Attitude Adjustment 101

Every summer our offices get invaded by students on work terms. And just because I use the word “invaded”, I don’t mean to imply that this is necessarily a bad thing. It’s fun having some fresh, young blood around — watching them getting up to their zany student antics. It kind of livens the place up. Yes, it does.

However, (and you knew there had to be an “however”, right?) —  however, I think it would be a good idea if schools (or maybe even parents) in charge of these lovely young people’s education gave them all a brief workshop on office etiquette before they foisted them onto the workplace.

Yes, some of them are brilliant and very efficient and polite and hard-working and business-like. But a hell of a lot of them don’t seem to have a clue. So, I propose a short half-course called Attitude Adjustment 101. It would cover the following:

Module 1:  Dressing for Work. No matter how casual an office might be, it is never a good idea to look like you just stumbled in from a night on the beach. Short shorts, flip-flops and tank tops are really only appropriate if you wish to work in the offices of a surf shop. While many office drones enjoy looking at sexy, firm young flesh, you don’t want to overwhelm them with all of it at once. (There will also be a day-long seminar on why clubbing clothes isn’t what grown-ups mean when they say “dressing up for work”).


Module II: Telling Time: We understand that it’s been a long time since Kindergarten, therefore this module will review and refresh the concept of time and why workplaces are all hung up about it. We will look at your right to party your face off at night vs still having to arriving by 8:00 am to work the next morning. Some questions that will be addressed are: Is it fair? Is it really so wrong to start work in the afternoon? And, if you have to get ready to go camping for Friday night, what’s wrong with leaving work at 2:00?

Module III: Doing as You’re Told: Students in their second year of post-secondary education are, of course, more than ready for upper management positions, so why are they expected to do filing and photocopying on their work terms?  Your heads are filled with all the knowledge and wisdom of the ages and people insist on treating you like hired help. How to cope with this humiliation will be given careful examination.


Module IV: Acting Interested. Naturally, once you graduate with a degree from our esteemed institution of higher learning, you are going to fall into an exciting, well-paid and glamorous career. At that time, you will be perfectly free to sneer at those saps who slave away in a boring old office day after day. How to stop yourself from doing that while you’re actually working with them for a summer will be covered in a workshop by a well-known guest speaker. We will look closely at the urban myth that a year or two after graduation you will come crawling back begging for a job.

Module V: Earning What You’re Worth.  It is indeed, barbaric of work term placements to have to work for only double the current minimum wage while useless old people in the same office as you are earning way more. A comprehensive workbook will be distributed outlining the methodology used by most work places to determine promotions, salary increases and advancement in the organization. The puzzling concepts of full-time permanent employment and extensive experience vs summer jobs will be explored in-depth.

Course Text



31 responses to “Attitude Adjustment 101

  1. Lord love ’em….

    But then they finish school. And the real world smacks them in the face. And all is good (insert evil chuckle).

  2. LOL. More kids should take this course. I’m lucky in terms of the first point-Dressing for work-because my workplace is pretty casual and many people come to work in jeans, t-shirts, shorts, etc. Haven’t seen any transparent skirts or Daisy Dukes yet, though and hopefully won’t see them any time in the future. LOL.

  3. Aw, damn. My niece could use this course. She has particular trouble with the party-all-night-but-you-still-have-to-show-up-at-work-in-the-morning-and-be-functioning concept.

    As for clothing, I swear some days it’s like I work at a surf shop, with the dudes and dudettes in board shorts and flip flops. (When the hell did flip flops become appropriate work footwear, even in a casual office?)

  4. Where I work, we don’t interact with the general public, so the dress code is pretty relaxed.

    When you said this: “Short shorts, flip-flops and tank tops are really only appropriate if you wish to work in the offices of a surf shop”, you meant all together right? That it’s wrong to wear them all at the same time? Because I wear flip-flops (though not rubber ones – nice leather ones) to work with pants in the summer. And I’m wearing a tank top right now, under my long-ish denim dress.

    Do I need a remedial course on module 1?

  5. Ooh someone has bumped into her fifties all of a sudden.
    It must be very trying to have all these younguns not looking, working, appreciating, the way they are supposed to.
    Why when I was young , blah , blah, blah.

  6. “Students in their second year of post-secondary education are, of course, more than ready for upper management positions, so why are they expected to do filing and photocopying on their work terms? ”

    LOL! You’re bang-on XUP!

    Gotta love those students who can uncannily make all of our problems go away cuz they just took Economics 301!

    Alas, we need those damned ivory-towered know-it-alls with overinflated senses of entitlement. Our Divisional soccer team would really suck without them!

  7. Too funny – but those are the ones you get…

    Then there are the “i’m not working in/at a place like THAT!!!”

  8. Clueless is right… I’m more than a little concerned that the laissez-fair attitude of the schools is really starting to make them lazy. Need to bring back the fire!

  9. Jazz -Yes, an interesting but dismaying journey we all had to make.

    Hannah – I think they could take the course and it wouldn’t sink in anyway. They won’t learn all these valuable lessons in a classroom.

    Louise – Flip flops seem to be THE summer footwear choice. I can’t stand them. That thing between my toes drives me nuts. There are so many pretty sandals around that don’t go – clack, clack, clack as you walk down the hall. And flip flops aren’t even cheap anymore — some of them are selling for $50 and more!! Kids are so cuckoo.

    Alison – No, you’re good. It’s when they’re worn all together that it gets too beachy. The test is: if you went for a walk on the beach at lunch time, would you stand out as an office worker or would you blend in with all the other people lounging around the beach? I wear long shorts and sandals to work in the summer and sleeveless tops, too because we don’t see the public here either. I wouldn’t wear any of my spaghetti strap tank tops though without a shirt over.

    Bandobras – No, it’s mostly fun to have them around, but some of them cause more aggravation than they’re worth with all the stuff they reckon is beneath to do. So we THINK it’s being done because we asked them to do it and then find out (too late often) that it wasn’t done because “hey, dude…I don’t DO filing”

    Trashee – Ya, and I seem to remember being very much like them at that stage of my life. (PS: what IS the deal with the comment thing on your blog? It’s almost impossible to leave a comment. I’ve got one spinning over there right now after half a dozen attempts and I’m not sure it’s giong to work this time. But I’m giving up now, if not)

    Elliot – Yup. They all KNOW they’re not spending THEIR lives in a stuffy government office. They’re all going to be sports reporters and astronauts and stuff.

    Ian – There are no more consequences for not working in schools. Teachers are not allowed to fail students. So, they can work their asses off or do nothing at all and they’ll still pass. No incentive to excel. It’s a little scary actually

  10. Over the years, I’ve gotten suckered into to supervising countless summer students or co-op students. In fact, some years, I’ve even ASKED for students.

    But I’ve now become older and wiser, I stay away from it like the plague.

    More often than not, you spend more time supervising and helping them get started, than any man-hours they migth have saved you. If you break even…you’re lucky.

    Yeah, yeah..I know….It’s really nice to mentor and help a young person (After all, I was a student once too).

    Great for THEM…but what about US?

    Usually, the boss still expects you to do your own work, and dosen’t give you credit for the hours and hours you’re spending trying to get some 20-year old started on his project.

    It’s a recipe to make you look bad (if you dont’ complete your own tasks, or the student is a screw-up).

    Not saying that I dont’ think it’s a good idea to hire students.

    But I’ve been there…done that…I’ve put in my time. Let someone ELSE do it now…

  11. As an adult who’s been on the work-force for 20 years and am now back in college with these slackers, I completely understand your pain. Coming from a military environment and being naturally a little tightly-wound doesn’t make their “the world owes me everything ’cause I exist” attitude any easier to take. My fellow adult students and I laugh at them, knowing they will get their ass handed to them on a platter in the real world and they won’t know why.

    I’m looking forward to my co-op term, which begins in January. I can only hope I’m not a liability for the company that chooses me… though I think with 2 decades of r/l experience under my belt, I might not be completely useless. I mean, perhaps I can’t code worth a damn, but at least I’ll be very prompt and properly dressed. 🙂

  12. HA!
    I was NEVER like that! I was humble, thirsty for knowledge and respectful of the wisdom that my bosses held.
    Oh – and I deactivated the fancy-schmancy comment thingy on my blog. Try again and let me know if yer still having probs.

  13. After reading this and from what my husband has told me (like Susan he is back in school), maybe we should call this “The Slacker Generation.”

  14. We have to come up with some words for dressing that don’t make us sound like (cranky) old women. Right now, all I have is “appropriate” and “modest”. Especially the word “modest” makes me sound like I believe in the burkha. But all that skin, tanned and toned or not, is offensive. I don’t even like the bikini bottoms that elite female runners are wearing these days. Of course, at the really old Olympics, we are led to believe that the athletes performed in the nude. But I have my suspicions that was an artistic convention.

  15. Friar – I hear ya., man. I have my own kid to raise. I don’t mind spending half a day showing some kid the ropes, but I don’t want to hold their hand and clean up after them for an entire summer anymore.

    Susan – I think you would be a little scary to get as a co-op student. We had a temp like you once, who came with lots of experience and a military work ethic. She was calling US slackers and kept trying to tell us how inefficient our work practices were and how she could improve them. Don’t do that, okay? People usually aren’t all that grateful.

    Trashee – Yay, comments worked –see all the comments you have now? I was beginning to think it would just be easier to run around the corner and tell you whatever I had to tell you in person. And yes, I’m sure you were the best summer term student ever.

    Lola – It’s July 23rd — so you still have time to get here!!

    Geewits – I’m not sure if it’s slacker so much as they come with this whole expectation of entitlement. I think their parents have set them up to expect the world to treat them like little princes and princesses. That we all should be so grateful for their existence that we’ll bend over backwards to make them happy. They’ve never really had to fend for themselves or prove themselves and they’ve never been held accountable for their actions. Everything that goes wrong is someone else’s fault.

    Julia – At work we just call it beachy. Like I said to Alison, if you go to the beach and look like you fit right in, you shouldn’t be wearing that to work. A half naked leg, a naked arm, a teensy bit of cleavage in the summer – no problem. I don’t want to see your tramp stamp tattoo, the cellulite on your thighs, most of your breast or your undergarments.

  16. Oh, wow, XUP. You’ve really gotten to know me through our bloggish exchanges.

    It really *would* be my nature to see and yearn to fix the inefficiencies in the company I worked for. However, if that company was somewhere I was really interested in working with after my program is done, I’d bite my tongue until I was hired on permanently and that trial period was over. Then I’d try to change the world, one department at a time!

    At least, I’d like to think I could keep my opinions to myself until then. I guess I’ll find out, won’t I?

  17. Yes! We must spread the word: skanky beach wear (which DOES include that spaghetti strap top along with the short-shorts, you in the back row!) is inappropriate for the majority of work environments. Go home and get changed! Please!

  18. That chick in the plastic bags and thong looks a lot older than a college student…just saying…

  19. I remember once being on a Naval base for an emergency-really long story. The Navy is full of young people. You wouldn’t believe the wild parties they had and how many arrived at their jobs totally hung over, barely able to function. I guess sort of like college, come to think of it.

  20. times sure have changed haven’t they? seems like there is an deadly epidemic of “entitlement” going on. i just hope there’s a cure.

  21. Susan – Ha ha, that’s funny! Once upon a time (and maybe still, in some places) and employee like you would have been a godsend (an annoying godsend, but still). Now they just label you a complainer. I’ve been there and I’m telling you there’s no point in trying to make government more efficient.

    Pinklea – I’m all for casual wear at work. If I had to be all buttoned up in a suit every day, I couldn’t function. But there’s a limit. People at work in tube tops and short shorts, you want to offer them a beer, not a promotion.

    Risley – She’s done a lot of hard living in her 19 years.

    Linda – I think it must be. A lot of focussed attention followed by binge drinking — college/armed forces — same thing.

    Leah – I think it sort of cures itself once they come smack up against the world outside their little home and school bubble. I don’t know about you, but I was kind of an arrogant shit when I was young, too. I think I’m more or less cured now.

  22. Last winter when Daughter #2 moved to Toronto she had to postpone an interview with an employment agency because she had strep throat. She called, apologized and asked politely to re-schedule. She has had steady employment ever since. The reason? They were impressed that she called; usually the job candidate just doesn’t show up. Secondly, she asked right away about dress code and showed up dressed just a little more formally than that. And don’t get me started on how bored gum chewing adds to the general intelligibility of so many of our so-called service industry representatives. And I see that frickin’ earbud . . .

    Lest you think I’m all down on the youth I’ll add that she has just had a panic button installed at her desk. Seems as if those of my generation (angered by some contract issues at a high profile provincial agency) are taking it out on the polite, highly intelligent and under-employed young people behind the reception desks.

    I’m done now.

  23. Hahaaaa! I sincerely hope no one felt that way about me in my 4 co-op terms… I think it’s safe to say they didn’t during my last one, as that was my “bridge” into full-time government work.
    Our group has 1 kid this summer, and he’s insanely well-behaved and he comes on time and everything…

  24. Gaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah! I always do this. Semidarkchocolate, above, is me. I’m writing for a cool wordpress blog called, and of course as I”m coming to check out your blog, I comment thinking I’m “myself” only to discover that I’m actually my wordpress account…
    I feel like I’m starting to have an internet identity crisis…

  25. Grace – It doesn’t take much to impress as a student. – which augers well for those students who have a bit on the ball. Good for your daughter and thanks for the comment and visting the blog, Grace.

    SDC – It’s funny that you’re calling him “kid” and you’ve just been bridged. I’d watch my back with that “perfect” student, if I were you…I’m just sayin’

  26. This is so funny. We have summer interns now and then and it never fails that they break some of the guidelines you set forth. My favorite is the dress code. Some of the get-ups I’ve seen!

  27. Kimberly – I know, eh? Stuff that looks real cute when you’re out shopping or in the club or at the beach, somehow just doesn’t cut it in an office environment.

    Violetsky – I’m sure they’d give you a summer intern, too, if you asked some local college or university! Think how much fun it will be when they’re gone.