Welcome to the real world.

(There will be a snippet later today and, hopefully, the cover reveal. Yesterday turned into a wasted day due to what I thought was an HVAC issue but turned into a plumbing issue. Just one of the joys of owning a home that is more than 30 years old.)

Edited to add: My friend Nicki has a great post about this. Check it out over at The Liberty Zone.

One of my pet peeves these days is the attitude that has permeated so many of our schools and youth activities. You know the attitude I’m talking about. The “Everyone is a winner” attitude that means you don’t keep score in ballgames and, in too many cases, homework isn’t graded. There is so much concern over bruising our little darlings’ egos that the administration and the so-called experts have forgotten that part of raising a child and educating them is to prepare them for life as an adult.

The real problem with this approach is that when our young adults hit the real world, they suddenly come up against the reality that they aren’t the best at everything they do. Worse, they learn — often the hard way — that they can’t do everything they want just because they want it. They have to earn their livings and earn promotions. Half-assed jobs might slide under the radar for a bit where management is concerned but their co-workers know and it impacts how they react to the slacker.

This was brought home again this morning when I read the following post. Talk about an entitled snowflake coming into contact with the real world.

It seems someone, who I will call Snowflake, snagged themselves an internship. It was Snowflake’s first job and one they hoped would give them experience in the field they wanted to work in once out of college. Everything apparently was going fine until — gasp — Snowflake noticed someone working for the company not wearing shoes that met the dress code.

Yep, dress code. How dare the company have a dress code that required what sounds like business attire. Snowflake seemed to think that because her part of the company didn’t deal with customers or the public ought to mean they could have a different dress code than everyone else in the company. So little Snowflake went to talk to her manager about it. Imagine her surprise when said manager said, “No, little Snowflake, you can’t have a different dress code. It applies to everyone.”

So what does litle Snowflake do? Instead of asking specific questions about why some of the company seemed to be allowed to break the dress code, she gets together with her fellow interns. Golly, they are just as concerned about this seeming inequity as is she. So they put their little pinheads together and draw up a petition. Snowflake was soooo proud of it. She wrote it just like they’d been taught in college. All the interns then banded together, all save one who had a clue, and presented the petition to their managers.

Oh, the joy and feeling of accomplishment that must of filled them. The next day, those interns who signed the petition were called into a meeting. Snowflake and her fellow lemmings went in, thinking they were about to take part in a meaningful discussion about their petition. Only to have the real world smack them hard in the face. Instead of discussing the petition, they were handed their walking papers and told to vacate the premises ASAP.

They were told their behavior had been “unprofessional”. They were shocked, shocked I tell you. Why, the bosses didn’t even give them a chance to discuss the issue with them.

But here is the telling statement:

The worst part is that just before the meeting ended, one of the managers told us that the worker who was allowed to disobey the dress code was a former soldier who lost her leg and was therefore given permission to wear whatever kind of shoes she could walk in. You can’t even tell, and if we had known about this we would have factored it into our argument.

Wow, how many things are wrong with this comment? First, when Snowflake went to the manager to ask about the dress code, why didn’t she say she had seen others who weren’t in complaince and who, apparently, were allowed to be non-compliant? Maybe if she had, she would have learned why the co-worker was allowed to wear other footwear.

Second, why does it matter that she couldn’t tell the co-worker was an amputee? Instead of focusing on what she could or could not tell, why hadn’t she done her homework and simply asked? Oh, I know. That put the responsibility on her to actually research the issue and it is clear responsibility might not be something she is well versed in.

Third, the entire letter shows that Snowflake still doesn’t get that what she did might have been ill thought out. Nor does she realize that what she and her fellow interns were the lowest of the low on the employee chart. Nor does she realize that what she and her fellow interns did was akin to organizing a revolt, something management tends to look poorly on.

The proof that she has no inkling how badly she stepped in it is her comment that she feels her dismissal was unfair and she wants them to reconsider. Note first that she is only concerned with her own dismissal and not that of her fellow interns. Selfish any?

Back in the dark ages of my own internship, several things were made clear to me from day one. The first was I was there to learn. I didn’t know enough to have an opinion. I was to listen, be respectful of those I was working with — no matter what their position in the office — and ask questions when I had them. I would be worked like a dog and paid a pittance for it. But I would learn and if I did the job well, it could lead to a job after graduation.

It was the same a few years ago when my son did his internship. He did whatever they asked of him and it wasn’t unusual for him to work 12 to 18 hour days at times. When he talked to some of his fellow classmates who were interning elsewhere, he would shake his head as one or two of them whined about having to work a full day and be accountable for getting their assignments done. His comment echoed mine, “Welcome to the real world, sweetheart.”

The really sad thing is Snowflake isn’t unusual. Hopefully, however, she learns that she can’t always do what she wants, especially in a business setting. Your department might not deal directly with the public but that doesn’t mean clients won’t occasionally come through your area. That is why you have the same dress code as the front office. Just because someone is allowed to deviate from the dress code — or regular office hours or whatever — and you don’t see a reason for it, that doesn’t mean there isn’t one. Before going off to crusade for what you think is the “right thing”, maybe you ought to stop and ask a few questions first.

In other words, educate yourself on what is happening around you.

Better yet, Snowflake, worry about yourself and doing your job. You are not the most important person in the office. Your opinion was neither asked for nor needed. The fact you wound up getting yourself and yoru fellow interns fired falls directly on your head — and theirs for not thinking for themselves and seeing how badly things could go wrong.

So here’s the thing, Snowflake. It’s time to pull up your big girl panties, admit you fucked up and learn from the situaion. It’s adulting time.

About the author

Writer, proud military mom and possessed by two crazy cats and one put-upon dog. Writes under the names of Amanda S. Green, Sam Schall and Ellie Ferguson.

Comments

  1. That company will be unlikely to get interns from that school for a long time.

    That company won’t miss them.

    But if I were in HR there, and I cared about that school, I might go to the school and discuss how they’re failing to teach professional behavior in the classroom, and how that’s failing their graduates. After all, if their intern candidates behave like this, how will their graduates? This bunch of entitled children may have just shot more than themselves in the collective foot.

    1. A while back I had several interns each semester working for me. It got to the point with one college that I just refused to even deal with any of their students. Ill prepared, ill educated, and ill mannered. Word like that gets around in a community.

  2. I loved reading that only ONE intern refused to sign it… and then ‘all of the interns who signed the petition’ were fired. It was glorious.

    The thing about this? It’s readily apparent that the snowflake did NOT learn the appropriate lesson, since s/he took to a public forum to ‘ask for advice to get her own way’ still.

    1. Good point! I’ve read a lot of commentary on this story (even contributed a little of my own), but I don’t think anyone has made your point so clearly.

  3. Had a “how to write a proposal” class when I went back to school. We had to write a variety of proposals for this or that thing we wanted the school to pay for (this was the required-for-all ENG 119). Took a second “how to write a proposal” class, ENG220, that was required for an English major or minor in “professional writing”. We wrote proposals that were make believe promotions of products that we thought our pretend boss might want to consider. The first class also included a lot of stuff about discourses and ethics. The second class talked about who you were writing something for. In the part of the “final review memo three page paper” of the first class where we were told specifically to discuss ethics related to the class, I said that I felt it was profoundly unethical to be asked, as a required assignment, to be persuasive in convincing the University to spend other people’s money simply for the sake of spending it. I’m not even kidding. I really did think it was unethical.

    But I’m thinking… that mindset was really taken for granted and promoted. Now student, as an assignment, write up a proposal to get the University Administration to make something better. I’ve little doubt that Snowflake thought this was what an overachiever was *supposed* to do.

    1. There’s also the pernicious Change.org phenomenon. People are encouraged to think that a petition has some magical power to change the world.

  4. I think I meant also to say that the second class that was far more practical minded toward professional writing avoided the sort of normalization of activism that the first class suffered from.

    1. When the nephew was doing his MBA studies, he told me about the proposal his class had to write up to advocate for putting special disabled seating at the baseball field, way beyond what the ADA requires (football and basketball facilities already had ones like they wanted).

      I must admit that I rolled my eyes at him – then he showed me the draft he was editing. Cost estimates, installation time plans, and most importantly, the survey they did – the normal seating had between 40% and 55% “fill rate” and something like 15% season ticket holders, while the special section (of the size they were trying to get) would have close to a 90% fill rate and nearly 50% season ticket holders. Plus the expected “feelz” benefits for PR…

      You convince your boss (sometimes) to do what you want – but only if you can show him or her that it’s what they want.

  5. The sad thing is it isn’t just non paid interns who emerge from school with this belief. I have worked with several people (recently) who have this same point of view.
    In what world is it okay not to do your work because you think it is too hot in the building? I’m not talking about extreme temperatures or anything. I am talking about inside an air conditioned building.
    The other one seems to believe that a smoke every thirty minutes and ignoring customer is okay as well as just randomly leaving to visit his mother while on the clock. He didn’t clock out. He didn’t even tell anyone he was leaving. He just vanished for 45 minutes and then reappeared talking about how he had to go visit his mom for a minute. His actions left one person trying to field all of the customers by herself.
    These people are in their 30’s and still employed by the company because they threatened discrimination and the company folded and ensured them full time employment, even though other long time employee’s hours had to be cut to accommodate the snowflakes. I am still trying to figure out the discrimination angle. I don’t get it at all.

    1. Simple: Unless you are a straight white Christian male, there are any number of organizations, government and quasi-government, whose sole reason for existence is to file complaints, lawsuits, investigations of the business, etc. that has offended your feelings. Unless, of course, they’ve already bought into the shakedown and are paying the cost of doing business.

  6. I am a teacher in southern California. During the summer I taught Algebra to 9th graders. During one week we had a hot spell and troubles with the AC. I actually had a girl tell me it was illegal to make her stay in class when it was 80 degrees. I tried to reason with her by telling her there was no maximum temp in California then threatened to call her mom. Here are the results of her issue.
    1. She was sent to the office.
    2. She came back and apologized to me for disrupting my class.
    3. She did not have her phone with her. The AP took it.

    My job is not to teach math. My job is to teach students. Don’t put up with any of the snowflake mentality.

    Mr. J

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