There comes a time in every worker's professional life where it seems like there's no choice left but to grease the wheels a little. Perhaps you're new on the job, or nobody really understands what it is you do. In those cases, it might be tempting to ingratiate yourself to your colleagues in some extracurricular way — maybe by bringing in snacks or buying a round at happy hour.
Fight that urge, says user experience designer Elaine Short. In a recent short essay, she explains why she's put her foot down on baking cookies for the office just to get her own job done. "The notion here is that you, a professional paid to be in the room, must still curry favor with coworkers to convince them to work with you," she writes. Instead, you and your bosses need to set expectations around the office about how your skills are to be taken seriously.
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While Short is writing for UX professionals, her advice is universally applicable. There is a reason why volunteering will get you nowhere: You don't have to prove your worth if you really believe you belong in your position. (If you believe otherwise and it's not a matter of imposter syndrome, it may be time to find a new gig.) Ultimately, you neither want to burn yourself out or devalue your labor. Once you've established your boundaries and your parameters for interaction, everyone at work should be good to go. Read "I'm a UX writer. I won't bake cookies." for more thoughts and ideas about moving forward.