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Vacation Plans

Caroline writes:

I just got a job as an office PA at a TV show production office. Unfortunately, I had a trip planned for a month into the job that I long before I was hired.

Would it be unwise to request a half day on a Friday and offer to work extra other days to make up for it? I’m nervous that it’ll reflect poorly on me if the second I start I’m asking for time off.

It’s not a terribly unusual situation. Vacations take months to plan, but production makes decisions in hours. I’ve heard about a job in the morning, interviewed in the afternoon, was told I was hired that evening, and started the next day.

There is no realistic way you can plan vacations around that kind of schedule. You just have to book your flight and hope for the best.

Wait a few days, see how the job is going, how you’re getting along. Then mention it to your boss, and ask if it’s okay to take that afternoon off. It’s only a half day, so it’s probably not as big a deal as you think.

I’ve been in this situation with an entire week planned, and it was no problem.

For my other readers in similar situations, you have to consider your vacation time as a proportion of the project as a whole. If you’re on a pilot, a week off probably isn’t okay. If you’re spending a month in Europe, that’s probably not acceptable in any circumstance.

As far as offering to make up the work on weekend, there’s not really any way to do that; they need you when they need you, answering phones, making copies, doing runs, etc. That can’t be made up later.

What you should do is offer to find your replacement for a week. Better yet, have a replacement lined up before you have the conversation at all. That way, you look good to your boss for thinking ahead, and you can do a favor for one of your friends. Everybody wins!

Don’t stress. This comes up a lot, and only a real asshole would say no. (Don’t tell your boss I said that.)

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3 Responses

  1. This has actually happened to me three different times. I find it’s never a bad idea to bring the production office a box of chocolates when you get back. My favourite production co-ordinator let me start prep a whole week late once because of a pre-booked holiday, so I brought her back a little present to say thank you.

  2. I second Michael Taylor. Having any kind of plans will usually result in some kind of work (Doctor appointments, family coming into town, concert tickets, etc) but planning a vacation works every time…

  3. If you want to get work in this business, first you must plan a vacation. Then — and only then — can you be certain that your phone will ring with a job for that same time period. It works every time…

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