the “office couple” decided to swap jobs, declining the lunch portion of an interview, and more

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

1. The “office couple” decided to swap jobs

My office has about 30 employees. We have five salaried staff and the rest of us are hourly without guaranteed hours. When I started a year ago, I noticed that a member of the admin/salaried staff and another employee were oddly close and always hovering around each other. I was not surprised when I found out they are a couple, living together, and had met through work. Six months ago, she got promoted to a salaried position. Previously, those two positions worked together occasionally, but not closely by any means. When she took over the position, the couple started working together even more closely and he was actively helping with her job responsibilities. From my viewpoint, she was struggling a bit with absorbing the responsibilities of her new position, but I can’t be certain of that.

Well, today at our staff meeting, this couple announced they would be switching positions. They both said they liked the other person’s position better and thought it would be best to switch. The positions are equal in seniority, but one is clearly easier/less stressful than the other. The head of our office had approved the switch.

Am I crazy to think this is not appropriate? Something about the whole thing just feels really off, especially if she had trouble keeping up with her original promoted position.

If they really just decided on their own to swap jobs, that is indeed bizarre and, yes, not appropriate. That’s not normally the kind of thing you get to just decide on your own!

But I suspect there’s a decent chance that their explanation was a face-saving one — and that in fact your coworker might have been demoted (particularly if you’re right that she was struggling with the job) and that her partner got moved into the position. “We both liked the other person’s job and decided to switch” might just be the spin they’re putting on it.

Or who knows, maybe not. Maybe they hatched this plan themselves and got it approved. If that’s the case, it’s possible that they were each such a perfect fit for the other person’s job that it this isn’t as weird as it sounds on the surface. But if not, and instead your office just okayed it on a whim, then that’s an awfully unrigorous way to make major management decisions.

2. Can I get out of the lunch portion of a half-day interview?

I have a four-hour interview coming up on Monday. They just sent me the agenda. It starts with a 1-1/2 long lunch with the team! Then transitions to other meetings and a presentation. This is an academic coordinator position at a university, which is not a job that would require working lunches or taking people out to eat. I really don’t want to have lunch with these people, mostly because I find eating and talking very awkward and I have to be “on” because this is still and interview. I think the intent to be relaxed and causal and just have a “chat,” but I know that is not the reality. Also I fear spilling food on myself (this does happen to me sometimes, I can be a little clumsy) and since this is the very beginning of the interview, I’m having nightmares about giving a presentation with ketchup all over me or something dreadful like that. Is there a graceful way to decline lunch (or eat a head of time and just order a drink or something)? Otherwise can you provide some advice about how to handle this as gracefully as possible? I am really excited about this job.

The only way you could really decline this part of the day is if you have food restrictions that make it unlikely that you’ll easily be able to eat (for example, serious allergies, or you’re kosher, or so forth). In that case, though, you’d still ideally go and just have a beverage or something — giving them a heads-up in advance so they have a chance to alter the plan if they want to, by saying something like, “I have a number of dietary restrictions so I probably won’t eat at lunch, but I’d be glad to have a beverage and talk with people.” (A gracious host will then alter the plan so they’re not forcing you to sit around watching other people eat while you go hungry, but not all hosts are gracious ones.)

But other than that, you can’t really get out of this without it looking very strange. Business meals are a thing that sometimes happen, including in interviews, and you’re really expected to roll with it.

Ordering advice: Nothing with drippy sauces and nothing that you have to eat with your hands. Carry a stain-stick in your purse just in case! And if you want, eat before you go so that you’re not starving and can focus more on talking to people than on the mechanics of eating. This is normal, and you will almost certainly be fine.

3. Quitting a job over denied time off

I am writing in for advice for my daughter. She is 19 and just started a new job in late April. She is working retail in a store as a sales associate. My daughter works 35 hour + weeks, not enough for full-time, but enough to work at least five days out of the week. We have been planning a family vacation to Europe and have finally finalized our plans, but the dates have been set for months now.

When my daughter was first hired, her manager asked for dates that she definitely couldn’t work. She mentioned a family event she was attending in May and our family trip (13 days). She was granted the four days off for her trip for the event and was told that they would “worry about the trip to Europe as it gets closer.” We are nearly a month away from going on the trip and my daughter mentioned it to her manager again. Now her manager says she doesn’t think she can give her 13 days off, not even including a day to get adjusted to our time zone again, because the store barely has enough staff. I immediately told her to hand in her notice and offer to help run the store after we get back from Europe until they find a replacement. My daughter is worried about how this will look to future employers and how she will explain this in future job interviews. I don’t think she should be too worried, she has time to find a job, plus she is still in college. I don’t want to give her the wrong advice. What should I tell her to do?

Normally I’d say that I can’t totally blame the manager here — asking for 13 days off only a month before you want them is hardly any notice at all, and most managers wouldn’t be thrilled about that (although it’s understandable that your daughter wouldn’t have known that at 19). But she just started in late April — barely over a month ago! — so it’s not clear what “we’ll talk about that as it gets closer” really could have meant.

Anyway, I can’t tell her whether she should quit her job over this or not — that’s up to her and depends on how much she likes the job, how much she wants to go on the trip, and other factors that I don’t know. But it’s pretty unlikely that quitting a part-time retail job while she’s in college will be a problem for her in the future. And really, she’s been there such a short time that she should just leave it off her work history altogether; two months isn’t enough to strengthen her as a candidate, and the shortness of time she was there will raise questions . So that may be the question for her to figure out — is she okay with leaving this job out of her work history entirely? (And really, at 19 and with retail, it won’t be a big deal if she decides to go that route.)

4. Is it a bad idea to take a full-time job at the company where I interned?

I’m a junior-year college student and, with graduation looming, am looking ahead to the future. I interned last summer at a company and really enjoyed working there, and am going to be interning there again this summer. I’ve already worked on a variety of things in the four months I’ve been there, so I’m fairly confident I’ll pick up new skills this summer, and thus I’m not worried about interning there again.

Looking ahead to graduation, though, I think there’s a non-zero chance I’m offered a full-time job there and, if so, I’m wondering if taking it would be a bad move or not. This internship is my first professional experience and I worry that references would be a problem when I decided to leave. An additional problem is that my father also works at this company, and I’m afraid working there would be seen as my riding on his coattails, and that I wouldn’t be seen as a competent professional on my own.

However, I have really enjoyed working there, and both the product and the culture really appeal to me. It’s not a tremendously big company, but it’s growing rapidly and it’s in an area with a strong job market. I’m also not going to graduate with the highest GPA (it’s currently hovering just under a 3.0 thanks to some poor choices last year) and that could hinder me in searching for jobs elsewhere.

In general, is it a terrible idea to take job offers from places you’ve interned if you don’t have prior professional experience? How focused should I be on adding breadth to my resume, as opposed to depth at one place?

It’s not an inherently terrible idea. It’s more likely to be a bad idea when people do it by default, because it’s easier, without exploring other options — as opposed to picking it for more concrete reasons and after comparing it to other options. So I’d say to keep it in your mind as a possibility, but apply for other jobs too so that you have options to weigh it against. (And as for your GPA, it may not be an issue at all; this is field-dependent, but many hiring managers don’t ask about GPA at all, so it might not even come up. So definitely don’t take yourself out of the running based on that.)

Once you’ve applied to (and hopefully interviewed at) other places, you’ll be in a much better position to decide what makes the most sense for you. And of course you’ll need to weigh the specifics of each option — salary, role, title, manager, etc. — which you can’t do at this stage. But after all that, if you do decide that you want to take a job with the place you interned, that’s totally fine! You have many years to add breadth to your resume; you won’t be limiting yourself in any long-term way.

{ 498 comments… read them below }

  1. LouiseM*

    There is a small typo in the (spot-on) answer to #4! I think you mean most managers don’t *ask* about GPA. :)

    Personally, I know several people whose first post-grad jobs were at the same place they interned. In some fields, like banking, this is even expected. If having a job offer in hand will help you finish off your senior year strong, and maybe participate in some new extracurriculars, I say do it.

    1. Enough*

      Niece interned at one of the big four accounting firms and unless you screw up you automatically get a job at the location of the internship.

    2. Miss Elaine e.*

      I agree. As a resume writer, I’ve created several for recent grads and listed their hiring to a full-time role after completing a successful internship as a bullet-point accomplishment. The intern must have done something right to get such an offer.
      While it may be expected in some fields, it doesn’t always happen that way.

        1. Judy (since 2010)*

          Not really. Because if you interned, they had an easy out to not hiring you. If you were so-so, they might not have hired you. At least with some companies, they hire only the best of their interns.

          1. JuliaGuglia*

            This question caught me by surprise because, yeah, my company only hires the best interns. We’ve never had “bad” interns, but the majority end up being average. It’s easy -not- to hire interns. Just get to the end-of-internship date and say “bye!” Every now and then we have a stellar intern and they will receive a very competitive offer.

            It’s definitely not expected here for interns to get a full-time offer post graduation.

            My advice to LW would be to interview a couple places. Make sure this company doesn’t lowball you just because you were an intern, moving you from 11/hr to 12/hr when usually the job pays 20/hr.

    3. Samiratou*

      We’ve hired at least one former intern after graduation at my office. They’ve been great. I wouldn’t necessarily expect them to spend their whole careers here or anything, but if you like the job and the company and haven’t found anything that suits you better, go for it.

    4. BadWolf*

      I’m in tech and it is definitely not unusual for us to hire interns full time after they graduate.

    5. Holly Flax*

      In my husband’s field, interns are actually competing for full time positions after they graduate, and their exit interviews are full-time job interviews. His company only had positions available for 2/10 interns they had the summer he was there and it was a huge deal to him when he got offered one of those positions. It is also a field where job-hopping is very uncommon, so it is unlikely he will need to update his resume unless we move to a different city.

    6. Myka Bering*

      OP #4, unless it is standard for the field you’re in, please don’t put your GPA on your resume. Most managers will never ask and it’s not typically relevant to your job.

  2. LouiseM*

    #3 is confusing to me. Was OP suggesting her daughter should quit…but then come back to help at the store until they hired someone? Would this be for free? I think that would come off oddly most places.

    1. Alldogsarepupppies*

      I don’t think its for free, but as a notice period. It would be mutually beneficial if they needed a longer time to hirer someone and she would have a continued pay check.

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        I strongly suspect she won’t have a job and they won’t want her back for a post-trip notice period. At that point, they’ll have been short on coverage for 2 weeks, and there’s no incentive to keep her for an additional 2 weeks (especially because she’s still pretty new). Most retail folks will have rehired before OP’s daughter even returns from her trip.

        1. Alldogsarepupppies*

          oh almost definitely, but I’m presuming that’s what LW was suggesting her daughter.

        2. AnotherAlison*

          I would agree most retail stores would rehire & the OP’s daughter would be out of a job, but I will say that where I live, almost all the small mom & pop type shops have help wanted signs up now. They may not be able to fill her spot.

          That said, I am not 100% sure the daughter wants to go on the trip. 19 is a tough age for kids and parents. (My oldest is 20). We all know college kids want to do their own thing, and have job and travel opportunities that may supersede a family trip–even one to Europe! (I’m not sure a retail job is an opportunity I would take over Europe myself, though.) I think the OP should make it clear that quitting would be okay financially and job history-wise, but I wouldn’t push her to choose the trip.

        3. Sarah*

          There are help wanted signs in like 60% of the shops and restaurants/cafes around me right now. Unless the store pays especially wall I’m not sure they will have hired yet.

    2. Roja*

      No, I read it as the daughter would unofficially come back to work until they found her replacement. If the place is that short of staff and take a while to hire, they might just take her up on it. Personally, she’s 19 and retail jobs are a dime a dozen. Go to Europe! I mean, if her family is really wealthy and she’s been a dozen times before, then maybe I could see go for the job. But if, like most families, this is a once in a decade/lifetime experience and she’s not going into a field where she’ll earn a large income, I say go.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yeah, I tend to agree (unless there’s more to it that we don’t know, like that the daughter is attempting to forge more independence from her family or so forth).

        1. Coffeelover*

          This is a really good point. It seems like such an easy choice (dime a dozen retail job vs. Europe!), but now I’m wondering if the daughter just doesn’t want to go and is using this as a plausible excuse. I’ve been there.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            While that happens (the guy notifying his girlfriend’s boss that she wanted time off to go to his family reunion, when she was trying to use the boss’s alleged intransigence as an excuse not to go), I think this mostly goes on the retailer for hearing “I’ll need the second and third weeks of July off for a trip” and saying “July is so far away; ask me again in June.”

            If daughter wants to stay and work she should do that–independence is good–but I agree with the general calculation that if she gets on well with her family, then going to Europe is a rare opportunity and working retail part-time will be an option when she returns.

          2. Erin*

            Yeah, if I were her I’d quit. Be honest with the next retail position she finds, and she will, that she had a once in a lifetime trip to Europe planned before she was hired then they couldn’t give her the time off so she quit instead of missing this once in a lifetime chance.

      2. Samiratou*

        I agree. And if the store is that short-staffed they’d be shooting themselves in the foot to deny her leave–either they lose her for 13 days or are down a staff until they hire a new person, which may or may not take longer than 14 days (if, as it sounds like, they’re having a hard time hiring).

        If she was up front about the trip in the interview, though, this is a crappy bait-and-switch on the part of the store and she might be best rid of them.

        1. Artemesia*

          If this were a new professional job post college (or for someone not going to college who saw it as a career) it would be one thing. But she told them about it; it is a crappy part time job without benefits (and a 35 hour a week job is designed. PLANNED. to hose the employee on benefits. A ten hour a week part time job is understandably without benefits; a 35 hour a week job is just mingy) This is not a company deserving of any sacrifice.

          She should stay if she doesn’t want to go on the trip but if she does then she should just give notice and drop this job from her resume in the future.

          1. SophieK*

            I see your point, but the flip side of this is that 19 year olds just starting out in the world have no inherent value and it’s not the best move to ask for special accommodations right away. These types just keep pushing to get their own way and it looks like Mom is cultivating an attitude of entitlement.
            (And Mom? Working the assigned hours does not make your daughter a super special Rockstar. It’s just the minimum expectation, like brushing her teeth or having basic manners. Tell me that she’s greatly increased revenue and is blowing sales goals out of the water and she might have some leverage here.)

            Since the job appears to be disposable I have to wonder why she would even apply for a job that she was going to turn around and take leave from. If she does not actually need a job she should wait until she has time to really prove herself to get another.

            1. Elsajeni*

              I’m sorry, but this is bananas. They asked her in the interview for dates that she wouldn’t be able to work and she answered them accurately: ENTITLEMENT RUN RAMPANT!

            2. Katie the Fed*

              “I see your point, but the flip side of this is that 19 year olds just starting out in the world have no inherent value and it’s not the best move to ask for special accommodations right away. These types just keep pushing to get their own way and it looks like Mom is cultivating an attitude of entitlement.”

              No. There’s nothing rampant or entitled about asking at an interview if you’ll be able to take leave for a pre-planned vacation. That was their opportunity to tell them no. The fact that they didn’t is 100% on them.

              1. Not So NewReader*

                In retail, the management attitude sometimes is that any request for time off is a show of entitlement. If you are not available 24/7/365 then you are not a team player.

                This here is a typical play in the retail management handbook: Tell them that you will talk about the request later. Then when later comes tell them they waited too long to mention it and it is oh-such-a-hardship. There are many retail managers who are very poor planners.

            3. NotAnotherMananger!*

              I could not disagree more. The daughter told them up front when asked that she could not work those days, and the manager didn’t say that was a hard no. I would say that the manager bears responsibility for the problem at hand, probably moreso than the worker who disclosed this before being hired. I would tell my kid to quit, too, in this circumstance. Much of retail treats workers like they’re disposable (in this case, even, we see the just-below-full-time-no-benefits trick), why should their workers miss something big with their family because their manager wasn’t upfront about the schedule not being tenable?

              Taking leave from a job is not entitlement. Acknowledging that a retail job while still in school is not as important as a long-planned family vacation (assuming the daughter wants to go) is not entitlement. Honestly, too, I am a class migrant among the terminally entitled, and the entitled don’t even want their kids working retail or food service and will network like hell to get them a paid office internship or volunteer time in a congressional office.

              My friends who’ve managed retail also tell me that having someone who shows up when they’re supposed to *is* sometimes rockstar behavior in that world. Dealing with call-outs and last-minute substitutions and short-staffs was described as a big part of what made those jobs suck the most. When you’re going to keep a staff of part-timers, you have to hire more to avoid being terminally understaffed.

        2. Steve*

          I agree that being short staffed for 13 days is better than indefinitely. So it seems to me that instead of just quitting, the employee should at least tell the manager the trip is already booked and she doesn’t have any wiggle room (or whatever wording). Maybe she’ll end up having to quit, but that way at least she has some chance of keeping the job.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            The problem is in the retail mindset being short for one day is a disaster. So 13 days is absolutely unthinkable.

          2. nicolefromqueens*

            They likely wouldn’t be short staffed for 13 days. They’d hire someone else in her place, and they certainly wouldn’t train someone to work for two weeks: that person would replace her.

            She should hand in her notice, and reapply for the job if she still wants it when she returns.

        3. Peter the Bubblehead*

          Were I in this position, I would meet with the manager with a resignation letter in hand. If the meeting goes well and the manager approves the time off, all is well. But if the manager hemmed and hawed and didn’t want to grant the time, I would immediately hand them the letter and state, “Then this is my two weeks notice.”

          I would love to see the manager’s face in that situation.

          1. Erin*

            I left a part time retail job with 12 days notice, but 10 of those days were working, I consider that 2 weeks notice, the acting manager didn’t.
            I was in a similar situation they would work me 31 hours a week and needed more people to work but wouldn’t promote me to full time. I think they shot themselves in the foot, because I’d honestly like that job, but I couldn’t turn down health insurance.

            1. pugsnbourbon*

              When I put in my notice at my last retail job, my manager tried to keep me on by offering me a sub-manager position with higher hourly pay …. where was that before I put in my notice, I wonder?

              1. Peter the Bubblehead*

                I had something similar happen to me decades ago when I worked at a national Video Rental Chain.
                I never worked LESS than 40 hours a week, but only the management was considered full time with benefits. I pushed several times for promotion, but it went nowhere. (In one case I wound up TRAINING someone hired directly into management!)
                When I finally had enough and found another job (city government job with benefits) and gave my two weeks notice, THEN the senior manager asked, “What will it take for you to stay here?” My reply was, “Nothing, I’m already committed to this new job. Where was this promotion I was promised for the last year BEFORE I told you I was quitting?”

            2. Ego Chamber*

              Late to the party and I’m not a lawyer, but according to the IRS you qualify for healthcare under the ACA* if you work at least 30 hours/week for 120 days. A lot of employers still play the “full time is 40 hours” card to avoid having to do things they’re legally required to, and it sucks.

              *If the ACA wasn’t in effect when you were at that job, please disregard.

          2. Not So NewReader*

            If OP is looking for a reaction she may not get one. Most of the managers don’t care. The turn over in help is so fast that they are constantly hiring anyway.

            Make sure your daughter does not expect any reaction, OP.

      3. Confused*

        I agree! Traveling is a much better life experience than a retail job that she can find anytime. She’s 19! Now is the time to do it!

        1. Specialk9*

          Especially if it’s free. I make decent money, but a European vacation is not in n the budget anytime soon for my family! Once you’re buying several plane tickets and several of everything else, that gets costly.

    3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      I’m confused, too. Thirteen days is a lot of time off in any job, but particularly in a new job in retail less than three months into a position. Whether OP’s daughter wants to quit because she didn’t receive time off is the daughter’s choice, but OP should not pressure her to quit her job to go on a family trip to Europe.

      If OP’s daughter quits, she should leave this job off of her resume instead of risking a bad reference. It’s fairly unlikely that she’ll be rehired at that location, especially because the manager has already noted they have inadequate coverage, and disappearing will create that coverage problem. She has a good shot of being reemployed at another job (including in retail).

      All that said, quitting won’t help her build her experience, and it could create unrealistic expectations about how to deal with hearing “no” from your manager. I’m not saying she shouldn’t quit—it’s entirely possible that the Europe trip is simply more important to her right now. But it’s a little cavalier to quit jobs when your manager won’t indulge an aggressive request.

      1. Candy*

        I worked at and quit at least half a dozen retail and food service jobs when I was 19 and it didn’t mean I acquired unrealistic expectations about how to deal with hearing no. All it meant was that I was 19. She’s young, she’s working a pretty low stakes job… she should go to Europe. See art, drunk good coffee, experience other cultures. If you can’t be cavalier at 19 and run away to Europe, when can you? I know we’re on a site about work but, like, there’s more to life than one’s job. There will be more retail stores to work at when she returns. She’ll be fine

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          I think my view is skewed because I have had to work since I was very young in order to survive. I also grew up in communities that experienced severe recession for prolonged periods, so I’m much more risk averse about the permanency of jobs—especially in retail and food service. I’ve had friends from higher SES backgrounds do what OP#3 suggests, and it unrealistically changed their expectations of how to behave at their first post-college jobs when they entered the workforce full-time. I think those unrealistic expectations came mostly from having parents who told them that jobs were a “dime a dozen,” which quickly changed when the housing crisis hit.

          OP’s daughter could be in a totally different situation, which is why I emphasized that quitting could be the right choice for her. And a decision to quit an entry-level retail job to go to Europe is totally valid! Going won’t necessarily change the daughter’s outlook on professional norms re: time off and work, but I think it’s important to lay out the potential drawbacks so that OP’s daughter can make an informed decision.

          1. AcademiaNut*

            I think the main thing the OP’s daughter needs to learn from this is when negotiating a job offer, be careful of the soft no. If you state that you have a pre-planned vacation you need time off for, and their answer is “we’ll see” or “we’ll talk about it later”, that’s means that they’re not going to give it to you, but they’re hoping that once you’re hired, you’ll choose the job over the vacation and eat the costs and disappointment.

            The daughter did the responsible thing, and informed them of her travel plans when accepting the job (rather than, say, announcing two months into the job that she was going to Europe for two weeks). If it were an internship where she needed recommendations, or she desperately needs the salary, I’d give different advice, but for a job in retail (which has notoriously high turnover), if she’s not going to be in financial trouble if she isn’t able to get a job on her return, I’d say hand in her notice now, and go to Europe!

            1. Mad Baggins*

              This! I think this is a good takeaway for the daughter. Also if she learns to take handing in her notice seriously and professionally, maybe when she comes back she can be rehired if they’re still short-staffed. Problem solved.

            2. Oxford Coma*

              SO MUCH THIS. Making this mistake taught me a major lesson as a recent grad.

              In my first post-college FT job, I trusted the waffling language I received when I requested a day off very early in my tenure for a pre-planned road trip/concert that was a birthday gift. Sure enough, when the time came, it was suddenly not possible for me to have off. I wanted to be responsible and grown up, so I bit my tongue and sold the tickets. The job ended up being a dumpster fire “chew up new grads and spit them out” grindhouse, and I desperately took whatever else I could find after less than a year.

              The artist whose concert I missed died before I could get to another show. It’s been 20 years and I’m STILL pissed.

              1. Quickbeam*

                I feel you. I missed my 20th high school reunion because my employer wound not honor a pre-employment agreement. I was working as a hospital nurse and getting time off was nightmarish. When it came time they said I could not have the 2 days off. Several of the people in my class have since died and it still annoys me that I missed it over a petty scheduling policy.

            3. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

              Oh I like this! Honestly, I like this learning opportunity much better than the other suggestions, which to me basically come down to “learn to make major changes to your pre-existing plans and lose thousands of dollars in canceled plane tickets and travel accommodations in exchange for *maybe* keeping a minimum-wage, part-time job, anytime your boss wakes up on the wrong side of the bed and decides to change his answer that sounded a lot like a yes, to a firm no, on last-minute notice”.

              I’m a fairly well-paid professional and I cannot afford to go on a two-week overseas trip myself, or to send any of my sons. Much less to go all together as a family! She might regret it for the rest of her life if she does not go. And, to your point, she’s done all the correct things to inform the boss of her plans in advance. There’s nothing she could have done differently.

            4. Triforce Unicorn*

              This. So much THIS! 1 million times this! I’ve been burned before when starting a part time – make extra money job. I asked for a specific day off before agreeing to the job the supervisor said “No problem!” and I was then nastily told no when I submitted my leave request. I ghosted. They knew why. I burned that bridge but who wants to work for a liar?

              1. Admin2*

                I told my pt job “Any day, any time except Monday.”

                They scheduled me for Monday. So then they had to pay unemployment benefits.

                1. Nanani*

                  I had the same thing with exams in high school.

                  “Remind me when it’s closer” they said.
                  They scheduled me when I had an exam despite multiple reminders.

                  I wasn’t about to miss final exams for a part time drive-through job.

                2. Ego Chamber*

                  “So then they had to pay unemployment benefits.”

                  This is definitely not how it works—if you don’t/can’t work your scheduled shift, that’s job abandonment. It’s stupid, but there’s no protections around scheduling (I got fired for refusing to work a shift that overlapped with a college final that the professor wouldn’t let me take another day, couldn’t get unemployment because I “chose” not to go to work). And if you’re working PT hours, you’re likely eligible for unemployment benefits anyway. This got legislated to encourage people to work any job they can get instead of collecting full benefits while holding out for a living wage.

            5. Nikki*

              This. I am in a similar position. I’ll start a new job in July and I have a 2 week trip to Europe planned in August. When they called to offer me the job I told them about the trip and they said of course you can go- but that it would be unpaid time ( which I expected). However, this is a Director-level professional level job that I would have canceled my trip over. Thankfully I didn’t have to but yes, learning the difference between getting a firm yes or no on the trip when negotiating at the beginning vs vague language is a good take away.

              For the record, I think the daughter should take the trip if she wants to go.

            6. Bubbles*

              THIS THIS THIS 100% THIS. She did everything right, her employer is obviously jerking her around, she should go enjoy Europe while she has the chance. Five-ten years from now, she’ll look back and it will be obvious that Europe was the better decision, I guarantee.

            7. wb*

              Agreed. She presented the employer with hard conditions when applying. Employer went waffley, which she definitely *should* have seen as a red flag. But that’s different than going waffley in response to a current employee, where the reasonable expectation is that time off will be contingent on employer consent. This was part of setting the bounds of the employment.

              Employer just doesn’t want to have to pay overtime to cover the absence, plain and simple. Employer offered her a job knowing she would be leaving the country, and is trying to eff her over now to save on some payroll. I’m glad we all want Daughter to learn from this and not put a blotch on her resume, but this kind employer also needs to learn not to take advantage of young people. They asked for dates Daughter couldn’t work. They received an answer. They offered her a job knowing those dates were off the table for staffing Daughter.

              1. Not So NewReader*

                Retailers don’t do this to just young people. They will do it to people of any age.

                This is super important for OP to explain to her daughter that there are employers out there whose “maybe” means NO and whose “yes” means NO. This happens and we need to plan what we will do if we receive that NO answer. Know before starting the conversation where you want to go with it for each possible answer you could hear.

          2. Lilo*

            It is funny because I have seen friends also get walked all over in post college jobs too. Like not paid for their degree and had full time and benefits dangled but denied for years and years and sometimes never materializing. I think being professional is important, but I also think standing up for yourself and being willing to walk away is also an important skill.

            1. SpiderLadyCEO*

              Yes – this, so much. I have friends in retail – who never stood up for themselves, and now aren’t getting treated fairly because the managers know they won’t push back. If LW’s daughter learns to push back and stand up for herself now, it will be helpful to her throughout her retail career and anything else she decides to do.

              1. Not So NewReader*

                It’s a very different mindset in retail. If you push back you can get axed very quickly. What your friends are doing is pretty normal. Many times there is no such thing as standing up for yourself in retail.

              2. Ego Chamber*

                “now aren’t getting treated fairly because the managers know they won’t push back.”

                Yeah, no. They aren’t getting treated fairly because their managers suck. Manager who suck will usually cut your hours if you push back, or schedule you the difficult shifts, but they definitely don’t start treating people fairly.

                People with retail managers who don’t suck are conditioned to advocate for themselves because they’re rewarded instead of punished for it, people with retail managers who do suck are conditioned to not advocate for themselves because they watch the people who do get their hours cut to the bone (6 hours a week, 1 hour/day—I have been there and you know I didn’t stay there).

          3. Kate 2*

            I disagree strongly. I come from pretty bad generational poverty. Each generation has been doing marginally better, but we are still low income. Except for relatives who served WW2 none of us have seen anything of the world. GO TO EUROPE. You don’t know where life is going to take you, it might be good or it might be bad. Take everything good you can get while you can. Most of my family, including myself, are going to live and die never having seen anything of the world, and that’s true for most low income people. OP’s daughter is extremely fortunate, she shouldn’t throw that away for a dime a dozen job.

            1. Kelly L.*

              Yes, this. This reminds me of the graduation/call center letter. There was a time I made a similar decision as a thirty-year-old, even. Sometimes the event you’re quitting over really is more important than the job that won’t give you time off for it. And that’s OK! If the employer makes you choose, they know they’re taking the chance that you might not choose the job.

            2. Erin*

              Agreed, where I grew up the only way to travel overseas was to join the military. See the world when you’re 19! There will always be another job at the mall. Right now She could walk off her job, go next door apply and get a start date for after the trip to Europe.

          4. bohtie*

            “I think my view is skewed because I have had to work since I was very young in order to survive. I also grew up in communities that experienced severe recession for prolonged periods, so I’m much more risk averse about the permanency of jobs”

            hard same, which is why I am definitely recusing myself from making actual comments on this letter. It seems likely that the family comes from money, which is not something I can relate to at all.

        2. Rookie Manager*

          I agree with Candy. When I was that age I quit jobs due to clashes with university as well as once because I wasn’t allowed to swap (not have leave) 2 shifts that would allow me to have Christmas with my family. Christmas day in a student flat on my own or a p/t call centre job – there was no competition for me. Yet I remained financially independent throughout tertiary education.

          Op’s daughter did the right thing informing the manager before taking the job so the manager has behaved badly here. If I was this girl I’d go on holiday and have a ball. I’d suggest saying something to the manager like ‘This family trip is really important to me and when I was offered the job my understanding that it would not be a problem. Clearly I misunderstood what you meant but the holiday is booked and paid for. I enjoy working here, if possible I would take (unpaid?) leave but if not possible I’ll resign. Thank you for this opportunity…’ ie put the ball in the managers court but state clearly they are taking the trip.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            I like that way of presenting it. And agree with those saying that this is a good learning experience for her on being wary of great things that are going to materialize “sometime.”

            This would be different if the job were, say, a 10-week paid role in her field and she wanted to take 2 of the 10 weeks off. In that case, it would be on the job to say when it first came up “No, we really expect you to work the 10 weeks.” Similarly, if she had been working and then the parents came up with the Europe idea and expected all the young people just to make two weeks off work.

          2. Ella*

            This is very close to what I was going to say. OP’s daughter should totally go on a trip. I worked in retail for 10 years, and did not learn anything there (about personal responsibility or anything else) that I would not unlearn for an opportunity to hang out in Europe for two weeks. The only thing that I did have to mentally adjust was the part where now I have to plan ahead with my leave (because it’s paid and I really do have to get manager approval), rather than just telling my manager I’m taking time off and letting him figure it out. (I always asked far in advance, I wasn’t just ducking out on an hour’s notice, but my philosophy was, well, if you want me to take less than two weeks off per year, you can give me PTO; since there’s no PTO I will take as much time as I can while still be able to pay all my bills. No manager ever told me I was taking too much time or that I couldn’t take a specific time off.)

            OP’s daughter, the store will survive, even if they’re short handed. It’ll be fine. Go to Europe!

          3. Parenthetically*

            Yep, this. Daughter did exactly what she was asked. The only thing I would change about your script is to remove “clearly I misunderstood what you meant.”

            A trip to Europe > a dime-a-dozen retail job with a flaky boss.

          4. LBK*

            Completely agree – I don’t think the daughter should just outright quit. It seems as though her boss is currently assuming that if she denies the vacation request then the daughter will be there to work, so start with making it clear that there’s no scenario in which she doesn’t go on the trip. It’s up to the store if they’d rather make do without her for 2 weeks or permanently.

          5. Anja*

            I did something very similar to this. Worked in retail while figuring out what I wanted to do. Decided that I was going to go back to school in September but in the summer I needed to go back to Germany for six weeks (for a visit, but also because my great aunt had cancer and it was likely going to be my last chance to see her). I approached my work and let them know I needed that time off. They said they couldn’t accommodate that which was totally fair – six weeks is a long time, especially for an easily fillable job. But it was important to me and the job wasn’t going to be long term anyway with my educational plans so I told them I was going to have to give my notice for the month or two later when I was going to leave on the trip.

            I worked the month or two up until my trip with my resignation being my last work day before I left the country. And because we had respectful conversations and I worked well during my notice period it meant that when I got back from my trip in early August they hired me back for a few weeks doing seasonal work until I went back to school.

            I get that this really only works with reasonable bosses and specific types of jobs and staffing levels, though. :P

        3. March madness*

          That’s my take on it as well. If she’s halfway comfortable financially, I’d advice her to go forth and have fun… but of course, it’s her decision. Her family shouldn’t pressure her into it.

          1. Specialk9*

            And it’s not like she’s likely to be able to use a retail manager as a reference anyway. I worked at chain restaurants, and knew my managers’ names, but they are SO long gone, and nobody there now remembers me. That was true in a startlingly fast timeframe. It’s like I have a permanent record I can tap into.

            So I feel like a min-wage job isn’t great resume building anyway, other than generalized work experience.

            1. many bells down*

              My daughter’s first job was at a store that’s gone out of business entirely. The whole chain went bankrupt. She worked there for a year and can’t get a reference from it.

              1. Erin*

                My last job, I worked there 2 years, which was full time in retail went bankrupt shortly after I left. She’s not going to screw up her life by quitting.

              2. Ego Chamber*

                What? No. A corporation going out of business doesn’t mean that at all, not now that we have the internet. I went on LinkedIn and found my managers. It’s not that hard. If they don’t want to give her a reference, that’s something else.

        4. Lilo*

          I worked a lot of jobs and struggled to make ends meet too, but I still say go. The fact that they’re keeping her just below full time, but at five days a week tells you exactly what this kind of place is. It will demand loyalty from you, but never give anything back.

          Funnily enough, it is always retail or terrible hourly jobs that ask this of you. I quit a retail job once because they wouldn’t respect my (clearly established when I was hired) class and exam schedule. However now in my full time degree-and-license requiring job, my boss actively encourages work life balance.

          1. Harper the Other One*

            That’s what’s I was thinking too. Between the “we’ll worry about that later” and the holding her at just under the full time threshold, despite apparently being short-staffed… this isn’t a well-managed retail environment.

            Also, this is the summer, when college and high school students who normally work only a few hours a week are usually willing to take one much more. If this retail store can’t cover her position at this time of year, they’re beyond short-staffed.

            1. SignalLost*

              It’s a very well-managed retail environment, given that I am completely unaware of anywhere I regularly shop that hasn’t adopted the trick of keeping people below full time so they don’t have to pay benefits and keeping the store short staffed so their labor budget is always in line with corporate expectations. Those two tricks are absolutely normal at retail stores, and frankly, I disagree with both but it’s hard to say they’re not well managed if they’re doing what’s now normal and expected for their industry.

              1. Mona Lisa*

                Yes, it’s well-managed in that they know exactly what they’re doing to their employees. I’ve worked several retail jobs, and while some managers clearly cared about their staff, they still had to play the corporate games to meet targets.

                1. SignalLost*

                  Yup, same. Not an environment that generally rewards loyalty, and it’s horrible watching good managers turn into bad ones because corporate is insane, on top of seeing people struggle and struggle to keep up with requirements when the system could actually be fixed and retail could actually be enjoyable work.

              2. Observer*

                I disagree – a lot of “normal” practices are a really bad idea. And a lot of “normal” practices may have management benefits, but it doesn’t make them good and wise. Treating people like garbage is NOT good. Creating churn and high turnover has costs – ignoring that is not terribly wise. Of course it is possible that the cost of high turnover is less than the cost of paying some full time staff, but the reality in most places that do this is that no one is actually looking at those costs because there is no line item for it. And THAT is terrible management, even though it is totally normal and standard.

                1. SignalLost*

                  I said I disagreed with the practice. I’m very aware that norms are not inherently good. We used to burn women who didn’t have male protectors and seemed slightly smart; I’m glad we’ve moved on from that. However, I also take issue with the idea that this individual store is badly managed because the comment I was replying to seemed unaware of what retail is like at the moment and felt that this store is exceptional.

                2. Lilo*

                  I am sure it is a corporate policy that the manager is following. But it is a harsh lesson to be learned. These big retail chains, fast food, etc. The company does not care about you. The company does not value you. It will demand from you but dismiss you in a heartbeat.

                3. Observer*

                  @SignalLost, I’m not disagreeing that this is not exceptional. I disagree that that makes it good management.

                  It’s not morally bad – it’s bad management.

              3. Specialk9*

                As an aside, in Switzerland, Swiss checkout clerks make a living wage, even with high cost of living. The American ‘gouge the poor and decimate the social safety net’ approach isn’t universal.

                (And even in Switzerland, there is a huge population of less well paid foreigners keeping everything afloat.)

              4. Iris Eyes*

                Yes, but don’t forget about the part where the Assistant Managers and Manager have to work 60+ hours a week (80+ during the holidays) to compensate because they’re “exempt.” And should be thankful for the privilege.

                1. Mona Lisa*

                  I had a friend who went from being an employee to an Associate Manager, and she told me she essentially took a pay cut since that position was exempt and expected to work 50+ hours a week.

              5. Artemesia*

                Yeah the hallmark of ‘good management’ is employee abuse of which keeping people just below full time for benefits is the classic example. Good management for the owners is however not something that should win loyalty from the shafted employees. She should (assuming she wants to do the trip) walk in and give two weeks notice since ‘it won’t be possible for me to take the trip otherwise; you will recall I made this schedule clear when I was hired.’

            2. Specialk9*

              Oh yeah, no question that they’re deliberately exploiting her, with 36 -39 hour weeks but *not* the magic 40 hour that is full-time and so gets benefits and a few protections.

              Mom, you might communicate that to your daughter. It’s common to exploit people for profit, especially if they have few options, but it’s not honorable. She doesn’t owe them anything (other than doing her job when there and following laws) because they are not worthy of loyalty.

              1. LBK*

                I just want to clarify something here – what benefits and legal protections are conveyed on someone that hits 40 hours/wk? The cutoff for a FTE as defined by the IRS and the ACA seems to be 30 hours/wk based on my brief googling, so the OP’s daughter would already be covered there.

                As far as other benefits, my experience is that being a FTE in retail isn’t just defined by the hours you work; FTE is a completely separate position that you basically get promoted into. Working 40 hrs/wk doesn’t automatically convert you into a FTE. Not sure if that’s universal and it probably depends on the specific benefits in question but my understanding is that 40 hrs/wk is kind of an arbitrary measure when you’re talking about anything but overtime.

                1. Uranus wars*

                  I am glad you asked this question because I had the same one – outside of OT pay I am not familiar with 40 hours/week = automatic benefits.

                2. Luna*

                  I don’t know if this varies by state, but there is a cutoff. When I worked retail in high school/college we had to stay under a certain number of hours per week to still be considered part-time vs full-time. If we were full-time they had to give us benefits.

                3. LBK*

                  @Luna – barring relevant state law, my understanding is that those are internal company policies. So that may still be the driving force for cutting hours if company policy says someone who averages 40 hrs/week over X period automatically gets made full-time, but you’re not legally entitled to anything except healthcare, which kicks in at 30 hours. All other benefits (PTO, retirement plan, etc) are always at the employer’s discretion.

                4. That Would Be a Good Band Name*

                  I think it’s more of a general policy that a lot of retailers use than an automatic or legal thing. I know the retail jobs I had said in their handbook that FT would apply to employees regularly scheduled for 40 hours. I’m not well-versed with the ACA to know how that plays into it. We’re all assuming that she isn’t getting benefits, but it’s possible that they are offering health insurance but other benefits (like maybe 401k) don’t apply unless they are an FTE.

                  But otherwise, I completely agree that the FTEs at retail and PT is treated like two separate positions and it’s definitely seen as something of a promotion to do the same job (for usually the same pay) but always get 40 hours.

                5. Observer*

                  There are two primary things.

                  1. All full time employees need to get the same benefits. And even if you don’t want to provide ANY benefits, once you are over a certain threshold, you need to offer all F/T employees health insurance.

                  2. There are costs to working. If someone is working most days, they essentially have the costs of a full time job without either the predictability or income of a full time job.

                6. LBK*

                  1. All full time employees need to get the same benefits. And even if you don’t want to provide ANY benefits, once you are over a certain threshold, you need to offer all F/T employees health insurance.

                  I’m not sure I follow this, can you clarify? As a few people have stated, the health insurance piece is defined by the ACA, but that threshold is set at 30 hrs/wk, so keeping someone below 40 makes no difference in that regard.

                  I think there’s a chicken-or-the-egg scenario happening here. It sounds like you’re defining “full-time employee” as being based purely on whether someone’s working a certain amount of hours or not. More commonly, “full-time employee” in retail is its own position/job grade, one of the benefits of which is that you’re guaranteed a minimum of X hours a week (usually around 36). Because “full-time employee” isn’t legally defined except with regards to health insurance, it’s up to employers to determine who is or isn’t a FTE in any other regard. Sometimes those definitions might include an auto-promotion rule where someone who works X hours a week on average over a certain period becomes full-time and is eligible for all the benefits that accompany that classification, but that’s not always the case. It’s not like exempt vs non-exempt or employee vs contractor where the work you do determines your classification and it’s not up to your employer to decide – other than colloquially, working a certain amount of hrs/wk would not automatically mean you’re a full-time employee.

                  Should it be that way? Probably not – I would agree that it should work like the aforementioned classifications where if you’re working X hours per week, you are full-time and get whatever benefits the company offers to FTEs, although that’s still fairly easy for companies to work around as evidenced by people skirting the 30 hr/wk cutoff set by the ACA. And if we’re just talking from an ethical standpoint rather than a legal one, I do also agree that having auto-promotion rules or basing benefits on hours worked rather than PTE/FTE classification (like Starbucks does) is the right thing for companies to do. But that’s not how it is currently and those rules aren’t universal.

              2. Specialk9*

                I don’t know in that situation, but there’s a reason they’re calling 38 and 39 hours part-time. A law office I know did it to avoid paying benefits. It’s a good point though that retail probably wouldn’t have benefits anyway though.

                The IRS defines it as 30 hours per week or 130 hours per month, to activate employer shared responsibility provisions (Obamacare). It’s still up so I guess it hasn’t been gutted yet.

                1. LBK*

                  IME most full-time retail jobs do actually have benefits. But as I said, “full-time” in retail isn’t usually defined purely by the number of hours you work – and many retail employees considered “full-time” do still only work 36ish hours a week, especially if you factor in breaks. Outside of health insurance as defined in the ACA or any relevant state laws, any rule that makes benefits automatically kick in based on hours worked are going to be purely internal definitions.

                  Basically what I’m trying to say is that after 30 hours, what the company considers part-time vs full-time is pretty much their own decision, and they can choose to open up other benefits like their 401(k) at whatever cutoff of hours they’d like. I’d guess in most cases someone keeping a non-exempt employee under 40 hours is someone who’s just trying to avoid paying overtime, and in retail where it’s not uncommon to get stuck helping a customer and go over your assigned shift, you’d usually want to only schedule someone working 5 days a week for a max of 38 hours or so to account for that bleeding over.

                2. Rusty Shackelford*

                  When I worked for a giant soul-sucking retailer, 40 hours was considered full-time, and if your schedule dropped below that, you lost your benefits, even if you’d applied for and accepted a full-time job. And when you slipped into the 35-39 hour zone, assuming you were a full-time employee, you received no notification that you were now a part-timer. One of my coworkers didn’t realize she’d lost her health insurance until after she had surgery and found it wasn’t covered.

                  (This was many years ago, long before ACA.)

          2. Observer*

            Yeah. The schedule is telling -especially since they could clearly use the coverage! Combined with the switcheroo? Not a very good employer. It’s not the kind of place to make sacrifices for if you don’t have to.

            1. Ophelia*

              Right? I bet the issue isn’t that they can’t find coverage, it’s that they can’t find coverage *while keeping their legal loophole for denying workers full-time benefits/employment protections.*

      2. Alton*

        Conversely, I feel like working retail made it harder for me to feel confident asserting reasonable boundaries when I moved into a different field. I got so used to perfectly reasonable things like taking an afternoon off for a special occasion or calling in sick when you’re feverish and miserable being treated with suspicion or passive-aggressive disdain that I still get paranoid that my manager secretly loses faith in me any time I’m out sick. I don’t think retail is always a great way of reaching appropriate work ethic because compared to many fields, the demands on employees can be disproportionate to the compensation and level of responsibility.

        I definitely know what it’s like to rely on a retail job to pay the bills, and you do have to consider the reality of your situation and needs. And I think the OP should be careful not to pressure their daughter to do something she’s not comfortable with. But the daughter mentioned this trip when she was hired and it doesn’t sound like she’s dependent on this job to survive. I think it would be okay if she decided that the job isn’t worth it.

        1. Samiratou*

          Some of that is a bit chicken-and-egg, though. I’m working retail part time and lot of my coworkers, particularly the ones in high school or college somehow develop this mysterious plague every weekend they’re scheduled leaving the rest of the store in the lurch and it sucks. So, yeah, retail managers are suspicious at call-off requests, though they really shouldn’t be for employees who don’t have a history of picking up stomach bugs every Friday and Saturday night or when it’s nice out.

          And at my store they can’t easily just get rid of people and move on as the economy is good enough that hiring is hard (even though the company pays pretty well for retail–several dollars above minimum wage and offers benefits for part-timers) so it’s not like we can just get rid of someone if they’re at least halfway competent on the days they are in the store.

        2. epi*

          Definitely. I had to unlearn habits I learned in retail, I wouldn’t call it good training in normal responsibility taking at all. Making do with minimal training, never saying no, taking on tons of extra work or bad hours out of loyalty to coworkers even though the company is a nightmare, assuming your boss will micromanage you and wants to know about every minor change in your schedule…

      3. Colette*

        It’s 13 days off 2 months in, after she’s already had 4 days off for another event. I wonder whether this is part of the adjustment period many teenagers (and their families) go through when they start working – i.e. the realization that summers aren’t free the way they used to be, and that they have to consider their job when planning trips.

        Maybe quitting is the best thing in this situation – but in the future, she should plan to take very few days off the first 6 months or year of a new job, unless there is an exceptional situation and she successfully negotiates the days in advance. She tried negotiating this time, which is good, but if she is willing to quit over it, she could have made it clear that she was not willing to take the job if she couldn’t get that time off.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          This is on management, though, because she did bring it up and they said eh, we can’t worry about that stuff now. They ignored her plans for two weeks off in July in the hope that it would go away (or more likely, the theory that she would probably have quit or been let go by then). Or the hope that once she was in she would feel obligated.

          People do this in more rarified jobs, too–there’s a difference between starting your first job and then mentioning that you want two weeks off next month, and mentioning in negotiations that your honeymoon is the last two weeks of August and so you need those off, can this work with the proposed job? (Usually as unpaid leave if you haven’t accumulated the PTO.)

        2. Lily Rowan*

          Yeah, I think the family expectation is a really important part of this. I don’t know if the daughter was expecting to stay at the retail job when the new school year starts, but at least she likely wouldn’t want 35 hours during the year (assuming a family that goes to Europe for two weeks is at least partially supporting their child in college). At any rate, when you have a summer job, you generally can’t also take two weeks + long weekends in the middle of it. Maybe you can quit early and have some vacation there, but if you’re only going to be around for the summer, the expectation is that you’re there for the whole summer.

          1. Baby Fishmouth*

            I can see the logic in that, but I had to quit a job once because of that policy – I worked 20+ hours a week while doing my masters, and needed one week off for an entire year to be Maid of Honour in a friend’s wedding (on a different continent!) in my workplaces busiest month in the summer. I was going to have to quit at the end of the summer anyways to move back to my hometown due to an unavoidable circumstance, so when they told me I wasn’t allowed to have the time off (6 months in advance), I told them that my last day would be the day before my trip.

            Some things are worth quitting for, and employers who don’t allow any flexibility for good employees in unusual circumstances are doomed to have crazy-high turnover. Life is NOT work.

            1. Samiratou*

              “employers who don’t allow any flexibility for good employees in unusual circumstances are doomed to have crazy-high turnover”

              Agreed. I started working part time in November, and told them during the interview I couldn’t work Black Friday weekend (out of town), and they said OK and hired me, anyway. I was actually a bit surprised it wasn’t a deal-breaker for seasonal retail, but they kept their word and nobody said anything about it.

            2. Lily Rowan*

              Absolutely — I should have been more clear that I do think the daughter should quit and take the trip. Mostly I’m just not surprised she can’t get the time off from the job.

          2. Luna*

            Yeah I think this is the main issue here. This sounds like a summer job to me, which is only 8-10 weeks, and between the 4 day family event and now this, that’s going to be almost 3 weeks off. Yes, the manager should not have given a wishy washy response, but I do think the expectation that this ever would have been okay is a bit unrealistic. The manager shouldn’t have hired her, or at least been clear that this request would not be granted, but the daughter probably shouldn’t have bothered applying for summer jobs if she knew she would be away for this long.

            1. Lynn*

              MTE! The daughter wanted an obscenely large portion of the summer off. The trips had been in the works for awhile. The push back shouldn’t be surprising. Especially for a time zone transition day.

              1. Luna*

                Yeah, that line about not even asking for an extra day to transition back to the time zone is the main reason why I think there are unrealistic expectations going on. I mean yes, ideally I do like to have an extra day off when I come back from vacation- but that’s because I am an adult who has things like laundry, cleaning, grocery shopping etc. to do, and also I work full-time so have the PTO. This 19 year old does not need an extra day off to sleep in and watch Netflix.

                1. Peter the Bubblehead*

                  Out of curiosity, have you ever traveled over 5 to 7 (perhaps as high as 12, depending on how far east in Europe the family plans on going) time zones in a single day?
                  Do you have any idea what jetlag is?

                2. Luna*

                  This seems like an unnecessarily rude comment.

                  And yes, I have, and yes, I do. It’s really not the end of the world.

                3. Peter the Bubblehead*

                  So you would rather risk having your travel delayed and not get home until only a few hours before you are scheduled to return to work, and then struggle to stay awake for 24, 36, perhaps even 48 hours (depending on hiw long your travel took on top of your work shift) than to simply take another day and let your body re-adjust to your local time?
                  You REALLY think that is being a good employee?
                  Sounds like someone working themselves into an early grave to me!

            2. Lindsay J*

              When I hired for summer jobs, it was pretty much expected that people would either quit early, or take time off to go on trips.

              It’s not like a full-time job, which is generally your primary commitment and where it’s expected that you will prioritize the job because you need the money to eat and pay rent and for health insurance.

              Summer jobs are generally for extra pocket money. They’re limited in time – even if someone did prioritize it and let everything else in their life drop, they would still be out of a job either labor day weekend or October 31st, we still couldn’t give them benefits, or higher wages, or even guaranteed hours.

              So we expected other things to be their primary commitment, and to work around those. College orientations, band camp and football camp, their full-time year-round job, childcare and family commitments, and vacations were all things we expected to take a backseat, too.

              Generally we would hire someone who had those commitments because having someone in for part of the summer was better than letting the role go unfilled for all of it.

              I was miffed sometimes if people didn’t mention the trip until the last minute (like after I made the schedule) because I liked to plan around it as much as I could.

              And I guess if someone had an extraordinarily large commitment (like a 10 week internship) where they couldn’t work the entire time I would have been unlikely to hire them.

              But I had people with odd schedules, people who took vacations (even one guy one time who took a 2 month trip to see family in another country, but was able to work all the shoulder months [weekends and spring break in March and April, and weekends and Columbus Day in September and October] where we had issues with coverage because a lot of our workers were back in school, along with about a month of the 3 month span June, July, and August). People who started Memorial Day weekend, worked June, July, and the first week of August, took a week off, and then came back for a week and then left for good. 4 days in one month and then 2 weeks a couple months later wouldn’t have made me blink and wouldn’t have been a beyond the pale request at all.

              If it really wasn’t doable (which I can understand, not everywhere has the flexibility I had, but some of that is on the stores themselves – if you staff to bare minimum to begin with then you can’t handle any time off anywhere and that’s not realistic) then the manager should have passed on her straight up. Not hired her and hoped she could change her mind.

              When I was a seasonal worker myself (before I was a supervisor there) I pretty much always quit in mid-August because I had band camp and then I wanted a week to decompress before school started. It was no big deal and I always got hired back the next year.

        3. Lilo*

          I mean, my office just hired someone who is six months pregnant. Legality aside, for the right person we were willing to put up with her being gone for at least 3 months in her first six. When you value someone, that stuff is just a drop in the bucket.

          1. Jesmlet*

            She’s a college student working a retail job during the summer. I could throw a balled up a paper towel and hit at least one of those, and I live/work in the suburbs. Unless they live in a very rural area with very few people, odds are that supply is higher than demand.

          2. Colette*

            That’s pretty much the definition of exceptional situation – things like pregnancy, getting married, serious illnesses, and other major life events are fine, provided the employer is in the loop as soon as possible. Optional trips, probably not. I mean, if you start in January you can take time off in the summer, but if you start in May, you may not be able to – or you may have to take time off when it’s convenient for the business (i.e. when others are not on vacation).

            2 months in, there are very few people so valuable that they can take 40% of the time off for vacation.

            1. Anna*

              Considering the amount of money invested in a two week trip overseas, I’m not sure “optional” applies in the same way as a trip to the coast for a four day weekend is.

              1. Colette*

                But if you can’t afford to take time off, you shouldn’t book an expensive trip, or you should minimize the chances of it causing problem. If the trip were 2 weeks before she had to be back at school and she was quitting the job to go back to school anyway, there’d be no issue. But taking time off in the middle of a summer job is unlikely to be approved. You have to choose the trip or the job – you’re unlikely to be able to do both.

                If she’d been working there for 2 years, it would be a different story, but if it’s a 12 week job, taking off 3 weeks is a big deal. That’s more vacation than many full-time employees take in a year.

                1. Sarah*

                  ok? other people’s choice to not take vacation isn’t at issue here nor is it relevant to the discussion.

                  she told the manager the dates she would need off before she was hired, the manager chose to hire her even knowing those dates, and now those dates are here. She’s going to take off or quit and the manager is going to get to sleep in the bed he made. The manager could have chosen to not hire her and he can chose to give her the days off now or he can be short-staffed until he manages to hire and deal with it in the meantime. Most of the college kids near me have summer jobs by this point, hopefully he can find someone.

        4. Blue Cupcake*

          She told them exactly what’s up. You say she shouldn’t have taken the job, but turn it around. The store shouldn’t have hired her if they couldn’t let her take those days off. She gave them enough warning to find coverage. Now they may lose her without time to arrange for that coverage.

          OP, unless you daughter desperately need the money, she shouldn’t worry about putting this retail job on her resume. Finding another retail job will take care of that. I’m not going to say retail jobs are a dime-a-dozen because sometimes they’re not. So if she can’t find another job, volunteer work will look good on a resume too and build up good references.

      4. Observer*

        Sure it’s a lot of time. But the manager was playing games with her.

        Quitting here doesn’t set unrealistic expectations, although the offer to come back and work for a few weeks afterwards might be. The problem here is not that she got a “no”, but that the boss led her to expect that it would be ok, when he had to know that it wouldn’t be. This is not the kind of place that treats its staff all that well, which means that’s not really necessarily a place where the daughter could work her way up once she graduates college or anything like that.

      5. Nonsensical*

        It is a retail job. College students jump from job to job all the time and many of them are seasonal. I really doubt she’ll have another opportunity like this. Retail jobs are a dime a dozen and they’re high turnover. She shouldn’t sell her soul over a retail job. University is full of so many opportunities, she should keep the perspective in mind. Retail jobs come and go, the college opportunities are only once.

        1. VioletDaffodil*

          I think this is a very good point. It’s not about being cavalier about options, and I understand the privilege inherent in quitting a job for a vacation, but when I look back at my college experience I can see that I missed a lot of opportunities because of retail jobs. I didn’t do study abroad because I was working. I didn’t do an internship because so many were unpaid and would take time away from my retail job. I went on one trip during college because of my retail job.

          The mentality I had of being so worried about being a professional… it cost things too. There are times when it is a worthwhile cost, but I can’t imagine my life is so much better because I chose to sell fancy soap instead of maybe doing a summer course in England. There would have been other opportunities to come back and get another retail job, but I’ll never get to go back and study abroad.

      6. Confused*

        I mean, it’s a retail job. I took a similar amount of time off when I was 17 for the exact same reason (literally a family trip to Europe!) I didn’t lose my job, but I sure as hell would have quit if they told me no. She is only 19 and she is not quitting her salaried office job with which she pays her rent and bills. It’s rare to be in a place in your life where you can take advantage of traveling – she should go for it.

        1. A.*

          I agree. In college, I quit my job as a lifeguard because I went to Paris for a month. I figured by the time I returned, I would have to return to school anyway. The company hired me the next summer no problems.

      7. AnonymousInfinity*

        I managed big-box retail for a while. We would endlessly rehire decent-enough employees, so long as they didn’t have attendance or performance issues, and so long as they passed the drug screen. We had one who would just get mad over dumb things, quit, and then come back in six months. Okay. Fine. We’re desperate. Now, they had to wait 60 days to reapply once they were terminated in the system, so there’s that. But, yeah, my colleagues would hire nightmare employees I blacklisted simply because “I DON’T CARE WHAT THEY DO I NEED STAFF NOW!” It sounds like OP’s daughter’s workplace has trouble getting staff, so, all things considered, even if she’s a poor employee, she can probably get rehired if it’s a big enough place with enough managers. If not there, there’s always retail somewhere.

        FWIW, I learned a lot from retail management, but the number one thing I learned was: don’t sacrifice any part of yourself for retail. Because retail will chew you up and spit you out in return.

        Also: the daughter had the trip planned before getting hired and was upfront about it when hired. (The only thing she did wrong was not getting the manager to commit to the time.) This is common and the advice is to do what the daughter did, rather than forfeit a trip and probably waste a lot of someone else’s money. This norm doesn’t change because it’s a kid in a retail job.

        1. pugsnbourbon*

          I’ve worked my share of front-line jobs and I cannot think of a more thankless job than retail management. Store managers are put in impossible positions – manage too many staff for one person but also not enough to staff the store; constantly push to achieve unrealistic metrics, and always always cut operating costs as much as possible. And getting paid a pittance for long hours of that work.

          A few of my managers were Grade-A buttholes (not saying you were, of course) but how could I blame them? I know I’d be miserable.

          1. AnonymousInfinity*

            A lot of my fellow salaried managers were Grade-A buttholes. Some were just buttholes who liked to fire people and give them grief. Others were miserable and burnt. Others were okay. Not saying I was anywhere near perfect or the best manager ever, but I would do these tiny things that I didn’t think twice about, and my employees would stare at me and say, “…no other manager has ever done/said that.” Like sitting down with one of them to help her prep for an interview. Like saying “the note yesterday was to fix X; it looks great. Thanks for doing it.” Like spending 30 minutes with a new department manager to teach and train her. Helping my employees complete tasks (i.e., actually doing floor work!). One employee asked me for some sort of reference sheet only managers could access; I went to the office, printed it off, and took it to her within 15 minutes. She was speechless that I actually did it, instead of saying I would and then forgetting. I’m not bragging – I guess I’m trying to express how rare it was in my stores for employees to have managers who still had the energy to give a damn.

            Two years in, at the brink of a divorce (which ultimately did not happen), with no personal life to speak of, a little while after being run over with a 10′ pallet of cans and told not to turn in the claim, I started to yell at my coworkers, then I yelled at an employee. I was burnt from working 80 hour weeks, with bare bones staffing, no vacation left (after two years, I still only had 1 week of vacation a year), and mounting physical wear and tear. I came in miserable and defeated every day. One evening, I flat-out yelled at an employee…for nothing. I opened up the backroom’s fire exit with my key, sat at the disgusting, trash-drenched back of the store, and bawled. I gave notice the next day with nothing lined up. Others went home and drank all night. Others broke tables with their fists. Others took a lot of joy out of firing and humiliating everyone they could. Others hid in the office. They’re all still with that company. I got the hell out and want to write all the retailers who didn’t hire me afterward a thank-you note.

      8. A.*

        I quit a retail job in college because they kept scheduling me to work Friday and Saturday nights. My sole purpose of working retail was to get pocket money to go out on Friday and Saturday nights. I ended up getting a tutoring job on campus more aligned with my wants.
        On a related note, my first job out of school I did not go on a family safari trip. I was trying to make a good impression. I still regret not going many years later. My personal opinion is you will never regret the vacation you did take. Only the ones you did not go on. Go to Europe with your family. You may not get that opportunity again.

      9. Starbuck*

        I had this kind of conflict during summers in high school and college. My parents expected me to try to find a job (and I wanted the money!) but were also planning family vacations to go camping or visit relatives in California which I also was expected to go on since I lived with them (and I wanted to go!). Their expectations were pretty unrealistic- “just tell them upfront that you need those dates off so they know when they hire you!” Didn’t get that job. “Wait until you’ve been there a few weeks and they see how great you are, they won’t want to lose you so they’ll let you have those days off!”Also nope.

    4. Grey*

      worry about the trip to Europe as it gets closer

      Translation: We won’t let you go. But if we tell you that, you might not accept the job.

      1. Parenthetically*

        Yeah, agreed. IMO it’s a pretty lousy bait-and-switch and shouldn’t earn any loyalty from Daughter.

      2. Database Developer Dude*

        Grey, you hit the nail on the head. If it were me, I’d quit now, with no notice, and enjoy the trip.

        1. Starbuck*

          Well, I’d probably work right up until the trip, for the extra spending money.

      3. Autumnheart*

        Totally agreed.

        It’s a crappy “part-time” retail job where somehow working 35 hours a week is not full-time, even though it is. She told them in good faith what days she absolutely wouldn’t be available, and why. They hired her anyway. Now they’re going back on their part of the agreement in hopes that she caves and chooses to lose out on the trip.

        I worked a bunch of “part-time” retail jobs under the same conditions, and now that I’m older, I recognize how manipulative and obnoxious this is on the part of management, so that they don’t have to do the work to manage their resources. To hell with them. Quit, go on the trip, get another retail job literally anywhere. Let management experience the consequences of their decisions.

    5. Specialk9*

      I was too conscientious in your daughter’s shoes, and regret it very much.

      I got a low paid summer job in a restaurant. I chose to cut Senior Week at the beach with my friends short to go back to work. I missed out on a 1-time experience, and for what? A bare handful of dollars, and a job I don’t even put on my resume except under a catch-all (babysitting, tutoring, waiting tables, etc).

      I didn’t realize how throughly friend groups disperse after high school, or how ephemeral youth is.

      In short, I hope your daughter goes on this expenses-paid European trip, which absolutely can help in business (some accounts, knowing about the broader world can really help, and managers look for that experience when staffing), and will broaden her world view without trying.

      Go to Europe. Don’t worry too much about your retail job.

    6. A Nickname for AAM*


      You say, “I told you when I was hired I can’t work those days.” Put it in writing as much as you can. At that point, it’s brinkmanship. Is it worth it to your boss to write you up and terminate you, and have to go through the hassle of covering your open shifts and training your replacement? Or will your boss back down and give you a slap on the wrist?

      I’ve supervised part-time employees, and in my experience it’s typically easier to let them come and go as they please, provided they gave notice of their availability before I did the schedule for the time period they weren’t able to work. Write-ups make employees bitter and vengeful, even if they were fully in the wrong; terminations require you to cover their shifts and often involve you rearranging your personal schedule to do so, until a replacement is hired. Both options create extra work for the supervisor, so there’s an incentive to pick one’s battles carefully.

      1. Autumnheart*

        It’s infuriating to think that managers think it’s reasonable to write up an employee for going on the vacation they were already committed to, and informed management about, at hiring.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          It’s the norm in retail. If someone really needs a job they find a way to live with it…. like drinking or whatever.

    7. nonymous*

      I’ve seen this kind of thing happen a couple times in real life – in one case the person didn’t have enough leave time for a Europe trip, and in another case they wanted a “trigger event” to cash out 401k for a business investment. In both cases they were pretty up front with the reason, gave plenty of notice, offered to take the time off unpaid, had a good working relationship, yadda yadda. The thing was, they weren’t guaranteed the spot when they came back. So if, after six weeks or so, the position was filled then they would be SOL. But if the position was still vacant, they were welcome to toss their hat into the ring just like any member of the public.

      In the Europe case the person even got a small pay bump because they were hired as an “experienced” candidate. In the cash-out case, there was a reset in some of their benefits due to loss of seniority so it was a definite minus financially (but maybe still an overall plus because of the new business venture).

      If OP#3’s daughter wants to keep the door open for rehire, she should just mention that to the manager when giving notice.

    8. nicolefromqueens*

      I’ve been in the manager’s position before.
      I must be one of the few who mean “I’ll see when we get closer to that time.” As in it will completely depend on how I’m staffed. If someone with more seniority wants vacation at the same time, I’m sorry.
      If someone quits, gets fired, or injured between now and then, I’d have to scramble to cover your shifts while I have someone in training or new. This gives me almost no scheduling flexibility (that may not be the case where you work.) Or worse, I don’t get a replacement for that person and I cannot also cover your hours without paying someone OT. As the manager, I have very little or no control over how many staff I have available or how many hours I’m allowed to give them.

      If you meant “I’m going to be taking this vacation whether you let me keep my job afterwards or not,” it doesn’t sound like you made that abundantly clear when you got the job offer.

  3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP#2, you have to go to this lunch. It’s an essential and common part of the interview process for moderate- to high-level staff positions at universities (and it’s often required of research and professorial/teaching candidates). They’re not trying to see how you’d field work-lunches; they’re trying to get a sense of your personality and affect in a lower stakes, less-stressful-than-the-interview format.

    I agree with Alison on how to prepare. If you can eat a snack before lunch, then you can order a somewhat smaller meal so that you don’t feel pressured to eat a full meal while being “on.” Another way to help minimize some of the pressure is to prepare good questions for the folks lunching with you, and then use the lunch as an opportunity to solicit more information (but don’t try to redirect your lunchmates’ questions with more questions).

    1. Competent Commenter*

      I agree but I feel for OP#2. For years I couldn’t breathe through my nose due to sinus issues, and it ended up making me feel self-conscious when I eat. Try eating a bowl of cereal in front of someone when you can’t breathe through your nose! It’s not pretty!

      Even now when I can breathe pretty well through my nose, I do still tend to feel a little out of breath when I combine eating and talking, and I’m still self-conscious about it. Today someone came into my office while I was gulping down an over-microwaved bowl of molten lunch, and because I had to leave for a meeting in a few minutes and I was already several hours past my lunch time, I just kept eating. I just tried to pretend they couldn’t see me eat. It helped a little. It’s still not my preference! OP I suggest you get very clear with yourself what your hangups are about this work lunch, and then do your best to ameliorate them per Alison’s suggestions. Good luck!

      1. Stormfeather*

        Also feel for #2…. with my anxiety issues, eating with/in front of people is pretty much hell. If it were me, I’d still probably end up just getting a beverage and skipping lunch.

        I know that a lot of people love treating lunch as a whole bonding experience thing, I just wish it wasn’t. And that the kids would get off my lawn. :p But seriously, with so many people having food allergies, or other restrictions, or medical issues, or anxiety issues, I wish “let’s do lunch” wasn’t such a default.

        Of course I’d also like a million dollars and a pony.

    2. Screenwriter*

      I wonder if OP #2 suffers from anxiety, in which case I would also suggest some ways to allay the root problem (the anxiety). Yoga, and learning how to do yoga breaths when feeling under pressure, is wonderful. Mild medication is also a lifesaver if it’s more serious.

      Eating lunch with colleagues is most definitely a constant part of any job that involves coworkers, especially in academia, which is extremely collegial. This will really hold her back if she can’t get over this phobia.

      I suggest she practice the skill of eating while talking–go out with friends, go out with people she knows less well but doesn’t feel so anxious with, etc etc. It’s also very helpful to order things that are easy to eat. A Cobb salad has lots of small bits that you can easily fork up. Or something like chopped salad, or a simple hot dish, like meatloaf, or a hot turkey sandwich, that you can cut into small pieces. You can often order a simple omelette even at lunch. Or a very simple sandwich like turkey. Stay away from sloppier foods like hamburgers, egg salad sandwich, clam chowder–anything you have to “manage” or that drips! Have a few default go-to choices, so you don’t even have to stress about what to order.

      Also, remember, everybody eats, and everybody spills. In my business, we have business meetings at breakfast, lunch, dinner, coffee, drinks. I’ve had business dinners where I spilled red wine; business lunches where I later discovered I literally had spinach in my teeth; umpteen meals where I’ve spilled this or that. I’ve accidentally spit food out while talking. Just tonight I had a business dinner, and dropped some of my salad on my shirt. And I’ve had my companions or colleagues or interviewers do exactly the same thing. NO ONE cares!! I once was so nervous because I was having a breakfast meeting with the President of CBS. You know what? He absently forgot himself and reached over with his fork and helped himself to the fruit on my plate.

      It’s really important to get past this, because it’ll really hold you back if you are somehow unable to ever eat with your colleagues, or your bosses. It’s an extremely normal aspect of every business, including academia.

      Just pretend you’re with a close friend. And remember: your fear isn’t real; it’s just anxiety, and you can learn to control and reduce your anxiety. If you feel panic welling up, self talk: “it’s just my anxiety, I’m fine.” Youll be much more functional, and much happier, if you can get over this. Even if you think you won’t be having work lunches, you will be much more successful at work if you can get past this and get used to eating and talking with the people you work with.

      1. Julia*

        I don’t love this. I’m pretty extroverted and I’d still hate for a lunch to be the start of my job interview somewhere. This is way different from a working lunch, or having lunch with your co-workers.

        I would definitely refrain from imagining I was with a close friend instead. Unless you have perfect boundaries and behavior with your close friends, you may slip up.

        I also think we should probably not diagnose people writing in for advice, especially not with mental health issues for someone expressing pretty normal reactions.

        1. Yorick*

          You can pretend you’re with a casual friend, then. But the lunch is to get to know each other so you can see if you’d want to work together. Remember that you’re judging them on that too.

          Meals are a very normal part of interviewing in academia, and you can’t get out of it without looking super strange.

          1. Julia*

            Agreed on your first paragraph.

            For the second, I’m not saying I or the OP should get out of eating meals at job interviews because we don’t like them. I just said I would not love doing them. I was trying to make the point that we shouldn’t diagnose people over the internet, and that OP wanting to get out of this doesn’t mean she has an anxiety disorder.

          2. Luna*

            Meals are normal for researchers, and maybe also higher level staff, but the LW says this is an academic coordinator position. I find it very strange that there is such an extensive interview process for what is generally considered to be a low-to-moderate level staff job.

            That being said, LW you can’t get out of the lunch without it likely coming across badly. Sorry:( I would hate that too.

            1. Yorick*

              It’s still only half a day, and that sounds pretty normal to me for that level.

              When I was interviewing for faculty positions, I had 2-day interviews with at least 2 meals a day being part of it.

              1. Yorick*

                BTW, by giving info on the faculty interviews I was trying to highlight that one lunch in a half-day interview isn’t what you’d only expect from faculty and other high-level staff.

            2. bluephone*

              Former university admin worker–multiple interviews for admin assistant/admin coordinater/etc positions are pretty common. For my first “real” admin assistant job, I went to at least 4 interviews over 8 weeks. Same with a recent executive coordinator position–first there was the initial screening interview (actually done as a one-way video where I had to just answer a bunch of canned, generic questions into a webcam), then 2-3 separate, in person interviews. I was surprised it wasn’t more, honestly.

              1. Luna*

                I’m not saying there aren’t some universities that do have more extensive interviews for staff, but I wouldn’t say this is common. I’ve been a staff in academia for almost 10 years and never experienced or heard of anything like this for staff below a director-level, maybe also manager-level. Most faculty (and staff too!) where I’ve worked are way too busy to have time for all that unless it’s for someone higher up.

                1. Only here for the teapots*

                  Same. I count it as a blessing I didn’t have to do the 2-day song & dance that faculty applicants go through.
                  I’m also not a public eater, mainly because jaw problems mean I can’t just nom onto a sandwich (why do restaurants use bulletproof bread products?) in tidy bites, and I have a compulsion (I use to help a music biz friend host industry meet & greets) to keep up a comforting flow of polite small talk instead of eating.
                  Making strategic menu choices is key. Small bites, easy to chew, no smells or mess, and take a bite whenever another person takes a turn at conversation. I have to remind myself to do it, but it really helps.

            3. Oxford Comma*

              It would be normal for a staff position that’s a coordinator level role at my university. OP, I don’t think you can get out of it. It’s going to look very weird if you try.

              Tell them up front if you do have dietary restrictions.

        2. March Madness*

          Seconded…nothing about that letter read particularly “diagnose-worthy” to me, so why go there? And even if it did, it wouldn’t change the advice.

        3. Dust Bunny*

          OK, look, I hate eating lunch with coworkers (I like my coworkers, but lunch hour is me-time) but . . . it’s an interview. You’re not signing up for a lifetime obligation to eat lunch with people. Just do it.

          My office is planning a feedback retreat this fall. I loathe this kind of thing but I’m going, without complaint, because it’s probably going to be a helpful for our bosses and it’s not something they ask us to do on a regular basis. Sometimes you just have to do stuff that makes you uncomfortable.

          1. Dust Bunny*

            I’m on the autism spectrum and have legit social anxiety, too, as does at least one of the people in my work group for this retreat thing. Neither of us is looking for a way out.

        4. tusky*

          I generally agree that we should avoid diagnosing letter writers, but in this case I think it’s reasonable to guess that they might be feeling or anticipating “anxiety,” in the colloquial sense, since they are clearly worried about it going wrong. Screenwriter’s suggested strategies to manage situational anxiety seem helpful, even if the letter writer ultimately decides not to use them. I do think one should proceed cautiously with “imagining one is eating with a friend,” because one still needs to be professionally “on.” But, (speaking someone who has been through these kinds of academic interviews) if the alternative is feeling overwhelmed by nerves, it may be better to err on the siding of being slightly more relaxed (knowing that the chances of being “too relaxed” are astronomically small).

        5. Specialk9*

          Screenwriter didn’t say “generalized anxiety disorder”, which is a diagnosis, they said “anxiety”. Everybody gets anxiety, especially for an interview. It feels like nitpicking to call someone on armchair diagnosing when they’re using a universal term rather a clinical one. Esp since their advice was good!

      2. Nonsensical*

        I don’t love this comment about how you’re saying “it is just my anxiety.” That is not how anxiety works. I am not convinced this is anxiety, an interview is nerve wracking for most people!

        But for anxiety there are quite a few tricks. Mostly distract yourself by counting or even splashing cold water on your face in the bathroom. Tell yourself a story or breathe calmly.

        1. Julia*

          Yeah, this. I actually do have anxiety, but about completely different issues that are not situational (people who know me at work could never tell I was anything but unflappable!), and I still think most people get anxious at interviews.

          Not sure I’d recommend splashing water over my interview clothes, hair, and make-up, though. (Unless your aim is significantly better than mine.)

        2. Amber T*

          Depends on how your anxiety works and how you calm yourself down – sometimes reminding myself “hey, what are you actually anxious about?” and trying to focus on the source actually helps me, because usually it forces me to either 1) confront what the issue(s) is/are head on (instead of worrying about the whole thing), or 2) figure out that there isn’t one issue to get overly anxious about, that sure, whatever situation I’m going through is nervewracking, but anxious-brain can take a hike.

        3. tusky*

          Nonsensical, I think it’s important to note that there isn’t a single way (or even set of ways) that anxiety “works.” Maybe what you’re suggesting is that it’s dismissive to say something is “just” anxiety, given how severely impairing anxiety can be (even when it’s “just” situational anxiety), and I would agree with this. Still, as Amber T says, it can be helpful for some people to call down by telling themselves that it’s “just” their anxiety acting up.

      3. Amber T*

        I went through a raise negotiation with my (now former boss), his boss, and HIS boss, all with a poppyseed stuck between my two front teeth. Chewed gum beforehand to make sure my breath smelled ok but I didn’t have time to brush my teeth (or apparently, even check it). The kicker was, I didn’t even eat anything with poppyseeds – I had a wrap from a deli with killer poppyseed bagels, and those suckers get everywhere.

        Still got the raise I wanted! Alison’s advice triumphs over embarrassing stuff in your teeth :)

    3. Loose Seal*

      Yeah, I agreed that it’s sort of required in academia. When my husband was interviewing where he now works, it was two and a half days (!) of interviews, including every meal. Yes, even breakfast.

      To make it a smidge easier on you, ask the person who is coordinating your interview where that are planning to take you to eat so you can look the menu up online first. That way, you’ll be able to focus on the people at the beginning of the meal instead of the menu.

      1. Blue*

        She might also feel more better if she’s able to look at the options and pick out something that she feels comfortable(ish) eating in that situation. For me, having a plan and knowing I’ve identified the best possible way to get through the situation would keep me from obsessing over all the ways the lunch could go horribly wrong. Ultimately, meals are such a normal part of interviews in academia, it’d definitely be considered odd to say no. (And not just for faculty and mid/high-level admin positions, either. The interview for my first full-time, entry-level university staff position involved three different meals.)

      2. Amber T*

        When I was in college and we assisted in interviewing various (professional and non-academic) positions, breakfast and lunch was always in our dining hall so we could show it off. Campus and our dining all was considered… not a perk, but more of “hey, look how nice your office location is, and you can eat your meals here if you work here!” It’s possible that it could be the same for the OP, where there wouldn’t be a menu exactly, but you could get a sense of what their dining hall offered.

      3. myswtghst*

        Yes, this is what I do for any work-related lunches (ask where we’re going and look at the menu online)! It helps me feel prepared, and then I don’t have to make small talk while perusing the menu trying to find something that sounds good and won’t be messy, especially at a restaurant I may not have ever eaten at before.

    4. Bergthor*

      Yeah, it’s definitely a common part of interviewing in university contexts. One piece that might help to contextualize: Food is often how university departments get busy people to show up.

      My university department hired recently, and wanted feedback from grad students (who were going to be working with the hire quite a lot); every candidate had a 1.5 hour lunch with the grad students so that they could get a sense of the candidate and ask questions. Thing is, the presence of food improves attendance at these things by a massive margin. One of the candidates didn’t actually eat anything, either, and it was no big deal (due to jet-lag, I think).

      So yeah, LW, it’s not really something you can decline, but it’s also not something you really have to eat at, and it’s also probably not an attempt to gauge how you do in lunch meetings. Most likely it’s, a) Trying to be considerate of candidates by supplying food/making time to get food during a longer interview process, b) Trying to get a more informal sense of candidates rather than having really constrained interview contexts only, and c) Giving busy faculty/staff/students a reason to participate in the interview.

      1. Nonsensical*

        This worked for me when I was on student government! They had a bunch of us show up with the promise of food. I probably would not have gone otherwise. They were hiring a new vice president.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          “We need student input here.”
          “On it.” *affixes fish hook to pizza slice, tosses into hall during class change*

      2. Big10Professor*

        Came here to say this. Meals are a scheduling consideration — I took a candidate to breakfast recently because I had to catch a 10am flight.

    5. dear liza dear liza*

      Agreed. Also, university HRs are notoriously strict about interviews. Every candidate must be interviewed in the same way. For example, we normally do Skype interviews, but if even one invited candidate says they can’t Skype, we have to do all the interviews by phone. We can make modifications for accessibility issues, but the biggest diversion from the set schedule we’ve been allowed: If a candidate is internal, we have to offer to give them a campus tour but they can decline it. LOL.

      1. AliceBG*

        +1 — OP, if all the other candidates are taken to lunch, they can’t make an exception for you and thus treat you differently. For another example, I work at a university and had to give campus tours to all three job candidates, including the woman who has held that position as an interim hire for three years, because all of the candidates had to have the same interview process.

        I also used to have a lot of anxiety when eating in front of people and would lose my appetite completely, so I feel you on that. My advice is to pick something from the menu that is not messy and is something you can just nibble at or push around on your plate without making it obvious you’re not eating much. Something like grilled chicken or steak (provided you eat meat!) — you don’t have to pick it up with your hands, it probably won’t have a drippy sauce, you can kill time by cutting it slowly, etc.

        1. AliceBG*

          Ah, jeez, I’ve exposed myself for just reading the first couple of sentences of your post, dear liza! Sorry about that!

    6. Marthooh*

      Another way to prepare is to bring along a fresh shirt, to be used in case of ketchup.

      1. Plague of frogs*

        Or just roll with it and don’t care if you have a spill. As an interviewer, that’s the kind of person I would be impressed by.

      2. Kelly O*

        Or just skip the ketchup this time.

        Skip all the potentially drippy things. Or just be careful.

        I seriously and sincerely do not understand all the drama about this. It’s lunch. I’d guess most days we manage to eat, in a hurry, without looking like an unsupervised two-year-old.

        I realize people are going to think I’m being horrible, but I do not get all the “but I have (insert unique thing that is really not unique here) and am so super-introverted and anxious and special I couldn’t possibly (insert totally normal thing here.)”

        I take medication for anxiety. I am clumsy. I tend toward introversion and I like being alone. But y’all it is an interview. And a lunch. It’s stuff we have to do. It’s just stuff. That’s all.

        Either do it or don’t do it, but don’t complain if you don’t get the job, and don’t complain because you didn’t get it your way. We don’t get stuff our way a lot. I’m trying to teach my seven-year-old this same thing.

        And I know, I sound awful and some of y’all are going to get really upset about this, but honestly I don’t care anymore. Suck it up. Do it. Do the work. Or not. But don’t complain if you don’t, or because someone else doesn’t cater to your preferences.

        1. Specialk9*

          Yeah. Good for checking, and yeah the anxiety is understandable, but no you’re not being reasonable. Don’t ask, OP.

          1. Kelly O*

            Okay, no putting words in my mouth. But I just don’t get it.

            It’s a lunch interview. It’s not presenting in front of the UN. It’s not sitting at a head table with the Pope and Neil deGrasse Tyson.

            Interviews are two-way streets. If you don’t want to do what they want you to do, then just decline the interview. It’s that simple.

    7. Mamaganoush*

      OP #2, a lunch like this is standard for many many academic jobs. Unless you have a health reason or other exceptionally good reason for not attending, you have to do it. Speaking from experience, don’t plan on eating too much because you are not there to eat, you are there to talk with the others at the lunch. They want to see how well you fit in, can you get along, can you make conversation. A tip: you can use taking a drink or chewing SMALL bites of food or swallowing as a way to give yourself time to think. That’s what the food is for, for you.
      Be sure to ask questions — the lunch gives you an excellent opportunity to learn about this office and about the institution. And ask the others about their work, their views on important issues in your field (for instance, if it’s a tutoring center, ask about their views about online tutoring).

      1. Nikki*

        I agree with this. I just got a new academic job and was invited to lunch during part of the interview process. I have food allergies, which I told them. But it also means I didn’t actually eat at the lunch. I know they picked something in line with what I could eat but worrying about a surprise trip to the hospital is not what i want to do during an interview. So I pushed the salad around on the plate and talked a lot. Did they notice that I didn’t actually eat it? I don’t know, but I got the job anyway.

      2. Oxford Comma*

        All of this. Like Mamaganoush says, try to view this as an opportunity. It’s a chance to ask questions and get a feel for how the place works. You may get different answers at the lunch than you will during the interview and that can be very helpful.

    8. epi*

      I agree. The fact that OP was invited to one indicates that lunches probably will be part of her job– when she attends one of her department’s full day interviews where at some point, everyone and their mom will get to meet the candidate. People in academia eat together all the time, formally and informally. Staff are no exception.

      1. cataloger*

        I wouldn’t assume this is a requirement; I’m faculty at an academic library, and mostly only have meals with colleagues at holiday events, conferences, and periodically when we have candidates in for job interviews. Mostly I can have quiet lunch by myself!

        1. epi*

          So you’re agreeing with me? I said in my comment that the OP should assume she might sometimes have to attend interview lunches for job candidates. Holidays and conferences are other examples of times people in academia eat together informally, as I said.

          “All the time” in this context obviously means “a lot”, not “continuously”.

          1. Kelly O*

            Dude – don’t be a jerk.

            You don’t have to be right. Get over it. Please. For the love of God.

      2. So Very Anonymous*

        Yep, I work in academia and lunching is almost never part of my job (that has a lot to do with the particular culture here though) — unless I’m asked to be on a search committee or to attend a candidate meal (either lunch or dinner) as part of the interview process. When you’re interviewing, though, meals are absolutely part of the part of the interview experience. Pretty much all of my experiences with meals-as-part-of-interviews have been meant to be opportunities for all of us to talk more casually — it’s still an interview, you still have be ready to answer questions, but it’s also meant to be about fit.

        I remember at one lunch, I kept talking as if I were answering formal interview questions, and the senior person at the table very kindly told me that the lunch meeting was meant for me to have the opportunity to have a less formal “interviewy” conversation — to ask about the city, that kind of thing.

    9. cataloger*

      Agreed. For our interviews, lunch is often a chance for different people to spend some time with the candidate. The search committee or supervisor may have their own specific meetings on the main agenda, but lunch could be with people the candidate would supervise, or that they’re likely to serve on a committee with. It is a bit odd to have it at the beginning of the interview — we usually put the presentation closer to the beginning, so the candidate can get that part over with.

    10. Trillion*

      Agreed. In these situations I eat before, then push a salad around on a plate for “lunch”

    11. essEss*

      It is also frequently used to see how you treat the waitstaff and others. That is considered a sign of how you will treat people of lower ranking than you in the work environment.

    12. The Schwa*

      Seconded. My job (a high school) frequently does team interviews either over lunch or dinner. I’ve been to a few and I think it’s a good idea, especially working in an academic environment like a K-12 where your team can make or break your experience. 1) Potential coworkers get a feel for each other. Questions are less rigid and more personality based; 2) Candidate gets to ask questions to people who are more in the work than the hiring manager might be.

      LW, I don’t think you should try to get out of this.

    13. The Cleaner*

      Very typical for campus interviews where I work. I have been in countless lunch interviews of this type as the search committee chair. Usually they are not in restaurants, but in conference rooms where a basic lunch of sandwiches, salad, drinks, is catered in. The main reason is not to judge how and what the candidate eats or if he/she drips sauce, but really because in order to fit in all my interviewers, I need to use a lunch hour.

      The vast majority of the time, the candidate chooses not to eat a full meal during the interview, probably for the reasons you mentioned. When I am the coordinator, I try very hard to make sure that the candidates know that it is truly their choice and of course they are welcome to eat whatever they wish. When the lunch meeting is in the middle of their interview day, I make sure to build in some extra time so they arrive in the lunch conference room at least 10 minutes early so they can have a quick bite on their own without people watching them chew. During the actual interview, most elect to have a beverage and maybe something light and easy to eat.

      It is nice that it is your first meeting so that you can eat for actual sustenance prior to your interview. It will not seem at all strange or unusual if you only have a beverage and something that is more of a nosh than a full meal, whether it is in a restaurant or catered conference room. I think people will encourage you to eat because they want to seem welcoming and accommodating, so there will possibly be some low-level back and forth about “oh please do have a sandwich” but that’s really more filler than anything else and you can graciously express your enthusiasm for having a drink and some yogurt.

      1. Lily Rowan*

        Yeah, sometimes when I’m trying to schedule a half-day of interviews, the only way to get everyone is to make the “half day” 10-2. It’s a kindness to offer the candidate food in that situation.

        One comment on Alison’s answer, though — she said don’t pick anything you eat with your hands, but I’d rather have a (fairly dry) sandwich than a salad (in the conference room lunch scenario you describe) because I do think lettuce always ends up in my teeth with a salad.

    14. Sarah*

      Agreed here. Most of my university interviews involved not only lunch, but dinners and breakfasts too. It was super exhausting, but definitely an expected part of the process and it would have been taken very badly if I had declined or just not eaten anything (except for the reasons of clear need, like mentioned in the answer — like a severe allergy or something). My advice is to practice with a friend if you have time before the interview. Well worth the cost of buying your friend lunch, and I feel like doing a dry run can really help with the anxiety around it. Also, if possible, look up the menu ahead of time so that you can decide what you’re going to order and think about what will be the least messy/difficult to eat. That way you’re not trying to weigh a Reuben vs. a Cobb salad the day of.

    15. Specialk9*

      I read an article once that says ‘well of course don’t get something fiddly or messy like a salad, or soup for an interview’ and I thought, oh right, that makes sense. But I hadn’t heard that before.

      Some basic tips:
      *Treat the waiter well (you should do this anyway)
      *Please and thank you
      *Phone on silent
      *Choose something mid-priced, easy to cut into small bites, not messy even if your hands are shaking (eg chicken, or penne alfredo not red sauce spaghetti)
      *Ask others follow-up questions, draw them out about themselves
      *No “see food” (open mouthed chewing)
      *Avoid loud eating sounds
      *Wait till everyone has been served to start eating
      *Don’t bend your face down to the plate or bring the plate to your face (if in the West, this is ok in make places in Asia)
      *No booze, even if the interviewer does

  4. Is It Spring Yet?*

    Declining lunch is literally declining to be with future coworkers for an hour and a half. This is part of the interview. I cant imagine people “passing” on a portion if an interview and being considered as a string candidate.

    1. SignalLost*

      I agree with this. It’s such a normal thing to have as part of an interview, declining would come off like declining to give the presentation.

      1. Database Developer Dude*

        Where is it normal? I left the active duty Army in mid 2001, it’s 2018 now, and I’ve had 10 employers since then. I have *never* been interviewed over lunch.

        1. CTT*

          It depends on industry – it’s really standard in some (I’m in law and it’s pretty standard for firms; I believe it’s also normal in higher education? Other industries chime in)

          1. Luna*

            It is normal for researchers in higher ed, maybe also higher level staff, but this is a coordinator job. For that type of staff position in higher ed it is very unusual IME. I’ve been staff at various universities for almost 10 years now and never heard of anything like this for other staff below director level.

            1. Yorick*

              My friends and family in positions like this have told me about this kind of schedule for their interviews.

            2. Uranus wars*

              I worked in enrollment services (admissions, financial aid, bursar and registrar) for 12 years and interview protocol for all 3 universities from admins/support staff up to Director included lunch as a portion of the interview.

              A typical candidate spent 1/2 the day with us, either starting or ending with lunch that sometimes included students. The rest of the time was an hour panel interview, a 30-60 minute discussion with director/VP and a campus tour.

            3. Valor*

              I recently got hired at a coordinator level position at a college and ate twice with my (now current, woot!) colleagues and was offered an additional two meals due to the timing of my interview. I think it’s fairly common. Also, what level a coordinator is can very a lot, institution to institution, I think.

        2. Jesmlet*

          I’ve had exactly 4 interviews with companies since I left college and 2 of them involved lunch interviews, including the company I’m currently at. We have final interviews with candidates over some kind of meal. If someone declined that type of interview/venue, it would definitely affect their candidacy.

        3. Millennial Lawyer*

          In nearly every law firm interview I had it included a lunch. Some fields, this is just normal. And even if it’s not normal, it would come off as incredibly strange if you can’t survive a lunch with your future colleagues.

        4. spock*

          At my tech job, every candidate is taken to lunch at some point between their onsites. It truly is an opportunity for them to get a feel of the job and ask questions rather than any sort of test of how good they are at lunch meetings. Also, the onsite interviews are 3-4 hours long, our options are either 1) never schedule mornings or 2) stick em in a room to eat alone or 3) just take them to lunch.

        5. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

          I’ve worked for a university for over a decade. Because lunch time is often the only time the department — including high level administration, faculty and staff — can get together in one room, almost all large meetings, including interviews, have been at lunch time and included food provided. If it were an initial HR level interview, that would be strange — but those are usually done over the phone anyway. While the OP implies that this will be lunch in a restaurant, I would be surprised by that part. Usually lunch is ordered in and everyone eats in the conference room. Something on the level of Panera or trays of cold sandwiches from the local deli.

    2. Samiratou*

      Yes, agreed. I wasn’t super comfortable with the LW referring to her future coworkers as “these people.”

      You’re going to be spending a good portion of your life with “those people” if you get the job, and them with you. An hour and a half to get to know each other is a good thing, even if it’s not something you’re used to.

      1. Yorick*

        And you might even like these people, even if you don’t get the job or don’t decide to take the offer.

    3. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

      Yeah, refusing to meet and get to know your potential future coworkers would immediately mark you as Not Easy to Work With. Granted, I’m in a field where business meals are incredibly common, but I can’t imagine a way to get out of an interview lunch – that’s basically declining a significant portion of the interview!

      I like Alison’s suggestion to eat beforehand so you’re not worried so much about the *meal* and can just focus on the conversation and presenting your best self. I’d recommend ordering a beverage and something light and easy to eat, maybe a small salad or something. Not ordering anything would definitely stand out and you’d spend a lot of time reassuring the coworkers that you’re really not hungry, so I’d order SOMETHING at least. Even if you’re not hungry or too nervous to eat, you can push the food around on your plate a little.

      I was in an etiquette lecture recently where the presenter said something that really stuck with me: etiquette is making others feel comfortable and welcome. Not ordering food at this lunch would be really conspicuous and make others feel uncomfortable, which is not the feeling you want to impart during an interview. Good luck!

    4. Millennial Lawyer*

      I don’t understand it at all. If you don’t want to go to lunch with people you will be *working with* for an hour and a half, then how do you want the job?

      1. Kelly O*

        THANK YOU!!!

        Oh my gosh “these people” that you will be working with might just wind up being the nicest, coolest, most fun bunch of people you’ve ever worked with, and you might love that lunch. But do you really want to work there if that’s the attitude you’re going in with?

        Sorry y’all. This one has broken my brain.

  5. Keyboard Cowboy*

    I think #3 might be a case of parents giving off-base job advice. If your daughter was in high school and it was a summer job I could see it, but 19 is old enough that I don’t think you as a parent can have a strong expectation that she’ll be along on weeks-long vacations to Europe anymore.

    1. LovecraftInDC*

      I can see it both ways. The first thought for me is that, in the current economy, retail jobs are everywhere. I don’t see her having a problem finding a new one. Yeah, it wouldn’t look great on a resume, but that’s why I would agree with Alison and exclude it. The second is that if this is a regular family thing, then yes, it’s probably something mom shouldn’t expect her daughter to regularly take up. However, if it’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing, I absolutely think it’s worth it.

      I wouldn’t suggest leaving your first professional job or a serious internship or a job you’d been at for a couple of years over it. Anything where you’re relying on those references or that experience for your future career, I’d be very careful about it.

    2. Kerr*

      I agree, and the OP shouldn’t demand that her adult daughter quit. As Alison said, it’s up to the daughter. But if it were me, at 19, with a pre-planned trip to Europe vs. a two-month first retail job? Yeah, I’d probably quit.

      But! She can still negotiate; the manager said they didn’t “think” they could spare the time. She can go back and gently point out that this trip has been planned for months, she let the manager know up front, and that the cost of the trip is non-refundable so it’s extremely important to her. (If it is.) And then wait. The manager may realize that she’s likely to quit, and calculate that it would cost more to bring on a new person than just give her the two weeks.

      I immediately told her to hand in her notice and offer to help run the store after we get back from Europe until they find a replacement.
      This doesn’t make sense unless the daughter is just trying to be nice. They’re still short-staffed for two weeks, but then they can hire her back, but not really, because they’re going to let her go after they find someone else because…why? Out of spite? If that’s the case, then why would she offer to keep working?

      1. Willis*

        Yes, to your last paragraph. If she decides to quit, she’d probably be better served by using the next month to try and line up a job somewhere else to start when she returns. And yes, stronger negotiation is a good starting point, assuming she wants to go on the trip!

      2. Luna*

        Agreed, if the daughter wants to go it’s up to her. I think the best approach if she does want the time off is to say this trip is already paid for so she has to go, but that she would prefer to take it as time off rather than being forced to quit.

    3. March Madness*

      Since I’m not American my perspective might be skewed… do people really expect you to have a consistent work history from your teens onward? Without any gaps? The jobs feels so low-stakes for me that I can’t see it being crucial to the daughter’s career. I would assume that food or retails jobs come with a high turnover anyway, due to schedule conflicts with school etc.

      1. Blossom*

        If I were the daughter, my only worry (other than losing a job I like) would be whether this would make it harder to get the next retail job.
        That said, there must be no end of people who leave retail jobs for reasons like this, so I doubt it will leave a huge black mark on her. I’d keep the job on her CV for now, and explain the situation to the next potential retail employer (i.e. she told them of a pre booked holiday before she started, but they later refused to approve the time off).
        Assuming the daughter was indeed clear with her manager up front, then the manager has behaved inexplicably by not immediately thinking about the entirely foreseeable coverage problem.

        1. Mona Lisa*

          I honestly don’t think it will make her less employable or that she should necessarily leave off a two month retail stint when she goes to apply for a new position either. Alison says that she won’t have noticeable accomplishments at two months, but the ability to run a cash register and to offer targeted suggestions to customers are skills that can be picked up in two months that would definitely help her find her next retail job.

          When it comes up in interviews as to why she left, she can simply say that there was a scheduling conflict. I know people who have left customer service jobs for this reason all of the time; it can mean anything from not getting the shifts you needed to too many or few shifts. It’s pretty innocuous and would still allow her to show that she can do retail work.

          1. LaurenB*

            Yeah, I was a keyholder at one job for about three weeks before I quit. I told the next place where I worked retail and they put “KH ex” on my resume and that was about it.

            I find this blog generally expects retail to be a lot more professional than it is. Most of the time, this reality – that it is not at all like office jobs – sucks for retail workers. But there is freedom in being able to quit a job as you like without it going on your Permanent Record (TM) which can make retail a great place for young workers, who, say would rather quit a job than give up a vacation or rearrange a class schedule.

            1. Important Moi*

              “I find this blog generally expects retail to be a lot more professional than it is. Most of the time, this reality – that it is not at all like office jobs – sucks for retail workers.”


            2. Erin*

              Most of the time retail needs a dependable warm body with the ability to follow a schedule and reliable transportation with a middle school level of education.

        2. Anna*

          I work with young adults who have had countless retail jobs because they get one, quit, get fired, get another one, quit when they don’t want to adjust schedules, get another one and on and on. There are some places that are less concerned about a person’s pattern of quitting retail and are more interested in having someone, preferably with some retail experience, to fill a gap.

        3. Jennifer Thneed*

          The manager behaved completely normally in how they handled this. It’s horrible but not inexplicable. The thinking goes like this: I can hire anyone to do this job, so if you don’t like the job, quit. And they probably worked their way up thru retail into retail management, and learned this behavior from their own crappy managers, and never got any kind of formal management training. (I’m not talking about “how to run the store” training. That’s like training to run a specific piece of equipment.)

          Of course, the reality is that every new person must be trained, even if they have lots of retail experience in other shops. It’s better for employees and customers alike for employees to stick around. But most retail managers don’t get any managerial training, even though they have those responsibilities. And a lot of them don’t have a lot of power compared to the mythical “corporate”, which is filled with people who only look at short-terms profits or losses.

      2. Sack of Benevolent Trash Marsupials*

        Totally agree with March Madness and I am American – seems there is really nothing at stake here given her age and length of this employment. If she wants to go, she should just go!

      3. Parenthetically*

        American here. I never had a job in high school (wasn’t allowed to — studying was my “job”) and while I had on-campus jobs in college, I only had a couple of short-term summer jobs when I came home for the summer. After I graduated — I was 22 and my brother was 20 — my family and I went to Europe for 3 weeks. It has had literally zero impact on my career, and I genuinely am struggling to envision a scenario where a potential employer would refuse to hire a college grad who had a gap in their employment history when they were nineteen.

      4. Autumnheart*

        For the most part, yes. And managers know this and exploit it, which is how you get managers who expect employees to miss out on paid-for vacations, their own graduations, relatives’ weddings and funerals, etc. in order to keep their crappy minimum-wage job with no benefits or security.

        That being said, the job is low-stakes, and if there were ever a time in life where one can most feasibly dump a job without taking a hit to your hireability, it’s when you’re 19 and working one of these jobs.

    4. Kate*

      Strongly disagree. I don’t see why the fact that the holiday is with her parents is relevant at all. She made holiday plans, she mentioned it at interview, the manager should have given her a yes or no then. This isn’t at all a ‘suck it up and welcome to adulthood’ situation- retail managers are much worse than those in office jobs for letting you take leave.

      1. grace*

        Yep. Not to mention, if she’s 19, she’s probably home from college for the summer after her freshman year — there is literally no reason NOT to expect that she would go on a family vacation with her parents, especially to Europe (!). The daughter did everything right here, but frankly, retail jobs are a dime a dozen. I didn’t even put mine on my resume for post-grad job searching (internships and work-study took that place) so I’m super confused by everyone acting like this is a Big Deal when it’s so, so not.

        1. bonkerballs*

          Not to mention, I’m in my mid-thirties and still go on vacation with my family and siblings when I can. We all have our own lives and do our own things, but we all live in the same area and like each other, so we’ll often try to coordinate something for us all to do together.

    5. eplawyer*

      That’s why Mom wrote in. She did not want to give bad advice. So she asked Alison what she should do.

      Alison is right it’s the daughter’s call and Mom should leave it to her. However, I also agree that get thee to Europe. It’s a retail job while in college. This is not going to affect her future job prospects all that much — unless her goal is to become CEO of the company that owns the store where she is working now.

    6. Nonsensical*

      I disagree. Summer during university years is fairly up to what the student wants. I have gone to New Zealand and Fiji for 2 weeks before. My regular job was on campus during the year, and most internships I know would offer a delay between the end of the semester and the beginning of work. There were plenty of time to fit in travelling. It is just bad timing to start a retail job and then expect 2 weeks off. It doesn’t really work with retail. Would have been better to simply wait until after the trip to apply.

    7. Allison*

      The mom can’t make her go to Europe with the family, but *she* might really want to go, especially if she’s never been! I went for the first time last year and I was 28. I was fortunate to get time off for the trip, but if I’d been in a retail job that denied me time off for the trip, I’d have had no problem saying “okay cool well I’m going, so bye” and find a new job when I got back. My trip was so amazing and memorable that it would have been worth it.

      OP shouldn’t demand her daughter quit, but I’d let her know it’s okay to quit. It won’t be the end of the world, no one in the family will judge her, and there will be other jobs.

    8. Falling Diphthong*

      I think it depends on whether the vacation is a yearly thing–eventually you reach a point where your teens and older kids have other commitments–or a rare opportunity. And on the other side of the scale, whether the job you would leave is a McJob that can be easily replaced or something that you feel committed to see out at the top of your ability. The job keeps her just below full-time to deny benefits while also claiming to be “chronically short-handed” so she can’t take time off–you don’t do that and then wonder why your employees aren’t more loyal.

      (I’m always reminded of an NPR interview with a store manager who wanted people to be motivated by working for a small, family-owned business. No, she couldn’t offer above minimum wage, or benefits, or any other conventionally desirable job features, but she offered the chance to say “I work for a small, family-owned business.” Yet that wasn’t enough to draw in long-time loyal retainers.)

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        The job keeps her just below full-time to deny benefits while also claiming to be “chronically short-handed” so she can’t take time off

        Oh, this is a very good point!

      2. Magee*

        Did the store manager say why she saw this as something to obtain? I don’t see any value in working at a “small, family-owned business” over working at another retail store. That’s not something I could put on my resume.

        1. Ego Chamber*

          The ones that I’ve talked to say a lot of things that translate to “Big box stores are the enemy and they’re wrong to exploit their workers since they can afford not to. We only exploit our workers because we have to—we couldn’t afford to stay in business if we didn’t!” Standard moral high-ground argument, you know?

    9. MLB*

      Disagree. High school or college doesn’t matter…she’s not working in a career based job yet. It’s ultimately up to the daughter to make her decision. I had the opportunity to go to Italy for 3 weeks at 19 with a friend, and I was working in a card store. I had been there for 2 years, and let them know (respectfully) that I was going. Had they said no, I would have quit in a heartbeat. I was making minimum wage and would have had no issue getting another job. Since she’s only been there for a few months, if she decides to quit, she can just leave that job off of any future applications and should be fine.

    10. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      She absolutely will not when she graduates and starts a professional career, which is why I think she should go now.

      How would she feel if she misses the vacation for this job and then they let her go or cut her hours anyway?

    11. seller of teapots*

      Sure, but also….in the grand scheme of life what is more important? Staying at a 2-month summer job at 19 vs a 2-week trip to Europe with your family? If the daughter wants to be on the trip, but feels obligated to this retail job, she should absolutely feel free to quit, because this job does. not. matter.

      Now, if she does not want to go, and the job is an excuse, that’s a different story.

      1. voluptuousfire*

        Agreed. The only hesitation I would say is that 35 hour weekly retail jobs are rare, IME. To find those hours again may be harder than expected. The 10-15 hour jobs are much easier to find.

        But either way, its retail vs. (technically speaking) an all expense paid trip to Europe. Go to Europe! Even if its something you do 6 times a year, go! I cherish every trip I’ve made there, even my first trip where I got sick and spent 3 days in my hotel room.

    12. Lynn Whitehat*

      I was in this exact position when I was 19. I went to Europe. No regrets. In hindsight, I can’t believe it was even close. Wow, I considered turning down a free trip to Europe to “honor my commitment” to Olive Garden? Ptooey.

  6. The Ginger Ginger*

    This reminded me of this previous letter a bit.

    Personally, I would quit. It’s not often that you get an opportunity travel to Europe (for some people once in a lifetime), and it may be the last opportunity to truly travel as a family. At 19, there’s still plenty of college to go (assuming she’s in a 4 year degree program); it’ll be easy enough to find a similar job. It would be different if this was a key internship, or a part time job at a company she wanted to start her career with. It’s good that she wants to be concientious, but I’d ask her to consider if 10 years from now she’ll regret going to Europe or skipping a trip to Europe more. That said, she is an adult, so ultimately she gets to weight this out and decide for herself.

    1. Scotty_Smalls*

      I tend to be very considerate and would have worried about leaving the job like that at 19. But now at 28 if I had the opportunity to go to Europe and I passed for a retail job I would so regret it.

    2. Willis*

      Thought of that letter as well. I feel like the daughter should do whatever she would have done if the manager had said I couldn’t have that time off in the interview. If she still would have taken the job, stay; if not, Europe it is. I don’t think it’s cavalier or a poor work ethic if the daughter chooses to quit, if she’s relatively sure she’ll be ok financially until finding her next job. The manager should have given her a straight answer when she asked a month and a half ago during the interview. They both gambled by not having settled this originally.

      1. Chriama*

        I don’t think the daughter gambled. Being asked what days you can’t work, being given approval for the sooner set of dates and then told we’ll “discuss” the later dates when they’re closer sounds to me like “Remind me when it’s closer to the date so I remember when I’m making schedules for those weeks.” If the manager really meant “well I don’t think I can afford for you to take that much time off but I need to hire someone and maybe I can talk you out of it” then she was the one gambling.

        1. Willis*

          “We’ll worry about that later,” really sounds like a non-answer to me, especially if the other time got an official approval. If this was a job that was less replaceable, and I got that answer from my prospective boss, I would definitely want to clarify before accepting (or come to terms with the fact that I may have to forgo the trip). I’m not saying it was a giant error on the daughter’s part (especially since it sounds like she can replace this job easily), just saying not having explicit approval was a risk.

          1. Rusty Shackelford*

            “We’ll worry about that later” is the equivalent of your mom saying “maybe.”

            1. Allison*

              True, it’s possible they didn’t know if they would grant the time off, or maybe they knew they wouldn’t, but they needed someone on staff ASAP.

            2. Falling Diphthong*

              Some of the greatest parenting advice I got was not to say ‘no’ when you mean ‘maybe.’ I would stick to a ‘no’ on the principle that whining doesn’t work… and there I was, spending mental energy to defend a reflexive ‘no’ that on 30 seconds’ reflection I didn’t care much about.

  7. AnnieBanannie*

    #4- FWIW in some fields, for example healthcare, internships are viewed as valid potential gateways to full time work.

    1. Alton*

      Good point. And there are fields where internships are pretty much required and can be almost like an entry-level job.

    2. Sarah*

      Yes, this is the reason our company hires interns. Keep in mind as well if you don’t accept the full time position with the company you are interning with have your elevator pitch why ready. The majority of people get a full time position with the company they intern with, so if they don’t work there after the internship that is a red flag. It usually looks like there was a reason the company didn’t want them, especially when you intern for more than one summer.

      1. Tableau Wizard*

        This really isn’t true in every industry. I know a ton of my engineering friends had great co-ops and internships that didn’t have a chance of turning into a full time position because they weren’t hiring full time employees at the time. These organizations have strong co-op programs and give the students valuable experience, but there isn’t a pipeline of jobs at the end equal to the number of students in the program.

        1. Lilo*

          It is funny because a lot of my engineering friends got their jobs from co op. In law, interning during law school and then working there after graduation/bar is also very common.

          1. Keyboard Cowboy*

            Yeah, I went to a co-op school and a ton of people I know transformed their co-op into a full time job. That was kind of the point. I work with tons and tons of people at Tech Giant who started as interns (and sometimes feel left out that I didn’t, and that I came here as my second job out of college).

      2. Oxford Coma*

        This is how things tend to go in my company. I work with IP, so new FT hires will always have a significant learning curve no matter how extensive their background. It’s just the nature of the business. Hiring an intern means getting fresh college grad prices combined with a head start on product knowledge–you can’t beat it. If an intern doesn’t get an offer, there better be a damned good reason.

        It comes down to knowing your field, or even the sub-field of your company and its competition.

  8. Monkeypamts*

    When I worked retail in college, I quit every december and was rehired in January. It was against company policy to take time off at Christmas, but that was when I traveled to see my parents. My manager had to respect the corporate policy, but I was also a great employee so she was in on this whole scheme and rehired me all three times I had to do things this way.

    So I’m on team quit. You can get another retail job. Maybe this place will rehire her. Maybe she’ll have to look somewhere else. Retail employers have NO loyalty to their employees (at the manager level, yes. At the corporate level they’d cut your hours in a heartbeat and replace you with a robot tomorrow) so I see no reason for the daughter to cancel a great opportunity for them.

      1. Espeon*

        Meh, if this works for them and it’s what they have to do to live the life they want, why not *shrug*. Employers, in particular retail employers, have little loyalty for their staff – play the system as necessary I say.

        1. Colette*

          I think this is one of those things that works until it suddenly doesn’t work anymore – and then it’s hard to fix.

    1. Keep Your Eyes On The Prize*

      Yeah, worst case scenario she skips the European vacation and two weeks later they fire her for not being a team player for asking for time off.

        1. Ego Chamber*


          Source: I once worked retail under a power-tripping supervisor who made a habit of taking people off the schedule during vacations they’d requested and been denied, “so they’ll know we could have gotten along without them if they had decided to go anyway,” even when this meant cancelling previously approved vacations for others or scheduling unauthorized overtime. It was a shitshow and she never understood why.

    2. Parenthetically*

      My brother did this when we went to Europe 15ish years ago — he was 20, delivering pizzas, a great employee. Quit in late May, was rehired in late June. NBD.

      Also Team Quit here.

      1. Erin*

        FYI: For most retail part time to stay as an active employee you only need to work 4 hours a month.

  9. Kc89*


    I hope she quits and goes on the vacation. A trip to Europe is worth more than a part time retail job. And no you can’t quit on a whim on a regular basis your whole life but 19 is the time to do it

    1. March Madness*

      Agreed. Plus the trip would be paid for by the parents, right? A FREE trip to Europe sounds even more alluring, haha.

    2. Temperance*

      Plus, if her family can afford to take her to Europe for two weeks, it’s fairly obvious that she’s not going to starve without this job.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        This. It’s not true for everyone, but it’s true here, and relevant.

        In my own family, we just had a reminder that you can’t always plan to just do The Big Thing Together next year. And yet even with that, looking at the kids’ tentative summer obligations there really wasn’t a good way to do a family trip, and so we are putting it off until next summer when their schedules and physical locations will align more. (This year their beginning/end of summer dates are significantly offset, so a two week period at the start or stop for one would be right in the middle for the other.)

    3. Anon Accountant*

      Absolutely!! Retail jobs are often hiring so she won’t have any issue finding another retail job.

      Team European Vacation!

  10. Espeon*

    OP3 If I we’re your daughter and I wanted to go on this trip I’d be quitting and going on holiday. It’s retail, where they are notorious for viewing staff as slaves they inconveniently have to pay because it’s the law.

    She tried to tell them about needing this time off when they asked, and brushing it off to deal with later I strongly suspect really meant “LOL NO but we won’t tell her that because we need staff and then hopefully she’ll be too desperate for work to quit when it comes to it”.

    She’s 19, in education, been there two months and it’s a PT retail job, it’s nothing in the grand scheme of things – travel experiences last forever.

    1. March Madness*

      She’s 19, in education, been there two months and it’s a PT retail job, it’s nothing in the grand scheme of things – travel experiences last forever.

      I’ve learned that some people don’t care about travelling at all, but for me it’s so important. I have never – ever – regretted a trip I’ve taken. Even that one particular expensive trip that took me a while to pay off. The different countries and cultures I’ve experienced, even for shorter periods of time (sometimes only weekend trips)… I wouldn’t trade that for the world. Those precious memories really stay with you.

      But of course, different folks, different strokes. Plus not everyone has the luxury to care that much about travelling.

      1. ElspethGC*

        I would also add that at 19, that might be the last big family holiday you go on, which in my opinion makes it even more worthwhile. My parents are currently planning to go to Australia next summer – we have friends over there – and while it’ll be the third time, each time has had 5-7 years between of saving and planning. They did mention that they know I’ll be 21, maybe I won’t want to travel with them anymore… I very much am still planning to go, albeit paying for my own flights etc unlike when I was 10 and 16, but it’s the age where you’re starting to not travel with parents. If a trip to Europe is once-in-a-lifetime for the OP and her daughter, I think it’s even more important to make those memories with family at that age.

        1. Renna*

          Yeah, I’m 29, I’ve missed out on a lot of recent “family” trips because my parents will not pay for my fare and I can’t afford it yet (both in money and not being able to take extended amounts of time off). If 19 year old wants to go and her family is paying, go. The free ride won’t last forever, take it while you can!

          1. ElspethGC*

            I’m hopefully going to be able to manage Australia because it will be right after graduation (so mostly likely not mid-job, or at least not mid-full-time-job) although I might end up dipping into inheritance money to afford it, since UK-Australia flights are generally £700-900. I know I’m fortunate to be in that position. Luckily Europe for me is less than £100 for travel if I want to road-trip it and do the Channel Tunnel or around £200 to fly, but something like Australia or America is definitely a big deal for most people.

      2. Allison*

        I didn’t care about travel until I went to London and Paris with my family last year, and now I care! I wanna see Rome, and Amsterdam, and Edinburgh, and lots of other places! But I’m also dying to go back to Paris as soon as I can.

        1. Baby Fishmouth*

          Travel can be an addiction! The more places I go, the longer my ‘bucket list’ gets.

          1. March Madness*

            Haha, I relate so much. I didn’t really travel by myself until I had graduated college, but that first trip (to the US, incidentally) got me totally hooked and now I’m travelling as much as I possibly can. Every third student here goes abroad for some time, and I will always be envious that I’ll miss out on that particular experience. But at least there’s vacation!

    2. Susan Sto Helit*

      When I was in high school, and working a part-time retail job, I asked for three weeks off, with plenty of notice, for a big holiday with my family. My (terrible) manager agreed.

      I went on holiday for three weeks. I came back from holiday. I switched on my phone, and discovered a flurry of weeks-old texts from my friend, who’d been at work and discovered everyone was in confusion about why I hadn’t shown up for my shift.

      “Susan is on holiday,” she’d said.

      “We didn’t know about it,” they said.

      “I know nothing about it,” my terrible manager said.

      Luckily, my friend had my back, so they sent off to the head office to investigate. They got back the copy my approved holiday form…with my terrible manager’s signature on it. He’d filled in all the paperwork, then forgotten about it entirely, and also failed to tell anyone else I was going or arrange any cover for my shifts.

      When I got back to work, my terrible manager was gone. My three-week holiday got him demoted and transferred to another location.

  11. Close Bracket*

    “Normally I’d say that I can’t totally blame the manager here — asking for 13 days off only a month before you want them is hardly any notice at all, and most managers wouldn’t be thrilled about that”

    Wait a minute… she told her manager about the days off when she was first hired, which was in April. That is a lot more than a month notice! Now I realize that no one is ever guaranteed to days off and that even days off granted can be rescinded, but “insufficient notice” is hardly at play here!

  12. Lasslisa*

    She told the manager about the upcoming trip at the time she took the job. The manager said, “let’s talk about that later,” which I for one would have taken as “that should be fine but I can’t commit formally yet.” If the manager had said at the time instead what now seems to be true: “We don’t handle staffing in a way that allows employees to take vacations longer than a week” – Would she have still taken the job?

    If she *would* have taken the job over going on the vacation, that is her choice to make and you probably should back off, and be bewildered but optimistic about your daughter’s intense sense of independence and desire to be self-sufficient.

    If not, then to me it’s time to be honest with the manager about her negotiating position. “This trip was planned before I started this job and being able to take this particular vacation was a condition for me of taking this job. I told you about the upcoming planned travel and my need for those days off at the time I took the position. If time off won’t be possible then I’ll sadly have to give my notice. Of course I’d be happy to come back and resume working here afterward if there is still a position open at that time.”

    The main changes here from your script are making clear that the trip was disclosed at the time of starting the job, and that her plan to resume working afterward isn’t “until they find a replacement”. Once the trip is over, there’s no more need for her to leave.

    1. Holly Flax*

      I like this a lot. I think a lot of retail managers are trained to manipulate people into thinking their jobs are on the line over small things but because turnover is usually high they really do not have that much power if they want to keep good people. One of my younger coworkers when I worked retail in college was terrified when they told her she would no longer have a job for taking a 3 week European vacation. She was an excellent worker and I basically told her to call their bluff, but there would be plenty of other places in the mall she could work if they did actually let her go. Of course they didn’t let her go, and she was hired back over winter break and the next summer as well.

      Similar thing always happened with getting people to sign up for credit cards. We were supposed to sign up at least one person for the company credit card per shift and I probably signed up 5 people for store credit cards in my roughly 3 years working there (I’m very morally opposed to them). They always threatened to let people go if they did not hit their goals, but we were so short-staffed I knew it was BS. Still got raises every single year.

  13. Grand Mouse*

    For #3 I would strongly encourage her to quit to take the vacation. She’s at a unique point in her life where she can get away with this with little repurcussions. I really regret passing up a chance to go to Italy twice cuz I prioritized work and school. Now I don’t know if I’ll ever get a chance again especially while my grandparents are still alive.

  14. GGU*

    It’s retail… not a life’s time commitment of a job . Sounds like she’s not in desperate need of it either so go to Europe. (I’m in Europe and the work culture in the US baffles me, the world is not going to end if you go on vacation! ) I used to think it was employers creating this environment but looking at the comments I get the vibe that other employees keep it at this level too . I keep seeing comments like well she shouldn’t quit or she shouldn’t commit to holiday, she took an hour lunch , she got a Manicure or she was half hour late …. all things that are not your concern as a co worker . Most jobs do not need to be so tight , of course there are exceptions like for shifts change where you need more consideration but man , like chill out. Maybe if the employees also fostered the feeling of it’s ok , take a longer break they might also get more flexibility back . It worked so far in my experience and I’m so grateful. I am not a morning person I am usually late but I exchange that grace I get by doing work my co worker doesn’t like , or when they have errands I chill if they’re gone for a longer period

    1. Rosemary7391*

      Another baffled European here. I got asked the same question when I started my retail job, and the attitude was “of course you’ll get this time off”. Before I left for university, I managed to get just over 4 weeks off (some unpaid) for a trip, and still had my job when I came back. I did give about 18 months notice, but the prevailing attitude was definitely that time off happens and isn’t some terrible inconvenience; and they just worked out the schedules accordingly (I got a decent bit of overtime in the summer, and did my share of days like New Year, just like our manager did).

      1. Espeon*

        Yeah here in England it’s basically standard that any holidays/events you have planned before you start a job they honour. It would be considered exceedingly poor form and cause many a raised-eyebrow if they didn’t, I would certainly leave a job over it it’s so unusual.

        1. Roja*

          I wish it were like that here in the States. Out of all the things I’ve never understood about company culture, this is the biggest one. No time off for six months to a year in a new job… don’t people have lives? Their kids never get sick, their out-of-town friends never get married? And heaven forbid they might just need a long weekend (or a week! gasp) away once in a while. Life doesn’t stop whether you’re at old job or new job.

          1. bonkerballs*

            I think you and Espeon may be talking about different things. I’m American and I’ve never had a job that didn’t honor commitments I had prior to taking a job. You just have to bring them up in your negotiations and let them know ahead of time. In fact, the job I have right now I had a planned vacation during the literally only week my org doesn’t allow anyone to take off, and then didn’t bat an eye at letting me take it.

            1. Espeon*

              That’s good. Tbh I’m going on all the times I’ve seen comments here where people have seemed shocked or actually disgusted by people wanting to take holiday within the first six-twelve months of starting a new job – especially a week or two! It’s a seriously weird concept/vibe to Europeans, taking holiday in the first months of a new job – pre-arranged or not – would not negatively affect how you’re viewed as an employee, unless you’re working for someone actually awful.

              1. GGU*

                This is what I meant as well. The employees themselves sometimes foster this feeling of shame for having a life in general. I just wish people would work together. Even in the OPs letter, it is a retail job. They should have people they can call in to cover…and she could cover a few shifts after she comes back. Knowing how retail is, if it is that bad they could even cover from different locations because turn over is usually super high in retail.

  15. OP1*

    OP#1 here
    Thank you for the feedback! Honestly, based off the way it was presented and the mannerisms from the office head, I am fairly certain it was the couple’s idea. Both positions have a director title and salary, and it was not a demotion. I am still peeved by the situation, because I feel their relationship likely gave them a work advantage with this specific decision.

    However, for my sanity, I’m going to let that all go and assume this was a face-saving move (as you suggested). I had not considered that explanation before and you very well might be right.

    1. Myrin*

      Oh my, OP, what a deliciously bizarre situation! It really does seem like it would be best for your peace of mind to just not think about it too much because this is just a strange flavour of bananas.

      (I’m also reminded of an experience a hiring manager relayed here in the comments once: A (married?) couple applied for one (!) position, as in, one job but for the two of them, all with just one combined CV and everything. They’d also put a link to online portfolio and it was some kind of photoshoot where both their bodies had been morphed into one. It seems like the couple in your question weirdly feels like the two jobs and they themselves are somehow a unit and can sort things between themselves however they want. Bizarre!)

      1. LBK*

        I was totally thinking of that too! At least in this case they actually have two separate positions. But still extremely weird.

    2. Traffic_Spiral*

      The whole thing seems weird, but not your problem, circus, or monkeys, if ya know what I mean. It doesn’t make your job any harder (might actually make it easier) and someone else is responsible for approving the switch (so it’s not your fault if it blows up). You always have to pick your battles, and a situation that doesn’t actually adversely affect you seems like an easy one to pass on.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Yup. Try to shift your perspective a bit–if it works, it makes your life easier. If it doesn’t work, no one can blame you. It’s a win-tie!

    3. Oilpress*

      No, stay pissed off! I would be. If this is how jobs and promotions are “earned” at your organization then I’d be seriously questioning the fairness surrounding my own career advancement opportunities.

    4. Glomarization, Esq.*

      TBH I don’t understand why you’re peeved. They asked for a change and … got it.

      1. WellRed*

        But what if someone else might have been interested and qualified for the position if she couldn’t hack it? They would be shut out. I mean that happens all the time, but this, on the surface, doesn’t look good.

        1. Glomarization, Esq.*

          What if, what if, but the LW didn’t say that. What we do see is that evidently management thought it would work out, so they let it go through. Without hearing more, what it looks like to me is that management pulled a pretty efficient move to change personnel and job duties without interrupting staffing.

          LW doesn’t even say that they wanted one of the jobs. All I see is that LW is “peeved” and I don’t understand why.

          1. OP#1*

            Wellread is accurate in why I found this bothersome. The position would be of interest to others in the office. The situation makes me worry about fairness in promotion opportunities. And again, these two positions never worked this close before and don’t need to, so their “unit” approach is awkward and sometimes makes it confusing for me to know who to report to.

            1. Glomarization, Esq.*

              Well, OK.

              The position would be of interest to others in the office. Then, those “others” should speak up to management and ask why it didn’t go through a formal candidate search and hiring process. But I still think the answer would be that this solution looked a lot quicker and easier.

              sometimes makes it confusing for me to know who to report to. Sounds like an opportunity for you to speak up and ask for clarification about titles, responsibilities, and chain of command. Everybody in an office should have a clear idea of who’s where and what’s what on the org chart. If management has muddled it with this switcheroo, then this would be a good time to make the new situation better understood among staff.

          2. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

            I agree, it doesn’t seem like there is a reason for the OP to have a horse in this particular race.

    5. Anon for this one*

      Hi OP1! Just wanted to share my perspective as a person who works with her spouse at a medium-sized nonprofit. Our work histories are such that he developed management skills years before I got my current position as a department head, and I have a lot of experience in a technical field that he’s recently moved into. As weird as it would look, we could swap jobs today and both be very well-suited for our roles. I hope it’s the case with your employer that they made a rational decision that just happens to look weird!

      1. Nita*

        Same here! My job has started out very technical, but is now mostly management. I’m doing OK, but it’s definitely not my thing, and I tell my husband a lot that if only we could somehow switch jobs, he’d pick up the technical bit in no time and be a star employee.

        His job, now, is mostly working with very flaky and unreasonable people – it stresses him out no end and sometimes he’s too nice to shut down really inappropriate behavior. I unfortunately have years of experience there, and it doesn’t bother me by now. If we could switch jobs, I think I’d ace his!

    6. bluephone*

      This situation, and the one below about the married couple sharing a resume always reminds me of an old It’s Always Sunny episode where Mac and Charlie both apply for one mailroom job just to get health insurance benefits. They go to the interview together, turn in one resume for both work histories (with no separation between the two), etc. It doesn’t seem out of place in the show’s surreal universe but I can’t believe it actually happens in the real world!

    7. boo bot*

      Maybe I’ve been up close to too many weird relationships, but this is how I read the trajectory of What Happened:

      (1) She gets promotion ->
      (2) He works unusually closely with her to “help out” with new responsibilities ->
      (3) She is perceived as generally struggling but without concrete evidence ->
      (4) He gets her job (and she gets his).

      A narrative I’ve watched play out with this kind of sequence replaces (2) with, He undermines her to the point that she and others believe she is incapable of doing the job.

      I dunno, hopefully she was really struggling and he was covering for her, and finally they just figured, heck with it, let’s just see if they’ll let us switch and be done with it, and they and all the other employees will live happily ever after.

      Ideally it’s that. To me it’s just such a weird thing to have happen that it makes way more sense through a dysfunctional relationship lens than anything else. That may say more about me than anything else, though.

    8. Keep Your Eyes On The Prize*

      Please give us an update when they break up and have to decide who gets custody of the better job.

  16. Chriama*

    #3 – quite frankly the manager mishandled it. I don’t know if she was hoping to hire more staff and that didn’t work out, or she just forgot about the trip and is hoping OP’s daughter will back down and make things more convenient for her so she doesn’t need to deal with rearranging staffing, but she messed this up.

    I think the daughter should hold the manager accountable to her words. “Before I started, you asked me what dates I wasn’t available. Although you mentioned we would ‘discuss’ this trip closer to the date, I took this job with the understanding that we would work my schedule around the trip. I really want to keep working here but if it comes down to having to choose one thing over the other I’m going to have to prioritize this trip. That being the case, how do you think we should proceed?”

    However, one thing I wasn’t sure of is if the manager is denying time off for the trip or for recovery after the trip? I agree that it might be tough to get back from somewhere with a completely different time zone and go to work the next day, but that might be the nature of the beast. If the boss is willing to approve the days for the actual trip, maybe a compromise would be a good idea.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I found that part about the recovery day a little confusing too, but I think it means the trip is 13 days long and the time she asked for doesn’t include any recovery time (as in, what she proposed is being back at work immediately).

      1. Pollygrammer*

        I don’t know that asking for a “recovery day” is ever a really good idea if you’re somewhat entry-level, even if you’re salaried–I would probably just add a day to the vacation request without that detail.

        1. LBK*

          My guess is that the daughter didn’t frame it as such when making the request. I’m thinking the OP just included that to point out that the daughter had made an effort to keep the request as minimal as possible, ie not even giving herself padding to catch up on sleep/get over jetlag so she could get back to work ASAP.

    2. Susan Sto Helit*

      I just related the tale of what happened when a manager actually did approve my time off for a holiday, and then forgot about it, upthread. It did not end well for one of us.

  17. Pleather*

    #3 – Man, devoid of context I’d say no question, quit and go to Europe. But having grown up with a Certain Type Of Mother, the type who … say… theoretically … demands (!!) you quit a job to go on vacation with her, tells you to do something bizarrely outside of norms like “offer” to go back the job after you quit and disappear for two weeks, and then writes to an advice column on your behalf, I would not blame OP’s daughter if she decided to stay behind and let mom enjoy Europe on her own.

    I’m picturing LW opening this column and showing her daughter “See! Ask A Manager said I’m right and you should quit!” So cringey. I know this is a work advice column, but there is a LOT more going on here than how this vacation will affect the LW’s daughter’s career.

    1. Glenn*

      Strongly agreed: I’m suspicious about the story we’re hearing here, and I would say to the daughter that she should do what she wants and live her life, not her mother’s. (But maybe they’re on the same page and it’s not that kind of situation at all, who knows.)

    2. March Madness*

      I can see why the mother might feel so strongly about this – this might be one of her last chances for a big family trip. Of course, with 19 you don’t see yet how precious time off with your family is, especially on such a prolonged and expensive vacation.

      That being said, the mother’s behavior could indeed raise red flags. It comes down to whether she accepts her daughter’s decision to quit or not to quit and accepts that a new job is a much big dealer at 19, when you’re at the start of your working life. Basically, it all comes down to respect. Does the mother respect that her daughter is an adult and makes her own choices?

      1. Keyboard Cowboy*

        I’m so glad to see this thread; this is the point I tried to make less eloquently above. At 19 it’s fairly likely that she doesn’t want to tag along anymore and the intervention of the mother at every step is kind of freaking me out. Especially, “I immediately told her to…”

    3. WS*

      Yes, I used my part-time college job to get out of several family events involving a particular family member, and if this family member had been on a family trip, even one to Europe, I would not have gone. If the daughter wants to use this job as a reason not to go, then she should do that.

    4. Allison*

      I didn’t get the sense the OP was planning to demand that her daughter quit and go on the trip. I can’t think of one 19 year-old who would rather work retail than go to Europe, but she might feel like she has to prioritize the job because work is important, and she made a commitment to the store when she accepted the job, and while OP shouldn’t make her daughter choose Europe over retail, she can and should encourage her daughter to do it, at least so she feels like she can actually do that without serious repercussions.

      I’m not a mom, but if I were, I would worry that my daughter might choose work over the trip because she thinks that’s what she “should” do, and then be really sad about missing it and maybe regret it in hindsight when she realizes the job wasn’t a big deal, and she missed out on a great experience for nothing.

      Yes, I know, she’s 19, she’s an ADULT who can make HER OWN DECISIONS, but she’s still 19 and it’s not ridiculous for parents to influence those decisions at that age.

      1. Pollygrammer*

        I was thrilled when I finally had an excuse to skip family vacations. No fantastic location could mitigate the hell that was traveling with my parents.

        1. Allison*

          That’s fair, I do come from a place of privilege in that I still like going on vacation with my family, I realize there are young people who have seriously messed up relationships with their parents and may want nothing more than to skip those trips.

    5. Oxford Coma*

      This doesn’t sound that odd to me, but money = autonomy in my family. If I wanted the choice to skip a family vacation as a college student, I would have needed to earn the right to make my own decisions by paying my own way through school. My parents paid my tuition, and thus I was still under their authority until I graduated.

      1. Keyboard Cowboy*

        The money/autonomy lesson is one I received as a young adult also, and influenced a ton of how I navigated my life in late high school and college. I was lucky to have enough gov aid to be able to pay for college myself, and was able to opt out of all kinds of stuff I didn’t want to do with the family starting my first semester of college.

        I think it’s a good lesson to learn, anyway. Being financially independent gives you lots of freedom in your personal life, especially as a woman. It’s your best escape route from bad situations with relationship, job, etc. Relying on people for money can be ok if they’re ok, but as soon as something starts to go sour, it can put you in a really dangerous position!

    6. essEss*

      I read that as a demand because the mother had already paid for the expenses for the daughter to go on the trip so the mother would be out a lot of money if the daughter suddenly didn’t go.

      1. Glomarization, Esq.*

        If that’s the case, then Mom is out a lot of money whether daughter goes or not, ’cause at this point she’s doing the sunk-cost dance.

    7. neeko*

      This seems like a super unfair read and certainly not following the “assume good faith” rule Alison has for the site.

  18. HRJ*


    Another perspective that I was a bit surprised not to see brought up in the response. Personally, I would never want to work for a company I interned for right away. I interned in college, and it was great. It gave me hugely valuable experience. I did the best I could to be professional and treat it like a job. Nine months later, while I was still in college, they needed someone to fill in for a couple months and specifically reached out to me and hired me part time. I was an actual paid employee, not an intern, yet I was still referred to as an intern on occasion. The coworkers and boss were great, and it wasn’t purposeful pigeon-holeing, but … I kind of felt that way anyway, even after reminding them that I wasn’t an intern anymore when they called me an intern. There was another woman who worked there who had my same first name, and my supervisor (who, again, was great, and I really liked and respected him) at one point said, “you’ll always be ‘Intern firstname'” while talking about how to refer to me to differentiate me from the other woman.

    I had an offer to discuss a job with them, but I didn’t pursue that because I didn’t want to still feel like an intern for potentially years no matter how hard I tried not to be.

    1. Amylou*

      That’s sooo valid. I did take a job after the internship at a small org and it was hard to transition out of some intern tasks (especially times we were without one). Looking back, I feel I never really reached the full potential that job could have had, and even two years later I was still doing some “intern tasks” because no one else was doing them. People do think about you a certain way and it’s hard to change that. Plus I had a manager who was super new to managing and didn’t know/want(?) to manage what my job should look like.

      I don’t regret it though – it was good learning experience and a good job as well (just not as great as it could have been).

    2. Naptime Enthusiast*

      I work for the company I interned for (twice!) and stayed in the same department, but moved to different roles. The department is 500+ people across multiple sites and while I have worked with some of the same people now that I did as an intern, they fully recognize that I’m in a different role, and have a lot more experience and knowledge than I did way back then. So I would take a look at other former interns and ask any you trust to give you an honest answer if they are happy with their decision to come on full-time, and if the feel they are treated like interns or treated like full employees.

      I am very happy with my decision, but it also helps that 1) a lot of interns are offered full-time positions and accept, 2) it is a HUGE company with lots of opportunities to move around, and 3) the culture is a good fit for what I was looking for.

      1. Traffic_Spiral*

        Yeah, I think it depends on how often interns are recruited. In law, for instance, it’s expected that most the new hires will be from the summer internship programs, so no one would think twice about it. If that’s not the case, you do risk being “Intern Bob” for a while.

    3. Rusty Shackelford*

      True story: Mr. Shackelford worked as a graduate assistant in a particular office at his university while he was getting his master’s degree. After he graduated, he was hired as a full-time staff person in that office. And yet he had this conversation regularly:

      “Can you make some copies for me?”
      “You know I’m not your GA any more, right? I’m a coordinator now. Same as you.”
      “Well, yeah, but… can you just make some copies for me?”

      He didn’t stay there very long, because he realized he was always going to be The Guy Who Makes Copies. It’s definitely something to consider.

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      This varies widely by field and company. In some cases, it’s the normal way they hire new graduates. In others, it would be “that one person who started as an intern, so we call her Intern Jess… yeah, I guess it’s been 10 years and she’s now the head of R&D, but how else to distinguish her from Marketing Jess, who was here first?”

      1. Database Developer Dude*

        How about Jess Smith and Jess Jones? or is that too hard for lazy thinkers?

        I was working in a military office when I was on active duty one time, and the Sergeant Major came to me (I was active duty enlisted at the time) telling me, “Hey Specialist Walker, we’re going to have to give you a nickname, because your first name is the same as mine, and we can’t have that”. My response? “Sergeant Major, for those I’m actually on a first name basis with, I already have a nickname, and my name is MY choice, not yours. Further, we’re active duty military in a military office, so if you’re calling me anything other than Specialist Walker, you’re wrong anyway.”

    5. bonkerballs*

      I mean, I guess. I don’t doubt your experience, but is moving from intern to regular staff really all that different from any other kind of promotion?

    6. tangerineRose*

      I think it depends on the company. I used to work at a place where a number of people in positions like intern, secretary, etc. ended up working at jobs at the same company that were better paid.

  19. Cathy*

    I often schedule lunch interviews because people have to eat during their day and this is often the only time on their schedules when the stars align and they can all be in the same place at the same time. It’s a simple solution to a logistical problem.

    1. Ismis*

      I really dislike having my personal time taken up with a work function. Even if the food is free, it doesn’t make up for the lack of decompressing time during the day.

        1. Cathy*

          Well, I work at a school and there are not really “breaks” for any of us. Having lunch with grown ups is kind of a treat.

          1. Cathy*

            i haven’t had a break in 7 years. Working straight through the day is typical in my field.

      1. SignalLost*

        It’s an interview. If you can’t handle one day without decompressing time at a meal, don’t look for a new job. It is entirely optional to look for work. It is unreasonable to assert that your right to be perfectly comfortable every day of your life is greater than an extraordinarily standard employment practice.

        1. SophieK*

          But the interview should ideally be showing the candidate the workplace culture. I either eat at my desk, tuning out chit chat, or try to find a quiet place alone. A very long lunchtime interview would have me concerned about how FAAAAAAAAAAAAMMMMMMMMILLLLLLLLY and “team building” oriented the workplace is.

          Begin as you mean to go on.

      2. Self employed*

        Right, but if you’re on the search committee, this can be part of the job. Presumably, it is not every day.

      3. Yorick*

        I assume you mean this as one of the interviewers? Even so, in academia you’re usually exempt and are used to having to do things like this in the middle of the day. And you can take some “me time” a little earlier or later.

      4. Millennial Lawyer*

        Not every job has “decompressing” time. If you do, you’re lucky. It’s out of the norm to expect that in certain industries.

  20. Kate Daniels*

    #2: I have social anxiety, so I completely understand the desire to skip the lunch portion of the interview. That was always my least favorite part of full-day interviews for university positions. That being said, it’s such a typical/standard part of an interview day that I don’t see how you can decline it (similarly, someone who hates public speaking would not be able to just opt out of a presentation—both things are part of the interview).

    Ideally, you’ll get an agenda beforehand so you can see where you’ll be going and check out the menu beforehand to pick out something to eat that will be neat and hopefully this willl reduce some of the anxiety.

    1. AnotherLibrarian*

      I also have Social Anxiety, but I work in higher ed. This is such a normal part of job interviews in this world, you just have to learn to deal.

      I always try to order something easy to eat. I bring a tide pen and I try to make sure I’m not hungry. I think Allison’s advice is spot on.

  21. Retail Reject*

    Quit and take the trip, no question. In my experience, this is just how retail jobs work. Stores expect workers to be available anytime of the day or night with very little advance notice. When I was in college, I was “terminated” from two different retail jobs for not coming in on days I had already requested and had leave approved for. They added me to the schedule at the last minute, never notified me (not that I could have come in anyhow) and then fired me for no call/no show. Retail jobs are notorious for pulling that trick and for deplorable management.

    1. Susan Sto Helit*

      I once had to ring a theatre and ask if I could switch my tickets to a different night because my boyfriend had asked for the night off at the time we booked, been told it was fine, then been scheduled to work anyway.

      They also scheduled him to work on the day he’d asked off for his aunt’s funeral. Pretty sure he skipped that shift.

      I now try to avoid dating anyone who works shifts, because I can’t handle not being able to plan for things like that. I can’t arrange my entire life around the whims of someone else’s boss.

      1. Database Developer Dude*

        Wow. If you try to avoid dating anyone who works shifts, regardless of 1. them treating you with respect, 2. shared interests, and 3. mutual attraction….then I’d say anyone you decline to date dodged a bullet, since that’s holding a (potential) romantic partner responsible for something they can’t control.

        1. Beth Jacobs*

          And it’s not like non-shift work is always predictable either. I supposedly had 9.30 – 6 desk job, but there were times when I had to stay until midnight with little advance notice. I probably could have declined to work if I explained I had something like a wedding anniversary, but definitely not because of a threatre ticket. And I’m not saying this to complain – the benefits of the job outweighed this – but just to illuminate that there are lots of jobs with unpredictability. If someone really values set hours, that’s probably something you specifically look for, but it will narrow your option about the other aspects of the job (duties, pay…).

        2. Roja*

          Okay, I don’t want to derail the whole thread on this, so this will a one and done comment… but seriously? It’s no different than not wanting to date someone who works nights when you work days, or someone who travels half the year. People’s jobs do affect their social lives, including dating. You’re allowed to have preferences in dating!

      2. Keyboard Cowboy*

        Yo, don’t listen to this person ragging on you for avoiding dating people with a certain job type. Adult relationships aren’t just about what’s fun, they’re about what’s practical. Attraction and mutual interest only gets you through the honeymoon phase. When it’s time to build a long term partnership it’s good to know what kind of advance planning you need to be able to make, and which kinds of positions would make your partner unable to commit to that much planning.

    2. epi*

      I had that too when I worked retail in college. One place, that I had planned to go back to for summers, added me to the schedule for Thanksgiving and winter breaks without ever contacting me then called during those shifts to ask why I hadn’t shown up! I said I’m not working this break and never said I would, they claimed we had an agreement I would work every break to keep my job and they knew I was on break because a coworker who did come back went to the same school. Even if we had had such an agreement– we didn’t, why would I agree to something like that– no one stopped to consider it was a dumb idea on their part to schedule someone they hadn’t heard from in months based on a vaguely recollected agreement and hearsay about the academic calendar of a school in a different city.

      I quit, although my mom did not want me to. Never held me back from getting other work, even other retail work.

  22. drpuma*

    OP3, I’m on team quit because this shoe place sounds sketchy. In my retail experience, 35+ hours/week is absolutely enough to be considered full-time. If they really expect your daughter to work full-time hours while classing her as a part-time employee, that’s a way bigger problem than not granting her vacation.

    1. Pollygrammer*

      I think 35 (or even 39) hours being called part-time at a retail job is pretty typical. And for a teen who is probably still on a parent’s insurance, it’s not really such a big deal.

      1. Observer*

        It IS a big deal. Sure, as a practical matter she’s not as badly off as someone who is on their own, but it’s still an issue. You can be absolutely sure that management is not doing this with any care or concern about the human cost.

        And, yes, it’s typical. But it doesn’t make it ok, or less than shady. For some reason, some really shady practices are fairly normal in retail.

      2. drpuma*

        Having worked on the corporate side at multiple retail companies – our max for associates to work and still be considered part-time was in the 29-35 hour/week range. There absolutely are legal ramifications for the company, and there may be state/local part- vs full-time hour requirements as well. Admittedly going down the legal path is probably not worth it for a summer job, but this willingness to fudge the rules for part-/full-time does not speak well of this store’s management.

      3. essEss*

        When I worked retail, anything over 32 hours was considered “full-time” for benefits at most of the places where I worked.

  23. Damn it, Hardison!*

    OP#2, as others have said, having a meal as part of an interview is typical in academia. In my last interview for an academic position, I had breakfast with the director (at 7:30 am!), lunch with a few staff members, and dinner with senior staff. It was a very long day! But, they all realized that and so they did most of the talking. I had a few broad questions prepared for them – what do you like about working here, what are the goals of the department/what initiatives are currently going on, how do you see the department changing over the net few years, etc. Those kept the busy and I got to eat a little bit of food! Also, I recommend Shout wipes over the Tide pen – cleans and dries more quickly.

  24. LadyProg*

    OP4, I interned and then got hired full time by the company my mom worked for, and it did not damage my career in any way. I got the full time position because I earned it, did a great job on my internship, and went on to stay with the company for a total of 7 and a half years. I used reference from a client I worked closely with when I decided to switch, and I could have used former managers/co-workers that had also left by then as well, so don’t overthink that part either!
    Good luck!

  25. Bea*

    My mind nearly snapped trying to wrap it around being confused why 13 days off from a shift position, less than 3 months in is a strange pill to swallow.

    I dig it. We’re out of the recession and now jobs are easy to come by but my mind goes to dark places knowing how fragile the economy still is. I watched my friends fight and struggle to have even retail jobs after doing well in college and having multiple degrees.

    I struggle now looking at resumes with deep rooted long term retail history because the world sucks and it’s a hard jump from retail to other industries if you stick with it too long.

    So part of me screams because at 20,I quit my first job and it took 14 months to get a temp agency to take a chance on me. Then another 9 to find a long term place that by the grace of God gave me a stronghold in my field. My parents were very much on my side and I quit because of being made to work a holiday and go into an office that had zero phone calls that day because holiday. So I get it. So much. But also I put no stock in travel except for the pleasure it gives me.

    Funny we mention that the culture and experience will be so enriching but that truly is a personal thing in the end. I just saw someone tack into their resume how they’ve traveled the world and spin it into a selling point but I didn’t buy it and tossed it into the reject pile. It’s all so subjective to each person, each region, each town if flushing a job for any reason is worth it.

    Does anyone in retail actually work full time? I thought they basically did away with that idea after the ACA pushed them to give benefits or pay penalties…the industry continues to make me uneasy and grouchy just thinking about all this!

    1. Nonsensical*

      I have traveled as a college course and it has made me a more open person. I also talked about this during my interviews, it wasn’t my sole point but the point is, travelling does make you more open. Given I work in a field that has various customers, being aware of culture, especially at an international company that I work with, that was highly valued. Not to mention some things aren’t about job experience, it is about seeing the world from other people’s perspective. So I actually agree with the people that travel but I also know people that have never left the country. My father has no interest in travelling beyond Canada on road trips.

      Different strokes for different people.

      I was in high school during the recession and simply couldn’t get a job. Finally did in 2012, but I was in university then, that one job led to me being steadily employed for 5 years but I have also quit a short stint of retail after 2 weeks after being offered an internship. The reasons to quit widely vary, I wouldn’t quit a FT job out of university so much but university is a good time to quit and travel because it is much harder to do so later on in life.

      1. Bea*

        See it’s easier for me to travel with PTO and money to do so. I didn’t gather much from the extensive traveling I did in my youth.

        I’m of the age my peers graduated college between 2007-2009. Nobody got jobs until about 5 years ago. You lucked out missing the nasty unsettling economy.

        I’ve been steadily employed since the early mid 2000s because my life didn’t allow me to take the university route and it saved me more suffering I’m finding out.

      1. Bea*

        Ignore the other comment I’m too tired to do things right

        Yes most def management and nonhourly are full time positions in retail

  26. Thursday Next*

    #3 OP, I was a bit confused about what you were suggesting to your daughter—what does “offer” to work until they hire someone else mean? Are you simply talking about working out the notice period?

    At any rate, yes, your daughter can leave this job with no lasting repercussions. However, I strongly encourage you to listen to what *she* wants, and respect her decision. She may not *want*to quit this job, and she’s of an age at which that’s her choice to make.

  27. Veruca*

    OP2–My husband is in sales and regularly takes customers out to lunch. He orders a meal, takes a couple of bites, and leaves the rest. He’s too busy talking/selling at the lunch to actually eat. Maybe you could do that? I know it’s not ideal, but it preserves the ritual of that part of the interview.

    1. Tableau Wizard*

      This is probably what I would do in that situation. Eat some ahead of time, order something small and easy enough to eat and take small bites (claim a big breakfast if pressed), and then mostly drink a beverage and have the snack.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Yes, I agree. Eat beforehand and then get something small, like an appetizer. Don’t order a big meal and then take two bites–that has the potential to look weird, too.

    2. OP #2*

      OP here — Thanks this is helpful advice. I’ll probably eat a large snack before the interview and then do this, maybe pick at a salad.

  28. Cleverusername*

    #2 – Pack a fine, lightweight scarf in your bag, so if you drip something on your shirt, you can cover it up (even stain-sticks can leave a big wet mark). Alternatively, wear the scarf at lunch to catch drips and then remove it later. I am a busty female who ALWAYS drips something on my chest…. anything oily is not going to come out easily, so it is easier just to cover it and go on with your day.

    I usually just drape the scarf over my neck, so the long ends trail down over my chest, but there are several easy ways to wear a scarf (examples from the internet: ).

    You can usually find cheap scarves (even silk) at TJ Max, Marshalls, etc. Either look for a neutral color (that you can even keep in your purse for the future), or bonus points if you can find a scarf in one of the universities’ colors (wearing an accent in a school color is a common tip when interviewing in higher ed).

    Otherwise: no soup, no messy foods. Ask where you will be eating so you can look at the menu online ahead of time; you’ll want to know what you will probably order before you get there, so you are completely present and can focus on the people instead of the menu. Don’t drink so much liquid that you have to pee, since your interview is afterward. Take small bites so you don’t choke if nervous.

    Good luck! You got this!

    1. OP #2*

      OP# here. Thanks — That is a super helpful, idea. I always take off my scarf for the drips reason, but maybe I’ll buy one for this purpose as basically a bib! To protect my shirt and jacket! :).


  29. Retail Hellian*

    For the LW with the daughter and trip to Europe. I’d totally just pull a no-call no-show on the job and leave it off future applications. Retail jobs suck. Retail managers suck even more. Work as long as she can, take the money, and run.

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      Why make it worse than it has to be, though? Why not at least give two week’s notice? Who knows, she may want to work there again someday. She may run into that same manager at a different job. Burning this bridge seems unnecessary.

      1. March Madness*

        Agreed. Whatever she decides to do should not reflect badly on her, there’s no need to be unprofessional about it.

    2. Nonsensical*

      Don’t do this!

      She should quit professionally or she’ll be blacklisted from the company. It is unprofessional behavior, even for retail.

    3. Erin*

      Please leave notice so someone isn’t stuck pulling an unexpected double. Just because the store manager and the company may suck don’t screw your coworkers.

  30. Rusty Shackelford*

    #3 strikes a chord with me because my kid is in a very similar position. In fact, she decided not to look for a job immediately after school let out for the summer because we had an overseas trip planned. Now the trip is over and she’s looking for work, but she has an event coming up in a couple of months that she absolutely refuses to miss, and she’ll need a specific weekend off. I’ve been telling her to bring it up if/when she gets a job offer, but my fear is they’ll say something like “we’ll worry about that when the time comes” and then she’ll be faced with the same decision. Or they’ll say “if you get scheduled for that weekend, you can just switch with somebody,” thereby putting the burden back on her.

  31. Cassie*

    My first postcollege job was where I interned and it worked out well for me. The references concern is a real one, but it is something you can handle with some planning. Try to find some people who work less directly with you. Keep in touch with people who leave. Try to form close relationships with coworkers. When I left, I had a reference who was my mentor and worked at the company still but who I had a close relationship with and who was on my extended team but not my smaller team. I also had a reference who had worked with me pretty closely as a coworker but who had been essentially laid off (not because she wasn’t good at her job). I didn’t have a reference from a manager, but I explained that I had interned there before working there and so I’d have to go back pretty far to get a manager and hadn’t been able to contact that person and it was totally fine.

    As far as people thinking of you as an intern and associating you with your father, I think you can get some clues based on how you are treated now.

  32. Bookworm*

    Regarding the retail job: Your daughter shouldn’t worry too much about it. At 19 and in retail it really won’t matter down the road. I once had a friend who very specifically said she could not work the late shift at a local movie theater (which was open till 1 AM, plus closing, I think). Because she was over 21 at the time her manager(s) ignored this and would schedule her for the late hour because she was the only one person who was old enough to work that late.

    This happened several times and she was unhappy about it. I helped her get a job at the store where I was employed at the time and I assume my friend just left it off the resume since she was in school at the time anyway.

    Agree with Alison that a month’s notice for such a long period of time is probably not enough but retail is notorious for its turnover and all that so it’ll be a blip, unless she makes a scene or intend to work in retail as a career or the manager has some secret connections. Your daughter will just be another in a long line of employees who have done something similiarly.

  33. LQ*

    #2 I’m going to echo everyone else. You have to go.
    If you can pre-view the menu at all DO! Plan your order ahead of time. Go for something that has crumbs not sauce. Dryer food rather than anything with liquids. Dry stuff you can brush off. Do order food but something small so you don’t feel pressure to eat a bunch is good.
    Prep 3-4 good “personal” anecdotes. Short 1-2 minute stories about genial neutral things. I have dog and niece/nephew stories as my go to. Practice them with a friend who loves you and will be honest. Aim for them to be stories with a beginning, middle, and end. Ideally funny or sweet stories work the best, generally try to not go for sad, and do not go to angry. They don’t have to be stand up comedy funny, but something you can say with a smile and might get a chuckle is really good. (Hence dog and niece/nephew, they have a good balance for me.) Don’t just blast the anecdotes out, think of them as a “what do you do for fun?” “Oh I have a dog so I spend a lot of time with her…story.” Or a “any plans for the weekend?” “I’m hoping to see my niece. She’s 12 and loves books…anecdote.”
    Think of a half dozen questions, ideally a couple related to the anecdotes, but those will often spark things themselves. If you tell a dog story, others will tell dog stories (or even a how about you? pets? can kick it off). Asking questions and then listening is really good for these sorts of situations. If someone gives you a kick off point for one of your anecdotes with what you say putting it there is good, it shows listening and engagement

    Good luck!!

    1. Barefoot Librarian*

      This is great advice! I’ll add that you don’t have to talk the whole time either. Ask questions about your potential colleagues’ interests and family. Ask about the campus community. Ask about the city you’d be living in. People love to talk about themselves and it takes a bit of the burden off you to carry the conversation.

    2. Adaline B.*

      Ooh this is great advice! I’m going to use this advice when I go to lunch with upper level managers as I tend to be a bit long winded sometimes.

      I’ve noticed I can learn so much by just being quiet and listening to the conversation. I know that might not work in an interview lunch, but this could be a really helpful time to get great insight into people who could become your coworkers!

      Best of luck OP! :)

    3. LQ*

      OH! And tiny toothbrushes, you can get like these itty bitty ones that you can put in a wallet that have a pick and don’t even need water. You just duck into a bathroom and done. I think Whisp is the brand I’ve gotten, I’m sure there are others as well.

  34. Sara without an H*

    OP#2, you can’t get out of eating with colleagues at an interview anywhere in Academe. This is a bonding ritual and to refuse it would probably be interpreted as a sign of hostility. (Yes, I’m exaggerating, but only just.)

    You’re lucky the interview is only half a day. A lot of interviews for academic positions are full-day ordeals. I once had an interview that began with breakfast with the dean, included lunch with members of the department, wine and cheese at the end of the day (with pretty much everybody who wanted to come), followed by dinner with the search committee.

    So take Alison’s advice, have a snack before you arrive, choose something non-sloppy from the menu, and use the time to get a sense of the culture of the department.

  35. cantaloupe*

    RE: Lunch interview. No you should not decline that part of the interview. It IS part of the interview process. My suggestion is that you eat before you go and just pick at your food if you are concerned about spilling or talking with your mouth full. No one is monitoring how much you eat, what they want to do is to see how you interact with people.

  36. pleaset*

    To OP2 – it’s important to recognize that interviewing is a competitive process. The other applicants will face similar challenges. Now, imagine you don’t go to lunch and other top applicants do, spending more time with the organization. Which applicants will be in a stronger position?

  37. Barefoot Librarian*

    OP#2 – I really feel for you. I’m sloppy with food myself and wear a lot of black to cover up inevitable spills! That being said, meals during academic interviews are so very normal that it would be weird to ask for a pass. When I interviewed for my job (a tenure track librarian), I had not one, but TWO meals over a two-day interview process. I snacked heavily before and ate light, less-messy dishes. They really aren’t trying to put you on the spot. When you join an academic institution — especially a smaller one — you are becoming part of a pretty tight knit community. They just want to get to know you. Use this as an opportunity to do the same. Good luck!

  38. lapgiraffe*

    #3 hits all my buttons, basically hitting jackpot on my reaction slot machine.

    First off, there’s so many “it’s retail, who cares” in the comments which, as a longtime reader, I’m a bit surprised to see. Yes retail has problems and lots of turnover and doesn’t require a professional degree, but it’s still a respectable job for many people and deserves respect from job seekers and employees like any other job until, like any other job, it shows its cards with bad management, policy, environment, what have you.

    When I was a retail manager I knew hiring young people/college students came with unique situations – inexperience in work ethic, inexperience in communication, and allllll the worst offenders on the scheduling front. One former college student told me less than a week before the dates in question “oh I saw I’m on the schedule but it’s spring break so I won’t be here.” How am I supposed to know it’s your spring break if you don’t tell me and ask for the time off? I had a difficult and stern conversation with her that this isn’t a student job, we don’t close during student breaks, and notice is something you’ll be required to provide for any week off in any job in your life. I also harped on how it was inconsiderate of everyone else’s schedule, but that I would make the exception this one time since something was booked and paid for, but this was her one mulligan and you might want to thank those people who are picking up shifts for you/be available to help them out if they come asking further down the road. For those saying retail doesn’t/didn’t teach you anything, well that makes me sad. I learned a tremendous amount from sales clerk to manager, and despite this hiccup with spring break Sally, she became a better employee after the fact, she stayed on for several more months after graduation, and so many of my college students went on to do amazing work, INCLUDING one who went to work for a new fancy retailer in our industry and creating amazing new opportunities for herself in retail. It does happen.

    But then there’s the mom. It doesn’t sound like she’s calling this job for her but she sounds awful close to interjecting herself in her adult child’s work life in an inappropriate way. I read my mom into this as well, she really struggled to understand why I couldn’t just take a month off of summer work to come home, how I couldn’t take off two weeks at Christmas, etc. She was so stuck in Mom/school mode and took her years to transition her thinking of my life, to understand I (she!) no longer had control of my time, that I now had to work within a bigger, different system that doesn’t just let you do what you want, when you want it.

    Yes the store manager didn’t handle this great, and yes a trip to Europe on my mom’s dime sounds great!! But there’s a lot of entitlement coming from the idea that she can just leave AND COME BACK, general disrespect of the job simply because it’s retail, and not for nothing, absolutely no voice from the person actually experiencing this job. And don’t discount that the retailer, though short staffed, might be pleased to have this one leave if they’re the type to take off all the time or for any other number of reasons.

    1. Database Developer Dude*

      When retail management stops abusing employees across the board, then maybe people will take retail employment seriously. Until then, don’t hold your breath.

      1. LBK*

        By “across the board,” are you saying that literally every retail manager is abusive?

        1. Yorick*

          Come on. No one means by “across the board” that literally everything is that way.

          Individual retail managers can be great, but they still work with corporate policies that treat employees like crap.

          1. serenity*

            And that has anything to do with this situation how? I see a whole bunch of comments about how awful retail is, which is fair enough but subjective and unrelated to this OP’s question.

            1. Yorick*

              I suspect this is one of those shady retail places since she asked for the time off initially and they danced around it, letting her think she’d probably get it but then saying no.

              This sort of thing can happen everywhere, and doesn’t always happen in retail, but retail and service industries are really known for it.

              1. serenity*

                You suspect? We don’t know that at all. There are bad retail jobs (a lot) and good ones, and we don’t have enough information to know that.

                I sense a lot of people are projecting their ideas of what retails jobs are like onto this situation. What stood out to me more is that this young woman has asked for 13 days off, and that’s quite a bit (especially for service or retail positions). Also, we’re hearing none of this from her directly and are getting it from the mother who commented below and seems to have a lot of thoughts on how her daughter spends her time and when and how she should work. That’s fine, and we don’t know their situation at all but I’m smelling a little bit of helicopter parent here.

                1. AnonymousInfinity*

                  She was upfront about needing these days off before she started. She didn’t start and then just expect 13 days off out of nowhere. The typical advice given for “I’m starting a new job but have a trip paid for and scheduled – what do I do?” is “during the interview or during the hiring negotiations, tell your employer about the trip and that you will not be able to work during TIME to TIME.” That’s what she did! If it wasn’t possible, the manager should have said, “Nope, can’t accommodate that. Do you still want the job?” Instead of “oh, we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it…” That’s not a great manager.

                  Retail is a real industry and can be a real-deal career (my husband’s still plugging away as a top-tier manager and loves it; me, not so much), sooooo…this advice doesn’t change just because it’s a 19 year old in retail. She did everything right, except getting hoodwinked by the manager.

                2. lapgiraffe*

                  Maybe she is telling her mom that she was upfront about the trip during interview, but maybe this is another learning experience in that the daughter didn’t know enough or feel comfortable enough to push for a firm yes or no. The manager could have been less than enthusiastic but the young employee felt like pushing forward anyway and hoping for the best later, a little “better to ask for forgiveness than for permission.”

                  I think it’s such a tough situation to parse, though, because the information is second hand. And all the suspicion about the 35 hours – depending on the state 35 IS full time (I believe in MA where I am, as it pertains to earned sick leave and qualifying for state health), and I read in the letter more of a projection of the mother being suspicious more than I see concrete evidence of the retailer being “shady.”

            2. LBK*

              Yeah, that’s what I’m getting at. I feel like people are using this as an excuse to hammer retail as an industry as if we’ve never, ever gotten a letter about someone in a white collar job being screwed over on vacation time by their manager. It’s the same thing that happens when we get a letter about a non-profit and people make comments about how horrible working for a non-profit is; there’s good and bad places like any industry. I think retail has a variety of factors that make it more open for abuse (majority of workers being hourly, low wage expectations, being considered “unskilled” labor, managers who are often young and inexperienced themselves) but I also had phenomenal managers in retail that gave me invaluable guidance and shaped me into the employee I am today.

        2. Myrin*

          Yeah, I’m a bit taken aback by comments like that. Now granted, I’m not in the US and our work culture and work legalities differ a lot so who knows how much of a deciding factor that is, but my boss at my drugstore parttime job I got in February is truly excellent (to a fault, even; she gets quite distressed when she hears about inequalities and shady practices and you can tell that she really stands for everything she says).

          Now my sister, who works in a supermarket full-time, has an awful boss who uses her work time to get massages at the salon above their workplace or go eating icecream with her friend, and on top of that doesn’t respect employees’ vacation and free time (my own boss mentioned above would have an aneurysm if she heard what that woman is up to all the time); she’s the kind of person like what comments her talk about but from what I gather, she actually seems to be a bit of an outlier (the boss before her, for example, must have been an awesomely nice guy everyone loved working for). Again, cultural differences and all that, but I’m a bit disheartened to read only comments who basically discount that one can be content and fulfilled working in that kind of job.

      2. lapgiraffe*

        Wow, what an unhelpful comment, Developer Dude. If this site proves anything, it shows that every industry, every type of office, every level of employment has bad management, poor policies, and opportunities to use and abuse employees. Save your cynicism for the socialist revolution.

    2. serenity*

      I tend to agree with a lot of your feelings.

      And it’s important to note (as we’ve done on AAM before) that young workers are learning professional norms, especially in those early jobs. If the daughter is going to get the impression from this experience that having 17 days off in your first two or three months of employment for travel is normal (that’s the total of these two trips, it seems to me) that’s not a healthy baseline with which to view new jobs with.

      1. serenity*

        And I’m rolling my eyes at the comments that retail work is “abusive” or retail jobs are crappy, so who cares. That’s entirely beside the point here.

    3. grace*

      I’m glad you had a really fulfilling experience in retail. That’s not the case for most people, and especially not for most 19 year olds working in a place that has already “showed its cards” by scheduling her for 35 hours (even at my worst my PT jobs were only 25 hours a week – FT would have required them to pay me more, you know) and messing her over like this.

        1. LBK*

          I would think at a summer job where the point is to save up spending money, you’d want to work as many hours as possible.

        2. WellRed*

          But she gets no benefits at 35, while practically working full time. Give her another 5 so she gets benefits.

          1. Colette*

            Many people who work for only a few months don’t get benefits, though. If she were working there year round, I’d agree they should either make it truly part-time or give her enough hours for benefits, but it doesn’t sound like this situation is that.

          2. bonkerballs*

            But if it’s just a summer job, she probably wouldn’t get benefits anyway. Most places I’ve worked, benefits don’t kick in until 30-60 days after your start date. She’s not going to be there much longer than that.

  39. Derek*

    #2 – I once had to decline a lunch portion of an interview because I got food poisoning the night before. The reason I didn’t cancel the interview itself was because it was out of state and I had already driven out to where it was. Despite doing well in the interview (it seemed like it, anyway), I ended up not getting the job. For years, I was worried that it was simply because I declined the manager’s offer to take me out to lunch.

  40. Orfeo*

    #2: There’s been several comments so far about how to make the lunch interview easier. Would it also be helpful to consider what you can get out of it? An informal meeting with the team gives you useful information about how they work as a group, in a way that smaller meetings or presentations won’t.
    For example, I’ve seen groups where one-on-one conversations are great, but get everyone together and one person becomes a jerk who talks over and interrupts everyone else, or groups that work very well because you can see that the older and more established members of staff respect and sometimes defer to the expertise of new hires, or groups with weird cliques or a kind of de facto segregation. Even who is/isn’t considered a member of the team that you should meet is useful information.
    You’re being judged, but you’re also judging the group to see how they work and how/if you will fit in.

  41. Millennial Lawyer*

    I have to say I’m a little put off by OP#2’s description ” I really don’t want to have lunch with these people, mostly because I find eating and talking very awkward and I have to be “on” because this is still and interview.” Yes, interviews are uncomfortable! But showing that you can be social with the people you’re working is 100% relevant for a job, and these kinds of lunches are extremely common. Sometimes you have to do something that makes you uncomfortable – and “these people” will be your colleagues. Why would they want to work with someone that feels that way about having lunch with them?

    1. LQ*

      I would rather work an extra 5 hours a day than have lunch with coworkers regularly. I’ve gotten a lot better at it because it is a thing that happens around here and has value. But those people are anyone who isn’t very close family or friends. It doesn’t mean I don’t want to work with them. I like working with my coworkers. But food is weird. Humans are weird about food. And weird about food, weird about work, the is this social or professional, what is the right thing to say, to order, etc…

      That doesn’t mean I don’t want to work with them. And it doesn’t mean I haven’t gotten a lot better at having lunch. (I made myself a rule in my current role where if someone asks me to have lunch with them I have to say yes unless I really have a meeting, it’s hard, but it has made me SO much better!)

      1. Millennial Lawyer*

        So first – this a get-to-know-you lunch, not eating lunch with coworkers regularly. You have to want to *get to know* your coworkers at the very least. It’s not about the food at all – it’s about do we get along? Do we want to spend a lot of time with you? Do you have a friendly personality? That goes both ways!

        Second, I’m an attorney in a large city, but I LOVE my coworkers and I would love to have lunch with them every day if I could (people usually brown bag or pick up something separately local, or anything pretty much at Whole Foods). But we’re far too busy and we just eat at our desks. My point being, my wanting to “have lunch with my coworkers” is not about the actual food and what you’re ordering – it’s about enjoying the company of people you’re spending 40+ hours with. That’s super important!

  42. Exhausted Trope*

    OP2 : I haven’t read all the comments so I don’t know if someone has already suggested this but you might feign a “stomach issue” the day of your interview. You could go to the luncheon and say that your stomach feels a little dicey so you will just be playing it safe and ordering a beverage. Stash a snack in your car/briefcase/bag for after the interview.

  43. Ace*

    Removed because I ask that comments stay on-topic here, but you’re welcome to post this on tomorrow’s open thread!

  44. bopper*

    I agree that she shoudl go…but cautiont the parent that this type of thing will not really be possible in the future

  45. AnonymousInfinity*

    OP #3: I DIDN’T follow the standard advice about being up front about prearranged travel plans when I hired into a new job. I was desperate to get out of my other job, didn’t want to risk blowing the new job, kept my mouth shut, and cancelled the flipping trip. $4K down the drain, for me and my husband, while his parents went on a lovely cruise by themselves. I don’t have many regrets in life, but that’s one of them – and not even because the job itself sucked, but because, you know what? We have one shot at this beautiful world, people don’t live forever, and we often waste what time and opportunity we have at work running ourselves ragged because of manmade problems. She’s 19. She should go on the trip if she wants to, and, if you’ve already paid for her, maybe even if she doesn’t want to. Said as a former retail manager who got royally screwed by a lot of kids who just up and left their part-time retail jobs because “whatever.”

    OP #2: Where I work now, we often bring candidates on site and schedule an hour and a half lunch at a nice restaurant. If anyone said, “I don’t want to do lunch – is there any way to work around that?” they’d be DOA. The lunch, for us, is about cultural fit and getting to know the candidate outside of meetings and stiff interviews.

  46. OP3*

    Hello all, OP3 here!
    Thank you for all of your comments and advice. I sat down with my daughter this morning before her shift. I asked her if she would have taken the job if her manager told her that she would not be able to come on our family trip. My daughter said she wouldn’t have accepted the offer and would have continued babysitting for money instead. We are both very excited for our trip as this is the first time either of us will be out of the country. My daughter is quite sensitive and is very caring, she is worried that if it comes to it and she puts in her two week notice she will be causing trouble for her manager and coworker. However, she has felt this way with every job she has quit/left since she was 14.
    She will be going on our vacation, we know this for sure, but what we don’t know is if she will have a job when she comes home. Of course, she has many families lined up that she babysits for and makes good money from but the point of her having a summer job is so she has her own spending money during the school year. BUT, I realize I may have jumped the gun by telling her to quit and have encouraged her to sit down with her manager to discuss our vacation again to get a definitive answer, yes or no.
    RE “recovery time”: I agree with everyone’s suspicions of the manager and how things are being run. This is why I told my daughter to mention that even though we fly back , for example, on July 20 doesn’t mean that she will be up and ready to work at 8 am on July 21. I’m not sure how the different time zones will affect us when we come home. I wouldn’t be surprised, if the time off is approved, if her manager puts her on the schedule anyways. My own boss does not expect this of me.
    Also- a few people were confused by what I meant by “offer to work”. Although I doubt her manager will accept the offer, I told my daughter to offer assistance just so she didn’t feel like she was abandoning her store team. In the unlikely chance that her manager agrees and asks her to help with the store then she must be paid for her work.

    1. AnonymousInfinity*

      In my experience in corporate retail…

      If the time off isn’t approved, your daughter does not quit because of the expectation/hope that she can go back and help out, and your daughter goes on the trip, what will likely happen is that your daughter will be terminated in the system for either attendance issues or no-call/no-shows. And THAT will show up in an employment verification check and THAT could seriously hurt her in the future, especially anytime a potential employer asks, “Have you ever been fired from a job?” If her manager says “no, you can’t have this time off, and you’re on the schedule those days” and your daughter is going on the trip, then, IMO, your daughter should formally quit and provide a last day of service that is BEFORE the trip, so the system reflects it was a voluntary separation. (Honestly, I wouldn’t even make the offer to come back and work, because, even if the manager says “ok, sure,” this manager could change her mind and terminate your daughter in the meantime. And there are managers out there like that… I worked with them.)

    2. Rusty Shackelford*

      RE “recovery time”: I agree with everyone’s suspicions of the manager and how things are being run. This is why I told my daughter to mention that even though we fly back , for example, on July 20 doesn’t mean that she will be up and ready to work at 8 am on July 21. I’m not sure how the different time zones will affect us when we come home. I wouldn’t be surprised, if the time off is approved, if her manager puts her on the schedule anyways. My own boss does not expect this of me.

      I don’t think there’s any reason to even tell the boss when you’re coming back. When I travel internationally, I always end up getting home very, very late at night due to where I live. If I’m getting home at 11:30 pm on the 20th, I definitely don’t want to work the next day. I say “I’ll be back in the office on the 22nd,” and no one knows I’m home adjusting to my time zone and sleeping off the Xanax. Your daughter should just say “I’ll be available to work on the 22nd.”

      1. essEss*

        I agree with this. I was perplexed about telling the boss about the exact day your flight returns. Those are unnecessary details. The only important thing is to say the date range that the employee is unavailable due to the trip. The recovery day is part of the trip.

  47. SpaceNovice*

    OP#2: Echoing everyone in that you can’t get out of this. Alison and the other comments here have good advice. Going to lunch with someone is an interview technique. I’m pretty clumsy with eating myself, and I did fine! People don’t generally want to interview you during lunch, either–they want to eat! Unless the company is really weird, this is just an attempt to see how you treat people (the staff at the restaurant) and how you are when you’re not “on the clock”. Treat the wait staff with respect. Treat your coworkers with respect. Have some stories and let the conversation flow naturally, not forced like it is during an interview.

    Also, if you’re worried about getting dirty: bring something to clean a stain immediately! There’s wipes and pens for that sort of thing that you can carry around with you. (You should have something you’re carrying your resume, water, and pens in, regardless if you’re a man or a woman.) One of my interviewers at my internship ended up getting ketchup on his shirt, and I was able to hand over a pen to him immediately, which ended up saving his shirt from staining. He joked that whether or not it worked might be the deciding factor–and it must have, because they did hire me.

    OP#3: Definitely on the quit the job bandwagon, but make sure to do it professionally. Good memories are more important than a retail job that you can replace fairly easily. Your daughter might regret it for a long time (potentially forever) if she doesn’t go.

    She’ll have to leave it on for experience for specific jobs that want ALL job history, but the reasoning behind why she quit is sound. She can just say that she wanted to stay, but she couldn’t get the time off she needed to go on vacation with her family (no need to mention Europe specifically), so she had to unfortunately hand in her notice. As long as it’s clear she quit professionally, it will only damage her changes with shady employers. It might even be possible for her to negotiate quit and rehire. I’m guessing she’ll have other jobs before she graduates, so she can just use those jobs on her resume and leave this one off.

    Also, if you’re in the US, the 35+ hours should be considered full-time–30/week and 130/month is considered full-time by the IRS. It’s potential that the manager is being… shady. And that there are reasons why they’re understaffed. But I can’t know for certain.

    OP#4: It’s common for people to take a position at a firm where they interned, and is actually a sign that you did a good job as an intern to be hired later on. It shows you did well enough to be hired after. Also, unless your father is super famous, almost no one outside his (and potentially your) company will know you both work there when you look for new positions in the future. As long as the firm will give you the experience to be competitive in the future, there’s no reason (other than a better offer) to not take it!

    1. DCGirl*

      The IRS defines full-time employment for purposed related to the Affordable Care Act, such as whether the employer chooses to offer minimum essential coverage to full-time employee or choose to pay an employer shared responsibility to the IRS instead. There is nothing in this post to indicate in any way that the employer is being “shady”. We don’t have the facts to make that determination.

      1. SpaceNovice*

        Agreed. We don’t have the full facts, so we can’t know for sure. But I know a lot of my friends in retail were purposely kept under 30 hours strictly for that reason.

    2. AnonymousInfinity*

      In my experience/my state, 32+ hours a week is considered full-time BUT….you don’t have to be coded as a full-time employee until you have been scheduled and worked 32+ hours a week for so many consecutive weeks (I forget how many weeks). My former retail company had us run reports on employees who were coming close to that full-time threshold, so we could make sure to screw them out of benefits and schedule them at 15-20 hours for a while, just in case someone tried to argue “well, they AVERAGED full-time hours for this long, so they qualify to be bumped to full-time.”

      1. SpaceNovice*

        Ah, yes. This makes sense–someone who’s just doing a summer job might not be there long enough to get coded as full time even if they work more than 35/hours a week. Or they might reduce her hours when she gets near that threshold, like your previous company did. (Although that will be a moot point since the OP’s daughter will likely quit before any of these things can happen.)

      2. Sophia Brooks*

        I have had this work in my favor. I quit a full time retail job to take my first office job, but continued as a part-timer. Because I worked about 20 hours a week, more around the holidays, it took forever for my “average” to drop down to part-time. So I still got and could use vacation time and got paid holidays. Thanksgiving was pretty lucrative because Thursday and Friday were paid holidays at my office job, Thursday was a paid holiday at my retail job, and I always worked about 10 hours in retail on Friday, which we were paid time and a half for! Paid for my Christmas gifts.

  48. OP #2*

    OP #2 — Here — I really appreciate the advice a few people have given, like eat ahead of time and then just pick at your food, or wear a scarf to catch drips, those are great ideas. However, I want to clarify. I understand that interview lunches are “standard”. I also have no problem with lunch with colleagues. I also didn’t really think I could get out of the lunch. I have worked at a University for over a decade, so I do know how these things work. I don’t like them because I feel it is more pressure to have good answers to questions while putting food in your mouth. And I feel having it be the first “stop” on the agenda is extra stressful. I also I don’t think how one eats lunch on an interview is really a fair judgement of the skills or knowledge you bring to a position or a “relaxed” environment to get to know me. Thank you to the folks who have given practical advice!

    1. OP #2*

      I realize I’m commenting on my own comment, but I left something out. Which is the my original question was really meant to be more focused on “how to succeed in the lunch interview?” Along with a bit of explanation about why I find the lunch portion to be extra stressful.

      1. Oxford Comma*

        I view the lunch interview as my chance to get a feel for the job and the place and the people. Even though you’re “on,” oftentimes the people who are taking you to lunch are more relaxed and I’ve gotten a better handle on how the place works than I do from the formal interview.

        They’re not looking at how you eat as a measure of what you bring to the position, they’re doing a lunch for a number of possible reasons: a) it was the only time Persons A & B could meet with you; b) to see your interpersonal skills in a more relaxed setting; c) to give you a chance to get a feel for the area and/or campus (depending on if it’s a national search); d) it was the only way to get Persons A & B to meet with you.

        If they tell you where they’re taking you, look at the menu ahead of time and try and pick something that will be easy to eat. I second and third all the advice about Tide Pens and Shout Wipes.

    2. LQ*

      I entirely agree with you on the how you eat lunch isn’t a good judgement of…anything. Something I try to take advantage of is the putting food in your mouth to give an extra moment or two to think of an answer. You can make a face or hand gesture that is I’m engaged in the conversation but my mouth is full of food and then give yourself and extra bit of time to come up with the answer.

    3. Millennial Lawyer*

      Thanks for clarifying, OP! I think it’s important to know about yourself that you inadvertently stressed how do I get out of this thing?? with “these people” when you really wanted tips on how to succeed at your lunch. I think something you might want to think about for the lunch is projecting positivity and openness – they’re likely just looking for someone with a personality that they wouldn’t mind working with, not expecting specific answers to questions.

  49. Student*

    #3 – Your daughter is now a young adult starting off in the working world. You need to do some major adjusting to accept that reality.

    That means she’s not going to be able to accompany you on two-week vacations for a long time. Get used to that. Start adjusting plans for the next family vacation, if you want it to include your daughter in them – much shorter and more local. You want to go to Europe for a month without this kid – great! But it’s no longer a realistic family vacation plan. Your family has changed and you need to adjust plans accordingly to accommodate other adults.

    She needs to earn that kind of vacation time. That would usually take at least a year of work in a much nicer white-collar job, and that would use up all of that person’s vacation for the whole year. Meaning that the two-week vacation would come at the cost of not visiting you for Christmas or whatever. As a part-timer in retail, she might never get that much time off in one go.

    Your daughter is an adult now, even if she’s a young adult. That means not doing things for her so much. That means letting her earn and work for her independence. That means not handling workplace problems for her, like you making this advice request on her behalf. That means letting her make the call on how she handles a conflict between her job and your family vacation. That means accepting that she might not be able to afford (not necessarily literally, but in practical terms) the same level of vacations you enjoy as an established professional.

    That means letting her make her own mistakes, too, and not rushing in to save her from every minor life setback. To show her that you trust her and believe in her, and to show her that even if she makes mistakes she can recover from them.

    1. BatmansRobyn*

      The idea that a nineteen year old should prioritize a part-time job retail job over a summer vacation with their family is very silly. This isn’t a once in a lifetime job opportunity–it’s a low-wage summer job. A European vacation bankrolled by parents, usually has an expiration date and isn’t something you’ll be able to get back when you’re a 24 year old college graduate working full-time. And,

      It would be a totally different story if she was being encouraged to quit a full-time entry level position she’d just accepted. Mom wrote in to make sure she wasn’t giving her daughter BAD advice, not to get permission to resign on her daughter’s behalf. Trusting and believing in your kid also means empowering them to bail on crappy situations like when your manager leads you to believe you can have time off when you tell them you need time off months in advance and then doesn’t give it to you. Short-staffed stores tend to be that way for a reason, and the reason is never “nobody wants a retail job.”

    2. Kay*

      I feel like this is a very American attitude. It’s kind of sad that it’s normal to have to work at a white collar job for more than a year to qualify for two weeks’ vacation, while in other countries the standard is 3-8 weeks vacation per year.

      1. Aisling*

        Well this is an American blog… it’s written in American and primarily concerns itself with American work issues. So while it may sound sad to you, this is the norm for many, many Americans. And that’s just for the ones that actually get vacation. Europe sounds great, but their work culture is not what we’re dealing with here.

        1. WeevilWobble*

          Most Americans here are (rightly) saying the daughter should take the trip. You are being condescending to non-Americans and you aren’t even accurately describing the majority American mindset.

    3. Nikki*

      She’s working a summer retail job not a professional job. A two week vacay with your 19-year old college kid is totally realistic, she can come back from vacation and pick up the same kind of low-effort job with no problem.

      Why would anyone prioritize this job over a vacation? It’s clear the vacation is already paid for and this 19 year old isn’t in a financial place where she needs the 8 dollars an hour or whatever this store is offering so much that she can’t wait until she returns from vacation to work.

    4. Leslie knope*

      I really don’t think the LWs entry warrants this lecture tbh. There’s nothing that indicates she hasn’t adjusted to her daughter being an adult or that her daughter doesn’t want to go. Shes 19, that’s not exactly a crazy age to still be involved with family vacations. I feel like the American view of things is sort of coloring the perception here and people are projecting a lot that isn’t there.

    5. WeevilWobble*

      Letting her skip a trip to Europe would be a HUGE mistake the mom would be letting her make.

  50. Ella X*

    It isn’t the same situation but here’s my retail story from the other side.

    I was in charge of hiring the christmas seasonals, and during the interviews we made it clear there was going to be no approval on days off until after the holiday rush. This applied to everyone new and old. Sure that’s fine they all say. There were so many that then went and tried to request Thanksgiving weekend off. One went so far as to cry and bring in her mother to explain that she couldn’t miss the family trip.

    1. Observer*

      And it bothered you so much that you still remember it.

      Why is it any better coming from the other direction?

  51. BatmansRobyn*

    To LW #3: I worked retail from 2007-2014 and left a number of retail jobs for much sillier reasons than taking a rad European vacation with my family.

    It was about 50-50 if I was asked about my other retail jobs when applying for retail positions. Outside of retail world, though, my experience was that nobody cared that I was the best at organizing and identifying dishes by brand at the Teapot Boutique. Internships and office jobs were much more concerned with my coursework and campus engagement than what I was doing part-time for takeout money.

    The compromise of offering to come back to work if they don’t find a replacement by the time y’all get back from your trip seems perfectly reasonable to me. If they don’t go for it, there’s always another short-staffed store that just lost an employee going on a European vacation and would gladly hire your daughter.

  52. Marble Rye*

    Eh quit the retail job and go to Europe. I was just thinking the other day about a time I was working at a grocery store with shady practices on a Summer break from college. I was tired and had worked almost 10 hours that day although I was “part time” I was working like 60+ hours a week. I finished all my grueling work and asked my supervisor if I could go home. It was my niece’s birthday and I was so proud I was buying her cake and I was late to the party. He replied: “that won’t fly here”. I didn’t get home until 10pm. Now that I’m 30ish in the corporate office world and plenty of jobs later I wish I would have just walked out and quit that very moment. Retail jobs are notorious for not valuing employees.

    Furthermore something sounds strange that she is “part time” and working 35+ hours a week. That’s full time where I live. Also it sounds like the Manager knew from start that she wouldn’t let her have the days off but disguised it as “we’ll discuss that closer to the time”, because she suspected it might be a deal breaker to her hiring/staying.

  53. Sophia Brooks*

    I worked close to full time in grocery (which is possibly only slightly better than retail in how they treat employees and hours) in high school and college. My family didn’t have a lot of money, and I made it through without any student loans, which has been a godsend.

    I STILL regret opportunities for travel, for a junior Fullbright, or even just being on campus more that I missed out on this. So my advice now would be to quit.

    HOWEVER, I also realize as an adult I was really quite anxious about doing any of those things, especially since I was a first generation college student and my family had never taken a vacation, so I also used the job as an excuse as to why I “couldn’t” do things.

    So, like everyone says, I wouldn’t make the daughter quit (because she just might not want to go), but I would advise her to quit.

    1. AnonymousInfinity*

      Yep. My part-time summer retail job turned into nearly five years. I was bumped to full time after a year or so, so I did 40 hours a week there and 18 credit hours a semester at school. I did MWF on campus and TR+weekends at work. I missed out on honors convocations, sports events, trips, research opportunities (!), summer fellowships, honor societies, and most of the college experience. I regret it but I wouldn’t change it because I like where I am now and employers liked my record of managing full-time everything at once… But there are sacrifices, and I’ve had enough experiences now to know that work is not everything, and my life comes before work.

  54. KJDubreuil*

    The employee should talk to her manager. She should say that when she was hired she discussed this planned vacation and thought the manager understood that she would be going. She should say that to her ‘discuss it closer to the time’ meant that she should remind the manager about it when the schedule was being created, not that there was a chance it would be denied. She could offer to work more hours and even offer to work overtime before and after the trip with no expectation that the increased hours would make her eligible for full time benefits because it would be an agreed upon temporary increase.

    If the manager still denies the approved time off, she should say that then she will need to resign and ask the manager when they want her to hand in her two weeks notice. (That could be now or exactly two weeks before she leaves on the trip.)

    The manager may then fire her but they will probably agree that she should resign because that decreases their obligations relative to unemployment benefits.

    1. Peter the Bubblehead*

      Retailers probably won’t have the flexability of scheduling an employee for overtime whether they are part-time or full-time employees. Most companies will not allow employees to ‘build up’ comp time (you must be paid for the hours you work WHEN you work them) and paying time and a half is not in the budget for most management.

  55. Gord*

    #2 – Being so self conscious about eating could, in itself, say something about you to an prospective employer. Without being in their head, I can’t say how they will interpret that, but I would find it odd and make me wonder what other curiosities you might bring if I were to hire you. My advice is to attend the lunch, order something innocuous, and don’t bring any drama in things before they even get to know you.

  56. KJDubreuil*

    It is also possible that if she behaves well and communicates clearly that the manager will look at the reality of replacing her and decide that they do want to approve the time off.

    She should include the day (or two!) of ‘recovery’ in her request without further explanation. Travel delays could result in her being back very late and she does NEED to be at work for a scheduled shift if they allow her the time off with permission and to keep her job.

    I’m a manager. It’s a lot like herding cats. I appreciate employees who are communicative and unemotional during this type of negotiation. I would rather an excellent employee going to Europe for two weeks than a crappy employee who doesn’t tell me until after hiring that she needs two days off for a trial for a Felony (true story.)

    The Felony one was granted the days off (what am I going to do, tell her she can’t go to her Felony trial date??) but then was soon after terminated for calling in to her shift a half hour before it started with the excuse that she was in a car accident the day before (uninjured) but didn’t have transportation.

    She had called in the day before because of the car accident. Excused absence. She had called in sick each day she was scheduled the WEEK before. All those were excused absences. When she called in a half hour before her shift with ‘no transportation’ I told her to take Uber and ‘no show, no job.’ She said ‘well then I guess I’m quitting?’ I agreed, at which point she said, ‘OK I’ll be by in an hour to pick up my check.’ (Payroll had been done the day before.)

    The employee who clearly communicates their availability and wishes is a dream employee. Yes sometimes we have to say no, or try to find a work around, but at least they PLAN to work and are reliable when scheduled.

  57. EmKay*

    Quit the job, go to Europe. If you want to. (I realize the daughter may be using this as an excuse to bow out of a trip she’s not excited about. That’s also okay.)

    Speaking of unreasonable leave “policies”… When my paternal grandmother was dying, I had made plans to take off work and fly down to see her one last time. Roughly 4 weeks or so before this time, she took a turn for the worst and my mother called. “She’s not gonna make it that long, you’d better come now.” This was a Wednesday. I immediately call the airline to change my flight, the earliest I can get is Friday morning. I take it. I inform my boss, she’s cool with it. She tells me to make sure I take the time off as bereavement leave and not vacation time. So I head to the payroll lady’s office and inform her of all this. She looks at me blankly for a moment, then says “… but she’s not dead yet. I can’t give you bereavement leave.”

    I SHIT YOU NOT. I burst into sobs, ran to my boss’ office and repeated every word. I have never seen anyone get so mad so fast. She told me “I’ll take care of it” and power walked to the payroll office. I swear everyone on our floor heard her shouting at the poor girl.

    TL;DR I got the bereavement leave and made it in time to see my grandmother before she passed. Payroll lady tiptoed around me for months afterwards.

  58. mnice*

    As a senior in high school, (17 years old) I was working part time overnights at a hotel ( I’d been there in different capacities for 2+ years). I told my boss three months ahead of time about a weekend I needed off to go skiing with my dad. Since there was no one trained to cover my shifts, I was assured someone would be training with me at somepoint or that he would cover that weekend. A week before my dad and I were schedule to leave I was told they didn’t have anyone to cover my shifts and that I couldn’t have the time off. I quit on the spot and when I got back went in to return my uniform and pickup my last check. The hotel manager came out and offered me my old job in the restaraunt back.

    Anyway, mostly just sayign this sort of stuf is BS. She told them when she was hired she had travel dates scheduled. They may think their PT retail job is more important than a trip to Europe, and its up to your daughter if it is. But PERSONALLY in 30 years on this planet I’ve been to Europe twice and had a dozen different part time jobs, and twice that many power trippy bosses. I’d go on the trip, make amazing memories and not waste another minute worrying about that job – especially if the family is willing to help make sure that she is able to make rent etc.. as a result of quitting her job to go on the family trips.

  59. coffeeandpearls*

    #2 – Ugh, lunch interviews. I interviewed for a position 8AM-5PM and thought the lunch portion would be more like a social interview because they told me it was casual, it was with students and they served pizza. Oh, no. They GRILLED me with formal questions and I had about three bites of a slice. I was so hungry for the next five hours of my interview I didn’t do very well. Eat a big breakfast, plan on only having a couple of bites for lunch . . . and this may be gross but keep an emergency granola bar on you to scarf in the bathroom if you have to.

  60. Renna*

    Letter 3 – I’d quit.

    I lived in Germany for five years and saw most of Europe as a child. 13 days is not equivalent but the continent has so much to experience in terms of history, nature, and culture, and getting there is so expensive for most people (I have not been back since Dad was stationed back to the U.S. in 2000, I just can’t afford it), I would consider it a once in a lifetime opportunity. If your family can afford it now, they might not be able to in the future. Seize the day.

    Part time retail jobs with crappy managers are a dime a dozen. If manager won’t grant time off, a week in Europe is probably going to do more for your daughter long-term than a dead-end college job.

  61. Horatio*

    OP#4 – I’m working at the same place I interned at (in a different department) and it’s been incredibly valuable/enjoyable for me. It’s technically not my first job out of college since they let me switch over to interning during the evenings when I started working full time (in total I was an intern for about 2 years; 6 months of that was during college), so I did get the chance to test out other jobs – which helped me confirm that this is the right place for me.

    I agree with Alison that you should look into other options just so you have an idea of what else is out there – but also, if you know this is an environment you thrive in and enjoy, there’s no harm in taking a job there if they offer you one. The big plus is that you sort of already know what you’re walking into with them, so it’s less of a gamble.

  62. Mr. Bob Dobalina*

    OP#3: I believe this was already recommended, but I suggest that your daughter inform her manager that she will be taking the time off, as anticipated and previously advised, and that she would love to continue in her job after she returns from the planned trip, but if that is not possible, consider this her notice. I assume, based on the facts given, that the daughter is not in great need of the immediate paycheck and that her family can provide financial support until she finds a new job. As AAM said, one is not required to list every job on a resume. I don’t see where the employer has much leverage at all, given that retail jobs are relatively common and do not require a specialized skill set. That being said, it will take time for the employer to find and train a replacement, so I don’t even think it may be in the best interests of the employer to fire her.

  63. City Girl*

    I totally totally totally feel you OP#2–this whole idea of meals on interviews is awful–so awkward. But I have done it and lived to tell about it (albeit with a lot of itty-bitty bites and pushing things around on the plate.). You can do it! (And plan to have a great meal–all your favorites–that night when it is all over.)

  64. jo*

    OP3, some advice/information for your daughter for future time-off requests:
    If you bring up a significant vacation (like a week or longer) to your boss within six months of your travel dates, and they say “let’s talk about it closer to those dates,” you can and should push to talk about it sooner. It’s in the employer’s interests, as well as yours, to figure out a plan. If they say they’ll think about it, you should follow up with them every couple of weeks (or even every week, depending on your overall time window) until you get an answer. If it’s an on-boarding conversation, I don’t know why they wouldn’t want to discuss it right then and there, since scheduling is already the topic at hand. OP, your daughter did the correct thing by mentioning those travel dates when she was first hired, despite the fact that the trip wasn’t 100% finalized. Her boss did the wrong thing by not dealing with it right away–an employee was requesting a long vacation that was only a few months away, and they sat on their hands! I don’t know if they were just being foolish or trying to place her in a tough position, but it wasn’t the right way to proceed.

    It would have been better for your daughter to say, “Considering the trip is already pretty close, I was hoping we could go ahead and discuss it now. I don’t feel comfortable leaving it till the last minute.” Not that I fault her for not doing that, considering her age and experience. With more experience, she’ll probably get more comfortable with that level of frankness.

  65. ThatAspie*

    I’ve heard that interviewers will often take candidates to lunch to see how they eat. Supposedly, the thinking goes that a good hire will eat more “properly” (not spilling things, not drooling or dribbling, excellent Queen-level table manners, etc.) and a bad hire will eat more “improperly” (eating more like how I often tend to eat). Is it true, or is this just another one of those things that this guy who said that to me made up to make me feel bad about myself?

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