Is it safe to crack a joke?

I can’t believe graduation is next month! I already feel so far behind in my job search process. Like most ISFJ’s, I’m a responsible person who likes to have a plan! And not having an exact plan after graduation is causing some major stress.

Not only am I worried about after graduation, paying student loans, and the current gas prices ($4.15/gal), the magazine I’m working for is finalizing their fall issue, which is coming out this July. This means tedious (boring) last minute work. Don’t get me wrong, I love working for a magazine, but fact checking isn’t the most fun thing to do.

Our team is fairly small, which means that everybody (even my editor) is going through page by page, fact checking and copy editing. It’s a grueling task, but it is one of the most important.

Copy editing is work that is done to improve the formatting, style, and accuracy of the publication.

I haven’t had much copy editing experience, so I found myself asking my editor a lot of clarifying questions. I also haven’t seen their style guide before, which made it harder to fix any mistakes.

This week I met with the group at my editor’s house to go over the pages and to create a last minute to-do list. It was my second time meeting my editor and the other interns (we’re mostly email-based), therefore I was a bit nervous.  I wasn’t sure how professional I was suppose to be because the other interns, who have worked there longer, have already developed a relationship with our editor. The others were cracking jokes and talking about their personal lives. Not to mention, I was in my editor’s home!

I wanted to join in the conversation but wasn’t quite sure what to actually talk about other than work. I wanted to get more comfortable with the group, but is it safe to crack a joke, or talk about your personal life when your editor is in the room? How comfortable is too comfortable?


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14 Responses to Is it safe to crack a joke?

  1. agavette says:

    Personally, if I was in that situation, I think I would try to feel out the vibe of the group (like you did, it sounds like) and go from there. I felt like this in the beginning of my internship as well–we also have a small production team that is pretty close-knit. I sort of eased myself into conversations, with relevant comments, and eventually I felt comfortable with sharing random personal things (not TOO personal, of course), and they reciprocated–I even met my supervisor’s daughter a few weeks ago! I think it’s important to connect with your coworkers on a level that goes beyond strictly business. Plus, since this internship is kind of like a long job interview, you want the people you’re working with to be able to see you as part of the team and like working with you. I say get a little personal, but don’t get into inappropriate territory. During recruitment, my sorority says to stay away from the five B’s: boys, booze, beds, bank accounts, and Barack (politics). I think if you stay away from those topics, you’ll be just fine!

  2. rkaapu says:

    Graduation has somehow creeped up on us and the real world, in all its expenses and glory, is waiting for us on the other end. I am so excited to embark on a new chapter, as scary as it may be. My only hope is that I get a job to pay for the $4.15 per gallon gas, food and shelter, otherwise its back to the parents house I go 😦

    I think it is always okay to be professional, even if others aren’t. I don’t think anyone will berate you for being too professional. I do, however, think that getting personal in such a short period of time is risky. Of course, being personable is one thing and personal is another. Adding in little comments to join the conversation is always invited, make it known that you are a part of the team, just know what you add.

  3. PDXSX says:

    I think you were fine to play it safe, Bree. If you run into those people again, I’m sure you can fire off a quick bit of humor, but it never hurts to make sure you are professional!

  4. When I first started going attending meetings at my internship everyone in the room would look at me if someone said a curse word during the meeting, to see what my reaction was. Now they couldn’t care less. I think it shows a sign a comfort when people on your team make jokes around you and talk about their personal lives. Given that you have been with these people 7 weeks they have a sense of who you are and if making jokes and joining in on the conversation is who you are then I don’t think you should suppress yourself. They know you’re a hard worker and if they like your personality and see you as someone they want to work with day in and day out, who knows they might hire you! best of luck with everything!

  5. Shannon Sloan says:

    It’s understandable that you were a bit nervous, after all, you had only met your editor once and now you were in her home. I think its always better to keep it professional until you are comfortable and know what is appropriate. Good luck with the copy editing!

  6. asharonson says:

    It is hard to find your place setting in a situation like that. In my internship, many people have been there for years, hang out, and have really gotten to know one another. It is hard to try and blend into a situation where everyone knows their place. There is always a line that shouldn’t be crossed in those situations. It’s just trial and error finding out what that line is. It sounds like your really involved in your internship and doing a great job!

  7. jamesynwa says:

    This is a great point to address, and one that rarely gets mentioned as “professional advice” for young job-seekers. There obviously needs to be a balance between your professional and more casual demeanor. Unfortunately, it’s often tough to discern where the line is between comfortable and “too comfortable.” But there’s something to be said for a willingness to let your guard down and connect with your colleagues on a more personal level. You know that everyone at your magazine has similar professional goals and interests already, so you have to peel that “corporate persona” back a bit to develop a truly human connection with each. When you don’t feel comfortable to open up yet, the best thing to do is listen intently and make mental notes of what is and isn’t appropriate content. That information will be valuable as you grow into the office environment.

  8. wilsonemily says:

    In that sort of situation, I would just feel out the vibe in the room and just be as personable as you can. If the others include you in their conversation, I would just go ahead and jump in, being careful to be polite and not say anything incriminating. Because the group you’re in seems small and close-knit, I’m sure that getting to know each other beyond the office will definitely help in the future!

    Also, as far as the fact-checking and copy-editing goes, I can definitely relate; that’s about 80% of my job so if you have any questions, feel free to ask me! And good luck on wrapping things up for the next issue!


  9. codynewton says:

    I think that can be hard to figure out sometimes. I know for one, there are times that I shouldn’t joke around my editor. Not that he would get mad or anything, but sometimes he’s so stressed that if I were to make a joke it would be a completely wasted joke. But most of the time he’s the first one to crack a joke. I think it just really depends on the person and the situation. Since you mostly work from home it must be even more difficult because you haven’t really had a chance to get to know your editors personality. I figure if the other interns are making jokes, it’s probably safe for you to do it as well.

  10. shannonkluss says:

    In professional environments like these I think you were right to play it safe for the first meeting or two and feel out the culture of the group. Even if you have a bold personality you don’t want to permanently dub yourself as the “silly” or “outspoken” intern or new hire. First impressions can be hard to break, and you want to make sure that they see you as first and foremost a professional.

  11. If I were you I would lay low for a while and scope out the scene. Like Josh said, theres no problem with being professional. Even though, you may be wanting to make an impression on the editor because you’ve only seen her once before, why not make an impression based on your work? Let them find out how awesome you are when you know what everyone’s buttons are and what the appropriate way to act is.

  12. michelletag says:

    I’m an ISFJ too and I would’ve felt the exact same way in that situation! It’s hard to figure out how to fit in to a group of people that already seem well connected, that is especially when I clam up. I always have to feel out the situation first before I go blabbing away. Hopefully you’ll get to meet with them more. If you had a connection with any of the interns, maybe you could do coffee? I think that sounds like the easiest way to connect to the larger group, seek out another intern.

  13. Alysha Beck says:

    I’ve definitely been in situations like this one. And since I’m an ISFJ as well, I don’t always feel comfortable in a group where the others know each other pretty well or are just more outgoing and willing to share personal things. But I definitely try to be friendly and add to the conversation when I can. Sometimes it just takes time to feel comfortable speaking your mind. I know it takes me a couple of meetings with a group to feel at ease. Then again, some people are so open and friendly I don’t feel weird sharing things with them on the first meeting. So I think it’s good to feel things out and just wait until you’re comfortable without forcing anything. Good luck!

  14. I know how you feel, I went through the same thing before my team’s weekly meetings when the department would joke and talk about their lives outside of the office. It’s difficult to jump in when I don’t have any familiarity with them, I only really see them once a week for these meetings, and because it’s pretty clear they see me as “just an intern”. However, I imagine it would be even more difficult to judge at your supervisor’s home! I’m sure you judged the situation well and found the right conversation to contribute to.
    Keep at it and I’m sure your next meeting will be great!

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