). Large projects, which can use 300 hours or more in a year, would be headed by senior people, and the proposals first-authored by them. White papers for large projects, or future of the field type meetings are again first-authored by senior people. On the more engineering side, technical reports on a large project would again be first-authored by the lead for the project.

        1. Venus Supreme*

          Yup, this. My best friend studies/works in physical science and it was a big deal when she co-first authored her first paper. I work in arts admin and what she described to me was a world I never heard of before!

      4. Joseph*

        I can say that in my field (engineering), it’s not uncommon for the first author to be the most senior person on the project even for refereed papers. Several reasons:
        1.) The senior person is assumed to have overseen and guided the work because that’s the name people know. So they’re the one who’s going to get the bulk of the blame if something goes wrong – the buck stops there.
        2.) From a certain point of view, the senior person is actually more valuable to the project than the junior person even if the senior engineer never touched an instrument or wrote a sentence of the paper. Why? Because academic work in engineering is often funded with grants from either the government or a private company, so the entire research wouldn’t exist without the senior member winning that grant.
        3.) Clout, as others have said.

        1. TL -*

          Whereas in my field (biology), first author is always the person who designed and pushed the work and last author is the big boss (and the amount of flak last author gets for any retracted papers depends, but first authors will take the heat)

          Grants can be written as Junior Scientist undersigned by Senior Scientist or as by Senior Scientist (but it wouldn’t be surprising for others to draft parts of those grants).

      5. Karo*

        When I wrote whitepapers we didn’t even have an individual author listed on it – it was the company’s.

        1. zora*

          this. In my nonprofit organization, many policy documents in our sector just had the name of the organization, no individuals. But internally, among colleagues, it was known who wrote what, they would get credit and thanked by bosses verbally. But that was never written down publicly.

    2. jamlady*

      My field is a mix of science and law – early in your career, you spend a lot of time doing the research and writing without getting much credit. The reasoning behind it is that your boss is a professional of a certain legal standing and they take the fall for whatever gets written and submitted. I have to explain this really carefully to my technicians because it does sound sketchy when you’re not used to it, but if they make a bad call, I’m responsible for it. That’s why my name goes first.

    3. Manders*

      In marketing, it’s pretty common for someone else’s byline to end up on your work. I do a lot of writing on behalf of the people who are the “faces” of the company I work for. But that’s always made clear in advance, not something that’s sprung on you at the last minute.

    4. LeRainDrop*

      It is very common in law firms to for the associate to do all the research and writing for an article, and then the partner slaps their name on it as first author, even with very minimal editing. Yes, this is a source of frustration for the associates who did all the work.

      1. Roly Poly Little Bat-Faced Girl*

        So common, in fact, that everyone assumes the associate wrote it! At least there’s that consolation.

        1. Gaara*

          Yep. It’s really only a problem when the partner doesn’t let the associate put their name on it. Otherwise, you’re listed by seniority but no one doubts for a second that the associate did all the work.

    5. Bartlet for President*

      On the flip side, I’ve never had the experience where what the OP is describing doesn’t happen all the time. I’ve held researcher/analyst roles in the private, nonprofit, and higher education sectors, and it was expected that the team leader would add their name unless the “true author” was relatively senior. Particularly at the junior level, the top billing would not go to a research assistant even if they did 100% of the work.

      As others have mentioned, the reasons behind this are usually some combination of the primary author having clout or providing the technical lead.

    6. MK*

      I also know of many fields where it’s normal, usually when the writing is not the main point of the work. I mean, if this were fiction writing, who wrote it would be the only thing that matters, but if it was a article summarising a process the department as a whole had developed, where the important thing is the process, not the writing, it makes sense that the manager was put down as lead. And I think Aly_B’s point about it being a rehash of their work, which the manager did presumably lead, is important. A paper that could be completed in a few hours (even if the OP did it in record time) is hardly likely to contain original work.

      1. One of the Sarahs*

        Yes, this – if a paper is summarising the work people have done, or plans someone else has been leading on, it’s completely fine for them to be on there, as they really did do the important work, even if they didn’t write it up.

        I guess the issue is “What is a paper?” and the OP might want to have a look at what else happens in her field. I didn’t get it either, leaving university, where it was all essay/assignment-type papers, especially when there may be research papers, white papers, position papers, articles for journals, applications etc etc all with the same basic name “paper”.

      2. Koko*

        Ooh, I think that’s a really great distinction to make. The point of a white paper isn’t, “Would you like to read some really great writing?” It’s, “Would you like to learn some valuable information?” The writing is just a way of putting the information on paper, but not an end in itself. When people see the author name they aren’t so much associating the author with the writing, but with the information behind it.

    7. Sarahnova*

      In many industries, though, white papers are primarily marketing documents. That is very different to the world of journal articles, and its different needs give rise to different conventions.

    8. Sarahnova*

      I oversee production of white papers for my company, and often a junior person does the bulk of physical writing. But they go out with a senior member of staff’s name on them even if said person hasn’t written a word, for multiple reasons:
      1) They represent the company’s expertise on an area, not the individual’s. The junior individual is writing up expertise developed and owned by that member of staff.
      2) Even if I don’t physically bang out the paragraphs, I’ve generally done a good deal of structuring, reviewing, sharpening and hand holding. I still don’t take an author credit unless I’ve done some writing, but it wouldn’t be an all-time injustice if I did.
      3) Credibility purposes, pure and simple. The purpose of the document is to market and position our expertise, and a Jr. Consultant doesn’t do that very credibly.

      Maybe the OP is in a field where strong conventions apply to authorship, but in the likely chance she is not, I don’t think her indignation is going to fly well.

      1. CM*

        Yep. This is the type of whitepaper I’m most familiar with (and if it only took the OP a few hours, it sounds like this type of whitepaper) and I completely agree with the points Sarahnova made. OP#4’s outraged reaction sounded a little naive to me.

      2. Xay*

        This has been my experience as well – there is a very different authoring practice for white papers than peer reviewed manuscripts.

      3. Elizabeth West*

        When I edited consultant reports at Exjob, my name didn’t go on any of them. Not even when the consultant gave me a page full of notes and I full-on wrote the report (I had to do that with one product consultant who never gave me a completed document ever). They had the expertise and I did not. Of course my title was admin and not junior consultant, but nevertheless, I wasn’t the one who paid them a site visit. They only way the clients even knew my name was when they had trouble downloading the document.

    9. DArcy*

      This was something we explicitly covered in my research ethics class at Caltech. The norms for author credit vary widely from field to field, and it’s VERY important to follow the unwritten rules for your particular field REGARDLESS of your personal opinion.

      For example, in biology it’s standard practice to credit the head of your lab or research group as a coauthor even if they did not personally work on that paper; it’s understood as an acknowledgement of the foundational role they play in the lab. In physics, in contrast, it is standard practice to only credit those who actually worked on the paper.

      1. TyB*

        As a Biologist I can confirm this. Being listed as an author doesn’t mean you wrote paragraphs or sections. It means you contributed intellectually to the project. I’ve been on papers where I didn’t write a word, but I performed several of the experiments and reviewed the data in all the other sections. The important info is the data, not the words. Being an author means you agree that the data isn’t fake and you agree with the conclusions.

      2. Nye*

        On the flip side, I’ve been interested to see that a lot of journals have started to require a brief description of exactly what role each author played in the study. Granted, you can say the senior author “contributed to experimental design” or whatever, but I appreciate the move towards requiring a real contribution from every author. (Have not been in this situation, but I’ve heard of labs where every person in the lab is included on every paper from that lab, to beef up the lab members’ CVs and make them more competitive.)

        That said, the LW’s situation is totally different because theirs was not a peer-reviewed paper. White papers are marketing documents; each company and industry can follow their own conventions. I’d be irritated too if it seemed like I was being sidelined on my own work, but if it’s the standard practice in your industry, I think you have to go with it. You can still claim credit for the writing, and it sounds like your boss is up-front (at least internally) about how much you did. That’s the kind of thing that can mean a great reference when it’s time to move up or on.

      3. Tuxedo Cat*

        I agree with following field norms and not taking it personally. With that said, it can also vary from group to group.

        For example, in one group in my field everyone who provides some kind of feedback gets a co-authorship. In my own group, you had to have done a major contribution. That could be anything from writing the paper to helping to get the grant that paid for the research even if that person didn’t do much if any writing.

        However, the person who wrote the paper gets to be first author.

    10. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      I agree that this is common in most fields and that there’s a distinction between a white paper (policy document) and an academic article. In the white paper context, it was super common in policy circles for a manager with greater clout/name recognition to be listed (even as first name), and I saw that as common practice at nonprofits, think tanks, research groups based at universities, law school and practice, and in local/state government. There were different rationales for this at each place, but the overarching theme is that it’s going out with the seal/approval of the organization lead. It’s also important to remember that white papers don’t usually “belong” to the autjor(s), they belong to the issuing organization.

      Research articles varied significantly by field. For example, in Econ names are always listed in alpha order unless the lead really did contribute disproportionately to the research design and/or analytic design. In law, folks rarely co-author, but when they do they list names either (a) by contribution, or (b) by seniority. If all contributions are equal, they list alpha by last name.

      But there’s a difference in conventions in part because the ideas in an academic article belong to the authors, and their contribution to the production of knowledge informs their professional reputation and advancement in a way that is distinct from generating white papers. White paper authors generally benefit from an elevated profile, but the ideas being marketed are associated with the issuing organization. At that point, upping your reputation as a “thought leader” doesn’t come from your publications, they come from presenting at conferences, holding press events or publishing op-eds, or lobbying.

      1. Koko*

        Yes, and with white papers/policy papers/op-eds it can be only way to get published at all as a very junior person.

        I had a friend who had an idea for an op-ed she wanted to submit to HuffPo about a particular policy issue. She was a junior staff member at an organization in that policy area. She approached a very well-known national speaker who led an organization hers was friendly with, and who had been published in HuffPo before, and he agreed to co-author it with her. Which meant she wrote the entire paper, he lightly edited it, and his name went first. HuffPo wouldn’t have likely published am opinion piece from No-Name Junior Policy Org Staffer. They were eager to publish a piece from Well-Known National Speaker With Whom We Have a Pre-Established Relationship, though.

        It’s not stealing credit, it’s lending credibility. As others have pointed out, even if they don’t have to make any edits because you wrote so well, they are vouching for that with their professional expertise. They’re saying, “You can believe No-Name Junior Person because I, Internationally-Renowned Expert, say they are correct.” The authorship indicates that evaluation/vouching, that they took the time to make sure they themselves would stand by what you wrote.

  4. dragonzflame*

    #3 – I wouldn’t go to too much effort. That said, I always feel awkward at pot lucks if I haven’t brought anything, so I’d swing by a supermarket and grab some cheese and crackers, or some cookies, or a boxed dessert, or something. I don’t think most people generally even notice who brought what though if the gathering is a decent size, and there’s usually way too much food anyway.

    1. Taylor Swift*

      I think that any reasonable coworkers, which most people probably are, will not at all expect the brand new person to contribute.

      1. MK*

        Some people, notably my mother, suffer from I-cannot-show-up-at-any-gathering-where-victuals-will-be-served-empty-handed syndrome. Seriously, if it will make the OP feel awkward, it’s better to grab something from a store than feel like a leach all day.

        1. catsAreCool*

          I’d probably bring a bag of chips or pretzels or cookies, something that didn’t have to be refridgerated and that was easy to just buy.

    2. Fiona the Lurker*

      May I suggest fruit? It’s easy enough to transport – and to distribute if it’s left over at the end of the meal – and doesn’t require special storage conditions. Also, it’s the sort of thing people usually forget to bring and will probably be very welcome as a result.

      1. Nea*

        Someone taught me this once and it’s never failed at any potluck: buy a bag or two of clementines and section them yourself. A big bowl of orange slices that you don’t have to peel yourself and don’t have to eat with a spoon (like the stuff in a jar) has been, in my experience, as popular as potato chips. Sometimes more so.

        And yet, nobody but me and the person who taught it to me ever seems to do it.

        1. Meredith*

          Clementines and/or grapes that I have washed and cut into smaller bunches are my preferred snack to bring into the office, since we have quite a few allergies and people who are trying to eat healthier. Whole fruit is something most people can snack on.

        2. SharedDriveUser*

          I do the clementine bowl for parties also, and rarely have left-over slices! Looks good, tastes better, and really easy to do.

        3. Aussie*

          Side note: I have never heard of clementines before, had to look it up. Learn something new every day!

          1. Trig*

            Growing up on the North American west coast, we called them mandarins and they came from China. In the midwest and east, they call them clementines and they come from Morocco. The first time I heard ‘clementine’ I was confused too! They are actually slightly different fruits, but pretty much the same thing. I’ve also heard them called “Christmas oranges” because that’s when they’re typically in season, but I think that a less technical term. :)

            1. Chinook*

              DH (an east coast baby) and I (a prairie baby) have had long discussions on which makes the better “Christmas orange” – clementines or mandarins. They are absolutely different fruit (the taste and texture give it away) and can’t be swapped for each other because you can tell. Heck, there is even a difference between Chinese mandarin oranges and Japanese ones if you have been raised on the latter – Japanese ones are closer to a clementines in sweetness and in size (atleast the ones they import to Canada – I saw once in Japan the size of my fist that made me cry in happiness.)

              1. Elizabeth West*

                Mandarins are sweeter–every time I buy a bag of clementines, they’re dry as hell and virtually tasteless. The mandarins sold in bags aimed at kids’ snacking are delicious, however!

        4. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

          As someone who doesn’t like to cook or bake, I am SO DOING THIS NOW for all of my potlucks!

          1. TootsNYC*

            Another tip for you:

            When your friends have a baby, or a serious surgery, and everybody else is bringing them pans of frozen lasagna, you can cut up a bunch of fresh vegetables, put them in ziplock bags and drop them off.

        5. Koko*

          This is brilliant! Definitely going to steal this one for New Year’s Eve. My friends and I always try to put together a really comfortable situation at home to come back to when we get tired of dancing, with snacks and drinks prepared in advance, everything cleaned, extra beds pulled out, etc. Bowl of clementines it is!

        6. Artemesia*

          I have done this as an appetizer e.g. we are having champagne before dinner and have out some cheese and crackers or whatever — I always also have either grapes or clementines — and at least peel some of the clementines . almost always people eat those.

    3. Raine*

      I’m sorry the manager even mentioned it. I’m sure it was just to give the OP a head’s up to NOT worry and to help the OP not be blindsided when it happened on the first day. But it has done just the opposite. Please don’t worry anymore, OP!

    4. Scorpio*

      If the LW isn’t using public transportation, bringing some kind of fancy-ish non-alcoholic drink (lemonade or seltzer or something) would be nice and easy to pick up.

    5. ModernHypatia*

      Potluck options for people who don’t cook (or can’t for some reason) that work really well:
      – Drinks (for some reason, no one brings these to most potlucks. Interesting fizzy water works really well, or lemonade or good apple cider in season. I often do a couple of bottles of interesting fizzy water and a bottle of unusual juice – pomegranate, peach, etc, and encourage people to mix them when I can’t wrangle cooking.)
      – Nice loaf of bread and cheese
      – Crackers and an interesting spreadable cheese/dip (salmon spread, artichoke and spinach, etc.)
      – For slightly more effort, you can do a really simple marinated mushrooms/olives/pickles sort of tray that goes nicely.

      I tend to avoid baked goods, because chances are there will be some dessert and if there are bakers in the group, especially so, but small interesting chocolates often work well, too, or a couple of unique flavour combo chocolate bars broken into squares with the labels so people can taste different things.

    6. Fjell & Skog*

      Also, super easy dessert idea (or, how to make clementines not healthy anymore). Section them, melt a bar of chocolate, dip the sections in the chocolate, then refrigerate for at least a few minutes. Yum! Tip, only dip one side in so they don’t stick to the plate (or use parchment paper).

    7. Lemon Zinger*

      Or OP could bring her own lunch. I was taught that you should NEVER take from a potluck unless you contributed to it.

  5. Archie Goodwin*

    #1 – something similar happened on a contract I worked on a few years ago. Government contract, it was, and one of my colleagues just wasn’t there one day…it wasn’t someone I worked with on a regular basis, so I didn’t see how it played out.

    Because it was a government office, everyone took privacy VERY seriously, and nobody would answer if you asked “what happened?”. What I ended up doing was asking my manager, is there something I need to worry about? Which is to say – am I exhibiting any of the behavior that got this person terminated? That avoided the most pressing issue – the WHAT – and allowed me to frame my question in terms of my own professional development. Which is key, and true – I later found out what had happened, and it wasn’t something I’d have needed to be concerned about. But it helped to hear as much from my manager, because it reassured me that I wasn’t unconsciously doing something fireable. I’d recommend this course if your manager is someone who tends to be straight with you; it avoids office gossip but has the potential to still be helpful.

    1. Joseph*

      What I ended up doing was asking my manager, is there something I need to worry about? Which is to say – am I exhibiting any of the behavior that got this person terminated? That avoided the most pressing issue – the WHAT – and allowed me to frame my question in terms of my own professional development.
      That’s a really good way to frame it.

    2. Frazzled*

      In the end, it’s not OP’s business why the person was fired. Either it’s something personal and tragic or its performance related. If it’s personal, the person who is no longer there has a right to keep it that way. If it was performance related, and that should be obvious to the coworkers who remain or should likewise be kept confidential.

      We are nosy creatures by nature. The explosion of the Internet and “data culture “have made this worse. Often, it pays to step back and ask ourselves “why do I need to know this? ” Is it something you have a legitimate interest in or are you just wanting your curiosity sated?

      To me, the only interest that one has in the firing of a coworker is protecting one’s own job.* Therefore, you only really need to know if you’re doing something similar, there’s a cultural her personality issue at play that will affect the person asking, or if this is a firing because the company is having financial issues and looking for excuses to let people go via firing instead of layoffs.

      * if you had a personal relationship with the person let go that was close enough you feel you have a right to know, you would know already.

      1. Koko*

        We are nosy creatures by nature. The explosion of the Internet and “data culture “have made this worse. Often, it pays to step back and ask ourselves “why do I need to know this? ” Is it something you have a legitimate interest in or are you just wanting your curiosity sated?

        A friend of mine had a really terrible experience earlier this year when her cousin died and people were commenting on her posts about it asking how he died. It happened that the nature of his death was something his family didn’t want to discuss publicly, and it was amazing how many people were nosy enough to ask – in comments on a Facebook post no less, not even reaching out to speak to the grieving family personally! – when the details weren’t given. It’s like we forget that this isn’t a story in the local paper, it is the real lives of people you know.

    3. Sas*

      Possibly. But, I also think that a person learning to MIND THEIR OWN BUSINESS is a lesson worth learning!!

    4. TheBeetsMotel*

      Something similar happened with a family member of mine; they became aware of a number of firings/layoffs (it’s a large company), including someone close to their department’s operations; they were concerned enough to find a moment to ask their boss if they had any cause to be concerned (answer was no). That was the best way to go, I think; keep it all business and no gossip.

      (Not suggesting OP is actually asking for the gossip, but it could perhaps be perceived that way.)

      1. Michele*

        I agree. Our company is going through layoffs, so had a closed door meeting with my boss. We discussed job safety and what I could do to help my position (I need to work on visibility and making people aware of the work that I do), but no gossip. He actually did bring up a couple people that I work with, but under the promise of confidentiality.

    5. AMPG*

      That’s the way one place I worked framed it when a coworker was fired suddenly. Due to bad management choices, she hadn’t really been given strong enough warnings, and so it was a surprise to her and everyone else when she was walked out the door one afternoon. The new manager called everyone together and basically said, I can’t divulge details, but this has nothing to do with our funding or the overall financial health of the division. The coworker told a couple of people her side of the story afterwards, but it was actually pretty easy to read between the lines, which I think also helped.

      1. Archie Goodwin*

        See, in my case there were no lines between which to read. 1.) I really didn’t know the person super-well, and 2.) I’m no good with marginalia. :-)

        What also helped is that I didn’t want to press for gossip. While I wouldn’t have minded knowing what happened – and as I say, I did later find out when the job was over and I was working somewhere else with another colleague – my first concern was about job performance. Once that was taken care of, that’s what I was most concerned about.

    6. Anonymous_For_Comment*

      I’ve followed a similar path when discussing things with my manager. My stock phrase after a firing is “is there anything I need to know about Seamus’ firing?” Sometimes if I’m feeling insecure I’ll follow up with “…because if Seamus tripped over a land mine I’d really appreciate knowing about it.”

  6. Lucky Duck*

    Re LW 2# – 13K+ Instagram followers is pretty impressive, especially given the industry she is interested in and shouldn’t be too easily dismissed. Even though some of what she displays on her account isn’t appropriate for employers to be looking through, she is clearly doing the right thing in attracting and keeping the thousands of followers.

    1. Bartlet for President*

      There will be plenty of places that don’t care that a person has 13k+ followers if their content is not in step with the company/organization’s values. PR companies often consider an applicant’s social media presence as that applicant’s “brand”. If the applicant’s brand is contrary to the potential employer’s brand, then that would almost certainly be an issue for them. PR people are often identified by name in the media and public releases, and so that PR person’s personal brand becomes a reflection of their employer and their brand – and companies control their brand very, very carefully.

    2. Triceratops*

      I mean, the 13k insta followers demonstrate social media skills that will translate. I’m sure it’s about the content to some degree, but there are tons of instas that post party/sexy shots and don’t have near that many followers–so I think there have to be some elements of good social media work in the shooting, captioning, hashtagging, timing, etc.

      I work in a PR-adjacent field (mine and my coworkers names are very public and people DO search us on social media) and I’ve always been told that I can post whatever the f**k I want, just as long as it’s not on company time or devices. So maybe one piece of evidence that expectations are changing. FWIW, the Twitter stuff especially seems like it could be fairly innocuous (hard to say for sure from just a description).

      1. beetrootqueen*

        whilst thats true. if she hasn’t bought them amassing that many is really quite good. Also if she has done any contracts with companies or brands and uses her page and is a instagram “influencer” then that is something to mention.
        TLDR I have applied for quite a few jobs where they wanted that information and previous brand deals I have done. Obviously its quite a specific industry that is opening up quite quickly but jobs that ask for these statistics are definitley out there

      2. Jubilance*

        Just because you CAN buy Instagram followers, doesn’t mean that everyone with a high follower count should be discounted or assumed to be paying for them. That’s disingenuous.

    3. Addie Bundren*

      She might be doing something “right” by some hiring managers’ standards AND something that would cut her off from plenty of other jobs. If she’s looking for a regular corporate PR job, well…the vast majority of people I know in this field are not personal social media successes, and that’s a GOOD thing if they’re representing a wide variety of brands, or if they work in-house at a large company that needs their spokespeople to represent the company, not their own individual brands. If this student is dedicated to her social media, I hope she is able to find a place that values it, but it will likely not be the big names she’d otherwise target in her career search.

      1. miss lee*

        Hi Addie; LW #2 here. I actually agree with you. She does have some long-term entrepreneurial goals that I fully support (and hey, the folks who reach that point don’t need to worry *too* much about stepping on eggshells). However, she does want to go the corporate route first, and that’s a trickier path to take because the whole 13k+ followers thing could be seen as an asset by a few companies/brands coming from a certain angle, but not the overwhelming majority, in my opinion..

        1. Sparrow*

          I work with college students, and most of the time, you can’t stop them from doing the obviously problematic thing they want to do, no matter how clearly you explain the potential ramifications. The “I should’ve listened to you” emails are always nice vindication!

          They do normally pay more attention to those they perceive as experts, so I’m a little surprised she’s not taking you more seriously. Can you maybe set her up for coffee with a friend who hires in the student’s intended area who can reinforce this message in the context of other job searching/career advice? Ultimately, if she’s hearing this from professionals in her field and chooses to ignore it, that’s really on her.

  7. Dot Warner*

    #3: Yeah, don’t bring anything. Since it’s your first day, you have no way to know if anyone has any food allergies or intolerances or dietary restrictions, and it would be extremely embarrassing to bring something that makes one of your coworkers sick or that half the office can’t eat.

    1. nekussa*

      I’ve gotten into the habit of always writing the ingredients on a post-it (or clipping out the ingredient list from the box mix) and sticking that to the tray of whatever I’ve brought to the party. That way people can check the ingredient list without having to inform me of their concerns.

    2. TootsNYC*

      I disagree with the idea that it would be “extremely embarrassing” to bring a food people can’t eat.

      If the First Day Exemption applies to eating at the potluck, it absolutely would apply to bringing food that doesn’t fly.

      And, people who get sick from certain foods, or can’t eat certain foods, generally do not get upset that someone brought something they can’t eat. Especially not at a potluck.

      One coworker, or half the office? Both of those conditions leave all the rest of the coworkers (the OTHER half of the office) able to eat the food.

      I reject utterly the idea that it is necessary for food, activities, etc., to be something that literally everyone will enjoy. Because it is also impossible.

      I’d say the reason not to bring anything is that it might feel awkward for most of the current staff, if they feel our OP is being taken advantage of a little bit by being burden with potluck obligations on Day One. (It might also feel a bit creepy–“you just got her, and you already knew it was a potluck?” Esp. since the manager knew her before, I might avoid that as it smacks of “I have an ‘in’ with the manager that’s apart from work.”)

      But something easy like a box of cookies, or even that bowl of clementine segments, wouldn’t trigger those same reactions, so if that makes the OP feel better, I’d go along with that.

      1. Michele*

        I agree completely. We have 50 people in our department and just had the holiday potluck. All food was welcome. Some people made things from scratch, others just brought in a bag of chips. People with food restrictions just navigate around what they can’t eat. That I am aware of, no one here has severe allergies, but even if they did, they couldn’t eat any food from my kitchen, or most for that matter, because of cross contamination.

        I also agree that it would be nice, but not necessary, to bring something in. Everyone likes rice crispy treats.

      2. Sorin*

        I don’t think someone SHOULD be embarassed for that on their first day.

        But I would certainly feel embarassed if I was the one who brought it.

        1. Dot Warner*

          Yeah, that’s what I was getting at. A former coworker accidentally brought in food that caused another person in the department to have a minor allergic reaction. She had no idea he had a food allergy and so didn’t tell him what was in it, and the people who did know about the allergy didn’t realize the food she’d brought in contained the allergen. Thankfully, the guy only had a minor reaction, but years later, the food-bringer is still a little embarrassed about it.

  8. Greg M.*

    Number 5 listen up: your work doesn’t care about your school. they don’t, they’ve made this clear by their ignoring of your schedule and availability. They don’t see it as a need to change anything because if they schedule you against your availability you still show up. This needs to change and it needs to change right now.

    First ask yourself, if you have to choose between school and this job which will win. Consider that if you fail courses for a job then you are possibly losing money on that job because you can kiss that tuition money goodbye.

    If you decide that school wins here’s what you do. Type up your availability and make a copy for every manager and a couple extra. Walk in and give every single manager your schedule, don’t let them refuse to take it. Tell them that since you’ve been scheduled during class before you are updating your availability and now that they all are aware after X date you will not attend any shift during those hours and are not responsible for them.

    It is the management’s decision to be understaffed, let them deal with the fallout.

    Further in your availability give yourself study and mental health time. make sure you have at least one day a week where you can have a bit of time.

    Basically it’s time to lay down a boundary, they’ve made it clear that as long as you sacrifice your school for them they aint gonna change a thing.

    For the record you’ve spoken to them 12 times willing to compromise and they’ve refused. The professional thing to do now is give it in writing with a deadline and stick to it. I guarantee you they will schedule you during class again, point it out and tell them “this is outside my availability, I am not available and will not be here during this shift.” do not back down, do not negotiate.

    1. JumpyJessie*

      THIS, OP#5. Exactly all of this, especially the bits about GIVING IT IN WRITING and then NOT BACKING DOWN when (as Greg M. astutely predicts) they inevitably schedule you during school again. I am a very nonconfrontational sort of person and also hate to leave people hanging when they’re in trouble, so I know it can be hard sometimes to stand your ground on these things. But OP, they’re taking advantage of your niceness/agreeability/what-have-you. There is NO WAY that TWELVE+ conversations didn’t get through to them and it’s just some “honest mistake” or “forgetfulness”. They aren’t taking your prior commitments seriously, but for the sake of your education, you must!

    2. Lady Ariel Ponyweather*

      Agreed. Good advice.

      And there are places that are more accommodating to students’ needs (fast food, retail), so if they really refuse to help, then it might be worthwhile to apply at other places.

      AND ALSO it’s not your responsibility to deal with busy periods. It’s theirs. They need to improve their planning. It’s not worth losing your education because they’re too lazy to do their jobs. Good luck.

    3. azvlr*

      My son could have written this letter (he didn’t, I know his writing “voice”)! His problem is that he is scheduled to work the appropriate number of hours, but the always play to work ethic and sense of duty. He ends up working far more hours than he is officially schedule, and very likely more than 40 hours on some weeks.
      I think he should walk out at the end of his shift. The problem is that it’s his first job and he is very proud to be independent, so he likes the extra tip money he makes. This semester was better than previous, and I think he’s starting to figure it out.

    4. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

      Great advice.

      I actually had an old boss CALL MY MOTHER to rat me out for “quitting on him” because he would flat out ignore my scheduling needs around school even though I provided them in writing. She saved the message for me and we had a good laugh over it. She said, “I really wish I had been home to get the call, I would have said, ‘Well, she’s an adult, so I’m not really sure what you expect me to do. Maybe you should have listened to her when she said her education comes first.'”

      Moral of the story: These jobs are a dime a dozen. Really. Don’t jeopardize your education for a crappy manager that wants to keep you down.

      1. PollyQ*

        Yeah, don’t sweat finding a new job — the US unemployment rate is at its lowest point in the last NINE YEARS, so there’s a better job out there for you, OP.

    5. Michele*

      Good advice. Also, I remember from my time working in restaurants that the more contentious you are, the more likely management is to take you for granted (and take advantage of), especially if you are the type to just keep your head down and do your work.

      1. Michele*

        Normally I don’t correct my typos here, but I meant conscientious, not contentious, and that really changes my post. (darn autocorrect)

    6. LawPancake*

      Oh yeah, give them your availability in writing and then stick to it. I once wrote out my 2 weeks notice during the lecture my former boss was giving me about how they couldn’t always “accommodate” my class schedule and for me to think otherwise was a problem for him. I was going to school so that I wouldn’t have to work food service jobs* anymore not the other way around.

      *Not that there’s anything wrong with food service job as a career if you’re so inclined. I absolutely know high end bartenders that make more than I do as a lawyer. It’s just not for me.

    7. TheBeetsMotel*

      This, unfortunately. At the risk of stereotyping (can one stereotype a job itself?), retail and food service don’t really care about your life outside of work, and especially not about school, as ultimately, they know that someone going to school is doing so to follow a career path and get out of their present situation. Unless you’re going to school to be a chef, your restaurant job has little to no vested interest in caring about your schooling, as they know it’s going to be the reason you quit, sooner later.

      That said, there are better retail/restaurant jobs that understand that their largely young, often school-pursuing workforce are not going to be there forever, and rather than fighting that, they accommodate school schedules as best they can and simply black you out on the schedule for those hours – no call-ins, no pressure. Ask around; I’m sure someone you know can recommend a business that takes employee availabilities a bit more seriously.

  9. Milton Waddams*

    #2: I’m surprised this is still the case. Where are these mysterious high-powered CEOs who are mortified by drugs, sex, and rock & roll coming from? It’s all Boomers now in positions of authority, and they lived through Free Love, weed, and Vietnam; I doubt there’s anything that could shock them. “The Man” of the Boomers’ generation is long-retired; they’re The Man now. Is it Gen X that’s become suddenly uptight in their middle-age?

    1. hbc*

      I bet it’s some kind of feedback loop of “I’m cool with it, but some people might not be, so you need to keep that thing that I think is totally fine hidden from view.” Plus, a lot of boundaries were pushed during their generation, but it’s not like there was 100% participation–and the straight-laced, follow-the-rules type people are always going to be more represented in the higher ranks.

      1. Liane*

        Plus, there just wasn’t the technology to keep every single TMI thing everyone did on record for years. Especially if you were a regular person. And I think* that even for the celebs/politicians that old idea was still in place that you hid “unpleasant” facts about national figures–FDR was photographed already in place so one saw news footage that he couldn’t walk, you didn’t hear about JFK’s hijinks the way we did Mr. Clinton’s (or a lot of other politicians’) until *years* after the facts.

        *while I was alive during most of the 60s, I was nowhere near old enough to notice, much less participate, in what was going on in the country/world, outside of kids’ birthday parties.

    2. MK*

      OK, two general truths about human nature:

      One, humans in general become more conservative as they grow older and/or when they assume authority; not everyone, of course, but many. Every generation in their 20s rebel against their parents’ values, but a lot of them adopt a significant portion of said values when they come into power. By the way, were really all babyboomers hippies in their youth? How representative of the general population is what we see in films?

      Two, humans are hypocrites. You say babyboomers who lived through the 1960s are not easily shocked; do you really think a 17th century French aristocrat or a Victorian plutocrat, who in all probability kept a mistress as matter of course, would be shocked by sex or drinking? These things always existed, they just weren’t made public. And most employers today don’t really care how their workers live, as long as it doesn’t affect their business. The problem with posting things online is that it has the potential to do that.

      A person who was all for free love, drug use and anti-establishment 40 years ago and is now the CEO of a bank has probably changed their views, at least in part, somewhere along the line; they probably wouldn’t have become a banker otherwise. And even if they still hold the same values privately, they might still object to an employee who posts photos that offend their conservative clients and/or could cause embarrassment to their company.

    3. Allison*

      Well, their acts of rebellion were cool, but “kids these days” have lost their minds!

      I’m being sarcastic, of course, but that’s probably not far from the actual mentality.

      From their perspective, either they think what we do is irresponsible, or they think posting about it on social media is irresponsible. Back in their day their shenanigans were memories, and stories they told to their friends, never posted somewhere an unintended audience might see it.

      1. Allison*

        But, I will add, I’m pretty sure if social media was around in the 60’s and 70’s, the hippies would have been all over that. The technology is new, so it seems like the desire to use it is new, but I’m convinced older generations would have used it if they had it.

        1. Michele*

          Absolutely. They love to make fun of millenials for selfies, but people used to spend hours posing for portraits. My mom has latched on to social media, and I have a hard time getting her to understand discretion. She puts everything out there, and I have had to specifically tell her not to post things about other people without their permission.

        2. AnonAnalyst*

          Yeah, my sense is that the disapproval is less about the actual activities people are engaging in and more about posting photos of it on social media. Like, I picture people viewing those photos and thinking, “how irresponsible and stupid to post this online! This person clearly lacks common sense,” not clutching their pearls and lamenting about kids these days drinking too much.

          I totally agree that if the technology existed back in the day a lot of those same people would have been posting photographic evidence of their shenanigans all over social media.

    4. AnotherAlison*

      Hmmm. I’m a young Gen X’r with a teenager in college. I have two nieces who are strippers. Nothing shocks me, and I actually spent last week in party mode on vacation myself, but there’s still a public life and a private life, imo. I would probably look the other way at a few more scandalous pictures on someone’s social media account, but if my nieces thought they were going to get PR jobs in conservative industries with their FB accounts, I’d probably argue with them that their thinking is flawed. It’s not that I’m shocked, offended or scandalized, but it’s something. . .

      1. Michele*

        I think it is just a matter of discretion. I am not easily scandalized and don’t consider myself to be a prude, but I see putting some things on social media as being inappropriate. Of course, it is also a matter of degree. Posting a picture of holding a beer at a barbecue is one thing, posting a picture of being falling down drunk and urinating in public is another.

  10. NJ Anon*

    #3 This just happened at my job. I hired someone who started the Monday before Thanksgiving. We were doing a pot luck on Tuesday. I told her about it but also told her not to worry about bringing anything. She didn’t. We had more food than we needed to feed everyone.

    1. Lily Rowan*

      Yeah, there’s always a ton of food at a work potluck, if even half of the people bring enough for 4+ people. It’s not like a social potluck where people are attending and contributing in family groups.

  11. Cristina in England*

    3. Just put your mind at ease and bring a box of chocolates or cookies or something. The cost of a box of cookies will mean that you can worry about one fewer thing on your first day.

    1. Lady Ariel Ponyweather*

      Yes, that’s what I would do. I’ve been invited to parties and told nothing was needed, but it still felt so awkward to show up and be all ‘Well, I’m gonna eat your food now!’.

      The good thing about cookies or chocolates is that they can be saved for later. What you can do is say something like, “Hey, I brought these along, but if there’s enough food for today, maybe we can open them tomorrow morning.”

    2. B*

      Yes, this exactly. If you feel like you should bring something, I’m the type of person who would, then you don’t need to make anything. You could bring cookies, mini cupcakes, chocolate, a tray of veggies and dip, some clementines, etc. Easy, simple, not expensive.

  12. beetrootqueen*

    5. I’m sorry they are messing you around but its time for the big guns now. they aren’t listening to you at all and you don’t want to endanger your schoolwork. Tell them they need to change your hours or you’ll have to leave and stay firm.

  13. AmyH*

    Regarding #2….if she has a huge Instagram following and likes to take pics of herself in lingerie, maybe she can work in the marketing department for a lingerie company!

    1. miss lee*

      Hi, LW #2 here. I agree with your statement, but that is not the industry in which she has shown interest. :)

  14. SomeoneLikeAnon*

    #5: Your education does come first. I had to do the same thing with a part time employer. I was going to school full time and told them that I could only work 20 hours or less. After the third week of the employer still putting out a 40 hr a week schedule, and at times I had always said I could not work, I quit.

  15. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    #2: I mostly just want to share a social media story, but I do think it’s worth being as direct as possible with your mentee, and if that hasn’t worked, let it go. She’s gotta figure some of this out on her own.

    We once interviewed a guy who was amiable and did well. He wasn’t stellar, but no one really distinguished themselves, and he was in our top 3. So we google him as part of our due diligence going into our hiring meeting. On his publicly accessible social media account there was a photo of him dressed as a baby wearing nothing but a “diaper” that appeared to be soiled and a bonnet while in happy baby (the yoga position) with a bottle full of what I would guess was whiskey. We didn’t hire him.

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        It was kind of like watching a car accident—gruesome and mesmerizing.

        That said, it’s an extreme example, but it’s not actually that far a cry from unfiltered posts about nude photos and hardcore partying.* It was clear that the candidate was super drunk in the photo and probably not entirely in his right mind… but he did also make it his profile picture, which raises questions about judgment. Similarly, some topics don’t need to be shared on social media, and it might help to frame it that way to your mentee.

        *Caveat: I don’t think regular 20-something partying has the same social approbation in most fields as it used to. But intense, lines-of-coke/speedballs/Molly, blackout drunk partying certainly raises eyebrows.

  16. Sheworkshardforthemoney*

    #5 This is happening with me. I have a part-time job in the evening. Lately, my boss has being asking me to do one more thing just at my quitting time. Usually I say yes because it only takes a few minutes but lately his requests take me more than an hour past my time which is major when I need to get home. Unfortunately, my only option is to quit since he now assumes I have no problem working the extra time (I do).

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Actually, that’s not your only option. If you’re ready to quit, then you are certainly free to say “No, I have to leave on time, sorry!” and LEAVE. If he fires you, you’re no worse off than if you quit. But chances are he’ll take the hint and start assuming you’ll actually leave on time.

      You should probably have a conversation with him nowhere near closing time letting him know that while you’ve been helping out past closing time, it’s been making [however it’s been affecting your home life] difficult, and you will be leaving right at closing time from now on. Again, if you’re ready to quit, you shouldn’t be afraid of being fired, so why not?

    2. Pix*

      Are you hourly? Phrase it as concern for it being done.

      “This is going to take more time than I have left on the schedule today. I’ll take care of it first thing tomorrow (or next day I’ll be back) unless you want to have someone else do it.”

    3. Natalie*

      ” Unfortunately, my only option is to quit since he now assumes I have no problem working the extra time (I do).”

      You are ALWAYS ALLOWED to correct an inaccurate assumption or even change your mind. Agreeing to something once is not a perpetual contract.

    4. Sparrow*

      It’s absolutely worth attempting to push back on this. Maybe he ignores you, but maybe not! You may need to have a more serious conversation about the larger pattern, but you may also be able to start pulling back in smaller ways. Next time he says, “Hey, can you do one more thing before you go?” you can reply, “It depends. If it can be done in 10 minutes, sure, but that’s all I can stay.” Or: “Sorry, I really need to leave on time today.” And then go when you say you have to go. If he’s semi-reasonable, I bet you can subtly readjust expectations so that he doesn’t assume that you’re always free for however long he needs you.

  17. Old Admin*

    OP#3, why don’t you just bring cookies to the potluck on your first day?
    That would cover you in case your boss is wrong, and might be a popular thing even if you didn’t have to.

  18. Kira*

    #4 are you sure they’re aware that it was published with them as primary? Maybe bringing it up as “I was surprised to see… were yiu aware?”

  19. Kt*

    For #4, I have writer white papers, articles, and thought pieces, and am not credited as the author. CEOs, doctors, etc get the credit. In my field, it’s universally understood those people likely never even read the article, but the actual writer never gets credit.

    1. automaticdoor*

      Same here! I’ve just gotten to the point where I get co-author credit. The one thing I published under just my own name on HuffPo, no one reshared as much as one of his pieces/our pieces on Twitter, so my boss and I won’t likely do that again for a while.

    2. Leatherwings*

      This is normal in policy fields as well. I think it’s likely OP is a little off base in terms of professional norms here.

  20. Artemesia*

    In any academic field the list of authors usually includes some junior person way down the list who actually wrote the piece. It is standard that, for example, the head of a lab or research project is first author on work that comes from his lab or project. This is often negotiated so that fairly senior people do get first author of pieces they write (and I agree this is the way it should be). But it is bog standard for multi authorships on pieces one person actually wrote. This is why sometimes major research figures get embarrassed when a subordinate cooks data or otherwise cheats on something the big shot’s name is on.

    Alison’s advice is great here. Discuss authorship first. my daughter wrote a book for her boss with his guidance and input but not much authorship and she was second author. It was a business and not academia so he might well have simply claimed total authorship having ‘hired her’ to do this work. On a second similar project she was given first authorship when she did the bulk of the work. This is always something to negotiate and it s common in business for the boss to farm out the writing and claim the authorship.

    1. Author*

      #4 OP here: I work in marketing for a manufacturing company. Not at all related to the academic field- thoughts?

      1. Artemesia*

        Then you can be the flunky who writes stuff for the boss which he claims. You note that he got first author, but at least you were credited as an author. Often even that doesn’t happen. You wrote this not as a creative work or an academic work but as a piece of job and the boss can do with it what he will. It is good that your name appears as author. In my daughter’s case where she was second author having written the thing, the original plan was that she was revising material for him i.e. it would all be in his name. But she ended up doing so much work that she was given co-authorship. The next time out she negotiated authorship up front. But these were published books. Yours is a white paper within the organizations; if you come up with an idea yourself for such a paper you might negotiate authorshop up front, but otherwise within something like a marketing department it is common to be ghostwriting for the boss.

      2. Anon Anon*

        I’m only in a tangentially related field to marketing, but I’d say it’s the norm to have a department head or someone like that listed as the author on a white paper, even if someone else wrote it. A white paper is marketing collateral for your company. It’s a way to showcase expertise and senior names and title lend credence to the expertise presented in the white paper. If I’m hiring a company, I want to know how senior management approaches the problem I’m hiring them to solve because they set direction.

      3. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Marketing? You may run into situations where your name isn’t on your work at all. This is totally normal and you do not want to make a big deal of it.

      4. LQ*

        Very, very common in marketing from what I’ve seen. This is work that you wrote as a part of your job and they own that work. It can be hard but it can help to shift to thinking about it that way. They can take it and remix it and make a song of it and put it on youtube and it is still theirs.

        Saying that you cannot permit him to put his name on it would seem really over the top in most marketing jobs from what I’ve seen.

    2. Marcela*

      No, first authorship depends on the field. In physics, where I’ve spent all my professional life, that is simply not done. The lab boss does not have any right to be first author if he hasn’t written the paper. Having papers as a first author is so important when looking for post docs or tenure, that I haven’t seen any PI not respecting this rule. Probably because the field for each particular subject is so small that everybody know the reputation of other PIs (even if this doesn’t stop the abusive ones), so everybody will know that PI is a jerk not following the rules.

  21. Bellatrix*

    # 5 Although you may possibly be risking the job, my experience when working part-time and needing less hours has been positive. I mean sure, they’d love to have you there 40 hours a week, but 20 is still better than 0 for them. And if they’re too unreasonable to realise that, a different job will.

    Good luck!

    1. Liane*

      Heck, even Very Famous (& also infamous) Retailer I worked for respected availability, except on Thanksgiving/Black Friday–but were upfront about that. Probably because it was input into the computer system which generated the schedules. Department managers had to review them and take care of any problems, but even the worst managers would fix it if you were scheduled out of availability, you just had to ask them once it went up if they missed it on review. Since I wasn’t in school when I worked there, I would sometimes just say, “Hey, I noticed I am on later than I should be, but I can do it this time.” But ONLY if I truly didn’t have anything else to do & I wanted to do it.
      Working while in school is different–it is HARD ENOUGH to keep up your grades when the employer only schedules you during your availability. Ask my son.

  22. Kinsley M.*

    #4: I’m honestly confused by your boss’ name going first too. My husband works in government and has to write these things all the time. The authorship is always worded “Written (or prepared) by: Hubby” and then “Reviewed by: Hubby’s Boss.” I would definitely ask my boss what’s up. Though unfortunately, I’m not good at the wording so I have no suggestions on how to ask.

    #5: I work in HR at a local restaurant chain. Please call your corporate office and ask to speak to HR. If you don’t want to go that high, call your district manager. The vast majority of restaurants have posters in the back room where all the ‘higher’ up numbers are. If not, tell your manager you need HRs number because you need all your old pay stubs. I promise they won’t want to do that work themselves and will give you the number.

    If you work in a more mom and pop style restaurant, then unfortunately this probably doesn’t apply. But I had similar issues when I was in school and I worked as a server. It is possible to solve them!

    1. Natalie*

      Assuming the LW’s restaurant has an HR, I think it’s overkill to go to them first before holding firm with the line managers. Plus, it’s good to get some practice setting boundaries with a boss.

      1. Kinsley M.*

        But she says she’s tried *twelve* times. Exactly how many more chances must she give them before HR would be appropriate? As an HR professional in a restaurant setting, this is appalling. Twelve conversations is not acceptable. Ever.

  23. Allison*

    #1, this happened where I work maybe a year or so ago, someone in my department resigned suddenly when I was working from home and didn’t even get to see him on his last day :( I never found out why, they wanted to protect his privacy but even those who were connected with him on Facebook didn’t know, or weren’t talking. Only clue I have is that earlier that day, or maybe the day before, he was trying to reconcile a charge on the company card, trying to find out who made the purchase. Maybe they suspected it was him. Or maybe it was him, but I would have been very surprised.

  24. Jessesgirl72*

    OP5: Just because you are scheduled for a shift, doesn’t mean you have to work it. After 12 conversations, they should be listening to you, but they aren’t. So when the schedule comes out and you see that you are scheduled for times that you blocked out, tell your managers immediately that, as per your previous conversations, you’re aren’t available for that shift and won’t be taking it. And then follow through. If they fire you for that (unlikely, since they are understaffed!), then so be it.

    But honestly, you are *losing* money if you are failing classes you paid for. So want to or not, you should look for another job.

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Yep. If it’s a paper schedule, tell the manager you’re doing it and cross your name out on shifts that you can’t make. Like I’ve said in other comments, if you’re ready to quit, you shouldn’t be afraid of being fired. I know it may still make you anxious, and that’s understandable, but failing your classes would make you more anxious, I would hope!

  25. Coalea*

    #4 – I think the norms surrounding authorship vary widely by field (medicine, academia, government, etc) and by format (white paper, peer-reviewed article, etc). Where the piece is published may also play a role. I would do a little research to find out what the norms are for your situation and proceed accordingly. Perhaps a colleague (not your boss) could shed some light?

  26. James*

    OP #4: I too work in a highly technical field, and I expect my technical manager to be listed as co-author on the paper. There were legal issues involved in the production of our reports, including potential liabilities for the company and for him personally (I’ve taken on that position recently, so now I get those responsibilities). While the review process may not seem sufficient for authorship, your manager may have to be listed to demonstrate that he “…wrote or caused to be written…” the report (taken from the testimony I’ve had to sign). When you discuss authorship with your boss, you may want to ask what potential liabilities these reports expose your organization to, and what policies and procedures are in place to mitigate them.

    As an aside, I’ve also walked off projects where someone inappropriately tried to alter my reports. Always remember that as a knowledge worker and a technical expert your product isn’t the reports, it’s your integrity. The instant people can’t trust your integrity is the instant you no longer are employable as a technical expert. I doubt it’s an issue here, since it was your paper that went out the door, but it’s something that’s always worth bearing in mind.

  27. AndersonDarling*

    #2 Could you enlist someone to take your mentee through a mock interview process? Review the resume, do a mock initial interview, than let the mentee see what happens when the interviewer does the due diligence of Googling her name. It would be great if the interviewer could look up another mentee’s name as well so there could be a comparison between results. “This applicant doesn’t have a big media presence, but what she has thoughtful blog posts with a loyal following. You have many followers, but now I know what your friends look like in lingerie . This is very awkward.”
    Vocalizing what happens through the discovery process may be enough to help her realize what happens behind the scenes in the hiring.

    1. B*

      This is a wonderful idea. While we can also say that “it shouldn’t matter” in corporate PR, something I am very familiar with, it absolutely 110% matters. Remember the woman who got fired when she got off the plane because she posted something derogatory. She thought it was funny, the rest of us did not. What can be one person’s perspective does not account for all and when you are in corporate PR you must toe a particular line.

      An actual interview with someone in HR/corporate PR manager would be a good way for her to also learn about interviews, questions that are asked, and how to answer. Maybe that will help her change her settings to private at the very least.

  28. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

    I really think people shouldn’t post evidence of illegal activity (drugs, underage drinking) online. That said, a lot of policies or enforcement are too strict- e.g. not hiring someone because they swear, or express strong opinions on political and social issues, on social media.

    But most importantly, enforcing strict social media policies or not hiring for small “mistakes” in that area can lead to people not being able to speak (non-offensively) and freely in their own online space, and, at worst, closeting, discrimination, and squashing political expression.

    I guess I’m kind of bitter on this. I have previously been told (even by my own family!) that I should perhaps not post photos of my wife and I going on a date, or being affectionate, or that I should not make strong political posts against candidates who want to violate my human rights by tearing my family apart and supporting conversion therapy.

    But, I’m only holding myself to the same “social media appropriateness” standard as if we were a straight couple. And I really think if you consider social media in hiring at all, then your policy and tactics need to also hold that, absent illegal activity or being so politically extreme that racism/sexism/etc. would mean they were really hard to work with, you cannot take things like a different opinion, sexual orientation, or other things in their life into consideration.

    1. Cherie*

      I’m not seeing anything in the letter that suggests that she posted illegal behavior. A college senior in the U.S. is usually of drinking age, and depending on her state of residence the smoking might also not be an issue. Neither is a smart choice to photograph, but it isn’t necessarily breaking the law.

      1. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

        Well, it’s still federally illegal, so not a great idea, as the person might need to move states in the future.

        But the lingerie? That’s just awkward. I’m more comfortable with nudity than most, and don’t necessarily need to feel dressed up for photos. So I do have some friends-only pictures of me in a sports bra and yoga pants, or playing with the cat in my pajamas. I think the difference is, that’s not sexual, nor that public.

    2. Michele*

      I understand why you are bitter. Sexual orientation should not be considered a disqualifying characteristic. I actually would (and have) disqualify someone if they were racist or sexist or homophobic or whatever because I don’t want that garbage in the workplace. The tide does seem to be turning, however. I recently went to an employer’s website, and they were trying to check off all of the liberal boxes. They had a man talking about how much he and his husband liked working there. They had a story about a deaf woman teaching her coworkers sign-language. It was definite virtue signaling. I do suspect, though, that if they went to a candidate’s FB page and saw something that was bigoted and counter to the image that they were working to project, that would definitely be a strike against the candidate.

  29. Jane D'oh!*

    #5, restaurant managers seem to have a bone in their brains that prevents them from being capable of listening to the scheduling needs of their staff. This is not limited to student servers.

    When I interviewed for a new serving job in my late 30s, I made it clear that I was unavailable on Mondays and Fridays. I was also a substitute teacher, and those were the days most often called out. The manager nodded, agreed, and proceeded to permanently schedule me as the Monday opener.

    1. KR*

      One of my first days at a fast food restaurant I put on my application I could work any day except Tuesday and Thursday. My first scheduled week? Tuesday and Thursday.

  30. KR*

    #5- I had to do something similar a few months ago. I was working two jobs and the second one kept piling on hours. Finally after one over schedule too many I went to my manager and said, I was scheduled for too many hours. Which ones do you want me to cut from my schedule? That worked for the most part. Also I had a talk with another manager because they didn’t really know what my time outside of work looked like. So I told them that when I work more than X hours I can’t get a day off because I work X hours at my other job so I get overworked and stressed and end up getting sick after two consecutive weeks and that worked too.

  31. Mimmy*

    #4: The threads on this topic have been very educational for me. I’ve always wanted to write the types of papers that have been discussed; I had no idea that, in some fields, those who do the bulk of writing don’t always get authorship. Learning the norms of your particular field is sound advice. I’d also be curious as how to frame this to others, say if you’re describing your work while networking or if you’re looking for a new job.

    Just curious: What about newsletter articles? I wrote an article for my professional association’s newsletter in 2010. I was the sole author and was credited as such in the byline even though a staff person made some edits.

    1. Marcela*

      No, it’s not that you don’t get authorship. It’s that you are not credited as first author, who is almost always assumed to be the person who did the job that the paper is presenting.

  32. animaniactoo*

    frankly it upsets me that they will not just be frank with me so I can stop wasting my time

    OP4, I understand the need to have a verbal confirmation of what’s going on. But it’s standing in your way. Take words out of the equation, look at actions and here is what you are left with:

    After 12+ times, they are being frank with you by continuing to schedule you. In fact, they were “frank” with you after the 3rd time it happened.

    You are likewise being “frank” with them that you’re not that serious about this by continuing to show up and take those shifts, rather than saying “Hi, there’s a mistake on the schedule, I can’t work that shift/many hours” – and sticking to it.

    So you need to retread in your head what being frank means and whether it always needs to be verbal. While it won’t be perfect, a good general guideline is the “Once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, three times is enemy action”. Now not an actual enemy, but more along the lines of “yeah, this many times is not a coincidence”.

    You also have to think about who you’re looking out for and why. Does the responsibility for it really belong to you, and what is the harm in assuming it? Yes, they’re understaffed, and they’ll be short if you don’t show up. But whose responsibility is it to hire people and schedule them so that they won’t be understaffed? When you show up anyway, you’re assuming the responsibility and transferring it from them to you. Sometimes that’s an okay thing. Lots of times though, it’s not.

    So that comes to the second part of the question: What is the harm in assuming it, in taking ownership of their responsibility? It’s to you first and them second. To your failing classes, and to their ability to continue to not address their staff shortage. Because they don’t feel real consequences for it. But you are the primary person responsible for you, so YOU have to enforce the things that are a priority for you, because no one else has the incentive to… rightly so, because it’s not their responsibility and it would be wrong of them to take it on for you. This is part of why Alison’s advice here is predicated on whether you need the job to provide food and shelter – obviously, those come before anything else as what you have to prioritize for yourself.

    And a final thought here: While they might shoot themselves in the foot and fire you over this, the strong likelihood is that a place that is already understaffed is unlikely to make themselves even more understaffed by firing you when you won’t work the extra shifts. Yeah, it could happen. But that would only leave you free to find a job elsewhere.

  33. Jessesgirl72*

    I really can feel for recent college hires like OP4. They come from college, where there is such a huge emphasis on plagiarism, and no one tells him about the many shades of gray (and the good reasons why) that exist out in the corporate world.

    Props to you, OP4, for reading AAM, and questioning things here before storming into your manager’s office to demand an explanation.

  34. James*

    #2 is extremely problematic.

    I get why employers do it–they want to see if a hire will reflect badly upon the company. Social media stupidity is a major concern these days, and knowing if your employees will embarrass you is important.

    That said, there have to be limits.

    The person in question is in college, doing things normal college people do. Partying is part of the college experience for most of us. This should be considered during the hiring process. Honestly, if I saw a college-aged interviewee posted a bunch of pictures of themselves at parties I’d chuckle, think “Yeah, I remember being that young”, and move on. The same with smoking–while I never did pot and only occasionally ever smoked cigars (the birth of a child and a friend’s return from war are acceptable reasons to light up!), smoking pot is de facto legal in many states, so I’d brush it off.

    As for the lingerie pictures, I see no reason to even mention them. This is a young woman exploring her sexuality; do we, as a culture, really want to further oppress that? Do you as a company want to come across as oppressing that? I honestly can’t see any way for this to not be slut-shaming. If the potential employee was doing this on company time, or if they presented themselves as somehow representing the company, that’s different–but a person’s private account is just that, their private account. It has no bearing on the company and should not factor into hiring decisions. (Obvious exceptions exist, but I doubt this person is being considered for an executive position or is working for a church or other religious group–and even in these instances I’d be VERY hesitant to work for a company that demonstrated a desire for that much control over my life.)

    This is why I like the idea of having a formal webpage for business purposes: it clearly delineates your professional from your personal web presence. As a society we need to figure out how to establish such a division; otherwise, we grant employers FAR too much authority in our lives. If we can refuse to hire someone because they post pictures of themselves in sexy attire, what’s to stop us from refusing to hire someone because they post pictures of themselves eating unhealthy meals? After all, most employees get their health insurance through the company and unhealthy diets are a serious health issue right now, which means that the employee’s eating habits could actually affect the company’s bottom line! Photos with a sick family member? That means more time off; obviously can’t hire that person! Participate in sports? Injuries cause time off work or with re-assigned duties; we can’t hire that person! Yes, I know these examples are absurd, but they’re merely more extreme versions of the principles underlying refusing to hire someone for posting provocative pictures of themselves. And I’d argue they are actually more legitimate, for the reasons I mentioned–while taking sexy pictures of yourself doesn’t affect the bottom line, all of these examples do.

    I don’t know what the answer is, but I do know that employers should not discriminate based on private activities of the employee that have no bearing on the employee’s job. A paycheck is not–and cannot be, in a free society–a license for employers to dictate how their employees live.

    1. miss lee*

      If it was a male candidate who posted nothing but pictures of himself in briefs, would you still consider him? Would you still say that eliminating him from the running was “oppression”?

      1. James*

        Of course. The issue isn’t that my sexual preferences–it’s the principles I described above. If the man posed in his briefs on his own time and without stating or implying that he represented the company I work for, I would have no problem hiring him. I’ve known people in my company that do that, in fact (we hire biologists, and biologists can be a bit odd). For that matter, I’ve known people who did amateur porn in their spare time, but were fantastic workers on company time (not the company I work for, but subcontractors). How we blow off steam is our business, not the company’s.

        The relevant question is “Does this affect the candidate’s capacity to do the job?” Outside of some VERY narrow limits, I see no way in which provocative pictures–from either sex or any gender–can result in the answer “Yes”.

        But thank you for ignoring the issues I raised and making an unwarranted attack against my integrity. We got that inevitable nonsense out of the way, so now hopefully we can move on and discuss this like adults.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          James, I don’t think miss lee was attacking your integrity, fwiw, or raising her question to inquire about your sexual preference. I think she was trying to determine the underlying principles guiding your reaction by asking if it applied equally to all genders (but I understand how that could be misconstrued).

          I enjoyed reading your response, which is different from my gut reaction (and honestly, this could just be about different hiring norms in different industries). My understanding of what OP #4/miss lee is saying is that in corporate PR, where reputation and public perception are core elements of the job, some of her mentee’s social media conduct does affect her capacity to do the job.

        2. miss lee*

          I have no idea where you see this as an analysis of your sexual preferences or an attack on your integrity, but thanks for your response all the same.

          1. LBK*

            I dunno, I certainly read your comment to imply some disingenuous element of his personality, as if he only cared about defending a woman’s right to nudity as a result of wanting to see women naked. I’m not sure what else your comment was intended to mean if not to say that he wouldn’t be so lax if it were a man. Can you expand on what you were trying to say, since the intent seems to have been lost in the brevity of your comment?

          2. James*

            The reason I take it as an attack against my integrity is because I gave my reasons, and your question was an accusation that my reasons were not the ones I stated. Reasons that are, frankly, absurd and so far outside proper professional behavior that they would warrant immediate termination, if not legal action. I can’t think of why you would ask the question you did after reading my post; your question was already answered. The only conclusion I can draw is that you think I posted reasons as a smoke-screen to mask less-savory motives. That means: You accused me of lying.

            The reason I mentioned that this addressed my sexual preferences is because….well, that’s what your question did. The only reason why my conclusion could differ if instead of a woman in lingerie it was a man in skimpy clothing is if I had a sexual preference for women over men. If you didn’t assume that, your question makes no sense; of course I’d draw the same conclusion, for the reasons I listed in my original post and my response. (This also addresses integrity, because we’re discussing hiring procedures–you implied that I would allow sexual preferences to affect my objectivity while hiring someone.)

            The reason I say it’s an attack on me personally is because you asked about MY conclusion (while implying that I lied and would violate professional norms and ethics), instead of addressing the concepts I discussed. Whether or not I would do something is irrelevant to the question of where to draw the line between private internet activity and activity that hiring managers can legitimately consider.

            Please understand, I’m not attacking you in this post. Merely answering your question. Perhaps the message I received was not the one you intended to send–I sincerely hope that’s the case. But that’s my interpretation of your question.

    2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      I mean, the idea that you can have a professional v. personal web presence is a fallacy. I think folks have a skewed perception of what the internet is—it’s a public forum. If someone were taking photos in their lingerie or briefs and then posting them on the walls of buildings or on bulletin boards, would you say that employers should ignore it as their personal expression and that that’s unrelated to how clients perceive that person’s judgment? I think you can be anti slut-shaming and still think it’s a bad idea, on a professional level, to publicly post provocative photos of yourself.

      There are rational limits to what conduct concerns employers, and a lot of the examples you provide are about discrimination on the basis of someone’s identity or situation. OP #4’s question is advising someone who is making the optional choice to post photos of private conduct in a public place about the real-world implications that that could have on her employment opportunities. We can rail against social norms, but I trust that OP #4 knows her industry well enough to know when certain social media conduct is going to raise a red flag re: maturity and judgment for prospective employers in that field.

      1. LBK*

        If someone were taking photos in their lingerie or briefs and then posting them on the walls of buildings or on bulletin boards, would you say that employers should ignore it as their personal expression and that that’s unrelated to how clients perceive that person’s judgment?

        But the clients judging her capability based on that activity isn’t any better. The whole idea is that posting racy photos on social media generally has diddly squat to do with your ability to do you job, so it’s not any more reasonable for the client to do that than the employer. Saying others might think it shows “bad judgment” is just excusing those others for basically slut-shaming the person.

        Now, if you have a particular client who doesn’t like it and you can’t risk losing that client, then you have to make a call about whether you’re willing to lose an employee to keep a client happy. But I wish more employers who were in the position to do so told those clients to stuff it and that a keeping a great employee is more important than keeping a judgmental client, no matter what that employee decides to post on Instagram.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          But PR is also about reputation management. I’m not saying it’s right that society has whatever norms they may have, but if you’re a large corporation that has to play to norms in big cities and in small/rural areas, you may want to hire people who present themselves publicly as consistent with your brand. I don’t have a strong feeling about whether this is right/wrong, because I think it’s a nuanced issue, but I also think it’s fair for someone to warn the mentee that it can impact her hireability. And I think it’s possible to deliver that warning in a nonjudgmental way.

          Let me put it in another context. When I practiced in east-nowhere, I had a judge who refused to let women in his courtroom unless they were wearing skirt or dress suits. Was his behavior sexist and deplorable and completely backwards and gross? Absolutely. Did I jeopardize my clients’ cases by showing up in pantsuits only to be barred from the courtroom? No. Part of this is about knowing which battles to pick and which ones are winnable (and which ones you pick just because). Personally, lingerie pics on your insta are not the hill I would advise a young woman to die on.

          1. miss lee*

            Princess Consuela, you said it better than I did.

            Personally, I don’t care that this mentee drinks or takes lingerie pictures. Not my cup of tea but as her mentor I do think it’s my responsibility to help her succeed, and part of that means informing her that a potential employer may care to the extent that it costs her an opportunity.

          2. LBK*

            You know what? I totally forgot the situation in question was in PR. I agree then in this particular case that image management is crucial as it’s basically the entire purpose of the job, so you have to show a little more awareness of how you could be perceived, whether those perceptions are valid or not (especially if the image your company sells as its “product” is a more conservative one).

            More broadly, though, my point wasn’t about individual employees choosing it as a hill to die on or advising them to do so. I appreciate that sometimes you have to bend to gross, outdated and/or stupid standards in order to get your job done (trust me, as a gay man in a very conservative industry, I’ve had my share of moments where I smiled and nodded along with things I wish I’d had the standing to speak up about).

            My comment was about more *companies* choosing that as a hill to die on in defense of their employees, especially since companies can usually afford to stand on those hills without actually dying more than individual employees can. I think all too often the customer (or the dollar) is always right; even if many employers claim they don’t care about your behavior outside of work, they certainly don’t have a problem acting on behalf of a client (whether real or theoretical) who does care.

            And I don’t necessarily begrudge a company that examines a situation and decides that they have to choose money over standing up for an employee, but that decision should be examined instead of always just bending to the customer, and it should be make with clear eyes about what you’re doing rather than acting like you don’t have a choice.

            1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

              Totally fair. Thanks for the additional explanation—it helped me better understand what you were saying and challenges me to be a little more critical in how I think about these things, broadly speaking.

      2. James*

        None of the examples I provided were about discrimination on the basis of someone’s identity. Poor eating habits are a choice, one that is increasingly under fire. Playing sports is a choice. (The sick family member is discrimination based on situation, I’ll agree there.) In both cases, the employee is making the same choices the woman posting pictures in lingerie did–and in both cases, there are real, demonstrable risks to the company.

        And no, I don’t think we can be anti-slut-shaming and still tell women “If you post provocative pictures online we’ll take it as being public, and refuse to hire you.” The reason you’re refusing to hire her? You think she’s a slut. Or you think your clients will think she’s a slut. That’s the “bad idea” or “poor judgment” we’re discussing here. To demonstrate that, replace “lingerie” with “bathing suit”–a bikini shows MORE skin than most lingerie (interesting psychology there), but is acceptable to most people. Bear in mind, we’re not talking about someone with 15 years’ experience in the field, here; we’re talking about a college senior–I seriously doubt the company’s PR is going to take a huge hit if someone finds out that a newly hired member of the PR staff posted some pictures. If she’s being hired to run a significant part of it, sure, but new hires aren’t generally that high up the corporate ladder.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          I’m not going to argue this with you, because I’m getting the impression that you are firmly committed to your position, which is totally fine.

          Here’s the distinguishing issue for me: OP asked us whether it is appropriate to counsel her mentee on social media presence based on her mentee’s stated career objectives and the norms for the industry in which OP works and in which her mentee hopes to work. We generally give OPs the benefit of the doubt that they know their industry well enough to understand its internal culture.

          You’re arguing about how you think employers should behave in hiring based on your experiences in your industry, which is not the same industry as OP’s. You’re making a normative/prescriptive argument—which raises valid points—but we’ve been asked to provide feedback to OP based on the reality of her industry right now. So there are going to be disagreements on how much to push and whether to push, etc., and that’s ok. But OP isn’t considering whether to hire her mentee, she’s trying to determine how to convey information about hiring in her industry to her mentee.

  35. Norman*

    My wife quit her server job in college in an almost identical situation. The fact that they are treating you this way probably means you’re a great server and will be able to find another job. That’s how it worked out for my wife.

  36. Elder Dog*

    #2. I would be surprised a student who is still in school would want to delete the evidence of her life and her friends to accommodate a voluntary mentorship.

    She and her friends are probably used to the Graduation Purge on social media, having seen it several times already as older friends and relatives have gone into the job market. I would be very surprised any young person wouldn’t already know perfectly well what had to be done and when.

    You will get a better response if you just remind her of something she already knows, and offer to look at her social media after the Great Graduation Purge and see if there’s anything she might have missed.

    1. Addie Bundren*

      Skeptical that such a purge would be helpful to an undergraduate who should have professional internships (which will likely involve applications through the same mechanisms as full-time jobs, or through personal connections who will see the same google results and perhaps decline to stick their necks out for someone apparently unconcerned about what they’re presenting) long before they graduate, if they are seeking employment in this field.

  37. A.J.*

    #4: I definitely understand the pain of having work and accomplishments that you are proud of being stolen from you. In my experience, it especially hurt to have this happen as a junior employee trying to make an impact for my future career.
    I worked for a large tech company as a contractor– there was a big group of us temps who are often competing for projects with lots of visibility in hopes of proving ourselves to management for full time positions. Yeah, it wasn’t exactly a great work environment…
    Once I was approached by a full time coworker who asked me to complete a data analysis task for him, a task which had been passed to him from a different division. I spend several weeks on the analysis and was then asked to create a slideshow presentation for the other division’s senior management on the processes involved. When I asked the coworker if I would get to be involved in giving the presentation he said of course, but several weeks past and nothing was scheduled. So I opened the google doc presentation file to find that my coworker had actually changed my name on the first slide to his name. Everything else in the presentation was the same. Yep, he had already given the presentation to the other division and I didn’t get an ounce of credit.
    At the time I felt a bit hurt but I moved on. Later I found out that my fellow contractor coworker did a similar project for that same division and gave a presentation on his work, and guess what… they hired full time into what was my dream job, and my contract ended and I left. So yeah, stealing someones work can have pretty damaging consequences.

      1. A.J.*

        Then I suppose I completely misunderstood the OP’s letter, so my apologies for that. I see now that they did actually get credit as an author. I guess I am still haunted by the memories of this incident and they all just came rushing back after reading this letter. :(

  38. specialist*

    #2: You should be very clear on the issue about inappropriate pictures on social media. Yes, companies will judge you and there are a myriad of examples of candidates not being hired and otherwise good employees being fired. This is an easy fix. We have all lived through this period of early adulthood stupidity. “Old enough to know what’s right but young enough not to choose it.” The Ask a Manager wording here is clear and unambiguous. Use it.

    #3: Cheese ball and crackers, or a cheese plate with grapes and small sausages. Artisinal cheeses go over really well. Potato salad from the deli, or any of the wonderful offerings from the deli. One thing you should remember is that you don’t need to be a great cook to have a successful dish at a pot luck. You need only make one thing well. If you get the feeling that pot lucks are going to be a common thing you may wish to come up with something you can make well and make easily that will fit the typical event. Don’t worry about the dietary restrictions thing. You’ll figure that out later if it is necessary. Most people with dietary restrictions are really accommodating at things like this.

    #5: You’ve gotten such wonderful advice. You should be focusing on school and not this temporary job. Call your boss within the next 24 hours. State (don’t ask) that you won’t be able to make the current schedule. Tell them what your availability is and inform them that you will not be coming in for anything beyond what you have talked about. Be prepared for them to threaten you–you already know they are bad bosses. You must respond in an unflappable manner. Fine, you can work some shifts or none. You cannot work what they are asking of you right now. Busy season? Well, had they worked with you earlier you might have been more available now. But they didn’t. You need to be very clear that they have two options and neither option means that you will work all the shifts they want. You need to put this in writing as well. Another option would be to just find another job. They haven’t been respectful of you, so don’t worry about turning in notice during the busy season.

  39. animaniactoo*

    OP1 – one thing you probably want to be aware of is that whatever explanation you get may not be the real explanation. Or it’s a real explanation, but not nearly a complete one.

    Sometimes the answers are the cover story for a political grenade that they don’t want *anyone* to know about. So if it sounds rather odd to you – either your company takes this stuff much more seriously than you think, or it’s the best they could come up with that might be halfway believable. Either way, drop it and move on.

  40. DNDL*

    Re Potluck: During my second week of work in my new job, the office held their annual pot luck and secret santa. I was sent back to participate and get a plate of food. I obviously hadn’t known to bring anything, and they had drawn secret santa names a month prior to me being hired. I chowed down without contributing, and even received a secret santa gift that I later found out that the branch manager had purchased for me last minute to help me feel included. No one begrudged me for it. This year, we just drew names for secret santa, and I am planning on bringing lots of goodies to share with the whole office.

    Don’t worry about bringing food on your first day, and just be ready to contribute next time it comes around!

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