Essays & Confessions

On Finding A (Cool) Roommate & Making A Hard Career Choice

By | Wednesday, February 10, 2016

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In this week of Ask Chelsea Anything, I’ll be tackling two questions every young adult must face: how to find a non-serial killer roommate, and how to let go of a truly shit job. So let’s get to it, and don’t forget, if you have a question for me, send it to

I might have a good answer for you, and if nothing else, my robust career in being a hot mess might just provide a cautionary tale!

Hey Chelsea,

Any advice on finding roommates? Safely. I’ll be moving cities at some point, and know that I’ll need a roommate to split up the cost of rent. Only problem is, I am petrified that any roommate I find via the internet will turn out to be a massive serial killer.



So my advice here should come with the caveat that I’ve never lived with randoms. I lived in a house full of nerdbros, then in studios by myself, and then eventually with my partner. At no point did I have to brave the choppy seas of Craigslist to find someone who would hopefully not axe murder me in my sleep. (Though I should mention that the nerdbros had a distinct fondness for leaving things like a noose, or once — before a cookout — entire dead pig, in my bathtub to terrify me. So I’m not sure if your average Craigslist Sketchball would have been much worse than that.)

That being said, I think the most important thing to do is really look at the person you’re considering before you live with them as their IRL networks see them: ie, you should add them on social media. For me, anyone who wouldn’t be willing to add you on Facebook in particular is weird (or whatever social medium they use, if not Facebook), and that should be reason enough to disqualify them. You should look around, see their pictures, see their friends, see what they write/think/like/share. It will never give you a perfect picture of what they’re like day-to-day, but it will ensure that they’re not weird recluses/have terrifying politics/are super combative. You can get a good feel for how funny and chill someone is from social media, as well as their general social activity level. These are all huge factors for living with someone, and while it’s not everything, it’s a good start. If you don’t get someone on social media, I wouldn’t risk it.

(To that end, there are a lot of social media-based networks that are specifically for finding roommates/places to live, and those do half the work for you in terms of getting that person on a social network. I’m in one called BrokeList, where I sold some furniture. People are constantly doing what amounts to personals for themselves/their apartments/the roommates they are looking for.)

Hi Chelsea,

I’ve been working with my current company since last May. It’s an entry level front desk position at a hotel, and in the time that I’ve worked here, I’ve earned a reputation for working hard and being game enough to help out with tasks that don’t fall into my job description. A couple months ago, the idea of opening up a lead position in my department was floated around, but then the general manager was fired, and nothing came of it. Recently, we had a work meeting where we talked about the state of the hotel (the front desk department had helped our scores boost from the low fifties to high 60s), and I brought up the position to see if I would be able to apply for it. My direct supervisor mentioned that when the old manager was fired, she brought it up to the new management and they had told her that nobody working at the property was qualified for the position.

I was annoyed upon hearing that, because my department worked really hard to make sure that guests were satisfied with a crappy product (the property I work at is very old, has a lot of issues that tend to upset guests), and these managers saw us for a total of two days during a very tumultuous period (our manager being fired, our scores in the crapper, the building flooding from leaking in what seemed like every pipe). We took the hotel out of the “red zone” and then they reward us with speeches about how we need to do better and the news that we won’t get a pay raise when the minimum wage goes up to $10.

So, after this meeting, I started applying for other jobs. I’ve been really unhappy at this job due to the changes I told you about, and just the crappy grinding nature of the service industry, so I figured this lack of promotion was the push I needed to just go somewhere else. However, I found out last week that one of my coworkers made a stink about what they said, and that he told my assistant general manager that I was owed an apology for it. The day after I hear about this, the general manager approaches me about a promotion. I’m confused as hell, because while I believe I should have gotten the promotion, now it just feels gross, like they’re only giving it to me because they received backlash on their choice of words.

I got an interview in a completely different industry (Sheriff Dispatcher) that’s going to pay $19 starting out. I haven’t gotten the job yet, but I’m confident that I will pass all the background checks needed, and I have a good resume and great references, so I feel like it’s only a matter of time. My main question (and I’m sorry about all the background info) is, should I take this work promotion if I know I’m going to leave? I’m burnt out on hospitality, so I know that I’m not going to stay here long term. What are the ethics in taking this position and leaving a few months later?

Thanks for reading,


Gonna be blunt with you on this one, Laura: just from reading this question, I am already exhausted with the politics and #dramz at your current employer. I’m sure it took some serious effort on your part to condense the grievances and frustrations down to this essay-length question, and I commend you for it, but that is still way too much pent-up unrest to have with an employer. There are a huge variety of issues you’ve touched on here: conflicting management, unfair compensation, office politics, insincere promises, sub-standard working conditions, etc. And even just one of these would be reason enough to skidaddle, so the fact that you are staying through all of them is a testament to your patience and dedication to seeing this job through to the things you anticipated from it.

That said, this job sounds like absolute crap, and even if you did take the promotion you’ve clearly earned, I doubt it would make any of these other issues magically disappear. And you only stand to burn a bridge by taking a promotion and then immediately leaving, which to me is not going to be worth it for the marginal increase in pay over the course of three months (especially considering, again, it will probably not make your day-to-day much better). Ethically speaking, you should not start a new job — from scratch, or from a promotion — if you know that you aren’t going to stay in it for any reasonable amount of time. It’s disingenuous, and only stands to hurt you in the long run, particularly if this is not a new title you are specifically leveraging for something within your industry (in which case, you’d still not want to leave after three months, because that shows a serious amount of disloyalty to a future employer).

All that said, I’d consider two things: perhaps it is not your industry that you are burned out on (considering how good you seem to be at the job, to the point that others are actively advocating for you), but rather your specific employer. You may find that the same job at an employer with great conditions, who respects your work and would have a real path to growth, would be a great fit for you. I’d consider how much of your current distaste is circumstantial, if only to assess what you’d absolutely want out of your next employer.

Secondly, I think you should take, at the very least, a hard lesson about your own patience from this. You seem like a very patient person, but to the point that it could actively work against you in any job where your management isn’t totally on the up-and-up, or advocating for you as a good leader should. (And many, many jobs are like this.) I think it’s up to all of us to set our boundaries, and advocate for ourselves as much as possible, and make hard decisions to cut our losses at certain points. It sounds to me like this job might have overstepped its bounds long ago with you, and in your next career move — wherever it may be — it seems important to remember how bad things can get, and how much advantage can be taken of you, if you don’t set your boundaries. Pay attention to early warning signs, and when a promise has not been delivered on, listen to that. Wherever you end up, no one should be tolerating the kind of shit you seem to have been through at this job.

Best of luck with your next move!

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