The Junior Employee’s Guide to Work Interactions

The Junior Employee's Guide to Work Interactions

I’m a strong believer in good old fashioned patriotism. On a scale from Jane Fonda to Kenny Powers, I definitely fall strongly towards the right end of the spectrum. Memorial Day is my favorite patriotic holiday. I love the meaningful commemorations of the fallen military, along with the fact that I don’t have to work for a day and I get to spend it filling myself with BBQ and beer.

But coworkers, man. Always up in your business. I hate having to make small talk with every — I repeat, every — coworker in my office about what my plans are for the weekend (before) and how it was (after). Over the past week, I have found myself in way too many conversations with coworkers about my weekend plans regarding Memorial Day, but I noticed that each conversation could easily fit into one of three discrete categories.

How each conversation went, of course, was based on the seniority of the person with whom I was speaking. I work in corporate law, so for the most part, my field is very hierarchical. Many of you understand what I’m talking about, although my experience with this is more or less limited to the fields of law and finance, so draw your own comparisons to your career. The conversations you have with your coworkers, both casual and work-related, are largely influenced by your relative positions within your organization. I’m a relatively junior member within my organization, as I assume most of the readers of this website are based on the comments section, so we’ll work based on that assumption.

Junior Coworker: This person is usually around your age and maturity level. You are both probably single, both probably drink a fair amount, and both probably run in similar social circles. Positions: Junior Associate (law); Analyst (finance).

Mid-Level Coworker: This person is a few years older than you, although they can still relate to you socially. They are usually married or in a serious relationship at the very least. If you are lucky, they try to live vicariously through your exploits. Positions: Senior Associate/Counsel (law); Associate/VP (finance).

Senior Coworker: This person is at least ten years older than you, and probably much more than that. Social interaction with this person ranges from parent-like to drunk uncle-like, but is always tinged with a certain amount of nerves. After all, your career is in their hands. Positions: Partner (law); MD/Member (finance).

Let’s see how each conversation will play out with each category of coworker.

In the break room – “What are your plans for Memorial Day Weekend?”

Junior Coworker: “I’m getting ham-sauced on the beach for the first two days then recovering the last day with aloe, weed, and Seamless. I may crack at the purchase agreement late Monday night. Hopefully, I’ll manage to find some strange — it’s been months.’

Mid-Level Coworker: “Probably going to take some friends and beer to the beach and get around to doing some of those purchase agreement revisions on Sunday. Hopefully I’ll get laid — it’s been a while.”

Senior Coworker: “I’ll be working on those purchase agreement revisions at the beach, sir.”

At the monthly office happy hour – “Have you met any women on Tinder yet?”

Junior Coworker: “Yeah, I have a date tonight, but if it turns out she isn’t down to clown, then I have a backup lined up to meet later on in the night. If the first one goes well, I’ll cancel on the second.”

Mid-Level Coworker: “Yeah, I have a couple dates lined up for this weekend. Hopefully, one or both are nice ladies.”

Senior coworker: “Yes ma’am. I found a nice lady and tonight we are going to a drive-in movie, after which I will have her home by 11 pm.”

At the urinal – “I’m having some problems with Excel, would you mind stopping by my office to help me with it later?”

Junior Coworker: “Fuck you, you work in a cubicle. Also, we both know full and well that we lied about our Excel skills to get a job here.”

Mid-Level Coworker: *Chuckles* “Sure, I’ll see what I can do. There’s a drink in it for me, right?” *Shit-eating grin*

Senior Coworker: “Of course, sir!” *Rushes back to desk and frantically reads through the help pages on Excel for how to troubleshoot common problems*

“Pay day, amirite?”

Junior Coworker: “Let’s get as drunk as possible.”

Mid-Level Coworker: “Wanna grab a drink?”

Senior Coworker: *Seethes thinking about size of boss’s paycheck* “About time, gotta pay off that mortgage!”

Image via Shutterstock

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