4 updates from letter-writers

Here are four updates from people who had their letters published here recently.

1. Student worker’s inappropriate use of group texting (#2 at the link)

I talked to my student manager about the situation and we decided to observe the tour guide during the big event we had the next weekend. She was a model of professionalism during the event, so we decided to let the past texts go.

However, the student manager also mentioned that she thought we should make up some kind of training material for team leads concerning situations like this. I agreed (a huge problem with this was myself and other team leads generally being unsure how much and what authority we actually had) and we sat down with the other team leads to hash one out. This wound up being EXTREMELY useful and timely because this past week we handed over our duties to new tour guides replacing us as the team leads and manager (we are all graduating seniors). Our successors had completely taken over our duties under our supervision when another employee sent several pictures to my team’s group chat of the “outfit” he was planning to wear to a lingerie party to “get everyone’s opinion.” I happened to be in office with my trainee team lead when we received the texts and we were able to call the employee in and actually have training to use when speaking to him. Thanks for your response and all the commentators as well!

2. Is this job application horribly invasive or is it just me? (first update was here)

I have a final update for you, not really an update, since it doesn’t involve that fascinating CEO, but it is an update on my job search. I recently got a fantastic position that has everything I want, it’s local, yet I can work from home, autonomy and freedom to work how I want, excellent pay and a CEO that is vested in my success and growth.

And because kismet has a fantastic sense of humor, the path to this position was merely an introductory email and two phone calls.

Thanks to your lovely readers and commenters for their support and extremely kind words.

3. I share a desk set-up with an engaged couple

I wish I had a better update. Before Jane could ever come back, we were all laid off effective immediately by the large conglomerate that we were a subsidiary of and the plant closed down (on the day New Hire started, no less). We were all asked to leave the property. It was all very cloak and dagger, even the managing director was blindsided by it. Everyone is still in shock.

Thank you and everyone else for answering and I’ll know how to act better next time.

4. Explaining a year of bad grades in college (#3 at the link)

I did not expect to have an update to my post, but I do and it’s a good one! 

Reading the comments from people who work in academics was reassuring and helpful, particularly those making it clear that situations like mine are actually not that unusual and that they always want students dealing with these sort of issues to come to them for help.

The next time the dean of my college held open office hours for students, I went in and discussed the retroactive withdrawal policy with him. My university’s policy was much more strict than others, and I put together a pretty convincing argument on why I believed it should be changed. Not only did he agree with me, but he made an almost immediate exception for my case! I sent in documentation clarifying the situation that caused my year of bad grades, and within 24 hours the failing grades were removed from my transcript. I know many of the comments said they didn’t think I had much to worry about, but I am so happy to have my GPA up by .5 and to have a year of W grades rather than Es to explain!

{ 52 comments… read them below or add one }

  1. Emi.

    #4 Wow, that’s amazing! Good for you, and congrats! I’m glad that rough patch is behind you *and* won’t mess up your job search. :)

    Reply
    1. Emmie

      I second these congratulations! What an excellent outcome. I am so glad you were also able to change a university process for others. Look at you already making an impact in your field!

      Reply
    2. Artemesia

      So glad you could get the withdrawals. I worked for a top university where the transcript was sacred. No changes were ever made in grades or selective withdrawals allowed (unless of course there was an actual entry error). BUT the one exception was that an entire semester could be dropped in some circumstances like illness or family tragedy which would like your case mean a semester of Ws. It is nicer to be able to explain a withdrawal season than to have to discuss a bunch of awful grades. Glad it worked for you.

      Reply
    3. Old Admin

      *very happily applauds*
      )P#4, I may have… an inkling… of your mindset in the bad year from what you have indicated. Therefore, much love! And three cheers for talking to the dean and standing up for your grades and academic success!

      Reply
  2. Emi.

    another employee sent several pictures to my team’s group chat of the “outfit” he was planning to wear to a lingerie party to “get everyone’s opinion.”

    That’s … oh, wow. I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone with judgement that bad.

    Reply
    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

      Yeah, my jaw dropped. Kudos to OP#1, though, for being able to treat it as a training opportunity (!).

      Reply
    2. Falling Diphthong

      I guess this is an example of why it’s such a good idea to work while in college? So you can get feedback on whether this is a terrible idea from managers who will sit you down rather than fire you?

      Reply
    3. motherofdragons

      I can totally see this happening. My brother worked as a tour guide on his campus, and the team becomes really close. Blurred professional boundaries abounded. I could see someone feeling comfortable enough with the group to do something like this, because it feels more like buddies than coworkers. Texting your coworkers (and it sounds like also manager?!) about an outfit for a lingerie party is still NOT okay! But I’m frankly not surprised, given what I know about what student tour guide groups can be like.

      Reply
      1. Amy G. Golly

        I worked with a summer camp housing program run by my university. I can remember attending a lingerie party with my coworkers! And overindulging, and becoming very sick, and acting in a manner most embarrassing. And then going to work on Monday like it was No Big Thing. And it wasn’t a big thing! AMAZING. God, if I’d done something similar today, I’d have to go into hiding…

        Yes, best this young man learn a valuable lesson now!

        Reply
    4. seejay

      That tops when I accidentally got caught going into the office after hours to pick up my phone that I forgot when I was dressed up to go to the fetish club. ><

      Reply
      1. seejay

        And because of the angle bracket, the rest of my comment got eaten. :/
        (in short, ran into the CEO and two coworkers who stayed late to play poker, much embarrassment)

        Reply
    1. k

      It’s such a surprising update, I’m sorry for you. If there’s any bright side, at least you know a good place to look for job searching tips :) I’m sending good luck thoughts your way.

      Reply
    2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

      Seriously. I don’t think I could have predicted that outcome, and I’m so sorry for OP#3 (the second-listed #3).

      Reply
      1. OP #3

        Oh, no one could have. I sent work product out two weeks prior for our customers to plan with for the next years(! we are a slow moving industry and changing suppliers is Very Expensive).

        Thanks, I’ll be fine eventually, the question is more when not if. I just would have preferred to be able to leave on my own terms.

        Reply
    3. OP #3

      Thank you :) It’s now much easier than I was just out of grad school, it might be that I even have several places to take my pick from. Which I never would have expected!

      Reply
  3. Mike C.

    LW #3 Holy cow, I’m so sorry! And that new hire, I hope they didn’t quit their previous job to join your company.

    Reply
    1. Kiki

      Op #3’s original letter pointed to some not-so-great business practices, so I wouldn’t be surprised if that was the case (sadly). The first company I worked for out of college did this. Hired a new person who started the Monday after Thanksgiving, then on the first Friday in December announced that we were shutting down. Poor guy had just signed a lease on a local apartment, too!

      Reply
      1. KP84

        I had a coworker who gave her two weeks at our company, was given a going away party (our company didn’t shun people who moved on but actually was happy for them) and transferred all her job tasks only to be told the day before her start date that her new position was being removed from the org chart at the new company and they would not be taking her on. Thankfully our manager had a good heart and immediately took her back in the same position (luckily they had not filled it yet). I imagine most people are not that lucky.

        Reply
      2. OP #3

        We had some systemic issues which had nothing to do with our work product nor was that internal stuff something that went up the chain to Huge Company That Owned Us (HCTOU) and ultimately shut us down. Actually, HCTOU was part of the overall cause of the systemic issues, the reasons for this are something I don’t want to speculate on because much of it is hearsay.

        The irony is that the industry was just shook up with a scandal that would have led to HCTOU turning a tremendous profit if they’d kept us in business.

        But overall yes the situation sucks a lot for everyone involved.

        Reply
        1. A Plain-Dealing Villain

          Interesting. Do you think there is an opportunity to pick up some of that business on your own?

          Reply
          1. OP #3

            Hah, no, our final product requires materials and equipment and manpower, that needs a company. My job was managing processes and paperwork, which I could totally do on freelance, but the actual product requires…things.

            But it was a good idea. ;)

            Reply
    2. OP #3

      I feel so so sorry for them. They were unemployed for two years previously and moved across the country for the position. But I’m happy to say that I know that they have something by now and with, I think, a much better salary than would have been possible at our small place. (Definitely in an area with a lower cost of living.)

      Reply
  4. intj

    #4, I love your update. I didn’t comment on the original post but I had some rough times in college that left me with a 2.99 GPA at graduation (which was 2.5 years later than planned and trust me, it was a STRUGGLE even getting to that unimpressive GPA). I’m grateful that I’ve never had a job that asked about my grades, but simply wanted to make sure I had a degree. I’m 15 years into my career and make 6 figures and still live in fear that I’ll go to change jobs at some point or apply to an MBA program and my poor academic records will be uncovered and used against me!

    My freshman year I was the victim of a traumatic sexual assault and for years afterwards I suffered from depression, drug abuse, eating disorders, suicidal thoughts, anxiety, etc. I’m a successful, moderately well-adjusted adult who is nearly 40 and has put a lot of my trauma in the past, where it belongs. My ancient transcripts do not tell my full story, as I suspect is true for so many of us who faced mental health issues, trauma, addiction, or poverty while we were attempting to just get through life alive while we were in school.

    I’m inspired and impressed by the fact that you took action and were able to correct your records and change a policy!! Good for you – wishing you success!

    Reply
    1. ...with a K

      So sorry that all happened to you and glad you were able to move forward.

      I really feel that our grades from school are not a measure of how well we will perform in a job, so I wish employers would just stop using them.

      Reply
    2. Ramona Flowers

      “My ancient transcripts do not tell my full story, as I suspect is true for so many of us who faced mental health issues, trauma, addiction, or poverty while we were attempting to just get through life alive while we were in school.”

      Exactly. Thanks for reminding me that actually I was kind of badass to get through my own ‘stuff’.

      Reply
      1. The Milk Is Not User Friendly

        Yeah, I came out of university (which took 5 1/2 years rather than the standard 3 or 4) with a 3rd class honours. I’m now 40, and it’s taken me most of my working career to get to the point where I’m proud I even have a degree (clinical depression plus moving 3000 miles away from all friends and family at 18) rather than upsest that I didn’t perform as well as I know I could have. It didn’t help that I was also a very socially immature 18yo, who spent much of her time at university self-medicating for the depression with alcohol.
        I too, have never been asked how I did at university, just that I got a degree. I’m now in a job I love, doing something really interesting and challenging, at a company who’s mission I truly believe in, and aside from the interview right after university that I ended up crying in (I think I was asked how I cope with high-pressure situations, and I really thought that somehow, they were probing into my background because they KNEW), I don’t think my low marks have ever really hurt me, other than how I allowed them to.

        Reply
  5. Amber Rose

    Hurray!
    Hurray!
    Oh no!
    Hurray!

    In order. LW #3, best of luck with your job search, and may you end up in a position without any weirdness to ask AAM about.

    Reply
  6. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

    I went back and read OP #2’s (labeled as #3, the first) original post and responses, and I had forgotten how badass their posts/responses were.

    I am so glad it worked out, and doubly glad you didn’t end up with a fat fish reveling in an obscenely tiny pond ;)

    Reply
    1. OP2

      Aww, thanks! I love writing, and in all honesty a big part of being an active commenter was because of the chance to hear myself talk.

      Reply
  7. Annie Moose

    For #1, that sounds like it worked out really well, and I’m sure future managers/team leads in that position will be grateful to have a concrete idea of how best to handle these things! Especially because as students, I’d imagine many people wouldn’t have a lot of experience being team leads/managers before.

    I always like hearing these sorts of results; sure, it’d be nice if the original bad situation never happened, but it’s great when people are able to learn from those situations and come up with useful guidelines or training or even just precedent that can come in handy down the road.

    Reply
  8. ella

    It’s interesting to me how many updates are some variation of I’m not at that job anymore/The other person quit/The situation resolved itself/But thank you so much it was still really helpful (not just this update, but updates generally). For some reason it made me think of the questioning-veracity-of-OPs comments that seems to plague lots of advice columns. Why answer a letter that’s so obviously fake? Why give advice that doesn’t get put into action? Because it’s fun, because it’s helpful to someone else, because it sparks discussion. I like reading the letters and the updates, even if things don’t tend to get wrapped up into nice neat little narrative packages.

    Reply
    1. beanie beans

      Yes! And if it helps people next time, that’s huge! I figure for every person that writes a letter, the number of people that are helped by the response, regardless of how it helps the letter writer, is HUGE.

      Reply
    2. Ask a Manager Post author

      Oh, I could talk about this for hours! I think in a lot of cases, by the time people write in, they’re already close to the point where they’re going to leave the job anyway. Or in some cases, maybe the answer helps them realize that’s what they should do.

      Re: the fake letter thing — I’ve basically decided that I have no way of knowing and ultimately it doesn’t really matter. If the letter is interesting/useful/etc., I’m happy to answer it.

      And I think it’s weird when people get hung up on trying to decide if a situation is real or not. I lean toward thinking there aren’t really a lot of people out there spending time writing fake letters to advice columnists, and also toward thinking that an awful lot of ridiculous sounding things do indeed happen in life, but ultimately … who cares as long as it’s interesting, the discussion is illuminating, and it might be useful to others?

      Reply
      1. seejay

        I read in one of the advice columnists once that some guy got his yayas out of sending in fake letters and being all happy happy when they were published, and he’d spout all over social media when they were. It was like a badge of honour that he managed to fool someone, and in some cases cause flame wars in the comments sections.

        For the most part, I agree that if it’s interesting and entertaining, I don’t really care if it’s fake or not, at least if it’s plausible. Some scenarios seem so outrageously bogus, I’d *hope* they’re not real but we’ve seen how wack some people can be (or experienced it ourselves) so it’s not a far stretch that these actually happen. And ultimately even if it’s fake, it might help someone else out somewhere, either in the advice or the comments or whatever.

        Reply
      2. Optimistic Prime

        This is always my response. Even if the letter is fake…so what? Those are usually very entertaining, the comments and discussion are interesting, and I guarantee that there’s someone out there who had a similar real situation and can learn from the letter.

        Reply
        1. Candi

          Darwin Awards, I mods ’em.

          We require some form of proof X happened.

          After So. Freaking. Many crazy events, with proof -sometimes pictures or video!!- I am more than willing believe in squirrel-trove level of nuttiness elsewhere. NVM books and articles that point to the loopy things that really exist/happen in our world.

          Reality is Unrealistic and hands out things an editor or producer would bounce right out of the office.

          Reply
    3. Falling Diphthong

      One columnist observed that the situation in the letter is either hypothetical to everyone, or hypothetical to everyone minus one. That’s not a large difference.

      I think often a letter writer is getting confirmation that it IS unusual to make everyone jump over the third step to the conference room–it’s not just them being weird and the rest of the office normal–and the solution is to go to an office where they don’t do this. One thing I like about Alison’s advice is that it’s very focused on the actionable: You can’t make your workplace be sane, but you can make it be not your workplace.

      Reply
  9. Elizabeth West

    #2–

    …has everything I want, it’s local, yet I can work from home, autonomy and freedom to work how I want, excellent pay and a CEO that is vested in my success and growth.

    How does this even happen? I would really like to know, LOL. #NotMyLife
    And congratulations on the new job!

    Reply
    1. OP2

      Craigslist if you can believe it! I mean, I didn’t know it was remote friendly at first, and had given up ever getting remote job at this point. Plus while the money is good, in theory I could be making a lot more. But my CEO already has me on a growth plan and that increases in my pay accordingly. I basically get to structure and “own” an entire division with huge growth potential.

      To be fair, I’ve been looking for almost two years, and even I’m shocked at how this all played out. I didn’t even tell anyone other than my husband for almost a month because I was waiting for the other shoe to drop.

      Reply
      1. OP2

        Also wanted to add, the job description sucked. The part that caught my eye was about building a small team from the ground up, and I really enjoy that work. Makes me wonder how many amazing jobs I missed because online posting isn’t someone’s forte.

        Reply
  10. Ramona Flowers

    #4 I remember your story. I have something in my eye now. I’m so pleased you got this sorted.

    Reply
  11. Flossie Bobbsey

    Strange, on the reader I use, three of the letters are entirely different from the ones posted here. Were there different versions of this post? Seems my reader (Digg Reader) is retrieving a different version.

    Reply

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