how many doctor’s appointments are too many, nervous about mentoring a smart intern, and more

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

1. How many doctor’s appointments are too many?

How many doctor’s appointments are too many? I’m a salaried employee at a casual, tech-style agency. While I’m generally healthy, I did have cancer as a baby (don’t worry, I’m fine now!) and thus I don’t shy away from preemptive care in addition to regular check ups.

There have not been any concerns about my performance, I always get my work done, and we have unlimited sick leave but I sometimes feel like I may be scheduling too many appointments compared to the rest of my team. I see a therapist once a month. I have a slew of annual appointments (dental, well check, etc.) that are all scheduled individually. I’m a runner so occasionally I see a sports doctor about injuries. I go in waves of seeing a dermatologist about stubborn adult acne. Every now and then, I like to get my hair cut and colored and there are almost never weekend appointments available. I’ve even moved appointments around to accommodate meetings that pop up when I can, but I can’t always predict when I’ll need to see a doctor.

In a good month, it might just be one or even none. A bad month could be three or four. I had four in January, none in February, but already three in May (all of my annual appointments fall in the spring). I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I’ll always spend more time in doctors’ offices than the average person but I don’t want my team to get the wrong idea.

I don’t think that I should have to disclose my extensive medical history to anyone — especially since I’m technically healthy now — and I do my best to schedule appointments in the early mornings/later afternoons to mitigate the time I’m away from the office. I always block off my calendar ahead of time. No one has said anything to me about it but I still feel awkward. This is my first job out of school and I’ve been here for three years with a great record. I worry that people think I’m out interviewing all the time which just isn’t true!

Yeah, it sounds on the high side compared to most people, but not outrageously so if you’re able to manage your own schedule and arrange things so that it doesn’t impact your work. (There are offices where this would be enough out of the norm that I’d urge you not to do the hair stuff during the work day, but if no one has said anything to you about it and you’re not noticing weirdness from your manager about it, this probably isn’t one of them. But in your next job, get a read on the culture in this regard since it can vary from office to office.)

In any case, I don’t think it would be a bad idea to give your manager some context in case she starts wondering if something is going on — but that doesn’t mean that you need to share details. You could just say something like, “Hey, I wanted to mention that I have a couple of recurring medical appointments, sometimes monthly, sometimes a few times a month. I always make sure they’re not impacting my work, but I didn’t want you to wonder or worry if you noticed. And it’s nothing serious — just some stuff I have to take care of.”

2. I’m nervous about mentoring a smart intern

My boss has asked me to mentor a college-level junior for the summer. The guidelines I got were to make half the experience valuable to her (the mentee) and half valuable to us (the team, i.e. have her do some real work).

He sent me the information on the student and it’s obvious that she is much smarter than me, at least from a class work standpoint. She has studied things I’ve only thought about.

I’m a bit nervous at approaching this task. I really want it to be a good one for the student and the team!

She may or may not be smarter than you (although the fact that she’s studied subjects you haven’t studied doesn’t indicate that!), but you have work experience that she doesn’t have, and that’s what’s most relevant when she’s interning with you.

When she starts, talk to her about what she’s hoping to gain from the internship, and then think about ways you/your organization might be able to provide that. (That could include anything from particular types of projects to sitting in on relevant meetings to connecting her with people who do the type of work she’s interested in.) You might also talk to people in your organization who have managed interns in the past and find out what worked and what didn’t. Use your boss as a resource too — he may have input on what sorts of projects it makes sense to give her.

But really, she’s interning because she wants work experience and she wants to learn. It’s very unlikely that she’s going to be thinking about who’s smarter than who (and if she did, that would be a weird posture for an intern to take).

3. The pregnancy pause

Have you seen this? What’s your take? 

Excerpt: “Motherhood shouldn’t have to be defended in a job interview, says the agency, but moms are often dismissed by potential employers because of the gaps in their resumes. To help remedy the problem, the agency is introducing ‘The Pregnancy Pause,’ an effort that gives job-hunting moms an easy way to treat time taken away from the office to raise a child like any other full-time job. […] Hiring managers that call ‘The Pregnancy Pause’ number will hear the pre-recorded greeting: ‘Hello, you have reached The Pregnancy Pause. You must be calling about a candidate’s resume that has mentioned her time spent here. While here, she spent innumerable hours raising a child, which has surely offered her invaluable experience as a prospective employee. Visit our website to learn more, and remember, maternity leave is a full-time job.’”

Nooooo, that’s really not useful to job seekers. First, they want you to list it on your resume as if you worked there, which is deceptive and really not going to go over with employers once they realize what you’ve done.

Second, that recorded message is awful. Claiming that parenting is “invaluable experience as a prospective employee” is going to generate eye rolls, not respect. It’s not that parenting isn’t important and challenging — of course it is — but it’s not professional work or job experience, which is what your resume is for, and it’s not the same as being held accountable for results to people outside of your family. This “service” is doing a disservice to the people it’s purporting to help.

This is a classic case of good intentions and terrible execution.

4. Is this contest unfair?

I generally like my job. I do! My manager is a very good boss, supportive and fair most of the time. But this, I think, is not fair: We share writing blog posts. Our marketing manager has posted a contest saying that whoever can increase their post count by the greatest percentage by the end of next month will win a $50 gift card.

I have five blog posts so far. The person who has the least has two. The others are somewhat in the middle.

We’re a small team to begin with. I think he’s trying to motivate those that haven’t contributed as much to step up their game next month, but I can’t help but feel punished for being prolific. What do you think? Is this a clever way to motivate those who do not contribute or a way to alienate those who do?

Yeah, you’re right that you’re at a disadvantage in winning the prize since you’d have to write more posts that your coworkers would to win the prize. Maybe you could suggest that it be calculated not on percentage increase but on numerical increase.

If they don’t go for that, though, and if this disparity between you and your coworkers is the usual state of things, consider this part of what makes you excel at your job and incorporate it the next time you’re asking for a raise.

5. I’m going to be away for my intern’s whole first week

I have recently hired a summer intern (John) who is scheduled to start his first day in a couple of weeks. Unfortunately, I’ve just received news of a death in the family, and the funeral is scheduled the same week that John is starting. I will need to be out that entire week, as the funeral is in another country (where my partner is from and where most of my partner’s family still remains).

What do I do with regard to John? Do I try to push back his start date by a week? Do I have him start even though I won’t be there and see if someone else on my team can act as his “welcoming committee”? I’m concerned that if I keep his start date the same, he could have a poor first impression/experience, with limited direction or resources if he has questions, and a sense that he isn’t a valued member of the team. I’m also concerned that others on my team might feel put upon, since I’m really the only one on the team who does what I do and they probably wouldn’t have much work to give John. However, I’m afraid that if I push his start date back, he’ll be out of a week’s pay, and perhaps he is counting on that to cover living and other expenses for the summer. I’m hoping you and your readers can give me some guidance on the best path forward.

Why not give him the choice? You could explain the situation and say something like, “Would you like to push your start date back by one week, to (date)? Or alternatively, if you’d rather not do that, we can stick to your original start date, with the caveat that the first week will be a bit slow since I won’t be there. I can someone else here act as your point person while I’m away, but I want to be transparent with you that you won’t get as much guidance that week as you will once I’m back. But either option is absolutely fine — is there one you’d prefer over the other?”

You may find he doesn’t care about the missed pay, or that he cares very much. But rather than making the choice for him, let him make it!

{ 360 comments… read them below }

  1. KR*

    I really like your answer to the last one. I think it’s the best choice, really. Also I’m sympathetic to the appointment one. I’m lucky that I’m able to leave work around 3 most of the time so I can do things in the afternoon but if most of your team is there until evening it feels wierd to be the one always leaving. I would definitely fill your boss in since hers is the opinion that really matters. But your company gives unlimited sick time – for someone that’s proactive with their health that’s invaluable and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with using that benefit. Think of it like you’re using part of your paycheck. I wish I was as proactive with my health care as you. Making the appointments and getting the referrals makes me overwelmed and nervous.

    1. Alice*

      Maybe you could try booking the hair appointments further in advance to get weekend slots? Otherwise, your health is your health. It sounds like you’re getting things done and being sensitive to meetings and colleagues.

      1. Yetanotherjennifer*

        Yes. There are some appointments, like with specialists, that you accept as given. But I’ve learned that if you can nab an evening (or in my case after school) appointment once, then you become a person who gets that type of time slot. For other appointments, like dental, I schedule two out to get the times and dates I want. When I’m at an appointment I already have the next one scheduled and then I schedule the one after that.

      2. Koko*

        Easier said than done, in a lot of cases. My hair appointments take 3-4 hours (double process color), my stylist doesn’t work on Saturdays, and she has limited Sunday hours. I can sometimes get a Sunday appointment but often she doesn’t have 4 consecutive hours unless I book wayyyy in advance, like 8+ weeks out. I usually try to get a 3pm appointment on Friday so I can duck out at 2:30 and not miss a ton since Fridays are slow at my job.

        But also, I would expect OP is using vacation time for hair appointments and not sick leave? I’m not sure how it fits into this discussion other than maybe her just worrying about the perception that she’s out of office too much.

        1. AnotherAlison*

          If I need 4 hrs of time for my hair appt, and my stylist’s schedule doesn’t mesh with mine, I’m going to have to find a new stylist. I say this as someone who used the same guy for 10 years and switched to someone else about a year and a half ago. If you’re getting regular cuts & color, you have an idea of how long you’ll go between appointments. It’s not that difficult to book in advance to get the times you need, unless you have a flaky stylist who cancels and moves appointments around so that booking in advance does no good.

          1. DoDah*

            Wow, 4 hours of time where he/she is actually working on your head? I’m in the chair for 3-4 hours also, but that includes processing–so he can take another client while I wait for my color.

            Anywhoo, OP#1, I work in a casual tech agency also. The hair appointment would definitely be noticed and not in a good way.

            1. Koko*

              Yes, it’s total chair time. She is a small independent stylist and only has one chair so she doesn’t take overlapping appointments. She specializes in “unicorn hair” – she mixes up 4-6 different colors in my hair, using the balayage technique. She’s very good at what she does, you would think my hair was naturally rainbow colored. There are not many other colorists in the area who can do what she does and she works with a lot of performers who need their crazy colors to be perfect. I actually drive 45 minutes each way to see her.

          2. Koko*

            In my case, it does mesh with my schedule. My office doesn’t care if I leave at 2:30 on a Friday 3-4 times a year. It’s actually more difficult for me to book appointments 3-4 months in advance because of all the travel my job requires me to do on 1-2 months’ notice.

        2. MillersSpring*

          For a lot of people, 8 weeks out is not really “wayyyy” in advance for a hair appointment. If your stylist’s time is that limited, you should be booking several appointments at a time, several months in advance. My appointments take 3-4 hours, and I have a standing appointment on her calendar every X weeks.

      3. DCGirl*

        At my last job, we had two people who would take four hours in the middle of the day for hair appointments while others were struggling to complete an overload work and go home on something other than the last commuter train every night. It’s all about the optics of a situation.

      4. Honeybee*

        I was going to say the same thing. I get my hair cut and colored, too, and I book my next appointment at my last one (aka 6-8 weeks in advance) and have little trouble getting weekend slots. Even just being 2-3 weeks in advance can help you snag a Saturday, though.

        I also book my dental appointments 6 months out – so I book the next one whenever I go in. That’s plenty of time to get prime evening slots, and it also means I don’t forget!

    2. Ramona Flowers*

      I wasn’t sure if sick leave was mentioned to give an idea of the culture or because it’s being used for the appointments mentioned. It actually sounds like the former unless it can be taken in small chunks (and I’m assuming it’s not being used for hair apts).

    3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      I may be suggesting something OP#1 already does (and if so, I apologize), but can none of the appointments be booked on the same day? It was common at the past 4 places I worked for someone to be out maybe 2 days during the same week in the same month every year for most (if not all) annual wellness exams. I know sometimes doctors are far from each other, or the length of the wait/appointment is unpredictable. But, with the exception of the monthly therapy sessions or sports injuries, it seems like there could be slightly more coordination?

      The numbers provided are kind of on the high side, even when averaged over the year (it sounds like 7 appointments this calendar year, which I would assume are at least a half-day’s time). The exception, of course, being if a person has a chronic or other illness requiring ongoing care, but, imo, that requires more proactive expectations management with respect to supervisors, not less.

      Although if none of this matters to OP#1’s boss or boss’s boss, then c’est la—it’s a workplace culture thing (although getting your hair colored should maybe not be lumped in with medical leave).

      1. Sparky*

        A lot of people have their appointments clump up at the time of year their insurance started. I know mine clump up three months after my start date at my current job because I finally had insurance. I think taking a full day or two to knock out a bunch of appointments sounds like a good idea too.

        1. Jessesgirl72*

          Or they clump up in December, before everyone starts the new deductible year and/or are using up any benefits that don’t roll over.

      2. SarahTheEntwife*

        It can be difficult to clump appointments if they’re not also close together geographically.

      3. TeacherNerd*

        This may be as much an issue if one works a 9-5 M-F job, which conveniently aligns with medical office hours in many cases. My husband has a few chronic health care issues, and fortunately has been working for the same company long enough (15+ years) that it’s less of an issue; he schedules appointments for as late in the day as possible, but of course none of these offices offers appointments at 5:30 or later. Usually he can get appointments for 4 p.m. or later, but on the rare occasion he can only schedule an appointment for mid-afternoon or a 9 a.m., he does take a half-day sick day. That said, I would wonder how many of the OP’s appointments require half-days.

      4. Stranger than fiction*

        She gives numbers of appointments but I don’t see anything about the actual number of hours she’s missing work. If each of these appts is requiring a half day, then yeah that’s kind of alot. If it’s just leaving an hour early or coming in an hour late that’s not too bad imo.

      5. ThatAspie*

        I once had a dentist appointment on the same day as a psychotherapist appointment. Then, after seeing the psychotherapist, I voted.

        Not that everyone has to do that or anything, just a little piece of my life that PCBH reminded me of. :) Also, I’m tired.

    4. Purple Dragon*

      Op #1
      If I was your manager and found out that you’d used a doctors appointment as an excuse to get your hair done I would lose all faith in your integrity and start looking at your other doctors appointments more sceptically.
      To me it’s not worth the risk – seriously look at getting your hair done sometime else.
      I have more than my fair share of doctors and physio appointments so do understand that. If in doubt I’d use Alison’s scripts and maybe ask if there’s anything else you can do to minimise the impact.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I don’t think the OP is using sick leave to get her hair cut, but just mentioned that as part of explaining the number of times she’s out for various things (which doesn’t mean it’s all via sick leave). We can assume that’s the case unless she weighs in and explains otherwise.

          1. Lily in NYC*

            In my office, we don’t even use leave for doctor’s appointments. However, since OP is already on the high side of having appointment during the work day, I think she should make more of an effort to get her hair done on weekends. The fact that it’s often difficult to get appointments is not a valid excuse – just make them in advance. Plenty of people manage to get weekend hair appointment and OP can too. It takes a long time to get color and I wouldn’t dream of getting it done during my workday, especially if I were already taking more time off for appointments than my coworkers.

            1. Elly*

              What about taking a vacation day instead for a hair appointment? I don’t see any issue with that.

            2. B*

              Agree with this wholeheartedly. Before I leave my haircut appointment I make an appointment for the next one. Since you are already using quite a few days/time for dr. appointments – which you should – the hair should go to the weekends or at night. As a coworker I would not mind picking up extra work for doctor appointments, but adding hair on top of that would certainly annoy me.

              1. Jadelyn*

                I schedule my hair appointments 2 in advance – when I’m at an appointment, I’ve already got the next one scheduled, and before I leave I talk with my stylist and set the one after that. It lets me do scheduling 12-16 weeks out which almost guarantees me the best weekend or evening slots.

              2. Hallway Feline*

                Exactly my thoughts. If a coworker needed help because they were at a medical office, I would absolutely jump in and help out wholeheartedly. If they needed coverage for a hair appointment, I would still help but I wouldn’t be happy about it.

      2. Julia*

        Oh God, that reminds me of that one time I had a hair appointment after work and then a doctor’s appointment the next morning, which meant I came in late and with shorter hair. I only realised on my way to work how that could be miscontrued, but luckily no one seemed to notice.

        1. LVeen*

          At a former job I had a coworker who complained that she was totally buried by her workload and overwhelmed by all the distractions of physically being in the office, so she decided to work from home one day and catch up. On that day she emailed our manager to say that her daughter was too sick to go to school and now she had to catch up on her work AND take care of her… so I side-eyed her when she came in the next day with a fresh cut and colour. I seemed to be the only one who thought it was odd that she managed to catch up on weeks’ worth of work AND single-handedly care for a sick child AND get her hair done all in the same day.

  2. Me*

    “Visit our website to learn more, and remember, maternity leave is a full-time job.”

    I cringed so hard I think I pulled a muscle.

    1. Ramona Flowers*

      The awful thing about that ‘invaluable experience’ rubbish is employers will think the candidate believes that. It’s like the 20-pt glitter Comic Sans version of listing mom as a job title. Just, no.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        It put me in mind of the new graduate with no work experience who wanted to explain in her resume that going to school is like having a job.

      2. Danger: Gumption Ahead*

        Aren’t a good solid chunk of the workforce parents? It isn’t a terribly unique experience that is worth highlighting. Which is not to say it is easy, just fairly common

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          Driving a car involves judgment, planning, juggling input from many sources, and making critical split second decisions. Actual lives hang in the balance of those rapid fire choices. But most of us don’t put it on our resume as an example of how we are good at juggling a lot of different things and making decisions.

        2. Lora*

          Yeah, that’s the thing – it’s not that it’s not hard, or unimportant, it’s just super common. People take care of sick relatives – that doesn’t make them nurses. People throw parties but it doesn’t make them event coordinators.

          That, and you don’t have a supervisor judging your work. I’m sure I am terrible at taking care of sick people in many ways, but my mother just deals with it and eats her soup. Nobody’s asking your kids and pediatrician for references on your work as a parent; can you imagine the results if you said you took time off for your kids “but that’s a full time job!” and then they asked your teenager for a reference? “She was the WORST MOTHER EVER, I had to be home by 10 and she made me keep playing the clarinet and she wouldn’t buy me a new iPhone and I had to wear cheap sneakers from Payless!” Or if Junior didn’t get into Harvard and drove drunk at age 17 and this was reflected in your professional record?

          Heck, even the pediatrician’s reference: “I treated Jane Junior from December 1999 through January 2016. Before the age of 5, Jane Jr was allowed to drink soda and eat Doritos. Jane Senior did not enforce vegetables with dinner before age 4, and an initial recommendation for the timing of potty training was disregarded. Jane Sr’s performance as a mother was thoroughly average, with inconsistent discipline and occasional giving in to tantrums, but overall met basic expectations for the role.”

        3. Kinder and Gentler Manager*

          I came in here to say this exact thing. “A good solid chunk” is a perfect way to put it – no matter how hard parenting is, it is also something that is just an incredibly normal part of life. It does not in any way set you apart from the crowd. Trying to position it as relevant experience…I would immediately discard a resume that had this on it.

      3. Dust Bunny*

        Ugh. You know what? Life is a full-time job.

        I don’t put on my resume that working for the past twenty years has made me really good at squeezing all the things stay at home moms do during the day into my scant weekend and after-work hours, despite having very little control over my schedule, because that’s ridiculous. Everybody has stuff that just has to be done, and we all find ways to manage it. But it’s not work experience. The complicated schedule I used to follow to accommodate my elderly dog’s medication wasn’t work experience and I’m not the CEO of my pets or whatever–it’s just what you do when you’re not a sociopath who dumps elderly pets at the pound.

        1. Jadelyn*

          Hell, I’ve got two side-hustles – I write and make art and jewelry, which I sell – and I don’t list those on my resume, because unless I wanted to get into social media management or something my use of Shopify/Etsy/Instagram/etc. doesn’t matter, and there’s no universe in which an HR job is going to care that I can make jewelry. You don’t have to list everything you’ve ever done on a resume. Be selective. Include the relevant, ignore the rest.

      1. Sami*

        Plus not everyone who has a child has been pregnant, even Moms.

        And now that I read the article, if I hadn’t seen it here, I would’ve thought it was satire.

        1. Ramona Flowers*

          And not everyone who’s been pregnant has a child.

          This website, with its hideous pink background, is of no use whatsoever to my friend and my cousin-in-law who both had stillbirths. They were able to take maternity leave as we’re in the UK and it was after week 24 (you still get maternity leave in those circumstances here, not sure about other countries, so it effectively gives you some time to recover).

          And then you have surrogates.
          And people who are giving up a child for some reason.
          And people whose children die after being born at full-term.

          Some of these people would consider themselves mothers and some wouldn’t. But they’re not being served by this declaration that pregnancy has given them parenting experience.

          All other criticisms aside, it’s normative. And normative isn’t good enough.

          1. Chinook*

            And don’t forget about the men who take paternity leave (either voluntarily or because the mother isn’t able to care for the child). I can’t see them willingly wanting to refer a prospective employer to something like this, especially since they weren’t the ones who were pregnant.

    2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      I had a sinking feeling as I began to read the example, and by the time I got to the message, it was a slack-jawed look of horror.

      I am hugely supportive of women reentering the workforce and of generous parental leave policies. But that message manages to mix sanctimony with an astonishing lack of self-awareness regarding basic professional norms… and it does it in a way that seems like it further hurts women returning from parental leave or from time spent on 24/7 childrearing by advancing a (wrong, outmoded, offensive) stereotype about women who take time away.

      1. Mookie*

        and it does it in a way that seems like it further hurts women returning from parental leave or from time spent on 24/7 childrearing by advancing a (wrong, outmoded, offensive) stereotype about women who take time away.

        This. Leave for folk welcoming children or preparing that welcome is on a de-gendered path, and this is to the benefit of everyone, including employers. Re-inserting into it essentialisms disguised in “empowerful” messages is the opposite of empowering; it is not just cringe-inducing but so, so counterproductive.

      2. that guy*

        Yes. This is what I wanted to say, but I suck with words.
        This is women hurting other women’s chances of getting back into the workforce.

      3. Allypopx*

        Yes, and that makes this heartbreaking, because the women who use this kind of thing are probably confused and overwhelmed by reentering the workforce, and this service that intends to help them is really screwing them over.

      4. JamieS*

        It’s also outrageously sexist since it presumes only women take time away to raise children.

      5. Jadelyn*

        It’s the self-satisfied condescension of the message that annoys me the most about it. Like there’s an assumption that the hiring manager has never ever hired someone with kids before or someone who has a gap on their resume, and needs it carefully explained to them like a freaking 5-year-old why parents are still capable of being good employees.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          Very much agreed. It’s super smarmy/condescending and relatively insulting to the person reviewing resumes during the hiring process (it also kind of assumes that that person has no familiarity with or appreciation/understanding/experience with being a parent?).

      6. Charlie*

        This. If I heard “….and remember, maternity leave is a full-time job.” I’d conclude that the applicant was already in a position that suited them and scratch them off the list. There’s a weird combativeness that I find incredibly offputting.

      7. Lissa*

        Yeaah. Also, I imagine that quite a few of the people calling references *also* have children and have even been pregnant themselves! I can only imagine how annoying it would be to get that sanctimonious message as somebody who *also has a kid* and has been through all that

    3. that guy*

      The whole website is probably pink, because you know, girls

      Women want equality, and I support that 100%. But then they go and do shit like this.

      1. N.J.*

        I’m not sure I am understanding your post in the way you intended it, but I would like to caution you about how it’s coming off, in case that is not the message you intended. Some idiot designed this pregnancy pause idea, and yes it is shit. But why would you assume that it was designed by women or that equality for women is not deserved if women, or anyone else, undertake a misguided attempt to promote equality. Your message reads as if only women would plan this stupid effort, and it reads as if we only deserve equality if no women ever do anything stupid or misguided. I hope that isn’t what you were trying to say, because if so there are no words I have for you that are kind. I’m assuming you are just making a sarcastic joke post but if you aren’t, that is how this message may be coming across.

          1. Ebstarr*

            @emm Obvs. It’s just like, imagine this applied to racial equality. One black person starts a company that plays into some negative stereotype and someone posts “well I do support equality for black people but then they go and do shit like this”? Do they really sound like they’re supporting equality if one dumb company is somehow enough to make them put a “but” after their support? I hope we would all find that pretty offensive.

            It could have been merely infelicitous wording but it certainly has the sound of “I support equality for women but I’m not sure they really deserve it because some of them do stupid things.” Perhaps that guy would like to clarify what he really meant, if not that.

            1. that guy*

              I assumed it was pink because that’s what I expected after reading the “motherhood somehow makes you better ” message I read in the article. And hey, it IS pink.

              I honestly do support gender equality.

              I did not imply that women don’t deserve equality because of the misguided actions of other women. Or the actions of the one woman who came up with this idea. I simply meant that while many women are out there fighting for their rights, others come along with eye roll worthy ideas like this, and in this case, hurt their chances of returning to the workforce.

              Maybe it was the word “they” that gave the impression that I meant “all women”. I just meant “they who came up with this idea.”
              I was typing the original post on my cellphone, so I kept it short. Maybe too short too get my point across.

              1. Starbuck*

                I think the issue is that your comment made it sound like your support for equality was conditional, and that’s what people are upset about.

                1. that guy*

                  I get that. I was trying to clarify what I meant. I’m not the best communicator, especially when I’m trying to write in English which is my second language. And I tend to forget I’m talking to people who don’t know me and don’t know where I’m coming from.

              2. Indoor Cat*

                Gotcha :) That clarification makes more sense. I also read “they” as “women in general,” whereas you meant “they” as in “the creators of the website.”

      2. SystemsLady*

        Please don’t group all women together as one collective who all do the same thing, particularly in a wording that implies you don’t think they deserve equality.

        1. ancolie*

          Hey, you’re the one who missed the monthly female collective hivemind meeting where we all decided to create this website.*

          * these meetings are so easy, since every decision is unanimous. That’s what happens with us women, being the same and all!

          1. MashaKasha*

            I missed it too! Damn! I had creative input! I was going to suggest we make it sparkly! (wait, is it sparkly? I don’t want to go check.)

        2. that guy*

          Im saying that the people behind this misguided idea are hurting women’s chances of returning to the workforce. I think any resume that mentions this Pregnancy Pause thing will get rejected.

          OK I assumed women came up with this idea. I admit I may be wrong.

          I don’t see how I implied that I don’t support equality.

        3. that guy*

          I didn’t imply that all women think the same. I was referring to the women who came up with this idea, and others who unintentionally undo the hard work of everyone else who are fighting for their rights.

          1. Honeybee*

            I think that’s the point, though. The women who made this page (assuming they are even women) are not “undoing” the hard work of everyone else. People who see this page and then assume that all women are like this, and then think less of women who take maternity leave for it, are the ones undoing the work. Making other people in a group liable for the actions of one person is stereotyping.

            1. that guy*

              “Making other people in a group liable for the actions of one person is stereotyping”
              I realise that what it sounded like, but that’s not what I meant. I meant that the people who created this website mean well, but they’re part of the problem.

      3. Katniss*

        I hope you’re just trying to give us a sarcastic example of how a sexist would respond to this, and that this isn’t actually what you believe.

      4. Danger: Gumption Ahead*

        “Women” didn’t create the website. A woman did. We aren’t the Borg and the actions of one does not express the the desires of all.

        1. Jadelyn*

          “We aren’t the Borg”

          Speak for yourself. You’re not…yet. Resistance is futile. ;)

          1. Fictional Butt*

            Speaking of doing more damage than good, instead of trying to defend yourself under every comment, why don’t you just apologize?

      5. Fictional Butt*

        Some men say they support women 100%, but then “they” go and make comments like this…

      6. LawBee*

        Sentence one: seriously, right?
        Sentence two: well, good. You should.
        Sentence three: oh, just go away, you dingbat. I take back any and all good impressions I had of you.

        1. that guy*

          Sentence one: sarcasm. And it IS pink
          Sentence two: true
          Sentence three: bad wording. Women are fighting for their rights, and then some women (like the one who created this website) comes along with their stupid ideas that doesn’t help anyone.

          1. HRChick*

            “I support women’s equality, but…”

            Not buts! If you support women’s equality, the fact that some women are dingbats should NOT qualify that support. Guess what – some men are dingbats, too! But men’s rights don’t seem to be qualified on that fact.

      7. Leenie*

        Well to be fair, at the last universal meeting on What Shit Women are Going to Go and Do, we didn’t even have a quorum.

    4. Artemesia*

      Yikes. This is like listing college as ‘ just like work because. . .’ as part of work experience or being a SAHW as ‘CEO of the family’. Most women working outside the home are also juggling family issues; everyone went to college in many workplaces. There are ways to draw on family experience perhaps in an interview, lightly but trying to spin it as the same as work experience is absolutely cringe inducing.

      1. Allison*

        When I search for resumes on sites like Dice and Monster, I see a lot of recent grads claiming to have 4 or 5 years of “experience,” counting their years spent in college. Sure, college is an experience, and it’s hard work, doing your homework and making some apps in your free time is certainly valuable hands-on experience that will help land you a job, but please stop acting like it’s the same as “professional” experience. There’s a huge difference between working on an enterprise-level application full-time, being accountable to an employer who’s paying you enough money to pay rent and buy food, and making websites in your dorm room during your free time.

        Also, while CEO of the family is cringe-worthy, I’ve seen resumes where a woman has listed her husband as her boss, or her family as her employer. Super creepy!

        1. Mike C.*

          To be honest, when I keep seeing entry level jobs asking for 5-8 years of experience, I really don’t blame those college grads.

          1. Jadelyn*

            Fair point. “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

        2. Myrin*

          Especially since there are work cases like your last paragraph – I work part-time in a family-run inn/restaurant and although they’re equals in their day-to-day work, officially, my female boss is my male boss’s (her husband’s) boss and he is her employee, so that’s the first kind of arrangement that would come into my mind if I read a CV like this and then it would turn out to be completely different!

        3. JamieS*

          When I graduated within the last 5 years and started looking for a job in my field I saw many postings that said something to the effect (affect?) of “bachelor’s or 4-5 years experience” so I can see why some grads equate college with work experience

          1. Jadelyn*

            I’ve definitely seen postings that require a degree in the field plus one year of experience, or 5 years of experience, or any combination of education and work experience meeting the 5 year threshold. Which may have given grads the idea that it’s like that for all jobs in general.

            (“Effect” was correct, btw.)

    5. Jessesgirl72*

      What kills me is that it’s obviously a ploy to drive up their web traffic, and in pretending to help women get jobs, they are actively hurting their chances! Most of us would automatically disqualify a candidate who put that on their resume.

      It’s disgusting!

    6. MashaKasha*

      Oh god yes, me too! And I did have this problem when I was starting my career in the US! I had a baby in my home country (which had looong maternity leaves), tried to return to work 1.5 years into the maternity leave, was told that I couldn’t, because they’d already hired my (male) replacement; worked a couple of part-time/temp jobs to make ends meet, finally said “oh screw it” and had Baby #2. Came here when they were a 4yo and a 15-month-old. I found my first job pretty easily, and my second job was “boss from First Job went to work at New Place and poached me”. It’s when I started looking for the next job that I started getting questions about the gaps on my resume, why I had taken a part-time job as an admin when I had a CS degree and work experience, “don’t call us, we’ll call you”… I got around the problem by straight up fudging that time period on my resume. Not something I was happy to do, or am proud about. But “pregnancy pause” was a real obstacle to me at one point. Pretty much the only thing I could’ve done to make it affect my career even worse than it already had, was to list this ridiculous org on my resume! Talk about a fast track to not being taken seriously again by anyone ever! I do not know what a good way around the “pregnancy pause” is (mine won’t work in 2017), but this is most definitely NOT one!

      1. Chomps*

        Yeah, I assume the creator of the website was trying to deal with the very real issue of women being punished (e.g. having a hard time finding a job) for taking time off for pregnancy or to raise children, but the solution is as bas as the problem!

  3. Lulubell*

    Re: 3, the Pregnancy Pause – this was posted in a private industry group I am, either from the creator herself or the PR team, and everyone on the board went bananas over it, thinking it was amazing. All I could think of was this blog and WWAS (I knew what Alison would say, that the idea is terribly misguided) and was hoping this would find its way here without me sending it in.

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      This is fascinating to me. Why did they think it was amazing? Is it because it was kind of a smarmy “eff you” to everyone who’d been nasty to them about their desire/decision to take leave, or was it just an amorphous “girl power!” kind of reaction?

      1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

        If it was posted by the creator or someone else involved with the site, I can see that having a biasing effect on the feedback. Many people seem to have an immediate reaction to praise a project when it’s introduced by the person who created it. Meanwhile there may have been plenty of people like Lulubell privately rolling their eyes but not saying anything because it can “feel mean” to be critical.

        1. JamieS*

          Additionally naysayers may be hesitant to post criticism for fear they’ll be reprimanded or seen as the “bad guy”.

    2. J.B.*

      I can see things that would actually be helpful (networking, technology refreshers, help finding childcare/afterschool options) but this – no way.

  4. Stellaaaaa*

    OP2: Your boss’ directive about the internship doesn’t sound right to me. There are six criteria for a legal unpaid internship:

    1. The internship, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar to training which would be given in an educational environment.
    2. The experience is for the benefit of the intern.
    3. The intern does not displace regular employees but works under close supervision of existing staff.
    4. The employer providing the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern and on occasion its operations may actually be impeded.
    5. There is no guarantee of a job at the conclusion of the internship.
    6. Both parties understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the internship.

    Your boss has told you to violate numbers 2 and 4, and possibly 3 as well. My understanding is that interns can’t really produce any product or content that can be monetized unless it’s a paid internship. You can’t treat unpaid interns like extra hands on deck. This is getting weird but I’d go back to your boss to clarify this point because you don’t want to be held responsible an intern workload if the intern can’t legally do that work. As for your actual question, it’s the difference between book learning and actual experience. You might be surprised by how much the intern can learn from you.

    1. KarenT*

      We don’t know the internship is unpaid, though you’re likely correct if it isn’t.

    2. A fly on the wall*

      Those rules don’t apply to governmental agencies (and, I think, non-profits).

      Also, while most internships are unpaid, the LW doesn’t specify.

      Comments below assume that the internship is legal.

      If this is your first experience with professional mentoring, this can be extremely scary, but like Allison said, you shouldn’t be worried about if the intern is smarter than you. Outside of specific fields, raw intelligence beyond a certain point doesn’t help as much as people think.

      I’d approach it in one of two ways, the first (much more of a traditional internship situation), is to treat the intern as an advanced form of job shadowing. You don’t change what you’re doing much, but explain more and give parallel projects when she seems ready for them. (“Hey, you seem like you’ve got a pretty good idea of what I’m doing with this forecast now. Do you want to try it with last year’s numbers and see how you do against the real thing and what we came up with?”)

      Another way to approach it (and more common in government/non-profits or paid internships) is to start in a similar way but then graduate the intern to live projects while always remembering that they’re learning and so will need supervision and guidance, and most importantly, may not know how to ask for them outside an academic context. The best analogy I’ve heard to this is riding in a car with someone with a learners permit, it’s almost harder than being in the driver’s seat.

      In both cases you (and your boss) should expect your productivity to drop while you’re working with the intern and not expect the intern’s productivity to come close to making that up.

      Now, assuming you are in a government job and you want a bright side to look on: internships are not easy to arrange, and your boss has gone through the effort of doing that. If this isn’t an established program (and if it were, I’d expect there to be more resources for you as the mentor), your boss may have identified you as someone with the ability to train, teach and supervise, and could be giving you a chance to learn/demonstrate those skills. That’s a good thing!

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Although the DOL guidance specifically exempts government(s) and 501(c)(3) nonprofits, it also didn’t really clarify what the distinctions are for nonprofit v. for profit internship programs. Consequently, many employment law attorneys recommend following the guidance for for-profit internships, or at least asking the following questions when determining whether a position is a “volunteer” position or an “employment” position:

        * Is the person motivated by the mission of the nonprofit?
        * Do the services performed look like typical volunteer work instead of the activities performed by paid employees?
        * Is the person there less than full-time? Does the person arrange a schedule that’s convenient for him or her?
        * How much control does the organization exert? (this is the most sliding scale of the elements)

        Generally speaking, the more control or structure there is over a nonprofit internship program and its interns, the more cautious an organization should be about aligning with the guidance regarding for-profit unpaid internships.

        1. A fly on the wall*

          Huh. You learn something new every day.

          How does this interact with – for example – teaching hospitals and tech companies that do what is essentially a full-time job and call it an internship?

          At the tech companies, I’ve always considered “internships” to be roughly the equivalent of what we’d call a probationary period in government, but never understood the need, given at will employment.

          1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            This may be going a bit off-topic, so I reluctantly ask Alison to shut us down (reluctantly because I hate to make her moderate while she’s on vacation!).

            Usually the “internships” you’re describing are paid, so they’re not subject to the DOL guidance described above, which is for unpaid internships, only. Teaching hospitals are a little different, because they’re often nonprofits and because my understanding is that a medical intern practices under the direction of a licensed physician, and that the internship is a requirement to obtain one’s own medical license. In those contexts, the “internship” is really more like an apprenticeship until you are able to work without supervision. But the DOL also has a “trainee” category that allows you to pay someone below minimum wage under certain very specific conditions (but you do have to pay something), which could also be at play..

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Yes — it is indeed going off-topic so let’s leave it here. It can be brought up on Friday’s open thread if people want to.

    3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      I think there’s a bit of confusion. The intern has already been brought on board, but it sounds like OP#3’s boss gave directions about their mentorship relationship, which is distinct.

      Even assuming they were discussing the internship structure (as opposed to mentorship), I don’t think OP’s boss was entirely wrong. Criteria #2 and #4 do not require that the employer receive zero benefit. They mostly exist to ensure you’re not substituting unpaid labor for a paid position, and that you’re structuring the internship as an educational opportunity. It’s ok for an unpaid program to come out as “zero sum” (i.e., the work produced by the intern is of limited benefit, zero benefit, or even a “negative” benefit to the employer after accounting for the amount of resources/time invested in providing the intern with that experience). Another way of describing “zero sum” can include saying “50% for her benefit, and 50% our benefit.” It’s clumsy and not as nuanced as it should be, but it’s not inherently wrong.

      1. A fly on the wall*


        Off-Topic: I used the word mentoring because I do believe in internships as education, and to me, that implies the need for a more experienced supervisor (hire/fire-type person) than even a first level manager. Androgogy is HARD, and structuring an internship program so that the interns come out with a good experience, useful skills, and having learned a lot isn’t something that should be casually dropped on to the head of a junior employee.

        1. OP2*

          Good points. Turns out that 25% of the internship activities are planned–visits, tours, classes on office etiquette, etc. 25% is supposed to be me helping the intern, with the last 50% the intern getting involved in real projects. I’m nervous about this because I haven’t mentored before but there *is* a lot of support at the company so I’m not just going to be winging it.

    4. OP2*

      Thanks for the comment. This is a paid internship (fairly well paid, actually, $22 an hour) so the no work thing doesn’t apply. It’s something my company does every year–basically allows a student to make some money for college while learning, but also contributing something back to the company.

  5. soooo anon*

    Look, I’m all for destigmatizing maternity leave or leaving the workforce, but these gimmicks not only make the women who use them look naive, they’re a bit insulting to people in the workforce. It feels a bit too much of a “motherhood is the best job you could ever have and nothing else you do will ever be as important” mantra a lot of people love. It’s insulting to have someone try to say their child rearing skills are the same as the workplace skills I’ve accrued just as it’d be insulting to them if I said my workplace skills made me qualified to raise a child. People need to realize they’re not comparable skills, and that’s okay.

    1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

      Someone left a copy of a book titled “If You’ve Raised Kids, You Can Manage Anything” in our staff room. It’s all about how being a mother* gives you all kinds of professional skills. I keep getting annoyed at it when I see it… and I AM a mother.

      * Also, it bugs me that this conversation gets framed as “moms learn so much by being moms!” and leaves out dads, because it furthers the norm of moms being the ones who do it all while dads help out some, and even seems to make it seem like a good thing that that inequality exists.

      1. Allison*

        Well, if a woman stays home to raise the kids, I would assume she and her husband had a “traditional” division of labor where she does most of the work to run the household, because she’s the one who’s home most of the day (although I think everyone is capable of doing some cooking, dishes, cleaning, laundry, check writing, etc. in addition to working full time). But generally speaking, it is a little messed up that we still assume that all mothers, even working mothers, are the ones in charge of housework and childcare and the men just “help out” here and there. You don’t “help” with the housework when you live there, you just “do” the work, and you can’t “babysit” your own kids. And don’t get me stared on “Mr. Mom.”

        1. Jessesgirl72*

          Studies are showing in the US that the division of labor in the home, including childcare, is actually pretty evenly split now- and has been for at least 15 years. The perception that women do more is not a reality, as reported in a couple study/surveys now. The only thing that researches still claim to be uneven is that women worry more about their children.

          So this perception, besides being inaccurate, just belittles men.

          1. Judy (since 2010)*

            I’d really love to see those surveys. My google search is only turning up surveys from 2012-2014 that show that women do 60-75% of the chores in the home.

          2. Engineer Woman*

            We completely fit the study average then: household chores and duties, as well as child-rearing, are very much evenly split percentage-wise. But definitely I do worry about the kids way more!

            But as for this Pregnancy Pause website and…company? No! No! No! Maternity leave nor child-rearing is NOT comparable to working in the least. As a parent, there is no office politics, no need to outperform coworkers for a promotion, no need to manage upwards, no need to manage unrealistic expectations of clients, no need to lead without authority, and your performance isn’t based on how your employees perform, etc etc etc. (Seriously, I might receive a pretty poor evaluation if judged by the outputs of my “team” – aka my kids. I love them, but they are not star performers. I would not hire my kids if I need high-performing kids.)

            1. Chinook*

              “But as for this Pregnancy Pause website and…company?”

              If it is a company, how do their employees handle getting references from them when they move on to their next job without it looking like were on maternity leave? How do you prove you are legit employee for Pregnancy Pause?

              1. Evan Þ*

                Hopefully they have another number for that?

                (I wonder how much maternity leave their company offers?)

              2. DArcy*

                It’s not a company. It’s a campaign by an ad agency, so any actual employees would be putting the ad agency on their resume rather than “Pregnancy Pause”.

          3. Blue Bells*

            American Time Use Data study, released by Dept of Labor Statistics, from 2014:

            “On an average day, 19 percent of men did housework–such as cleaning or doing laundry–compared with 49 percent of women. 42 percent of men did food preparation or cleanup, compared with 68 percent of women.”

            “On an average day, among adults living in households with children under age 6, women spent 1 hour providing physical care (such as bathing or feeding a child) to household children; by contrast, men spent 26 minutes providing physical care.”

            “On an average day, 83 percent of women and 65 percent of men spent some time doing household activities such as housework, cooking, lawn care, or financial and other household management.”

            Doesn’t sound “pretty evenly split” to me!

          4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            Ditto what Judy said! The last studies I saw on division of housework were from ~ 2015 and stated that even households striving for an egalitarian division of household labor and childcare skewed with women still doing 60-75% of that work. If it’s changed, I’d really love to read the new studies so I’m not relying on outdated info!

            But overall yes—part of normalizing parental leave and “pauses” includes acknowledging that childcare/housecare should not be (and in many families is not) an exclusively female enterprise.

          5. Sylvia*

            I actually conducted one of those studies as a student and did not find what you’re describing. I found that people in opposite-gender relationships say they have an equal division of household labor, but when you asked how much time they spent on housework, women reported more time spent than men did.

            It’s possible that this reflects mistakes on my part, though, like badly-written questions or something. (See: “As a student.”)

            1. Honeybee*

              No, those results align with most of the research on division of household labor and childcare done recently as well.

        2. Parenthetically*

          “I would assume she and her husband had a “traditional” division of labor where she does most of the work to run the household, because she’s the one who’s home most of the day”

          I agree with the rest of what you say, but I don’t think this is a fair assumption. More of my peers are negotiating these decisions based on a variety of factors, none of which is particularly about tradition or gender.

        3. Future Analyst*

          Nope. There are plenty of women who stay home with their kids (whether for 3 months- 18 years) who do not subscribe to the “traditional” division of labor. When I stayed home with my oldest for 10 months, I specifically did not pick up any chores my husband was doing previously, b/c I knew that I would eventually go back to work, and didn’t want either of us to get used to me doing all the housework. [And if my husband had stayed home, I wouldn’t have expected him to pick up my chores.]

          I stayed home (instead of my husband) purely because I made $30k less a year than he did. If salaries were flipped (which is a whole other conversation), he would have stayed home. It had nothing to do with tradition and everything to do with basic math.

      2. Julia*

        So how come there are so many terrible mothers? And fathers? I guess because in every job, you have people who suck at it. Just with parents, they usually don’t have bosses who can fire them.

        Plus, I find those kinds of messages insulting to people who don’t (or can’t!) have children. Does not being a mother make me a less competent adult, worker and human?

        1. Allison*

          Seriously, sometimes I suspect that one reason why my coworkers at oldjob talked to me like I was a little girl was that I didn’t have kids, wasn’t married, and didn’t own a house. I rent an apartment, with a roommate, my boyfriend and I sort of thought about moving in this year but I don’t think it’s gonna happen, but basically I’m not even “on track” to becoming a “real grown up” and I think that concerns some older people who think you don’t really grow up until you settle down and start a family.

          Although sometimes I feel like a “mommy” to my overgrown manbaby of a roommate.

          That said, I can definitely see how being a parent builds character. Taking care of a small human who depends on you is hard work and it force you to become a more responsible person, moreso if you juggle it with a full-time job, making a marriage work, volunteer activity, etc.

          1. Jadelyn*

            It is hard work, but based on watching my cousins be terrible at it: it definitely does not force you to become a more responsible person. I’m not a kids person, I’m childfree by choice, but I’m a far more responsible adult than several of my idiot cousins who have multiple kids each.

            Being a GOOD parent forces you to become a more responsible person. Having a kid and just keeping it alive, not so much.

            1. Julia*

              The thing is, you don’t need a license, degree or training to become a parent, so almost anyone biologically capable can do it.

          2. Kate*

            Yes, this! I get this a lot too. I have an apartment, I don’t have kids, I’m not married, and to make it worse I am single and not interested in dating.

            I agree that parenthood *can* make someone more responsible, but having seen way too many irresponsible, selfish parents, as well as good, responsible parents, and having been one of those kids “born middle-aged”, as they say, I think it is really, really important to just take people as they are. Not to say that you don’t, but agreeing with you and speaking about the general “you”.

          3. Elizabeth West*

            I know this attitude well. I get it from my family–I’m the only one (besides the kids) who isn’t married. Even though I’m the oldest, I often feel as though they view me as behind in some way. It’s the way they talk to me, in a patronizing manner sometimes.

            I’ve gotten it from coworkers and not always older ones, too. It might be where I live; most people here get married and have families very young. But it annoys me because at work, I’m supposed to be judged on my competence, not whether I’ve punched out a kid or not.

    2. Allypopx*

      Agreed. If I raised children the way I managed a staff, those would be some screwed up kids. Efficient kids, but probably emotionally confused.

      1. not really a lurker anymore*

        One of the best skills I learned from parenting is the ability to say “No.” repeatedly. And mean it.

        I realized this during a discussion involving a request from someone with a certain amount of power. I wasn’t giving him what he wanted (God rights to software that I’m responsible for) and I finally told him that I had small children and could do this all day. He stopped asking for them and has never pushed a boundary since then.

        1. Allypopx*

          That’s great. I’ve seen the flip side of that too, though, where people have a really hard time adjusting to the power dynamics in a professional setting because sometimes you don’t get the final say the way you do at home.

          Which is to say, it still varies by person, and it’s great when you get skills (particularly soft skills) outside of work that can be applicable in a work setting. But it’s not the default, and it’s important not to advise job seekers that those skills are directly transferable, because the risk of coming off as naive is way too high.

        2. Catherine from Canada*

          Just after I started here and was still learning the ropes, I had to ask an engineer a software question. He’s prickly and tends to shut people down for “wasting his time”, especially the tech writers.
          Heart in mouth, I tapped on his cubicle wall, he turned and glared at me, and I suddenly realized I’d seen and withstood that look before. I thought, “I’ve raised four teen aged boys, you don’t scare me.”

          1. Chinook*

            “Heart in mouth, I tapped on his cubicle wall, he turned and glared at me, and I suddenly realized I’d seen and withstood that look before. I thought, “I’ve raised four teen aged boys, you don’t scare me.””

            My response to that look has always been “I was a junior substitute teacher, you can’t do anything to scare me.” Parenting isn’t the only place to learn that skill. :)

    3. Ashie*

      It also implies that people who might be reading the resume don’t understand what motherhood involves, which is really insulting to parents who are already in the workplace.

    4. J.B.*

      There are skills that are transferable, but just like any other transferable skill you need to learn the right way to apply it in a different environment. Like experience with a particularly difficult and super intelligent child is actually helpful when dealing with *ahem* certain adults. Agree with the rest of the comment completely.

  6. Ramona Flowers*

    #4 Your marketing manager’s approach isn’t great, because he’s encouraging people to churn out content at random. There should really be a content plan and calendar, with blog posts assigned to people individually – which could be the case, maybe he’s asking you to assign yourselves more, but it doesn’t sound like it. And this is not how you motivate people to do something – it also sounds like he skipped the step of finding out why some people are doing less in the first place.

    1. Mike C.*

      Not to mention the fact that you’re going to reward someone who posts nothing rather than those who produce regular content. And even those issues are separate from the issue of whether or not the content is actually any good.

      It seems to me that this manager is simply avoiding their actual job.

      1. Julia*

        That reminds me of how my mother would gift my brother with book after book because she was so glad if he read something, but I, who loved to read, had to buy my own books.

    2. Ramona Flowers*

      In fact, OP, maybe you should create a content calendar with ideas for blogposts for the next few months. Did he say you had to write complete posts to increase your count? If not, I’d be tempted to do that and watch the contest short-circuit.

      In my view, creating a content calendar and making it easier to get content written – people are spooked by blank pages and lack of inspiration is often driven by lack of direction – is the kind of initiative that’s actually worth taking.

      If you don’t know how to do this, ‘content plan’ and ‘content marketing strategy’ should be your new favourite search terms.

    3. Manders*

      Yeah, I’m a little confused about how this department is handling blog posts. How do you make sure multiple people aren’t writing about the same topic? Why are your coworkers allowed to just not write as many posts? Is writing posts all your team does, or are you trying to squeeze this work in around other priorities?

      It sounds like this marketing manager has a vague idea that an active blog is a good thing, but hasn’t really put the time into understanding how to manage multiple writers and plan ahead for creating content. Also–a $50 gift card isn’t even that great a prize. Say you write 5 more posts and win the contest, and you spend 2 hours crafting each post, that’s only an extra $5 per hour.

  7. Ramona Flowers*

    #2 Take a deep breath and remember that knowledge and intelligence aren’t the same thing – the fact this person studied quantum teapots when you’ve only considered it does not mean they’re smarter than you. Maybe they excel at different subjects to you. But you’re the senior one here, with the real-world work experience, and this person will hopefully be excited to learn from you.

    If it’s caused a twinge of jealousy or wishful thinking, maybe it’s time to look into exploring this stuff yourself if you want to. If not, try to remember it takes all sorts to make a world. You do you – everyone else is taken.

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Yes! And truly, what Alison said is right—you know more about what it’s like to do your job than even the most (classroom) gifted intern with little to no experience. In general, I find that if you treat bright young people with kindness and respect, they’ll be eager to learn, eager to rise to new challenges and develop new competencies, and grateful for the experience. You bring a lot of value, OP, and your intern wants to soak it up! You can also teach her a lot about how you broke into your field, how you’ve been successful, professionalism and industry norms, etc.—things she wouldn’t learn in a typical college class. She may also learn to see things from a different lens than the ones in her classes, or she could assess whether real life reflects what she learned in the classroom.

      As a side rant: In general, I think many employers over-value academic performance over skills that relate directly to job performance (sometimes these traits overlap, but not inherently). I have all sorts of *feelings*, but here’s my quick anecdote: a minority of my interns with sky-high, “elite” grades required a lot of remedial training in (1) how to speak to people you think are not as smart as you, (2) when to take direction v. arguing with a supervisor you think is not-that-smart, and (3) how to work in a team. Meanwhile, I had an intern I fought to hire despite having “lower grades,” and she was a freaking superstar who read my mind, produced amazingly relevant (and error-free, well-written, fact-supported) work, earned the respect of our extremely prickly clients, and became a successful Exec Director of a sizable nonprofit within years of graduating. Grades aren’t everything.

      1. Cassandra*

        I was one of those sky-high-grades, low-workplace-intelligence types. I got better, slowly… and now that I teach in a professional program, I look for those who were like me and do my best to socialize them appropriately.

        I don’t have any magic fixes to offer. I’ve found that group projects with project-management and scheduling scaffolding (try especially the Team Compact because it gets at interpersonal friction in a way classical project management techniques usually don’t) help these folks learn to value their teammates and dial back on their tendency to take over everything (often due to fear of failure, as another commenter suggested).

        In one class where it’s topically relevant to do so, I also assign Jo Freeman’s Tyranny of Structurelessness, and relate it explicitly in class to unstructured group-project experiences. This helps the sky-high-grades types understand what they sometimes do to their workmates, why it’s not okay, and how explicit process makes things better.

        I do this because you’re quite right about the outcomes, PCBH. Sometimes the on-paper brightest flounder much more than one would expect (and I include myself among the flounderers). This can be prevented, at least sometimes, but it takes pedagogical attention to it — which flies against some conventional wisdom about leaving the super-bright ones alone to chart their own paths.

      2. NW Mossy*

        That’s an excellent point, and I’ll throw in the fact that school and work have fundamentally different objectives, so you’re not going to get a clear 1-to-1 translation. In school, the goal is to teach you something and then for you to prove that you’ve learned it. At work, the goal is to achieve the objective the stakeholder wants in a way that’s accurate, efficient, compliant, and timely.

        The example that comes to my mind is when you’re confronted with an unusual problem at work that you need to solve. The student mindset says “I need to figure this all out myself, so I’m going to hunker down for three days and derive a method to do it.” The worker mindset says “I bet one of my teammates has dealt with this before – let me ask around.” Both may get to the same result, but the worker mindset is better aligned to the goal of getting it done and moving on.

        1. SarahTheEntwife*

          Yes! In the workplace it’s also expected and often even required as part of the standard process that other people check over your work for errors on really important things, and you generally have documentation you can check for procedures, standards, etc. As a student that’s usually somewhere between a sign of weakness and actively unethical depending on the situation.

        2. Cedrus Libani*

          It definitely took me a few mishaps before I adjusted from that student mindset.

          On my first day as a teapot-maker, my new boss showed me to my workbench, then asked me to make him a simple chocolate teacup. This was a test, of course, to make sure my chocolate skills were as good as I’d said they were. No problem. I get set up, check my supply cabinet…and there’s nothing in there but a large jug of chocolate syrup. Oh dear. Well, challenge accepted. Three days later, I knock on my boss’ door and present the teacup, plus the chocolate syrup dehydrator that I built from spare parts. He’s…confused. Okay, that’s impressive, but you do realize you could have just used baker’s chocolate and been done in an afternoon, right? Yes, but all I had was the syrup. Boss facepalms, then starts laughing, and tells me he’s going to blow my mind. He leads me to a giant pantry, which I totally hadn’t noticed. They’ve got every kind of chocolate you can think of, and right in front of my nose, there’s enough baker’s chocolate to feed half the town. Mind duly blown. And lesson learned.

    2. Myrin*


      I have to say, I am a tiny bit perplexed by OP’s thinking. And I don’t mean that in a criticising way but rather that it seems to stem from some insecurities around herself that make her see stuff as much bigger or more important than it really is. “[I]t’s obvious that she is much smarter than me, at least from a class work standpoint” might have different connotations in other countries but I personally have taken classes in and written big papers on a multitude of subjects and so, so often I’ve basically forgotten everything about it after a few weeks of not dealing with it anymore (and even when in fact still dealing with it! I’m actually still in the same field I used to study and I have to regularly look up stuff I actually did learn once). If you looked at my coursework throughout my whole uni career you’d think I’d have to bee an expert in all kinds of subjects; and apart from that, just because someone took a class in something doesn’t mean they actually intelligently engaged with the materials throughout that class.

      So really, OP, you are going to be just fine!

      1. Allypopx*

        School breeds this really weird sense of competition and self-worth that follows people into adulthood. I have the common issue of having been really good in school, so learning to take risks and fail and hear criticism in the real world was crippling at first. I totally understand why OP feels intimidated, but she shouldn’t. Totally different contexts are at work.

      2. Nolan*

        I don’t have a college degree. Technically I fall under the “some college” umbrella, but won’t list it unless required. But I’ve been working since I was 16, so I have lots of practical work experience. I’ve worked with a lot of college grads with no practical experience, and generally I’ve been the more adaptable one. College is great, but doing well, or studying subjects you haven’t, isn’t an indicator of employability, or even intelligence. Some people test well but are useless with practical applications. I know several smart college grads you couldn’t pay me to hire. I’ve worked with others who could perfectly parrot information without actually understanding it, so they’d just fall apart if you asked any questions outside their script. And yes, I have several well educated friends who are working in their fields and doing well there. But just because someone studied an advanced subject, or has more education than you doesn’t mean they’re smarter than you or that they’ll be better at your job, especially when they don’t have any experience to back that education up.

    3. Sam*

      As someone whose everyday job involves working with incredibly bright college students, I wholeheartedly agree with this. It doesn’t matter how smart they are; they don’t have your experience/perspective in the work world and haven’t had a chance to pick up the industry-specific knowledge you’ve gained. It might be easier to think about her intellect as one of her individual strengths and figure out how to best leverage that in her role.

  8. Mookie*

    LW2, if it helps — re an intern who may or may not be smarter than you depending on how we judge that sort of thing — smart people are like everyone else: they don’t know everything, they’re not especially brilliant at everything, they never will be (summat to do with genes, I expect) and they benefit from structure, experience, feedback, correction, and mentoring. Heaps of people are smarter than me and you (erm, especially me), but that doesn’t make us indispensable at what we do. Incidentally, heaps of smart people are lazy little sods, so their smarts has no impact on their work ethic. You’re both going to be fine. Alison’s advice is spot-on. Good luck to you.

    1. Lora*

      Had to chuckle at this: “Incidentally, heaps of smart people are lazy little sods, so their smarts has no impact on their work ethic”

      Yes. I have many trepidations about hiring MIT grads after a series of bad experiences in 2005, 2011 and 2013.

      2005: What are you doing? I need help with this!
      “oh…I’m watching the computer.”
      The computer watches itself. I need another pair of hands NOW.
      “Oh. Uh…” (wanders off)
      Had to manage out two guys like this that year.

      2011: Hey, you’ve been working on this project for four years, and it normally takes about 6-8 months, tops, what’s going on with it?
      “Well…it’s complicated…”
      OK, tell me.
      “Whatshername doesn’t want to change it, even though the data says it needs re-worked.”
      You don’t work for Whatshername though. How have you worked with her to reconcile her opinion with the data?
      “Oh I avoid her. She’s a b***h. Nobody wants to deal with her.”
      Oddly enough, the client we were consulting for was willing to pay for him to fart around for FOUR YEARS rather than confront the B***h. Go figure. Then he wondered why he couldn’t seem to advance in his career.

      2013: We have a role in (super hardcore science thing) open for a scientist, if you know any who are looking.
      “Hey, I would be interested!”
      Um, this is for a life scientist, not an engineer. We need someone who specifically has experience in (biology, biochemistry, statistical analysis, experimental design) techniques.
      “It’s all just basic principles though, engineers learn the basic principles and math in school, so anyone can do that.”
      No. No, son, you cannot. Sorry.

      1. Lora*

        And I almost forgot another in 2012: this one quit her job where I worked with MUCH drama and flouncing. Had another job lined up. She lasted less than a year there. I said wow, I thought you really liked the place! It turns out that, shockingly, when you work in a tech hub where everyone and their brother has a fancy degree, nobody is going to obey your edicts right off the bat because you also have a fancy degree – you actually have to earn respect and build professional bonds, especially if you’re only a project manager and nobody’s boss. She was, I’m not even kidding, SHOCKED that an open office didn’t automatically achieve this magical collaboration for her.

        She is now basically a stay at home wife. She has hobbies and stuff, but realistically she’s a stay at home wife.

      2. another person*

        Engineers like to think that about biology! It takes a lot of time to just learn the physical skills associated with being a good (lab) scientist, not to mention experimental design, etc.

        1. Charlie*

          Engineers do this all the time. They think being an engineer entitles them to a strong, contrarian, and rigid opinion on just about any scientific or technical subject, like climate change or vaccines. It doesn’t.

        2. Starbuck*

          I’ve found this view of the biological sciences (particularly the non-medical biological fields) is becoming more and more common over time as more women enter the field. That lack of respect for the work may also be why it’s one of the hard science fields that pays the least….

    2. pope suburban*

      I roundly second this. I look alright on paper, if you’re looking at my grades and test scores, and evidently I have a little “head of the class” vibe, like some folks have the “you must work here” vibe. And there is *so much* I don’t know! There are *so many* things in which I would love to be mentored! Having a manager or trainer who isn’t afraid to tell me how things are done, and why, would be a great thing for me. It’s more learning, and honestly, if I’m not learning at work, I’m miserable. LW2, your intern might well be more of an expert in those specific areas of study than you, but you’re the expert on this job at this organization. That’s valuable. Trust me, even bright students have a lot to learn about professional norms (How many cringeworthy things on this blog come from college career centers or well-meaning relatives who have been out of the job-seeking market for a long time? This is a big gap in education). Stuff that seems pretty obvious to you and me now probably will not be to them. And that’s where your expertise comes in. You’ll do fine, and I’m sure you’re very capable and competent to boot.

    3. Charlie*

      “Incidentally, heaps of smart people are lazy little sods, so their smarts has no impact on their work ethic.

      And also incidentally, heaps of ordinarily smart but nonspecialist people have huge chips on their shoulders about people who are academically accomplished, and like to knock them down a peg by accusing them of being ivory tower eggheads with no street smarts.

    4. SarahTheEntwife*

      Yes! And even if the student is genuinely brilliant, some of the most successful brilliant people are the ones who recognize other people’s specialties and learn from them rather than assuming that because they’re (e.g.) a physics whiz they therefore know everything.

  9. Blondie*

    #1: Hrm. I’ve been getting my hair colored for a quarter-century, and almost all of my appointments have been on the weekend. Hair salons expect this in 2017. Now, there are some stylists who work little or not at all during the weekends, but they are by no means universal. I’d look around for a good colorist who works on the weekend (heck, my salon is open on Sundays as well as on Saturdays).

    As for the doctor’s appointments, though, good for you for taking that much care about your health! (Sorry if that sounds patronizing.) It’s in your employer’s best interests to have employees who are as healthy as possible. Alison’s script sounds good to me. Your letter is providing me with a gentle reminder that I need to schedule a couple of medical appointments myself…

    1. caligirl*

      This takes some really advance planning, and providers that actually keep to their schedules, but I try to do all of my annual check-up/physical type appointments on the same day.

    1. Jeanne*

      I would be unhappy if I learned an employee was using time off during the week for that. Many people get their hair colored on weekends or after normal work hours. Get a new salon if yours has no appts.

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        I’d like to remind everyone of the story of the colleague who seemed vain until it turned out they got their hair styled a lot because it was helping them cope with the aftermath of surviving cancer.

        Let’s maybe tread carefully here, people.

        1. Kate*

          Agreed. I also find the “get a new salon” comments a little irritating. Depending on your area/budget, it just isn’t that easy to find a new salon and a great stylist.

        2. Lissa*

          Sure, but does that mean it’s OK to use sick leave for anything that helps them cope with the aftermath of a serious illness? I’m not being snarky, but honestly wondering – I have never worked a job with paid sick leave (retail/food service and now contract) and honestly am not sure what it’s generally supposed to be for. Just when you’re sick? Medical appointments OK too makes sense, mental health days definitely. Beyond that, would it really be acceptable for one person to use sick leave for a hair appointment (or a circus show, or a petting zoo) because it made them feel better after cancer, but not another person who it just made feel better?

          I don’t think anyone’s saying the OP is vain, just that they might want to think about changing things when it specifically comes to the hair stuff as that’s probably more possible than any other appointment.

          1. Kathleen Adams*

            No, it is not acceptable, at least not that I’ve ever heard. I think (and hope!) that it’s possible the OP didn’t mean she was taking sick leave for hair appointments but was just listing her hair appointments along with all of the other things that have taken her away from the office.

            Because if she’s using sick leave, even unlimited sick leave, for hair appointments, that’s not right.

      2. LawBee*

        I honestly don’t care how my staff use their time off. It’s theirs, and if they want to take 1/2 a day to get their hair done/go shopping/sit at home and watch Southern Charm/stare vacantly into space then whatever.

        Calling in sick for a hair appointment is different, except that I also think mental health days are important. We get a block of PTO, but I’ve had jobs in the past where I had more sick leave than vacation time, and definitely called in sick a couple of times a year for a mental health break. And sometimes I got my hair done.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      She didn’t say she’s using sick leave to get her hair cut. I read that as her mentioning the number of times she’s out for various things (which doesn’t mean it’s all via sick leave). We can assume that’s the case unless she weighs in and explains otherwise.

      1. Blue*

        It is the last in a series of items she uses sick time for — I understand your view, but there’s actually no indication at all that your reading follows, while it absolutely isn’t strange that people are reading it this way.

        1. JamieS*

          Agreed. The entire letter is about using sick leave and it’s listed with things OP uses sick leave for. It may not have been what OP meant but as written sick leave is being used for hair appointments.

          That being said unless OP is flat out lying (ie saying she has a dentist appointment) I don’t think it matters if she’s using​ sick leave for a haircut. People use sick leave for “personal days” or “mental health days” so I’d just toss it under that category.

      2. OP1*

        OP here. We have unlimited sick time but vacation/paid time off is a separate, set bucket. In general, my office doesn’t require us to use sick leave for things under half a day. For example, when I had an MRI of my knee that required a full morning I would count that as sick time. But leaving at 4pm or arriving at 10am for an appointment isn’t that big of a deal and doesn’t require using the time (I’m salaried). My question was more around the number of appointments and the optics of having so many. I always do my best to schedule things at the beginning/end of the day or after hours when I can but it’s just not always possible.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          That’s super helpful, OP#1—thank you!

          Whether the optics matter really depends on your workplace culture. I’m generally in the “can I find when I need you?” and “are you getting your stuff done?” camps when it comes to sick leave.

          But 7 appointments by mid-year, with 3-4 per month approximately each quarter would make me raise my eyebrows… unless I knew my report had ongoing health stuff (but I don’t like that I feel that way because you shouldn’t have to out your medical history). Which is kind of why I think you should consider grouping appointments. If I were your coworker, I honestly wouldn’t notice unless it affected me (and because it’s really none of my business).

          1. Get out the calendar*

            Agreed. OP should try to schedule these on the same day so that she can knock them out as one day instead of three. It is certainly reasonable to have a dental appt in the morning and a dermatologist appt in the afternoon. If OP reported to me, I would think she’s abusing the policy by taking a full day for a 2 hour appt.

            1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

              Just to be clear, it doesn’t sound like OP is taking a full day for a 2-hour appointment. OP states they schedule appointments early in the morning or late in the afternoon, so they’re typically coming in an hour late or leaving an hour early, and they’re FLSA-exempt.

            2. Leenie*

              She isn’t taking a full day for an hour appointment, though. I believe she’s primarily taking hours off here or there, as needed, not days. And not counting those as either sick time or PTO, since it’s under 4 hours and this seems to be her office’s policy for exempt workers. This would be pretty normal in my office (which doesn’t rely on coverage or desk time). If I want to take a couple of hours away to handle my personal business, it doesn’t raise an eyebrow. But I’m also available on weekends, evenings, and sometimes on vacation days, as needed. It all pretty much evens out over time.

          2. ZTwo*

            +1 to this.

            One thing I’d be mindful of is who/how you’re telling people you’re out. I also work in tech with an unlimited time off bucket and although it’s not required, a fair number of coworkers in my department email everyone when they’re coming in late because of the doctor/leaving in the afternoon/leaving early. That’s the thing that makes me notice and be aware of it more than anything, especially because it’s email noise I don’t need and whether or not someone is in that day is irrelevant to me 90% of the time.

            Obviously if your office requires something like that, do it, but otherwise an OOO on your calendar/work chat program and giving your manager a heads up should be all that’s needed. Don’t over-communicate because you’re worried about the optics–it usually has the opposite effect.

    3. Curiosity Killed The Employee*

      If she was using sick leave regularly for hair stuff, I would be really annoyed. Now and then wouldn’t bother me. I did it once or twice at my last job over the course of four years. But a person who is using it once every few months for hair appointments, and just specifically for a hair appointment, not squeezing it in right after a doctor’s appointment, I’d count that as abuse of the policy.

    4. Danger: Gumption Ahead*

      For no good reason I was under the impression that she had general “leave”, not separate “sick” and “vacation” pots

    5. Anon Anon*

      I read it that way as well, that she was taking sick time for hair appointments.

      Hopefully, I read that incorrectly. If I didn’t to me that is an issue.

    6. Lora*

      I personally don’t, because I am too flipping busy to monitor my employees’ lives outside of work much beyond asking “how was your weekend”.

      Then again, I haven’t had my hair cut or colored since 2004. Wash it, put it in a bun, done. It’s your PTO, if you want to spend it all watching teevee reruns or whatever, it’s your choice. People do all kinds of things I think are wasteful, but I can only mind my own personal life, I don’t have time for other people’s.

    7. OP1*

      Hey! OP1 here. To be clear, I’m never taking hours out of my day for a hair appointment. If anything it means leaving at 4pm once every three months. Generally no one bills an hour of sick leave in my office (if you need to leave early you just make sure your work is done or get back online later). I only mentioned it because the 3-4 times a year that I get my hair colored sometimes requires a late afternoon appointment and in the context of all my other medical appointments I didn’t want to be out TOO often.

      1. LawBee*

        imo, you’re overthinking your appointments – which makes sense as this is your first professional job. Annual wellness and dentist appointments aren’t a big deal. Heck, I go to the dentist twice a year, eye doctor once a year, my GP twice a year, mammo/gyno annually – and other than your running injuries, that seems on track with what you’re doing. Reading through your letter, your doctors visits etc are very normal. Unless someone tells you otherwise, you’re probably ok.

      2. BeezLouise*

        We have a similar policy and I absolutely use it to get my hair done — but so does my boss. We’re salary and work a lot of weird hours and work through most of our lunches, etc. so I think it all evens out in the end (and that’s certainly how it’s treated here). But I usually do the same thing and try and schedule it for 4 or something, so I’m just ducking out a little early.

        I also have way more appointments than that in a year (that I’m not taking sick leave for) but I’m pregnant and have a toddler, so… Scheduling all my appointments on the same day would mean having to take an entire day off — ducking out for an hour or two and coming back, or coming in a little late (I try hard to do first or last appt of the day) means taking no time, so it is definitely my preference.

        1. BF50*

          Yep. I think this is mostly a product of being new to the work place.
          Right now you have more medical appointments than others, but I’m betting for many of your coworkers that have fewer medical issues, those appointments for other things.

          My team tends to overshare, so I know we’ve missed work this year for things like refinancing the mortgage, meeting the roofer because of the hail storm, taking the puppy to the vet (repeatedly), meeting with the insurance agent to try to lower premiums, work as a church elder, the daycare mother’s day party, parent teacher conferences, getting an estimate on solar panels, dropping relatives at the airport, attending and planning funerals, family members medical appointments, and on and on and on. That’s not counting the vacation time taken so one coworker could prep for a marathon or another could get in one last day of snowmobiling before the snow melted.

          People miss work, usually for legitimate reasons. I would just touch base with your boss and straight up ask if the optics are bad and clarify that 1) you aren’t job hunting and 2) you aren’t extremely ill and likely to need medical need. Those are really the two main concerns when people have a lot of scheduled appointments.

  10. Jeanne*

    Let me guess: You have to pay to use the Pregnancy Pause number. I wish I had thought of it. All that money for almost no work. You have to know women will try it. Too bad it will hurt not help.

  11. Tau*

    OP #2: First off, don’t panic!

    As someone who often gets the “oh my god you must be incredibly smart” reaction when people know my academic history – being good at academic things is often of pretty limited usefulness in an actual job. On the flipside, there are a lot of things that are extremely important in a job that have nothing to do with academic skills or talent – I am thinking things like navigating a professional environment, effectively working in a team (including with people you may not like personally speaking), working at things that have to be done but aren’t necessary intellectually engaging, keeping people who need to know updated about your status, etc.

    OP, the new intern may have studied things you haven’t, but it’s pretty damn unlikely that you’re going to be analysing Chaucer or proving the Snake Lemma or whatever at work… and as a person with a successful career, you have a huge number of incredibly valuable experiences and knowledge that she doesn’t. It’s those that are going to be relevant in the internship and those you should focus on.

    Honestly, my advice would be to ignore what you know about her classwork and simply treat her as you would any engaged young person who wants to learn about work. If she doesn’t want people to make a big deal of her academic background, she’ll probably be quietly relieved – and if she does, ignoring it is one of the most valuable lessons you can teach her.

    1. Naptime Enthusiast*

      All of this, and as someone that was a summer intern for my current employer, what students learn in school is not necessarily practical to the work place. What she will be learning during this internship is how to apply her studies to real-world applications (if her studies are in your field, which they may not be), how to conduct herself in a business setting, and whether this workplace is the right one for her after she graduates. The best thing you can do for her is guide her through tasks, explain your expectations, follow up with her throughout the day to see if she needs any guidance or information, and ultimately give her a real idea about what working at your company is like.

    2. Anxa*

      And even if the intern doesn’t learn much about ‘the workplace’ at this job, they are still learning about THIS workplace. So if they are smart, learn about the work at this workplace and its culture, they may have the opportunity to now apply themselves.

      Even if an internship is not much of a learning opportunity, it may still be a huge work opportunity.

    3. CM*

      I’ve also had the experience of looking at somebody’s resume and thinking, wow, this person is way more impressive than me! Great, so put her to work. If she’s really good and has relevant knowledge, give her a meaty project that she will really enjoy and that will also benefit the organization. Let her learn project management skills and how to adapt to the culture of your workplace. Keep in mind that she is looking to impress you too — she wants this to lead to other opportunities, so she wants to do a good job for you and build up experience that she will be able to talk about in the future. It’s a good thing to have coworkers whose experience and skills you respect, even if you are supervising them.

    4. JamieS*

      Second this. It’s also important to remember that even if the intern is more intelligent OP has experience and knowledge that will benefit the intern.

      Also I wouldn’t presume too much on the intern’s intellect or ability prior to working with her. There’s a fairly significant between those capable of independent thought and those capable of regurgitating information.

  12. Junior Dev*

    The pregnancy pause site, and the fact that people apparently had positive things to say about it, reminds me of those “life hacks” posts that are meant to go viral on social media. Often they recycle tips from similar articles. Many of the life hacks don’t work, I’ve tried some of them.

    The people who write the articles are probably paid a low per-word rate so they churn them out (I’ve done this sort of writing before, made anywhere from .7 to 5 cents a word), the people who publish them don’t care if the tips are accurate so long as they get clicks, and the people who click “share” see a headline they like and aren’t verifying them at all. But it’s fairly harmless if someone is telling you to stick an avocado seed in your guacamole so it won’t go brown, or whatever; it’s another thing if a desperate job seeker actually takes this terrible advice.

    Ultimately it doesn’t matter to the people creating this site if they help anyone get a job; they’ve got attention for whatever it is they want to do. And it doesn’t matter for anyone who writes a hot take or shares the site on social media. Which is a shame for anyone who takes it seriously.

  13. justcourt*

    I would be super annoyed if a prospective employee listed the Pregnancy Pause as a reference when it’s merely an explanation for a resume gap(s). What a waste of my time, and it’s made worse by the hotline’s request that I do additional research on their resume. Ugh, I am annoyed just reading about it here.

  14. that guy*

    #3 This is one of the dumbest things I ever saw. If you stopped working (for money) to raise children (for free) then that’s what you say. No need for some stupid gimmick. Definitely eyeroll material.

  15. Sue Wilson*

    #2: I think this is a good place to remind people that being smart just means you process something quickly. It has nothing to do with a) what you studied and b) how well you will do in employment.

    #3: The (only) problem with a gap for childcare is that the employer doesn’t know how relevant or up-to-date your skills are anymore. This service doesn’t help that AT ALL.

    1. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

      #3 – DING DING DING. Just explain in the CL/interview what you’ve been doing to keep your skills up, OR how you plan to get up to speed when you re-enter the workforce.

  16. SomeoneLikeAnon*

    LW#1: While I do think it sounds like a lot of appointments, there are options so that so many don’t interrupt your workday. You mentioned that some of them are annual ones that one would know well in advance. Is there a way to schedule some on the same day? It, of course, depends on where all your doctors are located, but then you would be taking one day instead of peppering your work week. If you’ve been going to the doctors for a while, you’ll know which are the ones likely to run late or the average appointment time.

    Additionally, a lot of doctors do have evening hours and it may be worth it to start trying to take more advantage of outside work hours appointments. My doctor sees patients late, up to 7 or 8 pm, on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

    Another option would be to be consistent on a single work day and come in late, work schedule depending. If you have to be at work at 8am, you could schedule appointments for 8am on Thursdays and just have that be the day of the week you might be later coming in. Same option holds true for leaving the work day, example, every Tuesday at 3pm is a hard stop so you can get to your appointment.

    1. CoffeeLover*

      +1 to your suggestions. Not sure if they would work in OP’s case, but I think they make a lot of sense. I especially like the idea of scheduling appoints on a given day/time (the 8am on Thursdays suggestion). It avoids the situation of people getting annoyed looking for you and not knowing where you are. It’s better when they can say, oh that’s right OP comes in late on Thursdays sometimes!

      1. the_scientist*

        Shortly after starting my new job, I started the process of dealing once and for all with adult acne (because I finally had benefits). My dermatologist is so busy that it takes about 6 months from the referral date to get your first appointment, so I’d been seeing her for a while and trying various penultimate therapies, but once I had benefits I started right away on Accutane. The thing with Accutane is that it’s pretty labour and follow-up intensive; you have to have monthly blood draws and monthly follow-up appointments with your dermatologist for the duration of the treatment, which is a minimum of 5 to 6 months. Luckily, my dermatologist works insane hours so I was able to see her after work and I did my blood work early in the morning, before going to work. This worked really well for me, because I was able to manage my frequent appointments with minimal disruption to my work schedule. I also have a pretty flexible work environment, and it wasn’t an issue for me to adjust my work day as needed. I would suggest that OP look into this with regular appointments, assuming she has not already. Another option might be working from home on appointment days, depending on where the doctor’s office is located and if it’s allowed- I do this when I have doctor’s appointments because my GP’s office is basically next door.

    2. OP1*

      OP here. I’ve tried to schedule things on a singular day but it doesn’t always work out. In fact the last time I tried to do that I ended up having to cancel/move all of my appointments because we had a client meeting that I could not miss. Whenever possible I try to schedule things in the early mornings or late afternoon but it’s just not always possible. My sports doctor takes early appointments but my dermatologist doesn’t. I’ve resigned to the fact that I spend more times in doctor’s office than other people but it sure does become a challenge when everything hits at once!

  17. Sled dog mama*

    Regarding medical appointments I have always handled this by telling my supervisor that I have a chronic medical condition that, as long as it is well managed, does not interfere with my ability to do the job and that well managed sometimes means lots of doctors appointments to adjust medication. I always try to schedule my appointments first thing in the morning or last in the afternoon so they take minimal time away from work (or take the day off but I know that doesn’t always work)
    OP it sounds like there is much confusion over if you are taking sick time for these appointments, if it is all PTO or if you are able to flex your hours. With the hair cut/coloring if it’s sick time or flex hours you really need to schedule that outside work hours, I know that sometimes people have a standing appointment with a stylist for a weekend so those can be hard to get but this will reflect poorly on you if you are regularly using sick time or flex hours this way. The only exception to this is if you were already taking say a half day for a medical appointment and had your hair done after but I would check with my manager first asking something like “if I am already taking time for a medical appointment is it acceptable to schedule other non medical things at the same time or should I plan to return to work after the medical appointment?”
    If you are using PTO for the time then it is good to do everything you can to schedule appointments so that they minimize time away from work but that’s part of the reason behind PTO to allow you to do things that are not work but must be done during work hours.

    1. Colette*

      As far as hair appointments go, I agree they’re not a valid use of sick time, but see no reason that she can’t use flex time. I would be really conscious of minimizing the impact on work, though. So taking 1.5 hours for lunch would probably be ok, but I wouldn’t want to be gone from 10-2 for something like that.

      1. Sled dog mama*

        I guess it’s a difference in office culture, where I work it would not be acceptable to regularly use flex time for hair appointments, once or twice would be ok but every time would not be.

        1. mreasy*

          On the other hand, where I work, nobody would have a problem with stepping out for an hour or two for a hair appointment once in awhile, understanding how tough weekend appointments are to get, that we’re all adults who can handle our workloads, and that this person is probably making that time up elsewhere.

          1. Koko*

            Yeah, I am so glad my office isn’t rigid about stuff like this. The rule has always been, “Use your judgment, get your work done, make sure people can reach you or know what to do if they can’t,” and then you can book whatever time off you need. We had one person years ago who abused the flexibility, her work suffered, and she was managed out on a PIP. The flexibility remained in place for the rest of us.

          2. Triangle Pose*

            Same. It’s about results in my work, not face time or “butt-in-seat” coverage. Every 9 weeks or so I get a lunchtime haircut and color and every 6 months I get a hair treatment tacked on to the appointment. It’s been like this at every employer I’ve ever had. Honestly, this reminds me of the letter writer who couldn’t let her direct report stop everything at 12 noon on the dot to have lunch with her husband – it’s just not that weird to have a job where you can’t drop everything and have lunch at 12 on the dot. It’s also not that weird to have a job where you can step out and get your hair cut – I am salaried and exempt and director level, everyone expects that I get things done and produce good quality workeven if I get a haircut. Getting a mid-day haircut every 8 or 9 weeks and working my schedule around it is not an “abuse of the policy” anywhere I’ve ever worked.

          3. paul*

            That’s something that won’t work in a lot of places, sometimes for good reasons and sometimes not. We see clients and take calls from 730am to 5pm for example, so that kind of defines the limits of when we can flex tome in or out.

        2. Antilles*

          Many offices are pretty relaxed about this, assuming you (a) plan it in advance, (b) manage your workload, and (c) it doesn’t become a problem to you or others.
          The basic theory is simple: You’re an adult professional, we expect you to act like one and will accordingly treat you like one.

          1. JB (not in Houston)*

            Exactly. People do this in my office all the time, and nobody cares.

          2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            Agreed. The hair appointment only matters if it’s coming on the heels of a bunch of appointments just because it contributes to the appearance of frequently being out of office… which may not be a problem at OP’s workplace.

    2. OP1*

      OP here. I mentioned this above, but we have a pretty lax office and no one bats an eye if you need to come in at 10 or leave at 4. I only mentioned the hair appointments because if I didn’t have a number of truly medical appointments to attend I don’t think it’d be an issue at all. I only get my hair colored 3-4 times a year and because the appointment requires 3 hours it’s not always possible to get an after hours or weekend time slot. If anything, it means leaving at 4 once a quarter.

      My question to Alison was less about using sick/flex time and more about the optics of requiring so many appointments. There has never been a question or confusion about how my office handles scheduling and sick time but rather I’m concerned with my managers thinking I’m out interviewing or otherwise misusing my time when in fact I’m not. I like the suggestion of generally referring to chronic health conditions. I’m not shy about my cancer store but I avoid speaking about it directly because I hate playing “the cancer card” since none of my appointments are actually for that illness. Rather they are the result of me being extra vigilant about my health in ways that other people may not be.

      1. Myrin*

        I think this might be one of the cases where because you are the centre and main protagonist of your life, what goes on in it is very obvious and highly relevant to you and you (general you, not you specifically, OP!) forget that for everyone else, you’re just a recurring character in their own story. I can basically guarantee you that unless you have very critical or hypervigilant coworkers, bosses who think taking time off is for losers, or are actually out significantly more often than what is described in your letter, people at your workplace don’t think twice about it.

        (Think about it this way: A year is a really long time. I go to the dentist’s once a year and because it’s my only dentist visit, what happened during the last one is always fresh on my mind; additionally, I always feel like no times has passed at all when I realise it’s time to get a dentist appointment again. But when I am actually at the dentist’s, I always realise that since the last time I was there, my dentists had literally thousands of other patients and don’t remember one bit of what had to be done with my mouth, even when it was fairly major. Your coworkers are probably the same way.)

        Also, I’m glad you could beat cancer as a baby and wish you continued good health!

      2. Elizabeth H.*

        I have a ton of doctor’s appointments too for a bunch of separate health issues (they are all kind of related to me generally feeling lousy this past year, but separate in that some are dentist, some are physical therapy, etc.) and I feel weird about it re. work all the time, even though I’m salaried and basically get my work done and my office is somewhat flexible (people tend to take their vacation & time off). I have told my immediate boss & the director that I have these ongoing and regular appointments but I still feel really worried about it all the time and how it looks. I do go to the doctor way more than most people anyway bc I’ve had a lot of random health issues in the past 5 years. So I relate.

      3. E Haas*

        I have 1-3 appointments every week. One of them is my therapist, with whom I am scheduled every week at the same time. I have a second or third appointment about one week in three – dentist, GP, etc. I block the time out on my calendar as OOO (Out of Office), and it’s never been a problem. I’ve started shunting most of my other appointments onto Fridays, for consistency, which has worked well. I let my manager know a few days in advance that I’ll be out for part of the day, but that’s it. My coworkers and boss are too busy with their own work to notice when I’m in or out of the office.

        Heck, at a previous job, I was at the doctor’s all the time – I’d just been diagnosed with fibromyalgia and was going to a holistic health center for a variety of treatments 2-3 times a week for several months. Nobody cared as long as I got my work done.

      4. SusanIvanova*

        I work in software, which is all about results and not about hours. If you were one of my co-workers and you got all your work done, I wouldn’t even notice when you came in a bit late or early – all of us do it. You’ve been there three years – if your co-workers didn’t think you were carrying your weight, you’d know it by now.

  18. Lisa*

    I would straight-up not hire someone who used the Pregnancy Pause, because while there are many, many men and women who have significant gaps in their resume without forgetting basic professional norms, using this ‘service’ is a giant sign you’re not one of them.

    Someone who thinks ‘Mom’ (or ‘Dad’) belongs on a resume is someone who seems likely to be unbearable to work with and/or manage.

    1. Allypopx*

      It depends on what level I was hiring for. Someone in their mid-to-late-twenties who maybe didn’t have a lot of work experience before they had kids? This might not be a deal breaker for me, but it would make me assume this person would require a lot of professional coaching, and that would be factored into my decision.

      A higher level position with someone with an otherwise strong resume? This would read as terrible judgement, with evidence they should know better, and I’d agree with you.

      1. Cally*

        I could really see this being more of a resource used by those who are desperate for any form of experience… I am putting off having kids until I have a good chunk of work experience in my field. If we had a child only 1-2 years into my career like we wanted, I’d be re-entering the workforce potentially years down the line being less desirable than someone straight out of school!

        I would recommend to anyone taking time off to raise a family to try and fill that time with someone tangible; be it volunteering at your child’s school/daycare or taking online continuing education classes. Even though there is that dreaded gap in your resume for work experience that likely screams ‘I got pregnant’, you at least have something to show professionally for that time period.

        I personally can’t wait to take a 1 year online forensic accounting course when I go on maternity leave!

        1. Allypopx*

          That sounds super fun!

          My mom worked like 15 hours a week at a children’s clothing store when I was a baby. She kept herself employed and got an amazing discount on clothes!

          I agree even taking a course – hell, even staying current on your industry blogs! – can be super helpful. But if you’re already in the position where you didn’t do that, I agree, I can see why this approach would be appealing. That just makes it so much skeezier to me. It’s appealing to vulnerable people and just giving them awful advice. But that also makes me slightly more inclined to take it as a factor and not completely dismiss someone as a candidate over it. I know how much conflicting advice there is out there for job candidates.

    2. kittymommy*

      Add much as I feel bad for it, this would make me seriously reconsider someone, even a strong candidate. Hell, especially a strong candidate..

  19. Christine D.*

    #1- I think it totally depends on your office and your boss. At my previous (horrible) job 7 years ago, if I had a raging fever I was still expected to work and stop being such a drama queen. At my current job sick leave is expected to be used and my boss has no problem when I need time. And do I ever sometimes! My first was born with hip dysplasia, low tone, and a host of other medical issues. For the first 18 months of her life she did weekly physical therapy, weekly feeding therapy, monthly hip brace appointments, neurologist appointments…you get the picture. And that doesn’t even account for the standard crud she picked up in daycare and the fevers, roseola, hand foot and mouth, etc. I was CONSTANTLY out of the office. My husband’s work was far more stringent and he could pick up maybe 10% of everything.

    I tried to make up for it by staying late when possible, working extra hours, teleworking, etc. My boss was extremely sympathetic and didn’t ever question my leave or make me feel like less of a worker for it. I was also pretty upfront with the issues we had with my daughter so he had some context as to why I was out. I offered to invoke FMLA and was told I certainly could if I wanted, but I could also just use the flexibility granted right now and “save” FMLA in case my daughter ended up in the hospital or some other grave circumstance might happen. I expressed my deep appreciation for being so accommodating and also stated my long-term goals to stay with such a great company, which I also think made him my ally. I think if you love the company and truly intend to stay, expressing that to your boss can help alleviate any bad will (if there even is any) about your excessive leave.

  20. AvonLady Barksdale*

    #1: I’m going through something really similar right now, so I smiled when I saw your question. In the last three weeks alone, I’ve had to schedule an eye doctor appointment (when my new contacts didn’t fit), three meetings with my new therapist’s practice, my annual gyn exam, unexpected car service (that was yesterday), a trip to urgent care (Friday), and a very necessary podiatrist appointment (that’s tomorrow). Some of these things were planned, some not. No one says anything to me, no one bats an eye. I report only to my boss, and he’s perfectly fine as long as my calendar is blocked off and my work gets done. (Caveat: it does help that I’m in the beginning stages of my role with a lot of light days.)

    This is almost entirely dependent on office culture. We have a small office with people of varying ages and life stages, so someone is always out for one appointment or another. Unless it’s going to be a really long time away from the office, we don’t have to put in for time off– it’s considered a long lunch, for the most part. However, I get those same pangs of guilt you do. Alison’s advice is very good; if I approached my boss like that, he might brush me off, but I would certainly feel better about all of the appointments. If you’re exempt and your work is relatively flexible, then remember to take care of you.

    1. OP1*

      OP here. Glad I’m not the only one! When it rains, it pours. I always do my best to work extra hours, answers emails in waiting rooms and otherwise be attentive if I know I’ll be out. It has not impacted my work thus far. I hope your schedule lightens up :)

  21. Sadsack*

    There is actually a phone number to call for the pregnancy pause? That is ridiculous. And the notion that parenthood surely makes for a valuable employee is based on what? I hope that there aren’t too many people falling for this.

  22. Alis*

    #3 is CRINGEWORTHY!!!

    Moms, get out of the house and do *something* during your time off. Volunteer, network, take an online class. It’s good for the soul and helps keep you in touch with your career. I took nearly four years off and my volunteer work saved my sanity and my career. Just an hour every week or two.

    Maternity leave is not a full-time job, sorry, it’s not. Comparing it to the professional workforce is a self-justification that only hurts you in the end. Naive at best, delusional at worst. I did it for years with an infant who has a severe developmental disorder, but my boss never cared if I was in PJs or didn’t get projects done. Not the same thing!!!

    1. Parenthetically*

      This comment is 100% unnecessary. Can we not have Mommy Wars in the comments section please?

    2. Julia*

      “Maternity leave is not a full-time job, sorry, it’s not. ”

      24/7 is not full-time?

      I get that it’s not a professional job because you don’t have a boss or client to report to, but let’s maybe not downplay the hardship of taking care of a baby?

      1. Me*

        It’s work but it’s not a job. There’s a big difference. Pretending otherwise makes women look clueless.

        1. Unlucky Bear*

          Yeah. I work full-time and have a baby. They are not comparable. Staying at home to raise children is hard, necessary work, but it’s not as hard as working AND raising children. It just isn’t.

    3. Trust Your Instincts*

      Your experience doesn’t automatically negate someone else’s experience. That’s all I can say on that.

      I agree the Pregnant Pause is terribly misguided, but I can see why there’s a market. It sucks that parents are penalized for taking time off the raise children. In my relationship, my husband was the one who took time off. The stigma of him being an Aboriginal man who wasn’t working for 3 years (which became 4 years despite all his job hunting) made trying to get the most entry level jobs infuriating. And even volunteering during this time did nothing for him. It’s nice that someone tried to come up with an idea to counter the stigma, it’s a shame it was poorly executed.

    4. Chinook*

      Alis, while I agree that maternity/paternity leave should not be listed as a full-time job on your resume, I heartily disagree that someone on it needs to “Volunteer, network, take an online class. It’s good for the soul and helps keep you in touch with your career.”

      At least up here, where it is partially paid, it is meant for you to spend time with your child(ren) and give those who gave birth time to physically recover from the process. Those first few months are full of adapting to taking care of a new life who has a completely different sleep schedule and no way to communicate their needs. And while not everyone is suited to staying home and away from adult interaction, there are so many ways to do that without adding the stress of volunteering, networking or taking classes. As well, not every job/volunteer a opportunity would appreciate someone taking on a task they couldn’t complete (which you admitted to) and, in fact, that could potentially create a bad reputation for someone who attempts this and fails.

      Stay-at-home parents should not be pressured/guilted into taking on other roles and duties to prove they are capable adults when they are taking care of children. It is a full-time, worthwhile job that has value and they shouldn’t be made to feel that they are less than others because that is all they did.

      It just isn’t something that should show up as part of resume because it is also the only job that is next to impossible to be fired from.

    5. Chickaletta*

      I agree that full time jobs are not the same as staying at home with the baby, but for different reasons. A full time job you can leave your boss behind at 5pm, but when you’re taking care of your baby you’re stuck with your boss 24/7.

      Full time jobs are where moms go to take a vacation from working. ;)

  23. Tuckerman*

    #2: I felt the same way. Then the VP of my company explained that the people we supervise SHOULD be smarter than us. They should have expertise in areas we don’t. They should provide us with information we wouldn’t necessarily be able to obtain on our own, so that we can make more informed decisions.
    I started having interns report to me weekly: 1. What projects did you work on? 2. Did you have adequate resources to do the project? 3. Do you have any recommendations?
    I don’t need to know the technical ins and outs of the projects. I do need to know whether or not it’s being completed efficiently, and if not, what would lead to a more successful project.

  24. Elle*

    OP #1 – I have undergone several rounds of fertility treatments in the past which required frequent blood tests first thing in the morning at the doctor’s office and some appointments in the middle of the work day over several weeks. I gave my manager a heads up similar to Allison’s wording and said that I’d try to put things on my calendar as much as possible but some of the appointments might shift a little (due to hormone levels and how my body was responding to things, but my boss didn’t need that detail so I didn’t say it). My boss said that was fine and then paused and asked if I would need any medical accommodation.

    Now I have a kid and am undergoing treatments again (a much less intensive regimen this time) so between day care germs that get brought home and my new appointments, I made a point of updating my calendar again and shooting my boss an email with a heads up that I had a bunch of appointments coming up so she wouldn’t be surprised –
    obviously the sick days for illness aren’t preplanned but this way she knows that if some major work comes in for me AND I have to take an afternoon off for an appointment AND I get sick and have to stay home the following day, there’s going to be more of a bottleneck than there would be otherwise and she might have to step in.

    1. OP1*

      OP here. I’m glad everything worked out for you! Happy to hear that others have a similar situation as mine and that you boss/workplace has been so understanding.

  25. Tomato Frog*

    “The Pregnancy Pause” it’s not just a terrible concept because it’s going to look unprofessional and out of touch. I was just listening to a podcast where they cited a study that found that women would get way fewer callbacks and be offered less money if their resume included a line about being in the PTA. (Men got more offers and more money with the same resume.)

      1. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

        Seriously. The Pregnancy Pause nonsense makes me eyeroll HARD, but I would not discount a resume that had volunteer leadership positions in the PTA or other kid-centered activities. On the contrary, re: my comment above, this is an example of keeping skills fresh!

        1. Tomato Frog*

          It’s not that they’re discounting the experience. It’s that the applicant is outing herself as a mother and people (sometimes unconsciously) view mothers as less committed workers.

        2. AnotherAlison*

          Hmmm. I don’t really agree about the PTA. If you had a large gap of SAH parenting, I guess having the PTA to discuss & use for examples is better than nothing, but I would be put off if someone thought it was a fair comparison to my holding a job with progressive responsibility for the last 10 years.

          While I am holding my job, I also head a volunteer organization within my company. And raise 2 kids.

          1. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

            Oh, no, I don’t think it’s a 1 for 1 comparison at all. I would just consider it as potentially relevant “extra” experience (as I would any volunteer leadership role under any other circumstance).

            Also, Tomato Frog, I know. :( It’s unfortunate.

    1. Tomato Frog*

      Though admittedly I don’t know whether it’s more detrimental for a woman to be known to be a mother, or to have a large unexplained gap on her resume.

    2. Alton*

      I think that’s what the Pregnancy Pause site is ostensibly trying to change, though–making it less taboo for a woman to admit to having children. The Pregnancy Pause site just does that in a really bad way that doesn’t actually help. I definitely think that this sort of bias is something to be aware of, but this is something that a lot of people have to grapple with when job searching. I don’t blame people who decide to improve their chances by not referencing anything related to be a mother or by changing the name on their resume from “Jose” to “Joe.” But I also don’t believe in telling people that they *should* do these things.

  26. Phoebe*

    I just had to share these experts from the LinkedIn page for The Pregnancy Pause, because I think my eyes rolled right out of my head when I read them. These are their suggestions on how you should list you time with The Pregnancy Pause:

    “Explain your experience during maternity leave as it applies to you under “Description.” This could be anything from “Designer of human life” to “Hands-on experience in development.” You know best.”

    Biotechnology, Human Resources, Internal Affairs, Nutrition, Negotiation, Healthcare, Package and Freight Delivery, Systems Management, Product Development, and Leadership.”

    1. Phoebe*

      Oops! I forgot to adjust the quotation marks inside the quotes. I hope it’s not too confusing.

    2. mimsie*

      Are we sure this is not a satirical article? As a piece of satire it’s mildly amusing, if not a bit of a tired joke.

      As a serious, earnest endeavor… it’s mildly insulting and beyond naive.

    3. Allypopx*

      But…those specialties mean actual things. That have very little to do with raising children.

      I said above the actual inclusion of The Pregnancy Pause on a resume wouldn’t be an automatic deal breaker for me, but if I worked at a gym or a clinic and someone said they had experience as a nutritionist, I would be livid they wasted my time when they meant they had experience getting a toddler to eat their vegetables.

      This is just such bad advice.

      1. bridget*

        And if we’re getting super cute with the meaning of words, they could apply to all of humanity. We are all “nutritionists” because we eat and specialists in “waste disposal” because we poop. I handle my own Internal Affairs every day by not doing things that would stop my organs from working.

    4. Jane*

      Seriously, is this satire? If it’s not, I’ve never seen one of these “motherhood is like a job” things that had such a weird fixation on pregnancy. Treating parenting as a job skill is bad enough, but at least parenting is a conscious act. Pregnancy doesn’t make you a designer or a biotechnologist any more than my white blood cells make me a doctor.

      1. Pineapple Incident*

        That is so true! I know pregnancy is hard on the body and the mind, but come on- you can’t call it a job skill. Trying to assign specialties to having endured pregnancy is a lie in fancy ribbon, and like someone else said above- those specialties mean actual things that have actual NOTHING to do with pregnancy or parenting.

    5. Me*

      This reminds me of when moms say they’re CEOs, accountants, gourmet chefs, nannies, house cleaners, limosine drivers, psychiatrist, event planners, etc and say their salary should be $500k.


      1. Parenthetically*

        Stuff like this falls somewhere between cute-but-meaningless and “yeah, okay, lady” for me when it’s, say, a facebook status, but the idea of using it with perfect earnestness on a resume just blows my mind.

        1. Myrin*

          Yeah, there was an ad on TV in my country some ten years ago that played with phrasing like that. I was a teenager at that time and had never before seen recognition of the hard work that goes into leading a houshold on TV, so it was really meaningful to me at that time and it was just a cute-and-fun ad (for something completely unrelated, though, I think a chocolate bar or something?). But like you say, it would be very weird to see this during the hiring process and with complete seriousness.

    6. LizB*

      I had someone submit a resume that listed their time as a stay-at-home-parent as a job, and they listed the fact that their child was ahead of peers in development when entering daycare as an achievement. Um.

      1. Grapey*

        IDK, but if someone were _actually_ using CRISPR to design their baby, they’re more likely to end up in front of an ethics committee instead of a hiring committee.

      2. Hedgehog*

        It sounds like either they are claiming to be a mad scientist or some sort of deity. Either way, not good. Although, I guess having a deity on staff could be useful as long as she was willing to take direction.

    7. Mike C.*

      Uh, parents don’t “design” life. You aren’t sitting there coding out the DNA sequence of your kid by hand to get exactly the person you want. They aren’t a bridge or an iPhone app. That’s really demeaning.

    8. LBK*

      The only way I can possibly understand how parenting qualifies as “internal affairs” is if you interpret it as a euphemism.

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        My mind hadn’t gone there, but now it has, and I literally said, “Oh gross” out loud. Because I’m a 12 year old.

    9. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      “Biotechnology” and “Product Development” are especially bold. What is the product? Your child? Or your child’s science fair project?

    10. bridget*

      And because I just can’t get enough of it – “you know best”??? That is taking the “trust your instincts as a parent” to the ridiculous logical conclusion that “literally any absurd thing you do should be immune from criticism.”

  27. Shan-non*

    OP #1, I’m all about being open with my manager about these kinds of things. I go to therapy once a week or every other week. I told him that I have a doctor’s appt. about once a week or so that requires me to leave around 4:30. I also offered that I’m willing to work through all or part of my lunch. He totally understood and I didn’t have to explain that I’m in therapy. But I agree with Allison on the hair appts. I’d recommend scheduling your next cut and color when you’re at the hair salon. That way, you’ll be scheduling months in advance and will be more likely to get a weekend appt. I do it all the time.

  28. East of Nowhere South of Lost*

    OP2: Don’t feel intimidated, get excited, this is someone who can do the deep dive into the subject matter and really make a difference. Wish someone had done that with me instead of getting jealous and feeling intimidated by me, which just makes one feel like an awkward outsider instead of a student, which is what an intern is. See how deep the person wants to go and let them do it within safe boundaries. It will be exciting for both of you.

  29. Jessesgirl72*

    My husband doesn’t have sick leave, per se, but he does have unlimited “personal leave” , so if OP1 is using her leave for hair appointments too (and that’s how it reads to me) that may be the kind of sick/personal leave she is talking about. Since her number of appointments seem high to me too, I really think she should try for weekend hair appointments too, especially if she’s not taking PTO for them. I’d also encourage her to bundle them. I don’t necessarily think the “if no one has said anything to you, keep on” is the right advice here- some people wouldn’t pick up subtle hints from the boss, and by the time they have to say something to you, your professional reputation has already taken a serious hit. I’m also concerned that she only moves preventative appointments when meetings pop up “when she can” Certainly, if she’s actively sick, she shouldn’t cancel a dr’s appointment for a meeting, but a lot of what she describes is not time sensitive, at all.

    1. OP1*

      OP here. I’ve rescheduled a dermatologist no less than 5 times this year to attend meetings because I feel too guilty to say I can’t go because of an appointment that some may not consider “important”. While I try to be accommodating, it is an appointment I need to get to and cannot reschedule indefinitely. I do not consider getting sports injury checked out to be not time sensitive either, especially when leaving it unchecked could lead to serious damage down the line. I value my health and am working on balancing my calendar accordingly.

      1. Fictional Butt*

        I actually think you might be perpetuating the idea that your appointments aren’t important! Your coworkers don’t know what goes on in your appointments, so they don’t know whether they’re important or not. I think rescheduling an appointment 5 times is pretty extreme, and if the appointment was visible on your work calendar, constantly re-scheduling to accommodate other people might actually make you look even flakier. Instead of having one appointment and getting it over with, you had five “ghost” appointments.

        Usually when people plan meetings, they are prepared for the fact that not everyone will be able to attend. When one person tries too hard to fit everything into their schedule, it can just make everything more complicated.

        1. LizB*

          Agreed! Re-scheduling an appointment 5 times seems way out of the norm. Once, maybe twice, sure, for absolutely essential work things — but in a healthy workplace, you should be able to say, “I’m sorry, I’m booked during that time – can we do Thursday instead?” If the answer is “No, and this is super urgent and absolutely requires your presence,” then reschedule. But most of the time the answer will be yes.

  30. nnn*

    For OP#2 with the smart intern: As Alison said, she’s there for work experience. Simply working in a real-world workplace and doing real-world work will be helpful.

    Let’s think for a moment about the “worst-case” scenario: she is so smart that working in your workplace genuinely has nothing to teach her. In that case, she learns that she can handle the work. She learns what real-world work feels like. If she has imposter syndrome, it’s assuaged. If she’s like “Is this all there is? I can’t imagine doing something so unchallenging for the rest of my life” then she knows now. And when she’s looking for jobs, she’ll have a reference who says “Even as a student intern, Jane was generating professional-quality teapots at the same productivity rate we expect from experienced professionals.”

  31. Allison*

    #2, AAM’s advice is spot-on! You can be super smart, well read, and super educated, but that doesn’t mean poo if you don’t have any office skills, that’s where this internship comes in!

    The important part is that, especially because you know she’s smart and you know she’s an adult, talk to her like she’s an intelligent adult! Don’t speak to her like a child or an idiot just because she’s younger than you and doesn’t have as much professional experience, or as many skills, as you do.

  32. FD*

    #2- Also remember this. In a good mentoring relationship, both sides usually learn from each other in some way. For instance, I had a mentor with whom I was able to share some technical knowledge in Excel, while they helped me learn to navigate office politics a bit more.

    It doesn’t make you a ‘bad’ mentor if your mentee knows something you don’t; being open about it can make you a better example, because you’re modelling how to be honest about the limits of your knowledge rather than making it up or getting defensive.

    1. Allypopx*

      That’s a really good point.

      We hired an intern recently who is entering a new field. She’s considerably older than me, she has a load of really diverse and cool experience, but she’s here to learn from us. Conversely, I’m super excited about having her here, because I can learn a lot from her experience and perspective and she’s just fascinating to talk to. Two way street.

      1. Government Worker*

        I was an intern like this – went back to grad school for a professional degree in my early 30’s and did an internship where the people I was working with most closely had more experience in my new field, but were my age or younger, had less fancy academic experience, and had less overall work experience. I got a lot out of it, in part because the people I worked with were really good at their jobs and were willing to talk about their work experiences with me.

  33. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

    Just sympathizing on #1 re: hair appointments. UGH. My stylist works one weekday, 2 week nights, and 1 Saturday a month. Finding a time that is convenient is a nightmare (and I’m only getting a cut every 12 weeks!), but I haven’t found anyone who can cut my hair as well as her, so I make it work. :( If she did color for me as well, I honestly don’t know what I would do. (Probably go back on the market for a new stylist, ugh.)

    1. JB (not in Houston)*

      Yep, my stylist also works limited hours, and it’s difficult to schedule, even planning ahead. She took about several years off for her kids, so I went elsewhere for about five years. And in those five years, I never found another stylist who didn’t make a mess of my curly hair. Some people are saying to just get another stylist, but it’s not always easy.

      1. Kate*

        Yep, I have curly hair too! It can be so hard to find a stylist who doesn’t think that cutting wet hair when it is combed straight will result in a good dry, curly hair haircut.

  34. Anon because medical ref*

    OP #1 – I was expecting to hear something more like my schedule. I think you’re doing okay, although as noted, it’s good to loop your boss in. (I’ve looped mine in, in the most general terms.)

    Right now, every week for me has three appointments (one ongoing for me, two for my children, but hey, in another month I’ll be down to two a week regularly…). I’ve been able to schedule them such that I’m leaving a half hour early for one, and not early at all for the others – but I work a flexed schedule that makes this easier.

    And that’s before you add other appointments. Many weeks end up with 4 appointments instead.

  35. bohtie*

    #1, as a chronically ill person, I am right there with you. I manage to schedule most of my appointments far enough out that they’re either after work or during my lunch break (but I’m also lucky enough that I work in a big city so, for example, my psychiatrist is about 2 blocks from my office, as is my GP and my main specialist, as was my physical therapist when that was a thing, so I can easily go, have a half-hour or 45-minute appointment, and make it back, and the hospital I go to when I have flare-ups is even closer than that). But I still feel weird, mostly because the people I work closely with, especially my boss, are NEVER sick. Like, don’t even get colds or allergies. So every time I have to call in, or take time off for a procedure or a longer appointment, I feel guilty.

    If you’re managing your workload AND you have unlimited sick leave (of which I am admittedly mildly envious!), try not to stress too much about it. I know, easier said than done. I used to feel extra terrible about it but then I realized almost everyone does it in their own way – they might not be sick like me, but they might spend extra time on the phone with their kids during the day on the regular, or leave early when it looks like their commute is going to be bad, or come in late because they stayed out too late at a baseball game the night before, and as long as we’re all getting our jobs done, it’s fairly non-eventful and nobody in administration seems to mind.

    1. OP1*

      OP here. So glad others are in a similar boat! Luckily my office/manager have been really understanding and it hasn’t come up as a problem. I’m just more concerned with them noticing and pattern and thinking that I’m out misusing my time or interviewing elsewhere (it’s really common for people to have “doctors appointments” that are interviews in my industry).

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Oh, if that’s the case, OP, then forget your coworkers. If your office and manager are understanding and unbothered, and if you can step out without announcing to the office you’re leaving early for a “doctors appointment” (even though yours is the real thing!), then I say just go for it.

  36. Jubilance*

    #5 – When I started my first internship after my freshman year, I arrived and learned that the 2 people who were supposed to supervise me were both out. One was out on a scheduled vacation, and the other was out because his wife had their baby early. I made the best of it by going through my required training (I was working in a R&D laboratory), reading a ton about polymer synthesis (I had ZERO education on the subject) and learning about the company. In the end, it all worked out. Perhaps you can talk to your peers and try to line up things for the intern to do, people he can work with, etc while you’re out.

    1. LizB*

      Agreed! If the intern prefers to start while you’re on vacation, you can make a work plan for them that they can do in a self-directed way. Come up with a list of trainings/webinars they can access on their own and complete at their own pace, arrange for them to shadow one or two coworkers for a half-day each (if it won’t interfere with your coworkers too much), write up instructions for a low-stakes data entry or filing task or something similar. Find a coworker who they can ask for help if they get really stuck, but who is comfortable directing them back to your list of tasks and saying, “OP5 gave you things to do, I need you to follow their instructions so I can get my work done.” Bonus: when you get back, you’ll be able to tell how self-directed your intern is capable of being based on what got accomplished while you were gone.

      1. Pineapple Incident*

        I was coming here to say exactly this- the last internship I had last year, pretty much my whole first week was spent reading up on the existing literature on the topic I was meant to focus on, getting used to the computer system, and some limited fact-finding for my first project.

        Supply your intern with some self-directed reading (maybe including some “if you finish with all of this and want to learn more about X, Y, or Z- you can read any of blah-blah materials too”), and make sure that they have a point-of-contact while you’re out. Your intern will likely be just fine, and it will give you a chance to hear from that point-of-contact/the intern how autonomous your intern can be with simpler tasks.

  37. La Revancha del Tango*

    #1 – With how many doctors appointments you’ve scheduled, I’d reserve the hair ones for weekends and schedule them in advance. It’s a bit ridiculous and even if no one has said anything, it doesn’t mean they’re not thinking it.

  38. Brett*

    #5 I frequently handle on-boarding in our team, and the first week is tough and would be really hard if you are not around. But one thing I know from experience is that it is easily possible to on board someone who does not report to you and is not doing the work you are doing. So, you could have another team member on board your intern even without being able to show them the work they are doing.

    Some things to do first week:

    Any mandatory training, registration, badging, etc.

    All the IT stuff. This can sometimes take days anyway, make sure that is getting done while you are gone.

    Introductions, including other nearby sites. Give him the chance to meet people that he might not get much of a chance to meet the rest of the time.

    Tours. If you have any sort of work site tours, schedule them that first week. Another activity he might not otherwise have time to do, and one which can be very helpful.

    Research and reading. Give him a list of reading, or a project outline to start researching and familiarize himself with. Even if he will not be able to start work, he will save hours to days of effort by doing this ahead of time.

    Shadowing. For a couple of half-days, have him just shadow someone that does work related to what you do (influences or influenced by). This will help him get the context of why your work is important. Make sure it is someone who will encourage and answer questions.

    You can then come back to an intern who has all of his preliminary tasks done, a well researched background, and a context to his work.

    1. Allypopx*

      This is great advice, I’d just caution against dumping your intern on someone just because you’re on vacation. Make sure it’s someone on your team who is covering your vital tasks anyway, or who will use and/or interact with the intern role regularly, or is in HR, or who is fully willing and has the time.

      You definitely implied that in your comment I just wanted to say it explicitly, because I can totally see this going awry in the wrong office.

  39. KB*

    OP #1 I wouldn’t get your hair done on work time, especially since this is your first job out of school. I think it wouldn’t look great if you left early one day and the next you came back with a different cut and color. Even more so if you get in the habit of this and your next role doesn’t allow it at all. There are plenty of stylists who work on weekends and late evenings. Most places I know are open Saturday and Sunday, but closed Monday and open into the evenings. I know it can be tempting to not waste your “own” time getting this done, but don’t waste your employers time. They pay you to work, not get your hair done. People are given unlimited sick leave for being sick and those who take advantage of it are the ones who are hurting it for other people. Would you want a hair appointment to ruin your reputation?

    With doctor appointments if you have unlimited I think it’s fine to use, but also I would try to get an evening or weekend appointment for even just the dentist or therapist (again to get on the list/ habit for your next role). Do you work through lunch on the days you leave early? Could you make any appointments during lunch and return after? Most dentists work late at least once a week and at least one Saturday a month, so at your next appointment just book your 6-month in advance. If you are having so many in a certain month maybe it’s good to make at least one on your own time if you can. I say this as someone who currently has a medical condition where I have many appointments as well. I have unlimited sick leave, but when I can make an appointment in the evening or weekend I do. I know it may seem like no one cares or notices, but people do notice these things, especially the hair one.

    I say this as a manager who had a team member leaving for appointments constantly, but would come back the next day with new hair, nails, etc. I spoke with her to see if everything was okay and reminded her sick leave was for sick leave or appointments not nails, hair, etc. She eventually stopped after I talked to her (many times), but it took awhile to regain trust after she had to be asked not to leave work early for non-medical appointments multiple times. If this was an occasional thing, say once/ twice a year or some important event then it wouldn’t matter, but this was happening too often. She also was not promoted since my boss knew what was happening and flat out said not to promote her. When you gain the seniority and years of service these things are more likely to slide or not matter, but it is not worth the risk when you are junior or new to a role. Have a talk with your boss and see how he/ she feels.

    Good luck!

    1. OP1*

      OP here. Mentioned this above but I only mentioned the hair thing because if I didn’t have other appointments, leaving at 4pm 3-4 a year wouldn’t be an issue (I schedule regular cuts outside of work hours but the coloring–which is just touch ups as my hair grows–requires at least 3 hours and my stylist is not typically available on weekends).

  40. LizB*

    #1, the advice about trying to group your appointments into one full day is great. If that doesn’t work, though, can you work to spread them out more evenly so they’re not all clustered in the spring? I feel like it would be better to have one or at most two appointments each month of the year, especially if you can make sure they’re always on X day of the week, than 3-4 some months. I might be wrong, but it seems like people will be likely to notice you’re out a lot in the months with 4 appointments and possibly think “Sheesh, OP1 has been out a lot this month,” but in the months with zero, they’re not going to think “Wow, OP1 has been in the office every day this month! Good for them!” Obviously some appointments won’t be easily shifted, especially if you’re dealing with medication refills and the like, but you should be able to delay your dental cleaning or well-person checkup a few months in order to spread your annual visits more evenly through the year.

    And yeah, the impact of hair appointments on your work really needs to be minimized. That might mean booking waaaay far in advance to get a weekend/evening slot.

    1. OP1*

      OP here. I actually really can’t delay my appointments a few months as they often require annual testing and an abnormality in the results could be a big problem. This where I think Alison advice to mention “chronic health” or something like that was helpful. I don’t feel obligated to explain my entire cancer saga to everyone but I DO NOT mess around my yearly blood work, which all happens to fall in the spring. I recognize that an average person may not feel as rigid about this as I do but I really do not mess around when it comes to seeing doctors as needed.

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        That’s totally fair, but are there other appointments that can be spread out? Or is it that all of your 3-4 appointments have to happen in those specific months?

  41. Clumsy Clara*

    Related to #3…what is the norm for putting maternity leave as a small line between jobs, just as an explanation for a gap in job history? i saw it on a resume for an academic role once and it struck me as a good idea…but perhaps not?

    1. Allypopx*

      I haven’t seen that before, I’ve mostly had maternity leave mentioned in cover letters or in person. I do like it, but I can imagine that brings up the same bias as other commenters have mentioned. Other than that (significant) concern I think it’s an easy way to explain a gap without spending too much time on it.

    2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      I actually think it’s ok to include if it’s clear that you’re explaining leave, not pretending your leave was employment (I’ve seen both, and people rarely accomplish the first with finesse). But the place I see it most successfully addressed is in the cover letter.

  42. Aunt Margie at Work*

    LW5: not being there for the intern. If you could find someone to oversee the intern for the first week (or maybe just Tues-Weds, maybe Thurs) I think it would be better for the intern to go to the office for the first week, and meet people, find his way around, feel the culture. That way when you come back after a week and have to face your inboxes, intern will not be completely blank.

  43. mreasy*

    In NYC, it’s common for therapists to offer insured visits only during the work day, with out-of-pocket paying clients getting the evening spots. Most people I know who get weekly therapy are able to arrange this without issue. So – this may be geography-dependent as well, given the travel times & availability of care in the OP’s area.

  44. N*

    #2–I think it’s unlikely that the intern is really going to be “smarter.” She may have studied some subjects related to your field in the abstract, but she won’t have the direct experience in the field. It’s like the difference between studying medicine and actually performing surgery–she may bring some prior knowledge that will make the learning curve less steep, but she will still be learning a lot about the working world.

    Actually, I’ve met plenty of people who have excelled with pretty heady coursework in college who I wouldn’t consider to be the brightest bulbs on the tree, so I would urge you not to make any judgments about the intern one way or the other before meeting her. (ex. my college roommate who graduated with honors and did research at Stanford, Berkeley, and Columbia, who thought the toilet ran on electricity)

    1. Kate*

      Right! Unfortunately intelligence in schoolwork (being able to understand and memorize concepts) doesn’t have anything to do with common sense, a strong work ethic, being people smart, or being clever/intelligent/perceptive/logical (like the electric toilet example you made) in life.

      If someone who is book smart is also a perceptive, hard worker with common sense, that’s great, but there are a lot of people who aren’t. You just have to wait and see what your intern is like.

      1. Michele*

        Agreed. Some of the worst employees that we have had have gotten stellar grades in school. Being able to memorize and take tests does not translate into being good at your job, getting along with coworkers, or being able to accept constructive criticism..

  45. MegaMoose, Esq*

    #1: I’m going to come down on the side of probably nothing to worry about. The key points for me here are that you’re (1) salaried, (2) in a casual office, and (3) have been around for a while with a great record. It’s easy to hypothesize about how other people’s offices and managers would or wouldn’t handle this, but the only thing that actually matters is your office and your manager. There’s no across-the-board rule saying that only X number of appointments per month are acceptable, and salaried employees can have vastly different amounts of flexibility. If you want to ask your boss if the amount of time you’re spending in the office is acceptable, go ahead, but I wouldn’t make it a big deal or even mention anything about medical appointments unless your manager mentions a concern.

  46. Sarasaurus*

    WRT #3, I just find the name Pregnancy Pause, and the focus on pregnancy and maternity leave so bizarre. Leaving a job to stay home with children is a COMPLETELY different thing than maternity leave. I myself took 3 months of leave from my job after giving birth, and it was definitely hard and exhausting – but I don’t even have a gap on my resume there, because I still had a job that I was just on temporary leave from.

    Obviously this is a ridiculous “service,” even for women who do take more permanent time off, but I’m so confused by the multiple mentions of maternity leave. Am I missing something?

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      I think they’re using “maternity leave” expansively to refer to immediate parental and pregnancy leave as well as longer-term, multi-year SAHM arrangements.

    2. Claudia M.*

      Thank you for asking this – I was confused as well.

      Our workplace offers 5 months, with up to 2 years, of maternity leave. And up to 1 year of paternity leave.

      You’re not getting paid, but your job stays put.

      So yes, I was equally confused.

  47. peachie*

    OP#1: No advice, just sympathy. I also have to take A LOT of sick leave, and it’s something I feel constantly guilty about. I have an ongoing condition that requires at least 3 hours out of the office per month (more if it flares up), I had a temporary physical disability (went half-blind) that left me unable to work full days and required surgery this year, and, well, I live in a city and take public transit and get sick just about as much as anyone else does. Fortunately, my supervisor is incredibly understanding–unfortunately, my grandboss is not.

    (This is timely, too–I’m about to leave for the rest of the day because I came in super sick; appearing sick to coworkers is really the only way I feel sort-of-okay about it.)

  48. Cheesecake 2.0*

    OP#1 I just wanted to commiserate. I too, had cancer as a baby, but it left me with some really chronic issues that have to be carefully managed (I have an artificial bladder, for example, as mine was eaten by a tumor). My boss kind of made a stink about all my appointments in the beginning and I had to get disability services involved, but now it’s not a big deal. I have 3 (possibly 4) conditions that are covered by FMLA and was absolutely going to go that route if necessary but in the end my supervisors decided just letting me flex my time was better. Now, no one bats an eye if I’m gone because they know I get my work done and I’m dependable. Last year (2016) I missed 10 days being sick (I get infections very easily), 7 weeks for surgery, and probably a combined total of another 10-15 days for various appointments (most are not a full day though). So far this year, I’ve had 4 days off being sick, 2 days off for outpatient procedures, and another 5-6 days-worth of time for medical appointments. I try to schedule around work, but when you have a specialist who only sees patients in clinic on the second Thursday of the month in the afternoons, it’s hard.

  49. Kobayashi*

    OP 1 for me as a manager, yes, that would be too much. It would be helpful to have context of medical appointments and a discussion of what time frame during the day would be best to try to schedule them (i.e., early mornings vs. late afternoons or even maybe around a long lunch). As for hair appointments, etc., my advice would be to schedule those on a weekend….just book it out in advance. I don’t know where you live, but I’ve lived in a lot of place all over the U.S. (and, granted, only the U.S.). Hair salons are open on the weekends. Many are even open late in the evenings, for after work appointments. If you plan them out, then, yes, you can get your hair done outside of work hours. I wouldn’t be scheduling your hair appointments during work hours. As for dentists, the same thing. Many do offer after work and and weekend appointments if you book them far enough in advance — since you go regularly, that sounds like it could be doable if you can look around and find a dentist that offers such hours. That’s just my two cents. That leaves you with more leeway to schedule your medical appointments during the work day if needed without it seeming excessive.

    1. Michele*

      I consider dental appointments to be medical appointments, but otherwise I agree with you. OP doesn’t have to give the boss details, but it might be helpful to say that they have had a chronic health problem that requires these appointments.

      1. Kobayashi*

        They can be (although the benefit is usually separate from “medical”) – but often dental appointments are routine cleanings every six months that can be scheduled out WAY in advance to take advantage of after work or weekend time slots. I’ve always been able to find a dentist that has either Saturday appointments or appointments very late in the day.

  50. Jaybeetee*

    Is it that hard to get after-work appointments? I live in a large-ish city, and I’ve had standing appointments such as therapy in the past. I’m almost always able to schedule stuff for after work, or right at the end of the workday where I just have to leave a bit early (I think the only medical professional I see who doesn’t work evenings or weekends is my dentist. Grrr…). This might be the OP’s equivalent of “have you tried turning it off and on again?” but has she really looked into whether any of her appointments can accommodate evening appointments, or is she grabbing whatever appointment is offered first and then taking time off work?

    1. Kate*

      In the large-ish West Coast city I live in (over 5 years now), it is impossible to get after 5 appointments. Only two people I see (my current doctor and my current hairstylist) even offer appointments *at* 5. None of my other doctors (3) or specialists (3) or hairstylists (2) offered appointments at 5 even.

    2. Cheesecake 2.0*

      In the last 2 years, I’ve seen probably 30 different kinds of doctors/medical providers, from urologists to dermatologists to oncologists. Literally only 2 (Physical therapy and psychologist) offered any appointments outside of the usual 8-4 office hours. Maybe if I went outside my insurance network, but I’m not about to pay 100% out of pocket for that.

  51. Michele*

    OP1 strikes a nerve with me. I am a runner and everyone at work thinks of me as this really healthy, active person. However, I was also recently diagnosed with a chronic illness that luckily hasn’t hit me nearly as hard as most people. I am also a private person. I am quite fortunate that my boss is understanding and never asks questions, even though I had 4 doctor’s appointments last week.

    1. Michele*

      I just realized that strikes a nerve could easily be misconstrued. I meant strikes a chord or resonates.

    2. CheeryO*

      Right there with you. I haven’t been diagnosed with anything yet, but I’ve had a slew of appointments in the last year for a mystery condition (and more to come with my first foray into the world of rheumatology). I’m a runner too, and I have to remind myself that an active and healthy person can still have conditions that need managing, even though none of my coworkers do (at least to my knowledge).

  52. Luv the pets*

    Re: OP 1, I can relate. My daughter has a chronic mental health condition for which she takes medication and that causes side effects. She also has migraine, thyroid disease, and some other endocrine issues. All of these things started around 8th grade. At a minimum, we see a therapist 2x month, and her psychiatrist monthly. Every once in a while, we can skip a month. The following doctors we see roughly twice a year: dentist, endocrinologist, and neurologist. We have also seen other specialists for side effects: gyno, orthopedist, and gastroenterologist. We’ve also had an MRI, and more visits to the pediatrician than I can count. Depending on how life is going, we may up the therapy to weekly.

    I work full time, and I have to see my internist twice / year, and have my yearly exam, dentist visits, and neuro, to manage my health. I used to have a job where I had full flex time… put in my hours when and where I wanted, and be accountable for my work, and make appointments and calls as scheduled. This was early on in her diagnosis, so that flexibility allowed me to get to all the appointments, and I made my time up and got work done during the day, and then between 8:00-midnight as needed.

    I now work in a traditional position where I am expected to be in the office 8-5. The sick leave policy states that you have to take 8 hours personal leave before you can take your sick leave. If I had to do that, I would use up all my personal leave on appointments, and we would never be able to take vacation / day off or actually be sick. When I was offered the position, I told the hiring manager that my child had a medical condition that might require me to attend three to eight appointments a month, and that I would be happy to negotiate my leave as necessary, but I would need that flexibility up front to accept. He agreed to allow me to work flex time and not use leave as long as I was demonstrating progress toward my goals. We also agreed that I would try to use family support when possible (mom or husband taking her to the easy appointments, like the dentist). Now, I no longer get my hair done during work hours, like I used to. I have no guilt taking her to her key appointments, but optics are optics, and sometimes you do have to prioritize.

  53. SarahBot*

    OP #1, I haven’t read all of the comments yet, but I wanted to chime in with my experience – I have a chronic health condition (Crohn’s disease) that, up until recently, has required monthly appointments to received medication via infusion, plus quarterly office visits, plus MRIs every 6 months. (Not to mention the normal annual eye appointments, dentist appointments every six months, my annual well-woman visit – all three of which normally fall within two weeks of each other.)

    None of the three reasonable bosses I’ve had since being diagnosed with this have ever given me any negative feedback about this – however, I will say that I am *super* transparent with my bosses about having Crohn’s, which I’ve chosen to do because I do sometimes feel like there are *so many* appointments. (For example, two weeks ago, I had taken Monday off for a vacation day, had to leave early on Tuesday for an infusion, and then had to come in late on Wednesday after an office visit. When I talked to my boss about it, I was like “this feels excessive to me, but they are actually necessary,” and his response was “Don’t worry about it.”)

    I guess what I’m ultimately trying to say is that you may find it reassuring to loop your boss in, so that you don’t have to worry about whether you’re creating a negative impression, but I think it’s likely that you’re fine.

  54. Wrench Turner*

    If you find this intern is actually far more knowledgeable than you in areas of your interest, enjoy the opportunity to learn from them!

  55. Bostonian*

    Holy smokes! #5 my coworker could have written that question. We have an intern starting in a couple weeks and the hiring manager will be out the first week. The rest of the team is going to help be the welcome wagon, and the hiring manager has set up some basic introductory tasks for the intern’s first week. I don’t know if she had the choice of starting a week later or not. Either way, our team is generally supportive of one another so we don’t really feel put upon to help out while hiring manager is away.

  56. TootsNYC*

    mentoring an intern

    Here’s what I’ve done when I had interns assigned to me.

    I simply had them spend a big chunk of the day with me, and I narrated what I was doing, and why. On our way to a meeting, I would describe what the purpose of the meeting was, what types of info would be exchanged (including several hypothetical ranges), who would speak, what their roles in the company are, what *I* would be listening for and what I would do with that info.
    One our way back, I’d talk about what came up, how I thought the different roles in the company would respond, etc.

    If I had a spreadsheet to work on, I’d explain why it was organized the way it is, where I got my info to put into it, who was going to look at my info, and what they might do with it.

    If I had a task for them to tackle, I’d walk them through where it came from and where it was going. I’d lay out what were the most important goals, explain a few tricks that make it easier, and then lay out where the task would go (and why) once it left her.

    OP, you know things about how your office works, how offices in general work, how the workflow and processes work, why people do what they do–and no matter how smart she is, she doesn’t.

  57. Critter*

    Of all the ways I’ve thought of to try and change societal expectations around parenthood…# 3 is probably not it. Although it’s quite enterprising and I admire that.

  58. Kobayashi*

    OP1, I know you mentioned your hairstylist is not typically available on weekends. As a manager, I wouldn’t mind letting you go for legitimate medical appointments, but when you started to factor having to leave early for hair appointments or nail appointments or similar things, yeah, that’s when I’d say, “schedule those outside of working hours, please.” I had a similar issue for a while with a neck thing and needing medical appointments, and I had no problem finding a local salon that was open on the weekends and til 9 p.m. a few days during the week. And my opinion in general is that hair and nail appointments should be done outside of working hours.

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