Buying dinner for former boss is something adults with MBAs do

06/07/2014 3:00 AM

06/07/2014 9:55 AM

DEAR JEANNE AND LEONARD: Do I really have to buy dinner for my former boss? After college, I worked for two years at a small consulting firm in Los Angeles. While there, I applied to a number of MBA programs and asked my boss, as well as two of my college professors, to write letters of recommendation for me.

Long story short, I was admitted to a first-tier school in the Northeast, and I’m now about to graduate. After graduation, my boyfriend and I are going out to L.A. to visit friends, and while there we’ll be having dinner with my old boss.

My boyfriend says I need to pick up the check, but I think he’s wrong. I’m sure neither of the professors who wrote recommendations for me expected a meal in return, and besides, I don’t even start work until July. I don’t need to buy dinner, do I? — H.H.

DEAR H.H.: Sorry, but you’re no longer a starving student, no matter how long until your first paycheck. As someone about to start a job with a six-figure salary — that being what most newly minted MBAs from top-tier schools receive — you no longer get to play by the rules that apply to cash-strapped college kids.

On the contrary, you’re entering the world of adults, where people are expected to do more than smile and say “thank you” when someone does them a big favor, like the favor your boss did for you.

Of course your college professors don’t expect you to buy them a meal; writing letters of recommendation is part of their job. But writing letters to accompany graduate school applications is not something a private-sector employer has any obligation to do. Ironically, though, no recommendation typically counts for more in a business school application than one from someone who has supervised your work.

So when your boss wrote those letters, he helped to open a very big door for you. For that he deserves the acknowledgment that being treated to a nice dinner represents.

How best to divide parents’ estate

DEAR JEANNE AND LEONARD: I am the executor of my parents’ estate, and I’m not sure what to do. Their trust calls for everything they owned, including the contents of their home, to be divided equally among the four children. In the home are a number of Asian artifacts, such as ivory carvings, statues, jade and the like, some of which I’m sure are quite valuable.

How do I go about dividing up these items, given that they vary greatly in value and given that some of the siblings like them much more than the other siblings do? — Nelson

DEAR NELSON: Assuming “Antiques Roadshow” doesn’t make house calls, the first thing to do is have the artifacts appraised. That way, everyone will have some idea of their value.

After that, the four of you can take turns selecting the items you would like — not just from among the Asian artifacts, but also from among your parents’ furnishings, jewelry, electronic equipment, etc. (there’s no reason to distribute the Asian pieces separately, especially when some of you might prefer a hi-def TV to a statue). To be fair, draw straws before each round to determine the order in which you choose.

Afraid this process could lead to some unhealthy sibling-versus-sibling gamesmanship? Then you can always sell the finer pieces to a dealer or at auction and divide the proceeds among the beneficiaries. While this would mean parting with your parents’ treasures, selling them to a third party has the important advantage of ensuring that no sibling will feel he or she was shortchanged by the division process.

If neither of these approaches appeals to you, remember: You are the executor. This means you probably have the authority to simply divide your parents’ possessions in a manner you think is fair, doing your best to accommodate your siblings’ preferences. That’s what Solomon would do.

Email your questions about money and relationships to

| King Features Syndicate


Join the Discussion

The Kansas City Star is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Terms of Service