intern was working two full-time jobs, employee makes patients feel unwelcome, and more

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

1. Our intern was working two full-time jobs

I work at a nonprofit and manage our internship program. I handle the administrative side of things, while our program teams handle the day-to-day/substantive work assignments and management.

I received a message from one of those teams this morning sharing that, through social media, they found out one of our paid interns has had another full-time internship this semester on top of her classes. She did not share this with us previously, to my knowledge. The director is very disappointed and wants to remove her from the internship.

The internship is hybrid (in office 2-3 days a week). She’s committed to working a set schedule for us and has been working those hours. I have less insight on the quality of her work day-to-day: she’s always responsive to and thorough with me on the admin side, and her team hasn’t given me any hints of performance issues. My understanding up to this point is that she’s been doing a good job in helping the program keep things on track for the semester (they’re very events-based and do a ton of planning and logistics).

While I’m concerned about the lack of disclosure, I’m wondering if there have been other performance issues I’ve been kept out of the loop on that are fueling the suddenness of this. I’m surprised she’s managed to balance two full-time internships and a full class load without anyone noticing prior to this, which is partly on me. Our program has three weeks left, and I’m unsure if this warrants a full removal given that we don’t have an explicitly stated policy against it. I’m new to both running this program and managing generally, so trying to get a sense of if I’m reading this right.

If she worked the hours she committed to working and there haven’t been concerns about her work quality or responsiveness, and if she hasn’t violated any policy about second jobs … why on earth does your director want to fire her? If there have been concerns about her work quality or responsiveness, by all means address those — and if they’ve been severe, this new info feels like it explains them, and it’s just the last straw, then sure, end things. But otherwise, there’s nothing here to be upset about, let alone to fire an intern over. If your organization doesn’t want people working other jobs, it needs to say that when it hires them— and it definitely needs to say that to interns, since it’s not uncommon for interns to have a ton of things going on. But based on what’s in your letter, it doesn’t sound like she’s done anything wrong, other than apparently violate an unwritten secret rule that lives in your director’s head.

2. Employee makes patients feel unwelcome

I have an employee who comes to get her clients from the waiting room and it’s hit or miss on how she greets them – with great enthusiasm or, more often and more likely, as Eeyore. She’s going back to school to get a terminal degree and, having done it myself, I know that’s draining, and she’s got some medical issues so I know there are days she doesn’t feel great. However, clients are asking to switch off of her schedule because they feel she is disengaged and uninterested in their care. It’s definitely affected our business – and it’s worse when she’s enthusiastic with one client and then dragging the next. Because of the nature of our business, there is some overlap between clients and they see how she acts with someone else and then comes so begrudgingly to them, like her feet are made of lead and her dog just died. (This is not always the case, sometimes she’s just an Eeyore all day.) This understandably makes the client uncomfortable and feel like they are unliked and/or a burden. Overall, we try and have a fun, positive environment in our office.

We’ve discussed this before, but is there anything we can do? I don’t want to tell anyone to “smile,” but how can we handle this when it’s affecting our business?

If clients are asking not to see her, that’s a serious problem. I agree you shouldn’t order anyone to smile, but it is reasonable to say that clients need to be greeted warmly and made to feel welcome and appreciated. How she achieves that is up to her; some people do that by being smiley and bubbly, but plenty of non-bubbly, more reserved people also manage to make clients feel welcome. She can adapt her approach based on her own style, but the outcome — that clients feel welcomed — shouldn’t be negotiable. (I’m also wondering what she’s like with her clients after she takes them back from the waiting room. I’m guessing you don’t see that part, and who knows what’s happening there.)

It sounds like it’s time for a heart-to-heart where you say that you know she’s juggling a lot but clients are experiencing her as gloomy and unwelcoming, and that can’t continue. Does she need time off? Fewer hours? Be open to hearing her out on what might help. But if she continues to make clients feel unwelcome, you’d need to treat it as a pretty serious fit issue.

3. My manager is upset that I’m paid more and get a benefit she doesn’t get

I work for a large international company and am one of the 20% remote associates. I am based in a high-income area, which most employees are not. I recently got a pay raise and a new manager. The raise pushes me over the high earner threshold to where I now get unlimited PTO. This pay discrepancy makes sense, as the cost of living is approximately double in my area.

My manager only was aware of this benefit because I brought it up to her, and it is clear she does not have it — she was totally blank-faced. She looked extremely upset on the call, and has repeatedly expressed how unfair this is. I agree with her and am actually being negatively impacted by this (it means I lose my banked PTO I wanted to use in addition to maternity leave), but don’t know how handle this with her.

Your manager shouldn’t be complaining about this to you! If she has a problem with it, she should escalate it to someone with the power to do something about it, not put someone she manages in the awkward position of hearing how unhappy she is about a perk they receive.

As for what to do, if she brings it up again, you could say, “I’d support you in pushing for it for everyone” (or if true, “If you decide to advocate for a policy change, you’d have my support”). And if she keeps bringing it up, it’s reasonable to say, “You’re putting me in a tough position since I didn’t choose this. Is there something you want me to do differently?”

4. I’m taking an extended break from work and my dusty LinkedIn profile is haunting me

I unexpectedly fell extremely ill in March 2023. I was a new grad (just got my MSW!) working a few part-time roles and searching for a full-time position when I totally dropped off the map to deal with my new fangled health mystery and profound disability (think daily cardio routine to a wheelchair overnight level of intensity). It’s a year later and I’m doing much better! I have a diagnosis and I’m improving every day, but it’s going to be a while before I’m back to full strength, probably another year or more.

My LinkedIn has just been sitting untouched this whole time and it’s haunting me. I’m still listed as “currently employed” at places I haven’t worked since the onset of my illness and that feels … So. Icky. Not being able to contextualize why I left my jobs so abruptly makes me feel absolutely batty. Even if I could get my head around that, I genuinely don’t know what cessation date to put down. Should it be the day I went on sick leave, or six months later when I finally resigned? Truly, there are more important things I could be thinking about I’m sure, but this is bugging me SO MUCH. Please help.

You are overthinking it! LinkedIn is a cesspool anyway and we should all deeply resent its existence. You don’t need it update it at all until you’re ready to start job-searching, but whenever you want to, your end dates can be the dates your employment formally ended (so not when you went on sick leave, but when you parted ways with the company; that’s what their records will reflect and yours can too).

5. Speaking Spanish in front of someone who doesn’t know the language

Is it legal for a boss to speak Spanish to someone who can speak English in front of someone who knows no Spanish, especially if there is an issue at hand?

Yes. No law requires people to use any particular language in their workplace.

In fact, legally, employers can only prohibit employees from speaking in another language if it’s justified by a business necessity, like when they’re waiting on English-speaking customers or doing team projects where an English-only rule will promote efficiency, or to allow a manager who only speaks English to monitor the performance of employees whose job involves communicating with others.

That doesn’t mean it’s polite or smart to speak in a language someone else doesn’t know, particularly in a small group where only one doesn’t know the language. But it’s certainly legal. (And there are times when it might make perfect sense, like when it’s the fastest/most efficient way to communicate something.)

{ 587 comments… read them below }

  1. TG*

    LW #1 – interns do not make a lot of money and if she is doing good work and working her committed hours than you have zero reason to remove her especially since she is.m not breaking any policy! She is working two internships because she probably needed the income – taking a full class load on top of that too!! I’d hire her just for her energy and organization and time management skills!

    1. Ginger Cat Lady*

      This is ESPECIALLY true if OP1’s internship is unpaid or only pays a meager stipend.
      She’s getting her work done, meeting her obligations to the internship, and apparently doing it on top of school AND a job to pay the bills. She’s a rock star, not a problem.
      I wish OP1 had more compassion for the situation.

      1. Myrin*

        The letter doesn’t read like OP has no compassion for the situation! She sounds unsure in the face of the director’s apparent outrage, but that’s why she asked Alison.

        1. It was Elvis who turned water into wine*

          It sounds like Director forgets what it’s like to be 25 and working 18 full time jobs and and going to school. If you aren’t juggling 75 obligations, are you even an intern?

          1. mygreendoor*

            Exactly this! I worked 60 hours a week between two jobs, helped out part time on weekends, picked up baby sitting gigs at night, and went to college full time. I only had public transportation to rely on and lived alone, paying all the rent myself. Now I’m in my 40’s, make six figures, own a house and two cars, and have a masters degree and a spouse to share the burdens of life with. I look back on my 22 year old self and wonder how on earth I ever existed like that. Never underestimate the energy and optimism of the young. And don’t fire this intern!!

      2. Carl*

        I’m also very confused about the problem. Is there a problem? What’s the problem?

        I had an employee that was insanely efficient. Always there when I needed her. Always on top of everything. Her “computer” just worked faster than most. When Covid happened, with remote, it occurred to me that she could easily handle 2-3 jobs and I wouldn’t notice.

        Then I realized – if I wouldn’t notice, why do I care?

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          Yeah, I don’t think this is materially different from someone who has a lot of caregiving responsibilities outside of their job with you, or a really intense fitness regimen outside of their job with you. Or is writing a novel outside of their job with you, and it just got picked up so now that writing was for money. If they are responsive when you need them to be and good at their job, this shouldn’t matter.

          I type this as someone who has been critical of two secret (or not secret) jobs when the second job is impacting the first.

          1. KHB*

            “A lot of caregiving responsibilities”…during the hours they’re supposed to be working? Or during their off hours? That’s the big difference. It’s common (and perfectly reasonable) for companies to require that employees make other arrangements for childcare during working hours.

            1. T'Pring*

              “outside of their job with you”

              so no, not during the hours they’re supposed to be working.

              I find it interesting that you seized upon the mention of caregiving and assumed it must be during duty hours and not the fitness or writing.

              1. Crencestre*

                You can fit writing and fitness into your daily routine and schedule both around your “duty hours”. Caregiving is qualitatively different; people who need a great deal of help at home need it WHEN they need it, not five or six hours later.

                1. Falling Diphthong*

                  It is truly not unusual for caregiving to be scheduled. Like from 5:30-7:30 every day you go to your ailing mom’s and do what needs doing. Or you have toddlers who are in daycare during the hours you work the job, but need to be looked after by you during the hours you are not paid to work.

                  Genuinely puzzled that “caregiving outside the job” was read by two people as “caregiving when you’re supposed to be doing the job.”

                2. Michelle Smith*

                  I agree with Falling Diphthong. Before my grandmother passed away last year, my family had regular care shifts. One family member was there from a certain hour in the morning until mid afternoon, then the next person tapped in, etc. They were engaged in caregiving activities and busy the entire time they were there, but it was still limited to those set hours. My mother spent years doing that. She worked a full-time job IN PERSON during the day (so no caregiving was happening on “company time”) and then took over for her sister after work, left to cook dinner for everyone during which time my grandfather took over, and then returned to feed her and take care of her until she went to sleep for the night.

                  I think inherent in the comment you’re making is an assumption that extensive caregiving must be 24/7 and that’s just not necessarily the case if other people are pitching in. My mom took care of my grandmother an equivalent of full time work hours, but had two other family members helping as well as hospice nurses.

                3. Lenora Rose*

                  Falling Dipthong: I think the disconnect is because Carl’s comment implied his super efficient employee could be doing two jobs at once (ie, while on the clock) and he wouldn’t even notice or care because she was so efficient. And you replied with other examples of people whose lives are (Like the Intern LW 1 mentioned) heavily burdened and full — but outside work hours.

          2. selena81*

            Well said. Everybody has ‘a life outside work’, and wether any of those other activities (including a secret job) are a problem only depends on wether or not it makes them underperform in the job they’re doing for you.

        2. Anon for this*

          Yeah, we had a coworker (whose contract was ended abruptly when the concerns were raised, so we never actually conclusively established a second job was to blame) who regularly submitted timesheets saying it took him 40 hours a week to do what the rest of us could do in three hours. THAT is what got his contract cancelled, not a second job, if he had one.

        3. el l*

          Yeah, I only think side employment matters if it
          (a) Lowers performance unacceptably (fine for an intern or part-time, but a bad idea in most full-time jobs)
          (b) Opens a potential for conflicts of interest (my company prohibits this because they’re consultants)
          (c) Opens a potential for embezzlement (if access to money) or IT funny stuff (if system knowledge).

          Agree, don’t see the problem.

      3. nodramalama*

        I dont really see how this is OP’s fault. They have no issue with the intern and are confused by the director’s objections

      4. DeskApple*

        THIS! When my supervisor asked me why they saw me take clothes from the donation box at college I explained I was on loans and needed new shoes. “But we pay you!”. yeah, a stipend of $1,800 for a YEAR.

        1. Anonym*

          That is WILD. I’m imagining what this person thought your cost breakout would be on that stipend. $80/month for rent, $20 for food, plenty left over for clothes, bills, transit, etc.!

        2. Tracy*

          My vet school classmates used to give me grief for shopping at Goodwill because it was “stealing from poor people.” As someone who was going to graduate $150k in debt with an almost 7% interest rate and absolutely no time for a job (clinics WAS an unpaid, more than full time job) I couldn’t afford to buy the nice clothes I was supposed to wear on rotation so I bought them at thrift stores. These classmates were married and wealthy and couldn’t see beyond their own noses.

          1. sofar*

            When I was in journalism school, I did a project on freegans/dumpster divers. When I realized how much money I could save on groceries doing that, I started doing it myself. I was a little older than most of my classmates and self-supporting. When a classmate found out, she said, “I’m going to tell my parents that I’M dumpster diving so they give me more money.”

          2. Gretta*

            I have a friend who is a wealthy doctor, married to a wealthy lawyer. They have two houses, travel to exotic places regularly. She buys almost all her clothes secondhand, at resale and consignment places. It’s her small contribution to reducing waste, and she doesn’t like to look the same as everyone else. Plus, she finds it fun. More power to you for shopping at Goodwill. I know a lot of other wealthy people who also shop at consignment places, for clothes and furniture.

            1. Texan In Exile*

              Yep. I guess I could afford brand-new clothes, but I don’t want to buy anything made in China or any other place where I suspect they are using slave or slave-adjacent labor, I want the money to stay in my community, and I don’t want to waste.

              Plus I hate spending money.

            2. Random Dice*

              I buy secondhand clothes almost exclusively.

              It is better for the planet (both in terms of production and landfill), and doesn’t support companies with bad labor practices. It is affordable. It is fun!

              1. Reluctant Mezzo*

                And you can find stuff with 100% silk or wool or cotton if that’s what you need. Checking labels can lead to some real finds. I’m returning the favor to them by cleaning out closets (I pull four bags from one closet, and it honestly doesn’t look like I did a thing, but I did find a good fancy outfit I hadn’t worn for a while that looked very nice at the banquet).

          3. dz*

            That’s so obnoxious of them. I NEED the general public to understand: 1) Goodwill’s mission actually isn’t to supply clothes to poor people, they use the proceeds from the stores to fund their actual mission which is jobs programs, and 2) there is enough clothing currently in circulation to clothe the next 6 generations, per a headline I just read.

            1. ireadbooks*

              I buy a ton of books from Goodwill via online resellers knowing the proceeds help their mission. I’m glad they can get higher prices for books, old games, etc!

            2. sparkle emoji*

              Donation thrift stores like Goodwill also get so many clothes that they sometimes have to throw usable clothes away! Buying and using clothes allows them to take in more donations and turn over their inventory.

              1. Not my real name*

                And even some of the stuff that they can’t sell still gets used! Our local thrift store sells our factory unsellable clothing by the pound to use as rags.

            3. Business Pigeon*

              Besides which, if you want to raise this objection (misguided though it is), there are the resellers who buy up a ton of stuff to mark up and sell online who would seem to me to be more blameworthy than a person buying clothes for their actual own personal use.

        3. Light Dancer*

          What IS there about being well-paid that makes professionals/managers/executives/etc. so incedibly oblivious about the reality of living in poverty on an entry-level or intern’s salary?? Haven’t ANY of them EVER had to start off poor and gradually work their own way up? Or are all of them trust-fundies who’ve always known that they’ll never have to struggle or strategize to survive on a very modest budget?

          My husband and I are both professionals, but neither of us started out cushioned by wealthy parents and neither of us has ever forgotten what it was like to be poor. It IS possible to remember that and be thoughtful, rather than scornful, towards those who aren’t yet as lucky as you currently are. It really is, folks!

          1. Sovreignry*

            “Haven’t ANY of them EVER had to start off poor and gradually work their own way up?”

            I think you’d be surprised at a) how many of them did not, and b) those that did not realizing that entry level wages have not kept up with inflation, and c) those that did forgetting what it was actually like in a weird sense of nostalgia.

          2. Birdie*

            The nonprofit world is littered with trust funders who never had to worry about having enough money for rent, food, or shoes. It’s wild. I’m sure there are other industries that are similar, but it continues to amaze me how many people in nonprofits can’t/won’t understand the meager pay drives away people who aren’t wealthy (either born into it or have a spouse to support them). And then they complain when candidates ask for more than $35,000 a year.

        4. Pine Tree*

          In grad school one semester, the university finance office messed up and I didn’t get paid my first month of fellowship salary (monthly pay day). The finance lady said “we’ll just pay you twice next month” and when I asked how I was supposed to pay my bills she actually asked “what bills do you have?” WHUT?!

          Luckily my advisor fought for me and got them to push a check through.

          1. New Jack Karyn*

            Did she think all grad students are funded by their parents, or by well-paid spouses? Regardless, they were probably in violation of labor law for not paying you.

      5. Also-ADHD*

        The internship is paid, but that doesn’t change anything. If they expect exclusivity, they really need to say that as part of the internship offer. This isn’t like working two full time salary jobs at all. Many interns keep other jobs, do other gig work, or cobble together multiple internships. It’s really common, and internships that expect exclusivity usually say so and are fairly rare/coveted/high paying/prestigious (or field specific).

        1. Jennifer Strange*

          This. I’ve done a number of internships and we had folks who did other work outside of them. Even at my current position you’re allowed to have a second job so long as you disclose it. At the most I would say the LW might want to let the intern know that it’s not always a given you can work two positions at once, but the employer should definitely make it clear upfront what the restrictions are.

        2. Pastor Petty Labelle*

          Unless the other internship is in the same field where they are competing for the same limited grants -and — the intern is feeding grant application information to the other internship, there is no problem here.

          OP, your director is being unreasonable.

        3. a clockwork lemon*

          I was just thinking the same thing. My company hires interns and to the best of my knowledge doesn’t allow them to work other jobs during their internship period, but it’s a highly structured program and the interns are paid market rate for their time. There’s also a decent expectation of full-time employment after the internship ends.

          I didn’t have any of those restrictions when I was in school doing unpaid or minimum-wage internships, so I always had at least one paid part time job in addition to everything school-related.

      6. The Original K.*

        Yeah, I assumed the internship was either unpaid or low-paid, so … of course the intern has paid jobs, because they need money the internship isn’t providing. But even if it were well-paid, so what? Is the work getting done? That’s all that matters.

        1. Venus*

          It’s also possible that this is an employer the intern has had for years, and wants to keep working there after the internship is complete. A friend did this, where the retail company was a good employer and would vary scheduling depending on my friend’s workload each term. In return, the manager had a trained employee who rarely worked during busy terms yet could be there for occasional last-minute weekend shifts. It was easy for both of them to keep the relationship for years and never affected other employment or school.

          1. Anony*

            I had an extra job like this in college. I could only work that gig on school breaks or random weekends I was home, but they kept me around for years bc I could show up and do the job well. No one had to train me during the back-to-school or holiday rush and the only thing I had to catch up on was the current store layout.

      7. H3llifIknow*

        The OP specifically says the intern is paid: “through social media, they found out one of our paid interns has had another full-time internship”

          1. H3llifIknow*

            Ok? I was responding to someone who said “if the internship is unpaid” and clarifying that it is not. Sooooo

              1. H3llifIknow*

                And so could Z have, and weirdly, so could you since NONE of this was directed at you. Hypocritical much?

      8. Festively Dressed Earl*

        OP 1 said the internship is paid near the beginning of the letter, and OP is writing in because they agree with you that the intern in question seems to be a solid performer. They’re thinking critically and checking for blind spots in their perception of the situation. Not lacking compassion at all.

    2. Volunteer Enforcer*

      Agreed TG, this is the comment I came here to add. Even if it’s full time, intern pay isn’t exactly able to pay the bills.

      1. MsM*

        Especially nonprofit intern pay. My boss keeps wanting interns who can commit to full time, and I keep pushing back because I just don’t see how that’s reasonable on the stipends we’re able to offer.

    3. LearnedTheHardWay*

      Agreeing – the director is being ridiculous. If the intern is fulfilling her responsibilities and doing a good job, it’s not anyone’s business.

    4. Astronaut Barbie*

      Exactly! Maybe she is paying her own way through college. The fact that she is a hard worker and can balance it all is a positive trait, not a negative one!

    5. Aerin*

      ::taps the sign:: If you do not pay a living wage, you do not get to complain about your employees doing other things to make ends meet.

      1. Butterfly Counter*

        My only take on this is that perhaps the intern has two paid internships. It’s not that it’s wrong or illegal for the intern to have them, but I can see it as kind of greedy. If internships, especially PAID internships are few and far between, and this intern has TWO when another student could have had some pay and experience in the field, it feels a little icky.

        Obviously, though, if this is the case that the student pulled not only one but two highly-sought-after internships, it likely means that the intern is a rockstar and she shouldn’t be punished just for being able to look out for herself and her future. If there’s no rule against it and the intern isn’t breaking any other rules from the school, it’s fair game. And if the manager is upset about the greediness, he needs to change the rules.

        1. CG*

          I disagree pretty strongly with this take, and if OP’s manager shares it, that could color her reference for an intern who appears to be doing well by objective measures. Internships are jobs, and paid internships are not few and far between in all fields. I don’t think it is at all greedy for an intern to “take up” two internships if she is doing both of them successfully and needs the money/experience/credit/whatever. People should do what they need to advance their careers and earn enough to live on, not feel bad about “taking up” spots for theoretical others who might “need” the job more.

          1. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

            It’s funny how people think socialism is evil but expect younger people, women, caregivers, soldiers, and some others to temper their own interests with the interests of others, which seems like it’s going past socialism and into communism.

          2. Baunilha*

            Everything CG said.

            Also, I worked two internships at some point: one was for a very prestigious company but with no possibility of being hired after I graduation, and the other was for a small employer who not only offered that possibility but actually hired me full time later. Both jobs were beneficial in different ways, and I’m so glad I got the opportunity to take advatage of both. (And as Midwestern Communicator said below, in my case they were very different areas in the same industry, so both internships taught me different skills)

          3. Bumblebee*

            Right, it’s not a huge jump from this kind of thinking to the [outdated, misogynistic] thought that women shouldn’t take up places in law school or engineering programs or the workplace or whatever because they are going to have kids and men who are supporting families “need” the job more.

            1. Cicely*

              What an unnecessary leap. I don’t get the need to turn everything into something it isn’t.

        2. djx*

          “If internships, especially PAID internships are few and far between, and this intern has TWO when another student could have had some pay and experience in the field, it feels a little icky.”

          Don’t hate the player. Hate the game.

        3. Liz*

          This argument reminds me of when my spouse and I bought our first house (it has 4 bedrooms). My aunt-in-law commented “oh what a shame you have all this space that a bigger family could have used instead.”

          1. Dek*

            Man, what a shame she’ll never get to use the guest room, I guess, because yikes, what a thing to say.

        4. Observer*

          It’s not that it’s wrong or illegal for the intern to have them, but I can see it as kind of greedy.

          That’s a pretty rich take on the matter. This set up is neither making her rich nor giving her loads of time to just loaf around. The idea that someone is only “allowed” to do a limited amount to meet their needs and improve their ability to grow their skills and career and still be a decent person is very, very strange. And given how much blame goes to people who “don’t do enough” in this respect or “make poor choices”, you have just created a classic catch-22. In your world, interns simply cannot win.

          If internships, especially PAID internships are few and far between, and this intern has TWO when another student could have had some pay and experience in the field, it feels a little icky.

          Why? Why is it the responsibility of the intern to make sure that other (potential) interns have a placement? Especially since it seems like she is not one of the more fortunate interns who has another source of financial support.

          And if the manager is upset about the greediness, he needs to change the rules.

          The manager can change the rules. But honestly, no one who is using interns to get work done is in a position to complain about the “greediness” of someone who is willing to work hard for whatever they need.

        5. Midwestern Communicator*

          This is a terrible take and one that’s wholly unfair to students who are looking to get ahead. I worked two, paid internships with a full course load my last semester. Both were internships I had held previously, and they asked to me to stay on that semester due to projects I had been working on were extended, and they liked me. One even went from an unpaid internship for credit to a paid one. They were technically both in the “teapot” industry, but working on vastly different areas.

          When entry-level jobs require at least one year of experience to obtain, students don’t have a choice. I agree with a lot of the above commenters, as long as there isn’t any work quality concerns, and she’s on when you need her, leave it.

          Additionally, there are a lot of remote only internships where you can complete tasks on your own time, or internships in industries where you’re working after normal working hours.

          This director needs to chill, and I’m glad that LW #1 asked for help with this.

        6. CommanderBanana*

          Paid can mean a lot of things. It could mean a stipend. Generally even paid internships aren’t paying a living wage. Hell, I live in one of the most expensive cities in the U.S. and even jobs aren’t paying a living wage.

          You also have no idea what her expenses are. Maybe she’s footing the bill for her tuition. I was fortunate enough not to have to pay most of my tuition back in the dark ages when I was in undergrad. That doesn’t mean I shouldn’t have applied for paid internships because other potential students may have needed them more (incidentally the only time I got “paid” for an internship was like a $30 a week travel stipend that didn’t even cover the cost of the subway).

    6. Knope Knope Knope*

      Exactly. I worked a full-time job and took a full-time class load when I was a paid intern 15 years ago. I had to live and the stipend was never going to cover it. I eagerly dropped the school and other job when I got hired full-time. This is the exact reason internships are so problematic. They’re only available to students wealthy enough to afford them and perpetuate inequality

      1. MFE*

        I guess we should just abolish internships, since they’re so problematic, and let people who already have family connections have the best chance to be hired full time.

        1. Lydia*

          Considering the number of paid internships that go to those already connected students, and the competitiveness for paid internships that favor students who already have experience with interviewing or have the time to prepare for interviews, you’re attempt at some shade doesn’t really work in this situation.

          There is no perfect system, but making sure all internships are paid a living wage and not just a shitty stipend is the best way to deconstruct a problematic system.

        2. CommanderBanana*

          One of my happiest moments in an interview was when I was interviewing someone for a position who was coming from a small (7ish people) state association and I boxed him into admitting that he basically ran that association on intern labor and never hired them. He didn’t get the job (he wasn’t qualified), but it was delightful watching him try to squirm his way out of admitting that he ran his office on unpaid intern labor with zero intention of ever hiring any of them.

        3. Michelle Smith*

          Respectfully, this is quite a leap. There can be reforms without having to throw away the entire concept. Things like excluding for-profit companies from being allowed to pay interns less than minimum wage are a good start, but we could also reform the cost of attending public colleges and universities so that students don’t have to work multiple jobs to survive and graduate in 6 figures of debt, explore the concept of Universal Basic Income, cut down on inflation and corporate greed that has exploded the cost of basic necessities like rent and groceries in the past few years, etc.

        4. Jaybeetee*

          Canadian here. Other countries have in fact figured this out. An unpaid placement should be part-time at most.

          1. Random Dice*

            No no no if it happens outside of the US part of America, it is unpossible in America.


            //US American

    7. Donkey Hotey*

      Exactly. When I was in college the first time, I was working three part time jobs in addition to course load. If there’s any time to do stuff like that, it’s college.

    8. theletter*

      To add to that, I have seen internships that were mostly on paper – stuff where project work **MIGHT** arrive and can be completed as time allows, or there’s such a level of disorganization that they can’t even find work for the intern, or it’s a phone babysitting job but the phone line’s not active anymore, or maybe it just involves what could be 4 hours of filing and the intern puts on their running shoes and turns it into cardio, and then gets dismissed for lack of work. Or it could be something that used to be arduous but now is totally automated and there’s no real work left to do.

      Or it could be something as simple as OP not knowing all the details. Maybe the second internship hasn’t actually started yet and won’t until after this one ended. It could even be that it starts with an weekend onboarding retreat but doesn’t actually start for another six weeks.

      Internships can come in all many of shapes and colors. There’s a good chance that this second one isn’t really the full-day kind that yours is.

    9. Smithy*

      I’m more wondering if this is a case of the Director feeling that if the student could balance two full time internships – then the student was not proactively seeking more work to do within this internship.

      Lots of internships end up being “assignment” based – where a supervisor will explain a set of projects for the intern. And then the intern will go and do those, and based on the nature of the intern some may go back to their supervisor if the assignment load doesn’t fill the time. And others will just do those assignments and any other work proactively assigned to them. But with the remaining time do other stuff (school work, social media, etc).

      For interns in that second group, provided the work assigned is done – I think a lot of supervisors are happy to live with the fiction that the intern is busy, the tasks assigned will fill the hours the intern is giving, and everyone leaves happy. Because the supervisor isn’t tasked themselves to come up with more projects, train the intern on more processes, etc. This director strikes me as pouting because they’re being forced to face a reality that those assignments weren’t all that demanding and they had fallen down on establishing an expectation of interns proactively sharing if they had more time available.

      1. Observer*

        Director feeling that if the student could balance two full time internships – then the student was not proactively seeking more work to do within this internship.

        That’s a lot to ask an intern, and it’s not even relevant in many types of positions. But if it is relevant and that’s what the Director wants, then that needs to be spelled out.

        This director strikes me as pouting because they’re being forced to face a reality

        That’s a very good way of putting it.

    10. AnonInCanada*

      This. Most internships are unpaid, and those that do pay aren’t paying anything more than what jury duty pays after x number of days in this part of the Great White North (in other words, next to nothing, and definitely not a living wage.) Even if this particular internship paid an amount that could be sustainable, so what? This intern’s getting the job done with no complaints. If this director wants it so that interns can’t moonlight, they need to use their words and say so, not expect people to read their minds!

    11. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

      Exactly. If everything is going well, what’s the actual problem? So yes, do some digging to figure out if things are going well and there aren’t issues with the intern’s work that you’re not aware of. If there’s nothing, push back as much as you can on the Director’s apparent belief that she has a right to know what totally legal stuff employees are doing in their off hours.

      I’m also curious what the pay for the internship is. Is it enough to survive on? Has it been adjusted in response to the large cost of living jumps in the last couple years? I’m sure the LW isn’t the person deciding this. But consider that interns may have no choice but to have other income if they want to continue to eat.

    12. CommanderBanana*

      Seriously, I attended college and grad school full time and worked full time (I don’t recommend it, but I managed it) AND had to do an internship in college as a requirement for graduating. Excuse me for needing to pay tuition and do things like buy food to eat so as not to die.

    13. Spero*

      This is such an important point. I was self-supported starting at 18 and grad school was very insensitive to this. I had 2 part time jobs the entire time I was in grad school, including during the time I had a courseload and an unpaid internship requirement. I didn’t extensively discuss my other work with my internship except when it came up that they were trying to partner with my other job in a way that *I* would have been both haves of the partnership!
      An expectation that interns should be penalized for needing to work while in school reinforces economic disparities in who can get and complete advanced degrees and is not a practice that should be followed in any organization that values equity. Your ASSUMPTION there must be performance issues simply because she’s working is inappropriate, and failing to acknowledge that your proposed solution of firing her reinforces classism in academia is disappointing. Is ‘defender of the ivory tower, only the rich welcome here’ really who you want to be?

    14. Hills to Die on*

      Exactly. I worked up to 3 jobs in college and I would have been devastated if I put time and effort into an internship that fired me because of a rule I didn’t know existed.
      Your Director also needs to consider how this will look to other interns or potential new interns / new hires who hear that people arbitrarily get fired from your company.
      She sounds like a really hard worker and and a tough cookie. You and your Director are looking at this ALL wrong.

    15. NotAnotherManager!*

      Same! If OP#1’s director doesn’t want her, I do. People with that level of time-management skills are not easy to find.

      I share OP’s side-eye of the director’s outrage. It smacks of the intern owing some sort of loyalty and expectation that she knows a “rule” that no one ever told her. It’s not even a full-time position, for goodness sake!

  2. Zombeyonce*

    I’m very curious to know if the internship is paid or not. If it’s unpaid, there’s even less of a reason to consider letting the intern go, the company is getting work for free and the intern is probably desperately trying to make their money stretch as far as they can by doing 2 internships and a full course load in one term.

    When I was in college, I couldn’t do any internships because paid ones didn’t really exist back then. I had to work 2 jobs on top of a full course load if I wanted to eat. This intern shouldn’t be punished for making the most of their time, especially when it doesn’t sound like there have been any concerns about their work. And if there were concerns, they should have been addressed long before the last few weeks of the internship.

      1. Ginger Cat Lady*

        Paid as in a living wage, or “paid” as in a $500 stipend for a whole semester of full time work? Because I was looking for an internship in 2022, and most of the “paid internships” were the token stipend, not a living wage.

        1. Zombeyonce*

          I missed the paid part of the letter, but yes, I’ve seen this way too often. My niece is in college right now and has seen internships advertised as including compensation when what they’re actually offering is college credit. While that makes college cheaper, you can’t feed yourself with college credit.

          1. ChiliHeeler*

            When the internships offer college credit, the organization isn’t paying for those credits. The student still is. It’s that the company will sign paperwork from the school that they did X hours of work.

            1. Pippa K*

              Yep. My university’s rule is that if the internship is for credit, the student must pay the university for those credits. So in an unpaid internship not only is the student not paid for their work, they pay the university for the experience. As a result they’re an opportunity primarily available to students from wealthier families.

              (I really hate unpaid internships.)

              1. Rock Prof*

                I tend to push students away from internship credit for this exact reason unless they just take it right on top of an existing full load (so it doesn’t cost more). We’ll sometimes post date credit, say the internship credit on the fall when they did the internship in the summer, specifically so it falls within a normal semester. Summer stuff is always more expensive.

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

                True. And there sometimes is classwork that need to be done. When I had my internship there was a meeting with the internship director 1 on 1. I had to send a report at midterm, she came to visit me at the nonprofit I worked at, and then I had to do a project and present at the end of the year with a bunch of other students. It was ALOT of work, and I still had to pay tuition on those 4 or 5 credits i earned (I did a part time internship of 10-12 hours/week if I had done a full 40 hour internship I could have gotten 12-14 credits). The only way i was able to really afford to do the internship was because I qualified for a grant, so i got like $8/ hour from my internship, then I worked my job for campus dining (so I got free meals most days).

        2. HonorBox*

          I honestly don’t think it matters in this case. Paid a living wage or paid as a stipend or the company is paying for the credit hours isn’t material because it seems like the intern is balancing a number of things quite well. Regardless of how much the intern is paid, unless there’s clearly communicated rules about having a second job or their work is sub-par, there isn’t an issue.

        3. H3llifIknow*

          My company pays interns at the same rate as they’d make as a new employee. Not all companies pay interns nothing. Most of our interns were brought on full time afterwards, unless they were useless. Unless the OP hops on and fills us in, we don’t know what paid means, but she didn’t say “has a stipend” she specified “paid internship” so there’s a lot of speculation around how much that is worthless w/o more information.

          1. Baunilha*

            My employer also pays interns the proportional rate they pay full time, entry level hires. It’s still not enough to live on, unless the interns either have a second job or get some financial help from their families.

            Heck, I’m in a leadership position and still do freelance work every now and then to make some extra money.

    1. Nat20*

      I believe the letter briefly mentions that she’s a paid intern. Your point still stands though.

  3. Leaping Lizards*

    #4- I went off work in January 2013 for disability. I think I’ve looked at my LinkedIn account maybe twice since then. I’ve only updated it once to toggle something to stop my work anniversary.
    I would like to work again someday and at that point, I’ll either update it, delete it and forget about it altogether, or set up a new one. It’s truly no big deal.

    1. TheBunny*

      So you know…I’ve absolutely dealt with managers who won’t interview a candidate if they don’t have a LinkedIn.

      Bonkers? Yes. Reality? Also yes.

      I update mine when I think about it (aka not often) and at the beginning of any job searching. I do recommend having one for the occasional hiring team member who sees it as a deal breaker…

      1. Blooming Marvelously*

        I don’t want to work for anyone that rigid, clueless and out of touch. There’s no way that’s the only thing they are ridiculous about!

        I’ve never had LinkedIn and it’s made absolutely zero difference to anything for me.

        1. Ally McBeal*

          +10000000. The interview process goes both ways – I’m evaluating them as a potential employer, just as they’re evaluating me as a potential employee – and someone so rigid and out of touch would be a terrible match for me.

        2. sofar*

          It depends on your field, whether you “have to” care. Most jobs I am applying for now have a required field on the application asking for my LinkedIn profile. Also, in my field, many employers post job openings ON LinkedIn. Also, a lot of employers “cheap out” and don’t want to post job listings on paid sites — and ask their employees to post job openings on their own LinkedIn profiles (“We’re hiring!”), so it’s a good place to find jobs that literally are not being promoted elsewhere.

          How I feel about something doesn’t matter, if my entire field had decided it’s relevant.

          So I update my LinkedIn the bare minimum (to reflect my work history), and my current employer actually “requires” us to post hype-filled scripted junk written by HR on our profiles when we attend events, so I figure I’m “good to go” in appearing active.

          I agree with Alison that it’s a cesspool, and whenever I head over there, I want to run screaming off a cliff, but it is what it is.

        3. NotAnotherManager!*

          Same, and I’m glad my industry isn’t all-in on it. I don’t do social media. I don’t like it, I have yet to find it useful for much of anything, and I don’t need the endless alerts announcing that so-and-so has posted their Deep Thought of the day (which is 80% of the time more appropriate to Facebook than what is supposed to be a “professional” networking site).

          1. I Have RBF*

            I am on some social media, but I never allow it to send me alerts to my phone. Some, like FB, I never even sign into with my phone, because of creepy tracking. So alerts are within your control, you never have to just put up with them.

      2. Also-ADHD*

        I think this is field specific. If you care that much about an engineer’s LinkedIn, that’s wild. If you’re hiring social media marketing professionals, recruiters, or even sales in certain areas, I see why it would become a criteria, especially with how much competition is out there today.

      3. Malarkey01*

        Interesting my large organization, who used to ask for LinkedIn info on applications and has a pre-interview checklist that included reviewing someone’s profile- has just changed policy to say they don’t want us searching or viewing or using LinkedIn for any hiring activities.

        It feels like we may be seeing a tide turning on LinkedIn….which I’m very hopeful about.

    2. LearnedTheHardWay*

      I wouldn’t worry about the non-updated LinkedIn profile. When the OP gets to job hunting, then they can update it. Using the actual date they resigned (rather than when they went on leave) is legitimate.

      When I started my own business, I had initially been on a maternity leave in Canada – that meant that my end date is a year after my leave started. That’s just the way things are done here. And I didn’t even update my LinkedIn profile until I had been in my own business for a year after that. So, it was 2 years out of date by the time I got back to it. Arguably, it might have been in my favour to list myself as in my own business, but I had other things on the go at that point, and it wasn’t high on my list of priorities. Never made any difference at all.

      1. ferrina*

        You aren’t expected to keep your LinkedIn totally up to date all the time. That’s utterly unreasonable. Only unreasonable people would expect that.
        When you are ready to job search, yes, update the LinkedIn. It can be a nice tool for managers to get a longer picture of your work experience. But before you are actively searching, no pressure.

        1. Kyrielle*

          Yup. “My LinkedIn is out of date” is really, really common. It’s not at all the same as going job-hunting with a resume that is equally out of date – the resume is expected to be complete as of the time it’s submitted. But you’re not submitting the LinkedIn at the moment! (If, as I have in the past, you include a link to it on your resume – yes, update it before sending out the resumes.)

    3. lyonite*

      I suspended my LinkedIn account a few months ago when our CEO made some potentially inflammatory remarks on the site that I was afraid were going to go viral. That didn’t happen, but I haven’t gotten around to reactivating it, because who cares? Regardless of health, politics, etc, almost everyone ignores their LinkedIn until it’s time to look for a new job–OP, feel free to let this go and give it not another thought.

    4. I'm great at doing stuff*

      I feel like very few employers care about LinkedIn these days, and I rarely update it.

      I was recently very turned off by it when I made a critical (but not at all nasty or judgemental, and not personal) comment about the cake resume. I learned about it here, and Alison didn’t approve either! But I was absolutely lambasted for it in the comments, including people accusing me of not being suitable for the field I am in. It was pretty alarming to me that people weren’t capable of having a civil discourse about something work related.

      So yeah, LinkedIn sucks.

    5. NotTooOldaHead*

      Just update it. Don’t delete it or start a new (?) one. Recruiters and hiring managers do look, but they also use it to search for talent. Establishing a presence there, especially if you write about or engage with others in your field, is beneficial to your job search.

      BTW, I hate LI with a passion and resent that I have to use it, but it’s the current condition, and I want to work, so I play the game. Modern hiring focuses on who knows you, and LI networking is the primary vehicle for “building your brand.” ‍♀️

      When you head back to work, don’t disadvantage yourself.

    6. Anon 4 now*

      Very similar, but one worse… the reason I created my LinkedIn profile was for networking groups that I was attending while actively selling an MLM product… or two. (In 2013-2015. I earned an MBA from the School of Hard Knocks in how NOT to run a business, repented of my MLM ways, and haven’t touched my LinkedIn since.)

      I need to just delete the dang thing. If I go back to the working world I want nothing to do with social media or “building an online PRESENCE.” The only places I interact online are here, Patreon, and a couple YouTube comment sections. Bah, humbug, to most modern technology.

    7. Mouse named Anon*

      I have a love/hate relationship with LinkedIn. I deleted it for a few years bc I got so many recruiters messaging me. Then I activated it again, when I was job searching. I do like it now, bc a former company went through a big restructure. I am nosy and like to see what happened to everyone.

    8. Festively Dressed Earl*

      I’m afraid to even start a LinkedIn. Like LW #4, I was knocked out by health issues (with no solid diagnosis in my case) and family obligations right after I graduated 5 years ago, and now I have no idea how to explain this once I do finally start job searching.

      1. Econobiker*

        Festivaly Dressed Earl

        Employment gaps – resumes and LinkedIn:
        Depending on your industry focus, you can list “consulting” or “caregiver for family member’s healthcare” (family member being yourself but you don’t have to tell anyone that). Or you can list something like “active living hiatus from employment” and tell them whatever you want to including studies of workforce management blogs LOL!

        LinkedIn also has skill training that you can take advantage of to train up yourself in preparation of returning to the work force. Best of luck with your journey in life…

      1. C. D.*

        maybe it is industry specific-but I find LI very useful. My last 2 job changes- advancements- came via LinkedIn connections.
        And the connections within in Nephrology in it are pretty solid.

  4. Brain the Brian*

    LW2: you say there is some overlap between clients. Could you solve two problems in one and space out this employee’s appointments more, so that (a) the clients don’t see each other and (b) the employee can recharge more between appointments?

    1. GythaOgden*

      There’s no real accommodation that can be had here without foisting the burden onto other employees and losing out on the value of the employee’s work to the business. If there’s excessive downtime between clients, the employee may not be able to go home and relax between times but she’s unlikely to be paid for doing nothing and just kicking around the office.

      Additionally, as a healthcare-adjacent worker, volume is high enough that a full time employee with a lot of downtime wouldn’t last very long in either of those states. There’s probably too much work for someone to be visibly slacking when others have a full caseload, and if she needs down-time to take care of her spoons, then she may need to find a part-time job (and no joking here, I’ve been there — I was actually rather grateful when my job was made 25 hours a week rather than 40, because I have severe stamina issues due in part to the physiological impact of neurodivergence and can work full time from home or nearby, but only part time with the commute I was having to do in that job).

      The person involved is responsible for their own mental health and wellbeing. The employer needs her to be able to work reasonably cheerfully with people who are, presumably, in a lot of pain themselves. OP can be compassionate and help out with working environments, but she can’t control her employee’s emotions, and effectively cutting their hours would probably just make the employee feel worse.

      Employee probably needs to find a new job if she can’t maintain the work at hand at the volume and pace that she needs to. As I said, I’ve totally been there in the employee’s case, but it was ultimately my job to cope with it, find therapy and look for a new job rather than up to my employer to find accommodations that would be, in the form you’re suggesting, probably unsustainable for both parties.

      1. JSPA*

        That you felt you could not demand reasonable accommodations doesn’t mean it’s untenable to do so. In fact, it would likely be illegal to refuse to make that small an adjustment (with carve out for this actually being some more complex independent contractor type situation that’s not brought up in the letter). “We can’t afford to follow the law” isn’t an option, no matter how essential the service.

        1. Lexi Vipond*

          I mean, it absolutely is, at least iu the UK – reasonable adjustments can’t be prohibitively expensive to the employer.

          Whether that applies in this case isn’t clear, of course – and the same adjustment can be prohibitively expensive to one employer and not to another (e.g. getting a different person to cover if you have only one employee vs have a thousand other employees)

          1. JSPA*

            Alison and Brain the Brian didn’t suggest “long breaks” or “going home between patients” though.

            They suggested that there appears to currently be zero time between one appointment and another, and always patients waiting, such that patients see the range of Mme Eeyore’s reactions.

            Presumably hiring another therapist so that everyone is not constantly over scheduled is too expensive. Fine.

            But how about hiring someone with a cheerful demeanor and no other job skills, from 10 to 3, to greet patients and walk them in to their therapist, and walk them back out after?

            Or set up an intercom, so therapists can invite their clients back, when ready, without walking them back? (Assuming regulations allow this.)

            Every therapist then gets a brief pause between sessions to pee or have a cup of coffee, and stretch or lie down for 2 minutes. If Eeyore needs a 20 minute break every 2 or 3 patients, that won’t stand out as especially disruptive.

            If doing 6 sessions per day rather than 7 (say) makes Eeyore feel healthier and more coping and happier, that’s almost certainly less disruptive and less of a drag on everyone else than having dissatisfied patience trying to switch schedules. Or trying to get by on short-staff while searching for Eeyore’s replacement.

            And if your schedule is so relentless that your trained, specialized people don’t get a couple of minutes to stretch, drink and pee, then you are intentionally understaffing / overscheduling already.

            “What would you need to do the majority of your job well and in reasonable comfort” is always a better conversation to start with than “how your attitude sucks and why your clients dislike you.”

            (To be clear, if it’s a question of Mme Eeyore being discriminatory and trying to keep only the more appealing clients, that’s not OK. Ditto if she wants double the salary for half the work, plus a poney. But given the health situation, why jump to those presumptions first?)

            1. Ginkgoleaf*

              These absolutely are accommodations we’ve made for burn out when needed at the Family Practice clinic I work at.

              1. Brain the Brian*

                Can I ask whether they were formal accommodations under the ADA or just adjustments you made and are colloquially calling “accommodations”?

            2. Observer*

              But how about hiring someone with a cheerful demeanor and no other job skills, from 10 to 3, to greet patients and walk them in to their therapist, and walk them back out after?

              You call this a “minor” accommodation? It might be a good idea, but it hiring a person for 5 hours a day is a major expense, even if they “don’t have any other job skills.” Especially since you can’t hire an immature person – you need someone who is going to be reliable and able to deal with being the face of the company.

              Or set up an intercom, so therapists can invite their clients back, when ready, without walking them back? (Assuming regulations allow this.)

              Not only would regulations almost certainly not allow this, it’s asking for all sorts of problems. There is a reason why patients are almost always waled to their exam room by staff. And it’s not because practices are trying to find work for people to do. If this were possible and practical, they would have done it already for all of the providers.

          2. Observer*

            it absolutely is, at least iu the UK – reasonable adjustments can’t be prohibitively expensive to the employer.

            The same is true of the US, at least on the Federal level.

          3. GythaOgden*

            Yup. There’s also tradeoffs between the personal side vs the impersonal. My husband worked for a small business, and when he became ill with cancer, his boss moved heaven and earth to help us materially. (Including driving hubby’s car home when he was too ill to do it himself and had had a dizzy turn at work that was a prelude to a full-blown seizure a week or two later.) While hubby might have got more generous sick leave pay if he’d worked for my NHS employer, they wouldn’t have been so helpful in other terms, and likely would have had to terminate him if he couldn’t return to work. Hubby’s boss paid him a small amount of ‘holiday pay’ after his statutory sick pay ran out, and in the mean time kept in touch with practicalities, visited him if he had to go into hospital, and only formally let him go when he eventually died.

            (That letter was …very surreal. Sorry, Rincewind, we’ve had to terminate your employment because of a change in your temporal state of being…kindly ask the Luggage to walk itself back to the Unseen University. I’m guessing that if we really did live in Discworld we could have contested it as discriminatory against the differently alive… I’m sorry to joke, but my Rincewind himself was cracking jokes on his last afternoon; he would have made an excellent comedian if he hadn’t been painfully shy about it. His whole illness was two years of ‘if you don’t laugh, you’ll cry’ and ‘laughter isn’t the best medicine but it’s at least a good complementary therapy’.)

        2. LaMiAb*

          An accommodation does not need to be made if it would create a significant hardship – and cutting the number of patients so she sees fewer so they are spaced out (therefore generating significantly less revenue in a profession that already has slim-to-no profit margins) probably counts as a significant hardship. A collaborative approach should be taken to figure out what accommodation *can* be made, but spacing out patients is probably not it.

          1. New Jack Karyn*

            It might be a good solution. Possibly other providers in the practice could pick up the extra client, rotating daily who gets the extra client. And I don’t think it’s stated that the practice has low profit margins.

        3. H3llifIknow*

          So being gloomy and unwelcoming is now a disability that requires an employer to make accomodations? I mean, there are reasonable accomodations and there are “everyone must be happy and fulfilled all the time and if it means being paid to do less work than their co-workers because they’re a downer, so be it” which is … not reasonable. There DOES come a time when we have to be grown ups and do our jobs and be professional and keep the moodiness out of the workplace.

          1. PP*

            Maybe some people, perhaps, Hellifiknow, have not dealt with or know people who deal with constant pain and/or tiredness from medical treatments. It can be not about being professional/non-professional, but a combo of real health factors, need to continue working, and job very stressful by its nature.

            1. GythaOgden*

              The irony is though that the people she’s serving are also ill and in pain. Yes, I know how tough it can be when work saps up all your available strength — and it closes a lot of doors. But that’s not anyone’s fault — the employer needs a job done, the patients need to see someone who isn’t bringing their baggage into the room with them, and the employee has to therefore bear the responsibility of finding a niche that suits her.

              I did it. It took a while and when I finally landed my new job I was very close to going on a leave of absence, which would have been unpaid, because I couldn’t handle the commute any more. But no amount of being in pain from a chronic illness will make it ok to force other people to share in that misery.

        4. Observer*

          In fact, it would likely be illegal to refuse to make that small an adjustment

          Except that this is not a “small” adjustment at all. It’s costly, will almost certainly have negative effects on other staff, and will reduce availability of services to clients. Nothing minor here.

          “We can’t afford to follow the law” isn’t an option, no matter how essential the service.

          In fact, if you are talking about the ADA, that actually *is* how it works. Part of the assessment of how “reasonable” an accommodation is how much it costs in the context of the financials of the organization. Now, even the smallest covered organization can be expected to throw a couple of hundred dollars at a problem. But this is likely to cost significantly more than that, between the paid down time and reduced billings, so that becomes a relevant and perfectly legal issue to consider.

        5. RagingADHD*

          I think you need to brush up on what “following the law” actually is. Accommodation isn’t a “demand” process. It’s an interactive process, and the ultimate solution has to be reasonable for both parties.

          An employee can certainly request accommodations that would have a major negative impact on the employer’s business functions / business model, if they want to. They can request anything under the sun. The law does not require the employer to agree or implement those suggestions if they pose an undue burden.

        6. fidget spinner*

          I’m in healthcare as well (mental health), and there’s a minimum amount of appointments we can take or else the business loses money on our salaries. It sucks, obviously, but I blame the insurance companies who pay pennies for mental health services….

          People can reduce their hours, of course, but they won’t be paid the same salary and might lose full-time benefits like insurance. But it would not be considered a reasonable accommodation for the business to lose money on the person’s salary.

      2. CityMouse*

        My Dad’s retired now, but he was a physician. He often ended up.with appointments running late or unexpected calls because when people are concerned about their kids, you can’t exactly rush them.

        When I was in legal clinic, it was drummed into our heads that we had an ethical duty to be prepared and ready to go for every appointment, no matter what was going on with us. When you’re in this kind of position, you cannot compromise your duties to a client because you’re not feeling it. What’s happening to them is too important.

        It’s unfair to patients to do this to them. if she’s making multiple patients uncomfortable cimethins is seriously wrong. This is well beyond the “space out her appointments”.

        1. Dog momma*

          City mouse..Health care person here..agree and this is correct. We are there to serve the public and their health issues. And do a good job. Anyone can have a bad day, but you soldier on. This scenario is not fair to the patients. And should not be tolerated. Those people who may be under much stress deserve better, & if they’re all asking to be switched to another clinician, its obvious there’s a problem.

        2. Falling Diphthong*

          I’m kind of astonished that she’s had multiple patients get to the point of asking to be reassigned. Typing as a patient, it takes a lot of frustration to decide that I will continue in this practice, but not see this person.

          1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

            How many haven’t complained? Or just quietly changed practices?

            I get it, she is going through a lot and needs compassion. But these are patients being seen for some health related issue. They are vulnerable. They need compassion and understanding more. This person needs to either treat all patients warmly or go on leave until things are better. Yes easier said than done, but patients come first.

            BTW, I love how today its all, oh let’s make it easier on the person and yesterday it was if you can’t handle nudity then get out of the healthcare field.

            1. CityMouse*

              I’m not clear this is a medical situation but if it’s something like medicine, social work, law, you simply cannot be checked out like this because you can cause someone serious harm.

              1. Observer*

                You are right. But the truth is there are extremely few position where this kind of attitude is unlikely to cause significant harm.

                On top of that, the business does not have an obligation to lose customers – which the LW indicates that they have already – because one of the service providers cannot actually do her job completely.

                Keep in mind that *treating customers well* is a core requirement for ANY customer facing position. Remember, we’re not talking about being perky, smiley, bubbly all the time. We’re talking about not making people *legitimately* uncomfortable!

            2. Falling Diphthong*

              Quietly changing to a different practice is my first instinct.

              This could be something like there are five physical therapists and a patient’s appointment might be with any of them, and when the receptionist says “So I’ve booked your next appointment at 10 on the 27th with Donna” people are saying “No not Donna; give me someone else.” Or you stay put because this is a large practice near your work with early morning appointments available, but are emphatic that those won’t be with Donna.

            3. Gyne*

              “I love how today its all, oh let’s make it easier on the person and yesterday it was if you can’t handle nudity then get out of the healthcare field.”

              YES and THANK YOU for pointing this out!

              1. Yeah...*

                Comments sections are ebb and flow. Everyone who commented yesterday is not guaranteed to be the same as everyone who commented today. I do concede the shift in tone is noticeable.

                I did not comment yesterday. I did find some of the comments today very odd.

          2. Venus*

            Depends on what it is. I very rarely complain about anything, but I have asked to change dental hygienist several times over the years because their mood affects me more when they are so close to my face for so long, and it is easy to ask for someone else when booking my next visit.

          3. Mouse named Anon*

            I used to go to GP that I absolutely loved, but couldn’t stand their office staff. They were rude and quite difficult to work with. I changed doctor’s bc I couldn’t deal with it anymore as a mom of babies that went to the doc frequently. I got to thinking afterwards that maybe the office staff wasn’t treated super well, if they were ALL awful to work with. So I am kind of glad I took my business elsewhere.

            1. Spring*

              I’ve had a similar experience. I found a queer friendly gyno back in the day when queer-friendliness, let alone awareness, was very uncommon. The doctor was terrific, but her staff was awful. Two different front desk people made me cry, and I decided it wasn’t worth having this great doctor if I was going to feel untrusting and on edge every time I went there. So I find another doctor. I can’t remember if I told the doctor why I left. I know I wanted to, but I don’t remember if I actually got up the nerve.

              1. Portia*

                I once ended up yelling at a doctor in the halls over a rude staffer (the encounter included the response “Whatever”). It obviously would’ve been better to have found another practice before it reached that point.

                I think many doctors — and associated professions — still don’t get how important it is that their staff is *uniformly* pleasant. There’s no room for indulging moods with people who have come there for help.

            2. Jack Russell Terrier*

              A doctor’s office lied twice in two days about my mom being late. They left an elderly woman, who’d just had an op, sitting for an hour in the waiting room to cover their mistakes. Talk about uncaring.

              This is how it played out. We waited over an hour. I said to the very nice Surgeon, we waited for over an hour and mom’s still recovering.

              Mom was in her eighties, a week post op.

              The Surgeon said, unfortunately that’s what happens when you’re late.

              My eyes bugged out. We weren’t late, I told the Doctor. There was a bad time, when mmm’s memory was starting to go when we were late, but that hasn’t happened in a year because I now always take her.

              Then the Doctor asked what happened yesterday. I replied – yesterday, I received a call an hour before mom’s appointment saying you had an emergency and had to reschedule.

              I didn’t exactly sound calm.

              We stared at each other. The Doctor said with a sigh – I’m going to have to talk to them.

              1. GythaOgden*

                I’m really sorry, that’s awful.

                As someone who’s been a fly on the wall at a pop-up clinic which later became permanent, the admin staff there bent over backwards to make sure patients got seen even if they missed their appointments. Additionally, to those beating us over head about people with chronic illness being unable to be pleasant at work — two of us, me as building admin and one supervisor who occasionally covered for the clinic admin when they were shorthanded, both openly walked with sticks and talked together about our mutual long term injuries/pain.

                We were unfailingly polite and kind to anyone who walked in the door. We could both empathise with the patients at a physiotherapy clinic, and the last thing we wanted was for our own experience with having to cope with painful knees, backs and ankles was to take it out on others who were in the same position.

                I get feeling compassionate for the employee here, but in healthcare the patients come first. They’re why you’re there — if you want a job that is healthcare-adjacent like the one I moved to in November where you can maybe show a bit more of how you really feel about things, then that’s great, but at the end of the day it’s your job to get something that works with your conditions, not against them.

          4. Dust Bunny*

            I was going to say, unless your patient population is particularly sensitive, someone would have to be pretty grumpy pretty often for me to ask not to see them again. I’m a bit of an Eeyore myself by nature and definitely don’t expect doctor’s office (or whatever this is) staff to be sunshine and roses all the time. I would just let it go unless they were really, really, unnervingly grouchy. That there are multiple clients trying to avoid her seems like a pretty big deal.

            1. Observer*

              definitely don’t expect doctor’s office (or whatever this is) staff to be sunshine and roses all the time.

              Exactly. I’m not an Eyore, but I really don’t expect that from anyone either. I don’t know anyone who does – and I know some people who do have fairly unreasonable expectations. So, I’m with you when you say that it must be a LOT to make multiple people not want to see her.

        3. What_the_What*

          Zackly. I mean I get that a lot of the people on this site lean HEAVILY towards believing that EVERYTHING deserves an accomodation, all employers are evil for expecting people to do their jobs when they’re sad, depressed, have anxiety, are neurodivergent, has some past trauma because a boss yelled at them, etc…, and they ALL need to be coddled and given a blanket and a pillow and a quiet room to lay down in, but that’s just …not being an adult professional works.

          1. Brain the Brian*

            That’s really not what I was suggesting. The ADA accommodations process is specific and only requires that the business hear the employee out and try to find a solution that works for everyone. In this case, it’s not at all clear whether the ADA even comes into play, but a business that treats its employees well is likely to be more successful than one that ignores problems or jumps straight to firing people when they arise. Suggestions for adjustments if it becomes obvious that adjustments would help are all that I offered.

            FWIW, I recommend re-reading the site rules, which require us all to treat fellow commenters with respect.

      3. Seeking Second Childhood*

        There’s no statement of industry here. This could be truly anything from beauty care to massage to psychic readings and more.

        (Let’s not derail on psychics – I included it as an outlier example. Not my jam, but there are businesses with storefronts.)

        1. Brain the Brian*

          The LW commented downthread and included enough context that it’s obvious now that it is a medical situation. But you’re right that the original letter said nothing about industry. It could have been afterschool tutoring, for all we knew as of the end of the letter.

      4. Also-ADHD*

        That’s not how accommodations work, and I think organizations are also responsible for employee wellbeing, psychological safety (so people feel they can seek accommodation, and it’s unfortunate you didn’t feel you could, and be human), and avoiding burnout. The idea to space appointments more or offer leave etc. might be a good one. Humans can’t always perform at the top of their game magically, and it’s no fault. It’s part of being a whole person.

        1. Happy meal with extra happy*

          Except 1) it is kinda how accommodations work (they have to be reasonable, and causing a company to lose significant business by having fewer daily customers/patients likely isn’t) and 2) it’s not even clear that formal accommodations would come into play here as the employee would need to qualify under the ADA. (This is all assuming we’re talking about the US, of course.)

          1. CityMouse*

            Throwing around “accommodation” here when this employee has absolutely no demonstrated ADA issue or even a hint of one is weird.

            She can’t treat people like that. She stops doing that or she gets fired.

            1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

              The LW said she has medical issues. So she very well could be eligible for accomodations under the ADA.

              1. CityMouse*

                There’s no definition of “reasonable accommodation” that lets you to be rude to patients or only do half your job.

                1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

                  No one said being rude was a reasonable accomodation. They are saying making an accomodation so the person has more energy and is less likely to not be as warm as needed. Doing half your job might be a reasonable accomodation.

                2. CityMouse*

                  Doing half the work is definitely not a reasonable accommodation. That would absolutely impose an undue financial burden.

                  And again, she has not requested it (which is required) and just having “medical issues” alone wouldn’t necessarily qualify.

                3. Petty_Boop*

                  Hear Hear! Who on earth does not have the occasional bad day/low energy day/my tummy hurts day, etc? But adult proessionals push through and do their jobs and don’t take it out on the clients or colleagues they interact with!

                4. GythaOgden*

                  I think we’re all vigorously agreeing with each other. The people who took issue with my post earlier have mainly dropped out of the discussion.

                5. Petty_Boop*

                  Hear Hear. Who ISN’T tired all the time anymore? I have no idea what it feels like to not be tired. I’m still warm and professional. I may mutter under my breath when a call is on mute or b*tch to my husband at the end of the day but I sure don’t take it out on clients or colleagues that my rampant insomnia means I’m a walking zombie! And I sure don’t expect my employer to give half my workload to someone else and tell me to take a nap!

                6. GythaOgden*

                  @Petty-Boop — in my reception role, someone coming in to see us actually helped energise us because it was at least something to do.

              2. Petty_Boop*

                There’s no indication from the letter that her “medical issues” (ugh who doesn’t have SOMETHING?) are serious enough to warrant an accomodation. And if she’s sick, take sick leave. Don’t take it out on patients. Throwing around ADA accomodations assumes a lot from very little evidence.

                1. CityMouse*

                  I think Alison should consider a dedicated primer on ADA because there is a LOT of misinformation on this board (and based on some letters, some serious lack of understanding from employers).

                2. Dahlia*

                  It is not possible for a great many people to take sick leave every time they have a chronic illness flare.

                3. GythaOgden*

                  Yeah, but in that case, Dahlia, they need to ensure it doesn’t interfere with their ability to do their jobs. People can definitely have off days; I asked to take over a boring but necessary administrative task on the day my husband found out he was being made redundant. I didn’t normally do admin on reception but on this occasion just noodling about with Wikipedia would have taken me down the rabbit hole of my mind and turned me inside out.

                  The alternative is not that the employee gets to be crabby and miserable in front of patients, who will inevitably not be in the greatest of states themselves and thus unhappy to be there in the first place. Practically speaking, the alternative is that OP has to put their employee on a permanently unpaid leave of absence — that is, being let go completely.

                  So maybe it would be preferable to her to make the LoA temporary rather than permanent.

                4. Dahlia*

                  Two things can be true at once. People still need to be professional, but some people are sick every day and are going to be sick every day, and many of them aren’t eligible for disability – or couldn’t live on it, if they were. We don’t need to be cavalier by saying things like “just take sick time” when that’s simply not possible for everyone.

              3. H3llifIknow*

                IME people who are eligible for ADA accomodations fight vigorously for them, and many who aren’t, actually. And MANY people think that ANY sickness, moods, ANY amount of stress, anxiety that most of us would consider perfectly within the standards of normal (e.g. stressed because an important project is behind schedule) should generate some sort of accomodation for them because “ADA”. That just…isn’t how it works and people need to realize that work is work and not fun and may be stressful and sometimes it sucks and we push through and don’t take it out on other people.

                1. New Jack Karyn*

                  I’m probably eligible for ADA accommodations, but haven’t really considered asking for them. Many, many people do not want to disclose their disabilities at work–often, for very good reasons.

            2. AlsoADHD*

              I don’t think anyone was arguing the accommodation might be “being rude”, but if medical issues are draining her energy, more time between patients or different scheduling may be a reasonable accommodation. “Suck it up and deal or be fired” in addition to not being legal in all cases is just not good human workplace operations.

        2. What_the_What*

          But employees are also responsible for doing the job they’re being paid for. My company isn’t responsible for my moods. They offer me money for my skills and 8 hours a day or whatever. They are not my parents. If I have an issue, health or otherwise, I do NOT expect them to say “aww you don’t have to do so much work; we’ll let Bob do part of your job. You just go take a nap.” That… isn’t how it works. This employee doesn’t seem to have a disability just … she can’t separate her moods from her work. How is that accomodation worthy? That’s a “come to Jesus” meeting.

        3. What_the_What*

          “The idea to space appointments more or offer leave etc. might be a good one. Humans can’t always perform at the top of their game magically, and it’s no fault.”

          So the business should take a hit on offering client services because this employee isn’t adult and professional enough to keep her moods to herself? They should give her more time off and make her colleagues work more because she’s…tired or low energy or whatever? They should pay her for full time hours for half-assed work? Humans are NOT always at the top of their game, but that’s no excuse or justification for taking it out on others. Employers are not parents and businesses are in business to do business, not hold hands and hand out binkies when someone is having a bad day/moment.

          1. AlsoADHD*

            Businesses that operate humanely often get better results. Obviously, there’s a lot of “it depends” but the attitude you’re displaying that people should suck it up and deal and never be accommodated, supported, or given room/space is the kind of attitude that fosters environments that are high burnout/low morale. (That’s not necessarily the environment the LW is in or the reason for this employee’s behavior, but if there are legitimate issues the employee has, some attempts to support and accommodate might be game changers. Many workplaces actually do try to support workers who seem to be in crisis rather than feeling contempt for them, as you seem to, and that often pays off. Sometimes it doesn’t, but it often does.)

            1. H3llifIknow*

              Yes, because I said nobody should ever be accommodated, supported, or given room/space. Oh wait, no I didn’t; that was you misreading and overreacting to what I wrote. There is NO evidence in the letter that this business is NOT acting “humanely.” Based on what the LW wrote, this is NOT an ADA accomodation worthy situation but a “this employee can’t regulate her moods/treatment of clients and they’re requesting transfers off her service” situation. And the person the LW referred to has NOT REQUESTED an accomodation. Yet all the armchair doctors here are requesting it for her without any real info! Not every bad day, common cold, anxiety, introversion, ADHD, whatever needs an accomodation. I am someone with a handicapped license plate due to chronic back/hip issues, and a pulmonary condition that won’t get better, yet I have no accomodations, because I’m capable of realizing that sometimes, some days just suck and I know that I can’t just choose to take that out on ANYONE else. Sometimes people do just have to suck it up and be adults, even the special participation trophy kids. If EVERYONE gets an accomodation for every hangnail, who the hell is doing the work? Oh yeah. Me and the rest of the over 40 crowd.

              1. Brain the Brian*

                Wait, who is overreacting here? Certainly not the person yelling in all-caps and stereotyping everyone under 40………

                1. New Jack Karyn*

                  Yeah–I don’t agree with a lot of what you wrote, BtB, but H3ll is being kind of a jerk about their disagreements.

    2. Dido*

      Which clients should the business drop to accommodate this? Is the employee going to be okay with her pay being reduced proportionately? You cannot space out clients without seeing fewer clients in the same time span.

      1. What_the_What*

        Exactly! And when Alison gets the letter saying, “I had my hours/clients cut at my place of employment because clients complained about my unwelcoming attitude and I was too tired to do my full time job, but now I’m making less money. How is this fair?” Everyone will be “omg that employer is so evil! How DARE they expect you to take less money for working less!” Ugh

      2. H3llifIknow*

        Exactly, and if the employee were to write in complaining that her pay had been cut to accomodate fewer hours/clients, due to the clients not wanting to see her and her being moody/sick/whatever, everyone would be OUTRAGED that her employer was so hard hearted as to not pay her her full pay for doing less than her co-workers!

        1. Brain the Brian*

          I would not. I might ask if she had sought other work to fill her new downtime, but I would not be outraged if someone who is doing less work was paid for fewer hours. Maybe that’s my bias as a billable-hours person showing.

    3. Observer*

      Could you solve two problems in one and space out this employee’s appointments more, so that (a) the clients don’t see each other and

      That’s not a solution. Because the issue here is not that some clients see that she’s nicer to other clients. The problem is that she’s being rude to clients. The fact that they see her being nice to others *sometimes* makes it worse. But even without that, it’s bad. Bad enough that it really rises to a firing offense.

    4. Brain the Brian*

      Yeesh. I was just asking an honest question of the LW, who is — unlike people commenting on the Internet — in a position to know whether it would make sense to hire additional staff / transfer clients among providers / make whatever other adjustments might be necessary to accommodate spacing out this one employee’s clients, or even whether this employee’s issue is o

      1. Brain the Brian*

        *is of the type that might be helped by doing so. (Sorry — hit “submit” too soon.)

      2. Petty_Boop*

        I understand that, and it’s a compassionate way to look at it, but I’d also give the LW and their employer the benefit of the doubt that they would have done those things *if* they made sense to the business, the clients and the employees. I think the fact that the LW wrote in to this site is indicative that those seemingly obvious solutions are not feasible.

        1. footiepjs*

          That’s a lot when I’ve seen some LW being all “we’ve tried nothing and we’re all out of ideas” similar to Ned Flanders’s beatnik parents.

        2. Brain the Brian*

          Given the number of “obvious” that various characters in the letters on this site have *not* explored over the years, I didn’t want to assume that this LW had tried this solution. That said, the LW commented below that they’ve noticed a pattern where the employee treats people who are also queer, as well as Spanish-speakers, with more enthusiasm than others. That’s a problem because it’s treating people differently by class, essentially, and it’s something that the LW needs to address. I still think a conversation asking what the employee needs to be able to treat everyone with matching levels of enthusiasm — whether that’s breaks between appointments, more support with the admin aspects of their job, or something else — is warranted. This should not be an immediate firing.

        3. AlsoADHD*

          The LW didn’t mention if they had or hadn’t considered those solutions. I thought the solutions Brian the Brain offered sounded useful, and I hadn’t immediately thought of them when reading the letter. (Not saying LW hadn’t thought of them or they will work, but I don’t see the harm in offering them/asking.)

    5. PP*

      LW2: you wrote, she’s got some medical issues so I know there are days she doesn’t feel great.” Has she been provided with paid sick leave?

    6. sparkle emoji*

      If this is a clinic with repeat patients and she’s pleasant for 2 out of 10 visits and unpleasant the rest, patients will notice the irregularity even if there was no overlap. The unpleasant treatment is an issue even if we take away this particular comparison point.

      1. Brain the Brian*

        The LW commented below indicating that the employee’s treatment of each client is largely consistent from one appointment to the next. Not that that solves the problem, but a point of reference.

  5. Certaintroublemaker*

    “LinkedIn is a cesspool anyway and we should all deeply resent its existence.”

    THANK YOU. I have always been wary of it. I finally had to create an account to participate in a workshop that was using it as a communications hub. I put in my first name, last initial, and current employer, and haven’t used it since the workshop ended. Still feeling shirty I had to create an account at all.

    1. nodramalama*

      I feel like I am missing something with this major issue with linkedin. I do not find it very useful but a fairly inoffensive platform

      1. Opinions*

        It probably depends which circles you run. I refuse connection requests from people I don’t know (so many recruiters, so many sales pitches) and subscribe only to very technical groups in my field.
        I’ve not personally had any issues with people using it to flirt or such, but I still see some of the asinine posts “be a good leader, let your employee drink water at work!” etc.

        I’ve successfully recruited great people for my small business there, and keep up with some industry events, but I leave the posts and comments alone and I don’t do “branding” (as in making blog posts about how work and working).

        1. I Have RBF*

          I’ve had a LinkedIn account for at least a decade, maybe two. I still can’t stand the rah-rah listicles and the garbage posts from “successful” people telling me the secret to success is going to bed at 8 pm, getting up at 4 am, then running 5 miles while listening to a motivational podcast, and working 12 hours hustling. Nowadays I see bigotry, conspiracy, and anti-vax crap from people who consider themselves “thought leaders”. Yuck. So I only log in about twice a year unless I’m looking for work.

      2. Put the Blame on Edamame*

        My biggest issue with it is that it has terrible privacy issues as a site, it is dedicated to hoovering as much data out if you as possible.

        1. RC*

          Once upon a time, in the days both before I gave into the pressure to make my own Linkedin profile, and before craigslist anonymized correspondence on postings, I had emailed a dude who was trying to sell on craigslist my boyfriend‘s bike that had been stolen (it was a very distinctive bike). Through my own detective work (and with very little help from the cops up until the very end) we ended up finding him, setting up a meeting, had a cop pretend to be me, and got the bike back. Yay! Cops ended up taking him in for possession of stolen property.

          Later, I got a linkedin invite from this dude to that same throwaway email address of mine. I‘m pretty sure that was LI‘s shenanigans and not a guy who I kind of got arrested actually wanting to “connect” with me… hoovering indeed.

          1. Seashell*

            I’m not a frequent LinkedIn user, but I think you can opt to try to connect to everyone in your email list or do it more individually. Not surprising that the criminal is lazy enough to do the former.

            1. fhqwhgads*

              Back in the early days of LinkedIn, it wasn’t an “opt to try to connect to everyone in your contacts”. I just did it. Automatically. Then at some point they changed it so you could opt out, but I think it was still the default. And I believe they’ve changed it entirely since. But that initial bad first impression – which I got not even by having an account but by getting spammed by LI from people who had me in their address book – never wore off. Trust them even less than I trust the rest of the social media world, and I don’t trust any of ’em.

              1. I Have RBF*

                But how did it get your contacts, unless you had it on your phone and granted it those permissions?

                Seriously, it you don’t want an application spamming your contacts, don’t give the application permission to see your contacts!

          2. Astronaut Barbie*

            It was probably an automated message because he had your email in his contacts, and when you set up LinkedIn there is the option to send an invite to all your contacts that are on LinkedIn. Some people chose this option, although I can’t imagine why!
            I also can’t stand the platform, all I ever get are sales pitches.

            1. Emmy Noether*

              I think people choose that option because the wording of it does not make it clear what it does, and it’s set by default. Or at least that was the way it was when I joined (10-ish years ago I think). I remember frantically searching how to undo giving it access to my gmail contacts because I hadn’t realized that’s what I was agreeing to (and I’m normally careful about that stuff).

          3. Petty_Boop*

            I had 1 (ONE) email with a local cleaning company (like Merry Maids or whatever) to ask about setting up a quote. It was through my personal Gmail. I never GAVE LI access to my email, contacts, etc.. but a week or two later, the woman I’d corresponded with was a suggested link! I work for the DoD; there was ZERO reason for her to be suggested to me other than LI harvesting my contact info w/o my permission. I closed my account that day and never looked back.

              1. Petty_Boop*

                True but she wasn’t the only one, just the weirdest one that really sticks in my memory due to the fact that our fields were so far removed.

      3. Adam*

        Yeah, same. Like, I don’t spend my free time on there, but the worst I’ve ever heard of happening is some recruiter being overly pushy or the like. It’s not like they’ve been credibly accused of turning a blind eye to genocide or any of the other awful things that happen on other platforms.

        (I also have a strong dislike of using extreme language for mild issues, because it results in people thinking everything is equally bad, which probably makes me overly sensitive to this.)

        1. nodramalama*

          yeah i dont know, to me cesspool is how I’d describe the current state of twitter where right wing nutbags have free reign. Not a professional network where people seem to mainly post boring work articles nobody reads and a lot of recruiters send you ai generated emails

            1. H3llifIknow*

              Yeah. I remember a lot of inappropriate and offensive (to me anyway) stuff on there during the pandemic and the election year! I’m never surprised by what people feel it’s okay to post publicly with their name attached anymore!

              1. I Have RBF*

                Seriously. With the pandemic and conspiracy crap, I actually had to look up how to block people on LinkedIn.

      4. stratospherica*

        I don’t think it’s (often) offensively bad, but LinkedIn is just a platform I’ve come to equate with shallow and artificial clout chasing and the most fervent AI evangelism you can imagine (and most posts being generated by AI to begin with), or generally people thinking that every half-formed thought needs to be shared. It really feels like there is very little of value posted to LinkedIn.

        Most of the posts I see are some kind of “inspirational” video with a contrived essay in the caption about how “AI won’t replace you, but someone using AI will!!” lol

        1. bamcheeks*

          Yeah, I’m kind of obsessed with what goes viral on LinkedIn. You can’t go viral a *normal* way, by being funny or clever or incredibly stupid, because people won’t like or share something in their work profile unless it’s the blandest shit possible. So it’s always stuff that’s superficially “brave” but also something that nobody could possibly get into trouble for agreeing with, like “I don’t usually share personal opiniond on here, but I think cutting up up puppies for fun is bad”, or “here’s my story of overcoming tremendous odds to complete a marathon.” I do use it for work, and after too long on the timeline I can feel kind of offended and grossed out by this solid wall of blandness, all points of difference squeezed out.

      5. WoodswomanWrites*

        I actually find LinkedIn very useful. Perhaps it’s different in the nonprofit world I’m in? I of course believe others about the negative experiences they’ve described in this thread and many others. I just haven’t had them myself. Maybe it’s because my field is specifically relationship-based and I have hundreds of connections whom I’ve actually met.

        I spread the word in posts about what my organization is up to, publicize job openings where I work or at other places in the same sphere, and read insightful posts by experts related to my field of work. As examples, I heard about the work of a prominent leader through LinkedIn, and now read and learn from his essays and books. We recently made an outstanding hire for a leadership role because they heard about the position through my LinkedIn post.

        In my case for what it’s worth, I almost never accept requests to connect from someone I don’t know and when i do, it’s because their work is strategically related to someone or something I work with. I also sometimes say yes to recruiters, because I can pass along opportunities to friends who are looking for new jobs even though I’m not. The other thing I do is go through my list of connections periodically and if there are people I no longer remember, I remove them.

        1. BubbleTea*

          My experience is similar, and my approach is too – only accept connections that seem genuine (at minimum, we need something in common beyond adjacent fields – usually that means they want to sell me something) and prune where necessary.

          1. English Rose*

            Exactly. LinkedIn is actually the only social media site I use personally, and I really enjoy it. Like anything it depends on who you follow and/or connect with.
            There are so many interesting people and communities on LinkedIn, people helping each other find jobs, find connections, find resources.
            It’s a long time since LinkedIn has only been a platform for keeping your resume up-to-date. Reach out to people you know and who have shared interests, ignore any sales slimes, and you’ll find that is it is a constructive and enjoyable place to be.

        2. Also-ADHD*

          The current state of LinkedIn is better than Twitter or many other social media platforms and it’s also one of the best places to job search. I got both of my last two jobs from LI—recent one, an easy apply and everything.

        3. MsM*

          It’s amazing for prospect research, which I suspect is why a lot of the people complaining about it don’t like it.

      6. Dog Child*

        There’s definitely a general data security issue but I think the ‘cesspool’ comment has varying mileage depending on how you use it and what industries you’re connected too.

        I’m very inactive in terms of posting my own updates, I don’t accept invites from anyone I don’t know or wouldn’t be valuable to my actual work, all of which I think helps.

        Plus my connected industries are mostly just full of ‘LinkedIn Influencers’ – which induces many eye rolls but so far has not strayed into offensive.

      7. lilsheba*

        Personally I love LinkedIn, I found my current job thanks to them!! I keep it updated regularly.

      8. RagingADHD*

        I wouldn’t call it a major issue.

        It’s just like every other social media platform: there’s a lot of people who use it as a content publishing platform for unrelenting self-promotion. Some of it is useful, most of it is tiresome, some of it is gross (such as people who piggyback on personal or public tragedies with “hot takes” to sound deep).

        There’s an extra soupçon of ick on the gross stuff because the purpose of the platform is supposed to be work, so it really has no place in a work context. But again, it’s just like all other social media in that regard.

      9. Bitte Meddler*

        I feel the same as nodramalama.

        Sure, there are some people who treat LinkedIn like FB or Nextdoor, but that’s easily avoided by not reading anything posted by people you don’t know.

        It’s a great platform for finding a job in my field (accounting / finance).

      10. tamarack, etc.*

        In itself, sure, once you’ve tamed the notifications. But It seems to put a lot of pressure on some people, especially in niches where LinkedIn is used a lot.

        Me, I refuse to take some commercial product seriously as part of the professional norms I need to follow. Just because I have an account it doesn’t mean I have to keep it up to date. Of course I don’t want to lie (like, inflate my titles, or put jobs on that I never held, or claim a completely fabricated bio) – but it would be a lie similar to any other part of my public profile. Just not being up-to-date isn’t an issue at all, let alone a big deal.

        I’d just recommend to the OP to add an end year to the employments that are not current, but that’s a 2 min job. Nothing more needed.

    2. What is the point of LinkedIn*

      LinkedIn is often hacked and everyone’s details offered up for sale. It’s happened at least 3 times – 2019, 2021 and I think 2022.
      The Phishing emails sent to our company use the details from LinkedIn because it’s so easy to get the data.
      I was asked to create a LinkedIn profile by a previous compnay and asked to maintain it by my current one. As for LinkedIn itself I have only ever been harrassed about whether I want to leave my job, constant reminders to part with money to “upgrade” to Premium and although I’ve linked with many other employees as I’m not a salesperson it’s been utterly irrelevant to my existence. Anything from LinkedIn has gone to my spam folder for many years now.

    3. DJ Abbott*

      My biggest issue with it has been the greed. They make you pay for every little thing. Seems like originally I could send messages but for as long as I can remember, I would’ve had to pay to do so. At one point someone was messaging me trying to get in touch and I think he might have been trying to reach the only other person with my first and last names, who lives in another country. But I could not message and tell him so without paying.
      I have barely used it for the last 14 years, and don’t remember who or why half the contacts are. Probably recruiters I connected with in the beginning. I’ll delete them when I get around to it.

    4. rebelwithmouseyhair*

      I don’t often disagree with Alison, but I do here.
      I only use LinkedIn for networking and it’s the only networking I do. I have systematically added anyone I know professionally as a contact (except for my former boss who I do not wish to be associated with in any way). When I started freelancing, I contacted just about anyone and everyone among my contacts to let them know. A lot of former colleagues had left the agency for another agency, or to start up their own agency, and I immediately got a steady stream of work. Even several years later, I was contacted by someone who had initially said “thanks but we have an exclusive contract with someone else”.
      LinkedIn is handy because you don’t have to keep up with changing emails or phone numbers, you just need to remember the person’s name.
      I do get people reaching out to me who I don’t know, I just delete them if they don’t look like they might be useful to me.
      I occasionally get people reaching out to me for work, in fact one of my best clients found me on LinkedIn.

      1. Filosofickle*

        I’m with you. Are there a lot of people posting stupid things? Yes. Are there annoying scams and recruiters? Yes. Do you have to curate your feed and network to make it useful? Yes. Is their recent content harvesting and AI stuff bullshit? Absolutely. But is it a cesspool? I have a hard time getting there. For me it’s about 50% positive, and that’s pretty good!

        It’s a career rolodex if nothing else — and for those of us who move around or consult, that’s beyond helpful. And my last job found me on LI, a networking group signal-boosted someone looking for a freelancer and that turned into a project and then a job.

    5. Santiago*

      I hate LinkedIn but it’s definitely my toxic coping mechanism. I feel like I get randomly fired tomorrow as long as I have linked in friends then I can apply to jobs with people I know and get a leg up. When I retire I’ll never open it again. Bleh!!!

    6. LinkedOut*

      I came here to say how fantastic it is to see Alison from Askamanager actually saying this. Such a breath of fresh air, when so many careers advisors tell us we must use it.

      For anyone who doesn’t see the problem, googled Linked in Lunatics to see the absolute worst of the worst.

      1. Goldenrod*

        “LinkedIn is a cesspool anyway and we should all deeply resent its existence.”

        Ha ha!! Came here to agree with this. VALIDATING.

    7. ASGirl*

      LinkedIn has been really great for me. I found my last two jobs through it and increased my salary 37% in 3 years. One job a recruiter found me, I wasn’t actively looking but they offered me a great pay bump and I got a lot of experience at so I could switch to another company for an even higher pay bump and less stress.

      1. Econobiker*

        LinkedIn is a double edged sword:
        Excellent as resume advertising resource by ” keeping a doc or pdf copy of your own personal resume attached as a document to your profile._ Recruiters scrape it and put it into their databases. In some industries it’s an incredible resource for successful job hunting!

        But its also Garbage as scammers proliferation especially the “Chinese pig butchering scams” targeted against professional males along with some LinkedIn postings getting more political and religious preach-i-ness apparently like Facebook (which I have never had!)!

        1. ASGirl*

          I never had my resume attached to my profile and I still get recruiters reaching out to me. I haven’t had any scammers. If I come across a political or religious post, I remove my connection with that person.

  6. Nat20*

    20 bucks that the director in #1 has some weird, outdated notions about “loyalty” to one’s job and is “disappointed” because this internship isn’t the intern’s whole life.

    Unless there’s some massive issue with her work that’s been left out of the letter or her other internship is with a major competitor and they have policies against that (though it sounds like OP knows that’s not the case), there’s no earthly reason to fire(!!!) her.

    1. nodramalama*

      I mean its odd because I (think?) they already knew she was attending university, so its clearly not her entire life

    2. Pastor Petty Labelle*

      I agree. The Director thinks you should be so committed to the mission that you would not dream of working elsewhere.

      Three weeks left, three weeks. Unless its some egregious like the petition to change the dress code or removing someone’s caps lock key, there is no reason to fire them. A little talk about business norms — which is what an internship is for — would be a good idea. But that’s it.

    3. Czhorat*

      It’s also possible that the director has either read about or experienced employees double-dipping and trying to work two remote jobs during the same hours; that WOULD be a legitimate problem, but does not appear to be what’s going on here.

      Though I CAN understand a measure of skepticism; Full time job + full time job + full time student is three full-time student = three full-time commitments. That could lead to burnout, and makes the idea of doubling up on time feel more likely.

      That said, “I’m working another job when I’m not here” no more needs to be disclosed than “I’m learning to rude the unicycle when I’m not here”; so long as the intern is not breaking any non-compete clauses and is available when they say they will be it shouldn’t be a problem.

      1. human-woman*

        Honestly, it read to me as potential double-dipping as well, so I feel like I’m missing something. Does the intern have two full-time internships whose hours do not overlap? Or does “full-time” not mean 40 hours in an internship?

        1. sparkle emoji*

          Not necessarily. Internships in the school year have to work around school schedules so they can’t be the typical 9-5, 40-hour commitment. Some schools will have a 40-hour internship/co-op as a graduation requirement, but they often set aside an entire semester to do that. A summer internship could also be 40 hours, but those aren’t at the same time as school. The fact the intern was doing this with a full courseload makes me think it was a flexible schedule or hybrid in some way.

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

        However, she is probably getting credit for the internship, so she might not have a full credit load because she has the internship. In college I was able to have a internship that covered credits based on the amount of hours worked in the internship. There were several people who got 12 course credits because they had a full time internship and they only had a 1 or 2 actual classes. This could be the same for the intern. Also so many programs are online and asynchronous that it might not be a problem because she is doing the coursework at night.

      3. Nat20*

        Yeah, I could absolutely understand skepticism or concern for the intern (both for the sake of their work and their mental health) doing that much. But I can’t imagine concern for them or reservations about the tenability of the situation reasonably translating into them needing to be *fired*, which is why I think there’s something more going on with the boss than just concern.

    4. Petty_Boop*

      I got the impression from the phrasing that she was “disappointed” because the intern hadn’t disclosed this other internship to her so maybe she felt like it was a lie by ommisison? Stupid and outmoded/unrealistic thinking yes, but … I could see that being her reasoning. Whoever the buttinsky on the other team that found out via social media and tattled about is the one I’m really mad at. NOBODY COULD TELL that the intern was working 2 jobs because she was doing a good job, but some Tommy Tattletale thought he/she should tell somebody because “OMG!”

    5. OMG, Bees!*

      Given the countless stories I have heard of people with a basic retail job while going to college and managers expecting, even demanding work schedule > paid college schedule, you are right on that bet.

  7. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

    OP5 (speaking Spanish) – was it because Spanish is their (the two people involved) native language and they could communicate more expediently about the issue? in which case I think this is OK, if they didn’t need to involve OP.

    I saw something similar in Amsterdam airport involving a customer. Two employees of the airline were talking in English about an issue the customer had brought to them, and then it got quite complicated and urgent so they switched to Dutch which it was clear the customer didn’t speak, as it was just much easier to resolve the issue that way. Quite interesting to watch!

    1. User 1234*

      I’d avoid speaking a different language in front of any colleagues. Your example is one where it might be just about acceptable, but I’d apologise to the person who is being left out of the loop and quickly explain why I’m shuttering them out of the conversation and try and quickly revert to a mutual language.
      Otherwise, it can feel alienating and rude. I know this as an immigrant myself and someone who speaks multiple languages.

      1. Awkwardness*

        I am always a bit wary with questions as #5 because they seem to leave out so many facts.
        It is not even clear who the other person is: another manager, another employee? Whose responsibility is this issue to resolve? Did OP bring it up and is left out of the discussion of the solution (even though they have no part in it), did OP cause the issue (and has the feeling the others have been talking about them), or is OP to solve the issue (and does not get all information because of the language barrier)?
        Kudos to AAM for giving an answer that somehow still covers all those cases.

        1. Be Gneiss*

          Yeah, I don’t want to get into the world of AAM fanfic, but the whole vague “can I tell employees not to speak a language that someone else can’t understand” gives me all the vibes of OldJob where every now and then someone would ask HR if they could “ban” Spanish on the production floor because they were afraid the lowest-paid employees might be complaining about them.

        2. morethantired*

          Yes — and two people speaking in a language they share but LW doesn’t can fall into a whole spectrum of behavior I’d classify as “not rude but not polite” that may vary wildly based on the situation, culture and personalities.

          1. JustaTech*

            Exactly. The other day I went to grab a cup of coffee and two of my coworkers at the coffee pot were talking in Nepalese. I got the impression that they were talking about one coworker’s family member’s serious medical condition – nothing secret, but I could see why it might be easier to talk about in their native language. And since that’s also not at all work related, why should I care?

            Like, in high school when other kids would talk in Russian in front of me it was annoying, but that was because they were treating me like a piece of furniture, not because they were being “secretive”. (Also, when you use that many names I can get the gist of what you’re gossiping about, Sasha.)

          2. MM*

            I used to speak some Spanish to some of the drivers at my old job because it was easier to communicate with them that way. I can’t imagine anyone having a problem with that. It made me their best dispatcher, both because communication was easier and because the drivers appreciated that I thought about them as people enough to do things like that, or pronounce their names correctly.

        3. OMG, Bees!*

          Or also a client/customer and a bilingual coworker. Living in California, this would not phase me in the slightest to have 2 people next to me in our huddle having a conversation in a language I don’t know

      2. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

        If I’m not involved in the conversation, but just in earshot, it is absolutely none of my business if, for instance, two of my co-workers of Indian origin choose to speak Hindi with each other.

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

        I can see how it can feel that way, but what if the other person is not involved in any way. Like they are just in the same open plan and talking about something that doesn’t involve the non spanish speaker?

      4. anon_sighing*

        > I’d apologise to the person who is being left out of the loop and quickly explain why I’m shuttering them out of the conversation and try and quickly revert to a mutual language.

        This is the right way to do this. Some people give you the rant of “you don’t have to apologize for speaking your native language” but you are spot on that it can feel alienating and rude. It’s awkward to sit around (I know from experience with other people needing to do this). An quick sorry and explanation takes 10 seconds.

        The letter gave me a bad vibe. There are plenty of bilingual managers who manage people who are bilingual, but not as strongly. It’s great they have a manager who can offer that to their employee to facilitate communication.

    2. Cabbagepants*

      I think it’s more normal in some industries than others. My industry has a lot of people from China and it’s not uncommon to overhear two colleagues from China having a conversation in Chinese, or have a more-fluent person occasionally translate here and there for a less-fluent person.

      I think the keys are that this never excludes people who don’t speak Chinese. Either you’re not part of the conversation in the first place, or you can tell from context what they must be discussing.

      1. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

        FYI, tiny nit and possibly interesting: “Chinese” isn’t a language, any more than “European” is. There are many spoken languages used in that part of the world, of which Mandarin and Cantonese are the two you’re most likely to encounter in the US.

        1. Siege*

          And yet, we still call it Chinese, in exactly the same way we call RP British English, American English, Yorkshire English, and Scottish English all English.

          1. Hrodvitnir*

            Cantonese and Mandarin are better compared to Spanish and French, not the English dialects. Moreso, Cantonese has tones Mandarin speakers struggle to hear and make, so comparing it to RP vs Northern English dialects is very odd.

            Chinese people generally do use “Chinese” for all Mandarin dialects, however, and are bemused when people try to be more specific IME.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      There was a great bit on Top Chef with an international cast where two chefs who spoke English as like a third and seventh language (and their only common language) were trying to communicate, and wound up roping in other chefs and eventually going Polish->English->Spanish->Italian->French to get the concept across.

      I think the word might have been “ready”? And once you’ve got it in your head that ready is a type of pasta you haven’t encountered before, it’s hard to get find your way out.

      1. MM*

        I remember this! I loved that moment. (I don’t think French was involved, though–the Congolese chef spoke Italian, because she had been living and working in Italy for many years, was married to an Italian, etc. It got routed into Spanish as you described, and when she heard the Spanish word, that was close enough to the Italian cognate that she got it, IIRC.) I really liked international all-stars in general, it was awesome seeing people coming from not only different food cultures but different food business worlds all being challenged together. That episode where the Congolese and Polish chefs worked together on a British pub dish and came up with something amazing was a great example, in fact. I hope they do it again.

    4. lilsheba*

      I really wish people would get over the fact that other languages besides english are spoken! Leave them be!

    5. Shoes*

      I do wish more context were provided regarding the conversation, but since possible interpretations of the situation are being offered, here’s mine based on my experience.

      I speak 3 languages. I primarily communicate in English. I have friends who only speak English who have admitted that when they are in the presence of people not speaking English they assume those people are saying negative things about my friends. They, my friends, would prefer those people speak English so my friends can defend themselves against what is being said. This is what they’ve told me (repeatedly). My friends just prefer that. I’ve asked why they assume people are talking about them. I’ve also asked if one is not speaking to you why should they be obligated to speak in a language you understand. They don’t voice a reason. The reasons may not be “nice.” Admittedly, my sample size is small, but my experience is real.

      1. CowWhisperer*

        I have a Deaf twin sister who uses ASL for the obvious reasons. Yup, a small but irritating portion of people believe that anyone who signs is talking about them – and are equally unable to conceive that they are not the center of the universe.

        My response to the question “Are you talking about me?” is a long pause where I stare at the person like they are acting odd then reply “Well, we weren’t…” because we are going to be talking about you now

      2. Andrew*

        I think it can be very difficult for monolingual English speakers to understand how cognitively taxing it can be to constantly speak a non-native language, even if you are at a high level of fluency in it.

        (Of course, the same would apply to a monolingual speaker of any other language, but monolingual English speakers are in a bit of a different position because English is the world’s lingua franca and most-widely-spoken second language, so they are vastly more likely than monolingual speakers of any other language to be able to fall back to their native language of English.)

        I’ve been lucky enough to make a group of multilingual French- and Spanish-speaking friends here in NYC and even though my French is pretty good (in the B2-C1 range), it’s incredible how much more mentally agile I feel when falling back to English. It’s like that quote from Modern Family, when Gloria says “Do you even know how smart I sound in Spanish?!”

        I’m not blaming people for something that is hard to understand without first-hand experience, but I wish there was a way to explain it.

        1. AnxioiusAutistic*

          Oh god yes- I live in an area with a lot of people for whom English is a second language, and while I never consciously thought of ESL friends as less intelligent, there’s a lot of cultural soup we swim in that means you have to be conscious to overcome that bias, especially with new people. I thought I was pretty good at being conscious, you know?

          Then, I worked in Japan for a while, and while I am pretty ok at Japanese it was nowhere near fluent (plus an undiagnosed auditory processing disorder exacerbated by the language barrier).

          Most of the people who spoke Japanese to me were very young kids (b/c I worked at a nursery), so I got kid-talk language exposure, and while I did not communicate with adults much, when I did I always felt incredibly stupid. Like, there was no way I could have communicated half of what I was thinking, let alone communicate it well. My housemate (also a native english speaker) worked more with adults so got a lot more adult-level language exposure, so I ended up relying on them a lot more, but it definitely gave me an empathy boost when I came home!

        2. Katara's side braids*

          100% this. The majority of my work is in my second language, and it would be TAXING to continue using that language during down time. Part of the value of water cooler moments, lunch, informal conversations, etc is that they provide a mental break between work tasks. If I were living somewhere where I would be expected to use my second language all day, not just during work tasks, I think the quality of both my work and my mental health would go way down.

          Which isn’t to say that it’s always appropriate to clearly shut someone out of a conversation, but that people aren’t necessarily speaking their native language “at” (or about) you.

        3. Gumby*

          I spent a month traveling by myself in Spain and I totally get it. Even after having 5 years of Spanish classes and getting a 5 on the Spanish Lit AP test, getting around all day every day in Spanish was exhausting. (Also, clearly I was better at written than spoken Spanish since my Spanish Language AP score was only a 4.) I discovered that if I went to a Starbucks in the more touristy areas of town I could hear English being spoken. Note that I didn’t actually converse with anyone; I didn’t even try to eavesdrop on particular conversations. But being in an environment where I didn’t have to work so hard to understand what was going on around me was massively relaxing. I don’t even drink coffee but I must have gone to that particular Starbucks at least twice a week.

      3. Bee*

        I’ve heard this from people as well, and it’s mind-boggling to me that people live in that state of paranoia. Maybe it’s because I live in a major city where we all maintain (as much as possible) the polite fiction that everyone exists in their own little bubble, but in general, people just do not care that much about strangers. Do these people also assume that anyone whose English-language conversation is too quiet for them to hear are also saying mean things about them? How do you carry on like that?

        1. Texan In Exile*

          (That said, as a Spanish speaker who looks very northern European, I have heard many a conversation that the speakers didn’t think I could understand. Not about me, but about stuff they might not have said had they known I understood.)

          1. Shoes*

            Yes, that does happen at times. People are still going to people and not always behave well.

        2. JimmyJab*

          I get the impression from some folks with this attitude that they would obviously talk smack about someone who couldn’t understand them, and often harbor terrible stereotypes of folks speaking other languages and therefore assume the same is true of non-native or multilingual people. In other words, they assume others have the same nasty attitude they do, and that other-language-speakers aim that nastiness at the English-only speaker.

        3. JustaTech*

          I feel like, for some people with this world view, it’s a case of, well, when I’m whispering I’m 100% talking smack about someone, so I assume that every conversation I can’t hear or understand is talking smack about someone, and that person is probably me.

          The accusation is a confession.

        4. Siege*

          I don’t know. I was on a bus in Spain once where a British couple assumed that everyone around them didn’t speak English and were discussing (unobtrusively) how terrible Spain is or something equally insulting, so certainly my only experience of comprehending the second language conversation suggests that English speakers talk smack about people they don’t think can understand them at all times.

          1. JustaTech*

            Ugh, Those Tourists.
            I was in Mexico once with family and was stuck listening to Aunt Awful complain about literally everything, and repeatedly insult all the hotel staff and then say “oh but none of them speak English” even though the waiter had just taken her order in flawless English.
            I spent half the trip calling her out and the other half apologizing to everyone.

    6. Katherine*

      Three of my coworkers regularly speak a language that I dont around me. I like it as it means I dont have to ever wonder if they’re speaking to me.

  8. Jackie Daytona, Regular Human Bartender*

    LinkedIn is a cesspool anyway and we should all deeply resent its existence.

    When I last switched jobs in 2022, I put my LinkedIn account on hibernate since I took a few weeks off between the old job and the new one. Hibernating basically deactivates your account. And I just… never reactivated it. Liberating.

    1. Locked Out Linked In*

      I made a LinkedIn when I started job hunting, then landed in an industry where they’re extremely unnecessary. Let it gather dust for a decade. Once I started joining hiring panels I noticed I got “someone has viewed your account!” emails after interviews…I figured I didn’t need applicants looking at my extremely outdated LinkedIn, so I logged on to delete it. But I committed a suspicious action (i.e., logging on) so they froze my account. They need government ID to unlock it, which I am definitely not providing. But in the meantime they tell me the account’s invisible to others, so mission accomplished.

      1. Ariaflame*

        Whereas I’ve been getting emails suggesting I connect with someone some of my other contacts connect with. I did know them. That’s why I know they died early in Covid and connecting with them would be pointless but I’m not in possession of all the things you need to tell them that they’ve died.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Annnd that’s a reminder I should probably figure out how to handle my late husband’s LinkedIn account. :(

    2. Jill Swinburne*

      My god, just hearing that felt like lifting a weight off me. I’m currently part-time-job searching, coming off the back of an unsuccessful business venture in which I had a regular LinkedIn posting schedule, and the idea of deactivating it just seems glorious. I’ve already nixed almost all my Facebook save for a couple of hobby and neighbourhood groups, got rid of instagram, and now you seem to be suggesting the possibility of a social media-free future…! I didn’t even realise just how heavily that stupid site was sitting on me.

      1. Perfectly normal-size space bird*

        I felt the same way about Facebook. All my family members use it heavily so I kept up with it. But it just got worse and worse, like with ads and a flood of reposted memes from acquaintances constantly pushing out content from family members. So I just stopped. It’s been so glorious! I left my other social media accounts after that.

        My LinkedIn account still exists as an online resume but I stopped using it as a job hunting tool because it’s so terrible at that. All the “based on your skills” jobs were things like director-level positions in health care. I’ve never worked in healthcare or even healthcare-adjacent and though my title has “director” in it, it’s not a director-level position. Nothing I could do would fix it. It’s so nice to not have to stress about whether my LinkedIn profile is good enough or whether my posts are relevant enough to get me noticed.

    3. Pastor Petty Labelle*

      I haven’t touched LinkedIn in probably a decade. Every so often I get a message someone wants to connect. Good luck with that. Connecting with me is a waste of time. Same with the you showed up in X number of searches this week. Why is a major company searching for a solo family law attorney?

      I don’t even care enough to go in and deactivate my account. I’m not job searching and am unlikely to be in a way that would involve checking my linkedin profile.

  9. nodramalama*

    LW1 i also feel there are some missing reasons here if the intern’s performance isn’t suffering. The only thing I can think of is if the intern works for a rival company, or if this is organised through a university for credit and they’re only meant to be doing one a semster. But I’d have though the LW would know if either of those were the case.

    1. Myrin*

      I reckon Nat20 above has the right of it with the director having old-fashioned (or simply misguided) views on loyalty towards his company.

      1. nodramalama*

        I guess I find it hard to imagine a director caring that much about the loyalty of transitory interns who are in university. I’ve never worked somewhere where exec take temporary interns/clerks/work experience people so seriously

        1. Myrin*

          I don’t know, if he’s one of those people who feel Very Strongly about basically all of their opinions, I don’t find this hard to imagine at all. Just look at all the people having an opinion about random passerbies they see on the street. And depending on how big the organisation is, the director might not actually be super far removed from the intern, both physically on in-office days and work-wise.

        2. I should really pick a name*

          After years of reading this blog, I find that very easy to imagine :P

        3. Ally McBeal*

          I’m not quite middle management, but close, and I have been shocked to learn that my leadership team expects everyone, from intern all the way up to LT, to drink the company koolaid. That it’s not enough to love the work we do and the people we work with, we also need to be fully bought in on the company overall. I’m 15 years into my career and still not even making $60k a year, my loyalty is worth a lot more than that, thanksverymuch.

        4. fhqwhgads*

          I don’t think it’s that they care that much about loyalty from transitory interns. I think it’s just that in the Director’s brain student+internship is equivalent to graduate+full time job. Even though there are many many logical reasons those are not at all the same. But in Director’s mind, it’s kicking off the same vibes as if person were working 2 full time jobs, and they’re not able to shake it for some reason.

      2. pally*

        Yes! It’s a lack of loyalty being demonstrated.

        As some might have us believe, loyalty is foremost. Without it, there’s no reason to keep an employee (or intern).

        Course when the business takes a downturn, how much loyalty will management show towards the interns (not just the employees)?

      3. Butterfly Counter*

        I mention this above, but I wonder if it’s also about the appearance of greediness for an intern to have two internships, especially if both are paid. Perhaps, had manager known that this intern already had a paid internship, he’d have wanted to “spread the wealth” and offer this paid internship to another student to give more opportunities to more students?

        Not a reason that this particular intern should be fired, but paid internships are incredibly hard to find in most areas for students.

    2. Samwise*

      If the student is only allowed by the university to do one internship per term, that’s still not the director’s business— it’s the university’s.

  10. bringing kites to the picnic*

    #3 – How much time can you take for maternity leave when you have unlimited PTO?

    If there’s a limit and it’s less than what you would have gotten by using your banked PTO, maybe you could present that case to HR and see if they can make an exception under the circumstances…

    1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      Yes, I’m fascinated by the potential implications of “unlimited” PTO in the context of maternity leave, and I would love for someone to be able to test it by saying “I’m going to take PTO for three months from [due date]” with a supportive manager.

      1. Green great dragon*

        I’d certainly start from the basis of taking as much as I would have been able to under the old system. It doesn’t sound like LW is in a good place to push the boundaries more than that though, given the manager’s already complaining.

      2. Cyborg Llama Horde*

        Ours has some weird rules around parental leave (also for some reason we have a policy against not taking parental leave in multiple chunks… which literally everyone I know who’s taken parental leave at this company has done) and that policy explicitly states that you’re not allowed to use the “unlimited” PTO for the second chunk of parental leave. But I would hope other companies are being less restrictive about how parental leave can be taken.

      3. fhqwhgads*

        My SIL at the time of her pregnancies worked somewhere with “unlimited” PTO and took six months off for one kid and I think 5 for the other. And still took a reasonable amount of vacations both years too. Seems like it doesn’t work out that way in practice at a lot of employers who have supposedly “unlimited” but her experience is how it SHOULD work.

    2. Hmmm*

      At my firm (consulting) we have unlimited PTO but we also have billable hour targets that our performance is assessed on (and that determine our bonuses). There is a certain number of weeks/months you get off for parental leave and you could theoretically take off more if your projects were covered, but you’d still need to hit whatever your hours targets were, I think. People can and do take extended leave of several weeks at a time and that’s fine, assuming you’ve gotten coverage, but there might be implications if you’re short the hours you and your manager have set for you for the year.

      1. MollyGodiva*

        They need to be careful with this. For legally mandated parental leave the company can not penalize the parent for taking the leave, and maintaining the same billable hour target is a penalty.

      2. Dancing Otter*

        My consulting firm had the billable hours target as a percentage of “available” hours. Available hours excluded legal holidays, sick days and vacation. (Though we didn’t have unlimited PTO.)
        There were two main circumstances where it got rough, not to say unfair. We had monthly training sessions at the downtown office. So that’s several non-billable hours right there. But if your current client wasn’t located downtown, then you also got dinged for the travel time between locations.
        The other one was if they wanted you for project A, which was due to start a week or two after your previous project B closed out, not long enough to schedule a different project in between. Or there wasn’t supposed to be a gap, but the new project got delayed or cancelled.
        I had great utilization rates when on long projects, but there was a lot of pressure to take vacation when there were gaps between projects instead of when we wanted.

    3. Also-ADHD*

      Yeah, while companies with actual unlimited PTO usually have decent maternity policies, I feel like unlimited leave triggered by an income threshold sounds like a different situation where the UL isn’t really UL but just a balance sheet fixer.

      1. Cyborg Llama Horde*

        AHA, thank you for explaining the logic behind this. I was really struggling to figure out why this was triggered by a particular threshold when people’s salaries also have geographic variation.

    4. LaMiAb*

      I wondered the same. In my MBA program, I read a study that said people who get unlimited PTO use fewer days on average than people with capped PTO, who are more likely to use every day available to them (I think I saw Alison point to similar research already this year). This usually makes it a great benefit to the company while sounding like a great perk for the employee, without actually being a great perk. But I feel like if I had a baby, I would definitely be more likely to use it and would feel like I could at least take what I had previously banked on top of my mat leave.

    5. Applesauced*

      My read was that she hade save X allotted days of PTO, so would get the pay of X days on top of whatever is paid in maternity leave.
      With the switch to unlimited, her saved days are moot, so she is losing X days worth of pay.

    6. purple monkey & bubblegum tree*

      I work at a company with unlimited PTO and am really anxious about how that’s going to shake out when it comes time for me to take maternity leave (not pregnant, just thinking).

  11. Tesuji*

    #3: The fact that the LW thinks of ‘unlimited PTO’ as a perk makes me sad.

    I mean, if it’s anything like most companies, that essentially means “PTO is no longer a part of your compensation package. You have none; all PTO is now subject to how your manager happens to be feeling when you request it”… which, from the tone of that conversation, probably isn’t going to be great.

    And, also, it feels like the LW is burying the lede, that a manager making more than the person they’re managing has issues all of its own.

    Yeah, sure, I’m sure there will be people rushing to post that there are many (usually sales or technical) fields in which it’s normal for a manager to be paid less than the people they’re managing. And, yep, there sure are, but it doesn’t sound like this is one of them.

    More likely, it’s a case where the company gives lousy raises for long-time employees, but has to pay market rate for new ones, and LW’s manager just got smacked in the face with how little her company cares about her.

    My first job out of college was this, where thanks to the economy, fresh new hires were getting paid more than people with a few years of experience and a step up the ladder. The resentment from managers forced to train and oversee people less-competent but better-compensated was palpable. 0/10, would not recommend.

    1. Tesuji*

      Ack. * a manager making less than the person they’re managing has issues all of its own.

    2. Orv*

      It sounds like it’s a cost of living thing. Most companies pay based on the cost of living where remote employees live, so someone living in a cheap area will be paid less than someone in an expensive area — sometimes dramatically so. This came up during COVID when Google cut the pay of some people who had moved to less expensive parts of the country under their remote work scheme.

      1. Rosemary*

        Which makes it weird that this PTO “perk” is based on salary rather than level. OP is not getting paid more because she is more senior, but rather it is an adjustment to reflect cost of living. Whereas the unlimited PTO seems like something one should get when they reach a certain level or tenure. Seems like laziness on the part of the company to simply link it to the dollar amount on a paycheck. We can argue whether or not unlimited PTO is actually a perk (I don’t think it is), but I get why the manager is upset (not that it excuses her taking it out on OP)

        1. WellRed*

          That’s what I can’t understand. She shouldn’t qualify merely because of a technicality (can’t think of better word). I’d suggest making sure this wasn’t an error.

        2. Polly Gone*

          Yes, came here to say that. How strange that PTO is tied to salary level rather than time in-service.

          1. fhqwhgads*

            Accrued PTO is on the books as a liability. Unlimited PTO is not, because it’s incaculable. So giving the expensive people “unlimited” disappears a liability.

        3. Blu*

          Its probably because the rationale is not to provide a perk, but to reduce the ongoing liability amount on the balance sheet. With accrued PTO you have to carry that as a liability to be paid out. With unlimited PTO that doesn’t get paid out when an employee exits the liability goes away. Now do that for everyone who makes over XX and you clear a bunch of liability instantly.

    3. office hobbit*

      I believe LW 3 said the pay discrepancy was due to the LW living in a city with a much higher cost of living (double that of most employees). So LW is making more than their manager in terms of currency, but their wages may still be aligned in terms of spending power in their respective cities (with the manager having more spending power in their lower-COL city than LW has in their higher-COL city).

      1. amoeba*

        Well, that argument is always a bit of a double-edged sword to me – people chose to live in low COL areas precisely to save money, and possibly might actually prefer to live in a high COL area, but feel like they can’t afford to do so! I imagine hearing “oh, I make more because I live in *desirable area I though I couldn’t live in because of cost*” from a colleague or employee might give one a bit of a shock…

        1. Trying to figure out a replacement name*

          If you want to be completive in hiring, it’s price you have pay. Lots of great candidates are in HCOL.

          Lots of people end up on there bc that’s where the jobs are. They might transfer to remote job, but they already have their life established or don’t want to risk moving should they need to start looking for another job.

          1. Czhorat*

            Yeah. I noped out of a job offer because they were headquarted in a FAR lower COL area than I am; they *still* were willing to go a bit above their nominal ceiling, but the disparity in cost of living meant they’d have to go WAY above if I were to be able to pay my mortgage.

            As more jobs become remote this is a fascinating tension; I’ve seen some firms in my industry (A&E) use remote CAD technicians in rural areas or even oversees; I’ve also seen some insist on in-person workers and have a more flat pay scale.

        2. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

          “Making more” only matters in terms of purchasing power. The salary that would buy a huge house in a low-COL area would be a one-bedroom apartment elsewhere. “I can afford a massive house while you’re paycheck-to-paycheck on the same salary doing the same job” isn’t a good look either.

          1. amoeba*

            Well… but the same house in a nicer area is still better, no? Like, I’m not in the US, but in my part of the world there are definitely cities that are much, much more expensive than others. For instance, some of my colleagues have made the decision to commute from a city about an hour away where the rents are literally at least 2x as high than in the nearby city where I live. Like, I’ve lived there and paid more for a tiny studio than I pay now for a nice two bedroom flat with balcony.
            Other colleagues actually decided to cross-border commute and thus have way lower COL than me, as Switzerland is, of course, notoriously expensive. Or they live somewhere in the countryside, which is also cheaper than the city.
            We all decided on our particular locations based on family obligations, preference, whatever. I’d find it pretty unfair if my company suddenly decided to give my colleagues who live in expensive city a 50% salary increase – or to cut the pay of the cross-border commuters!

            I know it’s all more complicated due to remote work, but a simple “salary proportional to COL” doesn’t seem like the perfect solution for me, either… I mean, wouldn’t everybody just move to the super desirable, high COL areas then?

            1. Emmy Noether*

              Yeah, the situation at the border of Switzerland is kind of wild. COL drops off a cliff by a factor of 2 (rent, food, everything) within literally a few meters. You can even be along the same bus line or bike path.

              You also have to know that as a Swiss or EU national, you can freely choose to live either side of the border. There’s (quite a bit) more administrative hassle, but you don’t need any kind of permission. If the free market actually worked as advertised, nobody would live on the Swiss side! But they do! It’s fascinating.

              1. amoeba*

                On the other hand, taxes are so much lower on the Swiss side, so that definitely evens things out a bit! And some of the border regions are actually quite expensive, or at least that’s what my colleagues tell me. Also, you can always go shopping on the other side…

            2. doreen*

              I’d find it pretty unfair if my company suddenly decided to give my colleagues who live in expensive city a 50% salary increase – or to cut the pay of the cross-border commuters!

              This is exactly why remote work complicates things. Because those companies that adjust pay based on location do so based on where the company has assigned people to work, not on where they choose to live. I have known many people who commute an hour or more to work in NYC – they get paid the same as those who both live and work in NYC even if they live in a place where housing cost half or less of what it would cost in the less expensive parts of NYC. Before remote work, working in NYC meant you had to live within commuting distance for at least part of the week – you couldn’t work in NYC and live in Boise all week. With remote work the company typically hasn’t assigned employees to work in a specific place.

              But no , not everyone would move to the high COL areas – because they aren’t desirable to everyone. What people often want to do is get the high COL pay while living in a low COL area – and that’s going to be harder to do if your employer allows you to work remotely from almost anywhere.

            3. Leenie*

              I’m not sure if you’re internalizing the differences that are at play here. What you’re describing wouldn’t result in different compensation. It’s all within commuting distance. People in the US don’t get paid less because they live an hour outside of the city where the office is. There, they can absolutely make a lifestyle decision that either saves them money or gives them time, convenience, and the other benefits that come with city living. People get paid less because they live 1,000 miles away in an area where they can buy a large house with a yard and garden, where their coworkers in a different part of the country couldn’t afford a studio apartment on the same salary. And the salaries aren’t usually completely commensurate. The people living in the high COL area usually still wouldn’t be able to afford the kind of housing that the people in the lower COL areas can get on much lower salaries. The discrepancies are wild.

          2. Anon for this*

            except I’m not just spending my salary, I’m doing things like investing it (for retirement, etc)- and who knows where I will live when I use that in the future! This is an issue with remote work we’ve yet to resolve, cause boy does it feel problematic to be making more/less for the same work based on where you live (and especially when you’ve got cases like this). I’d be livid if I was this manager (though not saying a word to my direct report). I actually recently applied for a job, and am being considered for both that one and another position that would supervise it. Oddly, the supervisor salary band starts at the bottom of the first job’s range (and goes well beyond it, it’s honestly an overly large useless range). But…I won’t take a penny less than over the max range of the person I’d be supervising if I get that position. No way.

            1. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

              OTOH, if I learned that a manager a few years out of school was making more than I do with a PhD and 15 years of experience because my company bought into the “managers are intrinsically superior” BS, I’d be looking for a new job.

        3. Emmy Noether*

          I think it’s an interesting conundrum now that fully remote work has become much more common.

          Before, companies that were located in HCOL places had to pay higher salaries to attract employees at all, but when one isn’t bound to location, that changes.

          In theory, companies would start always choosing the equally (or even slightly less) qualified candidate that will accept a lower pay (because living in a LCOL area). That would mean easier job search and more job security in those areas, making them more attractive to live. At the same time, those employees could be tempted by a higher salary at a competitor, because they’re being paid below the market average, so the competitor may be quite willing to go higher. Then there should be some equilibrium reached at some point.

          Of course, real life isn’t as simple as free market theory, people are not rational actors, and money is not the only deciding factor.

          1. Econobiker*

            That’s the salary versus cost of living location arbitrage conundrum that employees can often wrangle and has partially contributed to insane housing price jumps in certain regions as remote workers with East/ West coast salaries relocated to middle America places with low COL price indexes.

    4. JM60*

      I actually asked if I could be excluded from my employer’s “flexible” time off policy when I got a raise (in favor of remaining on an accrued PTO policy). “Flexible” or “unlimited” PTO policies are essentially 0 guaranteed time off, with you having to constantly beg/negotiate your time off while on the job.

    5. Siege*

      Where do you get the idea the LW sees unlimited PTO as a perk? It’s clearly a problem for her, given the comment about maternity leave. Her manager sees it as one, but I don’t see anywhere the LW actually thinks this is a benefit to her.

      1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

        I think this is more unintended consequences of that policy. It might make sense (although I acknowledge all the reasons it can suck, as well) to have an unlimited pto policy for a certain level of ‘seniority’ and above. But here they are using salary as a proxy for seniority, which doesn’t make sense given that they pay differently in different COL areas. The whole policy needs revisiting and perhaps this will push OPs manager into raising it.

    6. LearnedTheHardWay*

      If the manager has an issue with their compensation or PTO, they should be raising this with their OWN manager and/or HR, NOT with their employee. It’s really off-side of the manager to make it their employee’s problem. It’s also stupid – the employee lives in a much higher cost-of-living location. The Manager still has more purchasing power than the OP, and it’s really petty of the Manager to not take that into account (and it also indicates a poor grasp of economics, that the manager doesn’t recognize this).

      It’s also pretty petty and short-sighted of the Manager to take exception to the OP’s PTO – unlimited PTO is anything but that, in many companies. You still have to have management approval, and there’s no minimum PTO that they have to approve for you. You don’t get paid out for any PTO you haven’t taken, and like the OP is realizing, you can’t bank PTO for a maternity leave or a long-term break you want to take. It’s really quite insensitive of the manager to not recognize the negative implications to the OP, and the fact that the Manager is really the person controlling just how much PTO the OP can now take.

      What is really stupid is HR tying the dollar-value of salary to the nature of the PTO program. They should have pegged the PTO program to the level of the role.

      OP, I would have some serious doubts about your new manager’s intelligence and business sense, not to mention their objectivity and rationality.

      1. YetAnotherAnalyst*

        I think tying the dollar value of the salary to the unlimited PTO is a fairly straightforward financial call. If an employee has X days of PTO banked and they get paid Y per day, the company has an outstanding liability of X(Y). If that employee gets a raise and now makes Y+N, the liability becomes X(Y+N). The company has most likely worked out how many days of PTO their average employee has banked, and decided to cap their liability at a specific dollar amount. It actually sucks for the LW, though they have the consolation of a larger paycheck. But their manager is being ridiculous.

    7. hbc*

      Generally, all PTO is subject to how your manager feels when you request it. There’s nothing illegal about granting someone 5 or 10 or 30 days a year and then never approving its use for a single day. The only real difference is that it’s more visible to HR and accounting when people are “losing” time at the end of the year

      1. Silver Robin*

        the other real difference is that the unused PTO often gets paid out when you leave. So sure, a manager might deny all of your requests, but then you get paid for all those days you did not take once you find a way to leave. With unlimited, you do not get paid out, so manager can just deny you forever and the company has no incentive to tell them to knock it off, since it costs the company nothing.

      2. Statler von Waldorf*

        Yeah, Americans really get screwed on vacation time. Most countries have laws about this, but not America.

        In Canada, all the provinces that I am familiar with have laws that require businesses to allow employees to take vacation. Off the top of my head I know that BC requires businesses to allow employees to take vacation within 12 months of it being earned, while Ontario is 10 months.

      3. tokyo salaryman*

        It depends on the country. In Japan, your manager can’t refuse your request to use accrued leave unless they can demonstrate that allowing it would be detrimental to the business – and it has to be a significant level of detriment.

        Otherwise, your leave request is more like a notification that you will be away (in theory. in practice, people are very conscientious and will rarely take leave, or will profusely apologize for taking leave).

    8. Also-ADHD*

      It sounds like it’s a COL adjustment situation. I work HR adjacent (in a more technical field, not in comp myself but familiar) in a distributed remote org, and while bands usually prevent managers from making less than a direct report in most cases, a wide COL differential could make it a very narrow gap, even in nontechnical fields. My org does a great job adjusting for COL (employees can even petition if their area sees particular inflation and we haven’t adjusted—we’ve had some of this in FL metro areas where Comp had to do their own studies because that state has inflation pressures that aren’t updated in our 3rd party systems). So a manager who lived in rural TN might well less than Sr or even regular staff in SanFran if it was a nontechnical manager vs the staff was Sr and highly specialized (though our reporting structure rarely tends that way, so they wouldn’t generally be directly reporting). Not all remote first companies adjust this way and there are pluses and minuses (you have to do budgets differently, and adjusting income down if someone moves isn’t fun—we adjust both ways). But it is a thing. I am fairly new at my current company, and I was surprised too.

      What I don’t get with LW’s situation and what makes me think the Comp isn’t that great is the notion that someone above X threshold gets UL PTO. That is a balance sheet act, and that likely means that it’s not a good program with encouragement to take a lot of time so much as they don’t want to pay it out/carry the liability balance.

    9. fidget spinner*

      Oh, that’s interesting because I always hear about how it’s a huge perk to get unlimited PTO! I get 10 days a year, combined sick and vacation pay, so the idea of unlimited makes me so jealous, lol.

      I’m going to run out this year because I was sick 1 day, I’m going on a family trip for 4 days, and I have a wedding abroad… so I will be taking unpaid days if I get sick between now and December. :(

    10. AlsoADHD*

      To be fair, most of the BEST PTO policies and work/life culture I’ve seen or experienced have been companies with unlimited PTO for at least workers who it made sense for, if not everyone (not hourly/onsite workers, but salaried, project based, autonomous workers). I have worked two places with unlimited PTO, but both places had *minimums* and guidelines too, and the minimums/guidelines were on the high PTO end for the US.

      I just did the survey, but I take about 30 PTO days a year, plus work flexibly remote so never take off for an appointment, etc. and can flex my time throughout the day, go to conferences or do professional training without taking PTO, etc. This is on top of 11 paid holidays, a full week shut-down at Christmas, and 5 paid volunteer days, if I opt in. For the volunteer days, there’s also a donation to the org I volunteer with, which is why they’re tracked!

      I have seen data that a lot of people with unlimited PTO don’t take it or take less, but I feel like it’s pretty easy to tell the difference. Are there minimums? When you ask, how much time do people usually take? Of course, remote work factors into this too–how flexible is the day to day, because not having minor sickness or appointments cut into my time away is a huge benefit. I like unlimited because when I was tracking, I always wanted to keep as many hours as possible so I rarely took PTO. I figured I might want to take a lot someday/get very sick/etc. But PTO doesn’t pay out in my state anyway (some companies still will) so I’m not losing anything on the balance sheet. The last job I left with PTO balances, I had 100 hours or so banked and unused.

  12. D.S. Gruntled*

    If you don’t want your employees (YES, even interns) to work a second job, then PAY THEM MORE.

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      Seriously, employers. Do y’all realize this is not a hobby for me? I do this for the money.

  13. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

    #1 Why did the project team report this?
    If it was because her performance is sub-par, then they should have stated this and then the performance is grounds to end the internship.
    Otherwise, sounds like it’s not just the director who has this unwritten rule in his head.

    Maybe these people think internships should be distributed to benefit as many people as possible and regard this intern as taking more than her fair share? It’s still unfair to penalise the intern for lack of telepathy.

    When interviewing new interns, be fair and inform them in writing that parallel internships are forbidden, rather than risk them being fired.
    The only way to burn out this unwritten rule from the brain of the director and others is if openly stating this rule makes it difficult to get the interns you want.

    #2 Your patients feel uncomfortable and it’s affecting your business? You must address this with her immediately. Sounds like significantly reducing her hours is much more feasible than asking her to be enthusiastic when exhausted.
    If she won’t agree to this and does not stop Eeyore, then you either need to find someone else or accept your business – and patients – will likely continue to suffer.

    #3 If your pay is higher because your skills are so much in demand, your manager needs to accept the reality of market forces.
    If you are paid so much more than others in the same job just because you live in an HCOL area, probably those others also resent you.
    imo fully remote jobs should not normally have a COL element unless your location somehow brings benefits/disadvantages equivalent to that COL amount.

    However, your manager is being totally inappropriate to grumble to you about her pay or perks. If she feels that the system is inequitable then she needs to advocate for change to those in higher management.

    1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      “imo fully remote jobs should not normally have a COL element unless your location somehow brings benefits/disadvantages equivalent to that COL amount.”

      I agree with this. From a business perspective it makes sense to pay people based on their value to the business, not the value to the employee of the money – though we know salaries are more aligned with “minimum we can spend to keep this person on this role” which isn’t quite the same.

    2. BubbleTea*

      The problem with fully uncoupling pay for remote jobs from cost of living is that there’s always somewhere where people will do the work more cheaply. It becomes a race to the bottom.

      1. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

        Yup. Then we just get inshoring (companies moving to the cheapest parts of the US, which may be unattractive or unsafe for many employees) by another name.

    3. bamcheeks*

      If your pay is higher because your skills are so much in demand, your manager needs to accept the reality of market forces.
      If you are paid so much more than others in the same job just because you live in an HCOL area, probably those others also resent you.

      I don’t know whether this is either/or. It can be straightforwardly both: if the company wants to hire people with in-demand skills, and some of those people want to work remotely and live in high CoL areas, the company has to offer a salary which is going to attract them. And it’s kind of daft to resent LW because you have a problem with your employer’s pay structure!

      1. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

        The company has to offer a salary which attracts people, but then their employees choose where to live, based on that salary and their own preferences.

        Some people may choose a LCOL area e.g. to bank most of their salary and retire early, so they’ll turn you down if you offer them less than people in a HCOl area,

        1. bamcheeks*

          It doesn’t always go in that order, though: “We need a mid-level CamelidSoft developer, and there don’t seem to be any in the local market. There are lots of CamelidSoft developers in Expensopolis, but they don’t want to live away from the city. How are we going to attract them?”

        2. KateM*

          I wonder how do they check that someone does indeed live in a HCOL area. Maybe I could say I live in one but secretly move elsewhere.

          1. Desk Dragon*

            Given that, at least in the US, tax withholding is based on location (state and sometimes local taxes), it seems like a difference between claimed and real residence would open up the person and/or the company to tax fraud charges pretty darn quickly.

          2. Also-ADHD*

            Most VPN registers where you are working from. It’s pretty hard to pull off that sham longer term.

        3. Ellis Bell*

          But their preferences may be not to uproot their lives, or move their families at all. If you want to attract talent that has the preference of staying in HCOL areas (especially if you’re in a field where it’s common for people start out in the major cities) then you either have to offer the HCOL salary, or accept that the talent pool will remain in the area and take other companies up on their HCOL salaries.

          1. Also-ADHD*

            You could theoretically offer the HCOL salary to all and let them bank more if they live elsewhere, which is what some companies do to be fair, depending on their operations. My company adjusts for COL but mainly because part of our business isn’t remote. Remote employees do pretty well (even in LCOL) compared to market rates so it’s not a huge deal. Before this, I worked at a company that just paid everyone like they lived in San Fran/NYC/etc.

        4. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

          Just pay all remote workers that high rate you set for their particular skills and experience. Internal equity is important

    4. Trying to figure out a replacement name*

      Employers often offer fully remote positions to increase the candidate pool and get better candidates. Offering competitive pay is part of good business practices to hire and retain employees. Reducing pay based on where the company is located would mean you would limiting the candidates pool thus nullifying a core reason businesses offer remote jobs.

  14. Kai*

    Society: you can do it! Work hard & you will achieve anything you want!

    LW1: intern does just that

    Boss: not that like! Fire her!

    I hope LW1 reads the feedback before taking action. That poor intern, doing everything she can to succeed & is still punished.

    1. Sean*

      And worse still, punished *because* of her success in keeping so many plates spinning, not in spite of it.

      What sort of message does the director intend to convey to future interns, or indeed to the permanent staff?

  15. Flayland*

    Re LW3, is there a pattern as to how the employee treats clients, such as based on their skin colour, gender or outward appearance?

    1. LW2*

      Great question, but not that I can tell. In fact, I’d say that she perks up at patients who identify as outside of the “norm”; she herself identifies as a queer female, her social group is largely diverse and I think she feels most comfortable with people who don’t fit neatly into a box. She also gets excited when she has Hispanic patients who let her practice her Spanish with them (but I have had to remind her that we have a large Brazilian population and Portuguese is not the same as Spanish and she cannot assume who speaks Spanish – that was a fun conversation). However, I will see if there *is* some sort of pattern I can discern – but I really think it’s related to her being tired and her stomach bothering her. Which I get, I really do, but when you’re in a client-facing position, you can only show that you are having those days every once in a while.

      1. Awkwardness*

        That is what I was trying to get at. To me it makes a difference if somebody is down for a prolonged period of time or switching between moods multiple times a day. Latter can also be the case of she is drained, but it might also be that she simply is not comfortable with every type of personality she comes across and needs strategies how to handle some types of personality.

      2. Eucerin*

        “but I really think it’s related to her being tired and her stomach bothering her. Which I get, I really do, but when you’re in a client-facing position, you can only show that you are having those days every once in a while.”

        Ooh boy. I sympathize with that but like, “being tired and stomach bothering her” can mean so many things. And either way, she can’t really let it affect her at work to this degree, especially if multiple clients are noticing it. So something has to change even if that “something” is her finding employment elsewhere in a role or environment more suitable to her needs.

      3. saskia*

        Yikes. It sounds like you know what standards you need to set, so your next step is to do that. Her job is to help patients and treat them with respect, no matter who they are or whether or not she’s “excited” about them.

        A few ideas that might help once you’ve discussed expectations…
        Rehearse a standard greeting (and affect) that she feels comfortable using even when she’s feeling unwell. Let her know she needs to default to that anytime she feels sick/uneasy/doesn’t like the patient. Emphasize her helping role so she feels important and necessary (and therefore, hopefully gains a wider sense of responsibility) — “these people -need- your help. They’re really relying on you to be their guide into this experience. I hired you because you’re a caring person, blah blah blah, now I need you to help us give every patient the good care I know you can give. People are really perceptive. When you seem uncomfortable, even if you’re just not feeling well, they pick up on it. But they won’t know what’s going through your mind, so they feel uncertain and on edge. That’s why your demeanor is so important — if the patient feels thrown off, they’ll be unfocused on care, and we won’t be able to treat them effectively. This is one of the core parts of your job. How do you feel about what I just said, and is there anything I can do to help you?” And continue from there.

        A lot of times, people like this feel more secure when you emphasize their power. (She isn’t ‘forced’ to deal with this patient she’s uncomfortable with; the patient actually ‘needs’ her.) So she may ~magically figure out how to provide better care after this talk.

        That said, she’s finishing a degree. She may not want to be at your practice after graduation and doesn’t care about her reputation/longevity there. Or she might be burned out and ‘can’t’ make any more of an effort than she currently is.
        So if this talk doesn’t work, she’s gotta go.

      4. e271828*

        I hope that whatever intake forms you are using have space for patients to specify what language they prefer to speak.

        I very devoutly hope your employee has not been mentally assigning Spanish language fluency to everyone who looks to her like they might be fluent in Spanish. That would be cause for looking for another provider right there.

        Also—is the scheduling full-period back-to-back for patients? Most practices of any kind have ten minutes or fifteen minutes between, for writing up notes, etc.

      5. Brain the Brian*

        The pattern that you have observed is a problem by itself — it’s treating people differently by class and race. I’m a gay man, and I would find it strange — at a minimum — if a healthcare provider treated me with more enthusiasm than a straight man. That’s a legitimate discussion to have with her. I commented upthread with some suggestions about ways that you might be able to address her tiredness (a separate-but-related issue to the treating-people-differently-by-class one), but only you know your business well enough to know whether they are feasible.

    2. Observer*

      is there a pattern as to how the employee treats clients, such as based on their skin colour, gender or outward appearance?

      Of course if such a pattern exists that makes things even worse than they already are. But fundamentally, the OP *must* put a stop to this employee’s behavior, even if such a pattern does not exist. Even is it’s not a healthcare setting, it’s just unacceptable that someone treats clients the way she is. And if it is a healthcare setting, it’s a huge problem that the LW hadn’t dealt with this.

      PS I’m sorry to hear that the receptionist is mistreating you!

  16. Awkwardness*

    #2: What differentiates customers who are greeted warmly from those who are not? If the employee can pin this down she might be able to develop effective strategies to deal with one or the other.
    But she has to make everybody feel welcome nonetheless and it is not clear from the letter of the employee is doing it subconciously or willingly.

  17. anon24*

    Assuming #1 is in the US, unless and until college is free/cheap and housing/living expenses are much lower or subsidized for students, no one has the right to even think about limiting students to an internship. That director has a hell of a lot of audacity to be mad that the intern is doing what she needs to do to keep a roof over her head and food on her plate. I doubt she *wants* to work 2 full time jobs on top of a full course load.

    -signed, a college student who is still awake at 2am full of anxiety over money and trying to figure out how I can keep attending classes while working 2 jobs, all with the knowledge that those 2 jobs still won’t actually pay for my classes and I’m going to end up deep in debt if I want to finish my degree.

    1. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      So sorry to hear what you are suffering. Being a student should be a great time of learning, developing and enjoying your youth.

      Our interns came as part of their BSc, wouldn’t have student debt or medical debt (Europe), were paid enough for a decent standard of living (union) for a young student and had interesting projects relevant to their degree – no scut-work such as coffee-making or copying.

    2. Irish Teacher.*

      Honestly, even if LW1 is in a country where college is free and/or living expenses are low/college students get some kind of stipend, the odds are high that the student may still not be able to manage with just an internship.

      Even if they don’t have to pay for college, they still likely need money to live on, especially if they don’t have parental support, as some college students don’t and it sounds like the internship is ending soon, so giving up a job for a short-term internship might not be viable.

      (Not disagreeing with you, just adding to it in case the LW is from a different country.)

  18. Fikly*


    This is not about how your patients are being greeted in the waiting room. This is about patient care.

    I guarantee you, if this is at the point where multiple patients are requesting to be moved to a different provider, it’s not that they feel she is disengaged or uninterested in their care. It’s because she actually IS disengaged or uninterested in their care, and it’s absolutely negatively affecting their care, and harming your patients.

    That is what you should be focusing on. Regardless of your feelings about this person’s situation, including the drain of the education and her health issues, your patients need to come first. Your language in your letter strongly suggests that you think this is an issue of perception, not reality, but it’s not. This provider is burned out and it’s causing harm. One or two patients are an outlier, there will always be someone who complains. When it’s this many? The patients always know.

    1. ReallyBadPerson*

      ^^Yes. My family went to a dental hygienist that my daughter and I loved, but my son and husband hated. We compared notes and quickly realized that she just hated men. Sure, she had trauma in her life that caused this, but she shouldn’t have been working with men at all until she was healed.

    2. tabloidtained*

      Yes, this is a really sensitive issue, in my opinion. Patients are already vulnerable. They’re coming to you for help. Please help them feel welcome, at a bare minimum!

    3. Hrodvitnir*

      Yes! Honestly, I was a bit iffy about the word “fun” being included in the desired environment. Most people just want helpful, warm is nice, polite at minimum.

      But no one, certainly not multiple patients, is requesting a change based on the greeting. Her manner must continue into being disinterested in helping her patients, and that’s really bad.

      I have had to function with chronic gut pain, and it sucks. But that means I am displaying symptoms of pain (tension around the face, just like other mammals! Weird posture when I can’t help it), not that I treat people around me poorly. This is not OK.

  19. Susan Calvin*

    LW4, I relate, but don’t worry – while my LI is in fairly heavy use, I also have a Xing account, which probably means nothing to you, but is a heavy hitter in my country (some industries more so than others, I assume, but decent market share), and that one hasn’t been updated since I was in grad school 10 years ago. Occasionally the feeling I *should* probably clean it up or at least delete it outright comes over me, but never enough to actually go to the trouble of recovering the password.

  20. Grad student*

    I’m in grad school (done in 2.5 weeks!) getting a terminal degree and this is the first semester I haven’t had two internships, or a job and an internship, in my entire academic career – and that’s only because I’m working 35-40 hours at my fellowship (yes, I’m burning out but I live in DC and have bills so…).

    As an undergrad I had a course load from 17 to 21 hours, an internship, a job, and several student org leadership positions. No one ever took issue with it.

    1. Grad student*

      Oh – and if the concern is that she *must* be working both internships during the same hours since they’re both “full-time” – not necessarily. I have had two positions where I worked one during the day and one at night and on weekends since there weren’t set hours, or where I worked one M/W/F and one T/Tr. It’s tough, but it’s possible, especially if you’re an exceptional worker.

  21. Introvert girl*

    OP5 this is extremely common when you work for international companies. I used to work in an office where 9 languages were spoken. It’s completely normal to explain issues in the mothertongue of an employee as not to cause misunderstanding, even in front of someone who doesn’t speak it. When we took a break or were in the kitchen for our lunch we all switched to English as not to exclude anyone. But when it concerns work issues, getting your message over correctly is priority.

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      This. I’ve been in many international Teams meetings where a 30 second interchange in another language breaks a log jam.

      I do wonder how to define the trickier situation where someone believes the not-my-language conversations are inappropriate ones. Personal insults, slurs, and sexual remarks would be problematic in any language.

      1. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

        In the US, unfortunately, there’s a portion of the population that believes anyone speaking a non-English language in front of them MUST be insulting them, so the “belief” you mention frequently is unrelated to reality.

    2. amoeba*

      Huh, interesting. I work for an international company (in a non-English speaking country) and have worked in academic contexts before, also in very international groups – and we definitely consider it impolite to speak even our local language when there’s somebody present who doesn’t understand! English is the lingua franca, which is spoken unless everybody in the group shares another language.

      Sure, if there’s somebody in the conversation who isn’t actually fluent in English, we switch/translate. But in general, it’s not really done, even/especially in a work context. And if it is, I’d probably at least go “oh, sorry, I’ll just quickly explain in German”…

  22. r.*


    I usually manage quite diverse teams, think like a dozen+ ethnicities and like half a dozen to a dozen different native languages.

    My stance here is that I expect employees working in a group to be inclusive with each other, and that includes communicating in a language all listeners understand. If you have a group of eight people in a room and only three of them speak Portugese then every non-Portugese speaker will be excluded from the conversation.

    This also includes social interactions like friendly banter and social talk, for a simple reason:

    Imagine someone likes to joke around with other coworkers, but they don’t ever tell you a joke. Wouldn’t you feel bad about this, and perhaps wonder whether this is something personal? Constantly telling jokes in languages only some people around you understand is the same as excluding them from your joking around.

    If, on the other hand, everyone in the room understands the language you’re speaking I have no issue with that, whatever the language would be,

    1. bamcheeks*

      I’d be really sad if I was in a multilingual team and this was the policy, to be honest! I love hearing people use other languages, and everyone having to communicate in the only shared language even for social conversations would be kind of depressing.

    2. metadata minion*

      “Imagine someone likes to joke around with other coworkers, but they don’t ever tell you a joke. Wouldn’t you feel bad about this, and perhaps wonder whether this is something personal?”

      If it was a large team and I was literally the only person being left out, I would wonder why they didn’t like me, but otherwise people are allowed to be friends with some coworkers and not others. Yes, my inner 15-year-old will be sad and lonely and convinced nobody loves them, but that’s on me to deal with. If a large number of my coworkers keep speaking in a language I don’t speak, I would try to learn at least a little bit of that language. Granted, I genuinely like languages and I realize this isn’t an easy and fun thing for everyone to do, but I don’t see this as all that different from a large number of coworkers being interested in something you have no interest or knowledge of.

      1. amoeba*

        Eh, depends on the situation! Of course it’s fine to have a conversation in your language, but is somebody else e.g. sits down in the same coffee corner or otherwise joins the group, we switch. Otherwise people *definitely* feel excluded – I’ve been on both sides of this multiple times.

        1. r.*

          You’re not the only one.

          I’ve been doing this for more than a decade, it is a recurring theme that people will a) feel excluded, and b) will seldom speak up about it, or only once it gets to the point where it has already had far more effect on team cohesion than it should have.

          This goes double if that’s a language that’s commonly associated with a locally disadvantaged culture or ethnicity, because people get trapped by that circumstance and inadvertendly start to handle treat people differently over it. If allowed to continue long enough it can fester into silly things where, if unadressed long enough, can lead to actual (intended or unintended) discrimination.

          All of that noise can be avoided by setting basic rules of courtesy with each other.

          The one provisio I’d add to this is that because I’m usually working in a setting where even though English is not the native language — it is my 3rd language, actually — most people will speak it at least on a baseline conversational level, so there always is a shared language people can fall back to. If you don’t have that, then of course the situation becomes much more difficult, and you might have to deal with it differently.

    3. Hrodvitnir*

      I am an English monolingual speaker and have been the only one left out of a conversation at work, and this policy would make me sad.

      I get it’s easier to write a policy like this than “don’t consistently cut one person out”, but I totally understand how unrelaxing it is to never get to speak your native language. IME in a good environment they will speak the franca lingua most of the time, but sometimes it’s just much easier to switch for a bit. And that’s OK!

      I want my colleagues to get to actually relax on their breaks, and I find it pretty upsetting so many people think the right thing is to never allow anyone to have a personal conversation in a language not everyone understands.

  23. askalice*

    LW1: “I’m on sabbatical, reflecting deeply on the words of Alison Green. Looking forward to returning refreshed and with zeal after summer!”

  24. CityMouse*

    LW2, You have someone who is alienating multiple patients to the point that it is affecting your business? You are NOT taking this seriously enough. Lack of enthusiasm alone isn’t going to make people ask to be removed from her care. When multiple people are asking for this, when you’ve observed this behavior, this is a serious, serious issue.

    Seriously, you need to consider firing this person.

      1. CityMouse*

        Yes, it is completely unacceptable to be providing substandard care, no matter if you’re taking classes outside of work or not.

        1. AngryOctopus*

          Yeah, it’s not “oh she’s not that warm and welcoming when she greets patients”. That alone is not generally off-putting enough for a person, much less several people, to request someone else. Something in her demeanor or actions is causing many people to ask for a different person. This is a huge problem with your employee that needs to be addressed in a very serious manner, yesterday.

    1. Observer*

      Seriously, you need to consider firing this person.

      Unfortunately, this is true.

      LW, you need to stop “discussing” this with her and make it clear that she needs to treat patients properly. This is NOT about telling her to “smile” at all. And it’s a bit concerning to me that that is how you are framing it.

      Please take a step back and recognize that this is not about surface inconsequentials, but about her fundamental ability to do her job. I think that it’s really, really bad for her to lose her job in part because of illness, but that’s just not something you can take on.*Especially* if the clients are actually *patients* where you have a basic duty of care that you are not fulfilling by allowing her to treat them this way.

      1. Observer*

        I do want to say that when you talk to her, you should absolutely ask her if there is anything you can do to make this more doable for her. And try to accommodate anything that’s reasonable. But it really HAS to be in the context of recognizing that this is non-negotiable. And if she really cannot do it in the confines of whatever help you can offer her, that’s the end of the road.

  25. Yup*

    LW1: How much do you pay your intern? Enough for them to live on? If not, no one should be surprised they need to work more to make ends meet. This is why there is a push for internships to be adequately paid positions.

    Plus no company owns a person’s free time. Unless your intern is driving or operating on people and you are concerned, if they are doing their job then they are fulfilling their end of your agreement.

    1. HonorBox*

      I noted above in a comment that the amount of pay is probably not the heart of the issue here. That the intern has multiple internship roles might mean simply that they’re trying their hardest to get experience in multiple areas rather than using those internships to make ends meet. It might be about the pay, of course, but it doesn’t have to be. And in this case I think it is immaterial because it doesn’t seem that the business has any sort of rule that prohibits what is happening.

      1. Jackalope*

        When I was in college I double majored. Thankfully only one of the majors required an internship, but had it been both of them I would probably have been trying to do both in the same semester given the way the courses progressed.

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

          I was going to comment this too. Is the intern a double major say in business and art? I wasn’t a double major, but I had a minor in environmental science and it was only a coincidence that I was able to find and get an internship that was in communications, for a environmental non profit.

  26. Dog momma*

    #3. I’m confused. it appears that the employee spoke of her unlimited PTO to her manager without malice, maybe without realizing manager did not get this perk. But I thought that it was allowed if your COL was significantly higher, your raise reflected that. The manager is wrong.
    I worked at a large business that made some big changes many yrs ago & when my direct supervisor found out I became vested along with many other people and she did not, she treated me very differently. Should I have asked to become invested bc ” she was mad at me”? Not my fault. It meant A small pension in retirement which I’m grateful to have.
    The only sad thing is the company also did early retirement ( at 55) with unbelievable benefits that they really encouraged people to no health insurance premium to pay & you were covered til 65 & Medicare kicked were still covered as a 2ndary at that point but had to pay the premium. That was the only benefit they were allowed to talk about. And I missed it…by 11 months.

  27. Bookworm*

    1. If the intern’s performance is fine then it shouldn’t be a problem.

    The actual problem is that the intern may have felt the *need* to work more than one position, especially if this doesn’t pay well/at all, etc. I worked an org (FT job, we had no interns at the time, etc.) that began mandating set core hours when we had to be in the office. A colleague of mine had a second job that they had to leave for by a certain time, asked to leave 15 minutes early a few times a week (our work for the most part really didn’t require us to be in our seats 8 hours a day) and they were denied and lost that second job.

    I don’t know the nature of their situation, other than IIRC they had been working that job awhile before starting at our org and that it was genuinely a matter of income. I wish orgs would remember that they don’t pay enough to meet with stuff like the cost of living, inflation, etc.

    1. metadata minion*

      For internships, even if they’re paid I pretty much assume that it isn’t anything like a living wage.

  28. Hiring Mgr*

    “LinkedIn is a cesspool anyway and we should all deeply resent its existence.”

    I agree that the LW doesn’t need to worry about her LI profile at all, but why the LinkedIn hate? Lots of people including me use it daily at work – I don’t see the problem with it..

    1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

      Me neither.
      I have found the majority of my clients through LinkedIn.
      The worst is that I occasionally get invites from people I don’t know. I look at their profile and accept if I think they might one day become a client. The others I just ignore.

    2. TX_TRUCKER*

      I’m also very surprised. LinkedIn is not big in the blue collar world, so I don’t expect to find either jobs or applicants there. But I use the site regularly for B2B needs and industry news.

    3. M2RB*

      I’ve heard stories of women getting direct messages from unknown men who are treating LI as a dating site – one of my former coworkers (who is now a friend) has had this happen at least once.

      My personal pet peeves are seeing people post Bible verses, prayer requests, and other proselytizing Christian messages, and seeing people post support for political candidates. Recently I figured out how to unfollow and mute people while still maintaining the “link” because one of my connections was on a roll one day with liking and re-sharing a bunch of Christian posts and really aggravated me.

      I am wary of saying “no religion and no politics on LinkedIn” but… LI is not Facebook or Twitter.

      1. Czhorat*

        Most people in my industry know what my politics are (and I posted about them extensively when I was on Twitter – even though my Twitter account WAS followed by lots of industry contacts) – but even I keep that off of LinkedIn.

        As far as using it as a dating site is concerned, that’s SO unreasonable; some men will hit on women literally anywhere they see them and that is NOT OK.

        1. M2RB*

          Yes, I think that following various groups are a good indicator of a user’s political stances (like the charities, interest groups, and non-profits that I follow and repost), but I personally stay away from directly posting anything about my own views.

      2. Hlao-roo*

        I vaguely remembered a past letter here from a woman unsure if men on LinkedIn were hitting on her, and when I went to search for it, I found (disappointingly but not unsurprisingly) that there were two letters about this:

        “are these men hitting on me via LinkedIn or are they legit business contacts?” from June 18, 2019

        first letter on the “was this networking or a date request, coworker is secretly traveling, and more” post from July 9, 2020

        1. Hiring Mgr*

          Sadly that’s unsurprising – there was a letter a few weeks ago about guys who were hitting on a chatbot.

          1. Hlao-roo*

            Oops, I did not intend to have a double negative in my comment! “not unsurprisingly” should have been just “unsurprisingly.”

            Agreed that it’s sad I am not surprised by multiple “men are using LinkedIn to hit on me” letters nor by the “men are hitting on a chatbot” letter.

    4. Glomarization, Esq.*

      Yeah, I agree that “LinkedIn is a resentable cesspool” is not my experience at all. I check in once a week or so and keep my work history updated. It’s quicker to share my background with anyone who asks by sending them the link to my profile, rather than to update and tailor my resume. I find it straightforward enough to delete unwanted messages and ignore everybody’s updates on the feed. For me, LinkedIn is just this neutral place to host my resume and hopefully receive hits from recruiters.

      Other people’s mileage must vary quite a bit!

    5. em_eye*

      I feel like LinkedIn is effectively three different types of websites in a trenchcoat.

      The part that’s effectively a national/global resume bank that lets you see people’s work experience and connections? Privacy concerns aside, undeniably useful. It’s a great way to get more information on a new work connection or, for example, see the background of the person who’s about to interview you so you can figure out topics of conversation to connect on.

      The job search/messaging function? In my experience there are pros and cons. Some people appreciate that it’s so easy for recruiters or hiring managers to contact them and vice versa, especially when they’re actively job seeking. But it’s very industry-dependent. There are industries where this feature really isn’t used at all, industries where people have enough restraint to limit messages and outreach to truly high-quality, useful connections, and industries that are overrun by scammy recruiters and salespeople who will message you constantly about roles or products you have no interest in.

      Then there’s the side of LinkedIn that acts like a social networking platform, complete with influencers posting obviously fake stories, non-stop humble brags, and the resulting culture of corporate buzzwords, brown-nosing and ego-stroking that inevitably results. There are a few Twitter accounts and subreddits dedicating to highlighting the worst excesses of this part of the site, and it’s that part that I would agree is an insufferable cesspool. Fortunately, it’s easy enough for most people to avoid.

    6. Hrodvitnir*

      This made me cackle. Upon examination, I think something like LinkedIn existing is fine and logical, I just hold a grudge from having to make an account to view anything, then being absolutely spammed with emails. I also just do not enjoy the vibe.

      But with my *incredibly* limited use, it’s been fine – I assume Alison refers to the propagation of awful “blogs”, scams, obnoxious recruiters, and dudes using it to creep on women. All of which are YMMV.

  29. I'm great at doing stuff*

    I feel like very few employers care about LinkedIn these days, and I rarely update it.

    I was recently very turned off by it when I made a critical (but not at all nasty or judgemental, and not personal) comment about the cake resume. I learned about it here, and Alison didn’t approve either! But I was absolutely lambasted for it in the comments, including people accusing me of not being suitable for the field I am in. It was pretty alarming to me that people weren’t capable of having a civil discourse about something work related.

    So yeah, LinkedIn sucks.

  30. Tea*

    I was lucky that my internship was paid but I was also still working 2 other parttime jobs and handling a full course load at the same time. No one put me in the position of having to give any of those jobs up (heh pun intended) but it’s not like I was working any of those jobs for *fun*—college is expensive and even with scholarships and loans, money doesn’t grow on trees.
    So yeah if there’s no formal policy being violated, and the work isn’t suffering, attendance issues aren’t cropping up, there are only 3 weeks left, etc…who the hell even cares????

    1. bamcheeks*

      People who think that “giving something your full attention / 100% effort / sole focus etc” is a moral good, but aren’t willing to provide the material basis necessary for someone to do that.

  31. bamcheeks*

    LW1, I think the only thing I would do is consider having a check-in with the intern to make sure she’s OK, and thinking about whether there’s anything your organisation could offer her if she’s not. Hopefully your organisation is paying a decent salary for the internship, and this isn’t a case of your intern having to work two full-time internships just to meet living costs.

    At the very least, you could let them know that you’ve heard very positive reports of their work and attitude, so they know they’re doing well!

  32. Library_Lady*

    OP3 – In the U.S., unlimited PTO is often a way for companies to get their employees to take less vacation, and also to avoid having to pay out banked PTO when people leave the company. Most people at companies with unlimited PTO don’t use any more days than they did when they had limits, and some even end up using less, because it is still subject to approval. So I wouldn’t really consider a great benefit, unless your company is one that is very generous with their approvals for PTO.

  33. StellaBella*

    Related … There is a large movement to pay interns – orgs such as payourinterns dot org (in linkedin too), the far internship initiative, too, ILO’s campaign, and others in USA and Europe. let us hope this movement gains more traction too for the workers in these roles.

  34. KHB*

    Q1: If you don’t already have a conflict-of-interest policy that requires all employees to disclose any outside employment that could compromise their attendance/performance at your company, maybe this situation is the impetus you need to create one.

    Maybe your intern is such a genius that she can reliably juggle two full-time jobs and a full load of classes at the same time. But if she’s going to do that, that’s something that she and both employers should go into with their eyes wide open, so that everybody knows what they’re getting – not a choice she gets to make unilaterally.

    I thought this used to be an uncontroversial position. I’m a little surprised to see the comments take such a different turn here.

      1. kiki*

        Agreed that this being an internship changes things. There are some internships where expectations might be different, but I’d expect those to be the types of internships that pay extremely well and often have interns working more than 40 hours per week.

        If LW’s internship is one that pays a small stipend or hourly wage that is not enough to truly live on, I think that the expectations they can have for their interns working exclusively for them have to be different.

      2. KHB*

        Part of the purpose of an internship is to give the interns a chance to learn professional norms. So for that reason alone, it’s worth holding interns to the same professional norms as other employees.

        1. kiki*

          One of the norms of full-time jobs is being paid enough to actually live off of (hopefully). If that’s not true, I don’t think the same restrictions around other employment can be true as well.

          1. KHB*

            So is it your position that anyone who feels they’re not being paid enough is justified in working multiple full-time jobs simultaneously?

            1. AngryOctopus*

              Are they performing all the jobs well and hitting all their metrics? Then who are you to tell them that they can’t? Obviously barring any actual conflict of interest situations, if someone takes a second full time job because they’re being paid inadequately and performs both jobs to the satisfaction of their supervisors, it wouldn’t be how I would use my time but people do what they need to do.

              Key of course is that they can do both jobs to a level to keep both of them. Most of the advice saying “don’t do this!” focuses on time and ability to perform well at both jobs, which is likely not going to be possible. But in a case where it is–then let them do it.

            2. kiki*

              No. I think it’s known that many internships do not pay enough for anyone to truly live off on, if they pay at all. And same for a lot of other types of lower-paid work. In a lot of those fields, there is sort of a shared assumption that the employee will have some other job or income stream to make ends meet. When I worked retail, even full time, nearly everyone had second jobs and our managers did not bat an eye at that. They knew that they could not pay what they pay and expect that employees would exclusively work for them.

              In more professional careers, especially at higher levels, I think it’s fair to ask that your employees exclusively work for you or that other income streams need to be approved, but making that same ask of an intern who is only being paid $10/hour and living in NYC is not reasonable.

            3. Pescadero*


              As long as their doing the jobs to their employers satisfaction – it’s none of their business.

            4. So Tired*

              Yes. This isn’t some kind of gotcha or trick question to me. If someone does not feel that they are making enough money to live comfortably and build savings for emergencies, they should be free to seek additional employment/streams of income. Barring any sort of conflict of interest of course. If someone doesn’t think they have enough money, they should be free to seek ways to make more money.

        2. Observer*

          So for that reason alone, it’s worth holding interns to the same professional norms as other employees.

          So, for one thing, your “professional norm” does not really exist.

          For another, whatever rules or norms you want to hold your interns to *need to be spelled out*. The LW is clear that there is no such rule and this was never spelled out.

          Lastly, while in theory it’s true that interns benefit from being held to typical workplace norms, the nature of it being an internship means that it really is different anyway, so a blanket statement like really doesn’t work.

        3. So Tired*

          So by your logic, should companies that offer their employees healthcare coverage and PTO and sick days also offer that to their interns? Since that’s a workplace norm? Because my internships, while paying $15/hour certainly didn’t offer me any of those.

          If interns should be held to the same standard as full-time employees, they should also receive the same benefits of those employees.

    1. WellRed*

      The letter says it’s not impacting interns success or attendance in any way. It also says the position is part time, I believe. I also don’t know if internships are also held to (nor should they be) to similar standards as for actual employees.

      1. WellRed*

        My bad, I read 2-3 days, nit that it was hybrid. I still think in absence of other information or any impact on interns work that the director is in the wrong.

    2. Gray Lady*

      I think it’s a choice she gets to make unilaterally if there is no company policy, in place and invoked at the time she was hired, saying otherwise. Why wouldn’t someone assume that their use of time in their off-hours was at their own discretion? Why shouldn’t they?

      And I’m not sure about the ethics of subjecting someone’s work to greater scrutiny because they’re known to be working another job. Normal scrutiny, yes — and OP appears to indicate that the intern’s work has been satisfactory. OP admits it’s possible she’s missed something, but it doesn’t appear that the boss has pointed anything of that kind out and the boss is the one pushing for termination.

      Maybe such policies are good to forestall situations like this. It’s a reasonable and debatable point. But that doesn’t have much to do with this situation.

      1. KHB*

        It has to do with this situation because now is the time to start crafting a policy that will cover the situation in the future. Unless you think that this intern is the last one they will ever see who will try working two full-time jobs simultaneously.

    3. Kes*

      I have to agree, I’m a little surprised at the vehement reactions that L1 is so out of line to be unhappy the intern is working two jobs when I feel like having policies that employees disclose any other employment is pretty common. I do think there are valid questions being raised about whether the pay is enough to live on, which we don’t really know whether that is an issue here but it’s certainly worth considering, especially given the non-profit context which isn’t exactly known for high pay.

      I think if they do have concerns about this they should have a policy about it and make that clear to employees in the future. I also think OP should talk to the team that raised it and make sure they’re clear on whether there are issues with the intern’s work that brought this up in the first place, because if so those definitely do need to be addressed regardless of what they do otherwise. But if anything I think OP should have a conversation with the intern about the fact that they’re working two jobs and why (and that employers may or may not be okay with this) before leaping to any disciplinary actions or firing.

    4. RagingADHD*

      It’s not controversial for the employer to have such a policy. It is uncontroversially bad for the director to make up a policy on the spot, and apply it retroactively, in order to justify firing someone who (at least appears to be) fulfilling all their responsibilities perfectly well.

    5. Observer*

      I thought this used to be an uncontroversial position. I’m a little surprised to see the comments take such a different turn here.

      No, it’s never been “uncontroversial.” And for a very simple reason – unless otherwise stated up front, the employer simply does not have the standing to tell people what they can and cannot do with their free time. And outside of some actual need, they don’t have the moral standing to do that either.

      It would be one thing if this intern had been blowing off the requirement to be in the office- but the LW says not. Or if the intern was not getting her work done or working the other job *during the hours she was being paid by the LW’s org.*

      You express skepticism that the inter is actually able to juggle all of these commitments. But the reality is that no one noticed a problem with her work, so clearly she was able to manage it. Beyond that, it really is no one’s business.

  35. MI Dawn*

    LR#5 – I have always worked with a significant number of persons from the Philippines. They generally speak English, always to me. But sometimes they will slip into Tagalog, especially when they are very excited/agitated when talking to each other. I know they aren’t talking about me, and will immediately apologize if I need to break into the conversation for a professional reason.

    So, as long as they aren’t talking about you/making fun of you, go ahead and ignore it. Conversely, if you suspect they are talking badly about you/another coworker, then speak to your manager.

  36. Choggy*

    I suspended my LinkedIn account and probably won’t ever go back. It has become, for all intents and purposes, like Facebook. Too much fluff, not enough substance for my taste. Of course, I’m at the opposite end of the working spectrum in that I’m retiring soon. I agree you should not put a lot of emphasis on your LinkedIn profile. Update it as you see fit, or not, but don’t let it cause any undue stress and just continue on your journey back to health.

  37. SMH*

    Fun story: several years ago I took over a team that had several Spanish-language interpreters on it (we serve a diverse population including a large contingent of people who’s primary language is Spanish). After a few months one of the interpreters asked why they can’t speak Spanish to each other. I was confused and asked her to elaborate. Apparently one of the non-interpreting staff had complained the interpreters were talking about her in Spanish, and the previous manager had banned them from speaking Spanish to anyone but clients!

  38. I should really pick a name*

    it means I lose my banked PTO I wanted to use in addition to maternity leave

    Couldn’t you try to book the amount of time you had banked?
    If it would have been acceptable then, it should be acceptable under your unlimited PTO.
    And if they don’t agree, you’ve learned some very useful information about your company.

    1. OlympiasEpiriot*

      When my firm went to “unlimited” PTO, the banked amount just got frozen and if you leave it gets paid out. Also, I gather there is a plan to just pay any remaining out one of these days.

      Seems strange they just took away everyone’s banked PTO. That’s part of their compensation.

  39. I should really pick a name*

    I think you might be focusing on how she greets clients because that’s the part that you see.

    If clients feel she is disengaged and uninterested, there’s likely more to it than that. Can you get them to provide more detail? That way, you can have a better response than “smile more”.

    1. Observer*

      The LW doesn’t need any more than what the clients have said and what they themself have seen to have a better response that “smile more.”

      LW’s employee doesn’t need to smile at all. What she DOES need to do is to stop acting as though her clients are an imposition.

  40. Justout*

    I worked two full time jobs simultaneously for precisely two weeks in my early 20s – 9am-5pm for the first one, an hour break and then 6pm-2am for the second one. Everything else in my life had to slide for those two weeks and I was absolutely exhausted by the end of it with a maximum of 5 hours sleep a night between 3am and 8am. I know some people have a lesser biological need for sleep, but even if you’re someone who can get by on 4 hours, there is no way in hell to fit in a university course at the same time – I just don’t believe it’s even possible. The only way an intern is making it work is by short-changing one or other of the jobs, and I don’t understand why everyone seems to be OK with that and cheering them on for it.

      1. AngryOctopus*

        Nobody told the LW “the intern’s performance is subpar” or “the intern isn’t getting her stuff done”. By accounts, the intern is performing well. Given that, there is no reason to tell the intern that she can’t work a second internship and also take classes.
        It’s unlikely that both internships are giving her actual 40 hours of work a week. That’s not really how internships work, because interns, by definition, are going to leave, so they are given projects with short timelines and endpoints. If she only needs 10 hours of effort at one and 20 in another, it’s probably worth it to her to make this happen for the semester.

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

          I wrote this elsewhere, but she may be a full time student with out having a full course load. My university we had a program where the amount of hours worked at your internship = a certain amount of credits. So she may have only one or two actual classes because she is working this internship

        2. JustaTech*

          This was my thought: most internships during the school year (way back when I was an undergrad) were not 40 hours a week, because *of course* you had to first make time for your classes. The only internships I saw that were like a standard 9-5 were during the summer, when you didn’t have any classes.

          If the intern is working two 20 hour a week internships that are at least partially WFH/asynchronous, then it seems a lot more plausible. Especially if the intern doesn’t have a lot of lab classes.

    1. bamcheeks*

      It’s very likely that both roles are classified as full-time, but one or both doesn’t actually need 40 hours of work every week. It’s possible that they are indeed short-changing the other internship, or that the other internship is poorly managed and there isn’t really any substantive work to do, or that it’s the kind of project that the intern can charge through intensively in the last three weeks after this internship finishes. But it sounds like the internship is working at the level expected for LW’s organisation, and “we’re firing you because we think you might be bad at your other job” is a terrible reason for firing someone.

      My main concern would be about the intern’s physical and mental health, and from that point of view I might feel I have a duty of care to check in with the graduate as their programme manager and as someone with a mentorship duty towards young professionals. But obviously you’d have to be very sensitive about that and back-off if the intern didn’t want to have a conversation about their welfare.

      1. KHB*

        The intern would not have known the detailed time requirements of both jobs when she signed up to do both simultaneously. Maybe she got lucky and hit both companies during slower periods. And maybe there WERE performance problems, but LW1 just doesn’t know about them. (LW1 specifically says that she doesn’t manage the interns’ day-to-day work and doesn’t know the details of their performance, so I don’t know why everyone is assuming that her performance must be just fine.)

        I agree that if the intern hasn’t violated any company policy, then she shouldn’t be fired. But the solution to that is to create a company policy that addresses situations like this, because I guarantee that this won’t be the last time somebody tries to pull this stunt with them.

        1. bamcheeks*

          I’d be interested to see what such a policy would cover! Are you just going to ban having two internships, or also ban interns from having an evening/weekend job and exclude anyone who has to work alongside their degree? There are lots of “virtual internships” now, which range from basically being an online module which you complete in your own time, to ones which are real work projects but which are very flexible in terms of how and when you complete them. Are you going to ban your interns from working on a project in their evenings and weekends? How’s that going to be different from employing an intern who is involved in an intense extracurricular activity or volunteering, and doesn’t give it up?

          I just don’t think you can define exactly what you’re trying to ban, without excluding everyone who can’t afford to give up on their rest of their life for three months.

          1. KHB*

            My employer has a conflict-of-interest policy that requires all employees to disclose “any outside employment that potentially could interfere with your attendance or satisfactory performance of your duties at (employer).” Not that it’s 100% banned – just that the employer needs to know about it.

            Certainly that would cover any job whose core working hours overlap with our core working hours. For an evening/weekend job, it would be a case-by-case basis. Is it just an evening or two here and there, or is it a second full-time job during the 5 PM to 1 AM shift? The latter, I’m not sure too many employers would be happy about.

            1. bamcheeks*

              Seems fine for a long-term job, but I think that level of micromanaging what a temporary student intern was doing in their other hours would be frankly kind of ridiculous and a pain in the hole for the intern coordinator!

              1. KHB*

                “You can’t have another job whose core working hours overlap with our core working hours without telling us about it” seems like a perfectly reasonable rule to me – for any job. Why do you think that would be so onerous?

                1. bamcheeks*

                  I think that would be fine, but I think it’s a very long way away from what was originally suggested. It would still be perfectly possible for someone to have a part-time job or another full-time internship under this rule, as long as the core hours didn’t overlap.

                2. bamcheeks*

                  sorry this is getting a bit nitpicky, but you said “the solution to that is to create a company policy that addresses situations like this, because I guarantee that this won’t be the last time somebody tries to pull this stunt with them”. You don’t actually know that what this intern has done has violated the policy you have suggested– they could well be doing an internship without core hours or with hours which don’t overlap with LW’s workplace. This “stunt” could be totally compatible with the policy you’ve suggested.

                3. KHB*

                  The intern was working two simultaneous internships, both of which the LW describes as “full-time.” Even if they were somehow during non-overlapping hours (e.g., they’re based in different time zones, so one is 9 AM to 5 PM, the other from 5 PM to 1 AM), that is the kind of thing that would have to be disclosed under a policy like the one I have in mind, for the very reason Justout gives above: Not many people can physically manage a schedule like that, because it doesn’t leave much time for sleep. Maybe there are details of the situation and the intern’s abilities that mean she can totally handle it. But it would still need to be disclosed, and discussed with the employer beforehand.

                4. bamcheeks*

                  You’re assuming that “full-time” means 9-5, and that’s not necessarily true of a lot of the internships I’m familiar with. I see a lot of internships which describe themselves as “full-time” for the purposes of meeting university credit requirements, but have a total-hours expectation and just projects for you to complete in your own time and regular meetings with mentors, rather than an expectation of 9-5 availability for a specific number of weeks.

      2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

        Right – what does “full-time” really mean here? Especially given that OP has never had an issue with responsiveness.

      3. MCMonkeyBean*

        I agree. I personally cannot imagine working two internships and doing classes, and it’s unlikely most people doing so would be excelling at all three things. But we have no idea what the intern is doing at their other internship or in their classes. Maybe they’re somehow managing to rock all three, maybe the other internship is super flexible, or maybe the other internship is unpaid so they’re dropping balls there because it’s not a priority for them. No one knows! All that is known is that their work for THIS internship has not had any issues, at least to the OP’s knowledge. And that’s really all that should be relevant for this organization!

        OP may need to ask some followup questions as to whether there are any particular concerns with her output or availability. But if the answer to that is “no” and they want to burn this intern on principal that is crappy. And I hope OP will offer to be a good reference for the intern in the future if no one else at the organization would.

    2. metadata minion*

      I’m curious whether the LW’s colleagues know for sure that she is taking traditional classes — there are universities where the internship *is* your coursework for a semester, especially in graduate programs.

    3. Samwise*

      If the intern is performing well at OP’s workplace, what difference does it make that she might be performing poorly at the other internship or at school? That’s for the student or the other internship or the student’s course instructors or advisor to address.

    4. Observer*

      The only way an intern is making it work is by short-changing one or other of the jobs, and I don’t understand why everyone seems to be OK with that and cheering them on for it.

      Because most of us know that YOUR experience is not universal.

      Some people make this work. Very often a horrendously high cost, but that’s *their* calculation to make, not their employer’s.

      Based on what the LW said, it seems that the intern was doing her job just fine, so the LW and their collage have no grounds for complaint. Is it possible she’s shortchanging the other internship? Sure. But that’s not this organizations business. Is it possible that she’s letting her grades slide? Sure. But again, that’s the intern’s choice to make not the LW and colleagues.

      1. Peanut Hamper*

        This. Just because I can’t make something work doesn’t mean someone else can’t make it work.

        As they say, “your mileage may vary”.

    5. EmilyClimbs*

      Even if both internship actually involved 35 or 40 hours of work a week (I agree that’s doubtful), there are 112 waking hours in a week (assuming 8 hours a night of sleep.) Let’s say 35 hours a week of work and 12 hours actually in class, and that leaves 30 hours left over for homework, commuting, eating, chores, etc. Does it sound exhausting and miserable? Yes. Would it be impossible to do, meaning the intern must be lying and failing to do her job fully at one or both of the internships? No.

      1. EmilyClimbs*

        35 hours a week at each internship, or 70 hours a week of work total, that is. 168 hours a week – 56 (sleep) – 70 (internships/work) – 12 (class) = 30 hours remaining.

    6. Adele*

      I 100% agree. Just because no one has noticed the intern being conspicuously unavailable some remote hours doesn’t mean they aren’t double committing any of their hours. It’s almost certainly what is happening and the assumption otherwise is weird.

  41. Ex-prof*

    LW 2– This made made me think of my physical therapist. She’s definitely not a bubbly or cheery person, and she’s very soft spoken and introverted. But when she puts her head out the door and says, in her quiet, calm voice, “Jane?” or “Fergus?” and then “How are you today?” as the patient steps into the hallway, it makes everyone feel welcome. She’s the most popular PT in the place.

    All of which is to say I wonder if your employee is trying to give a greeting that isn’t “her”, and is unable to do so much of the time because she doesn’t feel up to it. Is there a way she can be warm and friendly while staying in character?

  42. rebelwithmouseyhair*

    I don’t think getting a pay rise because of living in a HCOL area is right.
    It sounds like the manager doesn’t live in such a place, which is why she doesn’t earn as much.

    So OP is living in a swank neighbourhood, enjoying the peace and calm and clean facilities, benefitting from the fact that her neighbours likely have a pool out the back… and gets paid more because it costs more to live there?

    Whereas the manager decided that she couldn’t afford to live in such a place, so she’s in a cramped flat in a dirty noisy ugly neighbourhood with sketchy guys hanging around on the street corner, and as a result she doesn’t get paid as much?

    HCOL pay should be based on where the company is (when you work on site) not where the employees live.
    In companies with establishments in different places, everyone should be paid the same for the type of work they do, then you add weighting on for those in HCOL areas.

    1. bamcheeks*

      Generally I’d expect CoL to be tied to areas the size of states or large metropolitan areas, not individual suburbs. So if I had to guess, I’d assume LW is the one living in a two-bedroom flat in a city with a housing crisis and crumbling infrastructure, but with kids in school and a social and family network they don’t want to give up, whilst LW’s manager is the one living in a swank rural or suburban neighbourhood with a pool in the back!

    2. Peanut Hamper*

      I think you have some incorrect ideas about what HCOL actually means. If you’ve never paid $4,000 for a 600 square foot apartment, you should consider yourself lucky.

      HCOL does not automatically imply a 4,500 square foot house in a gated community with private pools.

    3. Myrin*

      That’s a lot of conjecture on your part and also really uncharitable towards OP!
      It’s equally as likely that she lives in a big city in a small but expensive flat whereas her supervisor lives in a house in a very rural area; in fact, that’s the version I see mentioned most often on AAM.

    4. CityMouse*

      That’s not what locality pay is. Look up OPM’s tables, for instance. It’s not neighborhood based, it’s generally city based. So someone living in the San Francisco Bay area has a lower COL than someone living in, say, Iowa because the base amount needed to live is higher.

    5. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      COL wage adjustments aren’t typically based on your neighborhood, but based on your general geographic area. Sorry but your example is completely absurd. It’s more likely OP is living in a small apartment in San Francisco getting paid more while her boss has a 3000 square foot house on an acre in Kansas City, than your example. OP isn’t necessarily living in up with a pool while manager is struggling in a unsafe area because coastal cities cost more than Midwestern suburbs.

    6. Hlao-roo*

      In companies with establishments in different places, everyone should be paid the same for the type of work they do, then you add weighting on for those in HCOL areas.

      I think that might be the case in letter #3. The letter-writer says “I … am one of the 20% remote associates.”

      I don’t know what the actual numbers, but I think it could very well be a case where the base salary for managers is $70,000 and the base salary for individual contributors is $50,000. Because the letter-writer’s manager is in an area with no location-based weighting, her salary is $70,000. The letter-writer is in an area with a 2x location-based weighting, their salary is $100,000. (Just as an example)

    7. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      For work in the office, there definitely should be a COL consideration, because the employer is basically setting a radius within which people can live.
      The same pay could mean living in a mansion in a LCOL area or sharing a small apartment in an HCOL one.

      However, remote work should normally pay the same wherever an employee lives, as they choose where to live (within reason) and don’t have commuting costs either.
      If they are required to come in a few times a year, then the employee must pay all travel and accommodation costs, so again COL for the home address still shouldn’t arise.
      Of course if fully remote employees are still required to live within a specific location, then COL should be considered in their salary too.

      1. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

        i.e. remote work should pay the market rate for the skill set and experience, regardless of personal circumstances and then the employee decides if they want to live in a LCOl area and save for e.g. early retirement, or live in NYC.

        1. Czhorat*

          The problem is that you narrow your pool of applicants; lots of people already live where they live and have roots – I’m in the suburbs of New York City. I’m not leaving the island anytime soon, especially for a fully remote job.

          Does that price me out of some opportunities? Yes

          Does it mean that someone will have to stretch their pay scale in order to hire me? Also yes.

          Does it mean roles get more narrowly defined if they’re to be remote from a higher COL area? Also probably yes.

          It’s not simple; this is a whole new problem created by more prevalent remote work.

      2. CityMouse*

        That’s not how the federal government does it (with some specific exceptions). Teleworkers are paid based on where they live

    8. Falling Diphthong*

      The neighbor a few doors down has a pool in their backyard, and I am trying to think how this has benefitted me.

        1. Oryx*

          I also have a neighbor a few doors down with a pool. It’s behind a fence so I don’t even get that, but yeah, totally living it up here

    9. kiki*

      I think you’re misunderstanding what folks mean when they say there should be a pay differential in a HCOL vs. LCOL area. This isn’t a distinction based on neighborhood, it’s by metro area or region. I’ve lived in DC and I’ve lived in Iowa. Living in DC, my cost to split a two-bedroom apartment with a roommate is about $1600 per month. The neighborhood is safe, but it’s not super posh or anything. When I lived in Des Moines, my one-bedroom apartment with nice amenities that I didn’t need to split with a roommate in the nicest area of Des Moines was $1,100. To live in a similar one-bedroom apartment in DC, I’d need to pay upwards of $2,000 per month.

      To afford the same lifestyle in the DC area that I could have in Iowa, my cost of living would be much, much higher. So jobs in the DC area tend to pay more than jobs based in Iowa. Sometimes that can cause misunderstandings between the two regions. Like, a lot of times you’ll see stuff online about how overpaid some government workers in DC. And that’s sometimes is actually true, but other times it is because a salary of $120k means something very different in DC compared to Des Moines. The cost to live an equivalent lifestyle in DC that one could have in Iowa (same size apartment, same food, etc.) is nearly double.

    10. FL*

      I think you have really misunderstood the concept of HCOL areas. Your second example really sounds more like a HCOL area than the first (living in a cramped apartment with crime and poverty around even if you get paid a lot because the costs of housing and living expenses are prohibitively expensive for everyone there). Because I live in a low cost of living area, I get to own a house and not worry about my budget, on a salary that would leave, say, a person in San Francisco destitute and homeless. Which is why if my company really wanted someone in San Francisco for my role, they would either need to pay them more or not hire in that area at all.

    11. Oryx*

      Or, what’s more likely is that Manager is living in a bigger apartment or has bought a house in a nice community and while their exact dollar amount might be lower, their dollars go further than OP who is the one paying $5000 for a cramped apartment

    12. doreen*

      I live in NYC and my brother-in-law and his wife lived outside Rochester, NY. Our incomes were roughly similar (theirs was a bit less). They have a house twice as big as mine, property at least 4 times the size of mine , a two car garage while I don’t even have a driveway – and their house is worth half of what mine is. I live in NYC for many reasons, but it’s not because I have a huge house in a swanky neighborhood. I have a small house in a decent neighborhood.

      And generally people don’t get paid more for living in HCOL areas – they get paid more for working in them. Which wasn’t always the same thing even before remote work.

    13. CommanderBanana*


      Not being able to offer competitive wages in a HCOL area makes it impossible to hire anyone. A lot of industries, the military, and the federal government have pay bands that also include locality calculations.

      I can see that there might be some argument to be made for fully remote jobs – as in, if you can work this job and live anywhere, it’s on you where you choose to live – but most jobs are not fully remote jobs where your physical location is immaterial.

      1. I Have RBF*

        Furthermore, even fully remote, most people can’t just up and move to some small town LCOL area. Remote workers need reliable internet, and judging by my mom’s house in Florida, most really LCOL areas don’t have that.

        People seem to have this idea that every remote worker is actually a single, mobile, RCG with no roots who can just up and move somewhere cheap on a whim. That is not the case for mid-career people, or people with family/medical obligations.

    14. daisycakes*

      Dang, you’re really up in arms on the manager’s behalf, based on ignorance of what the term “HCOL” means. Maybe take a step back, read up on the relevant terms, and come back to take a look at OP’s situation with fresh understanding.

    15. EchoGirl*

      That’s…not how it works. Cost of living is generally calculated based on the price for a certain size/type of residence (the one I see most often is “average monthly rent for a 2 bedroom apartment”). They’re not comparing a mansion to a tiny studio apartment, they’re specifically calculating the differences between comparable apartments. And as others have pointed out, the calculations are generally by region (city or county), not broken down by individual neighborhoods.

      For example, my father and I live on opposite sides of a state line, but less than 2 hours apart. He currently lives in an apartment that costs about $1500/month. If he were to move down to my area (something we’ve talked about in the past), a comparable apartment could easily cost him an extra $1000 monthly. That’s what the company is trying to compensate for — a substantial cost difference for comparable living situations.

  43. Ames*

    LW1 – how did you corroborate or verify the coworkers assertion that the intern has a second full time internship? I didn’t see that mentioned in the question.

    One of the things that I learned as a new manager (the hard way, I might add) was that people were not always truthful in their assertions about their coworkers. There is often much more to the story than just what one person says- whether that’s a misunderstanding, a rumor that started with a kernel of truth that morphed into something else entirely, a person with an axe to grind, or just someone who enjoys “stirring the pot” for their own entertainment.

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

      oh this is a good point! How do they KNOW that the intern is doing 2 internships and its not something else? Do they even know it was that same person or maybe they have an identical twin or someone with the same name? Maybe the other internship is covering the summer, since the OP says that their internship is ending soon? So maybe there was some overlap where they had to start in March to go through the summer while the OP’s job’s internship ends April 30th.

  44. kiki*

    they found out one of our paid interns has had another full-time internship this semester on top of her classes

    Has this been verified in some way other than social media? Social media can be misleading, people don’t always keep dates accurate, etc. Maybe in excitement the intern added their summer internship already to their online profile so it looks like they have two full-time jobs simultaneously when they don’t actually. How does anyone know that the other internship is full-time? Has anyone talked to the intern about this?

    I also want to say that it’s been pretty normal for interns to be juggling multiple internships, coursework, some sort of side job, etc. forever. I feel like the recent shift of a lot of work to wfh combined with stories about people doing the absolute bare minimum at two jobs to juggle them both has lead folks in leadership positions to be jumpy about the idea of folks working two jobs. But in reality, a lot of people have had multiple jobs long before WFH was a thing, especially students/ interns.

    I think LW needs to make sure they understand the situation completely before they take any action. They need to get answers to some questions:

    1.) Has it been verified that the intern was working a full-time internship somewhere else?
    2.) Has there been any noticed impact on the intern’s work performance or availability?
    3.) Is there a policy restricting folks from holding multiple jobs?

    1. CG*

      That’s what I was thinking! I definitely had part-time internships and am curious how social media would specifically reflect a full-time vs part-time job. (I think OP… kind of doesn’t need to take any action, unless intern is not doing their job well, and then they need to talk to them about that, not consider firing or a bad reference.) Internships are jobs, and some people need multiple jobs to stay afloat, especially when they’re first starting out.

  45. HonorBox*

    OP1 – I think you need to first find out 1 – is there an issue with the quality of the intern’s work and 2 – is there a clear policy that your business has in place that prohibits someone having a second job, and if so, was that policy clearly shared? If either or both answers is yes then you would have standing to fire an intern, though with just three weeks left, is it worth it? But if the answer to the questions is no, who cares? That’s something the intern’s manager needs to get over because how someone chooses to invest their own time isn’t yours to determine.

    OP2 – I actually talked about this with a community group the other day. I shared that everyone is entitled to a bad day. BUT, it is imperative that the customer doesn’t know you’re having a bad day. If you’re Eeyore behind the scenes, so be it. But you have to figure out how to turn on some form of charm when you’re with a customer. They can’t see that you’re having a bad day because it can – as it is in your case – affect business. Since you’ve addressed this with the employee already, sit them down again and let them know very directly that customers are indicating that the attitude and lack of enthusiasm is a problem and there has to be an immediate adjustment. You’re losing flexibility in how you schedule and potentially losing customers, so your employee needs to make an adjustment or you’re going to have to let them go.

  46. Delta Delta*

    #1 – Would it make a difference to the boss if he found out not that she had a second internship, but a job at a coffee shop? I’m guessing the problem is that it’s an internship that’s more of a professional-type job than a different kind of job. Second, the very nature of internships is that they’re short – especially college internships. It’s for a semester and she’s done in 3 weeks. Unless she set something on fire, firing her for doing something she wasn’t told not to do seems a bit much.

  47. kiki*

    For letter #2, it sounds like creating a positive and welcoming experience for clients is part of your employee’s job. That doesn’t mean she has to be over-the-top jazzed every minute of every day with every client, but she does need to consistently make sure clients feel comfortable, welcome, and like she’s engaged. I know that this might feel hard to enforce and like nitpicking, but it is part of this job’s expectations.

    I know you’re sympathetic to your employee’s situation, but I think you need to talk to her. Perhaps you can find accommodations that allow her some space to feel more energized but also ensure all patients are receiving high quality service.

  48. M2RB*

    an unwritten secret rule that lives in your director’s head

    These kinds of secret rules need to stop. If it’s not written down or documented somewhere, then how are team members supposed to know it exists? We aren’t mind-readers (thankfully). Unwritten rules are unfair.

  49. Metadata Janktress*

    LW1, I think it’s a time-honored tradition (in the US anyway) in the worst way possible for students to be working multiple internships and jobs. When I was in grad school, I often was taking two to three classes, working one or two part time jobs, and doing an internship all at the same time. I survived on coffee and spite. A lot of my cohort did the same type of thing. Your director is incredibly out of touch with how these things generally go.

  50. She of Many Hats*

    LW1: The only other reason for immediate termination beyond performance issues is if the other job/internship was with an organization that is in direct competition to this organization and raises conflict of interest or corporate security issues.

    If there has been no performance issues up to this point, I would also encourage you to be alert for conscious or sub-conscious retaliation or a sudden change in expectations from the intern’s manager.

  51. saskia*

    Working in healthcare, and as a patient, I’ve met so many people like #2 is describing. Surprise! They are not fun to work with because you can see their impact on the patients, and I would be upset if I got stuck as one of their clients. Regulating your affect is part of healthcare (and most jobs). A lot of practices struggle with managing this, though. Don’t be one of them.

  52. Cordyceps*

    #1 The Very Busy Intern

    Employers: “We’re gonna need you to work insane hours.”

    Also Employers: “Nope. Not like that.”

  53. Hiring Mgr*

    I wouldn’t care if the intern was working two jobs, but I suppose I can see the concern if they’re both supposed to be M-F/9-5 – something’s gotta give there.

  54. HailRobonia*

    #5: I used to teach English in Taiwan and purposely concealed the fact that I spoke Mandarin (and was getting pretty fluent in Taiwanese/Hokkien as well). For context I’m a white American. Mostly it was practical: I learned from a previous gig that if the students hear me speaking Chinese they will get lazy and not use English.

    One upshot was I got to hear a LOT of gossip about me and the other Americans.

  55. Curious*

    On LW #1, I think it depends on what is meant by “paid.” If this involves some type of stipend, as others have suggested, then I don’t see that intern has done anything wrong, and they shouldn’t suffer any consequences. OTOH, if intern is being paid by the hour — and if (but only if) their hours on the two jobs overlap, then there may be a time card fraud problem.

  56. Ann O'Nemity*

    #1 Another point to consider – you risk damaging your employment brand if you fire the intern just for having a second position. Can you image what she’ll tell her college friends, professors, and advisors about her experience? And what your other current interns are going to say? As a nonprofit that probably isn’t paying the most lucrative wages to interns, your reputation matters.

    1. Ann O'Nemity*

      Also! You mention your internship program ends in three weeks. Does that mean the director expects all interns to quit permanent positions so they can take your temporary internship? Not cool.

  57. Irish Teacher.*

    LW1, it is fairly common for student teachers to have part-time jobs as well as their teaching practice hours and their lectures in college. I don’t know how they manage, especially in schools like ours where they are often given a lot of subbing work. (Teaching practice hours aren’t paid but any additional subbing is.) The school I did my teaching practice in didn’t give us any subbing work, but just our teaching practice hours, lectures, assignments, lesson planning and travelling between the school and college (which for me were 20 miles apart) took pretty much all my time.

    But while I don’t know how some of them aren’t exhausted, I certainly don’t think they are doing anything wrong. Especially since after they qualify, they will have at least 3 months before they start a job and that’s assuming they get a job right away. I know your interns probably won’t have to wait 3 months before any jobs are even available, but they won’t necessarily get a job the day their internships end so it wouldn’t be wise to quit part-time jobs if they need the money.

    LW5, I would be very concerned if there was a law against people using a language not all their coworkers understand. I know you’ve said that in this case, both people also spoke English but I cannot imagine a law that banned speaking a second language if all three have a common language but allowed it if there was no common language.

    And even if all three do speak English, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they can communicate everything accurately in English. I studied Irish for 14 years (like most people in Ireland) and am reasonably good at it, but when I was teaching in a Gaelscoil (a school that teaches through Irish), there were times I had to resort to English because for example, my 2nd years were studying the American War of Independence and words like “Continental Congress” and “Intolerable Acts” are not terms I came across in Irish before.

    Now, I know using a language not everybody can understand can be used in problematic ways, but unless there is some reason to assume they are doing it to exclude you, I’d assume they are just using the language that they find it easiest/most convenient to communicate it.

    1. NothappyinNY*

      Re LW5, you can assume what you want, but to me, speaking another language is like whispering. It will create a barrier. The non-other language speaker has no idea if someone is saying co-worker has a fat ass or client needs whatever.

      Speaking other languages is telling co-workers you are not one of us.

      1. Ms. Norbury*

        “Speaking other languages is telling co-workers you are not one of us.”

        I mean, it can certainly mean that (if the culture is toxic, if there’s other evidence of discrimination or a history of microagressions, if the people involved regularly show problematic beheaviour, etc) but assuming that’s always the intent is weirdly adversarial.

        I’ve worked in multilingual environments and, the vast majority of the time, someone having a conversation in a language other people in the room didn’t speak simply meant “This conversation is only relevant to us and using this language is more comfortable/efficient”.

        So, as Irish Teacher said, unless there is some reason to assume people are doing this to exclude someone, assuming it’s always somehow malicious is not going to do anyone any favours. Most of the time is going to be, at worst, a bit inconsiderate.

        1. I Have RBF*

          Yeah, I’ve worked in offices with large expat communities from several linguistic groups. If a few employees are from countries with language A, and a few from countries with language B, then when they get together they will speak in their mutual languages. There is usually nothing malicious about it.

          Working in a country where the business language is not your native language is hard. When there are difficult concepts to learn, it is often helpful to have someone explain them in your native language, even if you are fluent in the second (or third, or…) language.

          What gets real fun is when person whose primary language is A is trying to communicate to a person whose primary language is Z (very different language family), and the accents for both are strong enough that they can’t understand each other when speaking in language E, and they have no other common language. Then it’s the native speaker of E that needs to act as “echo without accent” in the conversation.

      2. HannahS*

        It’s not like whispering, because while there are many reasons to speak one’s native language (it’s easier,) the only reason to whisper is to obscure what you’re saying.

      3. Anonymous Acorn*

        I would add that it’s not like whispering because whispering implies the intent to hide the conversation. Spanish or other languages are not a secret unknowable code, if you want to learn you can and you should! I had great success in a similar situation by learning just a few basics.

      4. Too Many Tabs Open*

        I feel far more “not one of us” when my co-workers talk in my native language about TV and movies I haven’t seen than I do when a couple native speakers of another language have a short conversation in that language.

      5. Irish Teacher.*

        No, it’s really not. It’s saying I need to be able to understand the instructions. Others may assume it’s saying “you’re not one of us,” but that is just their assumption. That’s in their heads and it doesn’t make sense to say, “I’ll risk a major work misunderstanding in case one of the listening employees assumes we’re trying to exclude them.”

  58. Coffee Protein Drink*

    I like Allison’s response to #2. Good suggestion to reply to the manager when it comes up again and I’m quite sure it will come up again..

    I’m curious as to why the manager didn’t know this benefit was applicable. I’d think she’d be aware of such things.

  59. CTA*

    LW #1

    Unless your intern signed a non-compete agreement and having this other internship violates that, then your non-profit shouldn’t fire your intern. I’m curious about the social media part of this. Did the intern post about the other internship? Was this found out through friends of friends? In this age of social media and cancel culture, you need to be careful with this. Firing the intern could backfire on the nonprofit.

    You mention concern over the intern’s lack of disclosure about the other internship, but there’s really no reason for the intern to mention this and risk the internship with you. It’s unclear if there are other important details not mentioned in your letter. For example, is your internship paid while the other internship is paid?

    I’ve definitely been in situations where the intern at my job was clearly spread too thin with the internship, school, part-time jobs/volunteering. My boss could see the performance issues not improving after being discussed. But this was an unpaid internship (not counting meal and transit allowance). My boss was also a lawyer and could see how it could look bad if we fired the intern.

  60. Piperpony*

    #2: Just to clarify, is the person who makes patients feel unwelcome ALSO the actual provider…or just the person getting them from the waiting room and funneling them to the provider?

  61. NothappyinNY*

    LW5, someone needs to get the the spanish speaker’s manager to explain to them that everyone needs cooperation/help from a co-worker and if you want to be rude to them and speak in Spanish (same thing as whispering), they will likely give you the cold shoulder.

    1. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      It sounds unduly controlling to ban other languages in the workplace.

      I’ve always worked in multilingual offices where English and / or German were the working languages but I would never have given someone “the cold shoulder” for a private conversation in their mother tongue, whether that was Urdu or Greek.
      Often their talk was not work related, but when it was and it affected other coworkers, then someone summarised it in English.

    2. JustaTech*

      Rude: pointedly excluding me from a conversation, or treating me like furniture.
      Not rude: having a conversation that I’m not part of.

      If my coworker feels more comfortable talking about a family situation with another coworker in Nepalese, cool beans. It’s not a work thing, and it’s not a conversation I need to be part of.

      If you can’t read tone and body language well enough to tell when people are making fun of you and when they’re just having a conversation about last night’s episode of Lost, then that’s a you thing to work on.

  62. LaurCha*

    Re: LW1 – a lot of college majors require an internship; it’s entirely possible this intern has two majors and needs two internships. She’s surely not working two internships and taking a full course load for funsies.

    Anybody who think she is stealing someone else’s opportunity for an internship to be greedy hasn’t met a college student lately. They are the very definition of “no work/life balance.” Paying jobs, course loads, unpaid jobs, family responsibilities, extracurriculars, you name it, college students are on duty all the time.

  63. Anonymous Acorn*

    LW #5, I was in a similar situation as a part of a very small team with about half bilingual Spanish speakers and half not, and a manager who spoke Spanish as well. The team members who spoke Spanish natively would discuss projects in Spanish out of convenience quite regularly. This was fine, it’s easier, why would they speak a second-to-both-of-them language about a topic nobody else needed to provide input on? Our office also had a robust policy on microaggressions, and demanding others speak in their non-native language for no practical purpose aside from your own comfort was explicitly covered by that policy.

    This manager did have a tendency to speak inappropriately about team members in Spanish though, and it was quite clear by context when that happened. I did not speak any Spanish, but several of my Spanish speaking coworkers confirmed that the manager did talk inappropriately about me a fair bit. So, I decided to learn some basic Spanish, enough to grasp the broad strokes of some conversations. It made me more comfortable to know what was being said and I learned that many of my colleagues shut down conversations in Spanish that were inappropriate. Eventually I was able to chime in with some practiced key phrases to the effect of “please don’t speak about me like that.” It didn’t solve all the issues with this manager, but learning a bit of Spanish certainly benefited me in the situation! I just had to start by reminding myself that they were not speaking in an unknowable secret code, just a very common language that I don’t happen to know much of.

    1. NothappyinNY*

      I am so sorry that happened to you. I suspect not uncommon. This type of thing will drive non-spanish speakers to find other jobs. this is not what DEI is about

      1. Anonymous Acorn*

        I would bet it’s more often the perception that drives people away. People think that because they can’t understand someone they must be hiding something (comparing it to whispering in other comments). In this case, the manager was crappy, but he would’ve been crappy in any language. Lots of Spanish speakers at my job still speak Spanish with each other when it’s easier for them, and that’s totally normal here. If I want to eavesdrop I just have to try harder!

      2. Jackalope*

        As someone who speaks a couple of languages fluently other than my original language, I can assure you that most people aren’t trying to use their other languages to talk about you right in front of you. Do some people do that? Sure. But most people are just trying to communicate in a way that works best for them. As someone who has lived and worked in other countries with people who speak a mix of languages, sometimes it’s just simpler and more straightforward to use language A that the person you’re speaking to understands rather than language B that bystanders understand, but which may mean that the person you’re talking to does not (or is going to miss a lot of the conversation or nuance).

        1. Anonymous Acorn*

          Exactly! 99% of the time it’s just convenience. I would also bet that there are some unconscious biases at play in some situations where people are upset by or suspicious of a language they don’t understand being used around them. Like I said in my case, it was pretty clear when the conversation switched from innocuous work talk to something less professional. If someone is upset that they don’t understand the conversations around them (assuming you get the work-related information you do need), go ahead and try to learn! My team loved being along for the ride as I practiced.

      3. New Jack Karyn*

        I think that making a policy of ‘English only’ (or whatever the dominant language is in that corner of the world) will drive out more workers.

    2. RagingADHD*

      I think if a manager is gossiping about anyone in any language it’s a problem. This isn’t any different in impact than if the manager was gossiping / speaking inappropriately behind closed doors, and a coworker clued you in.

  64. MultilingualFamily*

    LW5 – One angle that some people in this thread on touching on but that I think bears highlighting is the importance of the person who does not know the language being appropriately looped in. Both my husband’s and my family are multilingual, but his parents were previously unused to having a family member who doesn’t understand their native language, and it caused some very real communication issues.

    It’s important to note that they were not * intentionally * excluding me, but it doesn’t have to be intentional to cause a problem. I think that, for the people who understand all of the dialogue, it can be easy to overlook the impact on those who don’t.

    Example 1: During conversations that involved all of us, my in-laws would want to say something they couldn’t express well in English, so they would suddenly switch to their native language. But no one would say anything to me about why the switch occurred. They would just continue the conversation in their native language, and I would be awkwardly sitting there not knowing why.

    Example 2: My husband became the defacto translator for every communication, and it was very taxing on him. It became so extreme that my father-in-law once walked past me to tell my husband in their native language that we were leaving for dinner earlier than anticipated, even though my husband was in the bathroom and couldn’t hear him through the door. Nobody knew that the message hadn’t been delivered until it was time to leave, and we weren’t ready.

    Example 3: I recently made a request of my in-laws that I thought they had context for, but it actually needed some explaining. Instead of asking me for context in English, they discussed it amongst themselves in their native language. It took far longer than necessary to sort out.

    . . . you get the idea. Obviously, none of this was ill-intentioned, and it’s not a reason to enforce English in a workplace. But I do think it’s important to be conscious about the potential for confusion and misunderstanding and to proactively mitigate it.

  65. Nilsson Schmilsson*

    LW1, it’s about control. That’s it. Manager has zero control over intern’s employment outside of working hour’s (unless there’s a conflict of interest), and that’s making them angry. And it’s hilarious.

    LW4, LinkedIn has always been nothing more than the Facebook of “Business”. I guess kudos to LI for marketing the platform as a must have.

  66. Pita Chips*

    I have questions, based on a few years of wrangling interns.

    –Did the intern not submit a resume with their permanent position on it?
    –Did anyone ask the intern if they have a job or any other potential conflicts?
    –Is the other internship with a competing organization where there is potential for IP theft?

    An important thing to note: for many interns, an internship also includes learning office etiquette. They might not have known it’s a good practice to disclose.

    If they’re performing to standard, it’s silly to fire them, IMO, especially if there are only three weeks left in the program.

  67. Eucerin*

    Was the intern trying to work either of the other jobs at the same time (i.e. the same hours) as the internship? When she took the internship, did she not mention anything about having the other jobs? The first one is justifiably pretty bad, in my opinion. Like, that’s obviously an attendance and performance problem (but you’d think the LW would have mentioned it then).

    The second one is more of a “workplace norms/best practices” in my opinion. But part of an internship is learning those workplace norms and whatnot so it might not have occurred to the intern to give a heads up about that when she was hired. This is the time to learn that kind of thing but I still think firing her is a bit harsh especially if it wasn’t affecting performance, attendance, etc.

  68. CzechMate*

    LW 5 – context matters a LOT here.

    I used to work at an English language school where everyone on the admin team spoke at least 2 languages, but English was the only language we all had in common. On the one hand, it was taken for granted that if a student had an issue, we may need to communicate with them in their native language and not everyone would understand. That would need to be done to make them feel more comfortable and to make sure they fully understand things like contracts. If you’re trying to build rapport with someone, then that sometimes might be necessary.

    At the same time, when we were talking to each other, our manager used to insist we all use English to ensure that everyone was on the same page (and, of course, because then if we overheard someone had an issue, we could jump in and say, “Oh yeah, you can fix the TPS reports by….)

    It can get into some weird cultural territory, though. There are a lot of politics around how/when you speak a language or dialect with another person, so it’s important to be respectful and tread lightly. If it’s a language you don’t speak–a) listen closely, because you’ll likely pick it up over time (that’s how I learned Portuguese!), b) trust that the colleague is being professional and not saying anything about you, and c) ask for a debrief afterwards if it’s appropriate and relevant to your work.

  69. Fluffy*

    before we fire anybody, we need to verify bye information. So a random employee said they found out on social media that the second internship exists. Find out if that’s true

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

      OH I didn’t notice that it was found on social media! That makes me wonder, was it the cesspool of LinkedIn? Maybe the intern hasn’t updated their information from the previous internship or they will start another internship soon, since this one is ending?
      Also, can the OP talk with this employees about how creepy it is that they seem to be cyber stalking the intern, to what, get her in trouble?

  70. Michael*

    You wrote in regards to LW #4: “You are overthinking it! LinkedIn is a cesspool anyway and we should all deeply resent its existence.”

    I’m sure you have written about it somewhere before, but I would know your reasoning behind this statement.

    1. Hlao-roo*

      There have been a few past letters here about LinkedIn being not great/actively bad.

      LinkedIn encouraging bad networking: LinkedIn is telling strangers to ask me for referrals to jobs I have nothing to do with from January 28, 2019

      LinkedIn encouraging “stay-at-home-mom” as a job title: coworker doesn’t pay attention in meetings, LinkedIn’s “stay-at-home-mom” job title, and more from April 19, 2021 (letter #2 on that post)

      People behaving badly on LinkedIn:

      are these men hitting on me via LinkedIn or are they legit business contacts? from June 18, 2019

      was this networking or a date request, coworker is secretly traveling, and more from July 9, 2020 (letter #1 on that post)

    2. Tulip Madness*

      The kind of posts that get traction on linkedin are usually hypercapitalist pablum from braindead Ai-loving tech doofuses

  71. CommanderBanana*

    LW#1, wow. So there have been no performance or responsiveness issues with this intern, and your director wants to fire her for having the gall to, what, have another job?

    Does your director know how hard it is to get by these days?

  72. Cookie monster*

    My daughter worked two full-time internships plus her course load as a full-time grad student all the way through grad school. That is simply what she needed to do in order to afford to live in a very high cost of living area (DC). Was she exhausted some (most) of the time? Absolutely. But needing to eat is a huge motivator. Also, that lifestyle had an expiration date so she knew it wasn’t forever. The fact that this is a non-profit means I can almost guarantee, after a career in the non-profit industry, that they pay is low if it pays at all. The fact that the director is so out of touch with the realities of the world for students and young professionals is sad.

  73. not like a regular teacher*

    I am truly shocked by the number of commenters chiming in that it’s somehow offensive or exclusionary for people at your workplace to speak to each other in a language other than English. If the conversation doesn’t involve you, what is the problem? You all sound racist to me.

    1. Beveled Edge*

      It’s just a matter of courtesy that if you’re standing in a group of, say, three people having a conversation, not to switch to a language that cuts one person out. As many folks have discussed above, there can be reasons that the switch is necessary, but then you’d need to communicate that to the third person to be polite.
      However, the fact that the LW seems to think it should to be illegal to speak Spanish in the workplace in front of a coworker who doesn’t understand it? That’s a huge red flag to me.

    2. tabloidtained*

      It’s certainly poor manners and can be exclusionary. There are situations where it’s warranted, others where it’s not.

    3. Peanut Hamper*

      The fact that it is Spanish and is most likely in the US is what really made me read this as especially racist.

    4. Lizard the Second*

      Agreed! I really thought we had left this kind of attitude behind in the 1980s, when people would get told, “Speak English! You’re in America now.”

  74. hypoglycemic rage*

    if anyone is looking for some entertainment, there is a subreddit called linkedinlunatics, and it is great. (hopefully i got the name right, my apologies if i did not.)

  75. Veryanon*

    That first letter – as a college student, I always worked at least one and usually more jobs. During the school year, I did tutoring and typed papers for money (back when that was A Thing) in addition to being a full time student. During the summers, I always worked two jobs. My parents weren’t wealthy and scraped to cover my college costs that weren’t covered by scholarships and loans, so any money for books, food, travel, etc. was coming directly out of my pocket. Clearly this director doesn’t remember what that was like (or maybe never had to know what that was like). I’m pretty impressed that this intern was able to juggle *two*full time internships on top of being a student! That shows a lot of initiative to me.

  76. Pink Candyfloss*

    “Our intern, who is a good solid performer with no complaints, is doing something that isn’t against our rules and no one explicitly told them they couldn’t do, but the boss wants to fire them anyway” ftfy

  77. Good Enough For Government Work*

    My country, and therefore my workplace, is bilingual. I only speak a smattering of the non-English language, am surrounded by it every time I come into the office, and it’s… absolutely fine. I don’t actually need to understand the private conversation the two people next to me are having! And I’m certainly not about to tell them they can’t speak in their native language when I’m around because it’s wuuuuuuuuuuude. *I* would be the rude one, were I to do so.

    If it bothers you that much, go learn the language.

  78. TLC Squeak*

    LW 1 – IF your organization decides to create a policy for the future because of incidents like this, I would think long hard about what the purpose of that policy would be. First of all if you’re only offering part-time work it’s going to be very hard to find a diverse set of candidates who can afford to only work part time. You might consider a policy that says the intern can’t simultaneously work for competitors. But otherwise I agree with everyone else if the work is good and the intern is responsive then what she does with the rest of her time is nobody’s business.

  79. Jaybeetee*

    LW1: My guess is the Director is assuming some kind of “time theft”/”double-dipping” issue between the two internships, on the logic that two full-time “jobs” plus a full-time course load is pretty well impossible to do without some “overlap”. Of course, that’s not entirely true, and people do pull it off in various ways (often without much sleep). I’m not even sure what kind of policy could be written to cover something like this, other than “don’t work at your schooling or other jobs while on the clock at this internship.” But since there’s no policy along those lines anyway, and there have been no apparent complaints about the intern’s work, and there’s no proof that the intern is working on other stuff during the internships hours, *and* apart from some random social media tip-off there isn’t even any proof this is happening at all… Director is out of line.

    LW5: As someone who lives and works in a bilingual area, this sort of question always seems so overwrought to me. Yes, I work with a lot of francophones. Yes, the francophones will often speak French to each other when I/other anglophones are not part of the conversation. Yes, it does get rude at a certain point (i.e. one single person who does not speak the other language who is chronically excluded from conversation – and I say this as an anglophone who does speak French, though not fluently), but not everyone needs to be part of every conversation.

    Also: No one should be dumb enough to talk smack about a colleague in a language they *think* that colleague doesn’t understand. Apart from not necessarily knowing what someone else can understand of a language or not (even if they don’t “speak” it), you could risk another bilingual colleague tipping them off, or all kinds of other scenarios. I don’t tend to understand every word of my colleagues’ French conversations, but since I do understand some – and they know it – I doubt anyone would like, try to talk about me right in front of me like that. They’re literally just speaking to each other. That’s all.

  80. Nik*

    I am guessing that the director in Letter 1 is assuming that the intern is working both jobs simultaneously during the work-from-home portion of the hybrid schedule, and that’s the issue. But is there any evidence of that?

  81. Raida*

    1. Our intern was working two full-time jobs

    Could I suggest, crazy idea I know, talking to the intern?

    Perhaps the other internship is not actually full time.
    Perhaps it’s an extremely light load.
    Perhaps the full school load is actually half.
    Perhaps the full school load includes mostly introductory and low-stress classes.
    Perhaps they thrive on work and this is a good balance for them.

    If they have performed the role adequately, which you’d need to talk to their direct supervisor about, then the idea of “how DARE YOU not give us exclusive rights to your time” is, to me, the tone it sends.
    So is wanting to fire someone because they didn’t TELL ME about the other job – okay cool are you special, person who wants to fire? Are you entitled to other details of interns’ lives too? No, you’re not special. No, interns don’t need to start their career but kowtowing to overreaching management. At least, I’d hope so!

    If there’s no rule against moonlighting – which there should be, and should outline that it’s only an issue when it impacts performance or creates a conflict of interest/opens the business to unknowingly sharing IP – then you should have a discussion about *professional norms* and how they did actually almost lose this position but you are the one saving them here and they should know this will follow them for better or worse.

  82. It Actually Takes a Village*

    LW #4, I’m not sure if you’re being sarcastic or not referring to your sudden illness being so mysterious, but it sounds like textbook Long Covid to me.

    Several of my friends, including myself and my son, have been impacted by Long Covid, with varying degrees of disability. Please do some research on the myriad ways that Covid can damage pretty much every system of the body. I’ll bet you find some answers there.

    Take care, and rest up.

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