mother bought me plane tickets without asking me if I could get time off work

A reader writes:

My mom recently surprised me with a two week trip around Europe, paid by her. Our tickets have been purchased and I am scheduled to leave in two months. My worry lies in my alloted vacation days. I have 10 days for each year, but have only been working here for less than 6 months. My question is whether I can take the full two weeks of vacation or am I only entitled to half of that at this point?

Also, how much notice is appropriate to give for such a long vacation? I work in a professional 24/7 call center environment in which our schedule is posted at least 6 weeks in advance. I am scared of my boss on a good day and terrified I will lose my job for asking for this much time off so early in my employment.

That was really nice of your mom. But I’m going to take a guess here that you’re relatively young and she isn’t yet used to the fact that you now have a real job, where you can’t just take off two weeks without working it out with your boss in advance. Because she really shouldn’t have made these arrangements without checking with you, and by doing so, she’s put you in a tough position.

On the question of whether you even have 10 days to take after working less than six months: I don’t know. Check your employee manual and see how vacation time accrues. Generally you accrue a certain amount per pay period, which means that after working half a year, you’d have accrued half of your annual leave (five days). Of course, the trip is two months away, so you’ll have accrued a bit more by then — but not the whole amount.

Now, at some workplaces, when you need time off but don’t have enough accrued leave, they’re willing to advance you some leave or let you take those days unpaid. But usually that’s done when there’s a compelling reason — you’re getting married, or you’re having surgery, or you had a pre-planned vacation that you talked to them about pre-hire. “My mom surprised me with a trip” may or may not qualify, depending on the norms and culture at your workplace. (And some workplaces, you’d risk coming across as a little naive and less than professional, because you should be the one controlling your work life and schedule, not your mother.)

But it’s not just a question of whether you have the accrued vacation time or whether you can take two weeks off at once; it’s also a question of whether those particular days are ones you can take off. Your mother has no way of knowing whether the big conference you’re working on falls during those dates, or whether your coworker will already be out then and you’re needed to cover for her, etc. And that’s why people generally need to get time-off (especially significant time off, like two weeks) approved in advance, before doing things like purchasing tickets. (Although at a call center, I think there’s a pretty decent chance that none of these things will end up posing obstacles.)

So your mother overstepped here, and no matter how you handle it, I strongly recommend that you find a way to make that clear to her so that she doesn’t do it again. She needs to realize that by taking a full-time job, you basically agreed not to make two-week-long plans without first checking with your manager.

In any case, as for how to handle it now, my advice is this: Tell your boss that you have the chance to take a great trip on those dates, and be very, very clear that you understand that it might be too soon to take two weeks off. Say something like, “I completely realize that the timing just might not be right, and I’m prepared to hear that. But I wanted to check with you in case it’s actually workable without hardship on Acme’s side.” If he says yes, and you’re not getting the vibe that he’s really irked, then great.

If he says no, or if he says yes but you’re getting the vibe that it’s going to Cause Problems (yes, capitalized), then you should tell your mom that while you really appreciate her gift, which is unquestionably generous, your work obligations prevent you from being able to go. How well she takes this will depend on her — but please know that your stance here would be reasonable (and would be a healthy boundary for an adult to enforce with a parent). Good luck!

Read an update to this letter here.

{ 69 comments… read them below }

  1. Anony*

    The boss sucks right? Unless the unemployment rate in your area is horrible don’t sweat it, it’s a call center job. Ask for it off and if you don’t get it, quit. I mean when will you get another opportunity to go to Europe? It’s worth a call center job. And just leave it off your resume. Call center turnover is ridiculously high so it’s not likely they’ll even remember you after a few days.

    1. Anonymous*

      I completely agree with this, PROVIDED that you could easily get another job later. If this job is all there is, though, tread carefully, even if the boss sucks.

      You don’t want to take a “wonderful trip,” only to come back home and find that you’ll be out of work for a long time.

  2. Hypatia*

    I totally agree with the first poster. It’s a call center job… they’re always hiring and it’s a dime a dozen. If you’re a good worker AND your boss is smart s/he will work with you– because there’s so much turnover at those places, s/he would be reluctant to lose a good worker.

    At the same time, the bosses at those places tend to be micromanagers who are only marginally competent (my experience!) in which case, not worth the battle.

    Just take the time off. Find a new job when you get back.

  3. Justin*

    She didn’t say what kind of call center job….some are better than others and are harder jobs to get. I wouldn’t quit over this.

  4. Anony*

    24/7 and the schedule is posted 6wks in advance? That reeks of entry level/low pay/crappy, micromanaging boss who would probably fire you for asking for the time off.

  5. Erica*

    While “just go!” may be good life advice, it’s not solid career/employee advice, which AAM is trying to give.

    And you don’t know – if mom is this generous, she may feel as generous next year, and actually reschedule the trip for then, when the OP’s schedule can be cleared in advance and vacation accrued. So “when else will you ever get the chance?” may not be a question that has to be answered for this answer-seeker.

  6. Seattle Writer Girl*

    A co-worker of mine totally pulled a stunt like this–just up and scheduled a week long vacation to Hawaii because his wife had booked the tickets without asking him. Normally I don’t mind people taking vacation, except that his trip overlapped part of the time I was taking for my wedding (that I had booked with my boss 5 months in advance).

    So literally days before my wedding, not only did I have to deal with the usual wedding planning stress and logistics, I also had to cover for a missing co-worker (we are a dept of 2) but also pick up his slack from the week before (as he was checked out mentally for his vacation) AND prep everything for him to cover for me when he got back (as I was then on my honeymoon).

    Needless to say, as an employee I was extremely resentful and this definitely reflected poorly on my co-worker as he came off naive, unprofessional and not very reliable.

    1. Mike C.*

      Maybe your boss should take some responsibility for not having enough staff to go around if s/he is going to let people take time off.

      Your coworker received permission, stop being resentful.

      1. a. brown*

        Uh, no, she can be resentful if her boss let someone else take their vacation time after hers was already scheduled in advance. That’s highly unprofessional.

      2. Liz T*

        What she should be resentful about is that he didn’t pull his weight the week before the vacation–she was about to get MARRIED and managed to stay competent and focused.

  7. Anonymous*

    My mother did something similar: she scheduled a major party/trip to coast and told everyone I would be there. When I was told, I said, no actually I would not. It caused a bit of a stink at the time, but no one blamed me and it reset the parent/child relationship to an adult/adult one. I missed a great party, but stated my intention to be an adult, and everyone, including my mother, respected that going forward.

    1. Karen*

      Anonymous, that’s exactly how I would have responded. While it’s EXTREMELY generous to surprise someone with a trip, to expect that they can drop their plans/work/life at the drop of a hat is a little naive, and quite frankly, rude. I’d tell my mom no also.

  8. Origonal Poster*

    Hi all, I appreciate your comments and as much as I would like to up and quit (as I do hate the job) it pays more than minimun wage and in these times it’s hard to find work anywhere at all. This is a telephone support job, so you can imagine my joy coming in everyday. I’m in the process of sending out as many resumes as possible so I might be able to transition into a job shortly after my return. I wouldn’t mind being umemployed for a month or so because honestly, I need a break. This job is not what I see myself doing, and is essentially dead end. I wanted to smack my mother when she booked it, even though I get “two weeks” that doesn’t nessecarily mean two full weeks right in a row, and technically in a call centre that would be 14 days that I am off the schedule and not 10 which is all the vacation I’m entitled to.

  9. Kerry*

    The only time I’ve ever had more than a week off at once was for maternity leave.

    The only time I’ve ever seen another employee granted more than a week off at once is for something major (wedding, surgery, etc.)

    Most employers give you at least two weeks of vacation…but very, very few let you use them all at once.

    And I’m blown away that people are telling this person to quit her job for this. Unemployment must be way lower where you wall live than in my neck of the woods, because around here, even call center jobs are getting hundreds and hundreds of applicants.

    1. Julie*

      I think this might be a cultural/regional thing. At my last job (subtitle editor for an international company), people routinely used their vacation time in one-week or two-week increments. Granted, Quebec may have *slightly* different attitudes than the rest of North America, and I’ve seen plenty of people who haven’t had a vacation in years (my current boss is one of them), but to say you can only take off two weeks at a time for something major (wedding, surgery, etc.) strikes me as an over-generalization.

      Of course, I’m also coming from a mom who taught elementary school and thus had summers off (though she worked like a dog during the rest of the year) and a self-employed father who had 12 weeks off a year (though he traveled the other 40). So the idea of only having two weeks of vacation a year is still a bit foreign to me, even having lived it myself.

      1. Kerry*

        I’ve worked for 39 companies, literally from coast to coast (in the United States, thought, not Canada). I was in HR (and was an HR consultant who designed PTO programs for a number of years), so I had the chance to become pretty familiar with how those companies handled time off.

        Keep in mind, there are pretty significant cultural differences. In the U.S., for example, many, many employees are not entitled to ANY maternity leave. Even in circumstances where an employee would qualify, it’s unpaid.

        Also, companies are not required to actually grant you the vacation time you’ve earned. You may have it “in the bank,” but companies can say, “No, you can’t take it then.” It’s subject to approval.

        There are many similarities between the U.S. and Canada, but time off from work is not one of them. Your attitudes up there are far healthier (in my opinion).

        1. Suzanne Lucas*

          We moved to Switzerland two years ago. My husband now gets 6 weeks (that’s SIX WEEKS!!!!) of vacation. His boss takes the entire month of July off.

          When we go on vacation, my husband will bring his blackberry but not his laptop, so he can answer questions if need be, but not do any work.

          He only occasionally gets calls. This is so different from his boss in America who threatened to “write him up” for missing an important meeting. This meeting had been scheduled in the morning for the same afternoon, while he was on vacation. So dumb.

  10. Kelly O*

    I’m with Kerry on this one. I’m a little shocked that so many people are saying “it’s just a call center job” and “quit if they won’t give you time.”

    Aside from six weeks (unpaid) leave when my daughter was born, I have never taken more than three days of vacation at once, and that is when I got married (at Christmas, piggybacking long weekends and making the most of my time.)

    As nice as the trip would be, I would be of the mind to thank my Mom but remind her that I’m an adult now, working a full time job (even if it’s one I don’t particularly care for) and that I can’t take that much time. You never, ever know what is going to come back around, and the “just a call center job” might lead to something better. You don’t know, and potentially burning a bridge early in your career is not a great idea if you can avoid it at all.

    Just being practical.

  11. Clobbered*

    The amount of money represented by those tickets dwarfs the cost of the rebooking fee. Thank you mother, explain why you can’t take them at the ticketed date, and call the airline and rebook for long enough in the future that you will have accumulated enough leave.

    Depending on the airline the cost will probably be in the $0 to $150 range especially if you rebook for a low season. Europe is great in any month.

  12. Dawn*

    I disagree with those saying OP should just quit her job if she can’t get the time off. Who cares if it’s “just a call center job?” It’s a job and she has a responsibility to abide by the company policies. If the boss says no, and he has every right to, she should be prepared to either go on the trip and lose her job or decline mom’s offer and stick it out at work.

    If an employee came to me with this situation, I’d likely think that the employee is immature and has no boundaries with her parents, her parents run her life, etc. Not only that, but why would a mature adult (the mother) think that it’s OK to book a trip without consulting her? Doesn’t she realize her child has a job with responsibilities?

    1. fposte*

      The answer to your last question is probably “No, not really.” I think that a lot of parents consider their kids’ jobs to be pretty much an extension of the babysitting they did in middle school, even if the kid is now a corporate CEO. It’s kind of sweet, but it can lead you into this kind of situation.

  13. KellyK*

    I agree with the “talk it over with your boss and make it clear that you understand the answer may be ‘no'” advice and disagree with the “just quit” advice.

    I think that making it really clear that you’re totally okay with a “no” eliminates or at least reduces the impression that you’re immature or your parents are running your life. Family get-togethers do get planned with less notice than some people need. For all your boss knows, a random cousin in Europe is getting married that week, and isn’t exactly going to plan it on your say-so. (I’m not saying lie; I’m just saying that you’re not the only one with family members who make assumptions about your time.)

  14. Nate*

    Because you work for a call center, I am leaning towards two possible outcomes:

    1) Your boss will allow you to go and take the remaining days unpaid, but they will qualify that statement with “you might not have a job when you come back”.

    2)Your boss will simply say no, under the explanation that they can’t lose a person working the phones for two weeks. A call center is a production-oriented environment, so time off is usually heavily controlled (not everyone can have the same holiday off, etc.).

    I would ask your boss or HR what the rule of thumb is for this, but don’t be surprised if you get one of the results mentioned here. Check around to see if anybody else was allowed to do it – I have a feeling that you can get your answer that way as well.

  15. Sarah*

    OP…if you don’t ask, the answer will always be “no.” And why on earth would you be afraid of your boss? Is this person going to attack you and make you into stew? Unlikely!

    Ask to discuss your vacation time and do so in a positive, professional manner. I agree with Nate as to the responses you may get, but you may find yourself pleasantly surprised as well. I doubt you will get the “might not have a job” scenario if you have been a good, reliable, honest employee. Companies don’t like to lose those!

    Good Luck!

  16. Anonymous*

    If the OP is still living at home, then her mother probably doesn’t have that conceivable notion that her child has grown up to the full extent of having a resposibility of a job. Now it doesn’t necessarily have to be in that respect in all cases, as it can also have an effect on the person’s social life; while an adult living on his/her own can come and go as they please, it’s not always the case with those who still live at home.

    That’s what I’m thinking.

    You have to know your work environment and culture. I’m lucky to work where I can take a few extra days beyond the allotted amount. But that can’t happen everywhere. And I know I can ask without being threatened of losing my job. But that all has to be taken into consideration. I think the OP might have a better chance in talking to the mother and hope to reschedule the trip for next year when the OP can take the full week; furthermore, that’s where the problem lies.

    If the OP is only going to one country, then a week is workable in Europe. But the OP has to remember that if she is going on a tour, the jetlag might not hit until she gets back, and it takes several days for the body clock to come back over the Atlantic to wherever she is (personal experience talking). I’m sure some people will fight me on that one, but if she’s too wrapped up into a tour, then it will hit when she finally relaxes at home.

  17. Phyr*

    The OP is in a hard spot with her mother more so then her employer. Employers will try and work and if it’s explain that the mother did this with out her connect they might work around it.
    The OP might be entering a unknown power struggle with her mother. I have problems like this with my own mother and I ‘mostly’ solved it by telling her that if she did something like that that I would not be responsible for her loss of money if I could not go with her. This happened once and she learned her lesson.

    The OP might not be able or willing to put her mother out on a limb like that, but they really need to have a long talk with their mother about this.

  18. Anonymous*

    If it’s a call center job, they likely bid on vacation dates by tenure or skill which can wreak havoc with making plans for a new employee let alone a 2 week trip. The higher ups can make an exception but that’s not something you want to make habit. Also, if it’s a employer that uses the ‘if you ask for the day off, we say no & you still take it you’re toast’ policy, you’re screwed.

    Your boss would have to be exceptionally cool to approve this request, so if they say no, I’d give 2 weeks notice when the date got closer, go to Europe and have a great time. Mid-flight remind mom this kind of thing can’t happen anymore unless she wants to pay you to be unemployed.

    1. Liz T*

      I’d think that basically any job has an ‘if you ask for the day off, we say no & you still take it you’re toast’ policy, since that would just be absenteeism.

  19. Hypatia*

    Wow, frankly I’m shocked that people think the Original Poster should stick it out. As she states, she doesn’t like her job anyway, and it’s an entry level position. It’s not like she’ll be leaving a position with great benefits (obvs.) and seniority. And, leaving for something like this is NOT irresponsible, IMHO– Esp if she gives at least 2 weeks notice. There’s no reason she should have a bad recommendation or a boss thinking badly about her because of it. If the boss does, well, then that’s on the boss and says more about him/her.

    Maybe I am lucky to live in a part of the country with low unemployment and I’m privileged to work for an employer with generous vacation packages, and I’m a foreigner so I’m used to having good vacation… however, I think it’s also something worth holding out for. Taking one day off here and there is an inhumane way to live. There are employers out there who realize this… Too bad most of the US doesn’t seem to realize it because without pressure on elected officials, it’s never going to change.

    I stand by my original statement– just quit if you can’t get the time.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Really? My mail is full of letters from people who have been out of work for more than a year and can’t get even a call center type of job. Quitting in reaction to not being allowed to behave as if she hasn’t made a commitment to her job strikes me as a pretty ridiculous (and immature) thing to do.

      Furthermore, pretty much every employer out there has a policy that managers have to approve time-off requests. This isn’t unusual. When you take a job, you agree to abide by their policies, and getting time-off approval before making plans is a pretty routine one.

      The mother is in the wrong here.

    2. Phyr*

      By quitting she is going to look like she jumps jobs. When asked at her next interview why she left if she answers that she left because she didn’t like it and went to Europe for two weeks… I can’t see that going over too well.

      Job hopping is the thing she needs to avoid right now and yes she should stick it out.

    3. Anonymous*

      Hypatia –

      I know places around the world have much better vacation policies than the United States. There are American Congressmen who want to change that so we are on par with others in hopes of making more productive employees of American companies by giving them more time off legally. But that’s time away from now, so we have to look at the here and now.

      I don’t think you understand how the boss might react. You seem to think that it’s the boss’s problem if s/he looks down on the employee for either taking 2 weeks off or quitting. That’s something the employee has to contend with when she meets her potential new employer. She has to answer to that, and therefore it is her problem. Maybe her boss won’t have a recommendation to give or may never speak to potential employers, but she will.

    4. Liz T*

      “Maybe I am lucky to live in a part of the country with low unemployment and I’m privileged to work for an employer with generous vacation packages… ”

      Not maybe. Definitely.

  20. Elizabeth*

    AAM’s advice is spot on, all the way down to the last punctuation mark. OP should ask for the time and, if she’s turned down, either a) ask Mom to rebook or b) quit and go to Europe and eat the consequences when she gets back.

    And as a mother of grown children, I’m astounded at the OP’s mother’s presumption. If I want to plan a vacation with my grown kids, I get *their* availability and then start juggling. Heck, I did that when they had jobs in high school.

    Parents today. :shakes head:

  21. Kelly O*


    I get a grand total sum of FIVE days every year. That’s five total – sick, personal, vacation, whatever. I was sick at the beginning of February, and now have a grand total of TWO paid days for the entire rest of the year.

    I’m fortunate in that I can work through lunches and make up a bit of time, but if we want to take any time off later in the year, or if my daughter or I get sick, I am kind of out of luck and will have to take unpaid days.

    It has been so long since I took what some may call a “proper” vacation. Most of the time when we do go on trips, we leave on Friday and extend the weekend, or plan around holidays. Our wedding I guess was the last extended time period I was out (as I mentioned in my first comment) but that was even stretching out holidays.

    I would purely love to work for a company with great benefits, lots of vacation and personal time, and where taking that time was met with a welcoming attitude and not a “well how are we going to get through x number of days short a person?” That’s simply not the case for me, and for lots of other people, especially those who are underemployed and bringing in a check however they best can.

    It’s a difficult choice, yes, but it’s the responsible thing to do. Part of being an adult is doing the hard things, even when they’re not the most fun or not the thing you would prefer to do at that particular point in time. It may mean a difficult conversation with Mom, but those conversations can be vital to establishing yourself as an individual and reminding Mom that you’re an adult now, too. So long as the conversations are respectful, there is nothing wrong with having them. This is what my high school teachers used to call a Meaningful Learning Experience.

    1. Anonymous*


      In the UK, the law says we get a minimum of 20 days leave per year. I’m working at a non-profit where I get paid less but get more benefits so I get 29 days leave and up to 1 month sick (with doctor’s notes). I can’t believe what a raw deal you’re getting!

      1. Anonymous*

        Yup, you have to really be high up on the food chain to start getting real vacation time.

        1. Liz T*

          Not everywhere, of course. I can’t rave enough about what a good employer The Juilliard School is. As a new admin assistant I got 15 (accrued) vacation days, 10 sick days, and 4 personal days per year, plus the whole school is closed Fridays during the summer (meaning one’s vacation days go further). Starting to wish I’d never left.

          PS: Is it bad to name the employer if I’m saying good things? All the info I listed is right on their website, so it’s not confidential.

  22. Anonymous*

    When you’re 80 years old, what will you regret more? Missing an opportunity to tour Europe for two weeks? Or losing a dead end soul sucking job? Life is short – enjoy it! If I were you, I’d spend all my free time sending out resumes and aiming to land a new job starting after the trip. Then give two weeks notice before the trip.

    It sounds like you definitely need to establish boundaries with your mother and that should be a top priority. But how often does a two-week European vacation come along? Is the most important thing in life accruing money and following the company line? There are other jobs out there and if you are a hard worker, you should be able to find another job or create one for yourself. There’s nothing wrong with babysitting and doing lawn work and housecleaning to earn some money in between jobs. If you have a college degree, you can probably work as a tutor and make decent money. There are lots of options in life – don’t be limited by an obnoxious boss and stifling work environment. Enjoy your life!!

    1. Kerry*

      If you quit a job every time someone else tells you to take a whole bunch of time off, when you’re 80 years old you won’t have time to wax nostalgic about your trips to Europe. You’ll still be working, in a soul-sucking job, because you kept quitting jobs at the drop of a hat…and nobody wants to give a high-paying job to someone that flaky.

      Let’s say she quits this job. She goes to Europe. She comes back and looks for another job. On the application, where it says, “Reason for Leaving Previous Job,” what’s she supposed to write? “I left my last job after a few months because they wouldn’t give me two whole weeks off during the time my mommy said I should go on vacation with her?”

      And what if mom decides she needs another vacation in a few months? Does she quit the next job too? How many times do you think that’s going to work?

      The upside to this approach, I guess, is that it would free up a job for someone who actually WANTS one.

      1. Anonymous*

        If this were a career, it would be different. But it seems like it is just a “job” that she doesn’t like and isn’t going anywhere.

        And if she is able to get another job to start after the trip, she can simply say that other job is the reason why she left. Even if she goes into business for herself for a few months doing side jobs after the trip, there’s no reason why she can’t say that she went into business for herself. I don’t see any reason why a trip or vacation would need to be mentioned as the reason she left.

        Regardless of what she chooses, she does have to resolve the issues with her mother and establish boundaries.

    2. Annie*

      Anonymous. Seriously? Where are you living that thousands of people aren’t desperate for work and dying to get a job, any job? Do you read the letters here? Do you understand the connection between working and being able to support yourself?

  23. Ask a Manager*

    To the people saying she should just quit and then find another job or start her own business for a few months: It’s just not that easy. Not everyone can just start their own business, and many hard workers can’t easily find jobs these days. I am constantly getting mail from highly motivated, smart people who are in a terrible situation from this job market. It’s really not as easy as just “quit your job if your’e not 100% happy because you can always do something else.” If that’s been your experience, you’re the exception to the rule!

  24. Jane*

    Granted, the mom is out of her mind booking an out-of-kindergarten person for a 2 week trip. While its nice of her to pay for the adventure, she absolutely should have discussed both the dates and the itinerary with her adult child.

    However, now it’s done and the reader has to decide whether she goes on the trip with mom, and what would be the consequences.
    It is appropriate to talk to her boss immediately, before the work schedule is compiled. It also makes sense to think about:
    (1) how hard would it be to reschedule the trip to fit better with the rest of her life
    (2) how upset mom is going to be if she does not go
    (3) how much, if any, damage to her career she’ll have done if she quits because of this trip and the word gets out
    (4) how important it is not to be scared of one’s boss and actually be able to have a working relationship with him/her so that you can discuss things like a sudden free trip with mom

  25. Joey*

    As a hiring manager I wouldn’t necessarily fault someone for leaving an entry level job if they told me they did it to go on the trip of a lifetime. As long as they gave notice, didn’t make it a habit of quitting jobs for trips, and were otherwise a good candidate I don’t see a problem with it. If it were a higher level/more critical position I’d have more of a problem with it. So, for me this comes down to how likely the op thinks they can find another job when they return.

  26. Kerry*

    Okay, so riddle me this:

    If jobs are so plentiful and easy to get in this person’s area, why would she be in a crappy job with a crappy boss in the first place? If it’s so easy to get a job, wouldn’t she have already left this boss she’s afraid of behind?

    Honestly, I’m just amazed at this advice. People say, “It’s not like it’s a career…it’s just a job.” But the way you get yourself a career is by working through some dumb jobs first. If you keep quitting dumb jobs at the drop of a hat, you will only ever have dumb jobs the rest of your life. Then you will likely be one of those people who whines about how they never get a break, or get promoted, or get a good salary…and duh. It’s because you never took a dumb job seriously enough to get a better one.

    I started out in call centers. I ended up an executive. Pretty much everyone starts at the bottom. If you keep disposing of your bottom jobs, how are you going to ever climb out of the bottom?

    1. Jamie*

      Brilliant advice – this should be required reading for anyone working entry level.

      I started out temping in admin/receptionist gigs – I ended up the director of IT.

      Those entry level jobs are a proving ground – and a great way for you to look around at other positions and see where you want to go, and chart your path.

      There’s an old saying, “work smart, not hard.” I would argue that if you work smart AND hard you can eventually write your own ticket.

  27. SME*

    I have worked in staffing for years, and would like to reiterate what many people above have said. A whole lot of educated, experienced, hardworking people are out of jobs and having the devil of a time getting new ones. I see resumes on a daily level from senior level executives who are willing to do entry-level temp jobs; they’re willing to do ANYTHING, and they still can’t find positions. There’s no guarantee that the OP will return from Europe and find something else, even another unpleasant call center job.

    I STRONGLY recommend following AAM’s advice; impulse quitting is a bad idea in this economy.

  28. Joey*

    you’re missing the point. No ones saying keep quitting job after job. I think those who say quit are saying it’s okay to have a blip on your resume when you’re young. Sure you have to sacrifice, but the impact to your career is small when you leave an entry level job. Sure you might have to start over, but not that much was lost to begin with. And if you’re thinking that entry level job might have led to a missed opportunity the same argument could be said about the trip.

    1. Kerry*

      I don’t think the same argument could be said for the trip, unless the trip comes with direct deposit every two weeks.

      And this is not a one-time thing. It’s once in a only a few months of working. There’s nothing here to indicate that this will never happen again (or, for that matter, that it hasn’t happened before).

      But like I said before…I’m cool with all of the quit-your-job folks going ahead and quitting their jobs. That just frees up more folks who actually NEED employment.

      1. Origonal Poster*

        I don’t know why you and other posters are trying to make me feel guilty about having a job while “so many others are umemployed” when I personally said nothing about quitting. In my area, call centre jobs ARE dime a dozen, and I’m basically here being depressed and unhappy here as opposed to somewhere else so I can pay off my credit card. I left a similar position for this one because it paid 50 cents more (whoopiee). I understand the value or working through tough jobs and the experience I get, but I am going back to university to upgrade and I’m pursuing graduate school so I doubt quitting this one job after seven months is going to severely deter my true lifelong goals. It’s a fact – everyone works crap jobs before the get “the one” or find their niche. I’ve been sending out resumes and cover letters like a madwoman and have had at least three phone calls concerning jobs, but the timing is just not right. This job is not something I can see myself moving up in, as there are people who have been here for 2+ years, are amazing at customer service and everything they do and still haven’t been given any official title or much of a raise. Our most senior person makes $15/hour, and it’s a crime in my opinion. I’m taking the trip regarless but I am going to be honest and upfront with my boss. If he says no, then so be it. I will cross that bridge when it comes.

          1. Anonymous*

            I agree. She doesn’t want to feel guilty and she thinks that this one job won’t matter down the road. I hope she can get those two weeks off and keep her job because if she plans on using her credit card (the same card that is dependent on her having a job to pay off the bill) in Europe, she’ll realize she needs more money due to how expensive things are over there (especially in euro-based countries).

        1. Anonymous*

          While I absolutley love Europe and hope you enjoy it as much as I have, I’d strongly suggest you have a sit-down conversation with your mother. It is such a great gift she is giving you, but you must talk to her about when she springs these sorts of things on you. Let’s say you were in “THE JOB” of your life for 7 months. You can’t just up and take a 2 week trip to Europe or if there is an opportunity, you probably should ask for that significant amout of time off prior to booking the trip.

          You might be able to take the trip this time, but you are putting yourself and your mother at a great disservice for a future time. I suggest you have that conversation now. Be very appreciative and not sounding spoiled, but you have to be stern.

  29. Jamie*

    As Coach Buttermaker said in the original Bad News Bears, “This quitting thing, it’s a hard habit to break once you start. ”

    My kids thought I made that up because I didn’t let them see that movie when they were little, once they saw it they started wondering what other lines I’ve stolen from 70’s cinema.

    While quitting one job won’t harm a career long term – the trip will be over in two weeks and there will still be bills to pay and finding a new job right now may not be so easy…that’s the short term point I really hope the poster is thinking carefully about before making a major decision.

  30. Kelly O*

    I just have to interject here again. I wasted a LOT of my career listening to people who said “if you don’t like such-and-such, just leave.”

    At one point, it was relatively easy to find another administrative support job, and trying to “find my passion” kept me hopping around. Between temp jobs, deciding I didn’t like whatever about a workplace, and some moves halfway across the country with my husband, I now have a resume that probably will prevent me from getting in the door some places.

    I’ve gone rounds with temp agencies who try to rewrite my resume and tell me “well I’m just trying to cover your job-hopping.” And now I’m stuck making $11.50 an hour with horrible benefits that are about to go up again, five days of vacation a year, working with people I cannot even begin to stand, because it’s a job. It helps pay our bills and it’s better than working in the pharmacy in the grocery store (which is what I wound up doing after we moved to Podunk, TX.)

    If I could go back to my 22 year old self and tell her anything, I would tell her to stop looking for your “passion” and sometimes when a job is just a job, that’s okay too. Learn what you can from the “just a job” and keep your eyes open to people and opportunities that present themselves. Believe me, rather than warn myself about the ex-husband, or the friend who took me for a financial ride, or even fertility issues, if I could have just figured out that sometimes doing what you love means doing it on your own time, and that it’s okay for a job to be not perfect… THAT is the lesson that was hardest to learn.

    There are so many people who will tell you it’s “just an entry-level job” or “just a temp job” or “that won’t matter in ten years.” It does. Trust me. Learn from my mistakes. It DOES matter. Because like another poster said, it gets easier to justify after you’ve done it, and the next thing you know it’s a habit. Do NOT listen to everyone who offers advice, and if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

    I hate to sound all preachy, but this is the voice of experience talking. I would hate to see someone make the same mistakes I did, albeit for different reasons.

    1. Origonal Poster*

      You make a really good point. Plus, it is stressful starting and ending jobs. I’ll definitly heed your words in my consideration of job transitions.

      1. Anonymous*

        But if you’re going to graduate school, most employers won’t be too concerned about what happened before. The experiences you gain during and after grad school (not to mention the networking and connections) are what will really matter. A short blip between college and grad school will be a non-issue, especially since it seems like you do not plan on staying in the “call center field”.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          On the other hand, it’s a small world. It’s not inconceivable that she’ll be applying for a job she wants someday and someone who works there will know her as “the woman whose mother booked tickets for a two-week trip without asking her, and she quit so she could go.”

          The way you handle this stuff makes up the basis for your reputation. And reputation has a way of following you even when you expect it won’t. I’m not saying this WILL happen, but I’ve seen it enough that it would be naive not to look at this from the perspective of “what kind of professional reputation do I want to have?”

          1. anonymous*

            Maybe you live in a tight knit town or only hire in industries that don’t attract a very diverse applicant pool, but I think you’re blowing the its a small world argument out of proportion. I’ve been a manager for more than 15 years and I could probably count on one hand the number of times that’s happened to me and all of the managers I know.

  31. anonarealius*

    Why is everyone limiting the OP’s choices to black and white, stay or go? If I were the OP I’d find a job in Europe and put momma back on the plane.

  32. Liz T*

    I just want to take a moment to defend call centers; not all are terrible. I worked at one for a bit that sold subscriptions to arts organizations, and welcomed artists as employees. (Almost all of us worked in the arts.) One basically set one’s own schedule, and if you had to leave to do some sort of project it was drama-free, with the reminder to rejoin anytime. (They’re always hiring.)

    Obviously, this is not the OP’s situation. I’m just saying there are sane call centers out there :)

  33. Sandrine*

    I just read this and I had to add my two cents.

    Yes, it’s only a “call center job” and yes, a trip to Europe sounds fabulous (I should know, I actually live in Paris, France :P ) .

    However… thinking of ditching a job “just for a trip” makes me go “buuuh ?” … even though I did it once. But here’s the story :

    My parents work for the government (Mom, receptionist in a high school, Dad, postal services) . We are from a French Island near Madagascar, and the way French departments and regions are done, people from said island often come to work to the “mainland” because the Island is kinda small.

    But when you have all of your family somewhere, it can be hard to just pack up and leave. So the solution was that all government employees from islands such as mine may be sent there every three years, up to two months at a time, and the tickets would be paid for the kids too, until they’re 20. (I know, unbelievable in the US, I guess)

    So here I am, reaching 20, we were supposed to go that year… and oops, I got a little sister. Since my sisters and I were on Dad’s papers for the trips, he went to see if he could reschedule the trip for the next year, and pleaded so that I could go too, citing the baby sister as the reason. They accepted.

    The trip was scheduled for the beginning of July. When the deadline for vacation requests came at my cashiering job, I explained the situation and said I would accept unpaid days if that’s what we had to do. They said no.

    I did some research and from what I can remember, by then, had I not been on the trip, I’d have to have paid the money back to Dad’s employer… something around 1,000 USD (or more) that I did not have. I went back to my boss with this information, they didn’t reconsider. So I had to quit, left for the trip, enjoyed my family (which was good since this would be the last time I would see my grandmothers alive, as it turned out later) and while it was difficult after that, I coped.

    However… your situation is quite different, OP. I love my mother and would do anything for her. However, she can, sometimes, be stubborn. One time she offered to send me to “home island” for two weeks (trip worth around 1,500 USD that I still do not have :P ) … in exchange of me moving back in with her and breaking up with BF. I went “hell NO” on her, she pouted, but we’re fine now.

  34. Catina*

    Original Poster,

    No one has tried to make YOU feel guilty about being employed and I don’t see how you got that from Kerry’s post. They are trying to point out to the other posters that in the current economic climate, quitting a job, whether it is often financial suicide. I am 25 years into a job right now that was my dream job and with the arrival of a new director four years ago, has become the most soul crushing job from hell.

    I cannot quit, nor can I retire, no matter how much I might like it. Jobs in my field are hard and harder to come by as once people get them, they tend not to leave them. Perhaps because I am an old fogie who has seen her pension collapse, her savings collapse and her financial safety net wiped out and who knows she will probably be working when she is eighty, I am having trouble keeping my jaw closed at the comments of those urging you to quit.

    This kind of advice was mad in a good economy, it’s even madder in this one. So no, we aren’t trying to make y9ou feel guilty about HAVING a job. We are trying to make you THINK THROUGH the consequences of up and leaving a job at time when there are people with ten times your qualifications willing to jump in and take it from you.

    Also, your mother should be apprised of the fact that you are an adult and as such you need to be consulted before she goes making life plans for you. My mother was a dragon lady, but even shde knew one had to be fiscally responsible.

  35. Anonymous*

    Alright. A lot of people are going to try to tell you what you should or should not do, and base that on what they were unable to do. In my experience, life comes first. Sometimes that means quitting the job you don’t like and finding other ways to support yourself. Sometimes it means moving or traveling somewhere and taking a leap of faith. And yes, sometimes it means going back to school and gambling that your degree will be profitable. The world is full of people who take the safe road because of what *could* happen. First of all, the OP is young, unhappy in her job, and planning on quitting at some point anyway to go to school. Her mother springs for a European vacation, and she’d be crazy to not take advantage of it. Does she need to have a conversation about boundaries with her mother? Sure. Does she need to figure out ways to support herself – perhaps moving back home – if she is unable to take the days off and must quit? Absolutely. But there are many different paths in life and they don’t all include taking only 3 days of vacation a year while never going on vacations.

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