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How to deal with this co-worker?
June 17, 2012 1:07 PM   Subscribe

How to respond to an unexpected, somewhat unwanted "favor" ?

I'm a college undergrad who's been working as a paid summer intern for a certain number of hours/week for a month or so now. I've never had a job or internship before this, so I'm clueless about some of the office politics and nuances and whatnot that accompany a job... so please bear with me if I sound too naive.

I'm pretty happy with my schedule as it is: I work about 5 hours a day for 2 days a week and have the rest of the week off to sort of relax, which is nice because I usually take summer uni classes this time of year, instead.

Anyway, I work with a certain colleague on a project, and even though she isn't technically my "boss," she sort of like my "supervisor" even though she does the same work that I do. She is more experienced than I am with the project and so she usually ends up sort of giving me instructions and pointers in my work, which I am fine with.

However, I often find that she isn't really considerate about when my working hours start and end... I've told her quite a few times when and how long I work every week, and yet she continues to push work on me over the weekend (which I'm not paid for). Since this is my first internship (or job, really), I want to leave a good impression and have a good evaluation at the end of the summer, so I usually end up just doing the work on the weekends, even if I sort of feel like I'm getting stepped all over.

Lately, though, when she has been emailing me work to do over the weekend, I sort of just ignore her emails and address whatever work she has for me on my working days, instead. Sometimes it's just that I am genuinely busy with other stuff, sometimes I just don't feel like dealing with work on the weekend. I wasn't sure how she would react to this, but then she sort of surprised me with an email saying that she went and spoke to my boss (who is her boss, too) requesting additional hours of work per week approved for me... which I find a little awkward. The way she phrased it in the email sounds like she is "offering" it to me as an "option" that I can decline but really it sounds like she will be very disappointed if I don't accept. I'm not sure how to respond to her without being offensive or something. When it comes down to it, I guess it wouldn't kill me to work additional paid days every week, but it's sort of just jarring for me to know that, at some point, this old lady went and asked my boss to let me work more... >_< I just don't know how I should feel about that.

Does this happen often in workplaces and is just something I should get used to? Otherwise, what's the most polite way I should respond to her?

Thanks, and I'm sorry for the wall of text / ramblings.
posted by glassrose to Work & Money (29 answers total)
 
If she managed to get your boss to sign off on extra paid hours for you, I would take that as a compliment. She wouldn't have done that if she thought you were a boob. Or....she could have done it out of passive-aggression because she's sick of your excuses about not being willing to work the hours she needs from you anyway. Hard to know. Do you have a sense of how your boss feels about her? Either way, you get a chance to make some extra money, you have the time and this job is a resume builder that's only for the summer, so it's probably worth sucking it up, saying thank you and doing the work. Doing more than 10 hours of work a week is not going to kill you.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 1:17 PM on June 17, 2012 [9 favorites]


There are two main possibilities.

1. She has the impression you'd be glad to help out more if only you weren't being limited by your work hours. So she's trying to make sure you get paid for the work you do (especially if you're helping her out, outside of your hours).

2. She thinks that the job you're doing needs more attention than you've been able to give it, and the easiest way is for you to take on the additional work.

Most likely is a combination of the two - the job takes more work, you had been doing it anyway but now you're not working during time you're not paid (which she probably recognizes as sensible, even if it's inconvenient for her), so she wants to 'allow' you to do more. Perhaps try saying, "Thanks for thinking of me, but I'm actually quite happy with my current hours. I like working with you, but my classwork takes up a lot of my time."
posted by Lady Li at 1:19 PM on June 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


No, this isn't anything you need to get used to. It was presumptuous of the woman to request additional work hours for you. I think you could politely respond with something like this:

"Thanks for attempting to get additional work hours for me, but my schedule doesn't allow for any more work time than I've already got."

and for the boss, the same thing, changing "attempting to get" to "offering".
posted by rhartong at 1:19 PM on June 17, 2012 [5 favorites]


(having now read TPS's response - do think hard about whether you WOULD like the extra paid hours and experience, plus the possibly better recommendations. There's a lot to be said for being a shining star in your internship.)
posted by Lady Li at 1:21 PM on June 17, 2012 [7 favorites]


This may depend on the internship, but if you're there to learn and advance your career, it sounds as though she's trying her best to mentor you. It does sound as though she wants you to get paid for doing things instead of you working off schedule. So are you there to get knowledge you can use, or are you there just to pay bills? Either is okay, but it might help you see where she's coming from.

this old lady
You should lose that.
posted by sageleaf at 1:27 PM on June 17, 2012 [41 favorites]


Getting asked to do more work than you're paid for is pretty commonplace in all sorts of working situations. Out in the "real world" there are usually pretty clear rules dictating when and to what degree this is okay - at what point you have to stop considering an employee to be part time, whether or not you have to pay them overtime, and so forth. Of course these rules also get transgressed.

I think you're also dealing with another fairly commonplace workplace situation, wherein a more experienced employee is behaving as if they had management responsibility over you even though it sounds like they don't.

In my book asking your boss for more hours for you is definitely crossing a line. You may want to let it pass because you can manage it and to keep the peace/maintain a positive contact. The right thing is not always the practical thing. You could accept this development while telling the coworker that you would appreciate her discussing it with you before she requested changes in your hours on your behalf. Even if an actual proper supervisor did something like this to me I would be taken aback and probably have that sort of minimal push-back discussion with them at a minimum.

You could tell her you are not available to work more hours than your internship agreement allowed for and let her sort it out with your boss. You could go over her head and take it to the boss, the most aggressive way to respond but also the most likely to cause negative feedback in the work atmosphere and potential repercussions down the line.

I don't want to push this angle too much because it's common enough for a worker to be taken advantage of under an obscuring layer of praise but this is not all bad. Your work is being recognized and valued, it never hurts to have your employer wanting to see more of you (though it can hurt to supply that). Your existing schedule is pretty soft. It is worth at least thinking about accepting extra work if it is in fact offered and working on the colleagues boundary issues as a separate issue.

One more thing - referring to your colleague as "this old lady" is immature and unprofessional.
posted by nanojath at 1:30 PM on June 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


She would not have done this if she didn't have a stake in it. She wants you to do more work than you have been doing, probably because she depends on your work product in some way. She liked it when you were doing the weekend work and wants you to get back to doing that, and correctly figured that you wouldn't do it if you weren't paid for it.

You might want to check with your boss. But honestly, it's just a summer, and if you can put in the extra work and get fairly paid for it without it impacting your class performance, then I can't think why you wouldn't do it. The job market is HARD and you never know where your connections might be useful, and the only way to work them is to be a star in the jobs that you do have.

I have personally seen minor temp jobs blossom into spectacular careers based on recommendations made by people who just happened to have friends in the right places. Why not go ahead and do the best job possible, now that you're getting paid?
posted by fingersandtoes at 1:33 PM on June 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Thank you for your responses, everyone!
posted by glassrose at 1:34 PM on June 17, 2012


I'm tempted to agree with The Pink Superhero here, even though her positions goes somewhat against my nature. Let me explain.

We have a tendency in this culture to see work as more inherently viruous than it is, and to see people who choose to work less as lazy and bad (even if they have perfectly good reasons not to work more). I see this as one of the core fallacies of our culture -- in my view, work is only extrinsically good; that is to say, it is only as good as what it does for the worker and for society, a means to an end rather than an end in itself. No, working ten hours a week won't kill you but if there's no worthwhile benefit to you for doing so, and no benefit to anyone else that's worth the cost to you in terms of time and sanity, then I don't see why you should.

However, I think in this case it might be worth it. There's the money, of course. I don't know how important that is to you -- if you're only working 10 hrs/week and not actively seeking more work, then I'm guessing it's not very important. Presumably you have some other means of financial support, such as your parents.

There's also the recommendation at the end of the internship though, and the contacts in the field that you presumably want to make a career out of down the line. These are potentially very valuable in the long term as they will help you find work that you enjoy and that will sustain you later when money is more important. I can't get a good read from your question on whether refusing these extra hours would jeopardize that, but I can concieve of situations in which it might. If you are concerned about this (and it sounds like you are) then I'd take the extra hours. Working 20 hours instead of 10 won't kill you, as TPS said above, but it might help you down the road if you are percieved as willing, hardworking, and full of initiative. Refusing hours definitely won't help you there.

Also, there's the unfortunate matter of habituating yourself to the fact that people in our society generally work at least 40 hours per week. This takes getting used to if you have managed to make it to adulthood without ever holding a job, because frankly it's unnatural and it sucks. Sadly, you should probably start getting used to it. Maybe you'll be very lucky and you'll never have to work full time at a job you dislike, but to be honest that's more the exception and the rule and you should begin preparing yourself so that if that happens to you at some point you will be able to deal with it and do what needs to be done in order to support yourself.

So, yeah. I think your supervisor is exploiting you and that sucks and I wish I could give you my blessing to tell her to fuck off. However in this case I think you should let her do it. Look for ways to turn the situation to your advantage, of course, but do the extra work and learn from it whatever you can.
posted by Scientist at 1:38 PM on June 17, 2012 [15 favorites]


Does she work full time? If she is already putting in full time hours into this project and is having to work weekends, it may be that the project simply requires more hours than are available with 1 full time employee and an intern doing 10 hours per week. If you're frequently having to work weekends then either someone is dropping the ball or there is more work than the 2 of you can reasonably manage in the hours allotted. In the "real world" its not uncommon to be expected to work evenings/weekends without additional pay, every employment contract I've had has said something to the effect of x hours per week plus whatever else is necessary to get the job done.

It may have been presumptuous but many (if not most) interns would be glad of the extra experience and more importantly - cash. If she knows you're spending the other 5 days of the week just "relaxing" (instead of studying or working another job) she may have assumed you would be happy for the opportunity to make some extra money.

I don't know the terms of your internship or what your employee rights are but if she's convinced the boss that the job requires x hours per week of work and you're not willing to work that much then they may want to replace you.

If you don't want to work the extra hours then just politely tell her that you appreciate the offer but you're not available for more than 10 hours per week as per your contract (or whatever you have that states your terms of 'employment' and working hours)
posted by missmagenta at 1:47 PM on June 17, 2012


Asking people to pick up extra work is pretty common in workplaces. Given that you are paid for a certain amount of time and couldn't get everything done in that time, giving you more paid hours is certainly the way to do it -- you should be doing extra work for free when you are an hourly employee. So in that sense, yeah, this is something that you can expect to come up again in your working life and may have to get used to.

I find it a little strange that she didn't discuss her request for authorization of more hours for you with you first. And I really get enjoying the minimal investment of 10 hours a week. But I don't think it's a terribly unreasonable request, nor do I think it was a terribly unreasonable thing for her to do.

So yeah, you can say no. But by saying yes, you're likely to get a much better reference out of this, in addition to picking up some additional money. People like go-getters. By saying no, they might or might not resent that, and it's possible that they could feel that they need the extra hours and might have to replace you (although I'd be surprised if they went that far without discussing it with you). But it's certainly plausible that they would make judgments about your work ethic.

If you want to say no, I would say that your schedule doesn't allow you to pick up more hours. Even if you say yes, I would be careful about how many more hours you are agreeing to -- and make clear, at whatever your limit is, that it's your limit. Honestly, if you up it to 15 or 20 hours a week, that's still not a lot in the grand scheme of things, and you have time. You're doing this for the work experience, money, and resume-building, right? I'd say take some extra hours and build that resume.
posted by J. Wilson at 2:22 PM on June 17, 2012


(I meant "you shouldn't be doing extra work for free when you are an hourly employee.")
posted by J. Wilson at 2:24 PM on June 17, 2012


It's not personal. They're not judging you for only working 10 hours a week. For all they know you might have another job on weekends. They just have problems they need solved. All they need from you is a clear expression of your availability and requirements, and they will work with/around them; this is how professionals operate in the workplace. (Ignoring emails is not professional. Either you can do it or you can't; say so right away so they can work around you if needed.)

Decide your availability and requirements, and state them clearly to your boss and this co-worker. E.g. "I am available to work up to an additional 10 hrs/week if paid, but unable to take on any unpaid work on weekends". Or, "Given other obligations I am not available for any additional work outside the standard 10 hrs/week". Whatever you like. Just be clear and consistent.
posted by PercussivePaul at 2:25 PM on June 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


If you're OK with the extra hours, I would maybe take it as an opportunity to say something like. "That's nice of you, thanks. Since I don't check work email when I'm out of the office it will enable me to help you get more stuff done." And by all means don't give these people your cellphone number.

As for your trailing question(s), no, it doesn't normally happen in workplaces because normal workplaces don't involve working 5hrs a day, two days a week. It's pretty much just an internship thing.
posted by rhizome at 2:29 PM on June 17, 2012


I think it's really up to you. People have given good arguments for and against taking the extra hours in this thread; either way it should work out fine at your internship. You should decide what you want and communicate it clearly.

One more thing - referring to your colleague as "this old lady" is immature and unprofessional.

Referring to anyone as "this old lady" is immature and offensive.
posted by medusa at 2:56 PM on June 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


This isn't about workaholic culture, or seeing work as more virtuous than it truly is. If you were a full-time employee getting your projects done in 40 hours a week, and your supervisor only rewarded employees who stayed late, that would be one thing. This is different because you're a 10-hour per week intern.

The benefit to you as an intern is (in theory) that you get to learn by working closely with professionals in your intended field. The benefit to the organization is (in theory) that they get an eager, hardworking young person to pitch in on their projects. If you're only there 10 hours a week, and the organization has more than 10 hours worth of substantial (i.e., not coffee fetching) work for you to do, it's reasonable for your mentor to ask you to do more work and completely fair as long as she sees to it that you're compensated for it. Consider this situation from her perspective--you're working 10 hours a week and then spending the rest of your time "relaxing" AND you've already shown her you're willing to work over the weekend; she just made sure that the arrangement was completely fair for you by making sure you're actually getting paid.

If this internship is actually going to help further your career ambitions, I'm really puzzled as to why a few more than 10 hours per week would seem burdensome. This isn't a full-time job and they're expecting you to work every weekend. This is a 10-hour per week learning opportunity, and they're offering you extra experience (and paying you for it).
posted by Meg_Murry at 3:10 PM on June 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


All they need from you is a clear expression of your availability and requirements, and they will work with/around them; this is how professionals operate in the workplace. (Ignoring emails is not professional. Either you can do it or you can't; say so right away so they can work around you if needed.)

They had a clear expression of the OP's availability and requirements (s/he was hired to work a specific 10 hours each week) and they have ignored that, repeatedly asking him/her to do work outside of her stated availability. That is not professional. Having an email account and happening to see an email arrive in it outside of stated hours does not constitute a mandate for one to drop whatever one is doing and attend to the needs of the emailer. We know the OP saw the emails, but her employers can't—shouldn't—assume that s/he did, unless the job has a stated requirement that the OP be on call by email at all times. Yes, treating people like this has become fairly common, but that doesn't mean it's right.

Moreover, I find it odd that the OP's boss didn't consult her about adding 10 more hours per week, but rather just approved the request made by the other employee, who then told the OP. In my workplace, we've had occasional problems with employees other than the intern coordinator (the interns' direct boss) asking interns to do work outside of their stated hours, and we immediately try to remind those employees and the interns that that's not acceptable in our workplace, and we make it clear to the interns that they do not have to attend to requests made outside of their hours in the office.

Now, granted, the OP is getting paid for time in the office (our interns are unpaid), and s/he now stands to be paid for additional work done out of the office, but nonetheless, what the OP's employer is doing isn't fair. The employee-intern power dynamic, in which the intern is doing work not just for the pay and experience, but also for a good recommendation, inherently privileges the employee—of course the intern is going to want to please the boss(es). And the fact that there was more than one point of contact on these very fundamental issues of baseline hours and pay seems almost designed to create mixed signals and unclear expectations. So it's not entirely fair to ask for this, and the way the asking was done wasn't handled well, either.

But that's what they did. In some sense, it is a compliment, as others have expressed above; they like the OP's work enough to offer to double hours and pay. That's pretty cool. But there's some less-than-professional behavior here, too, on the part of the supervisor, and I would definitely take this opportunity, as rhizome noted, to express clearly to both the supervisor and boss, especially if you take the additional hours, that you are not available to do any additional work outside of the new stated hours. You don't have to be strident about it, but you do need to be clear; rhizome's template is a good one.

Yes, you're an intern, and yes, that means you want their approval and respect, but you're also learning about the ways of the workplace—and one lesson to learn and begin putting into practice right now is that your time deserves to be respected.
posted by limeonaire at 3:17 PM on June 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


Assuming that you do go along with this, I would still discuss this with your coworker. I would just be careful how you did it. I think I might take the tack of saying something like, "Thank you for putting a good word on for me with the boss. The extra hours will really help. Also, I'm a little surprised that you didn't discuss this with me first. I'd greatly appreciate it if when things like this come up if you could ask me first. But, thanks again for the vote of confidence and I am looking forward to working more with you."
posted by MoonOrb at 3:24 PM on June 17, 2012


That's a little passive aggressive, MoonOrb. Best to approach the boss directly, and say "Hi, I understand [X] contacted you last week about some additional projects that she'd like me to help on. Let me know what you have in mind and whether you'd like me to increase my schedule."
posted by moammargaret at 3:44 PM on June 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Interesting! I'm not suggesting for the OP to be passive-aggressive at all, but to communicate directly to the coworker that in the future, the OP should be consulted about this type of move. I think what you perceive as passive-aggression is my attempt at sandwiching the uncomfortable part of the conversation (don't make these kind of arrangements about with the boss without talking to me first) between parts that acknowledge the presumed good will of the coworker.
posted by MoonOrb at 4:09 PM on June 17, 2012


They had a clear expression of the OP's availability and requirements (s/he was hired to work a specific 10 hours each week) and they have ignored that, repeatedly asking him/her to do work outside of her stated availability. That is not professional.

Well, it would be unprofessional if there was pressure placed on OP to accept or to take unpaid hours, and I agree the initial requests were out of bounds especially since the OP seemed to attempt to assert a boundary that was ignored. But there is no reason the initially contracted terms couldn't be changed if it suits both parties. By the way, my read is that the boss has not approved the request yet -- rather it is in the OP's hands to approve. Surely the OP's signature is required for any adjustment to the contract.

In any case, whether the co-worker is professional or not, the best professional response is the same: get things done consistently and reliably, identify and ask for what you need in order to do the work, and deliver the work on time. There's an issue with reliability now because the OP has been unpredictable on the weekends, and I would say it's better to be reliably away on weekends than unreliably present, because unreliability makes it harder to manage and schedule tasks. The co-worker is attempting to resolve this issue by altering the terms of the contract, which is a reasonable thing to ask for given the needs of the organization. It is up to the OP to determine whether this would suit their needs as well.
posted by PercussivePaul at 4:18 PM on June 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Doing the extra hours is a good idea. The problem is that by letting your supervisor frame this to management as a favor they are doing for you, you don't get the credit that you should be, which may affect how glowing your recommendation is.

Here is my suggestion: "Hi (manager), as you know I've been doing a fair amount of unpaid overtime lately. I just heard from (supervisor) that you approved extra hours for me. While I appreciate it, I just want to clarify that I'm fine with my current schedule. Obviously if the company NEEDS me to work longer hours, I'd love to help, but I just don't want to give you the impression that the extra hours are something I need, especially if it would be an inconvenience for you."

This way, you're making it clear that by putting in the extra hours, YOU are doing a favor for THEM, as opposed to vice-versa. Generally, clarifying a situation as much as possible is always a good thing.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 4:33 PM on June 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


I hate to be all "in this economy," but I think that might also be a factor. Especially if she's aware that you're not working other jobs, she may be thinking simply "Hey, there's more work to be done and starving students are always up for more money."

My bias here is probably that I know a lot of out-of-state (ie not in class because of pricey summer school tuition) grad students who have 10 - 20 hr/week jobs (+some unpaid internships) and they're pretty much all looking for more. I might commit the same offense this lady did and just assume Joe or Jane Random Student was pretty much always up for more hours unless they'd been clear that it was the reverse. It's kinda what you assume is the default position of students in internships - starving or chilling.

Then there's the question of when to talk to the boss and when to talk to the student worker - do you talk to the student to see if they're interested only to have to let them down if there's no money, or do you float it by the boss first to check on budget so that you can be assured that you're offering money/hours you can deliver on to the student worker? Some folks seem to think that there's a clear answer here, but I tend to think the situation's more complicated. Maybe it's just the tightness of state budgets, but in similar situations in the past, I've basically had to run things by the budget folks and two levels of supervisors before finding out if something was even possible. (This is what happens when you don't control your own budget.)

I guess my long story short (too late) - I wouldn't necessarily ascribe any of this to nefarious purposes, she could just be eager to get you more involved in the project and value the work you're putting in to it. That's a great situation to be in, even if she is a little bossy.

Oh yeah, and nthing the ix-nay on the "old lady" stuff.
posted by clerestory at 5:06 PM on June 17, 2012


There are a few fundamental questions here that you need to ask yourself to inform your course of action.

First, do you want to work at this place again, whether as an intern or a full-time employee?

Second, do you want or need a good letter of recommendation?

As someone who has been an intern, supervised interns, and made hiring decisions regarding former interns, I can tell you that if the answer to either of those questions is yes, you need to start stepping up your game, whether that means working more paid hours, doing unpaid work, or finding ways to be more efficient in your ten hours of work.

Employers expect a lot of interns now, especially since the economy has led to leaner budgets. Most interns have responded by regarding internships as extended job interviews and bringing their best performance at all time-- and jumping at any and all opportunities for extra experience. In comparison, a voluntary 10-hour/week schedule and declining to take on extra work is going to make you look... not good.

If you don't need a job at that place or a recommendation, then whatever. But why are you doing it, then?
posted by charmcityblues at 8:20 PM on June 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


First of all, it's *not* some kind of universal thing in the professional world that you are expected to answer or even read work emails over a weekend. That's something that most people push back on. It's your time and it is perfectly reasonable for you not to allow that to be encroached upon. Here are a few phrases that you can use to push back on these general issues: "I'm not available then," "My schedule doesn't permit that," "That won't be possible for me."

So when she emails you things over the weekend, it is perfectly fine to let her know the next time you see her that you're not available on weekends, and Monday and Wednesday (or whatever) are the days you are available to work. If she keeps sending you the weekend emails, then on Mondays you can right back to confirm you received the email and are starting on the task, and also reminding her in writing that you're not available on weekends.

In response to her thing about adding more hours for you, if you don't want to work those hours, you could write back and say, "Hi Nancy, unfortunately, my schedule doesn't permit me to work more than two days per week. But I appreciate the offer, thank you!" You could cc your boss on that or just speak with him/her about it in person.
posted by cairdeas at 8:34 PM on June 17, 2012


Also, I can't tell if you're male or female, but I think it is so, so, so common for women to fear insisting on proper compensation for their work, and feel guilty if they don't just agree without protest to whatever is "expected" of them. And then be extremely shell-shocked later when they find out how much more their male colleagues are making for equal or less work. So, I actually think if you are female it is good for you now to avoid getting into this rut. If you're being paid hourly, then make sure you insist on being paid for every hour that you work and don't work for free. If they "need" you do to work then they "need" to compensate you for that work. And if you don't want to take on the extra work, then set your boundaries. If one day you want to join an industry where everyone is just expected to take on extra work on the weekends, then if you want to work in that kind of environment you can do that then. There is no need AT ALL to do that all the time in every work environment.
posted by cairdeas at 8:54 PM on June 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


You sound like you are not good at asserting your boundaries. This is a good opportunity to practice, and to set yourself on the right path for the rest of your career.

No, it's not reasonable of this woman to have asked for more hours without your consent. She's pushy and she needs to be firmly set straight.

Yes, it's perfectly fine for you to decline working more hours.

Yes, it's perfectly fine to fail to answer (or read) email on the weekends, unless you have a a specific agreement with your employer that you will check/respond to email then (and are compensated accordingly). Your employer is not entitled to help themselves to your free time.

Politely but firmly state that you will not be working more hours. No explanation is required. Be cheerful but definite, and do not explain or justify. You may want to reference your original agreement ("As you know, we agreed I would work X hours on X days, and my availability hasn't changed").

There are many people in the working world who tolerate poor working conditions, and justify that choice by referring to the economy, or any one of a variety of bad things that *could* possibly happen if they were to insist on better conditions. I hope you don't become one of them. Having a fear based career--or a fear-based life on the whole--sucks and isn't necessary. Be assertive about your boundaries and you will eventually find yourself in the right workplace for you.
posted by parrot_person at 2:54 AM on June 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


I think people seem to be responding to this coming from their own places, which may differ according to where they work.

I work in one of the few "industries" legally allowed to exploit interns - the nonprofit world. On paper, our interns only committed to working ten to twenty hours a week, working for food, metrocard, and credit, but we would frequently ask them to work extra hours if we needed it, up to and including weekend. Other organizations did the same. If someone didn't demonstrate their "commitment" by being available when we needed, they didn't get their internship renewed and they weren't considered for any positions.

But it was inherently exploitive. Our interns were essentially working for fifteen dollars a day's worth of value in products and food. And some of us felt shitty about it, and would talk to the boss about it.

If you were working for me on weekends, and doing a good job, I'd try to get you more pay too -because it is a recession.

This might not be meant as a jerk move. I also would never raise the possibility of more without knowing I could provide it, because of the risk of anchoring you to something I couldn't give.
posted by corb at 4:16 AM on June 18, 2012


I work in one of the few "industries" legally allowed to exploit interns - the nonprofit world. ... Our interns were essentially working for fifteen dollars a day's worth of value in products and food.

Maybe this is one of the reasons that the non-profit world is so heavily female. In all of the male dominated industries I can think of where people are penalized who don't "demonstrate their "commitment" by being available when we needed" to an unusual degree, people are also very highly compensated - IT, BigLaw, finance. I don't think you would ever find a male-dominated industry where you were expected to work all the time for a small to non-existent salary, except for cases where the men are undocumented immigrants or otherwise unusually exploitable.

I'm bringing this up only bc I think it's important for the OP to think about, if the OP is female.
posted by cairdeas at 9:07 AM on June 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


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