someone is leaving political messages on our bulletin board, intern thinks my job is to find them tasks, and more

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

1. I referred a friend to my company and she’s made far more friends here than I have

I love my job and my coworkers, but we aren’t a very social bunch. We’ve been remote since Covid and it is going to remain that way, but every once in a while we all go to the office to connect. We do company happy hours, but no one really hangs out outside of work. I am also one of the younger team members; a lot of my coworkers have partners and families and I’m a single woman in my 20s. In my previous jobs, I made lots of friends and really enjoyed the social aspect of work so this part has been a struggle for me, but I’ve stayed at the company because I enjoy my job and have had a lot of wonderful opportunities.

I recently referred a very good friend to a position here. She was a victim of layoffs and was really struggling to find a job. My company is known for being very stable and she seemed like a good fit for the role. She killed it in the interview and was hired. I’m happy for her — she works hard and deserves it. We work in the same side of the business but in different departments (she’s in sales, I’m in operations). She has made a lot of friends in the few weeks she has been there and goes out with them frequently. When we are together, she often talks about all of the fun she has had with her new coworkers. I can’t help but feel jealous that she is having a much more social experience than I have, even after being here for several years.

I know I can’t stop her from socializing with these coworkers (and I don’t want to do that), but it’s hard for me to hear about the fun she is having with them when I have struggled with it. I’m starting to regret referring her because of the anxiety this has caused me. I think it would be better if I didn’t hear these stories, but I don’t want to cause issues. Should I tell my friend I don’t want to hear these stories (at least at length) or should I bite my tongue? Any other tips of dealing with this?

Since she’s a good friend, I think you could level with her about why this is tough for you to hear about so frequently … but as an alternative, why not ask if you can join her some of the time? She’d probably gladly invite you along, especially if you explain that you’ve struggled to find coworkers to connect with socially since you’ve been there.

P.S. It’s almost certainly because she’s in sales; they tend to be a social bunch.

2. Someone is leaving political messages on our office bulletin board

My office has a board near the kitchen/lunch area where people will occasionally hang things up. Usually it’s the typical restaurant menus, thank-you cards, or event flyers, but for the past couple years someone (or several someones) has been occasionally posting anonymous messages. Some of them are overtly political in nature. For example, one said something like, “Inflation is at its highest levels since 1981. Thanks Joe.” Inflation and high gas prices were frequent topics last year, always blaming the current administration. I’ve also found some with anti-working-from-home sentiments, and one that said, “Just 3% of U.S. workers wear ‘business professional’ clothes to work,” which feels super passive-aggressive.

This is obviously inappropriate, regardless of political affiliation, and I feel uncomfortable when I see them. I’ve been throwing them away when I find them, and I know some of my coworkers do the same. I don’t have a clue who’s doing it, so going directly to the source isn’t an option, and we don’t really have an HR department. I’m not sure if there’s anything else I can (or should) do beyond taking them down.

Personally, I would be inclined to respond to the political ones with factchecks and counterpoints, but that’s not necessarily the best thing to do … although if that turns it into a bulletin board war with both sides going back and forth, that at least has the advantage of probably eventually getting the entire thing shut down. (Although for the record, the stuff about business clothes doesn’t seem like a big deal.) I’m not recommending that approach, just saying I’d be tempted.

The more measured option is to just bring it to the attention of whoever in your office is in a position to do something about it. Since you don’t have HR, that might be an admin who manages the space, a manager, or someone else, depending on how things work in your office.

3. Our intern thinks my job is to find them tasks

I work with a team of part-time, developing employees (think student workers or interns). While I’m not technically their manager, I am senior to them and often delegate tasks to this team. I know that part of their role is learning the norms and etiquette of the workplace, so I try to give guidance and be understanding when giving corrections. The nature of my job is that I often need periods of focus, so I’ve been working on creating assignments and areas of responsibility for each intern to develop more self-directed work habits.

I’ve been running into frustration with one worker, Dale, who ends each shift telling me when they will be in the office next so “you have time to come up with more tasks for me.” I snapped the last time they said this and sharply replied that their comment did not sit well with me.

I told Dale that it wasn’t my job to fill their task list; it’s to do work that advances our projects. Their job is to assist all of us in the department and, if there isn’t a clear task to be done next, to ask coworkers or full-time folks if they needed any help, or proactively look at what else could be improved in their area of responsibility.

I’m not quite sure why I found this so annoying. I think it was this sense of entitlement that I existed to give them work experience. I think I could have handled it better, and it always seems we have at least one worker in each cohort with this tendency. What can/should I do to better address this now and in the future?

Yeah, it sounds like you overreacted! It’s not uncommon for student workers and interns to not yet understand the principle you described here. From years in school, they’re used to people coming up with work for them and will often miss the nuance that rubbed you the wrong way. Part of the point of these early jobs is to learn exactly this kind of thing. Plus, Dale might not have even meant it the way you took it; there’s a good chance they just meant “I’m letting you know when I’ll next be in so you know when I’ll be available for anything you want to give me.”

Rather than snapping, it makes sense to just calmly teach the concept you want them to know. For example: “I will let you know if I have tasks for you, but since sometimes I won’t, has anyone talked to you about what to do with your time when you don’t have immediate work on your plate?” … and then from there, let them know how they should be spending that time.

4. Can companies let one person work from home but not let another?

My fiance and I contracted Covid this summer, and she was told to stay home from work until she tested negative. She was out of sick time as she had only started working there six months earlier, her company does not front-load PTO, and and she’d had to use all her sick time for an injury just prior to getting Covid.

She is a project coordinator and asked if she could work from home. She was told by her manager that they only allow work from home during inclement weather. It ended up being five days of no pay for her. Fast forward a few weeks and one of the other project coordinators gets sick and is allowed to work from home. They both have the same job but work in different departments. They have different managers but ultimately work for the same boss above the managers.

She feels like she was singled out and not allowed the same flexibility as her coworker, and it’s really bumming her out (especially because the underwriters for our new home are asking why there is a gap in her paycheck). Are companies allowed to pick and choose which policies apply to which people? She brought it up to HR and they said they are allowed to make decisions on a case by case basis.

It’s legal for companies to pick and choose which policies apply to which people, as long as they aren’t choosing based on an illegal factor (like by race, sex, religion, or other protected class) and as long as their choices don’t have a disparate impact on a protected class (for example, they might not intend to only let people of race X flex their schedules, but somehow it’s worked out that way).

It’s pretty common for different managers to have different policies on working from home; some managers are more comfortable with remote work than others, or see it as a better or worse fit for their team than another manager does. It’s also possible for a company to feel person A has earned the privilege but person B hasn’t (for example, because person B is new or struggling or because nothing got done the last time they worked from home).

That said, when it comes to policies like isolating with a contagious illness, companies should (but aren’t legally required to) think about whether their policies are fair, penalize lower paid workers workers more than higher paid ones, and/or inadvertently incentivize people to come in sick.

{ 435 comments… read them below }

  1. bunniferous*

    For the OP of letter #1….yes, yes, YES it’s because your friend is in sales!!! Sales people as a group tend to be gregarious extroverts and very social people. See if your friend can introduce you to some of her friend group!

    1. Who Was That Masked Man?*

      OP1 should absolutely make friends with people in sales. It may give here the chance to get out of the back office.

        1. LJ*

          I mean she does want to be more social at work . It’s entirely possible a different role would bring out those social aspects – not a given, but worth consideration

      1. Bruce*

        Oh man, the worst hangover + jet-lag I’ve had in the last decade was after a meal with a sales guy and a marketing guy, they suggested we split the bill evenly then proceeded to order multiple bottles of wine and a whole bottle of Chartreuse (this was in Alpine France, before the recent scarcity of Chartreuse)… It was a fabulous meal, but after staggering up the hotel stairs to my room I lay staring at the ceiling for hours. I had to explain to my boss how I spent 200 Euros on a single meal…

      2. Ally McBeal*

        The handful of times I’ve done tequila shots can all be blamed on sales teams. I love them, but I refuse to try to keep up anymore. My 37-year-old liver would like to hang on for at least another 37 years.

    2. Thatoneoverthere*

      I was going to post the same, until I saw Alison’s PS. Yes 100% bc its sales. I worked in Sales for a while after college. Especially if people are in the early 20s and single, it will be a very social group.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      As soon as I saw “sales” I was like “well there’s your correlation.”

      Long ago I was at a book launch that was sales and editorial. Editorial swooped around making easy small talk with anyone they hadn’t met, while editorial hovered in clumps at the edges, trying to figure out if we were allowed to eat the buffet yet.

        1. Shirley Keeldar*

          I remember our sales team requiring that editorial come to an early-morning breakfast meet-and-greet with some buyers and then being annoyed that the editors did not circulate and chat. I was like—but surely you know who you were asking to this thing? We’re introverts before coffee!

      1. Reluctant Mezzo*

        Some of us are Hillary. Some of us are Bill. (cf, the Clintons). Both work hard, but it’s pretty obvious the Bills have more fun. Solution: hang around a Bill, at least till you need to run back to your cubicle and decompress (most Bills will keep going waaay longer than most Hillaries can manage).

    4. Where Wolf?*

      Seconding that the friend being in Sales is a huge factor. Last company I worked for, I was the office assistant for the Sales team. They were constantly out and about, with each other and clients for work things but also often going out just fun. Part of me was sad not to be included but I also recognized that, as the non-Sales person on the Sales team, I was far more introverted and reserved, which was normal for every other department in the company.

      It makes perfect sense to me that people in Sales are far more social and tightly bonded than any other coworker. I had other coworkers I was friendly with but in a sit together at lunch kind of way, not meet up after work for drinks. I’d definitely as the friend to invite and introduce the OP to her friend group.

    5. thelettermegan*

      Came here to state this: today’s sales jobs are mostly about making friends! They have to build rapport with people inside and outside the company. If your friend wasn’t making friends within the company, that would be concerning.

      Sometimes sales will look like hard negotiating, but just as often it’ll look like a surprise trip to chili’s for blooming onions and bonding over small-town childhood memories until the client trusts you enough to give you an honest opinion about the value of your product in their eyes. It many ways, it only looks like socializing.

      LW1, you should absolutely ask if there’s upcoming events with open invitations, but you’ll want to be ready to be on your best behavior if it’s drink-with-so-and-so-from-the-big-client. If you bring up dark company secrets or voice a lack of enthusiasm for the products, the invitations might dry up.

      1. Hannah Lee*

        Also, though you don’t have to fake being super social, or think you have to somehow be the life of the party, you do want to bring your more sociable, less judgemental side to any event you – any thoughts about how much others are drinking, what they are saying? Keep them to yourself for the most part. Basically show up to enjoy their company, be pleasant non-kill joy company and chirpily bow out if the evening starts to veer in a direction outside of your comfort zone*.

        I’ve been the operations/finance person who became friendly with the sales folks*. For the most part, the good/normal ones were happy to socialize with me (only the jerks had some weird ‘torment the accounting nerd’ carry over from high school/college, the others either ignored them or buffered me from them). It actually became a good thing, both socially and professionally.

        They often did really fun things, would call me if they needed to fill a seat at a client event (sometimes box seats), and would give me heads up to the sales side of company scuttlebutt, so I often knew about big developments early and they were glad to have someone in finance they could bounce non-standard terms/operational stuff off of as a sanity check before they officially submitted it for approval, or to check on status of contracts, whatever outside of ‘official’ channels.

        *Examples of outside my comfort zone stuff:
        the time I and a co-presenter visiting a field office went out after work with the sales team. We two (mid-20 something women) were each assigned to ride in a different sales dude’s company provided BMW, and the 2 sales dude drivers got on the phone with each other, chatting and trash talking each other the whole way while they raced each other on the expressway after cracking open a beer that they drank while driving…. we wisely opted to take a cab back to our hotel instead of bar hopping with them after dinner. We were too young, inexperienced to realize the potential for mayhem, bad judgement before we got in the cars, but learned quickly.
        anytime the next stop after dinner or drinks was a strip club – I opted out of that, chirpily. Because while I might go with friends to one for laughs, a) it’s not really my thing and b) I had no desire to see all the men who I knew full well were married with kids back home acting like gross j-donkeys to women and with each other, and then have to deal with them professionally the next day.

    6. Sara without an H*

      LW#1, yes, it’s because your friend is in sales. “Gregarious” doesn’t begin to do sales people justice.

      So, instead of moping, take Alison’s advice and ask your friend if she can introduce you to her work group and start tagging along on some of their outings. Just say that your operations colleagues aren’t real social and you’d like to get to know some of the sales people.

      One word of caution: If you’re the least bit introverted, you may find this gets tiring fast. But if you’re the only extrovert in an otherwise-introverted operations team, having a buddy in Sales could be a lifeline.

    7. Bruce*

      LW1: if your friend wasn’t cutting a wide social swath she would not be in sales :-) I like Alisson’s advice to tag along!

      1. That's True*

        Yes, tag along! You won’t be a third wheel in a group, and (speaking as an introvert) it really smooths the path to have an extrovert friend bring you into the crowd.

    8. iglwif*

      I thought that IMMEDIATELY and was glad to see Alison point it out!

      I work in marketing and thus must go to sales conferences, and the sales folks are honestly exhausting. Like “up for yoga at 06:30 and posting their karaoke and pizza pics in the WhatsApp group chat at 01:45” people. I love them but I absolutely cannot keep up.

      1. Bruce*

        One of my marketing co-workers can spend the evening at the bar, then get up the next morning and conduct a bravura presentation to a customer that runs for 3 hours, on his feet, doing most of the talking. I don’t try to keep up with him drinking but I still can barely hold my head up from jet-lag (to be fair he lives on the East coast and I’m on the West, so going to Europe is not as bad for him) The guy has stamina and can think on his feet with little sleep…

      2. Reluctant Mezzo*

        Yes, I once saw a movie about Babe Ruth and his particular energy level, which was greater than most actual humans. Some people are just Like That.

    9. Dust Bunny*

      I was just going to say this: That’s why they’re in sales.

      My office gets along very well but generally does not socialize. We’re in archives. We’re pretty much the direct opposite of sales personalities–a whole department who could go all week barely speaking to each other because we’re all happily working alone on our own stuff.

    10. 2 Cents*

      Let your sales friend adopt you into her extrovert group. As the meme I saw goes, I’m the introvert an extrovert has taken pity on :D

  2. Tio*

    OP1 – Not the least bit surprising that our friend is in sales. Going out and making connections is basically what they do – and that extends to their coworkers very often. You should definitely see if you can get an invite from her though! It will probably be an easy yes.

    OP3 – That seems like a HUGE overreaction even for an intern-like employee. If I saw one of my employees react like that I would be alarmed; this is not really an unreasonable thing to say to someone who delegates tasks to you… I hope you apologize to them for snapping!

    1. MK*

      Also, if it’s an unpaid internship, OP does in fact ” exist to give them work experience”, as in, it’s definitely part of her job to do so, because work experience is basically their compensation for the work they do.

      1. MK*

        Ok, I see that you aren’t their manager. Maybe, instead of snapping at interns, you should approach whoever is manager?

        1. Who Was That Masked Man?*

          OP2 wrote: “Their job is to assist all of us in the department and, if there isn’t a clear task to be done next, to ask coworkers or full-time folks if they needed any help…”

          That seems to be exactly what he did.

          Some companies have an assign-work culture, and others have an eat-what-you-kill culture. If your company is more the latter, the intern absolutely did nothing wrong.

          If it’s more the former, you need to figure out who is the point person for assigning work and direct the intern to that person, but even then the intern did not behave inappropriately, and you overreacted.

        1. Cj*

          but it isn’t daily. these are part time employees, and he lets her know at the end of each shift (that he works) the next time he will be in the office. it kind of sounds like his next shift won’t be for at least a couple of days.

        2. Anonys*

          But Dave didn’t really “tell OP she had to do something”. He just indicated that he wanted to give her a heads up as she probably doesnt have his schedule memorized. . And since OP routinely assigns Dave tasks it’s not unreasonable to assume she will want to continue to do so.

          Often, as an intern, when you go to someone and say: hey I am here today, I have nothing to do right now, how can I support? – people are busy and cant think of anything to delegate or explain adhoc. With advance warning it’s much more likely.

          I agree Dave’s wording regarding “so you have time to come up with tasks” is not ideal (also struggling to come up with the ideal wording tho) but come on OP, it’s very unlikely Dave actually thinks your primary job objective is to come up with tasks for him

          1. Bit o' Brit*

            I think the ideal is not to say anything there. “I’ll be in next whenever” is all the necessary information, and to be friendly you use a cheery goodbye.

            It’s the implication in the phrasing that the intern is assigning LW the task of finding him work as a service to him when the intern’s role is to be of service to LW that’s hitting the wrong note.

            1. MK*

              Frankly, that’s an incredibly bad-faith interpretation of the phrasing; unless Dale has a history of being entitled or rude, there is not reason to assume he wants work assigned to him as “a service to him”! I certainly never looked on my supervisors assigning me work as a favour to me. And “the intern’s role is to be of service to LW” is a much more offputting phrasing than anything Dale said.

              1. B. Nonymous*

                The use of ‘entitled’ jumped out at me generally, to be honest – I’m having a tough time imagining how it’s ‘entitled’ of someone to make it clear that they are available *to do work for the person to whom they are speaking*. Honestly, any other interpretation of what Dale said seems pretty bad-faith to me – he was coming to work, he wanted to work, and he said so. OP’s reaction seems very strange to me.

                1. AnneNotCarrots*

                  Yeah, the use of “entitled” signals to me that they just don’t like working with/being around young people since that seems to be the favored insult regardless of actual interactions. Asking to do work is entitled now? I agree with you, OP’s reaction is very strange and unnecessarily hostile.

                2. St. Mary’s Institute of Historical Research*

                  The only thing I can think of is that it’s similar to the mental load many women take on at home, that of evaluating and assigning housework tasks. And the (not all) men who say “just tell me what chores you want me to do and I’ll do them!” instead of looking around and noticing the dishes to be washed, the laundry to put away, the floors to sweep, the kids to be picked up, etc.
                  If that’s the pattern at play here – that Dave is constantly asking what to do instead of opening his eyes to the pile of stuff already on his desk – then I could see why OP#3 snapped.

                3. Jessica*


                  This is not a full-time, salaried, experienced employee. This is an *intern.*

                  Interns generally aren’t expected to take the initiative (and given that they’re there to learn, generally you don’t *want* them taking too much initiative–you want them either doing work where there’s no chance they can screw up anything important, or doing work that’s closely supervised).

                  There’s nothing “entitled” about an intern expecting employees to tell them what to do. That is, quite literally, the job description for most internships.

                  If you don’t want to be in a teaching/mentorship role–and that’s a completely reasonable stance to take, it’s *work*–lobby to not have interns in your department. It’s legit not to have time/bandwidth/patience for it on top of all your other job responsibilities.

                  But in no sense is this the interns’ fault.

                4. KateM*

                  St. Mary’s Institute of Historical Research, it *is* similar, but an intern to a full-time employee isn’t the same as husband to wife – it’s more like a long-stay guest to resident. They don’t have the big picture, they do what you tell them to do. And in case of an intern, that’s exactly why they are there! They are not expected to look around and decide “oh, OP’s desk is so messy, seems like those papers need to be straightened/filed away”.

            2. Irish Teacher*

              I could be way off here, as I obviously didn’t hear the tone and don’t know the intern, but my guess is that Dale really didn’t mean it that way and isn’t familiar enough with the working world to realise it could come across that way. He probably meant that “I’ll be in on whatever day, so you can let me know what I’m supposed to do then.”

              I doubt he sees the LW giving him work as the LW doing a favour for him. He probably sees it more as giving the LW time to figure out what the LW needs him to do.

              1. Dust Bunny*

                I think Dale might also be concerned about overstepping his role as an intern, and possibly suffering from unclear leadership. They’re interns–they’re supposed to be learning business norms, not to already know them. If a longtime employee did this I would think it was weird, but it’s not that weird from an intern, especially since the OP does, in fact, often delegate tasks to him!

            3. Antilles*

              I think you’re reading way too much into the phrasing for an student worker/intern who is likely in his first professional job.

              1. Bit o' Brit*

                I didn’t say it was his intent, but that that’s clearly what’s coming across for the LW to be reacting that way. Communication is about being understood, not just saying words.

                1. That's True*

                  Yes, but LW overreacted and failed to communicate clearly with Dave. Time to apologize and clarify the message.

                2. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

                  Communication starts with saying words, which the LW did not do until she was annoyed enough to snap.

                3. Rose*

                  But he’s an intern. LW needs to talk to him like an intern. We all know interns are there to learn, and might not freeze things perfectly.

            4. MigraineMonth*

              I think that just saying “I’ll be back Wednesday” doesn’t actually communicate all the necessary information. Dave is saying both when he’ll be back in and that he has the bandwidth to take on more tasks. I’m an experienced professional, and I often ping my manager that I’ve finished X task (or it’s waiting on someone else) and have the capacity to take on more work.

              I think what Dave is doing here is giving the OP information about his schedule and future availability for tasks. Maybe he didn’t say it in the best possible way (or he should have said it to his manager instead of OP), but he’s an intern who is there to learn.

              OP, I think you owe him an apology. If you want him to change his behavior, explain what he should do if he’s run out of tasks.

            5. OMG, Bees!*

              In my experience, both once as an intern and working with interns, interns tend to be overly showy to prove they are worth the risk of hiring/paying them (internships are paid here). Many would want to say when they have nothing to do, and “I’ll be in next whenever” doesn’t convey that; albeit Dale’s phrasing was bad.

              The enthusiasm can be to the point of “I was assigned [task], I will complete [task] no matter what” even if that means getting a long network cable and the only one they see is to a boring looking computer that surely isn’t as important as the assigned task (said intern almost took down the primary server and I had to kick him out)

          2. Selena81*

            Yeah, my guess would be that Dale asked for work, got the cold shoulder (‘i am busy right now’), and tries to be helpful by announcing in advance that he is out of things to do.

            1. Turquoisecow*

              Yep. “okay well I’m back on Friday so you have some time to think of something without me bothering you!” I don’t think he’s intending to mean that OP should be spending all their time thinking of something for him to do, he’s just saying that now OP will have time to think of stuff without him standing over.

          3. Bookish Person*

            I don’t know, maybe his tone was fine and all but I’ve had staff who are in more support roles say things along the same line as if it’s my sole duty to find work for them to keep themselves busy. I’m not their manger and I am juggling several other things frequently even if I do give them work regularly. So I can definitely see the annoyance since the words themselves seem a bit entitled. But since he’s just learning and probably did not mean it as a demand, I agree with apologizing and then have a conversation about phrasing requests like that differently.

          1. And the Skeletons Are ... Part of It*

            They probably are making an effort! If they have been having downtime and haven’t been taught that when that happens, they should shop themselves around to their team to see who needs help, they’re probably thinking that OP needs “more time” to come up with their tasks, which is a reasonable (albeit wrong) assumption based on OP having assigned them tasks before.

            Interns are there to learn, and one of the main things someone needs to actually teach you is that sometimes you need to go ask for things to do. No one has to do that in school, you just get assignments. And for all the intern knows, telling coworkers they are out of things to do would result in either a) coworkers viewing them badly, or b) them being given useless bullshit to do – i.e., “time to lean/time to clean” from retail, the only job interns are likely to have been exposed to.

            Also, since OP has been assigning them work sometimes, they probably do believe OP is their point of contact / mentor / whatever, so OP should have corrected that misunderstanding gently instead of taking weird umbrage at it.

            The fact that it’s OK and normal to let people know you’re having downtime and ask who needs help is one of the things they are there to be taught – be taught, not just absorb from the aether.

            1. Nina*

              I mean, it’s pretty reasonable to assume that if you are out of things to do, you should go to someone who you know is allowed to assign you things to do, and if they’re busy/don’t want to be interrupted right now, saying ‘Okay, my next shift is on *date* so that’ll give you time to think if there’s anything you want me to do’ is a polite, fairly professional, if kind of clunky, way of handling that.

      2. TechWorker*

        Yeah when we have interns we do explicitly have someone (mentor or manager) who’s job it is to ‘come up with tasks for them’ – obviously it’s only a part of their job, but an intern letting us know when they’ll be finished and need more work would be totally normal here. An internship where you’re supposed to just.. ask around incase anyone has something you can do sounds a bit haphazard.

        1. Myrin*

          Yeah, unless there’s some missing context – like that Dale is generally lazy and expects people to basically handfeed them their tasks – I’m having some trouble understanding OP’s reaction.
          A coworker recently asked me about an article I’d written for him but that doesn’t mean he thinks that’s the only thing I’m doing with my life, it’s just the part of my work that pertained to him in that moment.

          1. Irish Teacher*

            My guess is that Dale phrased it badly and it came across as if he were demanding the LW do something for him when he really just meant to keep the LW in the loop and perhaps show his enthusiasm.

            1. West coast*

              And on the LW side it could have been just one more demand on her time on an already busy day with goodness knows what other things going on outside of work. So, apologize for snapping. Model how to behave after a less than ideal interaction then move on! Navigating interpersonal dynamics is part of what the interns are there to learn.

              1. Bruce*

                Agreed, snapping at people is rarely constructive, but apologizing and making an effort to fix the issue goes a long way.

          2. Sloanicota*

            To me, OP’s reaction came from the fact that she’s not Dave’s manager and presumably isn’t getting paid to do that (this is a nuance that interns can be easily confused about when someone is senior and delegates tasks) – instead of snapping, she just needed to redirect him to his actual manager.

          3. Boof*

            Another guess: Interns don’t have enough support from their actual manager, and OP has unofficially taken on more than they actually like, and so, when the intern said that part out loud, they got annoyed. While in that scenario, it’s not right to be annoyed at the intern for it, maybe OP should examine how much they’re doing for interns and whether they want to do that or be recognized more for it.
            Or maybe the intern has a bunch of other baggage not outlined in the letter and needs more coaching on professional norms (again, maybe by their actual manager)

          4. umami*

            Same. Dale sounds like he wants to be engaged with work while he is there and is letting someone who has been assigning him work know that he’s looking forward to knowing what else he can do. He’s an intern, so how would he know how to go about finding work to do? Most internships have stated objectives that come with tasks, but that doesn’t seem to be happening here.

        2. Selena81*

          In our team we mostly do tasks that take at least several weeks and where it would be way more effort to explain to someone how they could assist then just doing the work yourself.
          So with any new team-members we create a roster of increasingly-difficult tasks for them to do, and tell them to read up on the company if they have time left.
          The common trope of ‘just ask around to see if you can help’ would not work at all.

          1. Bruce*

            When I was in college I had an internship and a work study job, they both were huge learning experiences for me. So I am in favor of internships. But as a manager I found it very challenging to keep interns busy with an engaging job. I’m no longer the manager, and the team I’m in is stretched thin and no one has the free time to really mentor an intern. Ideally we’d make this a real task for a senior person and have them put some real training into the intern tasks, if it was done right it could give us a pipeline of new engineers to replace the people like me who are rapidly going to hit retirement. But this requires resources. I’m still going to push for it, but as a remote worker now nearing retirement it can’t really be me doing the job…

        3. Shirley Keeldar*

          I agree—it seems to me that part of a well-designed internship is that there is somebody who’s responsible for overseeing the interns, giving them tasks, and be ready for questions. If the interns are just supposed to generally ask around to see who needs help, I’d imagine the answer would be “nobody” a lot of the time because it’s so often quicker and simpler to do a task yourself than to show somebody how.

          It sounds like this job has no such person, so a) the interns are at loose ends fairly often, b) OP is ending up with this responsibility by fault and it’s eating into the time for her own tasks, and c) frustration is showing. That’s tough for all. But not really Dale’s fault.

          1. I am Emily's failing memory*

            If the interns are just supposed to generally ask around to see who needs help, I’d imagine the answer would be “nobody” a lot of the time because it’s so often quicker and simpler to do a task yourself than to show somebody how.

            And it also seems likely that the kind of work that people can come up with on the spot without having planned ahead to delegate it, is going to be proofreading/envelope stuffing/file organizing-type admin work – because you can dump it on someone without having to give them a lot of background or new training.

            And assuming this is an educational/unpaid internship and not a minimum wage job where they just call the lowest-paid staff “interns,” that kind of stuff should not be dominating how they spend their time. They should be receiving training on and getting the chance to practice using field-specific professional skills.

            1. MigraineMonth*

              In the US, using unpaid interns primarily to make copies/pick up coffee/stuff envelopes is actually illegal. Unpaid internships must primarily benefit the interns or you’re breaking minimum wage law.

          2. Optimus*

            This is how it sounds to me, too: that there is no structure for internships and no defined goals for them and no defined path through certain tasks to meet those goals. It’s fine for interns to assist with tasks as needed, but it sounds like interns are expected to create their own worthwhile experience here, and that’s not realistic nor fair. All poor Dale did was tell OP when he’d be back in the office and express hope that he’d have something to do, even if he phrased it poorly. This does not sound like a good place to do an internship, to be honest.

            1. Dust Bunny*

              Seconding all of this: It sounds like someone needs to start them out with more structure since the whole point of an internship is that the people in it don’t already know what they’re supposed to do. Also, since they’re not full employees you don’t want them guessing at what they should do or how they should do it.

              This sounds like this place needs better leadership for their intern program.

        4. LCH*

          also, having interns “proactively look at what else could be improved in their area of responsibility” is not how any internship i’ve had or overseen has worked. would you not want an actual employee to make these determinations before interns start changing things?

          1. learnedthehardway*

            Very good point – the intern doesn’t know what they should or shouldn’t be doing, and really doesn’t have any perspective on what would or wouldn’t be useful to the company. Odds are they would “improve” something that is working just fine, or that needs to work in a particular way because of something the intern is not aware of, and so would cause a lot of hassle and cost the company time/money.

            I really feel for poor Dale – here he did what he knows he should do – ie. let the OP know when he would be available for more work. He probably has no idea that it’s not the OP’s job to assign him work. Since the OP has been doing just that, he probably is under the impression that it IS the OP’s role to assign work for the interns. His comment was pretty innocuous. If anything, good on Dale for being proactive to ask for more things to do. He’s taking initiative, he’s NOT overstepping by doing whatever comes into his head, and he’s following what he thinks is the chain of command.

            The OP owes him an apology and an explanation that they were frustrated because this really isn’t their job, but it has landed on them. The OP should be introducing him to people who really can assign him work (just leaving it to Dale means that any shirkers will simply offload work to him, whether they should or not).

          2. MigraineMonth*

            I just pictured that happening in my department and I’m genuinely horrified. Even seemingly-obvious improvements, such as upgrading to the latest software version, would crash our systems and cause a massive headache. *shudders*

        5. alienor*

          Yeah, that seemed very strange to me. I had an intern this summer, and it was in fact my job to find things for them to do. When they first started, I gave them a few ongoing, useful but not urgent tasks (reading industry news, taking training classes, auditing content on the company website) so they had something to fall back on when I didn’t have anything immediate to assign them, and that helped. But it would have been weird for me to expect them to find their own work – how would an intern know what needed to be done or what they could realistically take on?

          1. Tio*

            I suspect this position is more of a floater position, where there are basically admin types to be used by whatever department needs something basic done. Usually those kinds of positions have a sort of basic checklist of standard daily tasks – check the mail, file the closed reports, log all today’s llama names, whatever, but then they are meant to gather the random low-level tasks from various departments to fill the rest of the day. Which… sound like exactly what Dale was doing! He was likely giving OP a heads up so she could put off some menial work and she just went off. It would be one thing if Dale were just ignoring his standard daily duties, but it sounds like he either doesn’t have a checklist like I mentioned before or it’s done, otherwise I feel like OP would have mentioned it. But OP had a huge overreaction here still.

        6. biobotb*

          And an intern might not realize they’re allowed to just wander around pestering people for tasks. If LW has been the only one assigning Dale work, it’s not strange that he assumed it was part of her job. (Because it sounds like it is?) If interns have the freedom to pick up tasks from others, why not make that explicit from the beginning?!

          Like, “here are your tasks for today/the week, if you get done early, feel free to ask full-timers if there’s anything they need help with before coming to me for more tasks.”

        7. Turquoisecow*

          I’ve not been an intern but even as a brand new very junior employee it was quite common for me to finish an assigned task and let my boss know I was finished, at which point he would give me something else to do.

          Once I’d been there awhile I had set tasks and didn’t have to ask for work (unless I finished those tasks earlier than expected) but it totally makes sense that interns would just do ad hoc work and not know if there was something else that needed doing unless someone told them.

        8. KateM*

          To the OP#4 from two days ago, this is why most of us recommended the established company with a structured internship program – so that you wouldn’t become an annoying Dave, but rather, have a mentor who’d say “after you have finished this task, take task#25 from our Teams channel files”.

      3. MCMonkeyBean*

        From their own description it does sound like giving work to the interns is at least *part* of their job. The way the intern worded it is not great, and saying that every single shift would be SO annoying. But it doesn’t sound THAT far off base and of course in pretty much every area of life it’s better to speak up when something annoys you than to let it stew until you explode, and that’s definitely EXTRA true when working with interns.

      4. L.H. Puttgrass*

        ‘Also, if it’s an unpaid internship, OP does in fact ” exist to give them work experience”, as in, it’s definitely part of her job to do so, because work experience is basically their compensation for the work they do.’

        Yes. And depending on the type of internship (e.g., unpaid academic internships for credit), it may even be a requirement that the internship be for the benefit of the intern and not just a source of cheap labor.

      5. Charming Charlie*

        This site’s tendency to default to “her” for people of undefined gender gives me the icks

        1. Texan in exile on her phone*

          What? You don’t feel included when “her” is used instead of “his?” How odd.

        2. Gah*

          As I understand it, that’s an intentional choice on Alison’s part, as a small counterpoint to centuries of defaulting to the masculine. We could talk about using “they” pronouns for inclusivity. But really, I’d like to ask you if you would have even noticed, let alone commented, if the default choice was “he.” My guess is that you wouldn’t have. And that perfectly illustrates the reasoning behind the choice. It’s cool if guys are the default. It’s apparently icky if women are.

          1. Boof*

            Well, there is gender neutral, which I personally prefer to “let’s change up default misgendering assumptions!” Although I understand it’s the site policy and why

            1. Florence Reece*

              It’s not site policy. It’s a choice Alison makes for some letters, but not all (note that the colleagues in letter 2 aren’t given any pronouns at all, because it doesn’t matter). The commenters have taken up the choice for a lot of letters, more than Alison does IMO, because a lot of us feel some solidarity seeing women assumed as the default for leadership roles. It’s like the scene in Barbie introducing all the high-ranking folks in the city — it’s nice, sometimes, to have femme folks normalized in roles they’re not currently widely respected in.

              I tend towards gender-neutral pronouns too, and I think everyone should make their own choice when describing anonymous, non-descript people who will never see this and are inherently incapable of being misgendered (because to all of us, they exist as a genderless void). But I do wonder about people who feel strongly about not using femme pronouns for those anonymous voids, while not voicing that opinion to people who default to masc pronouns which also happens in the comments allllll the time.

        3. Hastily Blessed Fritos*


          If you’re a guy who feels excluded from “she”, welcome to how women have felt for centuries of being told that of course “he” in this case includes “she” and that “man” includes “woman” except when it doesn’t and can’t you tell the difference?

          If you’d prefer “they”, I would too, but Alison made her “default to she” policy a long time ago. Feel free to use “they” in your own responses, nobody’s stopping you.

    2. Dorothy Zpornak*

      It sounds to me like this poor kid was just trying to show they were enthusiastic to help out and to learn. I wouldn’t be surprised if they were actually advised by someone at their school that it was important for them to show enthusiasm and be ready to help with whatever was needed.

      1. londonedit*

        That’s what I thought! There’s nothing worse than an intern/work experience person who just sits there and waits for people to give them things to do – if they’ve been well prepared, they’ll have been advised to be proactive and ask for more work to do if they come to the end of a task and haven’t been given another one to work on. I think Dale was probably just trying to say ‘I’ll be in next Wednesday, so if there’s anything you want me to do then, please let me know’.

        1. Shakti*

          Yes this exactly! You’re expected to show a go getter attitude and an enthusiasm for working which proactively asking for work in advance instead of sitting around waiting for work is exactly what you’re supposed to do when interning? He probably is confused by who is assigning him work which honestly has happened to me in real jobs because LW has been assigning him work? I feel bad for dale

        2. AngryOctopus*

          And OP has apparently often assigned things to Dale! So it’s not unreasonable for Dale to think “okay, I’m done X and so I need something the next time I’m in. I’ll go let OP know that, because I’ve gotten my last 4 tasks from them, and then they can plan what they need done accordingly”.

          1. biobotb*

            Exactly, and he sounds like he didn’t know that the LW wasn’t the only person who could give him work to do. That probably depends a lot on the specifics of an internship–in some offices it might be discouraged for interns to basically forage for tasks.

        3. mango chiffon*

          TBH as an intern, there’s nothing worse than having an internship and the company is not prepared to include the intern in the work being done. Most of my internships were like this, and they were not great experiences. A good internship program should have a plan for how to incorporate interns into the work. The way this is being described by the LW makes me think that this company hasn’t really thought about how to use interns as part of the ongoing work and they just have work delegated whenever by whoever. LW shouldn’t be angered by an intern who is trying to do work, in what sounds like a program that isn’t super well thought through.

        1. OMG, Bees!*

          Especially if said intern doesn’t have enough tasks and wants to convey they can take on more to do.

      2. Aquamarine*

        That’s what it sounds like to me. Like if he were a dishwasher he might say, “that’ll give the customers time to dirty more dishes for me.”

        Whatever he meant, he idea that he thinks the LW exists to give them work experience (or even that assigning him work tasks is the most important thing the LW does) is an odd interpretation.

      3. umami*

        Yes, exactly! I would prefer that to an intern who … just sits around waiting for someone to notice they don’t have anything to do before assigning them something.

    3. Mystery Mongoose*

      Agree – and I hope that OP3 snapped because it came at a particularly bad moment. I love training new staff and helping them with questions, but sometimes someone comes at just the wrong moment and I have to work very hard to school my face to suppress the momentary irrational irritation that takes over.

      I’d apologize to the intern for snapping – “Not personal, bad moment, ect”, but then segue into “But I want to use this as a chance to touch on how you’re doing with developing self-directed work habits. It’s great that you tell me when you’ll next be in, in case something does come across my desk, but it sounds like you’re asking me to give you a task list when what I really need for you to do is develop the skill of developing your own task list.” And then describe in detail what that looks like. Going to other departments to see if they need assistance (and whether email or in person is best for the office), or trying to occasionally step back and look at the big picture to see if they can spot something that might help someone on something they know they’re working on. For instance if their job requires some tasks with a lot of detailed steps but the write-up for it isn’t good, they could email their supervisor and offer to re-write some of the training documentation. I only mention bringing it to someone before doing it because I think there was a letter a while back when someone got dinged for “taking initiative” only it was something they definitely should not have done without approval. An intern may not have a great scope of understanding of what initiative they can take on their own, and what they shouldn’t.

      Like others have said, the intern/worker’s phrasing is not good – but without knowing more about the person it could just be bad phrasing, or a refusal to try to pick up the self-directed work habits. The snapping reaction seems to come from the latter interpretation.

    4. jasmine*

      Came here to also tell OP3 that I hope they apologize, and I’m glad someone beat me to it!

      I don’t want to pile on, obviously OP cares, otherwise they wouldn’t have asked the question. But I do want to say that from the intern’s side, getting snapped at from an “authority figure” (remember, they’re coming out of school which has very different dynamics) can be a blow to their confidence. I think apologizing would go a long way in restoring that, and then calmly repearing the same thing you said. “I do need you to proactively find tasks on your own but I’m sorry for snapping at you, I should have explained things better” or something

    5. Erin*

      Totally apologize to Dale! Early in my career, I had a similar role with a company, and I really liked working with one woman. She was creative and fun, and I could always count on learning a ton from her. Our intern program was loosely organized, and I wanted to work with her more. At one point, I let her know that she could place tasks in XYZ for me to pick up, and she snapped at me in a similar way. Uh, ok?

      Maybe she was having a bad day? Maybe she was annoyed with me? Maybe a gazillion things? Idk. It didn’t crush my soul, and we moved on. But, I was a bit apprehensive with her after that.

      1. J*

        Yeah, I had a somewhat similar experience as an intern, with being snapped at over something I asked that was very innocent and a possibly a result of just not knowing the norms of the place I was working (because I was new, and an intern still learning workplace nuances and professional norms). I was assigned a task and I had a question that I needed answered in order to complete the task. I asked my manager and they said they didn’t know but to “go over to so-and-so’s office and ask her, she will probably know and be able to help.” So I went over to that woman’s office and knocked, she indicated I could open the door, so I stuck my head in and said hi, and started to ask my question, and she snapped that she didn’t have time to answer my questions and why was I bothering her, etc. I was so taken aback that I just quickly apologized and shut the door. Maybe she was having a stressful moment, didn’t crush my soul but it did color my experience there and reflected poorly on her more than anything else. …It was just so weird and inappropriate.

        OP #2 – all that to say, it happens to the best of us, but no one should be snapping at anyone in the workplace (there’s a good argument for not snapping at people outside of the workplace too but that’s for another day lol). We all get annoyed, have bad days/moments, etc., but we’re all responsible for own anger and emotions and controlling them. And being kind/patient with interns is kinda standard. You owe Dale an apology.

        1. LCH*

          ha, i was yelled at once on my first day because i …showed up when instructed by the intern coordinator. but the head of the dept i was interning in didn’t know i would be there? it was really fun.

        2. Heffalump*

          I once had an experience something like that of the intern in #3, but with a difference.

          During my freshman year of college I worked at the snack bar in the student union. At any given time I was told (or could easily figure out) what I was supposed to do.

          At the end of the sch0ol year I got a summer job through the college placement office. This was my second job ever and my first office job. On my first day I was given a task, which I did, and then sat back. I thought someone would see that I was free and give me something else to do. In hindsight the thing to do would have been to say, “Mission accomplished, what’s my next task?” but I didn’t know that at the time. The office manager made a really mean remark, which I didn’t appreciate.

        3. MigraineMonth*

          I have ten years of experience, and when I started this job I was occasionally told to ask A any questions about X. Whenever I reached out to A by email, she would reply with one sentence (or less) saying she couldn’t help me with X, why was I contacting her?

          After the third time, I took Alison’s usual advice and asked about it. I acknowledged that it’s hard to tell tone in email, but I was getting the sense she was frustrated with me. She immediately called to thank me for letting her know! She said she was stressed, but she hadn’t realized she was taking it out on coworkers. We ended up having a much warmer relationship after that.

  3. AnotherSarah*

    I would assume the professional clothing sign in letter #2 is a 3-percenter reference, in which case it’s definitely political.

    1. MK*

      I don’t get this (not from the US), but frankly I would be tempted to write a reply saying “this is such a great development!” under this. Why would anyone bemoan the decline of an uncomfortable and expensive dress code?

      1. Anax*

        First, the ‘three percenter’ aspect – Three Percenters are a far-right anti-government militia and terrorist group, theoretically disbanded in the wake of January 6. It would be very much in character for far-right groups in the US to encode their politics in seemingly unrelated messaging; it happens a lot. So… that would be very inflammatory if it’s intentional.

        Outside of that, and assuming it’s not an intentional reference –

        It’s basically a “these young whippersnappers don’t even WANT to work!” comment – they could just as well have said “only 3% work until the job is done rather than clocking out at five”, or any other ‘gumption and grit’ comment.

        Certain fields (at least in the US) really emphasize a professional dresscode, and treat it as shorthand for how serious you are about your work – ‘dress for success’, ‘dress for the job you want, not the job you have’, and so on. (Lawyers are a big, well-known one there. Even in non-legal professions, you can often recognize the one person with a law degree in the room, because they’re at least one level fancier than their peers – at least in my experience.)

        There’s also been a real shift in ‘work appropriate’ clothes in the last several decades here, especially in rapidly evolving fields like IT. In the 1990s, my dad wore slacks, loafers, a buttondown, and a tie to work every day in his IT job.

        These days, a buttondown, jeans, and tennis shoes are typical at most places, some will go as far as jeans and band t-shirts. I can’t remember the last time I saw someone wear a tie unless they were about to meet stakeholders.

        Someone who spent their whole youth being told that their wardrobe showed their seriousness, spent decades dressing uncomfortably, built a whole work wardrobe, and now it’s finally affordable and comfortable… I can see how they would be miffed that no one cares anymore. It’s been a big part of their life, and now that they’ve paid their dues, the benefits have been snatched away.

        I think we can all agree that some clothes WOULD reflect badly on a person’s seriousness – say, showing up in a speedo (and nothing else). Some folks just don’t like the current cultural norms.

        (And of course, it’s worth discussing the ways rigid dresscodes have disproportionately punished marginalized groups or being “unprofessional” or lacking the resources to perform “professionalness”, and all of that. The only way I’m going to fit into a suit is to have it made bespoke for several thousand dollars, so I totally agree with your sentiment.)

        1. WishIWasATimeTraveller*

          Me dressing for the job I want would involve yoga pants and a dressing gown, because I don’t actually want to have a job (apart from the fact that I need to eat, live, etc.)

          1. Michelle Smith*

            Literally same. My dream job is to be independently wealthy, but I guess I missed that lottery win at birth.

          2. Elizabeth West*

            I wish I could write full-time, so same.

            My last job was in tech — we did not dress up unless clients were coming in (and everyone worked from home if they didn’t have to be there, to avoid dressing up, lol). The rest of the time, we wore jeans and t-shirts or sweatshirts. We were supposed to only wear branded t-shirts, but I stopped worrying about it when I saw the HR person one day sporting a Big Bang Theory t-shirt. :)

            New office is business casual, no ties, but “nice” clothes, plus it’s downtown in a big city so skews a little more dressy than what you’d find in my old town. I had almost nothing — I’m trying to build a work wardrobe back up again, but I’m very much focused on stretchy pants and comfortable tops, jackets, etc. My commute to the office is an hour via transit, so if I have to wear work clothes, I want to be comfy.

        2. Richard Hershberger*

          Lawyers mostly don’t wear suits anymore. Old school white shoe firms may be holding out, but in the general case, a suit is a costume put on for going to court, like those wigs British barristers used to wear.

            1. Richard Hershberger*

              They do? I thought I had read that the practice has been abandoned. Good for them! I enjoy cosplay.

                1. AngryOctopus*

                  It’s not dismissive to think “wow, the UK (? England only? Unclear to me) is still making professional lawyers wear weird wigs while they’re in court? In 2023?”.
                  The wigs don’t impart anything. It’s OK to think it’s a really weird tradition to have persisted.

                2. Dek*

                  I mean, I kind of think making people wear a silly wig to show that they are lawyers is a bit more dismissive of the profession

                3. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

                  I don’t find it dismissive. The lawyers appearing in court are there because of their knowledge, analysis, and speaking skills. Wearing a wig (like wearing a suit) has nothing to do with it. They’re not cosplaying a lawyer, they’re cosplaying a lawyer from the 1700s.

              1. Ukdancer*

                Wigs are required in criminal court and some other court settings. Civil courts no longer require them.

                Personally I like the sense of formality they impart to criminal proceedings.

                1. Selena81*

                  I like some theater, as a way of setting courtrooms apart from daily life.
                  But the wigs are just silly imo: formal clothing is usually a few decades behind fashion, but why choose 1 specific century as your anchor.

                2. Butterfly Counter*

                  I’m not being glib when I say that I find it very interesting that you (and probably others) think wigs signal formality. It’s a very unusual perspective coming from a culture that sees wigs more playfully.

              2. Ellis Bell*

                Low-level courts, like a magistrates court, is full of suits, but if all the lawyers are wearing wigs, you know you are in the crown court and the charges are serious.

                1. Lime green Pacer*

                  Canada ditched the wigs very early on, but lawyers still wear robes and collars, at least in the higher courts.

            2. Heffalump*

              A few decades ago I read that the traditional wig was being replaced by a “short” wig covering less of the wearer’s head.

          1. Delta Delta*

            Lawyer here. Currently wearing jeans, wool socks, Birkenstocks (I’m tragically unhip and I don’t care), wool t-shirt, cardigan. If I go to court I wear something a little more lawyerly, but my day to day wear is pretty dressed-down. I also teach at a law school. Yesterday I wore jeans and a blouse. Seemed fine.

            1. Richard Hershberger*

              There is another firm on the same floor as our office. If I see one of them in a suit, I wish them good luck in court.

          2. Whomever*

            I spent 14 years working on Wall Street from the 90s onward, including one year sitting on a commodities trading floor. I NEVER had to wear a suit. I would wear one occasionally if going to the opera or such but it was never a requirement.

            1. Seashell*

              My husband worked in IT for financial firms, including on a trading floor in NYC for part of the time, beginning in the 90’s, and he had to wear suits for quite a while. I can’t remember when the change came, but I’m pretty sure he was in a suit as of the big blackout in the summer of 2003.

            2. Itsa Me, Mario*

              This is interesting to me, after living in NYC for 12 years and definitely noticing a certain type of man wearing a certain type of dismissively tailored and maintained business suit anytime I was on the subway lines that had major stops in the Financial District.

              Not to contradict you at all, but it’s definitely been my perception that one of the few fields where suits, or something like them, are sometimes still worn is in finance.

              (That said, my ill-fitting suit observation pre-dates the era of the business attire + Patagonia vest.)

          3. Michelle Smith*

            Depends on what kind of lawyer you’re talking about. In my 8 years of practice, I was in court almost every day. We all wore suits and had backup suits in our offices.

          4. Itsa Me, Mario*

            While in my experience lawyers mostly don’t wear suits anymore (except in court, I guess?), I have to agree that lawyers are slightly more likely to dress “professionally” than other fields. I’m a legal EA in house at a media company. You can absolutely tell what someone does here based on how they’re dressed. The creative execs are fashion plates, the tech folks are either in workwear if they have a filmmaking background or a step above pajamas if they have an IT/computer science background, the accountants are all socks with sandals types, and the lawyers are the only people in the building you’d ever catch wearing a tie or heels.

            1. Anax*

              Yup, that’s what I’ve seen! They might not wear suits outside major meetings, but they often seem to be one step more formal than other folks in similar positions. (Say, swapping out the buttondown-and-jeans for buttondown-and-slacks, maybe even with a vest or blazer, or wearing loafers instead of tennis shoes.)

              The lawyers I’ve known wear suits when they’re meeting with C-suite executives or elected officials – not every day, but I’ve worked with folks who had those meetings regularly. Thankfully, I can get away with coder chic!

          5. Avery*

            Even that’s not a guarantee in these days of Zoom court. My father’s an attorney, and we joke about his “court outfit” being… a dressy blue shirt. He’s started bringing back his suit jackets on occasion, but ties are reserved for in-person occasions, and of course when it’s Zoom court, he could be wearing jeans with that dressy blue shirt and nobody would be the wiser.

        3. zaracat*

          I love the fact that I get to wear scrubs at work, that get laundered by work at no cost to me. Comfortable flat shoes that feel almost like slippers. Hair is covered, so I don’t need a fancy hairdo. Nails cut short and nail polish is strongly discouraged. Masked nearly all the time, so don’t need makeup. Maybe not the most attractive look overall, but super comfy and I save heaps on the cost of clothing, laundry, haircare and makeup. I feel very sorry for all the people who have to pay for fancier clothing and grooming etc just to be considered “professional” in their workplace. Clean and tidy should be sufficient.

        4. Ace in the Hole*

          It’s kind of a bizarre statement if you think about it at all… most jobs actually preclude wearing business formal clothing. I work at a garbage dump. Does anyone sane expect the garbage collector to wear a suit and tie while picking up trash? What about loggers? Pest control technicians? Mechanics? Construction workers? Landscapers? Housekeepers? Cooks? Childcare providers? Nurses? Let’s not forget all the jobs with uniforms, ranging from retail to emergency services to military.

          I’d be willing to bet that over 90% of workers would get in trouble for turning up to work in formal clothing!

        5. Seacalliope*

          If the dress code post was recent, it was likely a three percenter jab at Senator Fetterman specifically. It is not harmless, but this is precisely how dogwhistles work.

      2. Irish Teacher*

        Yeah, also outside the US and would have assumed that was either just a random fact or that it was possibly a left-wing comment, implying that only a small number of people had well-paying professional roles (not that all of those require professional dress, but I wouldn’t assume it to be a very in-depth analysis) and/or that society over-values jobs that really only employ a small percentage of people.

        But it sounds like it has a different meaning in the context where it was posted. Not that “only 3% have cushy well-paid jobs where they never have to get their hands dirty” would be appropriate either.

        1. londonedit*

          Yeah, I’d have taken it as a left-wing reference to the idea that a small elite class rules over everyone else. I had no idea about this other 3% stuff. But I guess that’s how dog-whistles work – you’re trying to whistle to the people who share your views.

          1. Sleepy in the stacks*

            Interesting. I also did not know the 3% stuff even as an American, but I took it as a right-wing person being annoyed that most businesses expect business casual rather than full on business attire. I hear that sentiment a lot with older conservative people because they miss the “good old days” of business lol

        2. Itsa Me, Mario*

          For the record I’m in the US but more on the left, and I initially read it as either some light class consciousness or as a positive note that now only 3% of workers are beholden to antiquated dress codes. But there’s a certain strain of small-c conservatism that is very nostalgic for a more rigid past, and which tends to traffic in memes about things like how nobody dresses well anymore, children aren’t well-behaved nowadays, etc. I’ve never personally considered this type of thing dangerous, and file it more in the area of “people have every right to their wrongheaded ideas”.

          But the statistic using the 3% number specifically does have me wondering.

      3. lilsheba*

        Frankly why do we even care what people wear anymore? It’s been proven now that dressing comfortably doesn’t mean the work doesn’t get done! It’s superficial and shallow to base anything on clothes. As to whether it’s a 3 percenter reference I didn’t even know about that one, so got educated today.

    2. Allonge*

      Thanks! I was wondering what it means and why it’s political in the first place (and if it may be too early for my brain to work properly!). Also non-US here.

      1. Anax*

        Briefly, “Three Percenters” are a far-right militia and terrorist group, and the far-right here often use coded language like that to express their politics.

        The name basically means, “only three percent of the population directly fought the British in our war for independence, and like them, we’re part of the small minority of people willing to take up arms against a tyrannical government.”

        There have been some notable instances of violence, including January 6, so that’s not just extreme language, either.

        So… that would be quite inflammatory if it’s an intentional reference.

        1. Allonge*

          Indeed! Thanks for the explanation, really!

          To the sign – if something has a message that needs several layers of explanation before it makes sense, it’s just a bad message. Frankly, I might be tempted to respond by similar nonsense that has some significance to a certain amount of the population (‘Bow ties are cool’ comes to mind as I am on a Doctor Who binge).

          Seriously though: OP, is there an actual work function to this bulletin board? I might go to an office manager / facilities person and ask them to remove the whole board if it’s just for random whatever from staff, or ask my manager to do that. The workplace is not obliged to provide a channel to such messaging and it has a risk to get really ugly.

          1. bamcheeks*

            if something has a message that needs several layers of explanation before it makes sense, it’s just a bad message

            You’d think, but this is exactly how far right stuff works. It always sounds ridiculous and conspiracist, but that’s because it IS ridiculous and conspiricist. Part of the attraction is the idea of secret signs, hidden words, tattoos of arcane symbols, hand signals, grand wizards, specific colour laces, frog gifs and so on, and the feeling of being in-the-know and clever-clever.

            People who track fascist movements always sound crazy because they’re like, “That tweet’s exactly fourteen words! That’s a clear reference to…” and it sounds, come off it, no political messaging would be that childish, but they really ARE that childish, and hateful, and they love it.

            1. Cyborg Llama Horde*


              The puzzle-solving aspect is also important, even though the “puzzles” are frequently just coincidental collections of facts. These movements prime people to see things as conspiracies and puzzles to be solved, and then because you deduced it yourself, not only do you feel clever, you’re more likely to believe it than if someone just told it to you. (Imagine the difference in a class where the teacher just lectures, vs. a class where the teacher guides you to figure out the lesson yourself — the latter is much more engaging and you will probably remember the material better. Except the concept is applied in the worst possible way.)

            2. I stand by my paranoia*

              A few months back, I saw a new member of a gaming Discord I’m on post just the number ’88’ without context and I flagged it immediately to the moderator since that’s fairly well known white supremacist code.

              The moderator thought I was nuts but still looked into it – turns out the guy said he ws playing the game but also had Discord open, and inadvertently hit ‘8’ twice as part of a key command in game but posted it to Discord instead (think people who post statuses on FB that are clearly search queries).

              Still, I kept an eye on that guy ongoing for anything else problematic, because, honestly, there could have been some “there” there.

              But, as you say, perfect example of how something random might be a dog whistle, might be an accident, but you simply don’t know.

              1. FrivYeti*

                When Youtube updated everyone’s accounts recently and stuck random numbers on all of their names until you confirmed your ‘real’ handle, my account got the numbers “1488” assigned immediately after my name.

                I changed that in a hurry, I can tell you.

            3. Elitist Semicolon*

              All this. And the secret messages are a way of establishing community without raising notice: so any other Three Percenter in the workplace would see that, recognize it, and know they’re not the only one in the office. Which might in turn embolden them to be more overt in their words/actions (because they know someone else will back them).

              1. Elizabeth West*

                One thing about You-Know-Who is that I knew which of my coworkers to avoid.

                We actually had some folks wearing MAGA hats in the office at Exjob prior to the 2016 election. I anonymously complained to the powers that be (we had a “Stop that” hotline on our intranet) and they said no electioneering at work. The same people (probably) were leaving nasty tabloid papers in the break room too — I put them in the trash and poured coffee on them so they couldn’t fish them out, heh heh.

            4. Itsa Me, Mario*

              It’s also worth noting that they don’t only do it because it’s oh-so-clever, they do it because the vast majority of people would disagree in an extreme way if they knew what these groups were really about. They can’t say the quiet part out loud, because they would quickly be deplatformed. Not only by pesky media and tech platforms worried about virtue signaling and liability (or however the right prefers to frame it), but because bigotry, self-avowed fascism, and genocide are deeply unpopular ideas. If you tell people what the frog pictures are about, nobody is going to join your little club in the first place.

              1. Alpacas Are Not Dairy Animals*

                Exactly. It would be bad messaging if you wanted to reach a broad audience and build majority consensus, but that’s not what these groups are about – they want to appeal to a tiny minority that they believe to be superior and naturally dominant, to organize and take back their ‘rightful’ place in the world.

          2. Jackalope*

            As a response to your last paragraph, the idea is generally to set up a place for members of the community to share what they’re doing and try to reach out to people who visit the store/restaurant. A lot of times they may include things like business cards for small businesses with a niche focus, or a flyer for a small local theater’s upcoming performance, or things like that. It may not be necessary, strictly speaking, but they do provide a service to the community by letting people share things with each other.

            1. Allonge*

              Oh, I did not get the impression that this was a place open to the public, but you are right, it does not say so one way or the other, so it could be.

              If so, it could maybe use some kind of rules on what can be advertised here based on that? I don’t mean to put this on OP as it’s not an easy thing but something like ‘flyers with specific action items or event invites only’?

              1. Itsa Me, Mario*

                I’ve seen these bulletin boards in work break rooms that are not open to the public (which is what I was imagining in this situation). Depending on company culture it can either be a place to share lunch menus and recommendations for nearby dentists, oil change places, etc. or can be lightly social. I feel like before social media was a thing you would often see a clipped out New Yorker or Far Side cartoon, maybe a newspaper clipping that was of interest to people for some reason, a postcard from someone’s vacation, photos from the team pizza party, etc.

          3. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

            It’s a dogwhistle. Like when, a few years ago, my plumber, a sweet older gentleman that I’d had servicing my then-house for years, leaned in and whispered to me that “the neighborhood is changing”. I promise he didn’t mean the new school construction or that a Bed Bath and Beyond had closed and an Aldi opened in its place. He knew what he meant. I knew what he meant. It solidified my intention to get out of that area as soon as possible, and I left for bluer, more diverse, pastures less than a year later.

            1. OyHiOh*

              My hometown is one of the communities that was used heavily as a site for relocating ** Hmong families in the 80’s. A little old lady in the church my dad worked for was overheard telling some of her friends about getting her house ready to sell. She infamously told her realtor “make sure it goes to a good family.” She meant, “not one of those Hmong families (who might not know how to use the furnace, and will have three or more generations all living together, and don’t understand English). The irony of her statement? That church, the one my dad worked for and which she’d been a member of since childhood, was the organization and money behind bringing Hmong families to our city!

              *** Non US readers – the Hmong are a Laoatian mountain tribe that assisted US efforts in Vietnam; after the US left Vietnam, the Hmong were heavily persecuted and eventually the US government decided to relocate those who wished to leave into the US; some communities have done very well – my hometown being one – others are still struggling decades after relocation.

          4. Slovenly Braid Cultist*

            *To the sign – if something has a message that needs several layers of explanation before it makes sense, it’s just a bad message.*

            I would agree in most cases, but in this case if you don’t understand the message it’s because the message isn’t for you. It’s a dog whistle- the people who are meant to hear and recognize it can, and other people (probably) don’t notice.

            There’s a whole system of in-jokes and watchwords that far-right people use to identify each other. Sure, this 3% could be an actual figure- any one dog whistle on its own isn’t proof- that’s the point of it. If they rolled up to work in an “I LOVE FASCISM” shirt, then everyone would know and they’d face social consequences.

            But they’ll keep dropping little hints. It’s plausible deniability while also inviting any other bigots of the same flavor to come make friends.

            1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

              Reminds me of when, around this time of year in 08, I asked a teammate what to do at a presidential rally – said I’d gotten tickets to the McCain one for myself, my mom, and my younger son, but had never been to one and didn’t know what to do, where to sit/stand etc once we got there. He gave me the information I wanted and we each went back to our desks, but five minutes later, he showed up in my cube with an entire binder full of newspaper clippings, printouts etc that he’d collected on why Obama shouldn’t be president. My son was 13 and we were in a (then) swing state and I was taking him to BOTH rallies just so he could witness a historical election. My coworker was disappointed when I said “thanks, I’m actually voting for him” But the way I see it being similar to the bulletin posts at LW’s work is that the man had a binder two inches thick, at his workplace, in his desk, but didn’t tell anyone about it, and needed you to give him a sign first that you were on his side, before he’d swoop by your cubicle and unleash it on you. He (mistakenly) thought I was giving him the sign, and sprung into action right away.

              1. Slovenly Braid Cultist*

                Oh my goodness!

                I honestly don’t know what I’d have done in that situation – possibly made it worse by owlishly staring, or else by being a lot less polite.

                A two-inch binder, AT WORK. Big yikes.

            2. Anax*

              Yep. As another weird number code example:

              “Heil Hitler” -> “HH”. H is the 8th letter of the English alphabet. So Nazis will often put “88” in random places like usernames, email addresses, etc., to see who picks up on the code.

              This silliness is really common on our far-right. I think it makes them feel like they’re in a spy thriller, honestly.

              1. amoeba*

                Yeah, as a person born in 1988 who only learned about that a few years back, I’m very happy I never used my birth year in a username or mail address as was common back then…

              2. SomeWords*

                “Nazis will often put “88” in random places like usernames, email addresses, etc.”

                Or on their pick-up trucks, like some of the more charming people in my community.

              3. doreen*

                Didn’t know this – I’ll have to tell my husband who uses various numbers of 8 ( 8, 88, 888) in user names etc., because he’s Chinese and 8 is a lucky number.

                1. Loredena*

                  Which is part of why it’s an effective dog whistle They could be nazis. Or they could be Asian. (Or born or graduated in 88 and their user is predates the whistle being better known, of course). It’s what happened with Pepe the frog.

        2. Cj*

          but aren’t dog whistles used to let people know you agree with them, like a polititon might use a white supremacist dog whistles to single what they actually think? what would be the point of such a message if it is anonomous, like these are?

          1. Twix*

            Dog whistles are also used to harass and intimidate and create a hostile environment for marginalized groups who are aware of what they mean. It can be a particularly insidious form of harassment because it’s usually impossible to prove that the writer intended it to be interpreted that way.

        3. RVA Cat*

          I know the 3% aren’t rational, but how much of the total population were even eligible to fight at the time? Half or more were women. Then you have men too old or boys too young to serve and those with disabilities plus Black men who were enslaved and Native American men who served their tribes. Oh, and even some patriots might not “count” in their narrow minds, like Baron von Strueben who was openly gay.

          1. Capt. Liam Shaw*

            General reliable historical sources say about 1/3 supported the revolution, 1/3 supported the crown and 1/3 just didn’t really have much of an opinion either way.

            1. Evan Þ*

              AFAIK, all those sources are basically repeating John Adams’ fast estimates from one letter – nobody really has good figures on how many supported either side.

          2. Charlotte Lucas*

            Women fought – and served as spies! And indigenous people fought on both sides (if they engaged at all) based on their own political needs.

        4. Stuckinacrazyjob*

          Oh I don’t see why someone would make references to terrorist groups at the workplace. I don’t tell everyone that the rich need to pay more taxes so that the children will have better libraries in which they can read books about diverse lives at work! the cheek!

        5. virago*

          Also, the statement that “only 3% of the population directly fought the British in our war for independence” is a myth that has been thoroughly debunked.

          Historians say that the proportion was between 15% and 20%.

          Google “More Americans Fought in the American Revolution Than We Thought,” by John A. Tures, 7/3/17.

      2. birch*

        US politics are so ideologically and culturally polarized that you can often get hints of political orientation based on stuff that doesn’t seem like it should be related. In this case there’s the references others have cited, but also just people who are mad about dress codes and especially those willing to complain about it (anonymously) in a public space also tend to be people who like to control other people’s bodies, which tends to be politically oriented in a certain direction. It can end up a kind of if-you-know-you-know symbology. See also: fast food chicken, certain home improvement and craft stores, red baseball caps, etc.

        1. Selena81*

          Not just the USA, in the Netherlands we have a political party (FvD) that’s doing all these dogwhistles.
          They are very racist, do a ton of cocaine, deny climate-change and covid, brag about the golden century and the Roman empire, and are convinced of their own intellectual superiority.

          And a few weeks ago we had a guy in Rotterdam murder 3 people after spending years on 4Chan (acting psychotic, hurting animals, spouting racism and sexism, declaring himself too smart to interact with normies)

    3. Nea*

      It probably was a 3-percenter reference, but I don’t see anyone else pointing out that it’s the kind of lying statistic sounds impressive and means nothing. Like “Kids can name more types of beer than they can name Presidents!” (For the non-USA readers, more types of beer exist than the complete total of US Presidents.)

      So, Percenter politics aside, it might actually be accurate that 3% of US Workers wear “business professional” clothes to work when you compare the number of overall jobs to the number of jobs that require:
      – uniforms
      – specific safety gear
      – some form of scrubs
      – some form of signaling “we’re casual and think outside the box!” (software development, etc.)

      The actual business need for “business professional” clothing is vanishingly small.

      1. Nea*

        I should point out that this kind of framing, from the “kids know more about beer than history” and “workers don’t dress with respect for the job” is inevitably a conservative scare tactic (“give us more money and votes to fix this problem!”) so the bulletin board notice was still definitely political.

        It’s impressive what can be twisted to “prove” conservative talking points. In 2011 when the House of Reps made a big deal of reading out the Constitution (skipping the gnarly bits like the 3/5 compromise), all the conservatives I knew were making a Very Big Deal of handing out copies of said Constitution. I got one and read the introduction that had been added, which announced that the Framers were Just So Excited to write US law that they rushed through Article 6, Section 1, Clause 1 the very first thing! Salute an eagle and wipe a tear from your eye as you contemplate their love of their country!

        I have no idea if that’s true, but I looked up A6 S1 C1 in that very copy. It’s about Congressional salaries.

        1. Cyborg Llama Horde*

          I can’t speak to the order in which they did stuff, but the idea of making government accessible to people who didn’t have massive amounts of inherited wealth was both pretty radical at the time, and also fairly fundamental to how the US was going to be Different from England etc.

          It definitely doesn’t read quite the same way in this day and age, though.

        2. Jackalope*

          “Salute an eagle and wipe a tear from your eye…” Okay, that was an entertaining turn of phrase.

      2. Irish Teacher.*

        Plus jobs where it would be completely impractical to wear “business professional” clothes, like farming or teaching preschool.

    4. LCH*

      “‘business professional’ clothes” sounds really white collar slanted to me. like… there are a ton of professions that dress more casually because it is appropriate to do so. i get that the sign writer is probably trashing WFH or something, but what a jerk.

    5. Beth*

      “87% of statistics are made up”

      “97.5% of overly exact statistics are 99 44/100% invented”

    6. Hannah Lee*

      For #2, if LW follows this advice:

      “The more measured option is to just bring it to the attention of whoever in your office is in a position to do something about it. Since you don’t have HR, that might be an admin who manages the space, a manager, or someone else, depending on how things work in your office”

      prepare yourself for the possibility that the person you raise this to is, in fact, the person who posts this stuff. And they are doing it because they can (this is a realm they control and they feel empowered to use it as their own personal bully pulpit … the old workplace and life thing about people with a little bit of power sometimes wielding what little power they have yuck-ily)

      1. Itsa Me, Mario*

        Also, whether the person you raise it to is the poster of the stuff or not, be prepared for the person to over-correct towards potentially left-leaning messages while not seeing conservative messages as political at all. So a voter registration drive or “support the library” fundraiser is going to be forbidden, while all the ugliest dogwhistles are going to be allowed.

        I have a side gig as a bookseller, and I’m in a facebook group of other booksellers. Anytime something being “too political” comes up, it’s almost always something vaguely lefty, not vaguely righty. Even among a group who lean liberal and who are mostly fighting the good fight to support diverse voices in literature.

    7. Itsa Me, Mario*

      Oh yikes, I didn’t even think of that when I posted my reply that wishing people would dress more formally doesn’t rise the the level of taking action. Oof. You give conservatives one little shred of benefit of the doubt….

    8. MissElizaTudor*

      While dogwhistles can be petty obscure, this seems pretty unlikely. It’s a weird context to make the reference to 3% since I doubt the threeper types would really take business professional clothing as a point of pride because they’re militia people. They’d be more likely to complain about the “laptop class” and elites.

      It’s more likely it’s a passive aggressive reference to this recent survey:

    9. North American Couch Wizard Society Member*

      I gotta admit, I would be really tempted to have a set of “OK, boomer” stickers made up and just slap them across whatever dog whistle is up that week.

    10. DJ Abbott*

      I would like to thank you all for this discussion. I learned a lot and I don’t have time for research or reading, so I wouldn’t have learned any other way. Thanks! :)

  4. Zarniwoop*

    #3 “While I’m not technically their manager…”
    Who is? Send Dale to them when he needs something to do.

    1. Anonymous Tech Writer*

      OP3 I have another question. Are these “interns” there as part of a school program? Or are they simply part-time short-term employees without a degree who the company just *calls* interns?

      If they’re just temps with a fancy name, maybe you WANT to get involved.

      My company used to do the “interns” without an academic connection. The few who really shone were the ones who asked enough questions to turn it into a true internship.

      At the time yes the discussions could be inconvenient — I was not given extra time to work with them. (Bad company, no cookie!)

      But at least I WAS told they reported to me. Since “find them work” did not come with a reduction in my deadlines, I gave them each a piece of one of my longer term projects to do over their summer. (Usually only one person, but one summer it was 3.)

      The intern who asked the most “why” questions also asked how we organize projects, and helped track what they were doing. The work those 3 did was so good, it in production for years. She ended up choosing my field, and I still see her on LinkedIn.

      1. Anonymous Tech Writer*

        ^it was in production for years^

        Apparently today is a day when autocorrect is sleeping.

        1. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

          You know, it’s just amazing how often I don’t realize that someone left a word out of a sentence until they post to correct their error. It happened in this case. I saw your correction and had to check to see what you had corrected.

          I think it’s because I’m a very strong reader, and part of that skill is automatically applying context to what I’m reading, but I dunno. (And I’m another tech writer, so I think about this stuff a lot.)

      2. Myrin*

        OP describes them as “a team of part-time, developing employees (think student workers or interns)” but I’m not sure if “student workers or interns” are examples of what kind of “status” these people actual are or if it’s just an easily understandable comparison because the actual structure is hard to explain (as a non-American, I do that sometimes when talking about workplace concepts or “ranks” that simply don’t exist in either the English language or the US as a country; in that case, the words I’m saying aren’t exactly how a native speaker would understand them but they’re close enough to get the idea across).

      3. kiki*

        I think a hard part about a lot of internships is that to make it really valuable to the interns and truly give them an opportunity to shine, it requires a lot of time and bandwidth from existing employees to answer questions.

        A lot of companies either tank on interns and:
        – say, “make yourselves useful!” but then have no real guidance or space for the interns to ask questions that would actually make them want to be useful
        – isolate them in their own intern-land where they have their own project but they’re not actually speaking to a lot of full-time employees so the project they’re working on ends up not being particularly applicable

        It’s always wonderful to hear of interns who really are brought into the fold and are able to actually sign and do valuable work

  5. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

    OP3 (tasks for interns) – sounds like you are doing quite a lot in terms of “supervising” this group – creating areas of responsibility for them etc. How did this situation come to be? Were you tasked with this or has the situation just developed this way? I don’t think it is just because OP is senior to them, because surely pretty much anyone is “senior” to an intern in that respect.

    From Dale’s perspective OP is the one that assigns them work and finds things for them to do. Maybe they didn’t phrase it the best way but it’s clear what they meant. During this internship OP has been coordinating their (the interns) workload so it is not an unreasonable assumption. How does Dale know what OPs main role is (to advance projects).

    OP over reacted but I think it is worth thinking about what OPs role actually is or should be in supervising these interns. If OP is hoping for a leadership role in the future this incident (if their bosses hear about it) could be quite a setback. Clearly the company sees value in having interns or they wouldn’t have them. So OPs response that “my job is to advance projects and yours is just to act as overflow” seems unaligned with the company’s view.

    1. Myrin*

      Additionally, I’m wondering if this part: “[The interns’] job is to assist all of us in the department and, if there isn’t a clear task to be done next, to ask coworkers or full-time folks if they needed any help, or proactively look at what else could be improved in their area of responsibility” has actually been made clear to the interns from the start.
      I could understand her frustration a bit better – although still not to that degree – if that were the case, but the way she’s saying it somehow makes me think that this was the first time it’s been laid out like that.

    2. bamcheeks*

      Yes, this definitely sounded like a “something about this situation is frustrating you and you need to figure out what [and not take it out on the interns]”. Did Dale hit you at a moment when you were feeling particularly harassed by the need to find work for the interns? Is the lack of clarity around assigning work but not being their manager getting to you? I think when you find yourself snapping at co-workers— especially ones who are on a lower level to you — it’s a sign you need to step back and look at the whole context and figure out where your frustration really is and what steps you need to take to either fix it or raise it with the person who can fix it.

      You’re not a terrible person when you snap at co-workers, but it isn’t OK and you need to take it as a sign that something needs to change. You can’t just rationalise it away as, “well, I was justified” or “they deserved it” or “nobody noticed”.

  6. Grim*

    “Just 3% of U.S. workers wear ‘business professional’ clothes to work,” is such a strange thing to get agitated about. Aside from how this sounds very much like a statistic somebody just made up, not wearing business professional clothes isn’t necessarily a sign that somebody is working from home (and therefore presumably slacking off, in the message leaver’s mind). I mean, I wear scrubs to work, which are effectively pyjamas except with more pockets, and that’s acceptably professional in the context of my work environment. A lot of people wear uniforms, or a high vis shirt and a hard hat, or overalls, or an apron, or workout clothes, or a designer dress, or whatever is suitable for their job. Or jeans and a t-shirt because they’re a truck driver or a call centre phone operator or a computer programmer or literally any other non-customer facing role, and it doesn’t really affect anyone if they wear something comfortable. Like, I’m sure the actual statistic of people who wear business professional clothes to work is still way higher than 3%, but even if it wasn’t, the point it’s supposed to prove about slipping standards or whatever really doesn’t seem as self-evident as the message leaver might hope.

    1. Grim*

      Or, as the comment further up about three percenters suggests, it could just be a dog whistle, and that’s why the statistic sounds so made up. That might actually make more sense than someone genuinely having this much of a problem with a more casual dress code!

    2. Panda (she/her)*

      The term “business professional” really stuck out at me too, because presumably it excludes “business casual” which would cover most workplaces that have a more formal dress code. Business professional typically means full suit with jacket and possibly a tie, which is pretty much only worn by lawyers and management consultants in my experience.

      1. Antilles*

        Yeah, the “business professional” phrasing and excluding the far more common “business casual” (over 30% of workplaces per a quick Google search) is definitely intentional to make the statistic as small as possible to help push their preferred narrative.

      2. Jackalope*

        A few years ago I read an OP ED piece by someone who was upset that people no longer dress formally and so when he walked around with his family in the evenings/on weekends he had to look at a bunch of people wearing jeans (on their time off! Not even at work!) and flagrantly violating HIS internal idea of what the country’s dress code should be. He proposed that only people in blue collar jobs should be allowed to wear jeans *on their time off*, and otherwise women should be wearing dresses all the time and men should wear… suits? Button-down shirts and ties? I forget now. It was unbelievably arrogant in his expectation that the country should cosplay Correct Dress and Class Signifiers for his viewing pleasure.

        1. Hannah Lee*

          Is that the guy who wound up going on a rant about yoga pants? Or are there more than one of those nonsensical controlling dudes around? (yes, there are, sadly)

        2. alienor*

          I follow quite a few historical photo accounts on Facebook, and the comments are always overrun with people complaining that everyone is sloppy today and we should all dress up in suits and dresses and hats and gloves to go shopping or hang out in the park. (There’s often a side order of “when women dressed like women and men dressed like men” in there too.) I’ll bet every one of them is delivering these opinions while wearing sweatpants and a T-shirt, but I digress.

          1. I Have RBF*

            Probably dirty sweatpants and a ripped t-shirt, at that.

            But yeah, there is a lot of “Do as I say, not as I do” with those types of people.

            I’m older, and I consider some of today’s “fashions” to be sloppy and ugly. But I wouldn’t dream of posting one of those rants on LinkedIn bemoaning how people don’t know how to dress “right” any more, much less telling someone what they “should” wear. Not my circus, not my monkeys.

          2. DJ Abbott*

            As someone who likes vintage style – dressing up is fun, but only if it’s by choice! A perfect wardrobe takes a lot of time and energy, and I’m not the only one who doesn’t have time.

            1. alienor*

              Yeah, I enjoy dressing up for a special occasion a few times a year, but I’m really, really glad I can throw on leggings and a sweatshirt to go buy milk. Plus, the photos of people all buttoned up in tight itchy clothes on a hot summer day – no thanks.

    3. Nea*

      Exactly! It sounds like such a terrible statistic if you don’t read it critically… and then you think about all the professions which specifically rule out “business professional” clothing.

      But then, we’re not supposed to read it critically.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        And how would they even know?! I work somewhere with a dress code of “dress appropriately.” Some people (higher-ups who might be in the public eye or need to meet with politicians or outside agencies) definitely dress business professional. Most are business casual. (I fall somewhere in between on days I’m in the office, but that has more to do with what looks good on me.)

    4. Nobby Nobbs*

      Leaving aside the probable dogwhistle, it really sounds like a complaint from someone with no idea that most workers don’t work in an office, and probably thinks their own office is cleaned, landscaped, and provided with electricity by fairies.

      1. Sleepy in the stacks*

        Yeah, I don’t think this is a purposeful dog whistle. I even found a survey from this year that supports this statistic: “Among all workers, 41% wear business casual, 31% casual street clothes, 23% a uniform and 3% business professional.” (Gallup)

        To me, this just comes off as someone (and I’m assuming it’s one person) who was fed the 3% line without context on social media. Especially when you pair that with their anti-WFH sentiments, and I’m just they got big mad about that 3% statistic.

    5. Kesnit*

      Technically, my job requires business professional, but not every day. If I’m in court, yes, suit and tie. Today I am wearing a collared shirt, jeans, and tennis shoes because there is no court.
      So do I fit into that “3%” or not?

      1. SpaceySteph*

        I don’t know of anyone who consider jeans to be “business professional” attire. But the 3% seems to come from a recent Gallup poll, so depends how you would answer the question:
        “Which of the following best describes the kind of clothes you wear to work most days – [ROTATED: a suit or other professional clothing, a shirt and slacks or other casual business clothes, casual street clothes, such as jeans, shorts or other informal clothes, (or) a uniform]?”

        1. SpaceySteph*

          Interestingly the women version of the question puts “dressy jeans” in the business casual section while the men’s question quoted above thinks jeans are casual.

    6. Mitford*

      A recent Gallup survey is where the 3% statistic came from (google it). Why anyone would feel it’s necessary to post it on the office bulletin board is beyond me.

      1. Pippa K*

        I had the same impulse to find the source, so I’ll reply with the link in case anyone else wants it. I do still wonder if the extremist 3% reference was also intended. Maybe OP can update in a few weeks if the board gets more overtly political or taken down, because I’m really curious!

    7. That's True*

      I read it the opposite way — that the company has a “business professional” dress code and the note-leaver doesn’t like it and is saying it’s an outdated standard and the dress code should be more casual. (I could be completely wrong about this, of course. I’m biased by my love of casual dress codes!)

      1. Dona Florinda*

        I read it the same way! Like an anonymous complaint about the unnecessary formal dress code.

        But given what other commenters said above about 3% specifically, plus the other political messages OP mentions, I agree that’s most likely a dog whistle.

  7. andy*

    #3 There should be someone giving them tasks or be responsible for them in general. That it does not exists is kind of sign of less organize organization. That a new person is forced to look for work alone and negotiate with everyone is bonkers.

    The intern question suggests he is forced to guess relationship and expectations instead of being told them. You act like his boss, so he treated you little bit as one.

    It also suggests interns don’t have much to do.

  8. Viette*

    OP#2: a thank you to you and your coworkers for taking the notes down. I agree with Alison’s recommendation to take this to whoever is responsible for the bulletin board.

    It may go on and even escalate as the perpetrators of these sort of things are pretty persistent. Despite that, I agree with approaching it calmly and with eradication in mind.

    I thoroughly endorse *not* posting direct responses to the political notes. You are not going to de-radicalize the note-leaver via an anonymous bulletin board debate*, and if you want to prevent their message from getting notice and uptake by the rest of the office, throwing the notes away is the way to go.

    *The idea of my workplace bulletin board turning into “public Twitter circa 2019” sounds like a whole nightmare.

    1. WS*

      Yeah, politics continue to get more vicious and I absolutely agree that the best thing is to stop it completely, not respond.

    2. Melissa*

      Absolutely. I know Allison was being a little tongue-in-cheek when she said to respond in kind. But do any of us REALLY want to work in a place where people are running to the bulletin board to post copies of whatever political story has them all worked up? That sounds awful.

      Advocate to have the board removed, or to have strict rules that only work-related stuff can be up. It would feel good for exactly one millisecond to post a response that starts with “Actually”— it’s not worth going down that path.

    3. Jessica Ganschen*

      Yeah, if you were to respond in any way at all, a better route would be to sidestep politics entirely and just post fun facts. I suppose a sufficiently motivated person would be able to twist it, but it’s a lot harder to get there when your starting point is, “Did you know? An octopus’ brain is shaped like a donut!”

    4. Hrodvitnir*

      To be fair, I have engaged with people for the benefit of bystanders, and been thanked privately for doing so.

      I’m not saying whether it’s a good idea here, but if no one wants to or can shut it down, having a voice of reason can absolutely add value.

  9. Sharkie*

    OP 1 – 100% its because shes in sales! I am in sales in my company and have social butterflyed my way into having at least one friend in every department. I am sure if you ask your ask your friend to hang out with everyone im sure she will bring you!

  10. the bat in the office popcorn machine*

    #4: There’s nothing you can do now about the missed pay, but I highly suggest your partner reach out to HR and bring up that their policy does inadvertently incentivize people to come in sick.

    1. Ashley*

      I am wondering if the other person had been their longer. Sometimes newer folks (and 6 months in some roles is still new) don’t get the same WFH privileges as others. I think asking about in a neutral setting with boss and peers would be helpful, maybe talking about getting your updated flu shot, etc. But there are places where one manager will let you WFH no problem, but the other manager doesn’t and that team loses because of who their manager is.

      1. Remotely Bound*

        Agreed but it still incentives people to come in sick. And new people get sick too.

        Our newest team member got COVID and we would have been furious if they had been either forced to come in the office or not paid.

        If their job allows for remote work it should not be up to the whims of individual managers. Word gets around and people start coming in sick. Very bad outcome

        1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          That was my first thought. Not everyone can afford to take off without pay. I mean, it would inconvenience all of us, but for some it would be the difference between having food on their table and the lights on in their home and… not. They are pretty much telling people to come in with Covid, next person who gets it won’t be as honest and open with the management as LW’s fiancee was.

      2. Sloanicota*

        This was my thought. In many traditional offices WFH is a priviledge earned by a combination of seniority and a good track record (I think this is dumb). OP’s fiancee has been there a short time and already used up all the sick leave they had on another issue, and now needed another week – it’s unfortunate, and Covid *should* have been an exception – but the same thing would have happened at most offices where I’ve worked. If you need more sick leave than you get, you have to go unpaid (you can also use vacation leave, but most people don’t want to). If you have an ongoing need for more sick leave than you’re given, there’s FMLA protection or short term disability, but that doesn’t really cover getting Covid and then a month later getting the flu. My dad always tells me never to miss any work for the first few months, and then very little … but I think that’s a bit old fashioned and, as OP found, not always within your control.

        1. Sloanicota*

          I also think Covid, with the original 15 day quarantine period, really revealed the failing of American workplaces which often offer a week or less of sick leave in a whole year. It’s one thing if you’re able to at least work from home, but if you’re actually sick, especially more than once in a year, it’s just not enough leave :(

          1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

            We used to get THREE DAYS sick time before we moved to “everything in one bucket” and then unlimited. (And I still lost some of those three days every year because the HR had put weird restrictions on what the sick time could be used for – but also because I was fortunate to be able to WFH when sick.)

      3. a clockwork lemon*

        There could also be a whole other layer of context that LW’s fiance is missing because they don’t know the details of the other person’s illness. It could be that they were unexpectedly out sick with the flu, or it could be that this person has a medical accommodation, or it could be that the different departments have different policies (my company’s WFH policy is variable by department and function).

        1. Shandra*

          Yes. At ExJob, most of the depts that could work hybrid were allowed a 3/2 schedule – 3 days in office, 2 WFH. However, my dept for one didn’t allow anyone to WFH both Monday and Friday.

          The IT dept was authorized for a 4/1 schedule. And a colleague in a very small dept was able to get Monday and Friday WFH.

  11. Beacon of Nope*

    #3 The level of anger (e.g. “this sense of entitlement that I existed to give them work experience”) makes me wonder whether Dale is privileged and OP is marginalized. If so, my sense given the comments I often see here is that her move to take back her time and energy would be an act of radical self care.

    Also, it sounds like the OP has somehow ended up in a mentoring relationship with the interns. But this could just be an office housework task that bogs down marginalized people and keeps them from engaging in “work that advances our projects”. It raises an interesting question – is it fair to expect marginalized people to spend their time and limited energy mentoring privileged people? If we expect people to mentor at all, would it be more humane to match like with like?

    1. bamcheeks*

      is it fair to expect marginalized people to spend their time and limited energy mentoring privileged people

      I do think this is getting into the very speculative, but in the context of work, the question isn’t “is it fair” so much as “do you derive material benefit from it, ie. get reward/recognition for it that advances your career and earning potential”. Marginalised person had a role which includes mentoring and developing interns/junior staff and this is recognised in their review / achievement / bonus system: all good. Marginalised person has a role which includes mentoring a d developing junior staff and this takes away time and energy from the work which is actually recognised in their review / achievement / bonus system: bad.

      1. Cyborg Llama Horde*

        As a woman in tech who has been in both of these roles with different companies: firm agree. I’m happy to mentor abled straight white cis guys (especially if it means they take on a larger share of the team’s work and write better documentation as a result) but if there’s no recognition that I’m spending time and effort on something that makes the team as a whole better, it’s very frustrating, and also a good sign that there probably isn’t a fulfilling future for me at this company.

        1. I Have RBF*

          I have actually been dinged on performance reviews for mentoring junior colleagues because it took “too much” time away from my “projects”. Those “projects” were not critical, and were set up to fail anyway, while I kept people doing critical work. My boss was an ass.

    2. Non non non all the way home*

      Thank you for this take on it. It may not be the case in this particular situation, but it’s possible because typically those from privileged backgrounds are more likely to get internships especially in creative fields.

    3. Myrin*

      I feel like, especially with “the level of anger” you mention, OP would’ve directly said it if that were the case.

    4. FashionablyEvil*

      I would say the marginalized versus not is a bit speculative, but I think any time someone has a disproportionate reaction, it’s worth looking into. It’s usually part of something bigger (e.g., feeling overlooked or unappreciated, etc.)

    5. Hiring Mgr*

      If we’re just doing fan fiction, it could be that Dale has face blindness and didn’t realize OP wasn’t their boss. Or that Dale is actually delegating his tasks to someone offshore while he works another internship at night. Or even that Dale writes x-rated fiction and is planning to use OP and the tasks as one of the plotlines.

    6. city deer*

      “If we expect people to mentor at all, would it be more humane to match like with like?”

      I don’t think so. The concept of “matching like with like” doesn’t really hold up for me, because positionality is multifaceted and many people experience both privilege and marginalisation with regard to different aspects of their personhood. It doesn’t seem feasible to pair up mentors/mentees based on neither one having any sort of socially salient difference from the other. I mean, which aspects of each person would need to “match”? Gender, sexuality? Race? Disability? Nationality or immigration status? All of the above?

      Even if that kind of matching could be done, I find it pretty problematic to suggest that the most privileged people should only mentor/be mentored by others exactly like them. Isn’t that just the inequitable status quo? Siloing “privileged” and “marginalised” people away from each other doesn’t actually do anything to create equity.

      1. Observer*

        I find it pretty problematic to suggest that the most privileged people should only mentor/be mentored by others exactly like them. Isn’t that just the inequitable status quo? Siloing “privileged” and “marginalised” people away from each other doesn’t actually do anything to create equity.

        I agree with you. I would go further and say that it actively furthers inequity. Also, on a practical level part of what internship is supposed to do is to wider people’s experience and ability to interact with a wide range of people in a business context. So people from more marginalized backgrounds would benefit from learning from people who have lived lives in mainstream privilege (and learn something about some of the unspoken expectations that operate in that world), while people who are more privileged will benefit from working with people of less privileged background.

      2. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

        Honestly, if I was pairing up interns with mentors based on demographics, I think I’d go the other way and deliberately pair people who WEREN’T like each other.

      3. bamcheeks*

        It also means there is MORE burden on eg. senior women of colour because there’s one of her to every ten women of colour looking to enter the profession and the white guys get one each.

      4. Jessica*

        “If we expect people to mentor at all, would it be more humane to match like with like?”

        Right! We should just have “separate-but-equal” mentorship programs, because as we all know, there aren’t any problems with that approach.

        In all seriousness, though, no one should only have one mentor. It’s good to have a mentor with a similar background/demographics to yours, who *gets* you, but–especially if there *aren’t* m/any people like you in positions of power–you also want mentors who are members of the group(s) in power, who can give you insight into how the old boys’ networks operate, who can open doors for you, and so on.

      5. Curious*

        I’m sure that Beacon didn’t mean it this way, but “match like with like” sounds like segregation. And, if done by race, would seem illegal.

      6. Beacon of Nope*

        Not sure how best to match people up. The idea of ensuring that mentors aren’t spending energy they don’t have helping people who already are better positioned in society made intuitive sense, but that’s all. A privileged person could mentor a marginalized person. A better question is, whose cup is likeliest to be full enough?

        When I read this letter, I immediately thought of the letter about the guy who claimed to have won an oscar. The poster self identified as a BIPOC woman, and a white man felt entitled to her time and energy. She talked a lot about radical self care and filling your own cup. I get a strong sense that LW3 is tapped out, that the cup is *empty*. People whose cup is full don’t snap at people who make reasonable work requests. And Cyborg Llama Horde and I Have RBF are probably onto something when they suggest that maybe LW3 isn’t being rewarded for the time they spend doing these mentoring activities that take time and energy away from their main work.

        LW3 doesn’t mention race at all and obscures Dale’s sex. And people of privileged demographics can have hard lives while people of marginalized demographics can have easier lives, but that’s not the way I’d bet here. And these responsibilities are clearly costing LW3.

    7. Observer*

      If so, my sense given the comments I often see here is that her move to take back her time and energy would be an act of radical self care.

      Yes. The problem is not taking back their time is a problem. It’s the *how* and also the level of mis-directed anger. What Dale said is actually sensible. A little badly worded, but not the end of the word nor deserving of reaction directed at him.

      Going forward, I think it may make sense for the OP to do two things.

      One is to have a talk with *their* manager(s) and clarify what *really* is their job and what has just fallen to them just because. And if it’s too much or interferes too much with their primary job, they should work out how to navigate that.

      The other thing is to start off by laying out some clear expectations with the interns of who is going to be giving them instructions and how they are supposed to handle various situations – including that they need to start developing more self-direction but that if they are without something specific to do they should look around and see if anyone with work adjacent to their area needs help and offer. If that’s not realistic, they should come to their main supervisor / person who assigns them tasks and ask for some more work. And then keep on enforcing that.

    8. Dinwar*

      “If we expect people to mentor at all, would it be more humane to match like with like?”

      I would say no. For a few reasons.

      First, this just creates the Old Boy’s Club again. You’d silo people into groups of similar backgrounds–and the privileged ones by definition are going to be in a better position to take advantage of this.

      Second, it would limit the mentee’s experiences with people of diverse backgrounds. And that means they won’t be as sensitive to the issues minorities face–they simply won’t see them. In contrast, if you have diverse mentors, the mentees will see more of what minorities face and (hopefully, if they’re good people) be more able to accommodate them.

      If your organization is pushing mentoring predominantly onto minorities, THAT’S the problem. It’s an example of systemic racism, and something that should be addressed. Management should be taking an active role here as well, pointing out that treating minority team members as lower-status is not acceptable.

    9. analyst*

      Matching “like to like” is exactly how we got where we are today, predominantly benefiting white men. That’s literally the old boys club method….

    10. The Charioteer*

      Snapping at an intern would not generally be regarded as an act of radical self care, even by the commenters here

      1. Fiona Orange*

        Exactly. Even if OP is marginalized and David is privileged, it doesn’t make it okay for OP to snap at him. It sucks that some people are more privileged than others, but holding a 20-year-old college student responsible for hundreds of years of oppression isn’t the way towards equity.

  12. Turingtested*

    LW #3, It can be frustrating to delegate tasks without having the authority of being a supervisor or manager. I can’t tell if Dale was misguided but basically meant well (as in he doesn’t want to sit around not doing anything but isn’t sure what to do next) or if he’s being obnoxious. I can understand why you didn’t have it in you to make it a teachable moment.

    Perhaps I’m off base but I spent many years managing people just starting out in the workforce and I am really burned out on reinforcing job basics. Perhaps you are in the same boat?

  13. I should really pick a name*

    if there isn’t a clear task to be done next, to ask coworkers or full-time folks if they needed any help

    It sounds like that’s what Dale was doing and the LW just didn’t like his word choice.

      1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

        And actually, it occurred to me that Dale may be more (rather than less as OP seems to think) perceptive about the situation. Has Dale seen OP “scramble” to find things for the other interns to do when they ask in a more as-hoc manner, so Dale is trying to be helpful by telling OP in advance when they will be in the office, so OP can plan rather than get caught short.

        1. Trawna*

          That’s what I read into the letter. Dale sounds like he’ll be a great hire. LW sounds like they need a vacation : )

    1. thelettermegan*

      yes, it sounded to me like Dale is attempting to manage up, when the environment is at fault – new grads/students/interns should have a single point person who manages them, and some companies combine that with a three month rotation schedule so that the new workforce members are directly assigned to a single set of tasks they can learn and complete.

      If the company can’t set up a more formal environment, you might want to ask why you have interns at all. I’ve seen managers insist on interns because they like having free labor around, even if it’s not actually providing value or inappropriate for the work. If the manager doesn’t actually work with the interns or manage them, it can be easy to get all touchy-feely and misty-eyed and ignore the fact that they’ve created a free summer camp and turned their full-time employees into powerless camp counselors.

      It might worthwhile to do some cost-benefit analysis – if your work is valued at $X per hour, but you spend Y hours working with interns whose collective services are valued at less than $X per hour, is the difference worth it? Would it be more valueable to have less interns who are paid at competitive rates and have firm assignments managed by specific people?

  14. nnn*

    Silly idea for #2: replace the notes with similar-looking notes containing utterly mundane facts: “29% of American households own cats”

    Or things presented as though they’re making some contentious point but don’t actually. “There are over 100 species of tulips but only 38 species of mice. Makes you think…”

    (Note: the specific numbers in these examples are just the first thing that popped up on google and I have no idea if they’re accurate)

    1. Snow Globe*

      I like that; enough silly facts and the original posters stuff just gets lost in the mist and will also look silly if anyone notices it. Encourage other people to do the same thing.

    2. Ashley*

      I had the same thought about random factoids to take up more space, but I do wonder if it might make the political person think random postings are more ok then they are.

    3. Ellis Bell*

      “10 per cent of office workers spend 4 per cent of their day in the toilets posting random statistics”.

      1. Raisineye*

        reminds me of a Todd Snider song, Statitians Blues.
        “They say 3% of people use 5% of their brains
        97% use just 3% and the rest goes down the drain
        I’ll never know which one I am but I’ll bet you my last dime
        99% think they’re 3% 100% of time”

    4. AngryOctopus*

      “Oh, people can come up with statistics to prove anything, Kent. Forty per cent of all people know that.”
      –Homer Simpson

    5. Kay Tea*

      “They don’t want you to know that Omaha, Nebraska is the 40th most populous city in the United States.”

  15. YesImTheAskewPolice*

    Omg, I love that idea! If it were me, I probably couldn’t resist a little dig, though, a la “The first zoo to open in the US was in Philadelphia. Thanks, Joe”, or “The most popular baby names in 2022 were Olivia and Liam. Thanks, Conan”

  16. Cat's Paw for Cats*

    As a manager I would shut down and shut down hard political and passive aggressive messages on the bulletin board. Such messages are not the way to further peaceful and harmonious relationships in the workplace.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      I picture someone who was told by an exasperated loved one that they needed to shut off the computer and touch grass, they were just going around with the same little group of extremists and no outside input from normal people. And passive aggressive anonymous notes is what they came up with as a response.

      1. Charming Charlie*

        I was thinking exactly the same thing, it’s someone unfortunately poisoned by Facebook

    2. Almost There*

      My workplace only had locked bulletin boards in communal areas which they controlled. Problem solved.

  17. Falling Diphthong*

    For OP2, could you just write “MUAAAA HA HA HA HA” on the bottom of all the signs? Suggesting that this is all part of your deeply laid plan coming together.

    If you have any artistic talent, adding some sharks with lasers along the bottom really sells the supervillain aspect.

  18. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

    2. It’s actually forbidden to put political stuff up on notice boards where I work (because we’re government funded) but there’s always some jerk who thinks the rules don’t apply to them. Or thinks posting up anti-science anti-government stuff doesn’t offend the rules (it does).

    For the majority of the time it just gets torn down and a note goes up saying that the notice board is for health and safety announcements and fundraisers (non political) only. After a spate of them though we did get an email sent round saying ‘There has been a rise in the number of work-inappropriate posters on the notice boards. Employees are reminded that these boards are not for your own political beliefs. Further misuse may result in disciplinary action’

    1. Emikyu*

      Anti-government messaging in a government-funded workplace…

      I wish I could be surprised by that, I really do.

  19. Ellis Bell*

    OP3 teaching others can be such a huge drain on your energy and patience, that you really need to proactively care for yourself on that front. Some of it is making sure you disconnect from work and recharge yourself well enough, but other ways of doing this are being deliberate about dwelling on the positive things you see from the interns and trainees, and making time to spell out some priase about the progress you are seeing; it will make yourself feel surprisingly good about things.

  20. Sophiabrooks*

    For the letter writer with the intern- I actually understand the anger. I have had student workers for many years, and sometimes I have to work really hard to reframe what they are saying. I have a student now who just gets my goat, and I have to tamp down anger when he says things like “I have chosen my hours this semester, so here they are. You can put them on your calendar”. I think he is just trying to be helpful, but it feels condescending. I am trying to train him out of it, and also oddly formal and obsequious emails. I also think I would be less irritated if he was a better worker, but I have found a way to make it work.

    1. Hiring Mgr*

      Do you mind elaborating why that feels condescending.. What would be a better way for him to have phrased that?

      Asking because that sounds very mild to me,

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        I could clean up the wording to “I have finalized my availability for this semester. Please find them attached/as follows, ready for the calendar.” and it sounds a little better, but the message hasn’t changed.

        1. metadata minion*

          I wouldn’t be bothered by it or anything, but I would find that wording bizarrely formal coming from a student worker.

          1. Sophiabrooks*

            What was actually bizarre to me was that it was verbal. I had asked him to send me his availability via email. He did. I replied with the hours I could use, and asked him to put them on my calendar. The next time he saw me, he let me know that he had sent me his chosen hours so I could put them on my calendar. It turned out he couldn’t remember how to do it and was embarrassed so once I showed him it was fine, but I did have an angry react that I had to tamp down, so I do understand accidentally losing it.

      2. Persephone Mulberry*

        I’m not the OP, but the “you can put them on your calendar” bit definitely hits a wrong note for me.

      3. Dinwar*

        I can’t speak for Sophiabrooks, but I have staff that do that, and it’s extremely annoying to me.

        There are a few issues with this sort of language.

        First, it precludes any negotiation. It’s not an opening to start a conversation. And no, I’m not saying that junior staff need to cringe and beg to be granted leave to take time off; rather, I’m saying they need to be part of the group, and understand that their actions affect others, and be willing to engage in the normal give-and-take that constitutes membership in a group. Saying “I’d like to discuss my schedule with you” is a much better way to get the same result.

        Please note that “negotiation” doesn’t mean they don’t get what they want. It’s going to be far more common for the negotiations to be a means TO get what they want. It’s extremely common for folks on my jobsite to go to our PTO calendar and discuss how they’re going to trade shifts or otherwise ensure full coverage. It allows everyone to get the time off they need while letting the team know we’re all working together.

        Second, the statement constitutes delegating work to your manager. You’ve chosen your hours. Great. Now I need to call 16 people and re-negotiate THEIR hours. And what do I do if there’s a conflict? Do you think Pushy McInconsiderate is going to budge? Of course not–so the team players are the ones that are going to get screwed, every time.

        There are of course situations where you have limited options in availability. A student’s first obligation is their classes, and those generally are not open to negotiation. A death in the family, or a medical condition, can also result in someone telling you when they won’t be available. And there are others I’d consider acceptable as well; these are examples, not an exhaustive list. But in general I would expect members of the team to be team players and work with their team to figure out the best schedule for everyone.

        1. Hiring Mgr*

          First of all I think you just read it differently than I did because i didn’t get any of that. But also I’ve had interns where they did make their own schedule, so it’s not unheard of.

      4. HannahS*

        It wouldn’t bother me, but I find that, at least in Canada, part of the culture of the white-collar world is that you should never, ever, tell someone above you what to do or issue any criticism, and use passive language instead of active. So, saying, “I gave you this so you can put this in your calendar” is wrong, because you’re implying that your superior should do something. Instead, “I have done this for your convenience” is more acceptable.

        I’m from a culture known for being extremely direct, as in, “No, that’s a bad idea, and I’ll tell you why,” so I find this both infuriating and also really unfair to people who didn’t grow up in the white-collar world, but that’s how it is.

        1. Jaybeetee*

          This sort of emphasis on Phrasing Things Correctly tends to be particularly rough on people from working-class backgrounds who didn’t necessarily grow up seeing much white-collar etiquette, as well as people from other places/cultures (I.e. even different English-speaking countries will have their own “correct” ways of phrasing things, let alone an ESL person trying to navigate it), as well as neurodiverse people. I’ve certainly been snapped at for “rudeness” in the past, and in some cases, to this day, I have no idea how I should have actually phrased the thing.

          Anyway, I do understand the frustration of managing interns and newbies. But I do urge people to take a step back if they’re about to snap at someone for conveying a message in a polite, but not sufficiently deferential way.

          1. Yorick*

            idk, my parents were working class and they definitely taught me to be more formal and requesty with teachers/bosses/etc. than is normal in most office jobs

          2. Irish Teacher.*

            Definitely true of different English speaking countries. Hiberno-English is its own weird little creation with a number of expressions that quite likely sound like bad grammar to listeners from other English countries. In reality, a lot of them are direct translations from Irish so the grammar is odd by English language norms.

          3. Chocolate Covered Cotton*

            And learning about this stuff, this “how to phrase things in a way that both communicates the needful while respecting the unwritten rules of hierarchy, which varies with every company” is exactly the sort of thing internships are for. So it’s really unfair to get mad at someone for not already knowing the things they are there to learn.

          4. Fiona Orange*

            I’m neurodivergent and phrasing things the right way has been a lifelong struggle for me.

      5. Totally Minnie*

        In a lot of the places I’ve worked, you would never announce to your boss what your work schedule will be. For a student worker, you might say “here’s my class schedule for the semester, I’m available to be scheduled for shifts outside of these times,” but you would never say, for example, “this semester I will be working Tuesday-Thursday from 9-4:30.” The expectation is that your employer will schedule you to work when they need people to work, not that you will devise your own schedule and announce it to them. But again, with student workers, a big chunk of the job is learning how jobs work, so I can see how a student could not know what the norms are.

        1. Seashell*

          I could see a boss making a schedule if it’s the kind of job where you need coverage, like retail or a call center, or if there’s a bunch of interns that they want to spread out on different days. However, for a basic 9-5 job where everyone is there at the same time and no one needs to answer calls from the public or the like, it may not matter if the intern comes in on Monday or Tuesday.

        2. a clockwork lemon*

          When I was a work-study student in college, our student jobs were part of our financial aid package. We had a list of shifts we were expected to choose (two students per 4-hr shift) based on what worked for us–it was definitely the norm for me to be the one telling my boss what days I would be working based on the shifts I’d signed up for, rather than her telling me what times I was expected to be in the office.

        3. Cthulhu’s Librarian*

          Contrary experience: when I was a student worker, if you weren’t absolutely clear “my availability is day Y and Z between hours X and Y,” you were going to end up scheduled to work during a class, because bosses were generally overworked and didn’t care.

          I will also say that in higher ed, a lot of professors could stand to be reminded that they actually aren’t all that important and special. It is the students who are paying their salaries and working full time jobs in addition to taking classes – when I say I’m only available for a video check in on these five dates and times, I’m telling you things that actually aren’t negotiable .

        4. I Have RBF*

          Umm, not always. In non-coverage jobs, which internships tend to be, the student:
          1) gets their class schedule,
          2) determines the times they are available to work within office hours,
          3) lets their manager/coordinator know what those hours are

          But instead of saying “so you can find more tasks for me”, which sounds like a directive, they should say “I’ve determined that I can work these times around my classes for the quarter/semester. Will you be providing tasks for me, or do I need to ask others as well?”

          IMO, interns don’t know workplace norms. So sometimes you have to spell out for them why their approach is problematic in your environment.

        5. Yorick*

          At most jobs you’d at least ask if those hours would work! Especially in the kind of jobs that interns are most likely to have already had.

    2. Hiring Mgr*

      You may be giving him mixed messages, if on one hand you’re trying to train him out of not sending obsequious emails, and on the other hand you’re trying to get him to be more obsequious in how he asks you about your calendar.

      1. Louise*

        It’s not obsequious to say “here is when I’m available” instead of “these will be my hours.”

      2. Sophiabrooks*

        See above. It was a weird verbal exchange. We worked it out, but I was angry at first (I hope it didn’t show, but I did almost snap at him) It is his emails that are obsequious, and then the verbal that is directive. I was just feeling bad for LW 3 because I feel like she knew it was wrong to snap, but I could understand it. This particular job is work-study, not intern, so they are really job extenders for me. I need them to not make more work, but I do try to teach office skills.

  21. K*

    I think OP number 3 was really out of line and owes the intern an apology. They write earlier that they have been coming up with “assignments” for the interns to do. That sounds to me like they have absolutely been coming up with “tasks” for this employee all along so it’s correct of him to assume that would continue. The point of internships is not to benefit the company but to benefit the student.

    If that isn’t actually OP’s responsibility then they should stop doing it and complain to their own boss about it being expected of them to begin when. But it’s not fair to take it out on the internet themselves.

  22. Almost There*

    Ask for locked bulletin boards to be installed, that’s what we had, under HR control.

    1. Persephone Mulberry*

      That seems like an unnecessary expense and a hassle for all the people who are using the board correctly, especially in an office small enough to not have dedicated HR.

    2. jellied brains*

      Nothing stopping the Nazis from sticking their hate speech over top the glass. This needs to be nipped in the bud, like yesterday.

      1. DJ Abbott*

        But then it would be clear it’s not official, and the first non-nazi who saw it could take it down.

  23. Dinwar*

    LW #1: One of the best bits of advice I got in my career is “Your network isn’t the people you know. It’s the people that the people you know know.” Where this applies here is, your friend has built a network of friends. She’s your friend. If you have the opportunity to socialize with her and her friend group, it’s a good way to make more friends at work. Even if you’re not comfortable socializing with everyone (and sales people can be A Lot), you can work with your friend to find venues where it’s just a handful of people at a time.

    LW #3: I think the advice I quoted above is applicable here as well. The intern is viewing their entire network as you. They don’t know who to reach out to, and aren’t taking the initiative to find out. I’d set aside some time to introduce the intern to some other folks in the office who need help, framing it as “Before the end of your shift, if you see availability in your schedule, check in with these folks to see if they have anything they need done.” If this intern is really good at something, it would even be worth going to someone specific and saying “This intern has done fantastic work at llama grooming, and I know that’s something you do a fair bit of. When the intern has availability would you like some help?”

    Put a different way: For your sanity you need to grow your intern’s network AND teach the intern how to grow their network themselves. Someone who can paster ten people for work is going to be much less annoying to any one person than someone who only has one person they can pester!

    1. Kesnit*

      “The intern is viewing their entire network as you.”

      That’s an assumption. It’s just as likely that Dale is going to everyone and letting them know he is available to help with projects.

      When I was on co-op in undergrad and an internship in law school, there was someone who was officially my supervisor. However, I would go to everyone to ask if they needed help with anything. It seems reasonable to think that Dale was doing the same.

      1. Dinwar*

        But Dale wasn’t asking if folks needed help. He was going to someone and saying “This is when I’m going to work.”

        I’ll grant that I’m assuming that Dale is only going to the LW. I don’t think it’s a horrible assumption given the rest of the information in the letter. Telling your boss when you’re going to work is unreasonable enough that I’m not willing to grant Dale the benefit of the doubt as to him behaving reasonably. And it’s easy enough to verify–the LW can simply ask their colleagues. It’s hardly unusual to discuss interns if the intern is working with multiple people, after all, and can easily lead into a discussion about their availability to help Dale find work. And if Dale is telling multiple people “This is when I’m going to work”, it’s likely that it’s annoying a number of them.

        1. WellRed*

          Or he is simply pointing out his availability as scheduled? And not sssuming LW knows his (likely) part time schedule? Maybe his tone was wrong (we can’t know that) but you are assuming an awful lot that’s not in the letter. Why do you see presumption instead of proactive?

          1. Dinwar*

            I assumed “…you have to find tasks for me” was, if not a direct quote, a close enough paraphrase to get the tone across.

            If you want to assume the LW is lying in that regard, I’m not sure where we can go with this conversation. One we discard the data the LW provides, we’re left with nothing but speculation.

            Telling your boss “You must do X for me” is either going to be a harsh reminder of legal responsibilities (which is a thing–I’ve done it a few times–but an intern is unlikely to be in such a position), or is wildly unprofessional. It’s also inaccurate. The LW DOES NOT have to find tasks for the intern to do. The LW has other options, such as coaching the intern on networking.

            I did the whole “learning to network” thing early in my career. If I’d gone to any of my bosses and said “You have to find work for me” they’d have been furious, and justifiably so, as I’d be issuing them orders, which is absurd. If I came to them and said “I’m struggling to find work, can you help me figure out what to do next?” that would be a very different conversation–I’d be taking ownership of my workload, and asking for help once I was stopped. These may result in the same thing (my boss taking time to help me find work), but they are NOT the same concept.

            1. HonorBox*

              But if you read it as Dale being part-time and trying to take ownership of work by asking for tasks, it can take different meaning altogether. Maybe his phrasing wasn’t great, but if an intern came to me and said, “I’ll be here Tuesday and Thursday next week. If you have things for me to work on” I wouldn’t take that in any way other than the intern letting me know when they’ll be in and asking for direction.

              1. Dinwar*

                If he was full time and said “I’ll be available at these times, if you have anything for me to work on” I’d be happy with it. I’ve used that phrasing myself, and have never objected to someone saying it to me. This phrasing provides the boss with options. You’re available, if the person can use your help it’s there to be used.

                But that’s not what Dale said. He said “…you have to find tasks for me” or at least something so similiar that that’s what the LW heard. That’s different. This phrasing is a demand; the LW MUST do X for Dale. Dale is putting stuff on the LW’s plate, rather than providing an opportunity to take stuff off it.

                There’s also an issue of passivity vs proactiveness. In the first example Dale is actively looking for work, and making himself available should something come up. In the second, Dale is a passive recipient of work. In my experience (yours may differ) folks who do this are also going to be the ones that if there’s no work will sit around on their phone the whole time and still expect to get paid. They’re not willing to put in more effort than merely putting the responsibility for filling their workload onto someone else’s plate.

                Dale’s an intern. He obviously has a lot to learn. So the LW can turn this into a teachable moment. But ONLY if Dale acknowledges that he’s not innocent in this exchange. If he’s willing to accept that “You need to find me work” is the equivalent of “I’m available if you need me”, he’ll never learn.

            2. Orsoneko*

              But the quote (direct or not) isn’t “you have to find tasks for me,” it’s “so you have time to find tasks for me.” It would be hard to read the former as anything other than presumptuous and entitled, but the latter just sounds like a somewhat clumsy attempt to say “I’m trying to make this as convenient as possible for you.”

              1. LCH*

                yeah, not even the OP is saying Dale said they had to find work for him. the quote is: ‘Dale, who ends each shift telling me when they will be in the office next so “you have time to come up with more tasks for me.”’

                it sounds helpful to me. i don’t keep at the forefront of my mind exactly when each student worker is here (university library). so having someone tell me, “i’ll be back in tomorrow at 1pm!” would be great. i don’t get the anger.

            3. N C Kiddle*

              “I assumed “…you have to find tasks for me” was, if not a direct quote, a close enough paraphrase to get the tone across.”

              I think you’ve misread. Dale said “you have TIME to find tasks for me”, ie OP has the opportunity to think of some tasks, not that OP must do anything.

        2. HonorBox*

          See I read that as Dale not being in the office all day every day, so he’s saying “this is when I’m scheduled to be here next” as a heads up to LW.

          1. Victoria Everglot*

            That’s how I read it. I would find it much worse if Dale just assumed everyone knew his schedule and was automatically planning things.

  24. mango chiffon*

    I am frustrated by LW3…internships exist to provide work experience to students/those who are new to the working environment. If this company doesn’t incorporate interns into the work intentionally, I’m confused why they have an internship program. Perhaps the frustration should be expressed in a professional manner to whoever is responsible for the program instead of taking it out on the intern who is still learning workplace norms and trying to understand the work being done

    1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      I feel the same way honestly. My workplace once had a batch of interns just… dumped on us with no plans on how to use them? One day all of us senior-level SEs got the email: “Here’s a list of names, times, and room numbers for your intern interviews tomorrow morning” and none of us had any idea we were going to have interns. We’d never had any before. We were not prepared. We did not have work for them. A lot of what little we had, they couldn’t do for security access or HIPAA reasons. (We work with our members’ PHI and PII and there was no way for the interns to do any work without stumbling onto all that.) I felt bad. Some of these people were going to school and working FT at the same time, trying to change careers, and needed the internship to give them enough resume boost to get a job somewhere, and we had them sitting in a room together twiddling their thumbs. It’s not like Dale is there just to make LW miserable. Dale is there for work experience that he will be expected to talk about and give some proof of in the future.

      1. mango chiffon*

        I was an intern in two separate places that had no plans for me and it was a struggle. One place basically just needed us for conference staffing and didn’t have good plans for how to utilize us the rest of the summer, and it was such a frustrating experience because I wanted to do more, but couldn’t. The second was basically just my own research project and I didn’t interact with any of the employees. To this day, I am disappointed with those internships because I didn’t feel like they provided me with a good experience.
        On the other hand, my current employer has a pretty great summer internship program where they intentionally build it into the summer research work (everything from an abbreviated training we would give to regular new hires to writing their own pieces), so there aren’t questions about needing to ask people for work. And they put a lot of thought into the program months ahead of time.

    2. Ann O'Nemity*

      “Perhaps the frustration should be expressed in a professional manner to whoever is responsible for the program instead of taking it out on the intern who is still learning workplace norms and trying to understand the work being done.”

      Yes to this! It sounds like the students need more assignments and are turning to the LW instead of their actual supervisor. I can get why that’s frustrating when it’s not LW’s role or priority! However, the frustration should be with whoever is supposed to be managing this group of students, not the students themselves.

  25. HonorBox*

    OP2 – I think someone who manages people in your office needs to be informed that the posts to the board are occurring (I’m assuming they don’t see them) and that regardless of someone’s political views, those kinds of posts can create animosity or make people feel ostracized if they have a different view. They can surely shut things down. And I’d also say that if you happen to witness someone posting something like that you could just kindly ask “can we not with political stuff at work?”

    OP4 – I think your fiancé could sure ask her manager for clarification about why she wasn’t allowed to work from home when someone from another team was. Not in a way that is adversarial or accusatory, but more for clarity. Perhaps there’s something under the surface she’s not aware of. Or perhaps the manager wasn’t aware that someone else in a similar role had been given the chance to do so. Especially since your fiancé has only been there a short period of time, she could mention that she’d like to not have to worry about being sick and being forced to decide whether to come in and power through or take unpaid time again.

  26. Bunny Watson*

    #3, I think you way overreacted. Also, I think your expectations of thinking an intern even knows how to fill their time when no one gives them work is also out of whack. You’re expecting them to take initiative to fill their time appropriately, but then upset when in an attempt to do that they give you a heads up that they could use some work. It’s hard, if not impossible, to be self-directed when you haven’t been trained on anything but random one-off tasks. It sounds like your company’s use of interns isn’t well developed if they have to constantly ask around for work. Perhaps you should take out your frustrations with your company and not on an intern. Perhaps there are other issues with this intern that have your hackles up, but I see nothing in this interaction that warrants this response.

    1. HonorBox*

      Agree with this 100%. While an intern should be able to navigate tasks and complete some projects without having to ask a bazillion questions or have their hand held throughout the entire process, expecting them to figure out how to fill their time without some good direction is not how an internship should work. This internship system seems poorly designed, both from the expectations standpoint and from the workforce standpoint. Why do you need multiple interns if there is that much downtime?

      OP owes Dale an apology.

    2. Aquamarine*

      Yeah, it sound like the organization of the intern program could use another look. They should at least have some longer-term tasks to work on when they don’t have anything else assigned.

  27. Ex-prof*

    I’d also be inclined to jot replies on the political postings. “Gas prices fluctuate with oil prices, which are not set by presidents.” Etc.

    Or to just tear them down.

    Without a reaction of some kind, the political poster thinks they’re preaching to the choir.

      1. Dust Bunny*


        My good turn this week was peeling a small and unauthorized “Let’s Go Brandon” sticker off of the door of our local post office. Ugh.

  28. CzechMate*

    LW 4 – Yes, companies are allowed to do this but it’s not necessarily advisable. My company has a very strict policy that we all must work in the office………but a few people have been given exceptions to work from home on some occasions (typically because they have a longer commute) and it is NOT going well. One staff member has a chronic illness and but lives close by, so she was not allowed to work from home; another staff member lives an hour away and made an arrangement to work from home during the afternoons twice a week, but he definitely logs off once he gets home. Their roles are basically the same. Definitely a benefit that needs some transparency in order to work.

    1. CommanderBanana*

      Yep. A couple of years ago I worked for an org that didn’t really do telework – and they didn’t have the IT infrastructure to make it workable, so I understood.

      Then, my boss at the time hired someone and allowed her to WFH a few times a week, but didn’t tell anyone else on the team! So we’d be looking for this person in her office, having no idea she was WFH and not just missing or out sick. So I’d go by her office to ask her something, see her office was dark, ask my boss if Soandso was out today, and my boss would say she didn’t know where she was. So her teammates had no idea she was working from home, and everyone assumed she was just absent a lot for no reason, which caused a lot of resentment.

      To this day I have no idea what my boss was thinking, maybe that we’d be angry that we couldn’t also WFH or start asking to telework? And that we’d somehow not notice that someone in our very small department was just gone 2xish a week??

  29. Ex-prof*

    Considering some of the interns we’ve encountered on this site, I quite like Dale.

    I think the LW should apologize and explain what she meant. “I’m sorry I snapped the other day. Here’s what I should have said.”

  30. Anon in Canada*

    LW1 – yes, this stings when you’re lonely, have failed to integrate with your coworkers, and see someone else having much more social success than you.

    However, is there any chance your friend is older (and especially older and coupled)? You say a lot of people in the company have partners and families. Or if your friend is your age, is it possible that the sales team has more young and/or single people in it?

    People tend to become friends with others they relate to – similar age and same relationship/family status. Even then, a 25-year-old childless single is far more likely to connect with a 38-year-old childless single than with a 25-year-old with a partner and a child. People with partners tend to prefer being friends with other coupled people; people with children usually have friends who also have kids. And yes, it frigging sucks when you’re the youngest person in your workplace and you can’t truly connect with coworkers because they are at a much different life stage than you, and you don’t have a built-in way of meeting people who are at your life stage.

    I’m not convinced that this is about sales people just being more social, or about you being purposely shut out – I think “luck of the draw” to be among people at a similar life stage is more likely here.

    1. I'm just here for the cats!*

      I was thinking the same thing too.

      Another thing that I have found at some companies there is a divide between departments. At one place we all did the same thing except one group took care of a specific customer base and it was very much a I’m part of group 1 and we’re better. So it could be something where the sales team doesn’t interact much with the operations team because at some point there was some sort of us versus them thing and its still has stuck.

      Also, if OP is the youngest person on her team and the sales team is younger, they might just think that all of the people in that department are older/ coupled/ have kids and so they don’t know that OP would fit in with them.

  31. Mystery Mongoose*

    OP 2: If you didn’t want to get into a bulletin war over facts (since apparently those are up for debate now?) I’d be tempted to put up the following quote under the assumption that their research is coming from Facebook and certain other social networks:

    “Don’t trust everything you read on the internet.” – Abraham Lincoln

    1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      “I agree with Abe Lincoln.” — Julius Caesar
      “I concur as well.” — Homer

  32. I'm just here for the cats!*

    Something that stuck out to me for #5 is that the company may have a policy that you can’t work from home until after you have worked there 1 year. It sounds like at the time she had only been at the company for 6 months.

    Also, the other employee may have accommodations or something set up for WFH that the OP’s wife doesn’t know about.

  33. WantonSeedStitch*

    OP #1: in addition to the fact that your friend is in sales, I wonder if her team is made up of mostly younger people or people who don’t have kids. I’m a very social person and always enjoyed socializing with people from work, but having a young child means this sort of thing is very challenging. I am still friendly with my colleagues and very chatty with them, but we don’t socialize outside work because non-work time tends to be family time for me now.

    1. Anon in Canada*

      Exactly – that’s what I pointed to in my post just above – people tend to be friends with others who are at the same or a similar life stage to them. People with kids don’t usually have time – or much interest – in socializing (in this case, hanging out outside of work) with people who don’t have kids. LW’s friend may have hit “luck of the draw” in being in a team where most others are at a similar life stage to her.

  34. LW#3*

    Yeah. I screwed up. That’s why I wrote in for advice. I appreciate everyone’s input here, and particularly those who offered up a script on how to better communicate this in the future.

    I’ll plan to apologize and review what processes to do when there isn’t a specific task on the job board for them.

    1. Molly Millions*

      I didn’t see your comment before I posted mine a few minutes ago, sorry if I was beating a dead horse! I used to manage interns and I know it can be difficult (on both sides) to use their time effectively.

      In my experience, the best solution is to assign the intern an ongoing task they can work on whenever they have spare time, so they don’t have to keep bothering people for busywork.

      Here are a few that might be useful, and will (if nothing else) help the intern learn more about the business they’re in:
      1. Update or develop a master list of stakeholders/vendors/clients, with up-to-date bios and contact info
      2. Prepare a daily media scan of news articles related to your industry
      3. Write a research essay or analytical paper on a topic relevant to your business
      4. Train yourself to master Microsoft Excel, Publisher, Photoshop, or other business software used in your industry

      Another idea is to have the intern develop a pitch/business plan/marketing campaign (whatever’s most relevant to your business) for a hypothetical product, and have some of the more experienced staff judge the project and give them feedback at the end of the internship.

      1. Cthulhu’s Librarian*

        Another great task is to have the intern prepare one-page/executive summaries of recent trainings or regulations in the field. It gives the intern a chance to become familiar with things in an unstructured way, and if the document is decent, you can sometimes use this as a springboard to give the intern a visibility boost

    2. davethetrucker*

      Hey, it happens. Good on you for mulling it over and asking for advice, and especially for taking all the commentary in stride!

      This situation would mess me up really badly, because my biggest fear is getting in trouble for something I either didn’t do or didn’t know was wrong at the time. But when I was young, if someone came up to me and apologized afterward, it would almost make it better than if it hadn’t happened at all, because I would learn to trust my instincts, and that “getting in trouble” is not always preventable nor a big deal, if that makes sense.

    3. Mio*

      Good on you for recognizing that.

      FWIW, while I don’t think Dale did anything wrong – apart perhaps from using clumsy wording, which is normal at this level – and I agree that you overreacted, I completely understand your frustration.

      I think your company is failing both of you:

      – you find yourself having to manage and mentor a whole batch of very junior staff, when that isn’t your role (at least not to that extent) and that takes away from the time you need to dedicate to your actual work. And reading between the line, that extra work isn’t recognized nor rewarded/compensated.

      – Dale and the other interns do not get the learning experience and guidance that they need. If this is an unpaid or underpaid internship, that is part of the compensation for their work and they should indeed expect it. They are not getting something they are “entitled” to but not in the dismissive, pejorative sense you used. Interns aren’t just free or practically free labor.

      Even if it’s not literally an unpaid/underpaid internship, when a company chooses to use very junior resources, presumably at a much lower cost, the company needs to provide more structure and guidance. It’s unreasonable to expect the same level of autonomy a more experienced, more expensive worker would show. The company failed to create that structure and assign a person to managing them or to clearly communicate who that person is. It’s understandable that you’re frustrated this fell into you, although you shouldn’t misdirect the blame at Dale.

  35. Molly Millions*

    LW 3: if you were annoyed by your intern informing you of his availability, imagine how awkward and disruptive (and eventually embarrassing) it would be for Dale to go around the office asking random people if they have any work for him, every day he works. He will most likely be told “no thanks” over and over, which will start to sound like “you’re useless.”

    This isn’t your fault, LW – it’s a common situation when an office takes on interns without a consistent plan for how to use their time. But it’s not the intern’s fault either, and it’s a very demoralizing situation for them; any young worker who’s conscientious will be anxious that they’re making a bad impression, when the problem is there’s nothing for them to do. (And it’s not always easy for an intern to “take initiative” when they don’t know the lay of the land and don’t want to accidentally disrupt someone else.)

    Ideally, there should be someone who’s officially in charge of “managing” the interns, who can assign them tasks and answer their questions. The interns should also be assigned an ongoing task to work on whenever they have free time, so they don’t have to bother people.

    I think you should apologize to Dale for snapping.

    1. I'm just here for the cats!*

      Yeah, I think they need to have something more formal. Like maybe there can be a spreadsheet of items that people need help with that the interns can just check and complete as they have time, or have whoever is managing the interns assign tasks throughout the week.

  36. Toolate12*

    May be an unpopular opinion but I actually think it *is* at least partially your obligation to find tasks for your intern to do (an obligation shared with the intern’s manager and other senior staff). I actually don’t think it’s right for organizations to take on interns if they have nothing for them to do or learn (speaking as someone who was in that position multiple times years and years ago). It was just so frustrating to intern in places that clearly couldn’t assign me work because there was too little of it or because people were bad at delegating. It wastes everyone’s time otherwise.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      If the OP delegates tasks to them then, yes, it is.

      I am 0% in charge of the interns at my job, but my supervisor has everything planned and has clear and structured projects for them to do, so they’re not swimming around hoping someone will give them work. (I also do not tell them what to do or how to do it unless Supervisor asks me to.)

  37. Tesuji*

    LW #3:

    This reads to me like your company has a dysfunctional internship program, LW either got this unwillingly dumped on her or stepped up out of a sense of responsibility, but she resents the everliving f__k out of having been put in this position of having to take up more unpaid labor on top of her actual job.

    … which, fair enough, but that’s not the interns’ fault, and she shouldn’t be taking out her anger on them, even if being angry at the situation is justified.

    If your company has student interns, then yes, it is completely 100% *someone’s* job to be figuring out what they should be doing. The idea that interns should proactively be deciding on their own what they think could be helpful is just… no. All of the nos. That’s honestly insane, since that way lies “This filing system seemed confusing, so I decided it would be helpful if I just reorganized everything in ways that made sense to me” kind of catastrophes.

    If you’re angry that you have somehow unwillingly become that *someone*, you should take that up with people above you, not punish the people below you.

    1. Ann O'Nemity*

      Hard agree with all of this. I can understand the LW’s frustration with the situation, but not the expectation that interns will proactively find work or that the LW chose to punch down in a moment of anger.

    2. Fiona Orange*

      “The idea that interns should proactively be deciding on their own what they think could be helpful is just… no. All of the nos. That’s honestly insane, since that way lies “This filing system seemed confusing, so I decided it would be helpful if I just reorganized everything in ways that made sense to me” kind of catastrophes.”

      Or a situation like that time many years ago when the interns wrote a petition to change the dress code.

      1. kiki*

        Yeah, I think it can be difficult sometimes to put somebody who has been working full-time for a while back into the mind of an intern. They really don’t have enough context to be helpful without guidance, assistance, and mentorship. Every so often there is the occasional intern who flourishes seemingly without any guidance but those are rare individuals. Unfortunately, a lot of programs end up designed around those rare individuals (sometimes because the first intern was somebody motivated enough to forge forward and create this sort of program for themselves), but most interns need training, mentorship, and guidance to become great.

  38. RaginMiner*

    OP3- as someone who is an intern currently, I really think you overreacted. It sounds like they’re trying to show initiative and show that they want to do more work or that they do not have enough work in the area you set up. Interns can really only do what they’re given to do, because of experience levels, clearances, etc. Give them a list of tasks and then maybe one or two long running tasks to pick up whenever they have time. I sure did a lot of historical engineering drawing digitization in my previous internship!

  39. rollyex*

    “Just 3% of U.S. workers wear ‘business professional’ clothes to work”

    This is interesting. And also hilarious to post somewhere anonymously. I may need to try it as my new AAM name.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      I want this person to start doing field trips where they storm around a construction site, a spec ops team, a hospital operating room, a landscaping company, etc, screaming that no one is wearing a full 3-piece suit with ascot and this will not stand.

      1. Just 3% of U.S. workers wear ‘business professional’ clothes to work*

        Yeah, but the hardhat-and-suit look at a job site and the suit-under-the-lab-coat style in the teaching hospital are pretty fly sometimes.

      2. CommanderBanana*

        Right? It makes no sense. My immediate thought was “what about doctors? Construction workers? Nurses? Pre-K teachers? In-the-field biologists or archeologists? Zookeepers? Tour guides? National Park Service rangers?” Are they supposed to all be wearing suits?

      3. Pippa K*

        Ascot? Certainly not! Half Windsor, or four-in-hand if you must. Once you allow soft neckwear, the barbarians have breached the gates.

    2. Queer Earthling*

      Given some people upthread pointed out that “3%” is probably an alt-right dogwhistle, maybe not the best AAM name.

  40. AdAdmin*

    #3 Even if Dale is not an intern, I really think he just wants to be proactive and have things to do to make his time there worthwhile. That doesn’t sound like entitlement at all. I’ve worked as a part-time assistant where I was paid hourly. I did sometimes have to ask my boss and other team members for things to do, not that I enjoyed bugging them when they were working on other stuff, but if I didn’t have anything to do, I’d have to just go home and not get paid. The best thing was for my boss to train me in a few areas and tell me that x area is my responsibility now or to have a few non urgent projects that I could fall back on if I ran out of tasks.

    1. Fluffy Fish*

      Absolutely. This reads more like Dales version of being a proactive and engaged employee – which is great and not something to be discouraged! If OP wants or expects interns to act in a certain way then it’s up to them to communicate with this. Recurring theme around here – people are not mind readers and its not productive to get annoyed because people aren’t doing what you want them to do that you havent told them about.

    2. Itsa Me, Mario*

      I somewhat see LW 3’s point (if not their delivery) in that, at least in my field and my experience, one great way to be proactive is to show initiative and find something to do. I was an intern approximately one zillion years ago, but when I was in a similar situation to Dale, I quickly learned which teams were always drowning in busy work I could do, and who not to approach because they were too busy/important/had too many high-level tasks that couldn’t be delegated to a college kid. Rather than asking the supervisor of the interns for tasks over and over and over, after a few days I figured out I could just go directly to accounting and start tackling their To File bin.

      On the other hand, I also read Dale’s comment as either a joke that didn’t land or just something terminally awkward to say. And not really requiring a lecture about being more proactive.

  41. SereneScientist*

    LW1, outside of Allison’s good advice, you may also consider checking through Captain Awkward’s archives about work and friends–there are a few letters there that are similar to yours and you may find Captain’s thoughts helpful.

    On the whole, I would consider where your jealousy is stemming from. Your friend is not making work friends *at* you. Indeed, her role is in a function that many have pointed out is all about building connections and relationships. Is there a social need you have that’s not being met? If you’d like your circle/function to be more social, maybe you can seek out a few more of your extroverted coworkers to start to build that sense of community as well.

    1. Anon in Canada*

      This last line may not be possible. LW1 says she’s one of the youngest people in her team, and that “a lot” of people in her team have partners and kids. You can’t make socially compatible people (i.e. people at a similar life stage) appear out of thin air when they’re just not there. People with kids simply don’t have the time, interest, or energy to have the same kind of social life that young single people seek; and attempting to include young single people into their already existing lives makes little sense. Even childless couples often show an incredibly strong preference for having friends who are also coupled.

      LW1 is simply jealous that her friend ended up in a team that provides social opportunities to her (because the team has socially compatible people). When you’re being crushed by loneliness, it’s perfectly normal to be jealous of that! Maybe LW can ask her friend to try to include her in that social life that she’s just found.

      1. SereneScientist*

        Those are all relevant factors for sure; but my point here is that LW shouldn’t only lean on her friend to help build that sense of community by virtue of access to a group of more sociable people. That seems like a recipe for further resentment and jealousy if it doesn’t pan out.

        1. Anon in Canada*

          True that she shouldn’t rely “only” on her friend to achieve that (although I don’t think LW said anything hinting at that). However, the reason that LW’s friend is having more social success may not be because her team is composed of inherently more “sociable” people. Instead, it’s much more likely to be because that team is composed of people who are at more similar life stages (including the friend). No matter how sociable 30- or 40-somethings with partners and preschool/school age kids are, the odds that they will include a 20-something childless single in their social lives are essentially nil.

      2. Polly Hedron*

        I understand why LW1 feels jealous: LW1’s friend’s good luck is rubbing in LW1’s own isolation. (I would feel the same.)
        I suggest that LW1 try to reframe the situation to emphasize how LW1 is better off now:
        – LW1 now has one good friend at work
        – This friend might connect LW1 with additional friends

  42. She of Many Hats*

    Definitely ask your friend to join once in a while. You can frame it as it sounds like so much fun or that you’d like to get to know that team a bit better. If you feel self conscious going alone, see if you can bring a fellow Ops friend. Who knows, it may build better ties across both teams or even the whole organization/office.

  43. Ann*

    LW 3: ” I know that part of their role is learning the norms and etiquette of the workplace,” and yet YOU are screaming at an intern? For asking for work??

  44. learnedthehardway*

    OP#1 – some people (especially people in sales) are just people magnets. I know it stings that you haven’t been able to develop the same relationships with your coworkers, and that the person you referred has done so in a heartbeat. But that’s her personality. And it’s part of her function to connect with people.

    Talk to your friend and ask her to help you grow your network in the company. Acknowledge that she is amazing at building connections and networks, and that you’d really appreciate her help to get to know people, as you have found it more difficult.

    Also, remember that while this is her area of strength, you have other areas of strength that she probably wishes she had. Look up Malcolm Gladwell’s archetypes – connectors, mavens, and persuaders / sales people. – your friend is probably a Connector. You might be a Maven. I’m not saying this is the be all and end all of how personality archetypes, but one thing that is very nice is how Maxwell points out that the three types are inter-dependent.

    (I have a friend who is the most extroverted person you can possible imagine. I know all of the people I know in the city I live – outside of my professional life – because of her. She’s a Connector. Me – I’m like you – I struggle to get to know people. I’m a Maven, though – I know something about everything, basically. My friend and I are complementary – she introduces me to people and creates connections. I provide information and direction on anything she or her other friends want to know about. In this way, I develop my social circle and she provides value to her circle.)

    1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Back in my online dating days, I made an effort to stay away from sales people, after going out with a few. Not because they are bad people or because they are all bad partners – they are not! – but because they are super persuasive and have ridiculously good people skills, and I was afraid that they’d sell me on themselves as my partner before I even got a chance to think about whether I wanted to date them or not. I am happy for LW’s friend and love yours and others’ suggestion for LW to harness the friend’s super powers into helping herself grow a better network!

  45. Itsa Me, Mario*

    I find it weird to say this because I’m at the absolute polar opposite of the person posting the political bulletin board messages. But I think it’s fine and that none of this rises to the level of taking any action at all. Based on the headline I thought it was going to be either really noxious far-right messages that are dogwhistles for bigotry (things like LGBTQ+ people being “groomers”, or anti Critical Race Theory, or something), or perhaps the edgier types of “antiwork” pro-labor sentiment that someone doesn’t realize are not how you start a union. But yeah, IDK, it’s weird and kind of off-putting that some anonymous person in your office doesn’t like the president and wishes people would wear suits. But it’s currently not really hurting anyone.

    I’ll also say that as someone on the far left within US politics, I’ve heard colleagues say some fairly extreme political things that they think are neutral and appropriate opinions to share at work. It’s verbal rather than on a bulletin board, but honestly none of this seems outside the bounds of weird stuff people overshare at work.

  46. Some random clown (not wearing his red nose in the office)*

    “Just 3% of U.S. workers wear ‘business professional’ clothes to work,”

    Fewer than 0.1% of U.S. workers come to work in a full suit
    of armor.

    Fewer than 1 in 10 U.S. executives come to the office in formal
    ermine robes.

    We’ve also stopped wearing Elizabethan ruffs.

    Thanks Joe!

    1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Hahahaha! It certainly did conjure the image in my head of my dad’s closet when I was a child, with two suits, several white shirts, a few ties, that he had tie clips and cufflinks to go with and that was all he wore to work the entire time I lived at home. I’d be willing to bet nobody wears cufflinks to work anymore. Thanks a LOT, Joe!

  47. TXescapee*

    At a previous job there was a board for people to post positive notes. There were some biblical quotes that people posted. Then one day I saw “Faith over Fear,” and I was so tempted to post “Science over Faith” right next to it, but there were cameras because it was near one of the entrances. This was a few months after a very vocal coworker who was involved in local tea party politics died from Covid weeks after posting on social media that she got the religious exemption so she didn’t have to get the jabby jab.

    1. Fiona Orange*

      You did the right thing by not posting “science over faith.” Most people of faith accept science. It’s just a very loud minority that don’t.

  48. CommanderBanana*

    Managers who do stuff like not letting people WFH for no reason shouldn’t be surprised when they can’t keep people on their team.

    1. Anon in Canada*

      Not allowing anyone to work from home is perfectly reasonable.

      Allowing some employees to do so, and not allowing others, while being unable to explain why, is not reasonable.

      Also, covid is still out there, and it should be a policy that if someone has covid, they should be paid even if they were out of sick days.

      1. I Have RBF*

        Also, covid is still out there, and it should be a policy that if someone has covid, they should be paid even if they were out of sick days.


        I am very sad and angry that all of business and government in the US has dumped ALL of the responsibility and cost burden of dealing with Covid onto the individual. This means that those who can least afford it are the ones most likely to be losing money, and even their long term health, to Covid. “Business as Usual”, “Return to Normal”, are just soft pedaled ways of saying that the elderly, immune compromised, and at risk people must be willing to die for the economy.

        People have the gall to call it “Living in Fear” like it’s some sort of weakness. Yeah, I’m afraid of getting Long Covid, or my 72 year old spouse dying of the umpteenth round of Covid, or my immune compromised roomie dying of Covid. IMO, everyone with half a brain should fear that, and therefore take precautions to not contribute to the spread!

        Covid doesn’t care about the economy, or your politics. It doesn’t care if you previously were young, able-bodied and healthy. It’s a virus. It’s only purpose is to infect and replicate, mutate, and infect more.

        I get it, we are all tired of Covid. But Covid doesn’t GAF, it can’t. It’s just a disabling and/or murderous virus.

        1. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

          I would be a lot more fearful if I didn’t have good masks, and access to vaccine boosters.

          There’s room for disagreement about what risks are worth taking, because that’s partly about values and emotions:it’s not just “how likely am I to get sick if I do this?” (which is a factual question, even if it’s hard to answer) but what rewards are worth that risk to you. But once I’ve decided that yes it’s worth some risk to visit my mother, I’m going to do it as safely as possible, which includes masking in airports and testing before I travel.

        2. Fiona Orange*

          John Oliver described it perfectly at the beginning of the pandemic: before Covid, the #1 threat to life in America was terrorism, and the way to defeat terrorism is to refuse to live in fear. He then went on to say that you can’t apply anti-terrorism strategies to viruses, because, as you said, it’s only purpose is to infect and replicate. Not to create fear.

      2. CommanderBanana*

        I’m referring specifically to situations like the one the LW is writing about (one manager refusing to let people WFH while others allowing it in the same organization doing similar work that can be done remotely), not about all managers everywhere, ok?

  49. Jo-El*

    LW3, try to remember that none of us arrived at our positions fully formed, people had to teach us all along the way. Part of being in a senior position is helping to develop others. If you don’t want the responsibility, then don’t be in the position.

  50. Coin_Opperated*

    I would really like to see more regulations to counter unequal treatment because of varying managerial styles. I get that different roles will have different requirements, but if I were working somewhere, where a co-worker of mine was able to work from home because their manager was okay with it, and I wasn’t because of my manager, when both our roles didn’t require us to be in the office, stuff like that shouldn’t be legal.

    1. bamcheeks*

      I think this is always tricky, because one person’s “we ensure all managers follow the same rules and treat staff the same” is another person’s “horrendously rule-bound inflexible bureaucracy which stifles real decision making and responsibility”. It’s a real cultural thing: some people really prefer cultures with that level of consistency and feel it’s fairer, and others hate it and want managers to have flexibility in their decisions making based on local need. The best thing is figuring out which is best for you and how to screen for it.

    2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      It sounded good to me when I first saw your comment. But then the reply reminded me of when the large company that had, several years earlier, bought the small one that I worked for, got a new CEO, who immediately was shocked by the discrepancy between the benefits Large Company’s employees had and ours. The CEO said their first priority would be making things equal across the board. This was followed by several benefit cuts over the next 1.5 years. The CEO also mentioned wanting to make salaries more fair across the board and we were bracing for pay cuts, but then thankfully they got distracted by something else, and then left the company.

      I will never understand why the leadership’s preferred way of making things equal is “find the one group that gets the absolute raw end of the deal, and then give everyone else what that group is getting and not an inch more”, but here we are.

  51. Zach*

    I was super confused, but I think I get it now – you’re saying that companies should think about whether their policies do (x and/or y and z), not that they should (think about whether their policies do x) and/or that they should y and z, right? I feel like you should avoid regressive penalties? I’m sorry if this is pedantic and/or more grammar than anyone needs on a Friday!

  52. Free Meerkats*

    Not going to join the pile on for LW 3, but some people aren’t wired to act that way. We had one person who could not self motivate in a job that required that. The City moved him to another team where he got a list of stuff to do and when it had to be done and he excelled there.

    1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Honestly, I don’t think I even would want an intern to self-motivate. They’d probably have just enough access to our systems to be dangerous if they were to set off finding things for themselves to do while they don’t really know what they’re doing.

      Signed, someone who accidentally crashed our biggest client’s production during their busy hours as an entry level.

  53. Caryn Z.*

    Re: the bulletin board, does it really matter? Is it only because it is something you don’t agree with? Can you just ignore what you don’t like?

    1. DJ Abbott*

      No – because people with extreme political views don’t stop. They keep pushing and trying to force their ideas on everyone. It’s better to stop it early, then to wait until it’s completely out of control and causing fights and all kinds of problems.

  54. Yours sincerely, Raymond Holt*

    With the home worker, there could be a lot of reasons why they’re allowed to work from home that you wouldn’t know about. They could have a particular disability or clinical vulnerability, they could be pregnant, they could have a mental health issue, they could have so many things going on.

    The person who wants to WFH should focus on making their own case if they believe they have one, but the circumstances allowed for someone else aren’t necessarily relevant because you just don’t know.

    That said, I’m generally in favour of allowing home working unless there’s a very compelling reason not to do so. And that reason would usually be something you’d want to communicate. EG “when you worked from home previously, you struggled with deadlines and your performance has been measurably better in the office. What would be different this time?” (And listen to their answer as they might have one…)

  55. anon on this one*

    LW4 it sounds like you work for a very, very bad manager, and your whole organization might be rotten to the core. I had a job where both senior leaderhsip and my immediate manager emphasized over and over that our presence in the office was more important than our physical survival, including things like “commuting with caution” (in extremely dangerous weather), coming in with COVID, or facing steep financial and professional penalties for not being in the office. That place described itself as “flexible” and “remote-friendly,” but “flexible” doesn’t typically mean “executives get flexibility, if you’re in ten minutes late, you’re in hot water” and “remote-friendly” doesn’t typically mean “if you have a documented disability and a lawyer, you may be able to get a hybrid or remote schedule, otherwise, show up at the office OR ELSE.”

    If you’re not actively searching, you should be.

  56. Fiona Orange*

    Letter 3: “It’s not uncommon for student workers and interns to not yet understand the principle you described here. From years in school, they’re used to people coming up with work for them and will often miss the nuance that rubbed you the wrong way. Part of the point of these early jobs is to learn exactly this kind of thing.”

    To many young people, one of the the hardest thing about transitioning from school to work is going from being a consumer to being an employee. It might seem odd to refer to students as “consumers,” but they absolutely are. The product that they are consuming is education. And yes, the point of an internship is to help students understand the difference between their responsibilities as an employee versus a consumer.

  57. SB*

    LW3 – I manage a few trainees & one of the first things I address with them is to have an “If Down Do” list – a list of tasks they can go on with if they find themselves in the position of having nothing to go on with. This is usually things like audits of the kitchens, bathrooms, stationery cupboards, etc. to see what we are likely to need in the next ordering run & adding it to the sheet, or checking all the bulletin boards (physical & online) & removing anything that has been & gone & updating anything that requires an update.

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