Q: I just got a job at a mid-size tech firm right out of college.
Because the job market is so tight right now, hundreds of people applied for the position, including some who are either overexperienced or unemployed journalists. I feel proud and fortunate about my accomplishment, but I already have a dilemma.
One of the first things my new boss asked me to do was to send a rejection letter that he wrote to all of the other people who applied. I normally wouldn't have a problem with this, but it will come from my e-mail account with my title, not to mention the fact that several of my classmates and two of my friends applied for the job. I don't want to seem cocky to them because I know how discouraging it can be when you're out of work. What I should do?
Ms. J, Boston
A: You're right, it's not a wise PR decision to send it from your e-mail account. I know that when you're new on the job, you wouldn't want to make suggestions to your boss, but I'm sure if you share your feelings with him about having your friends get the letter from you, he'll decide to send it from his own account.
It's good practice on a company's part to contact all those who applied for a job, even when they receive a lot of applications. Thus, I'm fairly certain your boss will work with you on this issue. However, if he's less understanding, ask another coworker if you can forward the e-mail from his or her account.
Q: My agency usually has several interns at a time who help us with some of the more menial tasks, like stuffing envelopes and updating our contact databases. Because they're college students looking for PR experience, I feel bad asking them to do little things, but many only stay for one semester and don't have time to get involved in account work. Should I try to get them involved in bigger projects, or am I feeling guilty for no reason?
Mr. B, Pittsburgh
A: Your concerns are perfectly legitimate. While you may need the intern-power to get your press releases out and keep the Rolodex up-to-date, you might want to consider asking your intern to sit in on a meeting or go to an event if they can't work on an account. They are doing an internship to learn about the industry, and while observation isn't the same as actual practice, your interns will be grateful to escape envelope-stuffing once in a while. You are a kind person to look out for the lowly intern.
QAfter the Labor Day weekend, my coworker showed me pictures from her sister's wedding. I realized that her new brother-in-law is a man who I dated in college, and who I quite frankly do not want to see again. My coworker is a good friend, and because of it I was invited to a surprise party, hosted by her sister. I've already RSVPed to say that I won't be attending the party, but I don't want to be forced into avoiding my friend outside of work just because I may run into her brother-in-law. I don't want to tell her that we dated because it will inevitably lead to talking about why we broke up. I don't think it's a good idea to tell her that her sister's husband is a jerk. I'm really stuck. What should I do?
Ms. C., Dallas
A: If you really want to be friends with your coworker, you need to be honest with her. It's not necessary that you tell her all about the breakup.
If you tell her that you dated her brother-in-law, it is assumed that things didn't work out. Just let her know that you don't want to see him, if not why, and then you can carry on your friendship without awkwardness and secrets. It will make for a better friendship and a happier workplace.
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