Where is this question/answer I'm looking for?
February 28, 2022 2:04 PM   Subscribe

One of the big online advice columns -- Dear Prudence? Ask A Manager? Another one? -- answered a question that was something like "Should I, a left-wing person, take a job with a right-leaning politician/think tank/etc.? I have good reasons for wanting to do so but will it harm me later?" I have a friend who would benefit from seeing the answer to this, and I know I've read it somewhere online, but of course I can't find it. Can you?

I'm happy to hear your opinion of the answer to this question, but also I'm trying to find this published advice I know I read somewhere. Help?
posted by BlahLaLa to Work & Money (9 answers total)
Best answer: I’m sorry I can’t tell you where that question was asked. I can tell you that if your friend wants to work for a progressive think tank/politician/etc in the future they should absolutely not do this. I say this as someone who has worked in the progressive advocacy/policy world for two decades. Your friend will have a really hard time “switching sides” later on. Happy to elaborate or answer specific questions.
posted by lunasol at 2:24 PM on February 28, 2022 [4 favorites]

Best answer: These are different topics, but is there any chance you're thinking of "I’m an environmentalist at a fossil fuel company" or "Will having an anti-gay religious school on my resume hurt me?" from Ask a Manager?
posted by neushoorn at 2:28 PM on February 28, 2022 [6 favorites]

Best answer: (There may be exceptions to this, which is why I say I’d be happy to answer questions. For instance, if she’s working on and is a policy expert in one of the increasingly rare policy areas that is not very polarized. But if she’s already an expert she probably already understands those politics. The other exception I can think of is if she has a very highly-sought-after skillset that would make her valuable enough on the job market to at least get an interview where she could “explain herself.” But in both cases, it would definitely make things harder on her and she’d have to be prepared to explain.)
posted by lunasol at 2:29 PM on February 28, 2022 [1 favorite]

This sounds familiar. Any chance it was in the ethics column in the NYT Magazine?
posted by lulu68 at 3:54 PM on February 28, 2022

I think Capitol Hill Style has written about this from a DC perspective.
posted by foodmapper at 4:36 PM on February 28, 2022

Best answer: neushoorn beat me to the punch - I was going to post that link.

So here's my opinion! I think a person with employment experience or education at a workplace/school with problematic aspects (e.g. an oil company, a religious school with an anti-LGBTQ moral code, etc) looking for a random, non-political/activist job, as detailed in the links neushoorn posted, is *probably* okay - although not always and the more responsible the job, the more scrutiny they may face. But - this is a big but - if your hypothetical individual wants a job in a progressive lobbying/activist/social justice group and had experience working for a lobbying or activist group or politican *whose stated mission* was a problematic one, people will be confused *at best*. I know if I were the hiring manager, I would expect a *very* compelling story and a *very* strong and unequivocal repudiation of their past views before I would even consider moving forward.

I do feel bad for people who legitimately come to realize their political/social views are wrong and strive to undo some of the harm they've caused, but I would probably say to those people they should do so in ways that are anonymous and low profile. I would probably say to those people that if your conversion is honest, you would not want to distract or damage the mission of organizations by your presence there.
posted by fortitude25 at 5:41 AM on March 1, 2022

Roxane Gay posted something like this in her Work Friend column, "You Are Not Where You Work" (NYT, 10/8/2021). Snippet:
The question of wanting to do something good with your life is a powerful one. I urge you to decouple your self-worth and contributions to humanity from your employment. You are not what you do for a living. So how can you feel like you’re making more of an impact in this world? That’s not a question I can answer for you, but I will encourage you to sit with that question and consider ways you can contribute to your community.
posted by miles per flower at 6:07 AM on March 1, 2022

Response by poster: Thanks for the responses. None of these are the one I was searching for -- which, hey, might not exist -- but they're helpful.
posted by BlahLaLa at 4:16 PM on March 1, 2022

This one is from left field, but I thought I'd add it to the other responses.

It's from the r/jobs subreddit and is titled Taking a job at a think tank with political views you severely disagree with? Here's the OP's summary of their question (the post in question is an office manager job):
TL;DR: Their organization is OBSESSED with the ultimate power of the unfettered free market and yet they are almost completely supported by donations. While I am very opinionated, I generally don't feel the need to express my political views at work, but this would be A LOT to ignore.
posted by virago at 2:31 AM on March 2, 2022

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