Q&A: My Bad Date Offered Me an Underpaid Internship!

Bullish Q&A- Bad Bosses and Good Gifts

Here’s a curated Q&A from the GetBullish Tumblr.

I’m a college senior with a side hustle marketing artists/craftspeople (I made $12k last year). Anyway, I met a successful 28yo artist at a bar recently, hit it off, and asked him on a date. He declined & instead offered me an internship at $10/hour (~20% of my regular rate). That’s a definite no but I know I could sell him some sort of service package instead. Fine w/rejection, but I’m wondering: what’s the likelihood that this guy is trying to take advantage of my age/interest to get a deal?


RUN AWAY, RUN AWAY. This is some guy’s gross fantasy, the young, needy intern who wants him. Not that you’re really needy, but if he thinks you want a $10/hour internship….

Look, if you can sell him a service package where you provide the service in your own location, on your own time, and just send him a bill, cool, make a counteroffer. But if he wants you to come into his office where he can direct your activities for $10 (or $12) an hour, then no, this is just too weird. The power dynamic is fucked.

This goes for future unsavory characters as well: possibly worthwhile as clients, but not as your boss.


I’m a mid career professional and I work for someone who has a hard time sitting with discomfort. Recently, she made a big thing out of the fact that I sent a thank you note to people we’d met with without cc’ing her. This sent me into a rage spiral, because I’m not sure why there are so many politics to the cc and why she expects that my professional relationships be completely transparent to — and dependent on and seemingly approved by — her. How do I handle this bullishly? Thanks!


That’s gross. Maybe I can sort of see the point on the thank-you note, just because she might be embarrassed to send another thank-you note without knowing about the first one. But as a general pattern, this is invasive and weird. She doesn’t own you. You can talk to other human beings, with perhaps some extra rules around her direct supervisor, if she has one. But you have a career that exists separately from your job, and it’s your responsibility to nurture that career, and keep it not entirely dependent on this one job. You’re also just a grownup who sometimes says please and thank-you.

If this were me, I’d double down. Write some articles on LinkedIn. Start volunteering with organizations in your field, both professional societies where you can work your way into some kind of leadership role (you can almost always get a “title” if you’re volunteering to do free work), as well as let’s-get-middle-school-girls-interested-in-architecture! kinds of things, which are totally unimpeachable as a way to spend your time. Who can complain when you spend your free time doing charity work, right? And just develop a huge network. And when she complains, you can be like, “Oh, I know him from outside of work.”

I realize this response is a little antagonistic (hey, maybe that’s why you chose me to ask!) But if you just know THOUSANDS of people, maybe she’ll give up and accept that she can’t micromanage every interaction you have with people outside the office.


Hi Jen! What are your thoughts on planners? I like your thoughts on the productivity hacks, but do you have any thoughts on planners and the new rise in the paper planner industry?


Well, the SELF Journal is doing pretty well in our store. And there are a lot of options out there that are much more girly – I keep seeing people’s beautiful planner pages on Instagram.


I’m interested in paper systems that are more for to-do’s and less for keeping track of events, because a lot of people need to share a calendar with a partner – I finally had to switch from paper to Google Cal once my partner and I had to coordinate baby stuff. But my to-do’s are still on paper.

I think the main thing to say is that there’s no amazing option – whether an app or a leatherbound journal – that’s going to suddenly make all your tasks get done. If you half-adopt any system, you’re going to be frustrated and disappointed. Whatever you decide to try, you probably need to dedicate an entire day (or more!) to actually learning how to use the system – watch the tutorial videos, etc. Otherwise you end up with some kind of weird Trello board that scrolls infinitely to the right that you never look at again.


Any advice for a bullish/feminist gift for a new mom? My friend just had a baby (which was a super welcome life event and also not easy for her). I’d like to send her something useful and nice to let her know I’m thinking of her. I’ve never birthed a baby. Any suggestions?


Well, we do have this awesome feminist onesie, but that’s for the baby, not so much the mom.

I want to say wine, lots of wine, but if she’s breastfeeding that may not be a satisfying gift (you can drink and breastfeed if you time it right, but some people are still horrified by the thought and could possibly get offended).

And it’s kind of hard to give someone, you know … their old life back. Which they might kind of want. A lot. Even if they really wanted to have a baby. It’s like imagine you always wanted to live in Paris but living in Paris comes with lots of other conditions, like you have to wear a 50-lb weighted vest all the time and the inside of your apartment has to look like shit for the first 20 years. Even if you really wanted to move to Paris, you might get pretty depressed.

Maybe just go over with a big cheese plate with all the fancy shit on there – some candied walnuts and fig spread and stuff. When you have a baby, you’re lucky if people bring you food of any kind, but people usually tend to bring sick-people food, you know? Chicken soup and soupy casseroles. But maybe once you get the damn baby out, you’re done being a sick person? How about some dainty fancy fucking food? You can send some chocolate-covered strawberries from Harry and David if you’re far away.


The CEO of my small startup said my output is too low and that I code much slower than the other woman, who already had a professional career with a different type of coding. I’m fairly sure I heard him say ‘redundancy package’ in the next room, so I’m freaking out. I’m a junior in my first job, have four months of rent (if I scrounge, no bills) and can probably freelance if it comes to it. I have a mental health condition made worse by stress. Any other tips for what to do in this situation?


That sounds very stressful, but great job saving up an emergency fund!


I’d address this head-on. Ask for a meeting, and say you understand your productivity isn’t quite as expected, and try to get some practical benchmarks on how much you should be producing. Do this much per day, or have this thing by Thursday and this other thing by next Thursday. And then hustle for a couple of weeks and get it done, if at all possible. Hopefully a spurt of supercharged productivity will make him feel heard and get him off your back for awhile, even if it’s unsustainable long-term.

It might be possible to be gracious about this by turning it around from you being too slow to this other woman being such a great asset to the company and such a great person for newer employees to learn from. Complimenting your coworkers is always a good look. Does this woman have a higher title than you? Presumably she makes more money? If so, it only makes sense that she does more than you.

Can you ask this other woman for help, or at least tips? Do you have an old teacher or mentor you can ask?

And then, put out some feelers for getting another job. Startups are often watching every penny and trying to squeeze people in a way that large corporations do … less often, at least. Startups can fire you tomorrow, whereas large corporations often involve HR, put the person on a 12-week performance improvement plan, and have a series of meetings before firing someone. So spread your job search around. You can spin this experience in future interviews, as in “While the startup world is exciting, I’d like to work in a more established company in a more stable environment. It’s great to have the resources to do something right rather than rushing it to market because the company is in a crisis.” See, that sort of reads like a compliment to someone who works at a “boring,” possibly old-school company.


BTW, a “redundancy package” isn’t the worst thing – that stretches out your four months of rent a bit. At least in the US, I wouldn’t expect that an entry-level person at a startup would get severance at all.

(And consider seeing your mental health professional about all this stress!)



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