open thread – May 26-27, 2017

It’s the Friday open thread! The comment section on this post is open for discussion with other readers on anything work-related that you want to talk about. If you want an answer from me, emailing me is still your best bet*, but this is a chance to talk to other readers.

* If you submitted a question to me recently, please don’t repost it here, as it may be in the to-be-answered queue :)

{ 1,662 comments… read them below }

  1. Doug Judy*

    How do you prepare for an interview that’s not really an interview because there isn’t an open position at the moment? I recently finished grad school and for one of my projects for class I interviewed the owner of a consulting company that directly correlated to my grad program. We only talked over the phone, but at the end he asked me to contact him after graduation because while he didn’t have any current openings but he’d like to get to know me better should anything open up in the future. It’s a very niche company that seems to be growing. I don’t really have work experience in what they do, just a passion for it and now an education in that field.

    I contacted him this week and he definitely remembered me, and we set up a breakfast meeting for June 8. He’s bringing someone who runs a new branch of his business too and asked me to send my resume. Reading about this new branch, I would absolutely love to be a part of that work.

    So, wise AAM readers, how do I prep for this? How do I dress? How do I make my case? I’d definitely be willing to start in a junior role and work my way up while I get my feet wet in this field. How do I convey that in a not desperate way?

    1. Stephanie*

      Where’s the interview? If it’s at his office, I would just wear business casual (or even just look polished). YMMV depending on your industry.

      I would have prepared answers in regard to your experience and schooling and how it could fit into the company. I’d also have some answers about career interests and maybe how it could fit into their company or similar companies (because he may be able to refer you to someone).

        1. Stephanie*

          I’d say business causal or like super polished casual if that flies in your industry (like button-up and nice jeans). Suit would be odd given the venue, but you want to look polished.

      1. Swimmergurl*

        This sounds like an informational interview. I wouldn’t wear a suit but would wear business casual. It’s more important that your physical appearance isn’t a strike against you, for whatever reason.

    2. SometimesALurker*

      It sounds to me like an informational interview, but if he’s bringing something who runs a new branch they may also be expecting to hire soon but not yet quite know what they’re hiring for. If I were you, I’d come prepared with questions about the company and the field that would be useful to have their perspective on whether or not you ever work for these people, and be prepared to talk about yourself, your short-term goals, and how your education has prepared you for them. Personally, I’d dress for a serious business meeting but not for an interview, which in my field means anything shy of a suit.

      1. Doug Judy*

        I have a more casual blazer I could wear. I think my “interview suit” would be too much.

    3. Lady By The Lake*

      Research their company and the industry and come up with a lot of questions. Show that you are genuinely interested in what they do. This isn’t about you “making your case” — you make your case by asking pertinent questions that show you have done your research and have thought about this. You shouldn’t “sell” yourself — let your interest sell you.

      1. GOG11*

        There’s a post from AAM about questions to ask in an informational interview. If you search the site for “informational interview” it should come up but I’ll post a link in a reply as well.

    4. Andraste*

      Good comments so far! I would also prepare to ask some questions that would get you some insight on their hiring process. What would you look for in an ideal candidate? What trainings or certifications do you look for when you’re hiring for X role? And AAM’s suggested question of what separates someone who is truly great in X role from someone who is just OK? See if you can get a head start on what they look for, so if there is an opening you can apply for later you’ve already been cultivating the type of skills they want.

    5. John B Public*

      Keep in mind that he doesn’t have any openings now, *and might not for some time*. So have a few questions about the industry in general, avenues to approach if they don’t have anything for you, and stuff that would be applicable beyond his company. This interview might not lead to a job with him now, but it might lead to something elsewhere, and who knows what the future holds?

    6. aubrey*

      I do these kind of meetings with recent grads – though for a startup, not a consulting company. And I have for sure come back later and hired them once we got new business and were able to hire new staff. We’re too small to have HR, so if I can find great candidates without having to publicly post jobs and deal with all that work on top of my regular job, I will!

      They’ll understand that you’re hoping for a job and probably would fit into the junior level without you needing to specifically pitch that. Think of it as a way to find out more about what they do and what they’re looking for, and demonstrate that you’re a smart person who is genuinely interested in the field and their work, as opposed to making your case for a job. Do be ready for some interview-type questions, but also more general questions about your career goals and what you like about the field.

      Personally, I also really enjoy talking to new grads and giving them advice on the industry I work in, and the startup environment if they’re interested specifically in working for startups. These people might be the same, so you could get lots of great industry advice if you treat it as a conversation more than an interview. Even if they don’t hire you, it’s a great opportunity to learn!

      I agree with the other comments that business casual is the way to go, since it’s more of a professional meeting than an interview, unless you know the industry is really formal or really casual. A little too formal is better than too casual, I’d say, but a suit would be out of place.

    7. Optimistic Prime*

      I’d treat it like an informational interview or a networking breakfast. Dress business casual, and talk about what you want out of your next job and in the near future for your career. I’d ask questions about the company and his team and be generally curious about that. Really, the goal of this is networking for potential medium- to long-term benefit.

    8. stevenz*

      Say what you said in your post. Convey your interest and enthusiasm, preferably without drooling. Talk about how your education matches what they do. Don’t assume anything, be informed about the company. Act like it’s an interview, because who’s to say it isn’t?
      Look “nice.” Other advice here sounds good, like a notch below normal interview attire. (I think it is significant that you’re meeting at a diner. That suggests they want it to be casual.)
      One concern I have about these kinds of interviews is how to convey interest and enthusiasm without coming on too strong, as if there is a position and you’re a top candidate. You have to play it by ear, and don’t over-think it.
      Good luck. And be prepared to pay your check, just in case.

  2. Ann Furthermore*

    I’ve been at my new job for about 6 months, and it’s been going very well. The one thing I’ve been struggling with is learning how to use our software, which integrates with some other HP software that is also new for me, and the whole thing is really pretty complex and intricate, especially for someone with no prior exposure to it. I understand at a high level what it does, and how it works, but learning to use it has been really challenging. Yesterday I was finally able to set up and run some pretty simple tasks successfully, and then I was able to add to them to do some more complex transactions, and then this morning I’ve been able to figure out how to do some additional stuff too. I attended a training class led by another co-worker a couple weeks ago (with the intent that I’d eventually be able to do training classes myself), and it really helped things come together for me. It’s such a relief! I was beginning to think I was never going to get it. It’s a great way to head into the long weekend.

    1. Myrin*

      How wonderful! It really is a great feeling when you accomplished something, espeically something that took quite some time to actually learn. I think it’s such an intense relief to be able to think “Oh. I got this now”.

    2. Marillenbaum*

      That’s awesome! It can be so hard learning a new software, and it is a huge morale boost to feel like you’re finally getting it.

    3. Happy Lurker*

      Great news! Must be a huge feeling of relief. Congrats and have a wonderful weekend.

    4. Amy*

      You don’t mention the software but many local libraries subscribe to which has training courses for many many tech things. You might find what you need there, call or look at your local library’s website.

    5. Ann Furthermore*

      Thanks all. :) For years I worked solely with Oracle, and got to the point where I could pretty much figure out how to do anything I needed to do with it, or if I couldn’t, where to go to find answers and then go from there. I like the satisfaction of being able to figure out things on my own, plus, I think you learn better and retain more that way too. It’s been a bit frustrating (not to mention humbling, lol) to not be able to breeze my way through this. But I was looking for new challenges when I left my last job, and I have certainly found what I was looking for. Heh.

  3. Folklorist*

    It’s your not-so-weekly ANTI-PROCRASTINATION POST!!!! Go do something that you’ve been putting off and come back and brag about it. Feel good about yourself going into the weekend!

    1. Marillenbaum*

      Packing! I’m moving on Tuesday (I didn’t have an apartment until Wednesday this week–yikes!) and I’ve still got about 5-6 more boxes to pack. But I’ve gotten a bunch more stuff packed so I’ll be ready for the movers.

    2. NoCalHR*

      Submitted all of my continuing ed credits to the two different professional organizations – not difficult, just time-consuming and now I’m caught up! And I have a 4-day weekend, so … Yay!

    3. Hellanon*

      Finished the worksheet for the class I’m subbing next week, and am having a cup of coffee before finishing the powerpoint.

    4. Sole*

      This is such a great idea – made an eye appointment I’ve been needing to make for weeks (struggling to see the board in class and blurry computer screen at work are causing headaches!) and I feel GREAT about getting my health in order:)

    5. Seren*

      Ironed some cardigans and a shirt that’s been desperately needing it for months. Advice on business clothes that don’t need ironed welcome.

      1. Emily*

        I like to stick with knits. Knit tops under knit cardigans. Much easier.

        I also have some synthetic sleeveless summer tops that never need ironing. Found them at TJ Maxx. Super cute under a cardigan.

        I banned button-downs (except no-iron ones) long ago. Not worth the hassle!

      2. LadyKelvin*

        We just take the wrinkled clothes, toss them in the dryer with a damp towel for 20 minutes then don’t let them go through the cool down stage. Hang them while they are still hot and no wrinkles. The washer/dryer in our current apartment has a wrinkle release setting where it steams your clothing for you and like magic the wrinkles are gone. You do have to hang/fold them immediately but it is awesome.

      3. Jennnnnnn*

        JCPenney! Wash and wear, baby! I’m tall and they even have washable suits in tall sizes!!!

        Not quite interview suits, but perfect work suits.

    6. Teapot Librarian*

      Finished writing an attendance policy and a building maintenance policy for my office. New employee starting on Tuesday is giving me an opportunity to shake things up a bit.

    7. Tess McGill*

      Finally made my son’s dentist appointment and dermatology appointment. Finally bought my little brother’s birthday present (thank you next day shipping!).

    8. Betty Cooper*

      I deleted the marketing emails that I never actually read. Next time, maybe I’ll actually unsubscribe. :)

    9. Rainy, PI*

      I just banged out the Plan for a report who was moved to my team recently. I’ve been putting it off because…mostly because I could, but the deadline is coming up.

    10. ECHM*

      This week I finished up the last of my wedding thank-you notes … all told, a total of somewhere between 400 and 450 notes!

  4. SometimesALurker*

    Hello fellow commenters, I need opinions. How would you handle a situation where someone is figuratively talking over you and it’s very grating, but they are also literally talking over you and that part’s okay, because they’re an interpreter?

    Several times a year, I do a presentation on our organization’s history to a large group of guests from an overseas organization we work closely with (different guests each time but same organization, and same interpreter). There are a variety of good reasons it’s usually me doing these talks and generally, I don’t mind doing it. But, the interpreter goes off on his own tangents, embellishes, says things before I get to them, etc. He is blatant and (I feel) rude about it.

    I don’t speak the language the guests speak, but the interpreter has made it clear he tells some stories he learned from a previous staff member who had a reputation for tall tales. For example, someone asked a question, I answered Y, and he said to me (in English), “No no, I’m going to tell them about Z,” and by the time I finished the sentence “Actually we know Y is true and it’s not clear whether Z is true,” he had already launched into the story to the guests, cutting me off (that day he was doing sequential, rather than simultaneous, translation, so it was clear he was cutting me off).

    I feel completely talked over, and I feel like there’s no point in my giving the presentation if he’s just going to do his own, less accurate version. He works for the outside organization, and the two people from our organization who are usually present don’t seem to care that he talks over me. They’re not in my department, so raising it with them directly would be a political move I don’t know whether we should make. They definitely know it’s happening — when he pulled “I’m going to tell them about Z” and the presentation was already over time, I said, “well, it sounds like you don’t need me here” as pleasantly as I could muster, and left. My boss tends to err on the side of extreme caution with interdepartmental politics, so I’ve already taken it farther than she would, and I worry she won’t be any help.

    It’s so frustrating when I’m standing there waiting to be able to continue speaking, and his interpretation goes on minutes longer than the bit I said. It gives me plenty of time to stew about the way he talks over me. Teaching is part of my job, so accuracy is important to me. For added unpleasantness, I’m a youngish woman and he’s a late-middle aged man, so there’s a power dynamic element to being talked over. If anyone has suggestions for how to stop this from happening, that would be great, but I’m also really looking for suggestions on how to grin and bear it.

    thank you in advance, and sorry this got long!

    1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      Wow, that is incredibly unprofessional! Is this interpreter an employee of your company or a third party-provided service? An interpreter is supposed to interpret, not make his own speech! In either case, I would make very serious noise starting with your boss, and escalating as appropriate from there. It’s a huge ethical breach, and you would not be wrong in taking this up the chain of command.

      1. k*

        Yes! Remind you boss that this could be a liability for your company. If the interpreter says something that is untrue or inaccurate, it makes you and your company look really bad. The people listening to the presentation won’t know that you said something different. You can’t have this guy misrepresenting you.

      2. SometimesALurker*

        I agree but I’m not sure how to make noise on this issue beyond what I’ve already done, and unfortunately, I can’t tell whether my boss cares. As far as I can tell, the interpreter comes with the guests — he may be a part of their organization, or be a third party hired by them.

        1. k*

          Ooh that makes it hard. This will depend on the situation and the vibe of these presentations, but when he does this can you stop him and say, “Excuse me, can you please interpret what I actually said?” or “I need you to interpret what I said, I don’t want there to be any misunderstandings” Said professionally but firmly, and don’t continue if he refuses. If nothing else, it signals to the guests that something isn’t right.

          1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

            Yeah, I agree with this script. You need to stop him in the moment and call him out on not actually… y’know…. interpreting.

          2. Jadelyn*

            Yes – catch it in the moment. Remind him “This is not a co-presentation that we are giving together. This is my presentation, and you are supposed to be interpreting the presentation that I am giving, not giving your own presentation.”

          3. Elizabeth West*

            I like the second one; the first one has too much room for sarcasm. I’d add “actually” to it–“I need to you interpret what I actually said; I don’t want there to be any misunderstandings.” k is right; call him on it in the moment.

        2. Pay No Attention to the Man Behind the Curtain*

          If the interpreter is their person or a third party, can your company provide their own (in addition) — just show up with them when you get there — and have your interpreter do simultaneous interpretation. Can you pre-translate your presentation on a recording and play it or provide a written translation? I would push this guy out of the middle as much as possible…like he isn’t even there.

        3. Optimistic Prime*

          Who is responsible for the vendor relationship with this interpreter? If he’s from a third-party organization (or even if he’s not), the guests you are teaching may be very interested in hearing that he is not interpreting your material correctly.

      3. Turtlewings*

        I completely concur. He’s not doing his job, which is *to translate what you said.* Adding any commentary of his own, especially without making it clear that it’s his and not yours, is a mind-boggling breach of translator ethics, as I understand it. Personally I would refuse to work with him.

        You wanted suggestions on how to “grin and bear it” — you absolutely shouldn’t be bearing it, but if it becomes unavoidable, I would suggest learning enough of the other language that you can say things like, “That’s not what I said,” “Stop saying that,” “No, that’s not right.” So at least the audience can TELL that he’s putting words in your mouth.

        1. SometimesALurker*

          I would love to learn Mandarin but I’m not doing it for this guy’s sake! I have enough on my plate.

    2. Myrin*

      Aaaagh, that sounds insanely frustrating!

      Just so I’m understanding correctly – the interpreter is not from your organisation? (I’m asking this because I don’t quite understand where the other two people from your organisation fit in – why would you need/want to raise this issue with them? They don’t seem to have anything to do with him, if he’s from a different organisation than all three of you?) If so, is there a way to contact an organiser/manager/planner in his organisation directly, without going through your boss?

      (I also have to say, your guests probably aren’t stupid – sure, some English one-word-phrases need to be reworded into a whole sentence in another language, but I’m positive they realise he is not telling them exactly what you’re telling them and as a guest, I’d find that hugely annoying unless the interpreter was an extremely good narrator and entertainer.)

      1. SometimesALurker*

        The other two people from my org are from the department the foreigners are the guests of. We (my dept, but usually me) do this presentation sort of as a favor to that department, but we do something similar for a lot of departments as part of our role at our org, so it would be difficult to stop.

    3. NoMoreMrFixit*

      Start by talking to your boss about this problem. If she won’t escalate this then in your situation I would politely discuss this with the other people in your organization. The translator is not doing his job, which is solely to translate what you said into something the audience can understand. He is plainly hijacking your presentation and being rude to you. If you have support from your boss, refuse to work with this idiot in future. He isn’t going to change.

    4. Jessesgirl72*

      You say he works for the organization where the guests are from? I would take it up with that organization, or with your boss if you don’t have that ability. Explain that he’s not interpreting, he is giving his own presentation, and has been rudely open about that, and in doing so, he is spreading wrong information. Don’t approach it with your boss as “This guy is being rude to me” – even though he is- but as “This interpreter is preventing me from doing the job I am being sent to do, and spreading misinformation that may come back to negatively impact the company”

    5. Isben Takes Tea*

      From what I know of interpreting, this is extremely out of line.

      It’s there any way to reach out to your contact at the other organization and say the interpreter is embellishing your meanings inaccurately and at times refusing (!!) to translate what you said in honor of his own talk?

      You could present it to your boss that the interpreter is essentially and repeatedly giving his own presentation at these events and introducing stories that could harm your organization’s reputation (since you don’t know exactly what he’s saying), and it’s become something you are very uncomfortable with.

      Have you tried, in the moment, correcting the interpreter? “No, I need you to interpret what I said, and not change the presentation.” It would be SUPER uncomfortable for me, but you’re not being rude and unprofessional, HE IS. It MAY also help your cause if his audience can get a sense of what he’s doing…they may be your best allies in this.

      Ugh. Good luck!

      1. stevenz*

        Yes, recommend that he be replaced with another interpreter, “to put the company in the best light for our visitors.”

    6. MAB*

      He’s telling them mis-information? Or off the script? Yeah go to HR, your boss, hell I would go to the person organizing it too and let them know what happened last year. He is misrepresenting the company. That is a big giant NO.

      I work with interpreters all the time and if one did this to me I would be raising hell. If it makes you feel any better I am also a young-ish woman and have never had this happen to me.

    7. Casper Lives*

      Oh wow! I would be livid too. My sympathies. I think you should escalate as much as you feel comfortable doing. Since your boss is no help, I’d try to go above or around her. Even if you can’t change the interpreter, if you can get the message to the attendees that he’s not doing his job. That could help you if something negative happens later based on his misrepresentations. I’ve worked with interpreters in the past. AFAIK, they’ve never done this to me.

    8. TL -*

      That’s incredibly inappropriate! An interpreter should only interpret; you’re not really supposed to notice them.

      In the moment, I would just say, “no,” incredibly firmly. Interrupt him. Firmly. Pause after you say no then say, “I need to you translate exactly what I said and no more.” Be as direct as you can be.

      Right now, I would complain to your boss and your HR and whoever is in touch with the other organization. Just say simply, “The interpreter is, unfortunately, not translating what I’m saying. He’s going off on tangents and refusing to translate some of my words. As I don’t speak Language, I’m not comfortable using him; I have no idea what’s actually being said to the audience.”

    9. Lissa*

      Is this a professional interpreter, or somebody who just happens to be attached to the organization and knows both languages? I do a similar job to interpreting and this is so horrifying to me! We had entire lessons just on things like “you need to interpret everything correctly, even if it’s wrong, or you find it offensive” and if people can’t do that (some can’t!) it’s not the right job for them.

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        I’m so intrigued by this. Are you allowed to signal in any way if you think it’s wrong?

    10. SometimesALurker*

      Thank you all, for your perspectives, and for the validation that this actually is a big deal. It’s reassuring to know that my read on this is right, and he’s being wildly unprofessional. Sadly, I’m not sure that being firm or escalating the issue is going to work, and so I need a back-up plan if it doesn’t (although I am taking all of your advice to heart, and will try to solve the situation!). I don’t think this is a hill I can afford to die on.

      1. Jessie the First (or second)*

        Upthread, you said the other people from your organization are from another department, which is the department that hosts the guests. I would contact that department and let them know. It does not have to be a big fight – but you can say, for example: “I am happy to continue to do the presentations, but I do want to let you know that the interpreter has informed me that at times he chooses not to interpret my presentation and will relay his own stories instead. I hope you all still find value in our presentations, but I wanted to let you know that I am not sure what information is being imparted, and I cannot necessarily vouch for the accuracy of the stories that are not part of my presentation. I am not sure exactly how much of my presentation is being translated for your guests, but I hope they are not missing too much.”

        1. Jadelyn*

          Ooh, this is a really great script for that. Polite and professional but with major between-the-lines signaling of Something Is Wrong Here, and hopefully that will spur them into taking some kind of action.

      2. Dinosaur*

        Is this interpreter certified? If yes, report these incidents to the certifying body. Almost all interpreters have Codes of Ethics and the main tenet is “don’t misrepresent information”, so the certifying body should be horrified.

      3. calonkat*

        OK, so lets assume:
        1) You have no control over the interpreters
        2) You have to use their interpreters
        3) Their interpreters are going to misrepresent your company.

        That’s the conversation you need to be having with your boss. At this point, with those factors, if neither factor can change, then I’d just look at providing written information (translated by a professional service) with the information you’d ordinarily provide.

        The other option I can think of is simply to have someone speaking Language to give the speech (that you’d work with in advance). You’d be available for followup questions, but it would be pretty clear who was speaking on behalf of the company in Language.

      4. DJ*

        Stop and correct him mid-presentation? I mean if he’s interpreting in Mandarin and you don’t speak Mandarin, how exactly do you know he’s embellishing and adding and it’s not just people misunderstanding or adding on in their own minds?

    11. Wow.*

      I say this as someone who as worked as an interpreter, and who trains them: This guy is appalling horrible. It is absolutely vital that he not interpret for you or anyone else.

      It needs to be brought up with the company this guy is working with that you can’t accept his services as an interpreter because he doesn’t adhere to professional standards that are observed by the entire field.

      A lot of people don’t know how professional interpreters should work, and they end up accepting sub-par or disastrous services as a result. This could be where the other people from your organization

      I second what k suggested. Phrase it in terms of liability for your company because he is deliberately not communicating what you (i.e. your company) are saying to the audience. When you politely, professionally bring it up with the contact from the other organization, phrase it in terms of how you will require the services of an interpreter who adheres to professional standards of the field, who doesn’t add, omit, or change anything in your message. If outside statistics and arguments will be taken more seriously a Google search or Google Scholar search for “risk of untrained interpreters” might be helpful.

      In the meantime, definitely call out the guy when he goes off on a tangent with the phrases others have mentioned. Interrupt him with “Please interpret exactly what I said.” “Excuse me, please stop and do not add to or change what I spoke about.” “That is not what I said, so please interpret the words I said.” Repeat and repeat and repeat as needed, with fewer “pleases” as required. Do not feel awkward about it because, as Captain Awkward points out, you’re merely returning the awkwardness to the person who created it.

      (Also, a general PSA about interpreter vs. translator since different words are used in the thread comments: an interpreter works with spoken language and speech, a translator works with written materials and are generally the only ones who have time to use a dictionary.)

    12. SometimesALurker*

      Thank you all for your advice and help. I’m going to take it to heart and do my best!

      One of the best things about Ask a Manager and the commenter community is seeing the multitude of ways that people need to ask, and answer, variations on the question “how do I deal professionally with this person who is being unprofessional towards me?”

    13. Anono-me*

      Can you go to a professional translator who has strong knowledge of the interpreter’s culture and learn a phase in the other language, so you can firmly say something like “No. Interpret the correct information. Please.” in the audience’s language? That may startle him into compliance. It will also let the audience know that some of the stuff he is saying is him not you.

      The outside group may not realize that this man is hijacking the lecture. Why would the overseas organization go to the trouble to send people to a meeting to hear you speak, if the higher ups at the overseas organization thought the interpreter from their group could do the job as well or better?

      As a precaution, can you videotape your lecture? That will document that you answered “X” and the interpreter said “No. I am going to tell them the answer is ‘Purple’.”. He may also hold himself to a higher interpretive standard on video than he does now.

      Good luck.

    14. stevenz*

      My own Rule No. 1 of working with interpreters is to get on the same page about style at the start. Does he want to interpret by individual sentence? a whole paragraph? Will he tell you when you have said enough, or should you stop when you have spoken a complete thought? In that way, you can bring up the no-going-off-the-script discussion. You can remind him that *you’re* making the presentation, it’s your company’s presentation, not his, and the only way you can be sure you’re getting *your company’s message* across is to control the information.

      I would definitely bring this up with someone in the organisation because he’s making the company look bad and you’re getting stuck in the middle. If you can convince a higher-up that he’s a problem they can politely arrange for a replacement for him.

      Speaking through translators can be stressful enough without your translator going on an ego trip.

  5. Stephanie*

    I start my internship on Tuesday. Advice for being a good intern? My last internship, I wasn’t a bad intern, but I wasn’t the best–I didn’t quite get the whole concept of “Oh yeah, they still want a deliverable up to standards. Doesn’t matter how much they like you or if you go to the social things.”

    This is at a MegaCorp, if it makes any difference.

    1. Doug Judy*

      Work extra hard. Ask the people in your department what else you can do for them. Don’t be seen texting or Facebooking or having too many off topic chats with coworkers. Even if you see seasoned employees doing it, don’t.

      1. Corky's wife Bonnie*

        This. My husband’s company hires an intern almost every year, and it’s always the one that worked the hardest and was the most professional.

      2. Casper Lives*

        Yes (thirded?). I’ve worked with a few high school and college interns. The best ones tried really hard, listened to directions, asked for clarifications or a repeat if they did not understand directions, and spent time with several people to get a feel for their work (after politely asking when a good time would be to shadow and learn from them). The worst intern was always on Facebook on his phone, complained that he had too much work, and asked inappropriately personal questions. Good luck!

      3. Amber T*

        Yep! Sure, it’s the employees’ job to give you stuff to do, but Employee Y might think you’re working on something for Employee X, so they won’t give you something, even though you finished the project for Employee X yesterday.

      4. FTW*

        Don’t feel like you will ‘win’ by working the longest hours; I work for a large firm and I don’t want my interns killing themselves… The work I give should take a full day, and if you are working to long on it, I might assume that you are working too slowly.

        So do strong work and don’t slack off, just make sure that your hours don’t go above the norm.

      5. Jerry Vandesic*

        Don’t wait until you are given something to do, ask for something to do. Be proactive. Focus on work, not things outside of work.

    2. LCL*

      Here is a good open ended question for an intern to ask that will help make connections and hopefully you will learn something from it.
      ‘Where does your job fit in the process of getting the work done?’

    3. k*

      Be a good observer. Look at the people who seem to be star employees, the people in a position you’d like one day, and your managers, and model your behavior after them. You can learn a lot about professional norms and what kind of expectations the company has that way.

      1. Hermione*

        And keep in mind that the person who seems most liked is not always the star employee. I’ve seen genial coworkers who have seemingly great conversations with people be very poor performers; they’re well-liked but exasperating to work with, and not who you want to copy.

    4. HMM*

      I run our internship program and I’ve found that the best interns are engaged and aren’t afraid to ask questions – to learn more about how things work, but most importantly, when they don’t know how to do something. At least at our org, we’ll happily work with you to get deliverables up to standards, but we need to know you’re struggling early on. I think it really depends on why you struggled with the work – was it just in an area that’s not your expertise and you were learning as you go? Were you slacking (be honest)?

      Anecdotally: I was incredibly impressed when I walked into the office one morning and saw an intern in our president’s office and she was telling him stories about the pictures framed on her wall. Our president is tough as nails, and a no-nonsense woman so it’s often hard to get close to her socially – in my year here I hadn’t ever been in her office alone with her! But this intern’s genuine curiosity got him there.

      1. S*

        Agree – Ask questions!! I’ve managed a lot of interns over the years. Sometimes people think that if they just listen and nod their heads, they look smarter than they would if they asked a bunch of questions. That’s completely backwards. Ask questions until you’re sure you understand what’s being asked of you. That will lead to better deliverables, in less time.

        Another suggestion: be open to feedback. Don’t get defensive. You’re there to learn, so soak it all in. Depending on your personality, you might have to don a slightly thicker skin. But that will pay off.

        1. S*

          Oh! Another thought. Or two.

          1) Read over your work before you hand it in. Seriously, one of the biggest peeves I’ve had with interns and less-experienced employees is seeing typos and rushed work. There will be occasions when time is of the essence, but if that hasn’t been communicated to you, take the time to double and triple check your work.

          2) Once you’re done, speak up. Say to your contact, “hey, I’m done with [assignment], what’s next?” Don’t assume they’ll realize you’re done and that your time is your own until they call on you again.

          3) Establish beneficial and appropriate “downtime” activities for when you’re done with a deliverable and haven’t been assigned a new one yet. Maybe there’s a long-term low-priority project you can pick up. Or maybe you can take advantage of the company’s online training resources. Or read presentation materials to get more familiar with your department. Agree to this with your contact up front, and you’ll have a much more productive internship!

          1. Emily*

            #1 is really good advice. I remember working with some interns in a previous job, and their typos really annoyed me (especially as an English major).

            I also second the asking questions. That’s part of being engaged in the work.

          2. Tardis*

            This is especially good advice where deliverables are written products. Some of our worst interns were those who took “first draft” to mean they didn’t need to edit themselves, perfect their arguments, or format a document before handing something in. Honestly, an intern’s idea of a final draft is probably closer to an organization’s idea of a first draft. Editing takes time and effort, and the less of it you push to your manager, the better!

      2. Stephanie*

        The last internship (which was a decade ago now at this point) it was a combination of struggling with a new skill (had to code in Python and hadn’t before and it took a little while longer than I thought) and not really getting what my higher-ups’ idea of a finished project was. Slacked off a bit. I got to my end of summer review and they were like “Oh. Um…we wanted more. We liked having you here, but we expected more. This is your first corporate internship, right?” I ended up getting “eligible for rehire” status, which was pretty much “She didn’t poop in a potted plant while she was here, but…”

    5. the gold digger*

      I have been put in charge of a college intern who starts in a week. I am dreading it. She won’t be here long enough to be any real help to me – it will take me longer to teach her how to do anything I do than to do it myself, which would not be a problem if she were a permanent employee, but is a problem with an intern. (She was not my idea.)

      What will make her perfect for me will be (and she is only a college sophomore, Stephanie – I know you already get these things) is if I don’t have to tell her anything (or tell her more than once) about

      * Coming to work on time and staying until the end of the day
      * Not spending all day on facebook
      * Dressing appropriately
      * How to write a professional email
      * How to do research to find answers by herself before she comes to me for help
      * How to check her own work (I was not happy when I had to copy-edit work a tech writer had put together)

      However- my goal for her is to have something resume-able by the end of the summer. That’s what I would focus on – getting a big project done (I hope they give you one), supporting people who ask for help, and asking them what you can do to help. Don’t be afraid to do the crap work nobody wants to do – they will remember you fondly as someone who understands that sometimes, copies have to be made and someone has to do it.

      Also, don’t suggest dramatic changes in how they do things (again, I know you won’t!) unless you are asked for your opinion.

      In addition, stay off FB, your phone, etc, even if you get bored. The optics, as you already know, are very bad. If you are bored, take advantage of the time to learn more about the industry.

      1. LKW*

        I second the “don’t suggest changes” until you have a better understanding of why things are the way they are. A fresh perspective is always good, but you need to have a base understanding of the industry and the rules and regulations that guide it. Industries like Finance and Pharma (and others) have an overwhelming amount of regulations to follow and what may seem like common sense idea might negatively impact compliance.

    6. Emma*

      Dress professionally, like others at your work, or even a touch nicer. If it seems like you have a lot of down time, mention that to your supervisor and ask if there are any longer term tasks that you can do if you finish whatever task is assigned, so that you don’t have to keep bothering them asking for additional work. Or just ask how they’d like for you to handle that.
      Don’t use your cell phone or social media, unless you’ve left your office (like for lunch).
      If you don’t understand a task, ask questions, but try to save all of your questions and ask all at once (vs 5 interruptions in an hour or something).
      Be friendly, but don’t spend too much time chatting when you should be working, especially if this was a problem in the past (“hi Cara, how was your weekend? Oh, mine was good too. Well, I’ve gotta get back to those TPS reports now!”).

      And it’s awesome that you’re trying to improve! Go you!

    7. Morning Glory*

      Make sure to ask questions if you don’t know how to do something – but always try google first for software or other tech-related questions.

      Don’t assume that anyone is keeping track of your workload: speak up if you run out of work, but also speak up if you get so many assignments where you may have trouble making commitments.

      1. Avalanche Lake*

        I want to tag on to the recommendation about asking questions if you don’t know how to do something (but do your research first). Totally second that. But there are two ways to ask questions right up from:
        1. If you don’t understand the assignment, definitely ask about that in the moment! Sometimes it’s hard to figure out what the assigner is looking for as a finished product–you can ask what that might look like, or for them to point you to examples of similar successfully completed projects. (The key to the second part is to know what resources are available to you–if you know there is a shared drive that has powerpoint decks on it, but you need to know if it’s more like Type A or Type B, ask that.)
        2. If you’re not sure how to even start the project, think quickly about a couple of steps you might take, and say that to the assigner. Stating your plan of attack shows that you are proactive and thoughtful, but also enables you to get immediate feedback or course correction. Something like, “You mentioned Bob had done similar project Y before, so I’m first going to email him and ask for the final deck he prepared on that. Then I’m going to research files M and N. Does that sound like a good way to approach this?

    8. Lurky McLurkerson*

      One of my former employers hired summer interns every year and last year the stand-out intern was hired to continue on. He is a *rockstar* at the firm despite his inexperience and low status on the totem pole. Why? He has a fantastic can-do attitude, doesn’t mind doing grunt work, and is the first person to offer to help with a project, no matter how big or small. I know the grunt work can be a downer sometimes, but you have to work your way up– prove that you take the insignificant tasks seriously and want to do it right, and you’ll gradually get more substantive and independent work.

      1. Lisa*

        While a can-do attitude is important, be careful in taking on traditionally female tasks if you are a woman. Things like making the coffee, and doing photocopies and watering the plants.. they’re all useful tasks but they aren’t the things that will make them hire you and they can influence how you’re perceived. Work hard at the stuff that matters and make sure that administrative tasks are spread equally among all the interns, if they are required.

    9. NoNameYet*

      (I’m in a creative field) My standout interns are the ones that make an effort to solve a problem first, but aren’t afraid to approach me when they can’t. I’m more effective helping them when I know what they’ve already tried and can get them to the best solution faster. And the interns tend to remember the solutions better, too.

      A good way to mildly annoy me is showing up late or staying late. I think sometimes interns assume it shows they are enthusiastic about the internship when they stay late– often it gives me the impression they’re struggling with the work or time management as a whole! Your effort will naturally show your enthusiasm.

    10. Master Bean Counter*

      Ask questions! We’ve had an intern in our department this week and everybody loves to explain things to her. It makes them feel like she’s really trying to understand what is going on and showing interest.

    11. Delta Delta*

      If you complete a task, go to the person who gave it to you (or communicate with that person however they best like), let them know it’s done, and ask for more work. I’ve had a lot of interns over the years, and the ones who stand out as the best in my mind were the ones who used their time well and who were vocal about needing more tasks. Sometimes it’s easy for people to get busy and forget to give assignments to the interns, which leads to the intern with nothing to do – which is not what you want since you agreed to intern there – and leads to the employer thinking (probably incorrectly) that the intern wasn’t terribly motivated.

      Also, don’t ask to change the dress code. (and if you haven’t read that AAM post, it’s worth it)

      1. Erin*

        Also show initiative with simple tasks. Like if the trash is full empty it. If someone left something in the copier and you know who it’s supposed to go to return it to them. If the sink in the break room over flows get a mop, don’t wait around for someone to tell you to get the mop. It’s common sense stuff.

    12. Jadelyn*

      Remember that you can only calibrate your behavior based on what you observe of the employees up to a certain point. An employee can get away with slacking sometimes, especially if they’ve got a track record of good performance. My manager doesn’t mind when I make personal calls from my desk for appointments and stuff, because she trusts me to make sure it’s not impacting my work, but that’s something I’ve had to earn over time. But as an intern, you won’t have time to earn goofing-off allowances (or dress code violation allowances, or whatever), so slacking off or dressing down “because I see the employees doing it!” is just going to get you in trouble. Whether it’s fair or not, as an intern, you’re not an employee, and you can’t expect to be treated the same as one.

      Also, the phrase “Is there anything else you need help with?/Is there anything I can do to help on [thing]?” is your best friend. That question got me from “part time temp to do filing” to “full-time credentialed professional in this field” because I kept asking and people kept teaching me new things. So if you run out of work, make the rounds – start with your supervisor, but if they don’t have anything to give you, ask if they’d mind you offering your help to coworkers as well. If they give you the okay, start asking other people what they need help with. This can be a great opportunity to get some cross-training in areas outside your main internship focus, too.

    13. JulieBulie*

      You probably already know this, but because it’s been a problem around here (where I work) a couple of times I’ll mention it: if they give you an email account, check your email and don’t ignore meeting invitations, etc.

    14. Sabine the Very Mean*

      Dig as much as you are allowed into historical documentation such as the Shared Drive used to house common documents. Do as much outside research as possible and always take notes–Always!

      I began recognizing patterns and themes. I was in a public transit admin internship where I began noticing what the major projects were. Soon, I had a dedicated manila folder labeled, for example, “I-25 Bridge Project” where I kept all notes, emails and attachments.

      Another thing that always seemed to impress my bosses was that after almost every meeting or phone call, I made a quick anecdotal note to myself and put it in a folder for organization. At the end of each day, before you leave, spend 10 minutes reviewing your anecdotes and making more as needed.

      Join professional organizations for the field you are in as most have very cheap membership dues for students. Read the newsletters you get.

  6. Outside Looking In*

    I’ve had a lot of people tell me they think I’d do really well in the setting of a college or university. It’s something I’ve definitely been interested in. Has anyone here worked in the office setting of higher education who can give me an idea of the atmosphere in that environment?

    I do administrative office work, thinking of moving into development/fundraising. I applied to colleges in the past but was passed over for people who had experience in that setting already, which I don’t. Anything I could do to help me break in if its s path I want to take?

    1. Not a Real Giraffe*

      It took me a very long time (years) to finally break into higher education administration, and that was with a Master’s degree in progress in the field, and several years of relevant student-focused nonprofit work under my belt. There’s just a lot of competition for those jobs.

      Do you have development/fundraising experience already? It’s such a specific skill set that involves sales and communications and being able to directly ask people for money, that if you don’t already have that experience, your better bet will be to apply for administrative office roles within that department, rather than development-focused roles.

    2. NoMoreMrFixit*

      21 years experience working in post secondary in Canada. The environment is much more casual than the private sector. Being enthusiastic about continuing your own education is a huge plus. I got a job in one institution because I was taking courses there part time when a job came up and that, along with the cultural knowledge and familiarity made up for the technical skills I was weaker. Tuition reduction or even full waivers are a huge perk of working in this environment.

      Another plus is I found a lot of the staff I worked with were younger than me. Helps keep enthusiasm alive and going even for a cranky old cynic like me.

      The downside is that money is always tight due to limited funds. I was in IT so I can’t really give anything concrete regarding fundraising other than it’s a crucial part of the operation for a college or university.

    3. NP Admin*

      I have worked in the university setting both in the development setting and the more academic setting, although not exactly doing office admin work. My impression is that the development area had a much more corporate-like culture than the rest of the university, with fundraisers serving as the sales team, so to speak. I saw a lot of turnover in fundraising, and I was told that burnout is kind of just an accepted part of the job. Of course this may vary from institution to institution. My experiences in the academic setting are that it is much more laid back, you get to work with some really brilliant people, and you have to be good at navigating tons and tons of beaurocratic red tape. I actually think development is a nice bridge between the private sector and academia.

    4. Your Weird Uncle*

      I think I’m a lifetime academic admin! Welcome to our club. :) I work in finance (research grants) currently but have had lots of experience in general admin in higher ed.

      Pros of academic work – at least where I am! YMMV.
      -easy transferability between programs, departments, etc.
      -once you’re in, you’re in (for the most part)
      -good benefits

      Cons of academic work (in my experience across the board):
      -dealing with particularly difficult people, such as faculty who have only ever worked in academia
      -lots and lots and LOTS of bureaucracy, redoing the same work over & over, etc.
      -lots of departments are downsizing due to the current environment in higher ed (budget cuts, etc.)

      My advice to break in is to start off in general admin work. I did that, and I know lots of other folks who got their start as a general departmental admin and were eventually able to slide into roles that were more specialized. In my last role I was able to try on a lot of different hats, and after a couple of years I found out that I love – and am really good at! – research grants and budgets. (As a high school math flunkie I never would have guessed!)

      In my experience, development and fundraising always have roles open BUT they are grueling and have high turnover. I think it can be gratifying work, but I’ve never considered it myself as I would find it exhausting.

      I would also advise you to look into departments that are growing quickly, such as engineering and computer sciences – in my experience, their increased demand means they are hiring more aggressively and are willing to train folks who have potential but maybe don’t have the particular experience. I’ve also found that humanities roles are downsizing faster, so you may find yourself doing the work of two people.

      I hope that helps – and good luck! It’s great work and I really enjoy it.

      1. BackAgain*

        OP, I’ve been in higher ed for 17 years and this sounds like solid advice based on Your Weird Uncles experience.

        Definitely look for departments/programs with good funding sources. This information is usually easy to find on-line because we are thankful, proud and love to promote well-known funded programs. Many public entities will welcome you and provide tours and or sit-down informational visits.

        People are a universities most precious resource and if you are lucky, you’ll land a job at a diverse, thriving campus. Hopefully you have good people skills and if not, hopefully are open to growing in that area. My experience in higher education includes the worst ever on the job experiences in my life but also many best ever experiences.

        Why have I stayed? I believe in our mission and the people. Plus, the benefits (including a guaranteed pension) are quite good.

        The department I’m currently in has limited funding which may run out if more grants are not received in the next five years. I could easily make a lot more $$ by transferring to another department but I love my current program, co-workers, population we serve, etc. We we going through a lot of changes that were all for the good. (Sorry for being vague, just don’t want to include too many details) I feel like I’m thriving personally and professionally as well. After my most recent promotion, there’s probably not any more upward movement for me either so eventually I will move on.

        Best of lucky to you, Outside Looking In!

    5. A Beth*

      Money’s not great on the academic side (ie admin in an academic department) but it’s probably better in business offices (ie advancement, IT, dining/retail). There can be a lot of disparity between classes of employees — even disregarding faculty (which is impossible to do on a campus, let’s be real), there are huge differences between, say, exempt vs non-exempt staff or admin staff vs dining or facilities. Even within a single role there can be pretty frustrating differences across departments. Which is maybe the same everywhere, but when institutions start talking about inclusion and equality as selling points it can seem like a slap in the face if you’re not in a department that values you.

      That said, I have spent my whole career in higher ed and I don’t know that I’d be able to leave for the corporate world now. I like being in a learning environment, the benefits can be really good if you’re looking to get more education for yourself or your partner/kids, and there tend to be a lot of cool cultural opportunities (art, music, sports, etc).

    6. Cruciatus*

      It’s so hard to say. It will depend on the university, and even the department within the university. I worked for a school within a university as an administrative assistant until the end of April. Like Not a Real Giraffe, I also have a Master’s (though I think my previous experience at a smaller school was more important). I moved to a non-administrative role 50 feet down the hall and am so much happier. Not necessarily because it’s non-administrative, but because my former department was just too stressful. And if the boss was stressed, everyone had to be stressed. I seriously got scolded for looking out the window once (at cars sliding down a slick hill in winter) because “we don’t have time for that!” It was maybe 20 seconds of looking out the window. My new department just had a pizza party for my birthday. Well, they ordered pizza and we all ate together and it was lovely. Everyone is more understanding here and calm. I realize that’s probably not too helpful–but my main point is that it depends on so many factors what the environment will be like. One annoying thing about higher ed, at least where I work, is they are constantly changing something. We recently changed programs the faculty use for their classes and students, the main software for students and staff regarding scheduling/advising/choosing a major, etc., and now they are going to change our employee information system (how we log our hours, how we find HR questions). We’re all having change fatigue. And this year we’re getting paltry raises. Maybe 1.25% which is just a few hundred dollars for me (though I just got a pay increase due to switching to this job so I’m trying to roll with it).
      What I would say is just to continue to apply to jobs you are interested in/qualified for and see what happens. And once you’re in the system, it’ll be easier to get another job for something that may be what you’re more interested in (not super easy, but you’ll be a known quantity by then). When you interview you can ask questions about what the atmosphere is like, what your boss is like, etc. Remember, you are interviewing them back to see if you even want the job. Overall I’ve been happy working in higher education and I’m even happier than I was 2 months ago because I found a job on campus that fits me better in many ways, including who I work with.

    7. (Mr.) Cajun2core*

      I can’t speak to development/fundraising as I have no experience in that area.

      However, I worked in industry for 20 years, got laid off, and then moved into academia. There is no comparing academia, especially in a role as an administrative/office work (read secretary) type person. They are very different. Some faculty can be *very* elitist and have a strong sense of entitlement. Some faculty look down upon all staff (even high level staff). Some faculty do not want to follow the rules because they believe that they are above the rules and don’t take the time to understand them. In many (if not most) cases, if there is an issue between a faculty member and a staff member, the faculty member is always right. I would not recommend that anyone work as a low-level staff person at a university unless you are a “yes person” and are willing to just do what you are told or don’t have any drive or ambition or can’t keep your mouth shut. Part of this happens because faculty often have tenure and it is very difficult to fire someone with tenure so they can speak out without any consequences.

      Of course, YMMV, it differs from university to university, department to department, and even dean to dean (within the same department).

      Good Luck

    8. Hermione*

      Often it just takes awhile to get in from the outside. I’m in a college town, and when I was switching from my last position at a uni as a dept. admin., it took about a year and more than 50 applications for me to find the right fit in a position in central admin (registrar). Part of that was that I was comfortable in my then position, and that I really wanted to be at this one university known for prestige, plenty of career opportunities, and great pay.

      For a lot of places, it’s far easier to internally transfer than it is to get a foot in the door. If you’re having trouble getting into development because of a lack of experience fundraising, I would apply to positions that would be a natural fit for your current experience (department admins, executive assistants, program coordinators, etc., with bonus points if they have some development, budgetary, or grant proposal duties), and then try to transfer in a year or two. I would also maybe look for volunteer opportunities in fundraising outside of the university, or attend/volunteer to work some of the university’s big fundraising events throughout the year to make a good impression.

      Good luck!

      1. Lily Rowan*

        I’m new to higher ed, and in development — I got in at a high level because I have a ton of relevant experience and our team’s specific role is quite specialized. Our admin staff tend to be recent(ish) grads, but it seems like most of them move up or out after a couple of years.

        OP, I don’t know if it would be worth it for you, but if you’re having trouble “breaking in,” I’d look at the lowest-level job you’d be willing to take and try it that way.

        1. Lily Rowan*

          Oh yeah — and I love it, even more than I expected to. It turns out, I really appreciate being part of a large institution, and the bureaucracy and internal politics are nothing compared to what I’ve seen at other nonprofits.

      2. Emmie*

        This is exactly right! Apply in your current expertise area. Build your experience inside the uni and you could eventually transfer. Hermione is right about the application volume. Don’t give up.

    9. Ghost Town*

      Do you know why they think you’d do well in an academic setting?

      If you’re interacting with faculty or parents, they can be difficult and resistant to understanding why something can’t just be done (usually b/c of university policy or federal regulation). Cultures can vary widely between offices and a lot will depend on your immediate supervisor.

      If the uni is a big fish employer in your pond, it can be hard to get in the door, but once in, transferring around can be easier. My experience with my university’s application system is that it is very automated and bureaucratic, and while it helps to know someone working at the university, it has to be the right person in the right position. I couldn’t talk up my friend for positions in other, unrelated departments, for instance.

      I broke into student services/affairs, on accident, really, because I had a Masters in the subject area and some experience and familiarity with their specific program. Turns out I liked it, got a graduate certificate and am pursuing a career-related Masters. I’ve also moved up and out of my old office (3 weeks ago).

      At this university, a big fish employer in a small pond, there are a ton of alumni working in positions for which they are way overqualified. Like MBAs in secretary-equivalent roles. So, as unhelpful as this is, keep plugging away. Apply for a range of positions and understand that it will take time. It took my husband about 1 – 1.5 years of applying to get in at the university. It took a friend of mine, and alumna, about 2 years to get to a full-time, exempt position, and then easily 2 years of applications to get into the office she originally wanted. I was applying for positions to advance for about 2 years, myself.

    10. Iris Carpenter*

      Read “Confessions of a Community College Dean”. You will find a wealth of information.

      However, without university level teaching experience, and probably a PhD, you will always be a second class citizen, and be limited in how far you can progress.

      1. Your Weird Uncle*

        Ha – my lovely coworker has her PhD and several years of teaching experience, but her life as a uni admin is still as a second-class citizen. It is a problem!

        1. (Mr.) Cajun2core*

          Agreed! Unless you are tenured or tenure track faculty, you will be a second-class citizen.

          1. Mallory Janis Ian*

            Pretty much. Even the clinical faculty with PhDs are second to the tenured and tenure-track faculty. I think it’s because they don’t have a research/publish requirement, and research and publishing is the king.

    11. AnotherAnother*

      I’m in Canada in higher ed so somethings may be different. It is really common up here for people to start on contract. It’s also really common for people to take big pay cuts over the private sector (if you have specialized skills – think IT, Finance, etc.) to get in – less so in true admin jobs which sometimes pay higher than similar private sector jobs at the beginning but raises are small. I believe the work life balance makes up for it but I know I took a huge pay cut. Once you’re in a full time permanent / continuing job it’s easier to move around. Jobs are posted internally first so lots of really interesting jobs never have any external candidates considered. Having a masters or working on one helps.

    12. tiny temping teapot*

      Start reading Nonprofit AF for sound advice and great, great discussions on fundraising and development.

      I bet there’s a Linkedin group for fundraisers/development professionals in your area – they will link to professional associations that offer classes and, of course, networking. There are also specialized job boards when it comes to fundraising for academic institutions you might want to check out.

      Admin work is a great way to break in.

    13. TL - DC*

      I’m not sure what level you are at, but in development offices I’ve worked in there are admin assistants to high level fundraisers. Those folks definitely can move up into other roles once they’re there, and you would also get a feel for the type of work development is and see if you like it. At my organization, which size and structure-wise would compare to a university although it’s not higher ed, we also have people who do administrative functions for the development office, like operations or HR liaison stuff. Look into development/advancement services or development operations.

    14. Bess*

      Depends what they mean when they say they think you’d do really well, and how well they know the environments they’re talking about. I myself got my previous and current higher ed jobs because I was at school getting a graduate degree, and found side student jobs doing work related to my previous career that turned into staff positions. I LOVE working in higher ed, because I get to help faculty (directly) and students (indirectly) without having to teach. But it has its definite cons like anywhere else.

      Development tends to be a much more polished, salesy area of higher ed than other places, if you like that kind of environment. If you’re looking at an area of student affairs, it might be pretty tough without either a graduate degree in said discipline or a lot of closely-related experience. If you have admin work you might more easily get work in a specific department as a general admin–wrangling faculty at that close a level will have its challenges. I DO think it’s much easier to get your foot in the door somehow than being a completely new external hire. There’s usually an internal hire or two in the mix for a position and idk why, but higher ed seems to be VERY inclined to hire internally and only hire externally when nobody wants it. But that’s been my experience and I’m sure it’s not universal.

      You do have to be willing to put up with a lot of red tape and some processes that move more slowly than you can possibly imagine (hiring is one of them!), and some lifers who stopped caring 25 years ago, and there can be faculty/instructors who view themselves as the be-all end-all and if you aren’t on the academic track, you might get treated at times as if you don’t have expertise or advanced education or experience like they do. But you can deflect that and work through it like you would any other weirdness in an environment–and I think it’s less and less common as we move away from ivory tower mindsets. And you’re surrounded by highly educated people, and at a university likely a lot of facilities and infrastructure, expansive libraries, and you’re part of a community from the get-go, and lots of ways to get directly “involved” if that’s appealing to you.

      There is the general anxiety of what higher ed will look like in 20 years or so, but that’s lots of fields, tbh.

    15. HRChick*

      I work in a university. There are pros and cons to everything.
      I love the people I work with.
      But, I find faculty very difficult. Not a week goes by where I am not accused of some ridiculous conspiracy theory. And there is a LOT of favoritism towards faculty, although they will say otherwise. Faculty have a lot of power in the decision-making of the university and they tend to hold things like raises and office space hostage before approving vital business decisions. So, a lot of the upper administration’s decision making is “how will faculty feel about this” rather than “is this good for the university” and a lot of times, staff ends up suffering instead. /rant
      But, there are good points here, too. Free college classes, for instance.

    16. Debbie Downer*

      In my admittedly negative experience, I found working in a college to initially be quite fun. I found it hard to get my foot in the door, but was eventually hired when a department manager recognized the name of one of my references. (My reference worked with his wife at a company where I previously had a long-term temp assignment.) So that was how I got my foot in the door.

      For the most part the students were very enjoyable to work with, but there were some faculty and a couple of administrators who were a bit difficult. (A handful, who were admittedly geniuses in their respective academic fields, were quite demanding, rude and condescending and we had to put up with their disrespect.) However, the worst parts of working in academia were the miniscule pay raises that failed to even keep up with inflation and that did not reflect the increased value I brought to my work as I mastered it and improved upon it.

      Also, it seemed to me (that at the college where I worked) almost everyone who worked there (with the exception of faculty) was laid-off after a period of anywhere from four to ten years if they didn’t resign first. Conspiracy theorists think it had something to do with keeping personnel expenses low by not letting people build up any seniority or qualify for their small pensions, but who really knows?

  7. ali*

    How do you all manage to find motivation to get your work done when you are completely bored to tears (and yet have to track your time in 15 minute intervals)? Not only is there not much work right now – definitely not enough to fill 8 hour days – but the work itself I started getting burnt out on about 3 years ago.

    The time-tracking is relatively new, as of the last month or so, so I think that might be where I’m really struggling? The work will always get done, but I find myself tracking time during the work day and making things up and then actually doing the work over the weekend, which is not a good thing and not sustainable.

    1. Stephanie*

      This sounds hokey, but pretend it’s interesting (“This is the most exciting TPS report ever!”). This is how I got through dull GRE passages. Another strategy that can work is making a game of it (“How many TPS reports can I fill out in the next 30 minutes? I want to beat yesterday’s record.”).

      If you can listen to music or podcasts at work, those help.

    2. Fictional Butt*

      I find the Pomodoro technique (25 minutes of working and 5 min break) to be really useful. Especially just committing to work for 25 minutes straight–the first few minutes are rough, but then since I don’t have any options other than to work, I totally forget about not-working and become completely focused, even if the work is boring.

      1. Pebbles*

        Yep! I love this method! Especially since I know I can do something else (even if its just for 5 minutes) once I get this task done! One tip though: minimize all distractions. Set your Outlook or other email programs to not give you a popup that you have new email, mute the phone, etc. I’m still working on how to convey to others that I’m “in the zone” when the tomato is red and to not distract me if at all possible.

      2. medium of ballpoint*

        Fourthing! And I adjust the timers as needed. Bad days working on my dissertation back in the day were 5 minutes on/10 minutes off but it kept me moving.

        These days, I’ll usually make silly games out of things. I can have a piece of gum if I finish 4 tasks, or take a dance break every 8 tasks but only to 90s hip-hop, or talk to myself in different accents for different phases of a project, or converse with inanimate objects in my office about how to proceed with a task, or pretend I’m on a documentary and I’m narrating every step of the task. And once I get going, it’s easier to come up with more silly systems/rewards. It keeps me less focused on my frustration and resentment and that’s usually what’s slowing me down.

        1. Fictional Butt*

          Lol, I totally understand the 5 min on/10 min off thing! Lowering my standards and setting tiny goals is another way I motivate myself on really bad days. Accepting that you’re not going to get anything done, and shooting for something slightly above zero, can result in much more work getting done than if you try to force yourself into your normal productive mode.

    3. Alex*

      I listen to podcasts so at least my mind is occupied while I can be doing boring tasks. It actually helps me focus.

      1. ali*

        I should clarify that the work itself isn’t easy, just boring. When I do it, I do actually have to concentrate on it. I’m just tired of the same old same old. Been doing this job for 5 years with very little variance.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Make a game of it. “This task usually takes 12 minutes. I am going to see if I can streamline it so that it takes 8 minutes or less.”

      Fresh eyes. Decide to look at boring task as if you have never seen it before in your life. What do you notice that you have never noticed before?

      Why would you donate your weekends to your job if you don’t have to? Build more personal goals so that you are more motivated to get your work done in the time allotted. If you have personal goals ramped up you might be less inclined to let things go for the weekend.

      Pretend it’s your first week on the job and you want to make a good impression. OTH, pretend you have a verrrry important job interview tomorrow and you want your boss to say glowing things about you.
      I have never found one thing to work. I kept a list of different cons to tell myself to keep myself moving. If one idea did not work today, I would bump to the next idea and tell myself that to keep me moving.

      I hope you are looking for a new job.

      1. ali*

        I haven’t been actively looking, what I do/want to do is very niche so there aren’t a whole lot of opportunities. For the most part where I am is pretty cushy, and when it’s busy I mostly like it. And I really like my boss and the company.

    5. DaniCalifornia*

      It’s our slow season right now and I am honestly training myself on some things I was never taught. Or that relate to my job with software. (QuickBooks tutorials from Intuit/YouTube for a CPA firm) Anything like that you can watch/read up on? Training for any software you use?

  8. Amy the Rev*

    I got a job!!!!

    I’m gonna be the Associate Minister at a medium-sized metropolitan church, where I’ll get to run their social justice projects, preach once every 3 weeks, and direct their faith formation for children/youth/adults.

    It’s been almost a year to the day since I graduated Divinity school, and I am SO happy to finally have a position in my field, with benefits, and to leave temping behind!!

    1. Teapot Librarian*

      This sounds like an amazing job! I hope it’s as wonderful as it sounds and that it’s meaningful for both you and the parishioners!

    2. zora*

      YYAYAAAAYYYY!!!! I’ve been thinking of you often and hoping you would find a great church, I am so happy for you!! (My dad has often been on the other side of this as a board member for his church, so I know how long it can take but how important it is for both parties!)

  9. Dani X*

    I have been at my job for 17 years. I am interviewing for another position in another company. It kinda just fell into my lap and I figured why not. It would give me different skills, but I am worried that my skills in company 1 wouldn’t translate into skills in company 2. Also the commute is 2 hours each way. But I am worried the longer I stay at company 1 the less marketable I am. And that company 1 will just lay me off once I have been there too long and make too much. Company 2 is more high stress and will have on call, whereas company 1 is pretty much 8 -5. I am looking for advice.

    1. Not a Real Giraffe*

      It sounds like you are trying to talk yourself into a job that you (a) don’t want, (b) isn’t a good fit, and (c) doesn’t actually fit in your career path. A two hour commute each way means that your work day, which you already know will be high stress and long hours, will now basically encompass your entire day. I would wait to see what other opportunities come your way.

      1. Jerry Vandesic*

        The two hour commute would be a deal killer for me.

        If you are worried about your current job, you might want to actively look around. Don’t wait for something to fall into your lap. Be proactive, and you will likely find something that better fits your life. It might take some time, but eventually you interview for a position that you like. Once you feel you are in charge of the search, you won’t have to settle.

    2. Ribbon*

      Ooof, I would be careful about making this move. It sounds like the balance of pros and cons is heavily weighted to cons – the only upside is that you no longer have to worry about getting laid off from your current employer? And speaking as someone with a 40 minute driving commute, I would run far far away from a 2-hour commute. That is a lot of time out of your life.

    3. Stelmselms*

      Go for option three. Keep looking for another position with a shorter commute and less stress. I don’t think you have much to gain if you take this new position unless it pays a heck of a lot more. And even then it might not be worth it.

      1. neverjaunty*

        Exactly! It sounds like there are some concerns about job #1,but taking a crappy job out of fear is a terrible career move.

    4. Jessesgirl72*

      Don’t take the job at the new place just because it “fell into your lap”

      Instead, if you really worry about your job stability and growth where you are, then apply for jobs at other places! It’s not an either/or situation.

      And I would never advise anyone to take a job with a 2 hour one-way commute who is worried about it. Yes, it will be at least as miserable as you think it will be!

        1. Windchime*

          I have to say I agree. The commute itself would be a deal-breaker for me. I have a one-hour commute (each way) and that’s about the limit of what I would do. And to add a stressful job on top of that? I’d keep looking.

    5. Liz*

      2 hours EACH way plus being on call and being high stress? That’s a massive commitment and to do that, just to switch companies, doesn’t seem wise. I would advise starting an official job search vs. just considering the job that fell into your lap.

    6. Isben Takes Tea*

      It sounds like it depends on your priorities. However, it may help to consider that there are more than two options…you could decide company B isn’t right for you (I don’t know how long your current commute is, but a long commute can burn you out of a good job fast), but it doesn’t mean you have to stay at company A.

      It’s definitely better to find something you’re genuinely optimistic about, and not just operating out of fear (“Well, this job is going to dry up so I need to find SOMETHING”) if you can.

    7. Ghost Town*

      Sounds like potential job would be awful. I can’t imagine a 2 hour commute, each way, on top of a high stress position. In this paragraph, the only pro you list for the potential job is new skills. Not great salary and benefits. Not an exciting company or program. Not the field you always wanted to work in. Not fantastic people. The biggest con to current position you mention is fear of going stale and being laid off. Do you have an idea of when you’ll reach that make-too-much, will-be-laid-off threshold? If so, use that as your timeline and give yourself time to job search. (and the usual, look for opportunities, both inside and outside of your company, to grow your skill set)

    8. NJ Anon*

      I would not take a job with that long of a commute. It will wear on you. This I know!

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        I have this long of a commute but I love my job and I love my me-time on the train – and crucially no on-call ever.

    9. Not So NewReader*

      A two hour commute and high stress equals health issues down the road. It’s pretty much a certainty so please think about this carefully.

      I think you can get a better job than this. Hold out for it. Don’t allow your worries of the moment to make your decisions for you. It sounds like if you take the this job your worries will not double, your worries will be ten times greater than what they are now.

    10. LKW*

      You don’t sound like you want this new opportunity – but rather you’re considering using it as a stepping stone to something else. If that’s the case, that’s fine – consider if this opportunity would get you from point A to point C but it might not be worth the added stress and longer commute.

    11. curmudgeon*

      DON’T DO IT!
      I was out of work for 10 months, took a job that was lower than I should have with an hour commute each way. I’m burnt out, bored, and feeling useless & exhausted all the time.

      It’s difficult to look for a new job because I’m just feeling so blah.
      Yeah, it’s nice to actually be working but the pay sucks & is not quite enough to feel like my head is above water.

    12. Fafaflunkie*

      Methinks you’ve already answered your own question.

      I would rather be looking for a Company 3 if I were in your shoes. One that provides a better fit with your skill set. One without the stress you’re already foreseeing. And especially one without that insane commute which would seriously be a hazard if this job at Company 2 demands working late and starting early! Just the thought of driving that insane amount of time whilst exhausted would be a deal breaker for me. And if you’re taking public transit, I see you falling asleep on the train/bus, missing your stop, and spending another hour backtracking home.

      In the words of the late John Pinette: “I say nay nay!”

    13. Her Grace*

      Why is the nebulous fear of MAYBE being laid off possibly because your company doesn’t want to pay you what you’re worth so great that you are willing to take a worse job to avoid it?

      Maybe that is what you should be looking at. If that’s not it, you did a really good job of avoiding in your post what your real reason is for jumping ship.

    14. London Calling*

      On-call, high stress and a killer commute that even on a good day adds more stress. I wouldn’t do it – the commute would be the decider for me. Do you actually KNOW that you are in danger of being laid off or is this a fear you are talking yourself into? There’s no harm in polishing up your CV and looking around, but a job taken out of desperation is never a good job and I have reason to know that.

  10. Pup Seal*

    This week was rough. Beginning of this month, I took 6 days off to go on a vacation. My vacation was approved, and I get two weeks of paid vacation. Fast forward to this week, Big Boss almost didn’t pay me those 6 days I was gone and tried to pull off that I don’t have paid vacation. Luckily I had my supervisor and the handbook on my side, so I got my full paycheck, but the experience was so disheartening.

      1. Pup Seal*

        Yes, it’s typical, and I’ve been job searching. My supervisor and his brother who also works here told me they couldn’t use their paid vacation when they had to go home to their native country to spread the ashes of their deceased mother. The brother even had 3 weeks of paid vacation for working here ten+ years.

        1. Sualah*

          I am staggered by this. In the company’s eyes, what are you “allowed” to use vacation for, then?

        2. writelhd*

          Wow, that is so not normal of the workplace world overall. It doesn’t have to be that way!

    1. LKW*

      That indicates that your boss will happily screw you over. I’d seriously consider whether you want to work for someone who treats people that way.

  11. Bored & Ignored*

    I’m feeling very frustrated at my job. I used to love it, but now my boss barely talks to me. We had a meeting maybe 2 weeks ago and everything felt right, but despite sitting in an office across from my cube we never talk. She has no idea what I’m working on. She’s having an affair with her boss, and therefore they are ALWAYS together in each other’s offices. She didn’t even wish me happy birthday this week, and in the past she has. I don’t think I have done anything, she just doesn’t socialize with anyone (outside of her boss). It makes me feel uninvolved and bored at work.

    I’ve started to start looking, but I’m second guessing myself. My job pays well, vacation sucks, but I like my coworkers and the CEO. What if I hate my next job? I am SO unmotivated at my current company, and it wasn’t always like this. I have brought up the need for more work/interaction at work, but my boss just gave me tasks that I don’t enjoy and don’t have the motivation to complete. I’m not sure what to do. It just seems like staying here is a dead-end.

    Not really a question, just feeling pretty down about a job I used to love.

    1. Liet-Kynes*

      My feeling is, if this makes you feel any better, that it’s not about you. My read is that your boss is marinating in a stew of New Relationship Energy and illicit thrills, is completely distracted from her own work herself, and is giving you the cold shoulder because she knows you know about the affair and finds it awkward/threatening.

      1. Happy Lurker*

        That is some darn good advice there, Leit-Kynes.
        Bored and Ignored – I am totally bored with my job too. Today’s lack of motivation is matched by the gray sky and rainy, cold weather. I hate the feeling that I am only here to get me to 5 (like the poster’s coworker from the other day). I have so much to do and yet, here I am avoiding it all on AAM.

        1. Bored & Ignored*

          Thanks, both of you. Yes. I live for 5 PM. And I hate it. I feel like I’m being difficult or any other irritating stereotype people want to apply to my generation.

    2. Bend & Snap*

      Can you report your boss to HR, even anonymously? That kind of relationship is a fast train to a toxic workplace and it sounds like it’s taking her away from doing her job.

      1. Bored & Ignored*

        Pretty sure everyone knows. It’s the office gossip. I played ignorant for a few years when people tried to ask me about it. Even HR makes jokes and comments. Apparently, they were talked to about it when it first started years ago…

        1. Camellia*

          Wait, this has been going on for years? And now suddenly she’s giving you the cold shoulder? That would make me very uneasy, wondering what ELSE has changed.

    3. Lalaith*

      If you want more interaction, can you talk to your coworkers and see if there’s anything you can collaborate on? Obviously it’s dependent on your work/office, but if you came up with your own project and brought it to your boss, she might be fine with it.

      1. Bored & Ignored*

        This wouldn’t quite work in my role, but there are some things that I can do that will work. Thank you, I will try to brainstorm.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      It is very hard when the boss disconnects from the job/workplace. Here the reason happens to be an affair but there are all kinds of reasons why bosses disconnect. People don’t quit jobs they quit bosses.

      So you are beating yourself up by asking what if you don’t like your next job?
      The rebuttal to that comes in two parts:
      1)PROMISE yourself to do your homework about any new job you are seriously considering. You can find tips on this blog of how to watch for yellow and red flags. You can also take a hard look at what you like about this job so you know to watch for those things as you talk with new places.

      2) Make a second promise to yourself that if you do pick a bad place in spite of your best efforts, you will be a good caretaker of your own self. You will get yourself out there ASAP and find something else. Make this promise to yourself.

      See, the question “what if I hate my next job?” is actually a fair and reasonable question. The response to it is, “I will do right by ME and I will make sure I do everything I can to get myself to a better place.”

      You have an additional secret weapon here. You can come back and talk over your job offers with us. We can help you brainstorm.

      1. Bored & Ignored*

        Thank you NotSo NewReader. This is awesome advice, and you’re completely right. I know this, of course, but it seems like it’s hard to tell ourselves that when we’re in it!

    5. Emily*

      I think it’s time to look for something else. It might take a while to find the right fit, but this situation just sounds bad to me.

    6. MissGirl*

      “What if I hate my next job?” Why not ask “What if I love my next job?”

      Don’t fear of the unknown paralyze you.

      1. Windchime*

        This is so true!

        Story time: I worked for the same IT organization for 17 years. I started there when I was a brand-new programmer who knew nothing and worked my way up. As the years went by, things started to feel sour and, by the end, I had an incompetent manager who was actively building a case to fire me. By then, I was an anxious, stressed-out mess and I had to job hunt under duress. The thought of leaving the people and location that were comfortable to me was hard, even though I could see the writing on the wall.

        Fast forward 7 months. My new team is amazing. I work in a beautiful city and in a room that has floor-to-ceiling windows. The work is way less stressful. My boss isn’t clinically insane. And I never would have imagined that I would have new work friends, new inside jokes, new traditions.

        Moves are scary. And they can also be really, really great.

      2. JulieBulie*

        Ditto – what if you love your next job?

        The thing is, you already have a job. So you don’t have to take a new one unless you really like what you see during your interview.

    7. Undine*

      If you do start looking, remember that applying doesn’t mean you have to interview, interviewing doesn’t have to mean you accept. You have a job that has some good things about it, so you are in a position to only accept something better. But looking will help you know what’s out there, and updating your resume will give you perspective on your career so far.

    8. Channel Z*

      Hi Bored and Ignored, I’m right there with you. My bosses are the same, except I go for months without one of them talking to me, and I suspect the reason is also they are having an affair. Even if they aren’t, they don’t talk to anyone other than each other, it is cliquey and toxic. And yes, originally I loved my job, but now I want to cry every day, I am isolated and hardly talk to anyone. Unfortunately, if I leave I won’t finish my PhD. Not sure if it’s worth it anymore. :(

  12. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

    So it looks like I may be the one bringing the drama this week. My one real life indulgence is froofy flavored creamer, and I bring a bottle to work on the regular. Last week, I brought a brand-spankin’-new bottle, a quart and a half, on Monday morning, and when I came in on Wednesday, discovered it had all of a teaspoon’s worth left in the bottom. We’ve got a bunch of new hires, and dozens of people on my floor — no way to track it down. And yes, my name was on the bottle.

    What did I do? Brought in a new bottle and pasted GIANT NOTES ALL OVER IT ‘this is not for sharing, Boochie only!” And also put a note on the front of the fridge to the effect of ‘whoever is using my creamer, please stop, it isn’t company provided!”

    Evidently several people have taken notice, but as someone else had their bottled iced coffee raided, there’s been more commiseration than judgment…. at least so far as I can tell. Still, I’m bracing to become the “crazy creamer lady.”

    1. tiny temping teapot*

      Regulars at my previous job said always put your name on everything in the fridge so I don’t think I would think crazy creamer lady. OTOH, I’m loath to touch anything in the fridge that doesn’t have for everyone stamped on it, so I might not be the demographic you should worry about.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        LOL. One of the professors in my department draws a skull and crossbones and writes “POISON” on his leftovers in the departmental fridge.

    2. H.C.*

      Eek, sorry to hear – I would say either bring enough for the day & keep it in an insulated cooler/lunch bag — or store the creamer in a nondescript, labeled (& ideally, opaque) tupperware container, which makes it less likely for your co-workers to use.

      1. Emilia Bedelia*

        Seconded on the nondescript container- I’m thinking something like a cheap opaque plastic water bottle, or a travel coffee mug.

      2. Detective Amy Santiago*

        Or stick it in a lunch bag. Or even a plain brown paper bag. I would hope most people wouldn’t go digging through bags looking for stuff. That is a pretty clear signal that it belongs to someone.

        1. TheLazyB*

          My line manager in my last job got her sandwiches from the fridge one day and unwrapped them to find SOMEONE HAD TAKEN A BITE.

          The most gutting thing about this story is that I was on maternity leave so didn’t find out till months afterwards. I was so disappointed to have missed that day.

      3. Jadelyn*

        Didn’t someone keep their creamer in a bottle labeled as “breast milk” to stop people stealing it? I swear I read that here.

      4. Mallory Janis Ian*

        Yeah, put it in a Tupperware small pitcher and make it look like a homemade kale smoothie.

    3. NoNameYet*

      My dad had some success with putting “This is not a public feeding trough” on his food. But I like “I have ebola” better, ha!

    4. Lemon Zinger*

      Ugh, I’m so sorry. I don’t know why people feel like they can take others’ food and drinks! You are not being crazy or unreasonable!

    5. Not So NewReader*

      I think I would put a sign up on the fridge saying something to the effect of “don’t not take other people’s food/drink”. Annnd, “Items in this fridge are not intended for sharing. If it is not yours then do not take it.”

      1. zora*

        Yes, me too!!!

        You are not “the crazy creamer lady” you are 159% justified, Countess!! Label the crap out of it until they get it!!!

        I feel like I’m being the Drama Llama about some of the logistical things in our office sometimes, but then my other coworkers thank me for speaking up about things that were bothering them, too, and getting them fixed. So, I won’t feel bad about it anymore!

        1. zora*

          I don’t think this is necessarily true. With lots of new hires, they might assume that all coffee supplies are shared, not just certain ones. I like to start by assuming good intentions before I decide that everyone is a garbage person.

          1. Kerr*

            Definitely, especially if the side with the written name was turned to the inside of the shelf or something. In an early job, I’m pretty sure I took someone’s creamer for a while. I had no experience with people bringing their own creamer to work, and assumed it was office-supplied!

          2. Mallory Janis Ian*

            I accidentally took a coworker’s apple once and didn’t realize it until she turned up looking for her some in the fridge. I had been keeping apples in the fridge for myself, and I took one that I thought was one of mine from a few days before. Then when she was confused about the whereabouts of the apple she’d brought in that morning, I realized that I had eaten her apple, and not one of mine. I told her what had happened and brought her two apples the next day, of which she would accept only one.

    6. New Window*

      I’ve heard of people putting big, thick, lipstick mouth/lip prints over bottles with liquids. Not sure how feasible that is with a bottle of creamer, though, so the nondescript water bottle or container idea might be more effective.

    7. Pwyll*

      I once heard of someone pouring creamer into a nondescript container and labeling it “Breastmilk”. Not sure how well that would work if it smells like delicious chocolate and caramel, though.

    8. E*

      Can you “disguise” it in another container? Whether it’s a little mason jar or even going so far as to pick up a cheap bottle of something in a nasty flavor then emptying it out to refill with your awesome stuff. Then folks would be less likely to use what they don’t recognize or consider yummy.

      1. Bri*

        My Dad puts his in a water bottle rips off the label and writes his name. Then people don’t know what it is and should be sketched out.

      2. medium of ballpoint*

        They actually sell shelf-stable individual non- and flavored creamers like you see at diners. I keep a box in my desk and that solved the problem of the disappearing creamer. It also helps for tea, since I don’t go through milk quickly enough at work to prevent it from spoiling. (I’m clearly not a fussy tea person, though.)

      3. persimmon*

        On a similar note, I find my stuff is much less likely to be taken if I put the container inside a plastic shopping bag. Having it less visible, plus the extra step of unwrapping something that isn’t yours, turns out to be a good deterrent to all but the most hardened offenders. Added bonus is keeping everything together if I have multiple items in the fridge.

    9. someone*

      Assuming it’s non dairy creamer you can probably leave it on your desk. That stuff is mostly oil, water and liquid sweetener. Oh yeah, and titanium dioxide to make it white.

    10. Scarlott*

      at my work people buy small cartons of milk, and literally lock the carton. Yes, someone could cut the carton open, but its a lot more of “stealing” if you have to cut.

    11. AwkwardKaterpillar*

      I had this problem, too. I once wrote ‘NOT CREAMER’ on it, and for once I didn’t lose half of it to fridge thieves.

    12. Anono-me*

      May I suggest individual shelf stable creamer cups that can be kept at your desk.

      I can never bring myself to use the shared fridge or lunch storage shelf in the breakroom. At a previous position, someone would Goldilocks her way through the lunches in the fridge and breackroom until she found one she liked, then eat it all up. I started bringing sandwiches so that at least I would know if someone else had been eating my lunch. You can’t always tell with hotdish leftovers (or porridge).

    13. DaniCalifornia*

      If it really gets bad I would put a weeks worth in a sealed thermos and get a locking lunch bag.

    14. Chaordic One*

      At my previous workplace there were several employees who brought their own little mini-refrigerators which they kept in their offices or under their desks or cubicles and that seemed to work well for quite a while. Then management went on an energy conservation kick and everyone had to get rid of their mini-fridges and electric space heaters. (They even removed the light bulbs in the vending machines in the break room.)

      It was nice while it lasted.

  13. Breakfast Patty*

    How do you handle emails you send, with several questions, that are not all addressed in the reply. And you need the answers to all of them to proceed.

    Sometimes I send an email with just 2 or 3 questions and the reply only answers 1. Happens all the time and I can’t figure it out.

    1. katamia*

      If you haven’t already, try putting the questions in bullets or numbered lists. Some people just don’t read the full paragraph, or it doesn’t stick in their mind or something. Bullets can help make that clearer.

      If you’ve done this, try putting them in separate emails or doing it over the workplace IM if they’re coworkers and you have such a thing.

      1. Fafaflunkie*

        Just was about to post this. Doesn’t take much to put your email questions in bullet points–even if you have to send it in plain text without the preformatted structure of rich text/HTML that Outlook will pre-structure for you. Quick shortcut: on a new line, type an asterisk and a space. Outlook will figure out what you’re up to from there.

    2. Fabulous*

      Are you asking the questions in a bulleted list? If not, that may help to distinguish the specific number of questions you need answered.

    3. Camellia*

      I do one of two things – if I only need one or two answers, I send one question per email. If I need more than that, I schedule a short meeting/call the person (depending on office norms).

    4. AlphabetSoupCity*

      Ugh so frustrating. I try to number my questions and have the question as the very first sentence after the number, with any extra information coming afterwars. I find that helps. If you’re doing formatting like that already I’d advise just asking again the last question you need answered. Say thanks, also (other question)

      1. Iris Eyes*

        This. Plus extra info in italics or question in bold if things are a continuing issue.

      2. Your Weird Uncle*

        To add to this: when I reply to a partial answer, I never start out my email with ‘thanks’ or similar because, if they are running an email client which pops up in the corner with the first sentence or so, they will only glance at ‘thanks!’ and think they’re done – they’ll never click far enough to see that I need more information.

        I’ve gotten to the point where I’ll just shoot off a quick reply (‘Can I pay Expense 2? Thanks!’) and I get better results that way.

    5. Future Homesteader*

      As annoying as it is, (I think) the best thing to do is usually re-send but make no mention of the fact you’ve already asked – just restate the questions you still need answers to as if they’re follow ups, not questions you’ve already asked.

    6. Liet-Kynes*

      My guess is you’re burying them in paragraphs, when they need to be numbered or in bullets. Also, I’d try mentioning the number of questions you have. Try something like this:

      “Dear Baron Harkonnen:

      I have three questions about risks to spice production on Arrakis and could use your input.

      – How often are sandworms spotted?
      – What latitudes have the highest number of sandworm sightings?
      – How large are sandworms, typically?

      Appreciate your input on these three issues.

      – Emperor Shaddam IV”

      1. Miles Teg*

        I smiled when I saw your name in a thread above, but this example was just too good.

    7. NW Mossy*

      Honestly, by calling the person instead. If you need to document their responses for some reason, you can always send an email afterwards that says “Confirming A, B, and C, as we discussed.”

      I just finished listening to an excellent podcast about email, and it makes a great point – we default to it as our primary mode of communication at work because it’s easy for us as the sender, not because it works best to achieve the objective of the communication. In your example, you’re sending the email because you need answers to move forward with work, not just to inform the recipient about something non-critical. Choosing a communication method that’s a bit more work on your end (like calling) implicitly sends the message “Hey, I need this info promptly – let’s just take 5 and get this done.”

      I hate the phone, but I’ve made it a mission of mine recently to start using it more and I’ve found I can resolve open items much more efficiently now than I did when I used email more. It’s really been an amazing difference.

      1. NoMoreMrFixit*

        Yes, please call the person instead. The longer an email gets the worse the reader’s attention span. Anything more than 2 questions and a chat or a meeting is far better. And the email then becomes the agenda.

        1. ByLetters*

          Thirding this. If you need to have the email backup (CYA everyone!) then as soon as you put down the phone, send an email that says “just to confirm the answers we discussed on the phone, you stated XYZ, so I will go ahead with submitting the Moneybags Report for Mr. Scrooge. Thanks for your response!”

          If that’s not possible for whatever reason, shorten the email as much as possible, making the questions brief, bulleted, and if necessary, bolded.

          And for the love of all the little gods, DO NOT use the stupid “read receipt” feature, where it triggers a pop-up message that will tell you whether or not the person has seen your email. Just seeing it makes my blood boil and I don’t believe I’m the only one.

        2. Ramona Flowers*

          Unless it’s me. I don’t want a call, I want your questions by email.

          I doubt it’s just me.

          1. Kristie*

            I prefer email as well! And I try to answer questions as thoroughly as possible in my email.

      2. Happy Lurker*

        Love your podcast point. I thought there was a discussion a couple weeks ago on the open thread about emails with multiple questions. It got me to changing around my emails starting with my question first. Then niceties.
        More importantly I have been calling instead and getting a much better response. Many people are so helpful on the phone. That rarely translates through email.

      3. Bullwinkle*

        I haven’t solved the unanswered question issue, but I like your point about email communication.

        I have a coworker who gets SO annoyed that her supervisor told her to call or text a certain senior person instead of email, because this senior person is notoriously unresponsive to email. Dude, I get that it’s slight less convenient for you, but at least they were direct about it, and you get the information you need instead of stewing about your unanswered emails.

    8. Teapot Librarian*

      I HATE HATE HATE THIS!!! Last time this happened, I just replied “thanks, but what about the other two questions I asked below?” Her response was “what two questions?” Seriously. So I copied and pasted, and then her response included “I only do short emails.” Well, okay then. (Yesterday I emailed her a lengthy list of supplies I need ordered; I wonder if she’ll order them all or if the email had too many words for her.)

      1. Iris Eyes*

        A lot of people use their phone as their primary email viewing which makes long emails annoying especially when responding to multiple questions since it is difficult to go back and forth for reference. I have a coworker that uses the subject line for the meat of the message for this reason.

      2. bridget*

        Wide eyes. At my workplace, this would be tantamount to saying “oh, I’m just not good at my job.” Most of us are paid at least in part to read, understand, and respond to emails.

        1. Security SemiPro*

          “I’m a functional illiterate.”

          Would. Not. Fly.

          But none of us answer our phones, so it’s an office culture thing.

    9. Bend & Snap*

      I do bullets and tell people to feel free to answer in line. So they’ll just answer next to the question, quickly, and write “answers below” in the reply. Quick and easy.

      If I have to wade through paragraphs to get to what people need I’m very likely to miss something or put off answering longer than I should.

      1. Emilia Bedelia*

        Yes- it’s extremely common in my office to reply in the original email with answers in a different color.
        Some people even use tables for this- 1 question in each box, with a second column headed “Responses”. It’s really effective.

    10. Not So NewReader*

      I number the questions.

      When I get 1 out of 3 answered, I email back, “Thank you for your answer to Q1. As soon as I get your answer to Q2 and Q3, I will be able to move forward on my end”. Depending on the circumstances, I might change the subject of the email from “ABC” to “ABC Second Request”.

      I have a job where reading is critical to doing the job, though, and everyone knows this.

    11. NB*

      A number of readers have suggested numbered or bullet lists, which is a good idea. I also like to start my message by saying, “I have three questions,” or “Would you please respond to these three questions?”

    12. Emily*

      I’ve found that sometimes it’s best to just call someone and ask. A lot of people don’t carefully read their email.

    13. BRR*

      I agree with everyone saying bullets. I’ve worked with people where you couldn’t ask too much at once or they considered it a bigger project and would put it off since it would take more time.

    14. Felicia*

      It seems relates to when I ask “Should we do X or should we do Y insteas ? ” And the person just responds yes. I think people sometimes just skim emails or dont absorb what it says. I like a numbered list best, saying before the list how many questions i have. If that does work if its a coworker i go ibto their office and ask, if its someone external I call them and mind of pretend I didn’t already ask.

    15. Aussie academic*

      Some great suggestions here, but also to add – some people just never get it. My boss at ex-job would do this, and I tried all the suggestions here and then some. Always short emails, dot points, bottom line first. If I sent 2 questions in one email, I might get one answer (although often no answer). Two emails meant at least one (often two) unanswered emails. If I asked whether he wanted me to do option A or option B, I’d often get ‘OK’ as a reply. (When that happened, I made it my policy to email back with ‘thanks, I’ll go with option X then’ where option X was whatever I wanted to do. If he really didn’t want that option, then I figured he could let me know.) If I called, I got told there wasn’t time to talk and meetings just didn’t happen (his secretary would put them in his calendar with his okay, he just regularly scheduled multiple things on at the same time and then it was a lottery as to which he’d show up for). And as he worked across multiple sites, you might only see him in person every few weeks, so you couldn’t easily talk in person.

      Majorly dysfunctional school (he was head of school) but he is completely clueless at to why he has such high staff turnover.

    16. A. Schuyler*

      This depends on the type of question and my relationship with the recipient, but I sent an email with half a dozen question to a colleague this week and formatted it in a table – my question, my guess at the answer, your answer. He filled in most of the boxes (some with questions of his own) and I proceeded on the basis that my guess was correct for the others. It worked out.

  14. marmaladechainsaw*

    Feeling pretty down…the dream job I interviewed twice with still hasn’t contacted me after the second interview (despite saying I should know within 1-2 weeks and they would ‘let me know either way’; it’s already been 3 weeks and no word).

    I sent a follow-up email a week ago asking for an update and got an automated reply that the person was out of the office until the next (now this past) Wednesday. Yet now it’s Friday and still no reply, so I’m finally accepting that I (more than likely) didn’t get the job.

    Does anyone have any similar stories (where they actually ended up getting the job) to cheer me up??

    Happy Friday!

    1. H.C.*

      It comes with the caveat that I work in government – where hiring/onboarding is notoriously slow – but the time frame from “we like you and would like to hire you” (on 2nd interview) and my actual first day was 6 months (and yes, I did a some follow-ups in between, but no more than once a month.)

      1. Pwyll*

        This. My government accession process took 6 months. Megacorp hiring took ~4. I once got contacted for an interview a full year after my application was submitted, with literally no acknowledgement on the part of the interviewer. Hiring timelines can be rough.

      2. stevenz*

        Don’t despair. Recruitment processes have a nasty habit of dropping off the priority list. Things come up, fires need to be put out, people get sick, etc. They have lived this long without you, they can hang on another week or so. As I always say, when applying for a job, no news is no news.

    2. Teapot Librarian*

      We told our finalists that we would let them know the following week. Then my boss decided we needed to talk to some of the candidates again, but one of them was going to be out of the country. By the time he got back, my boss changed her mind. It’s now a month later and we still have to do the bureaucratic paperwork that comes with government hiring. FINALLY my new employee is starting on Tuesday. The job was posted in December.

  15. k*

    Is it a red flag when a job is listed again within a short period?

    About 2 months ago I saw a job listing that I was interested in, but for reasons I won’t get into I didn’t apply. The listing was later removed, I assumed because the position was filled. Now I’m actively job hunting and the other day the listing for the same position popped up again. Is that a bad sign? I suppose they maybe just never filled it, or the person they got was a bad fit, but it also makes me think that it’s a sign of high turn over. And would it be different if it was a longer period (6 months, 8 months)? Because I’ve see that happen before as well.

    1. CatCat*

      I think it’s not enough information to gauge. Could be high turnover, but could be something else. Couldn’t hurt to apply. You can find out about turnover in an interview.

    2. Marillenbaum*

      It might be that they didn’t find anyone they liked the first time around, or there were hiring issues internally. I wouldn’t let it rattle you yet.

    3. Jessesgirl72*

      Sometimes they just copy and paste listings when it’s not the exact same position in the exact same department.

    4. Ghost Town*

      CatCat’s right. Not enough information to go on. In that timeframe, it could honestly be that an offer was made and declined. Or what the other commenters have said.

    5. amysee*

      This happened at my workplace. Got all the way to the offer stage, candidate decided he didn’t want the job, 2nd choice candidate had already taken another position. Didn’t like any of the others enough to hire them, so had to reopen.

      Could be anything! Worth applying to learn more.

      1. Xarcady*

        Something like this just happened at my job. Hired a new person, they took all the standard training, worked one day, and texted that night that they quit.

        Had to start the search all over again.

    6. Jadelyn*

      I can think of any number of reasons other than fast turnover that would cause a listing to go down then back up within a couple months:

      It was placed “on-hold” while they reorganized the team or department.
      They thought they had a hire but hit a problem in pre-hire or onboarding (like my employer does background checks, which can take up to 2 weeks, and if the answer is no that’s that, end of story, find a new final candidate).
      They had an internal applicant and pulled the posting down to give priority to internal hiring, but the internal candidate’s current manager “sweetened the deal” with a raise or promotion and the internal candidate ended up staying where they were.
      Someone higher-up decided they didn’t need the position and had it closed, then a few months later the manager was able to make their case to get it re-opened.

      These are all situations I’ve personally experienced in coordinating recruiting. Don’t read too much into it – recruiting and hiring is MUCH messier than most people realize.

  16. S.*

    I accepted a new job this week, for a 54% increase in salary, doing work that is much more interesting and better for my career long term. I gave notice yesterday and my boss is super bummed, which I knew he would be, so I feel terrible. How can I wrap up my notice period here and remain excited for the new job, instead of feeling guilty for leaving this one? It isn’t a bad job or a bad boss, it just isn’t the right fit for me.

    1. AdAgencyChick*

      You’re doing what’s right for you! It’s not your job to make sure they always have a competent person in the position at what sounds like a below-market rate.

      Keep reminding yourself how exciting it’s going to be to do work that’s more suited to you — AND get paid more to do it!

    2. Anonymousaurus Rex*

      Congratulations! You should feel awesome about this move. It sounds like it’s a great decision. I left an awesome job I loved for a big salary increase and a shorter commute — best decision I’ve ever made, career-wise, even though I felt awfully guilty about leaving the job and boss I loved. You’ve got to do you.

    3. rubyrose*

      Do the best you can for them in your absence. Make sure you have updated documentation, instructions for things only you have been doing.

      1. The Rat-Catcher*

        ^^ This. Focus on making the transition from you to your replacement as seamless as possible. Spend a little time reflecting on your early days in this position. Was there anything you weren’t told or provided with that would have helped at the beginning, and can you make that happen for the next person?

    4. Not So NewReader*

      I think just accept the guilt/sadness feelings. These are feelings and we are allowed to have feelings. You’re not going to act on these feelings so that means they are basically benign.

      Big Picture Perspective: Many things in life are a mixed bag like this. Very seldom is something all happy and very seldom is something all sad. It’s a mix. And it’s okay to have to opposite emotions running at the same time. It’s part of being human. If you are sad for your boss that does not automatically mean you are LESS excited about your new place. You can remain very excited about your new place.

      Offer to help your boss in whatever way you can that is reasonable. If you have positive things to say, tell him those things too. “I enjoyed working for you.” Or “I will always think of you as a fair minded person”. Don’t lie, but if you can find something nice to say let him know.

      Congrats on your new job.

      1. Blue_eyes*

        Yes to all of this.

        I also suspect that once you start your new job, you won’t be spending much time feeling guilty or sad about leaving OldJob. So just let the feelings be what they are for the next few weeks, and then move on with your awesome new job. Congrats!

    5. Emily*


      It sounds like you’ve made the right decision for you. It’s your life, and you deserve this!

    6. S.*

      Also wanted to say a big thank you to Alison for all the salary negotiating tips on here. The hiring manager was a little awkward about salary and clearly wanted me to make the first move and say a range. I declined to say what I was making now because it was a fairly different position (they were ok with that), then waited through the awkward silence until they offered up their range, and I’m glad I did because the bottom of their range was the top of mine! I asked for slightly below the middle of their range and they came back and gave me exactly the middle (more than I asked for!). I still can’t believe how well it worked out, and I know a big part of it was reading all of the advice here.

    7. Windchime*

      I would focus on the 54% increase! Wow! I know it’s hard to leave a boss when they are sad to see you go, but you are doing what’s best for yourself and your career.

      Congratulations on the huge raise.

    8. Pearly Girl*

      Guilt is overrated!

      You did good work for your boss and now it’s time to move on. He would do the same if he had a fab opportunity. Celebrate your success and move forward!

    9. Oscar Madisoy*

      “I gave notice yesterday and my boss is super bummed, which I knew he would be, so I feel terrible. How can I wrap up my notice period here and remain excited for the new job, instead of feeling guilty for leaving this one? It isn’t a bad job or a bad boss, it just isn’t the right fit for me.”

      If it were the other way around – if they gave you notice, causing you to be super bummed, which I’m sure they’d know you would be, they wouldn’t feel terrible. Even if they explained that it was not because you did bad work or were a bad worker but it just wasn’t a right fit for them, they would not feel guilty about letting you go.

      So you should not feel guilty about moving on.

  17. Camellia*

    Happy Friday! What is the strangest coincidence that you have experienced at work?

    Here is mine:

    Three decades ago, the women’s restroom at work had a narrow metal shelf that ran the length of the wall above all the sinks, and above each sink and shelf was a metal dispenser that held paper towels that could be pulled out one at a time.

    One Tuesday morning, shortly before 10:00 AM, I went into the restroom at the same time as a coworker. I had my tea bag and two sweetener packets because I was heading downstairs for hot water to make tea. She was stopping in on her way to a meeting. I put my tea bag and sweeteners on the little shelf over a sink and went into a stall. When we exited our stalls, my stuff was gone! We were both like, “What in the world?” “Who would take that?!?” Oh, well. She went to her meeting and I went back to my desk for replacements.

    The next Tuesday we found ourselves there again at the same time. When we were washing our hands, I pulled a paper towel out of the dispenser – and my tea bag and sweetener came out with it! I guess the woman who refilled the dispensers had come in, laid the stack of paper towels on the shelf on top of my stuff, then picked it all up and put it in the dispenser. But who could ever have imagined that they would be next in line when *I* was the one getting a paper towel, exactly one week later! As my coworker so aptly stated, “If I hadn’t have been here last week I would not believe it!”

    Since then I have felt obligated to believe any stated coincidence, no matter how outlandish!

    1. HerNameWasLola*

      I moved from Michigan to California on a whim a few years ago and for the year I was there I made my living working office temp jobs. At one such place I was getting the quick and dirty tour of the cubicle farm when my bff from grade school popped her head up! We hadn’t seen or talked in almost 20 years but she recognized my voice. Her mom re-married when we were in 4th grade and they moved to a different city in Michigan. We would send letters (pre-internet) and birthday cards for a few years but eventually fell out of touch. She married a military guy and had moved all over. She normally was a stay at home mom but her youngest had started full day school so she decided to get a temp job. Thankfully even after I moved back to Michigan, the internet had been invented and we can keep in better touch.

    2. Happy Lurker*

      Camilla and Lola – great stories.
      Lola – I have chills
      but no good stories :(

    3. DCGirl*

      My husband was employed for many years as a paralegal at a large government contractor (LGC) in the Washington, DC, area. He worked onsite on various contracts with the Department of Justice. At three different jobs, I’ve found out that people I work with worked with him at some point.

      Job 1. Husband and I went to my company picnic, which included people who worked at all locations (I was at HQ). A woman I’d never met walked up to my husband, gave him a great big hug, and was just delighted to see him. They’d worked together at LGC.

      Job 2. My boss was tell war stories about previous projects he’d worked on and, in doing so, mentioned they name of his supervisor. It was an exceedingly unusual name (Glenka), and I remembered here my husband telling stories about her too. So I asked if he’d worked with my husband at LGC, and he’d been my husband’s boss for one six-week project.

      Job 3. I was talking with a coworker, and she mentioned having worked at LGC. I told her my husband had worked at LGC on the A12 contract for years. She said she’d worked on that contract too, but couldn’t remember anyone with my last name. I explained that I’d kept my maiden name and told her my husband’s name. “Did he have really curly hair?” Yes, yes, he does.

    4. not my usual alias*

      I once rented a house that had a detached garage that we didn’t use – the door was difficult to open and it still held some previous resident’s stuff. But one day I went in there, for whatever, reason, and found a coworker’s decades-old driver’s license. He’d lived there with his family when he was a teenager.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      This one is kind of vague for reasons, but I think you’ll the the idea and it’s a cool story.

      A woman had an odd family with odd rules. She had a list of family people she was not allowed to speak to. She grew up and went on to have her own life and work. During her work day once in a while she would talk to Nice Man by phone. This man was always polite and pleasant. They were in contact because of work reasons and ironing out specifics of where their jobs intersected. The woman only knew his first name, never learned his last name. Time passed and Nice Man retired and moved on.
      Later she found out Nice Man was her relative. He was on the list of people she had not been allowed to speak to as a child.

      It’s good to see that even master manipulators get undermined by the universe.

      1. Camellia*

        This is awesome, and reminds me of another one. I have a half-brother nine years older than I, same mother but he was raised by his dad’s family in another state. We got acquainted as adults. One day he called me and said they had a new hire at work and she looked exactly like our mom. He said it was such a close resemblance that he just had to approach her and find out who she was and who her family was.

        Aaaaaaand that’s how we found out that our mother had had a daughter (out of wedlock, as they used to say back then) three years before she had him, and she had been adopted by a cousin.

    6. Squeeble*

      At my current job, I have one coworker and one supervisor. All three of us are left-handed, and our birthdays are in consecutive months (July, August, September).

    7. SL #2*

      I started a fellowship right after I graduated college and moved to a new area for it. This was also the summer when Tinder was brand-new all the rage. I downloaded it, and the night before my first day, I went through my options but didn’t swipe to match with anyone.

      The next day, when I was getting introduced at my new company, I recognized one of my new coworkers (from a different department) vaguely. We were in the same graduating class at our alma mater, I thought maybe that’s where I knew him from. But nope, turns out he was one of those Tinder matches that I didn’t swipe for. I’ve never told anyone, but especially not him!

    8. NoMoreMrFixit*

      When I was in high school we had our house redone. Gutted and lifted up with a basement added in. The coincidence was that the contractor doing the job had the same name as me. One day his wife called the house asking to speak to him. My mom answered that I couldn’t come to the phone as I was at school but this was his mother speaking. Everyone had a good chuckle over that one.

    9. Teapot Librarian*

      In my first professional job, I had coworkers MM, WW, and ZZ. I moved on to job two. A few months later, my office hired a new employee: MM. Fast forward two jobs, and who do I work with but WW. Fast forward one more job, and there is ZZ. (My favorite part of this was that WW was my boss at job one, and the capacity in which I worked with her at the later job was one where I was editing her work.)

    10. GC*

      I was involved in interviewing a couple of years ago and we appointed a woman. That night I went to meet my brother and he showed me a picture from the weekend before and the woman was a friend of his.

      Two years later I moved to a new role and the same day I resigned she announced she was moving to the same team same place.

      Also our nieces go to the same school 200 miles away.

    11. Blue_eyes*

      I have a very unusual last name. So unusual that I am the only person in the world with my first and last name combination, even though my first name is fairly common. My husband had a coworker at his first job who had my last name as his FIRST name. Turns out my last name is a sometimes used as first name in another country because of a famous person with my last name who once lived in that country. (Would love to be more specific, but then you would all be able to figure out my last name).

      1. Sami*

        I also am the only person in the world with my first name last name. It’s a common first name (from the 1950s, except I was born in the early 70s) (no not Sami- that is my dog).

      2. Candy*

        I’m the only one with my first name and last name combo too! I’ve only met less than half a dozen other people with my first name (and I’m in my 30s now) and because my great grandfather made up our last name when he immigrated here, everyone in my country with my last name is related to me. FORTUNATELY I married and took the last name of a man who has an uncommon (for North America) last name so I think I’m still the only one with my first name and married last name which pleases me so much.

    12. Mainly lurking*

      About 8 years ago I had a short term contract, where there were four of us working for the same manager. Somehow we realised that Diane was the eldest of three sisters, Alicia was the middle of three sisters, with me the youngest of three sisters, while Will was the youngest of three brothers. I don’t think I ever found out how many siblings our boss Peter had (if any), or his birth order …

      1. Gingerblue*

        It took me a minute to realize that you didn’t mean all from the same family, in some sort of separated-at-birth scenario…

    13. The Rat-Catcher*

      I attended Rural Missouri University. Met friend of friend. Years later, went with roommate on spring break to Chicago. At the top of the Willis Tower, ran into friend of friend. No school events in Chicago or any other logical reason multiple people from the same school would go, other than “cool large city within driving distance.”

    14. YarnOwl*

      I found out this week that a woman I work with also worked with my brother for a few years in a totally unrelated job (we work in insurance, they were working together in retail). It was funny!

    15. ThursdaysGeek*

      I worked at a job, my spouse worked at a different job, in different industries. My spouse changed jobs and one of his former co-workers also moved on to different jobs, eventually landing in a different state doing different work. I changed jobs and one of my former co-workers moved to the same state and same company as my spouse’s former co-worker. And same shared cube.

    16. Windchime*

      Let’s say my name is Priscilla Perkins. My ex-husband’s name is Fred Perkins. When I came to my new workplace, I was introduced to my co-worker who also is named Fred Perkins. He said, “Hey, I see we have the same last name. And here is a coincidence — my wife’s name is Priscilla.” I said, “That’s funny because my ex husband’s name is Fred.”

    17. Ramona Flowers*

      There have been four new people in my team within the past year. Molly and I are teapot designers. Lolly is the teapot design manager. Dolly is a teapot inspector, which is on the same grade/seniority as a teapot designer, let’s say grade T.

      All the new hires who work in teapot design (Molly, Lolly and I) are estranged from a brother.

      All the new hires at grade T (Molly, Dolly and I) are estranged from a father.

      Both new hires who do my exact job (Molly and I) are estranged from a father and a brother.

      And despite none of us being oversharers, we all managed to find this out about each other (thanks to some kind of supersonic radar or something).

    18. Levity Not Brevity*

      When online dating was new and a little bit of an unknown quantity, I was nervous about signing my messages with my own first name. My sister lives 2000 miles away so I used her first name, Libby.

      I corresponded with a guy who signed his messages as Jonah. Jonah is my ex-husband’s name so I carefully ensured I was NOT messaging with my ex. Eventually Jonah & I met in person, and I immediately confessed that Libby is actually my sister’s name. He laughed — Jonah is actually his brother’s name. I told him I was relieved since my ex-husband is a Jonah. He laughed again — he was glad my name isn’t really Libby because Libby is his ex-wife’s name.

      So both of us used our siblings’ name in our online name deception, and the other person’s sibling has same name as our ex-spouses.

      And reader, I married that man. Even after all these years together, it can still be confusing. O ur references to sibling/exes have to be super clear – always “Libby your ex / Libby my sister”, etc. We both have kids from our 1st marriages – when they were young, we had to be careful not to say anything even slightly unflattering about our respective siblings in front of them – we didn’t want them to misunderstand & think we were badmouthing their other parent.

  18. GigglyPuff*

    I just want to say thank you to everyone that gave me advice on an all day academic library interview that included dinner the night before, and a presentation. Everything went great! I really surprised myself because I was not nervous at all, and I think because for the first time I wasn’t being forced to get the job (like before all I had were part-time or grant positions), since my current job is adequate. So I was actually very relaxed and took the advice of one of the committee to treat it like a conversation.

    I did end up going out and buying new clothes, which made me soo much more comfortable, and they were great because it was much to hot for a jacket, and the shirt I bought was a really cool fabric. (I turn red really easily so I probably would’ve looked like a boiled lobster and been reassuring people all day that I wasn’t dying.)

    But dear lord was it draining. I ended up saying in the city because I had relatives who showed me around, so I was “on” for about four days and haven’t had to do that in years. Seriously my face and jaw hurt so much from talking and smiling just at the end of the interview day. I still feel exhausted and it’s been a week! Thank goodness for the long weekend, definitely going to spend it sleeping.

    1. AnotherLibrarian*

      I’m so glad it went well! And I agree- Day long interviews always leave me wanting to nap for days afterwards.

    2. GigglyPuff*

      Annnnd I just realized I never sent a follow-up email after the in person interview. I sent one after the phone interview, but I guess between staying in town a few extra days and my brain being goo, I just completely forgot. Oh well, lesson learned, for next time will definitely put a reminder on my calendar.

      I would probably still send one if I knew they weren’t going to make a decision very fast, but they expected to make one by this week or next. So I’m assuming based on that timeline and that’s it a been, probably a little late, right?

    3. GigglyPuff*

      So I just realized I never sent a follow-up email, which I’m blaming on my brain turning to goo and staying with relatives. I’m guessing since they were going to make their decision fairly fast, within a week or two, and it’s already been a week, it’s probably a little late to send one now, right?

      But definitely lesson learned for next time, make a reminder in the calendar.

        1. Bilbiovore*

          send it now. Note something in the conversation that you had to give more thought to .

    4. Chaordic One*

      I’m so glad you got through all of this. Yes, it is draining being “on” all the time. First, for the all-day interview itself and second, for the time spent with your relatives. Be good to yourself now, get some sleep, but also get some exercise, eat healthy and get ready for next week.

  19. Katie the Fed*

    Tragedy has struck in the The Fed household. I can no longer stand the smell or taste of coffee due to this human I’m gestating. It’s been a VERY rough adjustment, and I’m really lethargic without being able to have just a bit of coffee. My head feels like it’s in a vice and I feel really hungover.

    I might try tea just to get a little caffeine. I should probably try to stop, but…ugh. This has been my most unproductive week in a long, long time.

    1. Liet-Kynes*

      Try yerba mate! It’s got a very inoffensive green tea/vegetal sort of flavor, but if you brew it strong it’s got quite a caffeine hit.

        1. LCL*

          Get the mate that that has been smoked, it’s better. And yeah, sample before you drink it all, it can end up very mild tasting and still have a huge jolt of caffeine.

          1. Liet-Kynes*

            This. I had some mate in Argentina that was pale green and tasted like white tea, and I was actually vibrating.

      1. Katie the Fed*

        I don’t mind yerba mate – I’ll pick some up. I used to drink it quite often.

      2. H.C.*

        Another rec for the mate, particularly the roasted/toasted variety which has a more coffee-like character, esp if you take yours with milk

    2. Stephanie*

      When I was working second shift (I’m a morning person, so the end of my shift was rough), I found I got an energy boost from protein that was better than caffeine. If you can stomach it, maybe a protein-heavy breakfast could give you your morning energy boost?

        1. Emily*

          I suggest Greek yogurt for this (such as Fage 2% with the fruit – the fat-free ones are not as good).
          You can whip it into a smoothie if the mood strikes.

            1. saf*

              It’s easy to find in DC, and I assume that’s where Katie the Fed is. Giant has it, as does Yes!.

      1. Katie the Fed*

        I don’t understand! I love coffee more than anything in the world! It’s my favorite. I’ve loved coffee since I used to sip it from my dad’s cup. And now it’s turned on me. This is awful. I’m going to guilt this kid about this for YEARS.

        1. ThatGirl*

          One of my friends had the same problem when she was pregnant. It made her really sad that she couldn’t (didn’t want to) drink coffee. You may be relieved to know that she was able to drink it again after having the kiddo.

        2. LadyKelvin*

          This is slightly random, but maybe I can plant a seed in your brain for you to remember in 15 years or so: but I have a theory that if there are foods you can’t eat when you are pregnant your kid won’t like them when they are older. I only have one anecdote so far, but I always ask my pregnant friends trying to collect more data. When my mom was pregnant with me she could not stand the smell nor taste of tomato sauce and I have never liked it in my life. I don’t even like the smell of it. I think its related to her not being able to eat it. Maybe in 20 years you can come back and report if your kiddo likes coffee and then i’ll have another data point :)

          1. Jessesgirl72*

            I know the opposite is true- they actually have now proven that babies “taste” what the mother is eating when she’s pregnant- especially really strong flavors. So whatever she craves, the baby ends up loving to eat! My one BIL is the only one in his family who likes hot peppers, as his mother craved them when she was pregnant with him and ate at the Mexican place across from her office every day of her pregnancy. My brother is the only one who likes green olives, and I love dill pickles more than anyone else in the family- what my mother craved with us, respectively.

            OTOH, I know that my mom couldn’t eat eggs or most meat when she was pregnant with me, and I love eggs.

            1. neverjaunty*

              I don’t know when “they” supposedly proved it, but it emphatically wasn’t the case with my kids.

            2. Pat Benetardis*

              This was the case with my family. I ate a lot of frozen lemon pops when pregnant and that kid loves lemons. She would suck on a lemon as a toddler with no reaction to the bitter taste.

      2. Southern Ladybug*

        I had that with #2. About killed me. I did find in the 3rd trimester I could have a latte. It was so hard!

    3. Jessesgirl72*

      Will the baby allow you to drink cola? That is my go-to caffeine vector, and it’s safe for pregnant women to have moderate amounts of caffeine- safer than the OTC stuff one would normally take for the withdrawal headaches!

      Or, just push through and know that caffeine withdrawal takes about 2 weeks, but then it’s over.

        1. Parenthetically*

          It sure did with mine! A Coke most days at lunch is what got me through weeks 9-13.

        2. Katie the Fed*

          I just had a small coke (the little cans) and I feel SO much better. 80 calories of sugar/caffeine can’t be too bad.

          1. Natalie*

            You’re overall mood & feeling of well-being matters more. So if the small can makes you feel a lot better, I’m certain it’s fine!

    4. Erin*

      If you want to cut out coffee completely I totally respect that, but if you’re open to it, according to What to Expect When You’re Expecting, you can have 200mg of caffeine a day (and the Mayo Clinic says 400) and I think one cup of coffee is about 90mg. Just throwing that out there!! :)

      1. Zinnia*

        Hi Erin – I think you missed this part “I can no longer stand the smell or taste of coffee due to this human I’m gestating.”

      2. Thlayli*

        I actually read a study on this when I got pregnant the first time. A filter coffee is 200mg, a cup of instant is about 90-100. Other sources of caffeine include: tea (depending on the type anything from 10-100mg with green tea nearly as strong as caffeine), chocolate (about 20mg a bar but really variable), red bull (90mg in a 250ml can), coke (32mg a can), Diet Coke (42mg a can) and decaf coffee (about 5-10mg).

        Even tiny amounts of caffeine increase risk of mc but only by tiny amounts, so the risk is not considered significantly increased until you reach 200-400mg a day.

        If you can’t stand the taste then coke is perfect. Depending on which guidelines you follow up to 10 cans a day would be fine for caffeine for baby – but I don’t think anyone could drink that much a day!

        1. Jessesgirl72*

          My FIL drinks Diet Dr Pepper by the 2 liter bottle- easily more than 10 cans/day. :D

        2. Parenthetically*

          I did some research in early pregnancy as well and was really surprised to find out how (relatively) little caffeine is in a can of Coke!

          1. Jessesgirl72*

            My husband and I had an argument when we were still trying- he wanted me to give up my Diet Dr Pepper habit because I’d “have to” when I got pregnant.

            So I did the research, and even Mountain Dew doesn’t have a lot of caffeine in it-little enough that you could still have several a day and be within the safe bounds for pregnancy.

            It’s one of those “Everyone knows” things that is just untrue.

            1. Parenthetically*

              Yes! And it bums me out when a pregnant lady is having a coffee or a coke and has to defend herself against some busybody telling her how to live. (Also: man I love me some Diet Dr. Pepper. It was my favorite before I gave up diet soda.)

              1. Thlayli*

                Grr people need to educate themselves. when I was pregnant I actually got the opposite situation once. I was in a “gourmet” coffee shop and I asked for a decaf coffee and the waiter/owner gave me some cheek about it!I was visibly 7 months pregnant which I actually pointed out (though it was clear as day) and even after that he made a snide comment about my “fake” coffee when he brought it. My husband looked like he was going to punch the guy. If we had been there on our own or if there was anywhere else nearby we would have just walked out.

                1. Thlayli*

                  Oh and there was a woman on my FB pregnancy group who claimed that even drinking one can of red bull once during the entire pregnancy would make your baby strangle himself with his cord.

    5. Detective Amy Santiago*

      Any tea with ginger or mint should help soothe your tummy. You can probably find some blends of green or black tea that include them so you have a little boost of caffeine too.

      My personal favorite is Super Ginger from David’s. It’s caffeine free, but it is really tasty and helps with upset stomachs.

    6. Bend & Snap*

      Congrats on Baby Fed! I agree with Coke…a little glass got me through my pregnancy exhaustion.

      I only have one food that I still couldn’t/can’t eat after having my kiddo and it’s something I didn’t like much before anyway. You’ll get your coffee love back!

    7. Parenthetically*

      I am a Tea Drinker in real life, but the first half or so of my pregnancy it tasted HORRIBLE to me! Coke was my go-to, but I’ve also gotten back my taste for tea!

    8. Agile Phalanges*

      If you DO actually want to kick caffeine, know that you’re through the worst of it. The first week is the WORST–headaches, lethargy, fogginess, can’t “brain” at all, etc. The second week is a lot better, but still foggy, and by the third week, I felt normal again. I’ve kicked caffeine twice (in an effort to lose weight–I like my coffee SWEET but hate artificial sweeteners), and it sucked so much that now when I do indulge in a coffee drink, I take it decaf just so I don’t become addicted again. Good luck with the gestating, caffeine or no caffeine. :-)

    9. John B Public*

      Does caffeine cross the placental barrier? Only asking because you might be giving your newborn withdrawals =D. I wonder if they make caffeinated formula…

    10. That Would Be a Good Band Name*

      If you are able to take tylenol, I’d recommend that. I think the headache is the worst part of caffeine withdrawal.

      And to commiserate, I found myself completely unable to even think about chicken while pregnant. It had previously been the only meat that I ate on a regular basis. It was a tough adjustment. I’ve never been able to go back to enjoying it like I did prior to pregnancy (and my baby is almost 14!). Just too many times it triggered morning (all-day) sickness.

    11. Caffiend*

      There is also caffeinated water available – I keep it on hand for when I just need a no-fuss caffeine source and don’t want to mess with coffee. The brand I get is avitae, with 125mg per 16.9 oz bottle. It’s on the regular shelves in my local grocery stores, near the bottled/canned coffee drinks.

    12. onnellinen*

      I share your pain! I am 16 weeks pregnant, and have been off coffee for at least two months. The adjustment was *rough* – dealing with morning sickness and caffeine withdrawal was pretty bad. The smell of coffee still makes me queasy, so I dare not try it again yet.

      I go with a breakfast tea and home, and ginger lemon or mint when I get to work. Not sure I’ll ever forgive the future-baby for this one, though.

    13. Episkey*

      My taste for coffee came back in the 2nd trimester. I didn’t even want to look at it up to about 13 weeks — I couldn’t even stand the thought of hot tea — was completely unappetizing to me.

      But then, around 13-14 weeks, the smell of my husband’s coffee started smelling good to me again. So there is hope.

      I did give up caffeine completely before I got pregnant, so I just drink decaf coffee — but now that I’m firmly in my 2nd trimester I feel more comfortable about having some. I’d rather get it in iced tea, though, so that’s what I occasionally will have.

  20. T3k*

    Does anyone have any advice/tips on how to keep oneself composed during an interview (or a good way to explain if you start crying) right after a loved one has passed? I have an interview in the middle of next week but today we had to put down my dog and I don’t know how I’ll be feeling by the time of the interview, and I’d rather not re-schedule it.

    1. Mim*

      I had an important interview the day I found out my niece and nephew had passed away. It was too late to reschedule and I already felt like I wasn’t the greatest candidate, so I didn’t want to call in last minute. The only advice I can give, and I’m not sure I can even explain this well, is to compartmentalize it in your brain. Like, “Okay, right now I’m going to hold this grief separate from myself, I will focus solely on the interview. And when it is over, the grief will still be there and I can grieve properly at that time.” I got through the interview okay, didn’t cry, though was prepared to offer my apologies if I did. I also didn’t bring it up, I felt it wouldn’t have belonged in a professional discussion and would have just made everyone fell awkward. I still might be in the running for the job, last I heard they were trying to decide if they wanted to do a second interview or just hire me directly.

      1. T3k*

        I get what you mean. I’ve been focusing this morning/afternoon on really reading over Alison’s advice for interviewing and it’s helped keep my mind off crying. And hopefully I’ll be in a better state come interview day and my eyes won’t be all puffy and red. Oh, and good luck on the job!

    2. Bend & Snap*

      You can do it. I had an important client meeting like 12 hours after my dog died suddenly and I cried before but held it together during. My boss at the time wouldn’t let me take any time off so I just cried at work.

    3. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

      Oh, no, I am so sorry.

      A number of years ago, I was in the process of a pretty large mass interviewing process for a prestigious management training program. Another friend/colleague of mine was also interviewing for this program at the same time. The timing was the day after the mass shootings at a large university, of which my friend was an alumna, and recent enough that she had friends who were killed. Needless to say, she was a complete wreck during these interviews.

      In her case, the mass shooting had been all over the news, so the second they glanced at her resume and saw where she went to school, the interviewers knew her situation, so it was no secret. She got a position (as did I – actually, I didn’t know her before the program started – she told me about this afterward), and most of the interviewers she met with were sympathetic. I remember her telling me that she was just making a point to be prepared to be fully present and, if anything, use this as an opportunity to take her mind off of her sadness.

    4. Mephyle*

      Condolences. The middle of next week is likely to be better. I don’t mean ‘better’ like feeling less sad nor feeling on the road to ‘getting over it’ but chances are you will no longer be in that stage of either crying or liable to start crying all the time. I know everyone is different, but for me it lasted three days.

  21. SmartH20*

    When interviewees show 15-30 minutes early, how do you handle? Let them sit in the lobby until the meeting time or take them early? Sometimes I’m available but 30 minutes early can really throw me off. Sometimes I’m not available and I’ll have 10 people come by and tell me someone has been sitting waiting for me for awhile.

    1. AlphabetSoupCity*

      I’d just make them wait. I think at more than 5-10 minutes early it’s rude to expect someone to see you. That’s why Allison recommendeds sitting somewhere else and waiting. The multiple people alerting you is annoying though, not sure about that.

    2. Jan Levinson*

      If you’re busy right up until the scheduled interview time, I don’t think there’s any problem with having the interviewee sit in the lobby and wait.

      I think a lot of candidates arrive early to make a good impression, but expect to potentially have to wait for their interviewer.

    3. Deep Breaths*

      It depends. I usually like a few minutes to review the person’s information before meeting, so if they’re super early, I do make them wait. (They don’t know whether you’re at your desk or in a meeting, so I don’t feel it’s exceptionally rude to make them wait). But, if I’m ready and they’re 5-10 minutes early, I’m fine with starting a bit early.

      1. OwnedByTheCat*

        This reminds me of an interview I had earlier this year. I work at a school and our day starts at 8am. We’d send a candidate his schedule (it was a day of several interviews) with the first one listed at 9am but didn’t explicitly state he should not arrive at 8am.

        I get in at 7:45am and he’s there. I think I was so flustered we ended up sort of moving the day up an hour but I remember thinking “for a job that requires a lot of logistics and attention to details, this isn’t a good sign.”

    4. Anxa*

      If I was ever that early, it would be because of some logistical reason, like not wanting to sit outside in the rain or humidity and get a baby hair halo or that I’m already nervous and can’t bear standing in the heat and sweating through my clothes.

      I would assume that they wouldn’t want me to waiting outside or anything, but I wouldn’t want them to think I was expecting them to adjust my interview time just because I got there early! I’d be happy to wait!

      1. The Rat-Catcher*

        Same here. It can be hard to time arrival exactly and being late is so Not Done that I’d rather err on the side of being annoyingly early. Doesn’t mean I expect you to see me right then!

        1. Lison*

          Where I work we are a bit outside town and there is nowhere to park outside the complex so you have to drive in and then if you don’t go straight to security they get antsy because part of their job is making sure unknown people don’t get access. If you’re only 30 mins early turning around might make you late because of traffic on the way back into town. I guess the best thing to do would be introduce yourself to security but say I’m a lot early so is it ok if I sit in my car for 20 minutes and then you can announce I’ve arrived. Security are nice people theyl would probably do it once they knew you were supposed to be there and they could see you weren’t wandering around the place.

    5. Seal*

      Let them wait. I’m fine with candidates showing up a few minutes early, but anything more than 10 minutes reflects badly on the candidate. At that point, they need to wait in their car or find a coffee shop. A few years ago, I had a candidate show up 20 minutes early for an interview. Due to how our office area was set up, there was no comfortable place for her to wait and I was tied up with something else. So she wound up sitting awkwardly in a semi-public space surrounded by other cubicles while I frantically scrambled to finish what I was doing. The interview wound up being awkward as well and she didn’t get the job.

    6. Sunshine on a cloudy day*

      As an interviewee, I would never expect the interviewer to meet with me before the set upon time, though if I am a bit early (10-15min, I would find somewhere else to wait if it was more than that) I try to mention that I realize that I’m early eg: “Hi, Sunshine here to meet with Tina Smith at 1:30pm. I know I’m a bit early – is it ok if I just take a seat in the lobby?”.

      This all to say, I would not feel the least bit guilty about making someone wait until the set upon time for the interview. Though, the multiple people stopping by is quite annoying, I’m sure – I don’t have anything to offer for that. I also do judge anyone who shows up more than 15-20min early as not having an appropriate grasp on office norms.

    7. Anonymous Educator*

      I would make them wait. It’s discourteous to show up that early. What you’re supposed to do is get there 30 minutes early and then walk around or go to a local coffee shop or just sit in your car… and then actually arrive to the interview only 5 minutes early.

      1. Jessesgirl72*

        These things aren’t always possible. Not everywhere has coffee shops and some people take the bus- in fact, I’d say people are MORE likely to be early because they didn’t want to risk transit running late, than if they drove- and then most people would wait in their car, without having to be told to do so.

        1. Anonymous Educator*

          I take the bus, and I hate coffee shops. I wasn’t offering a comprehensive list of things to do. Honestly, I’ve sat in the shade of a tree in a parking lot when I didn’t have a car.

        2. Howdy Do*

          I think it’s just a little too rote to say “find somewhere else to be!” depending on where you’re located. I honestly have never interviewed anywhere with a coffee shop nearby and while I usually do just wait in my car, not everyone is traveling by car. Interview clothes are not the most comfortable and so sitting or standing outside in the hot/cold/rain seems like a bad idea (I’m sweating enough when I come to a job interview!) Not to mention, even if you try to clarify the information, it isn’t always totally clear where the person you’re checking in with is going to be located, if they have to refer you to another person, so on and so forth. So would you rather make your arrival known a little earlier than usually accepted or take the chance that the information you’ve arrived may not make it to the interviewer until much closer to your scheduled time.

          Basically, I’m saying that just as interviewees should do their best to not get there too early, interviewers should be reasonable about if there is anywhere to wait nearby, are most applicants likely taking public transportation, is it 100% clear where they need to check in, etc.

          1. Jessesgirl72*

            I think insisting that it’s good universal advice at least indicates a little tone deafness to those who don’t live in moderate climates.

    8. Annie Mouse*

      I had an assessment for a job where I turned up about 25 minutes early. I was more than happy to wait. The parking at the location is terrible and I’ve been caught out with a parking ticket there before so I wasn’t taking any chances this time. I’d left early and found an alternative parking spot about a mile and a half away. I walked down, google maps told me it would take about 30 minutes. It turned out to be less than a mile and took 10 minutes! Normally I would have waited outside but it was 0.5 degrees Celsius and after a few minutes I was freezing so had to go in and wait in the lobby. I think they’re used to it there though because of the parking issue.

      1. Jessesgirl72*

        Whether I drive or take transit, if I’m headed downtown, I leave lots of space for things to go wrong. Parking can be impossible! And no, I can’t always wait outside either- too cold, too hot, too windy, or too rainy are all strong possibilities here, depending on the day (all in the same day a couple weeks ago- it went from 80 to 50 in half an hour!)

    9. Girasol*

      Let them wait but do forgive them. If one doesn’t know how long it will take in midday traffic to get to an interview, it’s best to leave early and risk a wait in the lobby than to leave later and risk not making it on time.

      1. The Rat-Catcher*

        Plus, sitting in a car as many have suggested, only works in some seasons if you have functional AC/heating in your car.

      2. Anxa*

        I agree. Especially because you never know if you’ll have to fill out forms, go to another building, etc.

        And yes, if you have an organized hiring system then it may seem a little insulting for an applicant not to trust that you’ve given them all the necessary information, but you really can’t blame an applicant for not fully trusting there will be no surprises.

    10. BRR*

      Wait. I would say something along the lines of taking care of something and you’ll get them at your scheduled time.

  22. Jan Levinson*

    How can express to my trainee things that he can improve on, without sounding overly brute?

    For some background, I am a woman in my early 20’s who recently received a promotion. I am now training my replacement (in a customer service type position), who is a man in his mid-20’s. Although he is a couple years older than me, this is his first professional job outside of college. Because I am also young and still fairly new to the workforce, I am hesitant to correct him on professional norms that he seems to be missing.

    One thing specifically that he does that seems unprofessional to me – when he takes phone calls and needs my help in assisting the customer, instead of putting the customer on hold and asking me a question, he’ll keep the phone up to his ear with the customer on the line, and whisper to me “such and such customer is asking for X. How do I do that?” I’ve mentioned to him before in general conversation that he can always put the customer on hold and ask for my help, but I have trouble bringing myself to point out specific examples in which he has failed to do this as they happen. I’d like to say something like “that call was an example of when you should have put the customer on hold so that the customer isn’t hearing our conversation,” but for some reason, I’m too hesitant to do this. I fear that I’ll be seen as a “mean” trainer, and that he won’t take me seriously anyway because I am young (which seems silly because he is a very nice guy). I know that it would be to his benefit to bring this (and other issues) to his attention. How can I gain confidence in my training abilities, and feel like I have the authority to correct my trainee when need be?

    1. Marillenbaum*

      I would frame it less like you are reprimanding him, and that you are teaching. It’s true, and just because he’s a little older doesn’t mean you aren’t the expert here. If he’s as nice as you say, he’ll take feedback in the spirit in which it’s intended and work on making the changes needed.

    2. LCL*

      Stop worrying about sounding too tough. If it is your job, show him in the moment, in a respectful way.
      Example: next time he covers the phone and asks for help, pick up the phone and say ‘this is Jan helping new guy, may I put you on hold for a moment to look this up, or should I call you back? Your number please?’

      If possible, always train in the moment with factual corrections. Then explain what you are doing. I know I write very snarky, but when I train people I don’t speak to them like that.

      You have the authority because the company gave it to you. That’s only half of it though-your half is to take it. You can’t be a trainer or in any kind of authority and worry about being seen as mean. Of all the other persons I worked with that have the same job I do, the one that was the most hated as a manager was by far the nicest person. He believed you could lead people to the correct way to do things instead of telling them, and thought it was immoral to just impose rules on people without their consent. The physical part of this job is dead serious and has some practices that must be followed, his kindness was seen as indecisiveness and cruelty.

      1. KR*

        Or even, ” Trainer, what do I do?” “Tell the customer you’re putting them on a brief hold and we’ll talk about how to handle this.” That way,the customer only has to talk to one person and employee gets practice telling people he’s putting them on hold.

    3. olives*

      I think the missing authorit here might mostly be a psychological thing on your side!

      When you’re in the position of training someone else to do a job you’ve done, you *get* the authority to make exactly the sort of comment you want to make. That’s true regardless of whether the trainee seems to have more experience in other ways: you are personally more experienced doing this job, at this company, with these conventions, in this place.

      Your script is perfect. Don’t let yourself be intimidated – remember that training him, right now, is *your* job and you are the person best equipped to do it.

    4. Fictional Butt*

      I think it’s important to re-focus how you’re thinking about this. Your main priority is not to be nice to him; your priority is to train him, and his job relies on you training him appropriately. It is much more “mean” to let someone fail than it is to help them. Really internalize that–you’re not his friend, you’re his trainer, and he wants to be trained.

      I think it can be helpful also to imagine switching roles in your head. Have you ever had a boss/coach/teacher/personal trainer who didn’t give you clear and immediate feedback, or seemed afraid to point out when you did something wrong? How did you feel about that person? Were they helpful? Did you like and respect them? Do you want to emulate that person?

      1. CrazyEngineerGirl*

        This. Your job is to train him. Thus, your job is to correct him. By not correcting him you are failing to do your job. That may sound a bit harsh, but it might help to think of it this way. Focus on how not doing these things because you don’t want to be perceived as ‘mean’ could very well result in you being seen as ‘doing a bad job.’ Because really, that’s what’s happening. You’re seeing an issue and purposefully choosing to help your trainee by correcting them. In the end, correcting them is much kinder.

      2. Pearly Girl*

        And as far as the age thing, there may come a day when you train a 50- or 60-year-old. Age isn’t a factor here. Your confidence and authority are what’s needed.

    5. Shiara*

      I’d suggest first making sure he knows how to put the customer on hold, just in case he doesn’t. Also does your phone system have a way to mute briefly instead of putting on hold entirely? I’d try reframing it in your head from “professional norms he’s missing” to “company policy on phone customer support it is my job to impart to him.” The way phone trainees are expected to handle customers, etc varies by company quite a bit, and appealing to the Company as an authority may help you feel more confident.

      Is the problem that he doesn’t have enough experience to determine when he can get a quick whispered answer vs a put the customer on hold question, or should he always be putting the customer on hold?

      If the former, I would find a way to communicate in the moment that you’ll explain as soon as he puts the customer on hold, whether via a hand signal, flash card, or verbally. So say “Hey, you’re getting to the point where sometimes a quick whispered question is fine, but other times the more detailed answer means you should put the customer on hold while we talk. If you need to put the customer on hold, I’ll let you know by method.” And then stick to it.

      If the latter, you should spell that out. “I’ve noticed you don’t always put the customer on hold when asking me a question. Policy/Boss’s preference/whatever is that we always put the customer on hold if we need to spend time asking someone else, or even if looking it up may take a bit. The standard script is “Let me put you on hold while I look that up a moment” (or whatever your company’s approved language is) and then (insert hold process on your phone system here). Then you can ask me the question, and pick the customer back up when you’re ready by (insert hold retrieval process)”

      Something like this is really ideally something corrected in the moment. If he’s asking you for help and has not put the customer on hold, you can refuse to answer until he does so.

    6. StrikingFalcon*

      Nothing you described sounds remotely mean. It sounds like he’s not translating “you can put the customer on hold” to “you should put the customer on hold” so you’ll need to come out and say it that way. It’s kinder to be direct in training than to let him continue to make mistakes. Really!

      1. Parenthetically*

        This is really important. It’s really common for women especially to find themselves overusing softened, hedged constructions like “you can do x” when we really mean “you must do x.”

        “For next time, when you have a question, standard procedure is to say to the customer, ‘Sure, let me look that information up for you, may I put you on hold briefly?’ And then press this button and ask me/look in the wiki/consult the manual, then press this button and say, ‘Thanks so much for holding, Ms. Thompson, it’s actually form 432 and I can send that through to you right now if you like, or you can find it on our website.’ Have you got that? It’s a pretty simple procedure but it’s important to mute/hold the conversation rather than just holding the phone away from your mouth.”

    7. HR Hopeful*

      I am also a trainer in a call center and have faced this issue several times. After the call, I nicely explain that from now on if they have a question on the phone to politely ask the customer if they can hold, put them on hold and then ask. I let them know nicely the first and second time but if a third time comes up I am a little firmer. You do not have to be mean , you just have to make sure they understand the ‘why’ and usually they will get it. If they are still not listening to you,It could be a respect issue which might need to be brought to a supervisor or you can just tell them directly. I like to be very honest with my trainees that way they can do the best job possible and there is no confusion.

    8. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Look at it this way: You’re letting your desire to be nice actually harm him a bit, because you’re not being direct with him, which means he’s missing important information about how to do the job. It’s actually nicer to be clear and straightforward (which means not framing must-do’s as suggestions). Better wording: “When X happens, you need to do Y.” “Please put the customer on hold next time before asking me questions.”

    9. Not So NewReader*

      Use the tone of voice you would use if you were explaining something to a friend or relative. You don’t need to use an angry voice. Next step, to help yourself sound even less angry use more words.

      There is a difference between:
      “Push the HOLD button!”
      “Put people on hold before asking your question.”
      In the latter example, it’s just a couple more words and the tone changes entirely.

      Timing helps also. If you say something the moment you see it that is better than mentioning it three days later. He will think you stewed on it for three days. If you mention it in the moment this gives the idea that it has been said and it is over, as opposed to dragging on for three days. In these instances your actions indicate it’s not a big deal because you resume normal conversation immediately after the correction.

    10. Sami*

      It’s a cycle: for him to do his job well, you need to do your job well. Presumably you want him to succeed, so you, too, need to succeed.

    11. Aquatic Bird*

      This has been me in the past. I’m a customer service trainer, have been since my early 20’s, and have trained new supervisors, managers, and people older and younger than myself. Starting out, I had these same feelings, but with one particular issue, I didn’t correct the agent during training and she later got chewed out by a customer, then my manager definitely brought it to my attention that I had missed this. I’ve found the more matter of fact I am (in a friendly tone of voice) the more effective it tends to be. I find myself naturally using the same tone and wording when I’m confirming information to someone who’s thinks they know the answer but want to be sure. Of course, this is a first time, possibly second time thing – after that, it changes a bit, but that’s another issue.

      Funnily enough, they’re closing my location and I’ll start training my replacement and the new batch of regular agents for the new location in two weeks.

  23. JaneB*

    Following on from this morning’s knitting at work thread, anyone want to share the little things which have “professional optics” (i.e. are considered perfectly normal and acceptable in most work contexts) but which drive them nuts/distract them in meetings?

    For me, it’s people looking at their phones every five minutes (especially if they then laugh or grin at the phone…), and Beverage Loudness – slurping, tea-spoon tinking and the like.

    Anyone else, or am I just especially irritable and ill-suited for anything other than a life in a solitary hermitage (with good internet)?

    1. SarahKay*

      Finger-tapping on the desk. And, admittedly not in meetings, but people walking through the main office while clicking their fingers! It makes me want to tape their hands up, mummy-style.

    2. k*

      Meeting snackers. It really bugs me when people eat during meetings. Personally I don’t like eating in front of people unless their eating too, so I probably notice it more than others do. I get distracted by food smells, the sounds of crunching or rustling packaging, or having to wait for a person to finish chewing so they can talk. In reality these things probably aren’t as noticeable as I make them out to be and no one else it bothered. Just a weird pet peeve I suppose.

    3. Michelle*

      We have this one coworker (he’a program manager) who brings his iPad into our monthly event meetings. He plays/reads on it until it’s his time to speak/present, then when he’s finished, he goes back to playing/reading on his iPad.

      I know that if I did that, I would be “spoken” to, but this guy has never been spoken to. I dislike these lengthy meetings, but I at least pay attention.

    4. LCL*

      I can be that annoying coworker. I love me my clicky pens! I do control this at meetings because it annoys people but it’s a struggle…

      1. writelhd*

        Yeah I was going to post clicky pens, I have several coworkers who do that big time without realizing it.

          1. Windchime*

            I actually got some tape and taped the button on a coworkers clicky pen so he couldn’t click it anymore. Clickity-clickity-clickety, on and on. Drove me nuts!

      2. Ashie*

        I’m just a fidgeter in general, so anything I might be holding is subject to clicking or bending or whatever. I try to curtail the chewing but beyond that I just can’t stop. (And I’m with the knitter, if I’m not doing something I have a hard time focussing.)

        1. Jaydee*

          There are whole categories of types of pens that I can’t have anymore because I break the clip on them or chew up the cap or take them apart and get ink all over my hands or….

          Thankfully I’m not much of a clicker, but the number of times I’ve been talking to someone and fidgeting with my pen and had the clip snap off is too high to count.

    5. Mim*

      I had a guy near me that would hum/whistle tunelessly ALL DAY, EVERY DAY. Drove me bananas. I even went out and bought noise canceling headphones. But the sound would weasel its way in somehow. Since our office liked to shuffle desks around fairly often, I ended up in another area. And then found out that my new office mate was worse. She was about my age, late 20’s. Now, I have always believed that when people criticized young women’s voices for “uptalk” it was largely a sexist complaint. But I’ve never encountered someone who ended every single sentence with a question mark. I guess it didn’t really help that she came across as really unprofessional in many other ways, lots of hitting on the two married men that sat near her, lots of personal details she would just broadcast to no one in particular, constantly announcing that she didn’t know how to do her job and she’d just have one of the guys do it for her. I would have paid money to move back with whistling dude again!

      1. Free Meerkats (formerly Gene)*

        Sheepishly raises hand.

        I’m a tuneless whistler when I’m deep in thought or concentrating. I’ve told my wife to let me know when it bothers her, she says it lets her know I’m happy and absorbed. Coworkers, not so much…

      2. AwkwardKaterpillar*

        There are several people here that are hummers and whistlers. It drives me absolutely insane. Whistling just drives me bananas – it’s such a sharp and unpleasant sound. They will do it as they walk through the department. Two of them also will sing under their breaths or hum. It drives me absolutely insane.

    6. Kowalski! Options!*

      Continuous commenting /joking/asides when the person speaking at that moment isn’t looking for any input. Especially when you know that the continuous commenting /joking/asides/don’t contribute anything to what the speaker is saying, and the person is probably doing it to make herself (oops!) look sexy or clever (not that I’m thinking of anyone specifically…I swear….)

    7. motherofdragons*

      I find it sooo rude and distracting when people are on their phones during a meeting. We gave an in-person training for people all over the state recently, and people were constantly on their phones! I get needing to check e-mails while you’re away for emergencies and such, but staring at your phone for several minutes at a time does not seem like an as-needed-for-emergencies situation. When planning for next year’s training I did suggest that we make an announcement that folks need to put their phones away because it’s distracting.

      1. Stephanie*

        I had a professor do this during a meeting. “Well, my husband sometimes throws erasers at his students, so I won’t do that at least.”

    8. Lemon Zinger*

      One of my coworkers sighs constantly. I know she doesn’t like her job and doesn’t have enough work to do, but she sighs constantly and sometimes makes complain-y noises. It drives me insane!

      1. CrazyEngineerGirl*

        Oh, man, I feel your pain. I used to share an office with a sigh-er. It got to the point that I had to physically restrain myself from chucking something across the room at her each of the 20+ times a day she would do it.

      2. That Would Be a Good Band Name*

        I used to do this. I had NO IDEA. It was so automatic. Thankfully, I shared an office with a couple of people that pointed it out to me and I think I’ve got it mostly under control. I wasn’t even sighing because I was bored or upset. It was more like, “ok here we go – let’s figure this problem out”. Like I was centering myself before diving into whatever I was working on and because we got interrupted so often I was doing it a lot.

      3. AwkwardKaterpillar*

        I have a coworker that will sign deeply everytime someone asks her a question. It makes it seem like she’s so irritated to have to talk to anyone. I just want to know whether Jimmy at Teapots Inc was called back, I’m not asking you to make a decision about invading the next town over or something.

    9. CrazyEngineerGirl*

      I’m endlessly annoyed by what I like to think of as the “super agreeable about things they’re not really involved in” person. This would be the person in a meeting that continuously nods and makes those little ‘mmm-hmm’ sounds when someone else is talking, usually about a project or something that super-agreeable person isn’t involved in. It always makes me think they’re just sucking up, or trying to seem more important/knowledgeable than they are. I just want to shout at them to SHUT UP AND STOP FREAKING NODDING NONSTOP!!!!!

      1. Actuarial Octagon*

        I had to train myself to stop doing this because it annoys me when other people do it as well. I would always smile and nod when the speaker looked in my direction because otherwise, the eye contact made me feel super nervous and awkward. This was especially true in college but I’ve managed to break the habit.

        1. JulieBulie*

          I don’t feel weird about nodding if the speaker is actually looking at me, or has asked a question and is now looking around the room to gauge our reaction.

          But there really are people who react very elaborately to everything the speaker says, whether the speaker is looking for a reaction or not. I don’t know what is going on with people who do this.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        omg. There was one person who would say random things out loud. “That’s right.”, “Aww, that is too bad..”, “No way, really?”
        You would think the speaker was in a private conversation with this person. I often wondered if she noticed no one else was doing this. I was kind of dismayed when the speaker let this go on meeting after meeting.

      3. The Rat-Catcher*

        I’m not verbal, but I am a nodder. What made me stop was seeing it on videotape. I looked like a bobblehead and it just looked out of place and weird. Since then, I’ve made an effort not to do it.

    10. Sneezy the Dwarf*

      My entire team is (imo) hung up on politeness and not stepping on toes, partly because we have a few who are particularly sensitive to that sort of thing.

      So if one of us sneezes, there’s a chorus of “bless you”s. Totally normal and acceptable, totally friendly and polite.

      Problem is, people commenting on my sneezes is a HUGE pet peeve of mine. I know it’s irrational, I just hate hearing a round of “bless you!” chirped at me every time I have an involuntary reflex. And heaven forbid I sneeze more than once, because then I have to keep hearing it, and eventually people start laughing.

      I don’t say anything, because I know I’m the one who is crazy about this, but it drives me NUTS. I try to hold in sneezes sometimes just because I can’t stand having it commented on.

      1. TL -*

        My team (who are all lovely coworkers!) are very, very polite and our Slack (on my phone) is always notifying me because someone is saying, “thank you!” or “you’re welcome!” or “Okay, great!”
        It. drives. me. crazy!
        (but what a lovely thing to be driven crazy by, honestly.)

      2. Not So NewReader*

        My allergy sneezes come in threes. I tell them to wait to the end.

        I do have one friend who says, “oh you are so attention seeking”. It’s a joke. sigh.

        1. JulieBulie*

          I used to work with a double-sneezer. We all knew to wait for the second one before saying anything.

          Once, he sneezed three times and I said he could owe me the fourth one.

    11. WellRed*

      Alison seemed like she was OK with the idea of knitting (depending on your circs) but I wondered if she changed her mind at all after so many commenters said they would find it incredibly distracting or rude. I cant stand meeting eaters and all the rustling of packaging and food wrappers.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Well, not exactly! I just said that it will vary by office (so you have to know your own office), and there are more offices where it’s not okay than ones where there are.

      2. Good Afternoon!*

        I worked at a place that required a lot of knowledge of needle crafting so most meetings had 60-70% of the participants doing some sort of needle craft.

        We had a speaker request we not as she felt we weren’t being attentive. Since it was the 3 or 4th time she gave a presentation there we were pretty offended given that the knitters were the biggest participants. It was a slap in the face that she obviously wasn’t paying attention to her audience.

        Note: I can knit without looking and have never hesitated to stop to take notes or ask a question during lectures or classes. I’ve never encountered another person that had an issue with it. BUT! I wouldn’t do it at a work function outside of that very unique job. The optics for a woman crafting while at work aren’t something I’m willing to risk in my new male dominated field. They would say it was fine, but it would too likely to be viewed negatively instead of neutral/positively.

    12. Me2*

      Pocket change jinglers. Not so much of a problem at seated meetings but when someone stops by your desk or office and jingles away the entire time, aargh!

    13. Pwyll*

      Consensus-pushers. Building consensus is great in a meeting, but it’s not always appropriate. I used to work with someone who would halt meetings in order to make sure everyone was in agreement unless everyone made agreement noises after every subject, from essential to mundane. As in, “Christina I didn’t see you nod, is Sal’s okay for lunch today? Have we all agreed? We can change it if anyone objects . . . Tom? Okay Sal’s it is then. Wait, Joanie do you have any concerns? Okay great.”

      1. Windchime*

        OMG. At old job, a couple of us would run over to Starbucks in the morning. One of the people then decided that we should include everyone, so then it became a Big Damn Deal. “Where is Scott? Is he coming? Dorothy is coming but she is in the rest room and Joe says he will be here in a minute. Fred? Starbucks? Sally? We are going to Starbucks, want to go? No? Want us to pick up something for you? Are you sure?”

        It was like planning an expedition instead of walking 100 feet down the sidewalk.

    14. JustaTech*

      The coworker who compulsively looks at/cleans his phones (two!) during meetings. He’s not actually reading anything, just opening and closing the covers.

      The coworker who falls asleep in 5 person meetings.

    15. BRR*

      People who bring their laptops to meetings and say it’s for note taking but are clearly goofing off.

    16. Gingerblue*

      Gum. I cannot stand people who chew gum. I hate the slurping sounds, I hate the smell, I hate the assumption that no one minds listening to them chew. I. Hate. Gum.

  24. bassclefchick*

    Well, my temp assignment is just about over. I was supposed to transition to a different department, but they really don’t have any work for me either.

    I just feel like such a failure because I’ve been a temp for 6 years and cannot seem to find or keep a permanent job. I just don’t know what to do anymore.

    1. Mim*

      Don’t feel like a failure, I know lots of people that are in your exact situation. It seems to me, at least in my area, that employment has really changed since the recession. In my area, there were massive layoffs during the recession, hitting almost every type of business. When they started hiring again, they would only hire temps from temp agencies. My old company employs probably about 50% of the full time staff they did in 2008. The rest of those positions, that had been full time before, are now contractors. Some companies have policies where they will only employ you as a temp for 12-18 months, before you have to leave for at least 6 months before you can come back. The idea is that if you temp for a place long enough, you have some claim to be called a employee of the company. And these are STEM jobs, where you need a bachelors at the absolute minimum and masters is standard.

      I left the job market to take care of my kids when they were young. One has special needs and it just worked better for one of us to stay home, with all the doctor appts, etc. Now I’m trying to get back into the market, and I feel your pain. A few temp jobs here and there, but no one is really willing to hire full time. If they do, it’s usually someone who has been there part time for a while.

    2. Kalliopesmom*

      I worked temp jobs for years and know the feeling. You just have to keep searching and you will find the place that works best for you. Working temp shows your adaptability to different environments, use this as a strength. Take the time to work on other skills when you are in between temp jobs. You can do this!

      1. Anna Held*

        I suspect it’s like unemployment. I was unemployed way longer than I ever thought I would be. They assume something’s wrong with you if you’re not employed in a great job — so you need to be fully employed in order to become fully employed. It’s maddening. All I can tell you is to work every person and opportunity you can think of, and brush up your materials the best you can. So much of it is luck. But as Louis Pasteur put it, chance favors the prepared mind!

        I agree that the job market has changed and it’s harder to find a good, white collar, well paying job. You might have to take something lesser-than to get a proper job, to lead to the next proper job. That’s the path I’m following. It might not be good advice, but sometimes you just need to get out of the rut!

    3. Beansidhe*

      I’m sorry you feel this way. However working for an agency is still like a full time job in that you work for them and still to a degree represent them, plus most offer health care now. Some even offer paid holidays and accrued vacation time after so many hours. That said, it is so cool to be able to check out different companies with no real commitment on your part!! I temped for a year and my response to nosy co workers was always “I have a full time job, thank you” since I actually did. Albeit with an agency. My second response to nosey coworkers who wanted to know if I wanted to be officially hired was always “I don’t know, I’m using this time to see if I like this” like interviewing your interviewer. While you may want something more permanent, please consider not downplaying what you do! It’s hard, it takes skills to fit in anywhere and hit the ground running!! If anything pat yourself on the back, you rock!

  25. Nittygrittybits*

    So I’ve been at my job for about 8 yrs, in the field for 10+, and I’m starting to work for a certification that will significantly increase me and the office’s standing. Thing is, now that I’m doing that, I’m finding a lot of stuff that we’re doing a little wrong. I only have 1 peer and we’re not really chummy, so when I mention what should ideally be done so that we’re not using technology and terminology more than 15 yrs old, it gets blown off. My bosses think that my getting this certification is great since it’ll put us on the map but they have absolutely no interest in moving forward on the nitty gritty. Do I just put up with being the one person who does the job differently (and correctly)?

    1. NoNameYet*

      I would say yes to your question, with the “but” that if you do the correct things and can demonstrate why they’re correct through your actions, your peer might either get the message on his/her own that they need to adapt or they might be told by your bosses to adapt.

      At least in my field and in my experience I’ve found that presenting something you’ve learned is not enough to change the tide. I’ve had to just go ahead and implement things to really show their worth. I’ve dragged some bosses and coworkers along until they were converts this way!

    2. Anono-me*

      As long as your professional standing is not impacted, I would just make sure your boss and coworker both know that you are willing to share some of the new techniques and leave it at that.

      However I can see two ways that this might hurt you professionally, that tough may want to consider.

      1. Will your company use your brand new certificate to cover all of the teapots it produces, even the ones done by old-school coworker? If so, this could have a significant impact on your professional standing. (If your company says “We use the most recent best practices in all our teapots. Nittygrittybits is a certified teapot designer.” Then shows me a bumch of 20th century teapots. I am going to wonder how good Nittygrittybits is at her job.)

      2. If you are the only one at your organization interested in doing it better faster stronger, will you stagnate?

      Congratulations on the certificate.

    3. Mints*

      I think it depends a lot on the type of certificate. Is it like “this is more efficient therefore recommended” or “the old way is highly unsafe”? Also the above point – are they using your certificate to certify the whole company? If so, that’d be worth pushing back more, but *shrug* how much

    4. Not So NewReader*

      There doesn’t seem to be any point in getting the certification if the company does not use it.

      The first thing the jumps at me is what happens to YOU if you know you are supposed to be doing x, y and z, yet you don’t because your company does not do x, y and z?
      In my work if one person is told that is considered the same as telling everyone and everyone must conform to the reg/standard/whatever.
      If you, yourself, are going to be in any kind of jeopardy for backlash, this is where I would start.
      “Boss, I have been told that we need to do x, y and z. If we are not doing these things then they can pull my credentials. So this will put the company back at square one where we do not have a person with this certification.”

      If this is not the case, then I would ask the bosses what you are asking here. Are you supposed to continue doing things the way you learned they are being done currently and what about the work that is not handled in that manner? How would they like you to handle that disparity?

    5. Sam Foster*

      How much does it matter re: “the correct way”? A lot of the things I am certified in are “frameworks” that need to be adapted to a particular company. Is it possible that the training material is “academic” requiring adaptation or is it a proscribed methodology that has to be followed exactly? Answer to that question determines whether you need to pursue changing your company.

  26. Loopy*

    So I realize this will vary WILDLY but I’m stumped on what a reasonable raise is in terms of percentage. Let’s say I want to go for teapot designer I to teapot designer II because I’ve got a few years under my belt and have some good evidence.

    If it’s relevant I’m in a corporate environment or a fairly big company.

    5%? 10%?

    Without a huge jump in responsibility what won’t have a manager thinking I’m way out of touch with professional norms and what will?

      1. Loopy*

        We get something like 1-2% each year too but it was so small and actually negligible after an increase in healthcare costs that I was more frustrated with it than pleased.

    1. Not a Real Giraffe*

      Does your company have salaries listed on Glassdoor at all? If so, I would scan through those to see what the difference is between levels for any roles (Associate Analyst vs Assistant Analyst; Senior Manager vs Manager) and try to use that as a guide for your role and the next level up.

    2. Ribbon*

      When I moved from the I to II classification in my position, my raise was 4.6%. I work in a state government, so YMMV quite a bit.

      1. Loopy*

        Thanks for the input! I’m just hoping to get a number that won’t cause me to be laughed out of the office. I know some raises can be huge for significant jumps but this would be a pretty standard single step up if I could get it.

      1. Loopy*

        Thanks! This is helpful. I really would love to ask for 10% but I was afraid that might on the high side for this type of move.

    3. Zinnia*

      In a big company there’s usually a policy, so I’d start with a perusal of the HR handbook / website. It may be a non negotiable standard % for moving up one class (row) on the pay chart, or there may a % range that takes into account where you are in the pay range of the new position or how awesome your boss thinks you are. Regardless, it will give you a ball park idea of the range that’s reasonable to ask for.

      1. Loopy*

        I’d love that! But I’ve reviewed our company policies and there’s nothing like that. I think we can be a somewhat competitive field so they want to be able to have flexibility to use pay to retain people.

      2. Zinnia*

        To add my personal experience (myself and others I have actual pay knowledge about), I’ve seen these sort of progression promotions receive increases of 5-12%, with higher percentages at the lower end of the pay scale. Promotions from senior staff to manager ranged a bit higher, 10-20%, but those involved a much more significant change in job duties and level of responsibility.

    4. ThatGirl*

      My former large corporate employer averaged 2-4% a year. Granted, they weren’t flourishing and in fact I got laid off in March due to cost reductions, but yeah.

    5. AllMyExJobsAreInTexas*

      I just went from teapot designer II to teapot designer III and got a 10% raise with that promotion.

    6. SL #2*

      I got a little over 10% last year, but that was because I jumped a seniority level (assistant straight to associate instead of assistant to senior assistant), so if you average that out, it’s around 5.5% per seniority level.

      FWIW, I work at a very small non-profit with a very large budget. So we’re able to pay market rates and compete effectively.

    7. Ciscononymous*

      I am getting 5% for moving up from Senior Office Support to Admin Office Support, whenever Slow Approvers actually get that approved.

    8. Jen RO*

      In my department moving from Associate Teapot Maker to Teapot Maker is a 10-15% raise – but the benchmark for Associates is below market so I think the raises are a bit higher than usual because the boss is trying to compensate for that. 10% would be reasonable to ask for, imo.

    9. IowaGirl*

      I work at a large corporation. for promotions I’ve generally gotten around 8 percent plus I still get my COL raise. So IME asking for 10% or even a little more is reasonable.

      (This must be standardized where I work because it’s been consistent across jobs and departments)

      Good luck!

  27. Deep Breaths*

    I’m dealing with an exceptionally pushy person. They’re not a client or a vendor per se, but someone who is working with my organization on a project. Routinely, they have gone over my head when I give them an answer they don’t like. We’ve recently had a two-day exchange over email where they misrepresented the work they wanted to do and then balked when I provided them with a schedule. They pushed back for more time and revealed they had gone behind my back to other colleagues to try and get what they wanted without involving me. (which was stupid, because my department is ALWAYS involved in these projects and it would have gotten back to me eventually). Anyway, I have now reiterated twice that we’re not able to give them more time and I’m expected them to email my boss in the next few hours. My boss and grandboss are aware of the situation and I told them to expect an email. While both bosses are loathe to give them more time, I can’t help but feeling that when pushed by this person, I’m going to have to find a way to make it work. I know I can’t control what other people do. But was curious what others do when they have bully clients, vendors, colleagues that makes them feel more empowered.


    1. ByLetters*

      Communication is really, really key here. We have a client like this at my workplace; not only will they try to go above my head to try and get the answers they want to hear, but they will actively cold-call different departments trying to find someone new to the job so that they can bully the new person into giving them what they want.

      So far they haven’t gotten it, because firstly our office is one that really fosters/encourages asking questions when you aren’t sure of something. If any of these people had felt like they couldn’t ask for help and had just guessed, this client would have been able to screw us over. But every time she’s gotten a new person and tried this game, that person has felt comfortable enough to ask someone else what to do and the situation was nipped in the bud.

      Secondly, you need to make sure that you have really pigeonholed the management here in what they want you to do. Tell them flat out what you are afraid of — that they’re going to feel extraordinary pressure to give this person what they want, and that you want to be absolutely clear on what they want from YOU in this situation. If it’s 110% not achievable to give them more time, tell them that. If it’s theoretically possible but you would need X more resources, Y more employees, and Z more funding, tell them that so that they know the exact costs of saying yes or no.

      (I would be interested in hearing the opinions on others on this — but I wonder if you couldn’t request that if they decide to let the person get more time, you be the one to deliver the message. Maybe state that you don’t want to teach this person to go over your head for every decision.)

      Lastly, I would encourage you to reach out to people you think this person may speak to and tell them IN ADVANCE what to do. This has been hugely successful here at my workplace with our troublesome client; the here watchword is “Please allow me to contact [specific leader] regarding your request!” Literally everyone from the top brass to the janitorial staff has been made aware of this client and what to do if something is requested of them.

      1. Deep Breaths*

        Thanks! I’ve told several of my colleagues that are tangentially involved in the project to forward any future emails to me (which they’re happy to do because they don’t want to manage this project!) I also have it in writing from my boss that she supports me not giving them any additional time for the project (I was being kind in offering them a little extra, which is what they’re pushing back on). Yet, I’ve been burned by this before. I have been used to play bad cop before so that higher ups could be good cop.

    2. Accounting Is Fun*

      First of all, remember that all of this extra running around behind your back just to get the answer they want does not reflect poorly on you, it reflects poorly on them. It is almost like a child who doesn’t get the answer they want from one parent and therefore asks the other parent. Just like parents, it is important that your boss and grand boss have your back on this one. If they ask the person “what did Deep Breaths say? Well, Deep Breaths is the one involved in this project the most deeply, so holding to Deep Breaths’ timeline is the way we need to proceed” – then you have a good boss and grand boss. By everyone presenting a united front to someone who is seeking the answer they want to hear and not the correct one, your organization will train this person to take no for an answer, just like a child will learn they can’t get their way just by asking one parent when the other says no.

    3. Jbelly*

      They do this because it has worked in the past and they will continue to do so as a result. I don’t know if they are bullying so much as they are aggressive (please let me know if I’m wrong) and see you as an easily circumvented obstacle. My suggestion? Don’t internalize it or become emotional about it. They’re just a data point. You – or your office – may not have the authority to make this person follow the rules. At least for now.

      1. Deep Breaths*

        Hi Jbelly – The last time they did this, my grandboss did have my back and said that I was working hard to help them and reiterated the issues I laid out for them previously, though in the end I was asked to do my best to accommodate some of their requests “within reason.” It’s these caveats that kill me. Because what’s “within reason” is actually me doing a lot of behind the scenes finagling to make something work that no one will care about unless it doesn’t work.

        As for this particular person. They’re a snake. Nice to your face while throwing you under the bus behind your back. I don’t trust them as far as I can throw them. So although I’m documenting everything and updating everyone, I can’t help but feel anxious with every action despite putting up a strong front.

        1. The OG Anonsie*

          I’d say they’re giving you the leeway to decide that’s “within reason” there, and the stuff that requires behind the scenes finagling and rearranging is not within reason after a certain point. This person has blown way past that point, so at this point when you’re told to do what you can… What you can is give a very polite “sorry” and change nothing, because it’s not possible.

          You know your bosses best, but I think since they’re overall backing you up here, they are giving you the grounds to go back to the person who is trying to circumvent you and shut it down. By having you also do this (instead of just them saying “no, we agree with DB”) it sends the message that they don’t find this bypassing to be acceptable and that they expect them to accept decisions that come through you.

        2. Jbelly*

          Are you significantly more junior than them? Is your office supposed to facilitate processes or offer services that have been done in other ways in the past? I’m trying to figure out if there is a push for changing the orgs culture. But I’m offering the same advice I would give to myself: don’t internalize it. It’s business. Put in the effort that will make you and your bosses come out looking good. This will (generally) put you in a better position in the future because hopefully you will build capital. But whatever you do, don’t internalize it. It’s not worth it.

          1. Deep Breaths*

            Thank you both for the insight! I think they view me as a junior representative. I’m a high-level associate, but not a manager, whereas this person is sort of an executive of a very small organization. (My company has over 2K employees) My office facilitates requests from people outside the organization, so I typically deal with people who are of varying levels of authority. But, I don’t think there needs to be a push for changing the structure. I think this person is an unfortunate anomaly and someone who feels entitled to get what they want because of their supposed status, rather than what they actually contribute to my organization.

            To be honest, when I usually deal with people like this, I tend to try to make as many accommodations as possible to avoid conflict and escalation. But, in the past this person has not appreciated any of these efforts and went over my head (and misrepresented the situation as well), so I’m no longer inclined to be accommodating. My last email to them this morning was to say I wasn’t able to accommodate their request, but would be happy to look in to alternatives that might work for them. Unsurprisingly, I haven’t heard back and feel relatively confident that they’re either drafting (or have drafted) an email to my bosses to get a different response. I suppose now we just wait and see!

    4. Not So NewReader*

      In an ideal world, it is probably time for your boss to talk to Pushy Person’s boss. A restructuring could occur where the two bosses talk things over and take you both out of the loop.

      OTH, your boss could ask for a different contact person at this company. You would work with the new contact person instead of Pushy.

      Often times at work I need to agree to extensions. So what I do with that is I say okay this time but next time I have to ask permission for my boss (or other involved, labor intensive hold up in granting approval). Sometimes I give extensions and I say “You do understand that the next time you ask for an extension on this, I will have to say no for X reason, right?”
      Some people connect with the statement, “I can extend it this one time. However I cannot offer unlimited extensions. We need a plan to nail down this new date as the final deadline.”
      Your solution might be, “I can grant an extension if you can show me in writing your plan to meet the new date, so there will be no more requests for even further extensions.” If people have to write things out sometimes they figure it is easier just to be on time.

      1. Deep Breaths*

        Unfortunately, we don’t have that opportunity. This person runs a very small organization, so there’s no one to speak to about her behavior. I’ve worked with 2 others in their organization and I’m almost certain that their interactions with me are dictated by what they’re told by this person.

        Part of the issue is that they’re not organized and tend to spring last minute changes and updates that change the parameters of the work. My office does have protocols in place to limit such things, but the issue is that they’re not forthcoming about all their needs until I give them information that doesn’t suit their needs. By that time, we’re usually in the late stages of the planning process and changing things becomes much more difficult. At which point, I explain why the changes aren’t possible and then they escalate the situation to my bosses (usually leaving out the part that they informed me of new needs late in the game).

    5. ABL*

      I don’t know if this is feasible here, but is there any way to make those requests have consequences for their organization as well as for you? Since they’re not a client I guess it isn’t a scope change that would cost them money, which is normally what I would look to do when someone asks for a substantial change to a project that takes way more time and effort. But maybe there’s a way to say that yes we can absolutely speed up the spout production but that will mean that pushy person’s organization will need to subcontract the graphics since you’ll no longer have time to do them in house… or something?

  28. Chase*

    So, I’m expecting to get an offer next week, (yay!) but since I don’t have an offer yet I’m still job searching. I noticed yesterday that they posted the same position, but 4 days a week instead of full-time. I’d rather work 4 days a week, and I have health issues that mean it’s probably a better idea. If they offer me the job, can I ask about working 4 days a week? How do I phrase if without making them question my work ethic or commitment to the job? I’d prefer not to bring up the health issues.

    Thanks so much for any advice!

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      “I noticed you recently posted the job with a four-day-a-week schedule. I’m not sure if it’s this same exact slot or not, but I’d potentially be interested in that schedule if it is.”

  29. Ghost Town*

    I’ve recently stared a new position, and moved from the college at a major university to the business school. It’s a great move, if currently overwhelming, but I need help with my wardrobe. This move takes my wardrobe from casual-business-casual to business-business-casual. I have gone through more pantyhose in the past couple of weeks than I did in the previous 8 years.

    I need recommendations for pantyhose that won’t run, has control top, pale colors, and won’t break the bank. Any tips?
    Thank you!

    1. AnotherLibrarian*

      I like SPANX brand Luxe Leg High-Waisted Sheers. I have yet to find a pantyhose brand that won’t ever run, but I keep a small bottle of clear nail polish in my desk for pantyhose emergencies (you paint it around the hole and then it won’t run any further.) They are a bit on the pricey side though. I think with hosiery you often get what you pay for.

      I also, confession time, wear a lot of pants in the summer so that I don’t have to worry about hose and just buy those super cheap pantyhose socks from Target for my feet. They die fast, but they are so cheap I don’t care.

      1. Ghost Town*

        I do have clear nail polish at my desk and use it for quick fixes or when the run will be covered by shoes, but was getting runs all the way up my foot or a few inched up the back of my leg.

        (I’m needing the control top even w/pants right now. Trying to extend the pieces I have until we’ve banked a bit of the salary increase, especially since I’ve dropped a couple hundred on new shoes already.)

        1. StrikingFalcon*

          There are control top pieces that aren’t pantyhose. I forget what they’re called, but you’ll find them in the lingerie section of department stores. Much more permanent than pantyhose.

      2. Parenthetically*

        Spanx is a really good brand, and I agree that you get what you pay for with hosiery. Alas!

        I think I’d just wear pants in the summer as well, because while a nice soft pair of opaque tights can be very comfortable and affordable, pantyhose are the absolute devil. Nice lightweight linen suit pants? WAY better than pantyhose.

    2. tink*

      -L’eggs women’s energy is pretty great on a budget. Control top, reinforced toe, $14 for a pack of 3.
      -Hue So Silky has a control top and invisible reinforced toe, $10/pair.

      1. Lily Rowan*

        Yeah, somehow cheap drugstore nylons often last longer for me than “better” more expensive ones.

      2. DCGirl*

        I second the recommendation for L’Eggs Sheer Energy. You can buy them in quantity for less than the drugstore at a website called One Hanes Place. They also sell Hanes hosiery as well.

    3. Seren*

      I like my Uniqlo stuff a lot, and they have free shipping running this weekend. The mock neck knits shirts for $5.90 right now can be balled up and arent wrinkly on wearing them. I also like their supine cotton shirts. Their tights usually hang on for 6months to a year. Don’t know much about their bottoms though.

      1. Seren*

        Oops, totally misread the purpose of this thread, please ignore. I thought you were looking for cheap business casual clothes in general as well as nylons.

        1. Ghost Town*

          Not going to turn down advise on this matter, either. Currently rotating between about 6 outfits that I can mix and match to some extent. I really need to go through my closet, honestly, about what I’ll actually wear now.

    4. mreasy*

      Hue is my favorite brand for sheer & opaque tights. They last forever & they do offer control top options (though a light-control spanx panty may be a better bet, as someone above has mentioned).

    5. Anono-me*

      Back when dinasours roamed the earth and every department store had a huge hosiery department, my first professional (but low paying) job required slacks or hose.

      Following a friend’s advice, I bought a bottle of hosiery wash that really seemed to help my hose last longer. (I think the brand was hosiery mate but I don’t recall. The bottle was a unusual beige gray, and was at almost every hosiery register.) I would wash my hose right away after every wear, as skin oil can be hard on hose. Also, I would air dry them flat on a towel, as dangle drying can stretch out and weaken fibers.

      Congratulations on the new position.

    6. Observer*

      Target’s Merona are not bad, and the No Nonsense one’s aren’t too bad either. Not really, really cheap, but not terribly expensive (especially if you can get them on special), and they hold up pretty well.

      1. Ghost Town*

        That sounds like a fable: the tale of the everlasting tights. I’ll have to look for those!

    7. Nye*

      I much prefer old-fashioned stockings to pantyhose. (The kind you hold up with a garter belt.) They’re more of an investment, but I find they last far longer than pantyhose, plus they’re much more comfortable and you don’t have to worry about them slipping down. They would also be compatible with shapewear (in lieu of the control-top option).

      You have my sympathies in having to wear hose regularly, though! I cherish my profession in part because of its nearly non-existent dress code.

  30. Lore*

    Does anyone have recommendations for actually getting work through NYC temp agencies right now? I have two friends trying to sign up with temp agencies who are finding that it’s just as much of a send-application-online-into-a-black-hole as applying for jobs. They’ve submitted materials to four or five supposedly reputable (and different) agencies, some of them with specialties in their fields, and they all auto-respond “You will hear from us within 24 hours if we have a suitable position” and then…nothing. Are you expected to resubmit to the agencies every week now? What’s the secret?

    1. Not a Real Giraffe*

      This was a couple of years ago, but I had better luck when I was referred to a staffing agency through a friend who had used that agency previously.

    2. Badmin*

      I wonder if the time of year has anything to do with it, lots of grads flooding the job market now. Maybe in a few months it will be a less busy time.

    3. T3k*

      I don’t know about NYC, but I know around here, I was told you have to call the agencies (even after submitting stuff online) and once I did, I was then told by them that I have to call them at the beginning of the week to be put on the availability list each week.

      1. Lore*

        Yeah, that’s what I remember from temping a while back, but these all specifically say “do not call us, we’ll call you.”

    4. PM-NYC*

      I got referred by a friend initially and had a good experience with Atrium Staffing here.

  31. Ribbon*

    Yesterday I was invited to interview for a job that is a good match for my skills in some areas and a definite stretch in others. I know the current incumbent, who is retiring, because we have worked together tangentially in the past. For context, I have a state job and this position is a county position in the same subject area. I can’t decide if it’s appropriate to reach out to her during the process either before or after the interview to ask about the office and the team, and maybe some other specific information (how is work divided, what kind of training is there, etc). I have spoken to another person in a different county with the same position and she gave me good information in a broad way, but I can’t decide if it’s overstepping or looks like I’m trying to get some kind of an advantage?

    1. Eppie*

      I would probably ask her questions after your interview if you have anything you didn’t get a good feel for.

  32. Project Manager*

    So, last week, our group (about 150 people) had an all hands meeting, and the group’s lead used the time to give a performance of his hobby (it’s a performing art – the kind of thing you might see at a children’s birthday party or a renaissance fair. He does it professionally). We weren’t told in advance that this would occur. Am I just a boring killjoy, or is it inappropriate for a manager to use a de facto mandatory meeting to make his reports’ reports sit through his act?

    (I’m a little biased here because this is a new manager, and he hasn’t made a good first impression on me. He is VERY different from our old manager, which is fine, but he’s been highlighting the differences between himself and our previous manager so assiduously that I have come to believe he is doing it deliberately – and he’s doing it in such a way as to reflect poorly on said previous manager. Even if I didn’t like the previous manager, I would still think that was inappropriate behavior. And as it happens, I DID like the previous manager, and all the things he’s using to cast shade on the previous manager are things I really liked about him. So it’s making me like the new manager less.)

    1. katamia*

      Sooooooooooooooooooooo inappropriate. Meetings can be valuable, but there’s no way that his act made your jobs easier or gave you useful information on how to better do your jobs. I hate that sort of thing. (Heck, I hated watching movies in class in school because if I had to put on pants and wake up early to be there, then you needed to be teaching me and making getting up too early worthwhile.)

      1. Project Manager*

        Does it help if you know that the meeting was followed by an ice cream social and the performance was the last portion of the meeting before we were unleashed upon the unsuspecting ice cream?

        (Didn’t help ME because I wanted some ice cream. Had the performance followed or been at the same time as the ice cream social, I would have minded a lot less. As it was, I stood there thinking, “I want some ice cream. How much longer is this going to take?”)

        1. neverjaunty*

          Still entirely unprofessional. This was a waste of your time and attention so he could show off his hobby.

    2. k*

      1. Totally weird and inappropriate.

      2. I’m really enjoying trying to imagine what his act was. Juggling? A puppet show? Clown act? Tight rope walking? I’m imagining that whatever it was, he tried to make it into some metaphor for something work related. Juggling for multi tasking, etc. I’m sure it was painful to sit through, but it’s really fun when it’s imaginary :)

      1. Project Manager*

        It was one of those things, but not only did he NOT try to make it a work-related metaphor, he also said that he would like other “talented” people in our group to do similar performances at our all hands from now on. So I guess now we’re having a talent show every other month.

        By the way, we are engineers. Just in case you were thinking maybe our industry is somehow performing acts-related.

        (also, I should add, I have plenty of wacky hobbies myself, and I think the fact that he can pursue his hobby professionally is great. I just don’t think it belongs in the workplace. I mean, I love reciting poetry, and my kids like it too, but never in a million years would I make my reports listen to me perform “The Raven”.)

        1. motherofdragons*

          I’d be super annoyed to be on the receiving end of an act like that at a work meeting, and I’m appalled that it’s apparently going to become a regular thing! Ugh ugh ugh. No.

        2. Parenthetically*

          WHAT. A talent show in a professional work environment? Ye gods, no. I’m one of those people who feels an embarrassing social situation far too acutely and this is making me squirm. I think I’d find a way to be sick one month, on vacation the next, sick again the third one…

        3. So Very Anonymous*

          We have a second-in-command-level manager who has been organizing a group of like-minded hobbyists who will be performing at our mandatory full-day inservice day. They practice in a conference room during work hours, and there are several other managers participating. Since the person organizing the group already has a reputation for favoritism, the whole thing feels a little… weird?

          1. So Very Anonymous*

            I’m imagining hushed commentary: “The lower border appears to be — yes, it’s finished now, and it looks like she’s switching to — is that garter stitch or stockinette?” “I think it’s stockinette, Bob, but we’ll see as soon as she gets to the end of this row.” “The suspense is incredible!”

    3. tink*

      Unless you work planning children’s birthday parties or ren faires, seems pretty off the mark to me? Like, is he hoping parents in the room will hire him on the side to be the performance art at Little Darling’s birthday celebrations?

    4. Zinnia*

      I vote it’s inappropriate. One quick trick to get folk’s attention, that could work, sort of like telling a joke or putting a cartoon in a PowerPoint. An extended performance? Not so much.

      1. Lalaith*

        I agree. At my college, there was a professor who was very good at magic, and he would do a trick at the start of every class. In his case, it was a ploy to get students to show up to class on time, and he was apparently good enough that it worked (and I’m a little sad I never took his class). But anything beyond that is too much.

    5. Ask a Manager* Post author

      If it’s something like juggling, I don’t think it’s a big deal as a way to lighten the mood — as long as it only took a few minutes. If he were a good manager, I don’t think it would bug you — it’s that it’s happening in the context of already being annoyed by him (in which case it would annoy me too).

      On the other hand, if it took more than a couple of minutes, then no.

    6. Squeegee Beckenheim*

      That’s so weird! It would be one thing if people were begging for him to pull a rabbit out of his hat or whatever and he hung around after the meeting to demonstrate it to the people who wanted to see while everyone else got to leave, but making people stay to watch you paint faces or whatever is bizarre.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      It sounds like he wants to be known as “the fun boss”.

      Hopefully, most people will tell him that they do not have special talents and this will bring the talent show to a screeching halt.

      I wonder if he was just promoting his business so you all would hire him for your kid’s or grandkid’s parties.

    8. JulieBulie*

      I would love to see his act… at a renaissance faire.
      NOT at work.
      And I’d be ultra-pissed if this became a regularly scheduled ordeal, because odds are, some of my coworkers might have more vanity than talent. I’ll have to listen to an off-key rendition of “Firework” that I’ll never be able to get out of my mind.

  33. New grad*

    Hi everyone,

    I’m about to graduate, so I am in the midst of interviewing. I first started applying back in December, started getting invitations to take numerical reasoning and business attitudes tests in January, started being asked to record video interviews in February, and had my first in-person interview in March. Since then I’ve gone on 11 in-person interviews, with numerous tests, phone interviews, video questions, etc. In the beginning, I was very enthusiastic. For example, I didn’t even balk when I showed up to a 7 AM interview and was told they had scheduled events for me until 10 PM. But now I’m starting to feel a bit overwhelmed with it all, and like anything the interviewer asks me to do is just too much. I’m currently working and finishing up school (I’ll graduate in July, the common time to graduate in this country), but it feels like interviewing has taken over my life. I thought I’d have a job offer by now and I could do some traveling before starting to work, but I can’t leave the country when I might be asked to interview that week. Any tips for keeping my enthusiasm during a long job search?

    1. Marillenbaum*

      Is all this a single interviewer? Because a process this long and involved is, frankly, crazypants.

      1. New grad*

        Should have made the more clear, no these are separate interviewing processes! I’m just starting to feel fatigued from the job search as a whole.

      1. New grad*

        International business. I feel like my friends at school all were hired from their first interviews, so it is starting to feel embarrassing when I have no news after months of searching. For example I had a 3rd in-person interview today, and when I got home, HR had sent me links to IQ and personality testing they wanted me to do. I was annoyed, I had been told in the 2nd interview that the 3rd interview was the final step, plus what more will they learn from online tests that they haven’t seen from 3 interviews?

        1. AnotherLibrarian*

          Yeah. I don’t know how International Business works, but this feels really excessive to me.

          1. New grad*

            So do most new grads get an offer after applying to only a few jobs?
            Maybe it is just because most of the jobs I apply to do have involved processes, so if I was only interviewing at one place, it wouldn’t be as overwhelming.

            1. LizB*

              I think it’s pretty normal for new grads to have to apply to a number of jobs, but the processes at these places sound pretty over-the-top. It’s a lot less exhausting when the process is phone interview > in-person > 2nd in-person > offer, like it is in my field.

            2. AnotherLibrarian*

              Well, I don’t know about International Business, but I applied for over 30 Library jobs before I landed one out of Library School. I think you have to apply for a lot of jobs in general before you get a job. That’s sort of how it goes.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          My answer is a shot in the dark. I’d say look at the companies you are choosing to apply at and change something that you are doing. My wild guess is that these weird companies all have some things in common that you are not noticing initially. Unfortunately, you finally become aware after they make you jump through hoops.

          Maybe one thing you can do is talk to other people before you apply. “Hey, what do you hear about Teapots Forever? Are they a decent company?” When a person answers yes, ask them why they think that. Listen closely to their explanation.

  34. mamabear*

    So, is it normal to feel like you’re drowning when you’re a new manager? Part of the issue is that we’re woefully understaffed and will be for some time because of university budget cuts. That means I’m still doing my old job, on top of trying to learn a new one. Oh, and my direct report is brand-new to the position after changing careers, so I’m trying to train someone who is very green. She’s doing well for the stage she’s at, but there are so many things that I just can’t delegate to her yet.

    I have this fear that I’m going to be one of those people who became a manager because she was good at other things, but actually really sucks at management. My own boss is not very helpful sounding board and is sort of well-known around our office for being good at many things, but being a weak manager. I’m two months into this gig and kind of regretting taking the job. I can’t tell if I’m in over my head, or if I have a massive case of impostor syndrome.

    1. Katie the Fed*

      Yes, totally normal.

      It was a good year until I actually felt like I had a clue what I was doing. You’ll get through this. Just remember to look out for your people :)

      1. mamabear*

        Thanks, Katie. I know I have to keep reminding myself that there is a learning curve. Just because I was groomed for the position doesn’t mean I won’t have growing pains.

    2. Emmie*

      I agree with Katie The Fed. It took me a good year. I’d also encourage you to find some time to have your employees memorialize key parts of their jobs (i.e. directions for x report, a list of all their regular to-dos centralized in one document so you can monitor their work / know about deliverables, the process for doing y task.) It will help you when people inevitably transfer, or get sick. But it will also help you monitor their work.

      It was hard for me to accept that I cannot do each of my employee’s jobs. I loved being the subject matter expert, but that’s not always realistic when you’re managing the team. Depending on your manager level, you’ll spend some time over the next year figuring out when you need to know tasks, be strategic, and get familiar enough to speak intelligently about some of the projects. Good luck!

    3. Not So NewReader*

      No, you are drowning, they threw you in the pool and told you to figure out how to swim.

      My wise friend said when dealing with chaos, nail one thing down. Then look around and see where other things are in relationship to that one thing you have a handle on. Move to next thing, nail it down. And repeat the process.

      When lost in the wilderness like this, I prefer to target recurring tasks and recurring problems. I worry less about the one of a kind things. Here the goal is to get an overview of the job and get the basic things under control.
      Putting these two ideas together (chaos plus lost in the wilderness) into one example lets say I have a report due each Friday. I would make it a goal each Friday to do that report and get a good handle on that report. Once I could feel the report making more sense to me, I would look around for my next thing to tackle.

      One lifesaver for me has been writing a list of what I will do tomorrow, at night just before I go home. It makes the next day a tiny bit easier and it helps me sleep a little bit better.

  35. Casper Lives*

    I’d like some perspective on whether this is a standard lay off package. I got laid off this week. I’ve never been laid off or fired before. I’m a lawyer and worked at this small firm for 2.5 years. They gave me 2 weeks of severance, promised good references, and will not fight unemployment (actually, they gave me the filled out and signed UE sheet saying I was laid off). I’m in shock, but I took it professionally, I think.

    My friends/family think they gave me a raw deal. They supposedly laid me off because I didn’t have a skill they wanted, but they knew I didn’t have that skill when they hired me, and they didn’t pay for me to obtain it through classes or whatever. I believe the motive was financial because some of the paralegals texted me later this week to say a paralegal had been hired to essentially do my job with attorney supervision. I’m a little angry, but I think it’s more beneficial for me to think “good luck with that, and maybe getting out of this toxic place will be best if I don’t run out of savings finding a job.”

    1. tiny temping teapot*

      Sounds like you’re primed to look for a job that suits you better. The severance isn’t fantastic, but they gave you something, you’re ready to get on unemployment and start looking!

      I definitely think “good luck with that, new things here I come!” is the way to think about it.

    2. Zinnia*

      It’s not uncommon to get one week per year employed, which is great if you’ve been there a long time, but crappy if you haven’t.

    3. Jessie the First (or second)*

      Large firms will usually (not always!! But often anyway) do a much larger severance package – I remember my old firm gave people 3 months – but small firms vary quite widely; a friend was laid off from her small firm with nothing. Small firms don’t always have the financial ability to offer meaningful severance. Regardless, you are right that looking forward is the best thing you can do. Focusing on being angry at your firm doesn’t help you at all and I can’t say, from this outside perspective, that you got a raw deal. It sucks, but it is what it is. Put your energies into finding a new job that’s a better fit for you. Good luck!

    4. Deep Breaths*

      In my field severence packages have always been 1 week’s pay for every year one has been with the company, unless a senior manager (then two week’s pay). So this sounds a bit right, though norms may be different for law firms. (I work in relatively low-paying industry). It sounds like they didn’t want to go through the work it would take to bring you up to speed and for them it was easier to establish someone else in a similar capacity. It absolutely stinks that they weren’t able to work with you on this skill or express that they realized that the skill was needed. But, I don’t think you got a raw deal. In fact, you might have escaped relatively unscathed and they gave you the opportunity to move on without serious issue.

    5. neverjaunty*

      Definitely take the unemployment and wish them good luck with their being penny wise and pound foolish. Being laid off because a small firm reduced staffing shouldn’t hurt you in future jobs.

    6. Karo*

      As others have said, the severance seems reasonable. While I can’t speak specifically to your field, the reasoning behind the lay off seems reasonable as well. Getting training paid for you by the company (assuming it’s not on a platform or subject that only the company uses) is a perk, not a given. Also, while they knew you didn’t have the skill when they hired you, that was 2.5 years ago. A lot can change in that amount of time, including how desperately they need you to have the skill.

      I totally get being upset by it, but I think your friends & family are laying it on a bit thick by saying it’s a raw deal.

      And honestly, even if they weren’t, even if it was a really raw deal – if you can get yourself into the headspace of “whatever, this could be great for me” that’s always a better place to be.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Agree with this.

        And they may not have realized they’d really need that skill when they hired you, or they may have expected you to pick it up on your own through doing the work, or they may have concluded that if you didn’t have that, it made more sense to just have a paralegal in the role instead.