short answer Sunday — 7 short answers to 7 short questions

It’s short answer Sunday — seven short answers to seven short questions! Here we go…

1. Convincing my sister her job search plan is doomed

My sister recently completed a master’s degree in London and went over to the UK with the intention of remaining there permanently on a work visa after graduating. Things have not panned out quite as she hoped, however, and now she is jobless (aside from some babysitting work) and her visa is due to expire at the end of January. She is now planning on leaving the country and returning to the UK on a tourist visa to look for work.

I know you do not work in immigration, but how can my family convince my sister that she will have much better chances of getting a job in the U.S. as she will not need a visa? We are afraid she is going to return to the UK and either be deported or wind up completely broke. She refuses to listen to any sound advice and has convinced herself that with enough determination on her part, she can get a job and a work permit. I should also add that she has hardly any work experience but claims her resume and work history is immaculate, despite only scoring 2 interviews after the past year and a half of looking for both part and full-time work. She is also $100K in student loan debt, and Sallie Mae calls our home almost daily looking for her. Please let me know if you have any advice to give to a stubborn job seeker with completely unrealistic expectations!

Well, you may not be able to convince her. If you’ve explained your concerns and pointed out how bad the job market is (something she should know, given her two interviews in a year and a half of looking for work) and she’s not swayed, there might not be anything you can do. Sometimes you have to let people make mistakes and learn lessons on their own, as frustrating and even painful as it can be to watch.

That said, how is she supporting herself? If she’s not working, how is she paying for all this travel, let alone living expenses? If your family is helping to support her, there’s no reason they need to agree to fund this particular endeavor.

2. Grad school vs. experience

My fellowship is for a year, of which we’re at the 7-month point. The company has started asking me about my future plans. They’ve given me more responsibility than they had anticipated, and would like to significantly increase them further (relatively changing my designation and salary). I’m going to turn 25 in a month and my family is worried about it already being too late for me to go back to school for my masters. The plan was to do this fellowship for a year and go back to school for the next two. However, I’ve really enjoyed this position and the company has really let me get my hands deep learning so much more than I would have anywhere else. My manager (also a mentor) spoke to me saying I don’t need the masters and I’ve already gone beyond what someone with those qualifications would be doing. But I think that degrees do have face value and a couple of years down the line my personal market value would decrease for its absence.

I’m tempted to add a year onto this fellowship, gain more experience, and then go on to grad school. Is there a too-late period for grad school to employers? Can you really go on in the corporate world without a specific masters or an MBA (how much do employers care)? I do wish to be successful and would not like to disappoint myself a few years from now because of whatever decision I take now.

Only some fields require masters degrees — many don’t. In fact, more fields don’t require or even care about them than do require or care about them. The question for you is whether you’re in or want to be in a field that does require them. If you’re not, you’ll generally find that most good hiring managers value experience far, far more than they value degrees (again, assuming your field doesn’t happen to require one). Of those of us in that cateogry, we seriously don’t care a rat’s ass about a masters degree — we care about a track record of excelling at the type of work we need done.

Don’t let your family pressure you into getting a masters that you may not need; talk to people in your field — especially people who have the types of jobs you’d like — and find out what they think. [And keep in mind that the ranks of the unemployed and underemployed are littered with people who got graduate degrees and regret it, partly because in many cases it can actually make your job search more difficult, not less (read the comments on this post).] This is really a decision you want to make because it’s necessary for your career, not because of a vague feeling that you need it to advance in corporate America, because you don’t.

3. Should I be compensated for being a key-holder?

Should I be compensated for holding keys and occasionally locking up/opening the building I work in? This also entails having a security code for the alarm system. It is a warehouse; I am not in any position of authority, and my position is forklift operator. When my company gives someone a key, they never really officially ask you or offer any compensation, they just kind of give it to you. Sometimes 1 or 2 people have to stay for overtime, so they want only certain people they think they can trust to have a key/code. The people without this do not always have to work overtime (overtime being a negative mostly). I actually had a manager insult my intelligence several years ago by saying my compensation was the overtime. Why do I keep the key then? Simply, I feel that any company is capable of unfair reprisals even to a long-time employee like myself. If I’ve had a key for many years, how can I now tactfully tell them I don’t want it, especially when I’m not being compensated?

Because you’re non-exempt, you should be compensated for the time you spend using the key (locking up and opening up), including overtime if that puts you over 40 hours in any given week. However, if you’re asking if you should earn more simply because you’re a keyholder, aside from pay for the extra time that entails, I don’t really see a tremendously strong argument for that. However, if you no longer want to work the overtime, then tell them that you’re no longer able to work overtime due to family commitments (or whatever); that may get you out of it. (Or it may not, but it’s certainly worth a try.)

4. Asking for a full-time schedule as a freelancer

I am a freelancer currently working for a major online retailer as a stylist assistant. After years in sales, I finally found a job I love and that fits me. I had to start at the bottom but I don’t mind working hard (i.e. skipping lunch, staying late, working through a snow storm). I report to a producer, who schedules all the freelancers for the studios. I had been working full-time every week until mid-November when my scheduling changed. I would be off a week, then scheduled a couple of days the next, then off another week. I have emailed the producer with my availability, letting her know that I really enjoy my job and to schedule me full-time if possible. I also emailed to ask if there had been any issues that I should know about and she replied that “she hasn’t been informed of anything but she will definitely keep me informed if something does occur.”

How do I handle this situation professionally without emotion? Because the producer shares an office with 4 other people, it’s hard to grab a couple of minutes with her to talk about my schedule. I want to convey to her that I need to work every week, full-time. I’m watching people hired after me being scheduled for the week while I’m at home having a panic attack wondering what I’ve done to not get scheduled.

Stop emailing her and talk to her. Ask if there’s a place you could speak privately, and tell her that you’re concerned that your hours have dropped from full-time to part-time, and ask what the likelihood is of your resuming full-time hours in the near future. If she’s non-commital, then take that as a sign that you can no longer count on full-time hours from this employer. From there, you’ll need to decide whether you’re willing to continue there part-time or whether you want to look for a different full-time job. But you can’t make her give you the schedule you want; all you can do is state clearly what you’d like and ask for a realistic assessment of whether that’s likely.

5. How to decide which jobs to apply to

I have a question about how to choose which jobs to apply to. I know that you encourage readers to only apply for jobs that they really want, but what about in difficult situations? I have been unemployed for over a year now and I am having a hard time finding a position within my chosen field of work. I know it sounds bad, but because I have bills to pay, I am applying for any and everything that I think I meet the qualifications for. I have taken your advice somewhat and have stopped my resume bombing because it was tiring and I couldn’t remember who I actually had applied to. What are your thoughts? Can there be a happy medium?

There’s nothing wrong with applying to jobs that aren’t your first (or even second) choice, but you do need to be able to present a compelling case for why you’d be good at them. If you can’t do that, then you’re pretty much wasting time, because employers are going to have several hundred applicants, some of whom will have made that case for themselves. That means that resume-bombing doesn’t work; you need to write a tailored cover letter for each position you’re applying to. (And yes, that absolutely will take more time, but who cares how much time you save by sending the same generic cover letter to every job if you’re not getting interviews?)

6. Listing the same job at three companies

I am having a problem with my resume. I have been in my current position for more than four years. My problem is that I am now on the third company: same desk, same manager, same customer, but for three different companies. The first change was due to my company being purchased, but the second change was caused by employer B losing our contract due to a boneheaded contracts department. The customer wanted to keep several workers and myself, so another company hired us as a group. How should this be addressed on my resume? I don’t want to look like a job hopper. The first move is not a problem, as I know I can just say I worked for company B the whole time since they “inherited” all of company A’s employment records. But how do I handle being picked up by company C? Or do I just have to take the lumps?

How about listing it like this:

Chocolate Teapot Maker – Teapots R Us (previously Teapots Ltd and Teapots America)

7. Interview shoes when you have bad feet

I have bad feet. Specifically I have a condition that causes one leg and foot to swell. Even on good days when I’ve managed the swelling, I can’t wear dress shoes. They no longer fit right. Either they are too tight on that foot or they’ve stretched out and are now too loose. My feet unswollen are a women’s 11W to start with and going up a size does not work as they do not fit length wise. Basically I need something that can tie or velcro on to adjust to swelling throughout the day. Orthopedic dress shoes don’t work for me either, I’ve tried! I have a doctor’s note to wear athletic shoes at work, which they’ve accepted and everything is fine.

Problem is, I’m going back to school and will be graduating later this summer. In a few months I’m going to start looking for a new job again. So, what do I do? I can’t wear regular sneakers in to an interview, even if they were nicely kept black ones, they would likely look out of place, right? So, how do I handle this? Or am I imagining this to be a larger issue than it is. I’ve never been a shoe horse, so I don’t even notice what people are wearing, but I think most other people (especially women) do.

If at all possible, I’d avoid wearing sneakers to an interview, even black ones. If there are absolutely no other options and you must wear them, then you’ve got to accompany it with a quick explanation that you’re dealing with a foot condition (no details beyond that), but it would be ideal if there were other options that worked for you. Maybe some readers who have dealt with something similar can chime in with suggestions?

{ 171 comments… read them below }

  1. Y*

    While I don’t have a foot condition, I really do feel for you as you are caught in a really tough spot. Can’t wear dress shoes…but sneakers to an interview, even with the best explanation and doctor’s note, will still leave an unsavory impression.

    What about flats? I haven’t seen any mention of them in your note. Stretchy ones perhaps?

    Something like:,default,pd.html?dwvar_50008668_color=001&start=38&cgid=shoes-flats – but obviously I only did a quick search. But there are plenty of flats that are very stretchy, and could perhaps accommodate your foot throughout the day (or at least for an interview).

    As for why I picked an expensive brand, if you are looking for shoes to interview in, and if, you do find stretchy flats that fit, can adjust with your foot, are comfortable to wear (and are still better than sneakers) then because they are flats, they needed to be very high quality. In way, you are compensating with a nice brand for the flats. Although, go for a pair that is simple and lacks the huge logo.

    Again, if sneakers are the only way you can walk without pain….then wear those. Health is more important than anything. Coming in wincing, walking without confidence, being nervous about footwear won’t help the interview.

    Of course, if you do buy flats make sure you break them in too! Practice walking in them. (Side thought: how about wearing pants vs a skirt? Hem them just right so they sort of cover up the flats, but obviously don’t jellyfish all over the floor)).

    Good luck!

    1. Andie*

      Can you bring a pair of regular shoes and put them just before you enter the building for the interview? I have done that before. I have a very nice looking pair of shoes that look really nice but I have found them to be very uncomfortable if I wear them for a long time. If they work for an interview outfit, I will drive to an interview in a pair of comfortable shoes and then change into the interview shoes for the interview then change back into the comfy shoes for the drive home.

      Have you looked into the Dr. Comfort Brand of shoes? They have an online catalog that might have something you need.
      I have a nice pair of MaryJane’s that have a velcro strap that I got from the Walking Company. They are black and leather and look nice with work clothes.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I have some Mary Janes like that, only they were from Crocs. The outside is leather, but the inside sole is that lovely squishy Croslite stuff they use. They were expensive, but I needed them because my workplace had a concrete floor and my back was killing me. I scoured their website, but sadly, I don’t think they have them anymore.

        Here is a link to Crocs dress shoes for the OP. Maybe there is something on there that would be comfortable and work for her.,default,sc.html

        1. Kelly O*

          While I’ve not worn those Crocs, I know others who have and who swear by them, particularly if you’re up on your feet all the time, and they’re not as expensive comparatively as other brands.

          I also like Clark’s – they have all sorts of sizes and widths, and are super comfy. You can get flats, clogs, Mary Janes – basically whatever style works for you. Again, relatively not so expensive either.

          One of my friends loves Fluevog, but they are definitely more expensive. Some of their styles are a bit on the funky side for interviews, but they also have things like the Prepare Merit and Prepare Leader that are more dress-shoe-interview appropriate.

          Another friend loves Merrell shoes. I’ve not tried them myself, but when I worked at the university/hospital there were LOTS of doctors and nurses who wore them. They’re usually in the $100 range, but things like the plain black slip-on or plain black pump might work and be less obtrusive than a sneaker style.

          Dr. Scholl’s also makes flats – I’ve seen them at Famous Footwear in the $40 range, and they also have a few styles at Wal-Mart that I wore when I worked retail a few years ago. Comfy, plain black slip-on style shoes that looked fine with pants.

        2. Natalie*

          Some of the discontinued Crocs can still be found online if you know the model name. I really love their Marnie flat (plain black ballet flat) and I’ve found it on some weird “shoe warehouse” type websites.

      2. Reeya*

        I do this all the time – I have one pair of shoes that are my “interview shoes” (they look nice with my suit) but they are definitely sitting shoes as opposed to walking/standing shoes. If I have an interview I wear flats and carry the nice shoes with me in a shopping bag, then duck into a Starbucks really quickly and swap the shoes out. Flats go in the shopping bag, shopping bag gets tucked into my purse, and no one is the wiser.

    2. Vicki*

      I have a lovely pair of black leather “walking shoes”. They’re comfortable and feel like sneakers but look like not-so-highlt polished ortho shoes.

      Wear pants, not a skirt. Who will know? Seriously.

      1. J.B.*

        I have some clogs from Birkenstock that really look quite decent. I know you mentioned trying orthopedic shoes but have you seen if a specialty orthopedic store can help you out? There is tons of space.

    3. Coelura*

      I have had a foot & leg problem for many years. I have found that Drew Shoes, P.W. Minor, and Aravon shoe brands work really well. They have cute, tie shoes that are also stretchy.

    4. Maris*

      I have lymphedema and have had similar problems. The first thing to start with is not the shoes, but the socks/pantyhose. If you wear good compression hosiery the shoes become much less of a problem. The advantage is that (even if only one leg is the problem) they will keep one leg as-normal and will control the swelling in the affected leg.

      Compression socks/stockings can be fugly – but I’ve lately found and used these, and they help enormously (and are cute) – but only go up to about 20-30mmhg (which is the minimum compression I need – worse edema = higher compression needed):

      Try the socks, that may eliminate your shoe problem entirely – or at least make it manageable. If not, then in combination with leather shoes (which have some give to them) you should be in a much better position.

      For shoes, I use either Danskos (which are recommended by my Lymphedema Therapist) or, lately, I’ve found an old-fashioned boot-maker. They do custom and pre-made boots that lace up – primarily for Renaissance fairs, but they do have less fanciful designs too. They’re pricey, but the ‘off the rack’ ones are cheaper, and you also have the custom measurement option. I wear these They are ludicrously comfortable, and under pants (in black with black laces) all I’ve gotten are compliments.

      Managing an edema problem can be very trying – so I hope this helps! Good luck with your job search.

      1. Natalie*

        For non-cute compression socks, could the OP wear a pair of opaque black hose or socks over them? It might be kind of obvious in a skirt but should camouflage well if OP is wearing pants.

    5. Nancy*

      I have horrible feet, and wear a suit to work every day. My current work shoes are Mephistos and MBT’s, neither are what you’d call pretty and feminine, but they are not athletic shoes and they look good with a suit. Both have velcro for adjustments. Also had good luck with Finn Comfort and Gabor, again models with velcro. There are options out there that aren’t athletic shoes.

  2. $.02*

    1. Convincing my sister her job search plan is doomed

    If you can’t get a job with work permit chances are you are going to have a difficult time securing employment with visitors’ visa. I’ve worked in UK, the immigration is very difficult. Also, she might want to renew her work permit in U.S. than to change once she is back in UK.

  3. aname*

    #1: As a citizen of the UK I can tell you this: Unless your sister works in a niece market and has a proved job history which shows shes amazing no company is likely to bother to go to bat for her regarding getting a work visa if she is here as a tourist.

    Its also against the rules and regs you sign to get a tourist visa to come to the UK intending to look for work. Its even more against the rules to actually *start* work whilst waiting for the work visa to be approved and they take time. Most jobs will not want to go through that process and then have to wait until she is approved for a start date.

    (Its another thing completely having a work visa already and then changing jobs and going through the renewal process with the new job. That, I believe, is easier.

    If she is expecting to come to the country for a certain amount of time (say a month) they will mostly likely ask her to prove that she has the funds to support herself as a tourist during that time. If she is as in debt as it looks and can’t prove access to the funds they may just refuse her visa request – especially as she’s been here before on an education one. They get a little hot on that kind of stuff.

    1. Peaches*

      I studied and had work permits in the UK, from the US. The visas are difficult to get, and require hordes of documentation and fees. Americans, however, don’t have to do anything but show up in the country and have a name of where they are planning to stay in order to qualify as a tourist.

      The points about the job market being horrible and employers being unlikely to sponsor a work visa are still valid though. She’d have much better luck with parts of Canada if she is so determined to work outside of the USA.

      1. fposte*

        If you’ve got history that makes them think you’re more than a tourist, though, they still may refuse you entry.

        1. Bwmn*

          In my experience studying in Ireland (from the US), returning on a tourist visa after having a student visa no matter how valid the “tourist reason” (I came back for my graduation) can result in an amended tourist visa. Instead of getting the standard 3 month visa, I was given a two week tourist visa. I had a return ticket and it didn’t cut my trip or anything, but your sister may not even be able to count on the standard 3 months.

          You’ve voiced your concern, now just support her emotionally but not financially. She’ll either surprise everyone and find a way to make it work or crash/need to go home/etc. In which case harrassing her too much ahead of time won’t make her necessarily feel better talking to you if/when it doesn’t work.

          If you want to be really sneaky, I’m sure there’s a way to anonymously report her to British customs or the embassy in the US that you suspect her of trying to enter the country to work illegally. In that case they may not even allow her to get on the plane.

      2. Liz T*

        Yeah, the OP’s sister has almost no chance. My old flatmate’s company TRIED to sponsor her, but the government refused because there wasn’t a “demonstrated need” in her field. She was a social worker at a hostel for homeless men and refugees. Since then they’ve made it even harder–they changed the rules about what degrees got you a visa WHILE I was studying there, and I had to move back home with three weeks’ notice.

      3. Waerloga*

        Ahh but the same rules apply here. You can’t work here as a tourist. CBSA even frowns on visitors doing things about the house.

        Take care

  4. perrik*

    #2: A lot of people wait to get a master’s. It really helps to wait until you know what professional direction best suits your talents and inclinations, and that can take some time in the working world before you figure it out. I’m in my late 40s and just completed an MS; the average student age in my (business topic) program was probably about 35 but I was far from being the oldest.

    #7: Seek out Naot shoes. They’re astonishingly comfortable – and many of them are flats or Mary Janes with a Velcro-fastened top strap. For a previous job I used to walk a lot, including the 1 mile stroll between my office and the main building (no exaggeration, I measured it). Once I discovered Naot, my feet were infinitely happier. I got a lot of compliments on the shoes, too! (everyone particularly loved the Naot Matai) Also look at leather/suede lace-up (Oxford type) dress shoes. Rockport has a walking shoe (World Tour Oxford) that is cleverly disguised as a work-appropriate shoe.

      1. Anonymous*

        Yes, but does that brand came in wide width? A lot of the better brands don’t come in wide width. I’ve got the same problem, I need a wide width show, in a size bigger than 10, which is not very easy to find.

        1. fposte*

          In search on wide widths and size 11 women’s heels on Zappo’s, I got 387 results. Yeah, you’re not going to get Louboutins in that size, but there are some perfectly serviceable brands, like Clarks and Naturalizer.

          1. Anonymous*

            Yeah, but if you’re going to suggest a brand for someone with a special foot size (narrow, wide, or sizes under 5 or over 10) if you don’t wear that size, it would be nice check that that brand actually MAKES that size. It doesn’t appear Naot does.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              People here are throwing out suggestions and assuming the OP will do some research and figure out what works for her. Many Naots have a velcro-adjustable strap, which could accommodate swelling feet without necessarily having to be in a wide size — or maybe not, but I’m sure the OP can determine that for herself. I’d rather have people err on the side of making suggestions, and let the OP be the one to determine if they’ll work or not.

        2. M-C*

          Wide feet? Clarks, Reigel, Footprints by Birkenstocks, Danskos. Clarks does have some very interview-grade shoes, Even comfortable low heels.

    1. Anonymous*

      so happy to hear that you have just completed your Masters and are in your late 40s, as I will be too once I’m done with mine.
      Only three subjects and one Capstone to go. Yay!

  5. Rick*

    My argument for key compensation is that #1 I am not a supervisor, not even a lead man(one rung under supervisor), #2 Opening/closing a warehouse with products worth millions is a responsibility. Who are they going to blame if I accidently leave a door unlocked and something happens? #3 Aren’t I doing management a favor for doing this for free? Don’t most business’s have people of authority who are paid accordingly perform the important function of making sure the premises is secure? No disrespect to Mc D employees, but I don’t think they let the cashiers lock up(if they close at all). And #4 Unique to my company, if you have a key, lead man or not, you are required to stay OT sometimes to wait for a pick up or delivery after normal work hours and then lock up. There are several workers on my same level who do not ever have to stay(and don’t want to either) because they don’t have a key. How is this fair? Either everybody has to have a key, (something the company would never do), or only management should lock the building(something they don’t want to do), or they should “ask” certain non-supervisors if they would take a key and then for fairness’s sake give them something for the added responsibility. But giving a regular floor worker a key and then telling him the compensation he/she is getting is the OT when they don’t want it(the OT) is preposterous. If a supervisor asks me to stay and load a truck I would be getting the OT anyway. The OT is for me staying past normal work hours and loading the truck. It is not for me locking the building so they don’t have to. It makes me wonder if there is some labor law protecting employees such as myself.

    1. The IT Manager*

      I agree with Alison. When you work OT, you get paid extra. That is your compensation. In my opinion that manager was not insulting your intelligence when he told you that.

      The problem seems to be you are being forced into OT you do not want. Can’t you say no? You should be able to. “I’m sorry, I cannot stay late tonight I have plans.” Or is it that you’re so worried about retaliation that you’re afraid to refuse?

      If you have thus much anger about the key, just return it to whoever gave it to you and tell them you do not want the extra responsibility and OT any longer.

    2. Anon*

      This sounds completely normal to me. Trusted people have the keys where I work too. They’re not all managers or supervisors. One of them has to be at the facility when it opens and usually another of them is there when it closes. Those people are paid from the time they arrive until the time they leave, which may or may not include OT.

      Your company has made it very clear that locking/unlocking a door is not worth more money to them than loading a truck or sweeping a floor. It’s just a task that’s part of some people’s jobs and not part of other people’s jobs, like sitting at the front desk, answering phones, ordering office supplies, etc. As long as you got paid for the 15 minutes you spent locking the door, it’s not something you did for free. This is not unfair and you are not doing management a favor (unless you are in a union, and have an iron clad contract specifying what tasks you can be asked to do).

      Other than the union situation, you don’t have a right to refuse to do certain tasks, to refuse to work overtime, or to keep your job if you refuse to do what’s asked of you.

    3. Mike C.*

      Rick, why are you so concerned about the security of the building, and being responsible for it? Have there been incidents in the past where something bad happened?

      Also, cashiers do lock up, and they’re responsible for handing money, managing customers and being the front face of the company. Don’t knock their skills, it’s not an easy job.

    4. Anon*

      When I worked retail, they assigned keys to certain people seemingly at random. Granted, we got a raise, but it was .10 an hour, so it did not amount to much. In addition to having to lock up the store, the key holders had to take deposits by themselves, at night, unpaid (unless we wanted to stay clocked in and drive out of the way back to the store to clock out), and we were added to a list and so got phone calls at 3 am whenever the alarm was triggered. There was one advantage: I got to add “key holder” to my resume, which looked more impressive than “cashier.”

    5. Kimberlee, Esq.*

      I agree with Alison and the other commenters. It’s just another job responsibility. At McD’s a regular cashier *might* not have a key, but first level supervisors probably do, at least that’s been the case most places I worked.

      It’s one thing to tell them you don’t want to do it; fine, do so, see what they say. It’s quite another to pitch a fit like you’re being incredibly put upon in an unfair way; you’re not, there’s nothing indicating that you are.

      If an employee came to me and said “I don’t want to have lock-up responsibilities, it just makes me nervous and I’d prefer not to do it if possible,” I’d think it a reasonable request and I’d see what I could do. But if they came to me demanding compensation for the added responsibility, and acted like I was insulting and abusing them by making them do their job, I’d be very put off and would question a lot about that employee’s attitude about their job.

    6. Michael*

      I really don’t understand why this is significantly different from being assigned other job duties. Saying “Who are they going to blame if I accidently leave a door unlocked and something happens?” is like a factory line worker saying, “If I didn’t install my part on the gizmos we make, they wouldn’t work, so I should be paid extra.” It’s not a legitimate argument for a raise.

      If you decide to ask for a raise, in my opinion the way you’re presenting it here might come off very entitled, which will work against you when it comes time to award legitimate raises.

      1. Scott M*

        I feel conflicted in that I can see his point of view, but I also know that management isn’t going to pay him any more. As a forklift operator, he has a certain area of responsibility which is rather limited. I’m sure that it only involves making sure the material under his direct control is moved safely and perhaps some manual labor. But locking the warehouse means that he is suddenly responsible for the entire warehouse overnight. To use your analogy, it would be like a factory worker being responsible for installing his part, AND checking on the installation of all the other parts installed by everyone else.
        Management doesn’t think this is a big deal. I’m sure they are thinking “hey, he just locks the door, how hard can that be?”. Probably, they are used to a certain level of responsibility, and locking-up is waaay down on the list of things they have to worry about. But to a line-level employee it’s a big deal. Lots of people don’t want additional responsibility (I’m not saying the OP is like this, but it might be a factor).
        Anyway the point is moot because the standard across all industries seems to be that being the key-holder is not a big deal and you usually don’t get any additional compensation.

        1. Jamie*

          I guess where I’m confused is I don’t see why the OP is placing this in a separate category of duty – and I’m not even sure where he’s having the problem.

          I’ve worked in several manufacturing plants and this is par for the course – so if I were the OP I’d figure out what it is I wanted as an end result and have a specific conversation with my manager.

          If it’s about the OT and he doesn’t want to have to work OT, that’s one thing. Talk to the manager about scheduling because yes, when you have the key you get stuck with more OT than other people. That’s usually welcomed in hourly positions, IME, but as it’s not with him that’s a conversation to have.

          It may not be optional, some OT can be mandatory, but a discussion between reasonable people should be able to come up with a fair solution.

          What I don’t understand is the issue of responsibility of the contents of the warehouse. The OP doesn’t want the responsibility of locking up, but would want more money for it…so would the responsibility not be an issue if he was paid more? That doesn’t make sense to me and seems like a red herring, from the information we have.

          It really just sounds like the OP doesn’t want to get locked into this much OT and the key makes that happen…so a conversation about the OT would resolve that in most cases.

          Personally, I really hope the OP heeds the advice of those here saying it’s a very bad idea to request more money for this. It’s just not something that’s done and it’s a request so outside the scope of business practices most managers would find it pretty bizarre.

          If you want to limit the OT address that. If you want more money address that, and sure – nothing wrong with using the fact that you’re trusted enough to have key to bolster your case as one of many reasons you’d like a raise – not a direct correlation.

    7. Sarah G*

      I’ve had a variety of non-supervisory positions in different fields of work that involved having a key and setting an alarm system (or turning off the alarm system in the morning).
      I appreciated being entrusted to handle this and embraced the added responsibility, and was never compensated for it. Like others have said, if you don’t want the responsibility or the OT, then address that. But taking on an additional responsibility doesn’t always mean more money, even if it’s something outside the scope of the your defined job duties. Try to view it as compliment that your manager sees you as trustworthy and responsible, and as something you can include on your resume in the future. Or say you want less overtime. But I think you’re going to need to let go of the idea of getting paid more for this.

    8. Victoria HR*

      Perhaps they have been grooming you to move into a supervisory or junior management role, and are testing to see how well you handle additional responsibility. If you don’t want it, it could very well eliminate you from the running for any promotional opportunities down the road.

  6. cncx*

    I have the same problem as number 7 in terms of random swelling- I have a lymphedema-type situation but in both feet. What I do in interviews is wear long slacks (touching the ground) and ballet flats and a trick I learned from ballet class as a child- i sew in elastic top straps but in the case of my swollen foot, make them slack. As your foot swells it will keep the shoe on your foot without cutting off circulation. If you go to a specialized ballet store, there are womens’ flats up to 11 or 12 (otherwise men’s sizes), and sometimes the store sews the straps for you.
    Then once I have gotten the offer, I have a talk with a boss and HR if necessary and explain why I need certain types of footwear (I also need a foot rest at work so it is usually part of the same conversation) and that I am keeping the ballet flats/a pair of heels at work in the case of VIP visits or guests, but that if I can’t get the shoes on due to major swelling I will stay at my desk, behind plants, whatever. Just make sure the sneakers are cute (orthopedic stores make acceptable leather sneakers that work with business casual) and that the rest of your outfit is in line.
    My swelling also has a lot to do with walking and general fatigue- the swelling is worse if I haven’t rested

  7. Sharon*

    Oh my, and I always thought I had the feet from hell, this makes me feel almost normal. I can totally empathize! My left ankle is fused and slightly twisted, a different size from the right, and the left leg is a full inch shorter than my right leg. So yeah, I have shoe issues as well. I wear black shoes, either orthopedic or New Balance shoes, and they are modified to add an inch on the left side. I’ve never had anyone question them at work or in interviews. Of course, this means that I can’t wear pretty dresses or skirts, but I make out just fine with slacks and suit pants.

    It does depend on what business you’re in, though. I work with software developers, who could care less what you wear on your feet. If you work in the fashion industry, this would never fly.

  8. Erika Herzog*

    #7 – shoes that aren’t sneakers for interviews

    there are great velcro options in dress shoes nowadays though it may take some research to find a pair that you like enough. i found a pair of Hush Puppies that while not fashionable are quite functional, and i think will work fine with a nice pair of trousers and a blazer. if you google Hush Puppies and velcro they come up.

    also, i have found that oxford-type shoes that lace up have the most option for swollen feet. i had a summer internship which required a lot of computer work and would have that problem too….

  9. Girasol*

    #7 – I have long feet and shoes are the bane of interviewing. I have to select my interview wardrobe around the closest thing I can find to dress shoes and still wear for several hours. I’ve had some luck with the sort of low boots that look okay with slacks, aiming for an unadorned, neutral colored, don’t-look-at-my-feet style. Boots tend to be less tightly fitted, which helps, and a low solid heel doesn’t look as clunky on them as on shoes. And then I try to dress up the rest of the outfit to compensate.

  10. Holly*

    #7 – I completely understand needing to wear comfortable shoes to work and needing something that you can adjust throughout the day, but an interview should only be an hour or two long and you would be sitting through most of it, so I would suggest finding the most comfortable flat dress shoe you can and putting them on right before you go into the building. I don’t think you want to affect your first impression by showing up in sneakers. Once you get an offer and know they want you, you can bring it up and I doubt it would be a problem at that point.

  11. EngineerGirl*

    #1 – Please let her experience the consequences of her choices. Stop supporting her if you are doing so. The sooner she crashes the sooner she can recover, realign, and reconstruct her life. Giving her support only lets her get deeper into trouble and makes it harder for her yo recover. She is now an adult and she needs to realize how the world works.

    #7 – Look on the Internet for wide shoe companies. Get one nice neutral pair in your color. Point toed shoes with a gloss look dressier, but get ones that fit. Your skirt length should be around knee length to stay away from frumpy and still look professional.

    1. fposte*

      As a wide shoe wearer, I can tell you that Zappo’s and Endless (now owned by Amazon) have quite an array of wide shoes.

      However, I’m not sure, from what the OP says, that even those will give her what she needs for this foot. One possibility I haven’t seen mentioned–since it’s just one foot, you could wear a regular dress shoe on the other foot and use something like a soft foot splint on the challenged foot. It won’t hide the problem, but it presents it as a normal “something happened to my foot” without complicating your outfit.

      I might differ a bit from EG on the skirt length, though, if you are going to wear obviously non-dress shoes. I have colleagues with limited footwear, and what seems most visually pleasing is to get some close-fitted but drapey flow in the clothing at a little longer length, so that you’ve got some polished softness in the outfit that segues better to less traditional shoes than, say, a suit with pencil skirt. If you are going to wear a suit-skirt style, though, I’m definitely with her that you need to keep the hem high to avoid dragging you down.

      1. Martha*

        I totally agree with this — I would wear something visibly orthopedic/medical on the foot that needs it, and a normal (same-height) professional shoe on the other.

        1. Jamie*

          I missed this when it was posted the other day. I agree – this is brilliant – it’s what I would do.

  12. Empy*

    #2 “My family is worried about it already being too late for me to go back to school for my masters.” Hogwash! I had absolutely no idea there was a limit on grad school attendees. I wonder if your parents share similar thoughts on 20 year-old college freshmen being “too late” to take a Bachelor’s degree?

    I agree with AAM’s assessment that not every field needs a graduate degree, but if you personally want to go, no one is going to see it as “too late.”

    In fact, I have heard from a few professors (this is from a liberal arts/social science perspective) sitting on admissions committees that they wish they could automatically deny grad school applications from 22-year-olds coming out of undergrad and tell them to actually get work experience. The exception to this would be med school, and maybe law school, of course.

    Just my two cents, anyway–do what is good for your career and finances and personal goals.

    1. The IT Manager*

      I understand her family’s concern in that it is much easier to return to school full-time before one is married or has children or has time to acquire a large house with large mortgage and other debts. Depending on the money and family situation school could be much harder in later years – not impossible – but more difficult with more people’s concerns to worry about than just yourself.

      OTOH the assumption that everyone needs grad school is false. And although #2’s manager and mentor has a bias to keep a good employee around, she’ the one I’d trust more than the family since she’s in the same field. Plus with #2’s opinion that she does want to continue working and that fact that it is a difficult job market out there even for people with graduate degrees, I think the choice is obvious. As you mention, you can make a different decision in a year if you choose to.

      1. Empy*

        I see what you are saying. I definitely agree not everything requires a graduate degree! (And I have gone back and forth on grad school, assigning it to the mystical land of “maybe someday when I win the lottery”).

        I don’t mean to slight the parents, I’m sure they want the best, but their wording is what threw me for a loop. They didn’t say it might be “too difficult,” which is a valid argument and something to consider. But according to the OP they said “too late,” which made me think they somehow see her life as somehow over because she’s 25. Which, to me, is laughable. That interpretation is what influenced my response, but perhaps I should give them the benefit of the doubt that that isn’t what they meant. :)

        1. The IT Manager*

          I do agree there’s something a little unusual about this family’s expectations. It sounds almost like in this family not attending grad school right after undergrad is not an option. I wonder if perhaps the parents and other close family are all PHDs or doctors or lawyers.

          This is an odd expectation at this time when it’s widely reported that people are graduating with master’s degrees and debt and are unable to find jobs.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Exactly. And the OP wrote that she’s concerned about “going on in the corporate world without a specific masters or an MBA,” which seems like exactly the time when you DON’T need a masters — if it’s just a general desire to advance professionally, instead of a specific field that requires one.

    2. Tricia*

      I had that with graduate school applications – I graduated undergrad at 20, and all the graduate schools I applied to said to come back when I was 23 with 3 years of work experience. Isn’t 25-27 the average age of a graduate student, anyway?

      1. fposte*

        Ours is over 30. And we’re top in the country in our field, so it’s not because we’re settling.

        1. JT*

          I went to grad school when I was young, two or three years out of college, and again over 20 years out of college. Unless someone knows exactly what they want to do OR have grad school paid for by scholarships, it’s surely a waste to go right out of college. As it was, my first degree was free for me due to fellowships (apart from last wages of working at the time) and even that was only borderline useful. It helped me get a job, which was good, but in retrospect I didn’t learn much that I care about nor enjoy it much.

          Returning to school much later in life was great because I knew I what I wanted. Going to grad school “just because” is a bad idea unless you have funding or are very rich.

          1. JT*

            Oh, worth mentioning there are a few fields in which if the career objective is academic research then starting young is important to reaching a high level – I think math (not applied, but pure), theoretical physics and stuff like that. Not was the OP was asking about.

            1. Laura L*

              I would add all PhD programs to the exceptions to the rule list. Partly because of the research thing, partly because they take so long to complete, and partly because, if the goal is to become a professor, the PhD is the only way to get experience and training for that job.

              So, I’d say PhD programs and med school are exceptions to the not going straight out of college rule. Everything else, I’d recommend working.

              1. Rana*

                Although, even then, there were a number of people in my doctoral program who started it in their 30s. They tended to be much more focused and disciplined, and finished with less fuss, than us younger folks, too.

          2. Anonymous*

            Not always a complete waste right after, in my first field, athletic training or health care it is a minim 7000 difference in starting pay and most can get graduate assistantships so school is paid for. More than 70% go to grad school right away. My sister, however is a nurse and unless she wants to teach or be a nurse practitioner she probably won’t go back to grad school because she hates school and her BSN is enough to make her happy and allow her to do her job.

            I’ve done the masters route twice and after basically 10 years straight in college I have taken a few years off and am hoping the next time around to go very slowly (teachers in my state have to keep up on grad hours for certification and pay)

      2. LMW*

        I started grad school when I was 26 and I was the youngest in the entire program except for one classmate who was 25. Our average age was well in the 30s.

    3. Laura L*

      “In fact, I have heard from a few professors (this is from a liberal arts/social science perspective) sitting on admissions committees that they wish they could automatically deny grad school applications from 22-year-olds coming out of undergrad and tell them to actually get work experience.”

      I recently discussed this with some friends. All of us had gone for advanced degrees 1 to 3 years after we’d finished undergrad. (Which, by the way, is NOT late.) And we all agreed that 22 year olds should have to work before being accepted into an advanced degree program. And the guy in law school felt that should apply to law students as well.

      So, I agree with those professors. :-)

      1. dejavu2*

        I agree, too! I went to law school, and it was easy to tell who had entered with work experience vs who had come straight up from undergrad. The more real world work experience, the better. Makes it much easier to understand cases and to empathize with clients.

      2. Kelly O*

        I know more people going to law school or getting MBAs because they either can’t get a job, or don’t know what to do with themselves.

        Another friend who is a few years out of law school has tried and tried to dissuade them from doing this “just because” – she’s repaying giant student loans and struggling precisely because there are so many law school grads out there all gunning for the same entry-level jobs. (She’s living with her parents. Still. Can’t convince the students that it’s not just because she wants to, but because she’s making jack squidoo and paying back substantial loans, even after a few scholarships.)

  13. Nyxalinth*

    Because I rely on the bus and don’t care to walk 8-10 blocks to a bus stop in interview shoes (I have foot issues too) I wear sneakers while in transit, then swap my shoes close to where I’ll be getting off. This might work for interviews, since you could swap shoes in your car, and once you actually have the job it’s likely they could accommodate you.

  14. Anonymous*

    #2 Why is this an all or nothing proposition? More than one coworker and I are pursuing our masters degrees via a part-time program affiliated with a well known university in our area. The program is geared towards working professionals so there are no issues if you have to miss a session due to work, and the classes are identical to the classes that the full-time students take. (Many are half full-time, half part-time students). A lot of companies cover the cost of classes and being with other working professionals, we often get great real-life examples to discuss in class. Instead of leaving the working world completely for two years, I am getting my degree in three years with no interruption to my career.

    1. Anonymous*

      Are you in a field, or working for a company, that it would be possible for them to help pay for grad school? It might be a good move to stay with them for another year, and then start negotiating with them during that year to help with grad school.

      In my field, I’ve often heard it said that if you aren’t getting your grad program paid for, you shouldn’t be there…but that might be unusual for most fields.

    2. JT*

      I think grad school part-time is in some ways better than full-time because you have more time to digest what you learn,adjust your program, or even get internships. I went part-time while working an easy “full-time” schedule of about 35 hours/week at work, and was able to even squeeze in a couple internships using vacation time and other means, and that made the experience much more useful than if I’d rushed through.

      On the other hand, if you’re going just for a piece of paper (saying you have the degree), then by all means get through it as fast as you can.

      1. Marianne*

        The issue I see with this poster quitting work and going back to school with only 1 year of work experience is that a Masters may not help and may really hurt. In general experience is worth much more than graduate degrees in the business world in the United States. As someone who does hiring, I generally expect newly minted master’s degree holders to have 3-5 years work experience. Otherwise they require too much training to be worth the salary.

        1. JT*

          Couldn’t you pick someone with a masters over a person with just a bachelors with equal experience and offer them the same pay as the bachelors person?

          1. Marianne*

            In many parts of the business world it works just like that, and makes the master’s degree worthless. You are out a year or two of salary and the tuition. With the exception of a small number of jobs where my company recruits MBAs, we pretty much only look at experience and skills, and verify that the new hire has at least a bachelor’s degree.
            In my company, if we are recruiting from MBA programs, the positions themselves are set up with the assumption of a certain amount of experience. So we pretty much weed out those with little experience up front.

  15. Tasha*

    If it helps, I find no one says anything to your face about the shoes if you can’t wear pretty women’s shoes. My feet are way too wide to wear any women’s dress shoe I can afford so I am wearing men’s most of the time. I may have lost an interview a time or two over it but to be fair, I would be wearing the same shoes at the work place anyways so if I can’t wear what I have, I couldn’t have the look for the job.

    But alot of people seem to not care if the qualifications are good enough in some jobs so stick with it and probably keep your doctor’s note with you just in case.

  16. Juni*

    Re: #7 – There is a great website called Barking Dog Shoes that reviews nice-looking shoes for people with various foot problems. Your answer may be in there!

  17. Anonymous*

    #7 – In addition to the comments – which are great, my feet, ankles and legs swell throughout the day, I wear theraputic support hose, which you can buy at a pharmacy, helps keep the swelling down. You might also want to invest in a shoe stretcher which you can buy on-line or visit a shoe repair shop to get your shoes stretched. I also like to wear long pants that a little wider at the bottom, with a cuff. Good at camoflaging your shoes. Every little bit helps. Good luck!

  18. Seal*

    #2 – I received 2 master’s degrees in my 40s while working full time. The first one (library science) was required to advance in my chosen profession, where I already had close to 20 years of experience; the second one (Internet and project management) helped further advance my career. The second MS was almost completely paid for by my employer. In both degree programs I was surrounded by people in their 30s, 40s and, in library school, 50s. I have been very fortunate to have a great deal of success in my new and relatively short career as a librarian, which I attribute less to my degrees and far more to my years of paraprofessional work experience.

    If the OP feels that they are getting valuable experience in their fellowship by all means stay there. There is no statue of limitations or age limit for graduate school, and there is no substitute for actual work experiencece in one’s chosen field.

    1. Anonymous*

      The only thing I’ll say about waiting “too long” is that it does get harder once you’re out of student mode. You get used to regular hours. You get used to the rhythms of ordinary life. It can be an adjustment.

      As someone who works with non-traditional students, however, I have to say they are almost always a joy to help (I’m a librarian). They tend to be highly focused. They know what they want and they are willing to do whatever needs to be done to succeed.

      1. Kelly O*

        That helps me. I keep worrying about being a student with a toddler and a different schedule.

        My high school English teacher also reminded me that, as an adult going back, you have such different motivation. She got her Bachelors and Masters with a couple of small kids and a full-time job. It can definitely be done, it just requires perspective change and discipline.

        And, honestly I think I’m better prepared to do those things now than I was at 20.

  19. BCranston*

    #1: UK Immigration recently changed the rules in the last year or so that took away the option of allowing university graduates a 2 yr work visa without employer sponsorship. If your sister went to the UK for a masters degree with the intention of taking up that work visa post graduation, and that path has now been closed and she wants to stay, this path, to her, may seem like her only choice at the moment.

    What field is she in? I see a lot of UK job postings that won’t take applicants unless they already have the right to work secured for the UK. Does she have any connections with employers who may be interested in employing her? Where is she looking in the UK (London/North)?

    My first job in the UK was on a post university 6 month work program – BUNAC – and I was able to get a pretty good job at a finance magazine that to this day looks great on my resume. However, leaving was another issue and I didn’t want to go, even though I knew the rules (there was a relationship in here as well). I thought I would do exactly what your sister is contemplating, but knew, deep down, the odds were against me. Good thing I applied to graduate school as a back up!

    Your sister may be feeling the same here – her planned path has been “taken” away from her and perhaps she has yet to look around at other options or paths. Perhaps she knows classmates who were able to do the visitor-work permit route and thinks she can do it too. Whatever it is, you may want to acknowledge what she may be feeling, gently bring up your concerns and evidence, suggest some alternatives (work for a US company with significant UK operations and look for an internal transfer would allow her to start paying off those debts and work towards a legal, long term solution), and let her make her choice. Allison’s comment on the funding issue is a good point too.

    Oh, just checking up it looks like she may be eligible for the BUNAC program herself as a recent graduate. That is a valid 6 month work visa that would allow her to work at least. They had a good support network in London with orientation and job boards (mostly for bar work although there were some pretty good opportunities for career related jobs, like I got), but you don’t have to stay in London/Southeast. That could at least be a stopgap measure that would allow her to pursue her dream and maybe secure at least a contract position for the 6 months or at the very least a legal service oriented job and fund her lifestyle over there.

    Good luck – I’ve been where your sister is and it can be very hard to let a dream like that go. Where there is a will there can be a way, but with immigration it pays to be on the safe side!

    1. The IT Manager*

      Thanks for a little perspective on the sister’s perspective.

      It seems to me what she’s contemplating is illegal – becoming an illegal immigrant – and I can barely fathom that. If that truth doesn’t deter her, I can’t imagine anything the family might say could. Although it is worth pointing out to the sister that if she goes through with and gets caught, it might be more likely that she’ll get banned from a country she seems to dearly love. If she finds the perfect job (unlikely after 2 years of only 2 interviews) and gets the offer when she tries to explain to the company that she’s there illegally and needs their help to set things right, the offer is going to be dropped. But she sounds too determined to see reason.

      The best bet is to stop enabling her by funding this endeavor (if any family member is) and maybe make things worse for her (for her own good) by telling Sallie Mae or any other creditor looking for her how to contact her.

      Bizarrely I am thinking you should at least be grateful that she’s not planning to marry some random English citizen for the ability to live in a country she does seem to love.

      BCrasnton makes a excellent point about being sympathetic as this dream of your sister’s dies. It’s got to be hard, though, when a family member tells you they’re about to commit an illegal act.

      1. Emily K*

        Personally, although I don’t have any particular interest in living in another country, I don’t actually place any respect or value on immigration laws and I know a lot of people who, like me, feel that being restricted to work only in the country you happened to be born in is an antiquated relic of a time when travel wasn’t so easy, the internet didn’t exist, and borders weren’t so fluid. I have several friends who met and fell in love with foreigners and experienced no end of legal red tape that made their courtship and marriages more difficult simply because they happened to be born in different countries. More than one of of the couples got legally married early in the relationship, without telling their families and without considering themselves truly married, just so that the partner who didn’t have citizenship could generate income for their household (they later had weddings and now consider themselves “really married”). I understand that national governments haven’t yet figured out what to do about the problem of immigration and work status, since all of our economies compete with each other globally and our social safety nets are funded by taxes on citizens and no country wants to be left holding the bag of poor people. I get why it’s a logistical nightmare to suggest anyone should be able to live and work anywhere they want. I totally get it. But I also believe that, philosophically, people should be free to live and work anywhere that they can make a go of it, without needing a government’s permission. So the idea of someone contemplating “becoming an illegal immigrant” doesn’t rub me the wrong way the way someone contemplating robbery or assault or elder fraud would. I don’t see illegal immigrant employment as morally wrong, only legally wrong.

        1. The IT Manager*

          We don’t live in the sci fi future of one world government yet. It is the right and duty of a nation’s government to do what’s right and best for it’s citizens and that includes limiting the right to work and immigrate. Given these tough economic times, the English government has every right to make it hard on foreigners without work Visas to find a job that a citizen can be doing.

          Frankly the reason there’s no many hoops to jump through for people who marry citizens in other countries is people who “marry for a green card” so to speak. If people weren’t being fraudulent about about it, there would not have to be so thoroughly researched and restricted.

          I’m not at all saying this crime (if that’s even the right legal term) rises to the level of murder or theft, but it’s still an illegal act.

          1. Emily K*

            Oh, as I said, I appreciate why nation governments have to have the immigration laws they have. That just doesn’t translate into me feeling any personal disapproval over people who violate those laws. I see it as an unfortunate place where the laws and ethics don’t really align.

      2. Gmac*

        @IT manager. Marrying an English citizen is also not an option! Both parties need to provide evidence of income (to demonstrate they will not be claiming benefits) to the UKBA and the process itself costs both money and time.

        To lie about reasons for entry is an offence and once deported an individual will not be able to regain entry.

        1. Cate*

          Actually, the new rules state that only the UK citizen’s income is counted. And lying about why you’re there isn’t necessarily a lifetime ban. Looking for work on a visitor visa is also not illegal. It’s only illegal to actually undertake any work, paid or not, and she’d have to return to the US to get the proper visa to allow her to undertake any work.

          Honestly, her best option (besides marriage) is to find out her options. And a better place for that is the UK-Yankee immigration forums.

  20. Sean*

    #2: Oh please, your family are being silly thinking 25 is too late for a Master’s. My mother was a teacher before retiring, she went and did her Master’s when she was just finishing up her 40s (she’s 56 now). While Alison is right about Master’s not always being needed, in some cases it can get you a higher income. But I would say keep the work experience, you never know, you could find a program that allows you to study from home through online studies (we live in Canada and Mom got her Master’s from a university in Australia) and some companies will even help pay for your Master’s if they feel it will help increase your skills and in turn benefit them. So why not talk to your job, see what you can do and do some research about online/distance studies for Master’s programs. You never know what you might find.

  21. Rick*

    #3 All I can say then is that we have a difference of opinion of what that OT compensation is going for. My co-workers and I believe it’s for doing the work we were hired for, which did not include holding keys. I will always believe that that is the responsibility of management. They are ultimately responsible for the building. We are not a union company. I do not have anyone to go to bat for me. Although I have been with my company many years I do fear reprisals(I would with any company), that’s just me. And I say this even though I have been a good employee. In the last building we had my manager said “I want you to have these in case it snows bad, we’ll have a back up”. And handed it to me. Not wanting to rock the boat I took them. Before long I was identified as having keys for something other than an emergency. Two years ago we moved to another location. After a week my then supervisor catches me on lunch with new keys and I said I don’t want them. He threw them in my lap and walked away. That’s my company. Part of my problem is also that some people are not given keys and do not have to stay nearly as often if at all. That’s a separate issue of unfairness. Someone said why am I worried about the security? It doesn’t matter if there was an incident or not. It is a 600,000 sq ft warehouse full of all of our customers products worth a lot of money to put it mildly. How can any company make a simple forklift operator responsible for that while not making others? Suppose I have to stay late with another operator that has no key(this happens), they are making time and a half just like me. Where is my incentive to hold a key? If I am going to stay anyway and make xx, why should I stay, have a key and still make xx? Oh, one very important thing I didn’t mention because of being caught up in the whole OT thing was the fact that they make us lock up on days when we leave at normal times too, no OT. Locking up a warehouse is a responsibilty. The very least they can do is throw you a couple bucks every time you do it if you are not a supervisor. But they shouldn’t be able to give you a key w/o a choice. And to those who say find another job. That’s a totally different argument and I fear it’s too late for me to go that route.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Employers change / add to job duties without additional compensation all the time — it’s very, very normal. Just because you signed on to do A and B doesn’t mean that your employer can’t or won’t add task C as well. There’s nothing unusual about that. It’s actually fairly unusual to find an employer where that ISN’T the case. If you feel strongly that you don’t want to be a keyholder, talk to your manager about it. But don’t the route of trying to get additional compensation; that’s just not realistic.

      If you talk to your manager about it and that doesn’t change anything, then you can either accept the current situation or look for another job (but there are no guarantees that something similar won’t happen with the other job either — again, it’s normal).

      1. Rick*

        Maybe that’s the case in the white collar world, but I honestly don’t think that’s normal in the blue collar world of warehousing. Simply adding tasks is far different from adding responsibility. If we differ it’s in defining what locking up a business is, just another task, or a responsibility. The fact that they don’t want just anyone doing it makes that clear. The tasks I do at work change a lot. But they are always commensurate with tasks a warehouse forklift operator would do. For arguments sake, say you have two receptionists. If what you said were true then they could say, “starting tomorrow one of you will not only be answering the phones, etc. you will now be making sure the accounting department files the corporate taxes correctly”. Hey, it’s just another task. And for this you will not be getting a dime extra for this over your co-worker. You know something, there has to be a reason why no one in my company who has a key wants one, and everybody who doesn’t have a key doesn’t want one. The only thing I can agree on is if I don’t talk to management they will continue to take advantage of me.

        1. JT*

          Rick, you clearly have some strongly felt concerns about this extra work. I think you should ask not to do it, perhaps saying you often need to leave promptly.

        2. Ask a Manager* Post author

          It’s not just a white-collar/blue-collar thing. I was a keyholder in pretty much every blue-collar summer job I had during school. And no one got paid extra for it. Clearly this seems outrageous to you, but I don’t think you’re going to find that it does to the decision-makers you’ll be dealing with.

        3. Elizabeth West*

          What she said IS true. I have worked in both food service (blue collar) and as a receptionist (sort of white collar). I have often had extra tasks added to my plate that weren’t specified when I was hired. I DID have to lock the front door at my last office job, and I did have to open and close the industrial cafeteria when I worked for a food company. It was just part of the job. I had a key. I had to open the door and go to work. At the end of the shift, I had to make sure it was locked.

          It seems you’re concerned mostly with being responsible for the building in case of a problem. I would speak with your manager privately about this. If you’re reasonable, and if you have to leave right at closing most of the time, he may be willing to ask someone else to accept that responsibility. Or he might be willing to accept constructive ideas of how it can be better managed. But asking for more money–no way. It’s NOT going to happen. This is part of the job at this workplace.

          Maybe another place might do it differently, I don’t know.

        4. tangoecho5*

          I think the problem the OP has has very little to do with the actual holding of the key. He sounds like he’d willingly do it if they raised his salary a bit or compensated him some other concrete and noticeble way. I think the basic issue is he feels underappreciated for assuming the additional responsibility for the warehouse when he gets no more for that responsibility than what his non-key holding coworkers get.

          Likewise, I assume he’d have the same problem if he was asked to make the schedule or do anything he considers a “supervisory” duty unless he was paid extra. I don’t see it as his company taking advantage but maybe because I come from the mindset that the more responsibility you are asked to assume, the more management trusts you because you have proven yourself. I welcome that because it makes me more valuable to the company and helps when searching for a new job. Maybe the OP should use the additional responsibility as a justification to ask for a promotion at his current company or a new job at another company where he would get additional pay for additional responsibilities. Or the promise that he’d never be asked to do anything that’s not specifically written in stone on his job description unless he gets paid extra but that’s not realistic is it? Every job has situations where you might have to take on new tasks to make the business work even if it’s just a short term situation.

    2. The Other Dawn*

      There are likely certain factors they are considering when making the decision as to who gets a key. For example, if I were looking to give someone a key I would take into consideration how close he lives to the building, if he’s a responsible individual in general, if he’s trustworthy, etc. While most of the time the primary key holder is going to be a manager, that’s not always the case. If I have an employee who lives five minutes away and a manager that lives an hour+ away, the one who lives close by is going to be the primary key holder. I want someone who can get there quickly in an emergency. Also if a non-key holder has to stay late, I’d rather the person who lives five minutes away lock the place up. Then he’s not stuck driving an hour after already staying two hours later than usual.

      I guess I’m not seeing why this is such a problem. The fact that you’re getting paid for the time you are there is your compensation. If you’re done with your work at 5 PM and you have to stay an hour because others are working late, you’re getting an extra hour of pay to do nothing other than wait around so you can lock the doors. (I don’t know if you’re “doing nothing” during that hour or not, I’m just using an example.) If staying that extra hour is cutting into family time or inconveniencing you in some other way then you need to talk to your manager and explain that you don’t want to be the key holder for those reasons. IMHO, saying that you expect additional compensation for it just screams, “What’s in it for me?” and employers don’t like that.

    3. Emily K*

      Rick, I work as a delivery driver for a food chain. Every night shift, there are two drivers working, one of whom is scheduled as the closing driver. The non-closing driver goes home at precisely 10:00pm, when the store closes. The closing driver stays, along with the closing shift manager, and has a set of cleaning/closing responsibilities to complete before he or she can go home. (The closing shift manager also has a list of things to complete before he or she can go home.) Depending on the night, the closing driver might leave as early as 10:30pm or might stay as late as 11:15pm. Unlike the tasks done during a regular shift, which you are released from as soon as your shift is scheduled to end and which is only informally/theoretically checked by a shift manager and not formally audited, the work done after closing is more responsibility than task because you can’t leave until it’s completed, up to audit standards.

      Closing drivers make the exact same wage as non-closing drivers. We still get paid for the extra time there–if I stay until 10:30 I get 30 minutes’ more pay than the driver who left at 10:00–but the slight added responsibility of closing is not in and of itself significantly harder or more valuable to the company (after all, anyone can be assigned a closing shift; doing dishes after closing doesn’t require more competence than doing dishes during business hours). And nobody really likes closing, as obviously people would rather go home early and not have their leave time dependent on a task being approved by a manager as satisfactory before they can go. But yes, I’m sure if I told my company that I couldn’t or wouldn’t working closing shifts anymore, I would probably experience “retaliation” in that more hours would go to the employees who showed greater flexibility and availability to the employer in terms of being willing to work closing shifts. And I would probably agree with my employer that being given preference for those extra hours IS a form of compensation for being willing to work closing shifts.

      It’d certainly be a nice gesture to pay me for closing, but I also don’t feel cheated by not getting higher pay. I’m getting more hours–so it’s an earning opportunity I’m being given preferential access to.

    4. Scott M*

      I have to say that I empathize with the OP, even if I agree that nothing is going to change.

      I think that the thing everyone is missing here is the additional responsibility that the OP is being asked to take on. With additional responsibility comes additional risk. This is why supervisors and managers are paid more (usually) than individual contributors. They make decisions that affect more people, and therefore take on more risk. As a result, they are compensated at a higher level.

      Of course some people take on additional responsibility without additional pay, in order to show they are ready for promotion, but it doesn’t sound like this is true in the OP’s case.

      I can appreciate that the OP seems very literal-minded (I do ‘this’ and you pay me ‘that’. I do ‘this+x’ and you pay me ‘that+y’). I’m like that, although I’ve learned to compensate in a world that completely different.

      Unfortunately, his management doesn’t see this as a big deal, so he’s not going to get any additional compensation. I assume they also see it as a perk of being a manager – getting to delegate a unpleasant or unwanted task to subordinates.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        But being a key-holder isn’t typically considered a higher-level task. It’s very common for non-managerial employees to be key-holders, in a wide range of industries.

  22. UK HR Bod*

    #1- as a hiring manager in the UK, I would very rarely look at someone from the US unless they already had a valid work visa. There are pretty onerous conditions on employers who want to sponsor someone (showing that there’s no-one from the EEA who can do the job etc – pretty tough to do!), and it’s rarely worth the hassle. My organisation has some very niche specialists, and even so we’ve always recruited from people who have the right to work here. Most companies are the same, hence many applications asking whether you have the right to work in the UK.
    Unless your sister graduated exceptionally well in a niche field, it’s unlikely that she’ll find a company to sponsor her (except perhaps through networking), and she’s unlikely to be able to get a visa under the points-based system. If she’s that set on working here, she’d be best getting a job back in the States for a company that also operates over here and then asking for a transfer – that’s pretty easy (caveat that my experience working here for a US organisation is several legislation changes out of date though).

    1. Anonymous*

      #1 +1
      All UK employers have to check that the applicant has a legal right to work in the UK and that usually means producing your passport. Any visas in the passport are checked.

    2. Jen*

      Yes I think the problem with this woman is that she doesn’t want to listen, and Alison makes the good point that in such a case she has to make her own mistakes and the family must sit back and watch, which is certainly hard.

      I wanted to say something similar about pointing her to recruiters in the UK who would say absolutely the same: we won’t even have a conversation with any job-seeker who does not have the right to work in the UK. Doesn’t she have access to a career counselor from her university, British friends, or anyone she’s come across in her job searching who could steer her in a direction where she would gain this essential information? Maybe there is some underlying health issue going on?

      1. dejavu2*

        I agree. My immediate thought reading about this dilemma is that the sister could benefit from a psychiatric evaluation. The decisions she is making simply do not comport with reality. Whether the family has a moral responsibility to intervene is a question that, to my mind, goes beyond the bounds of AAM. However, if her family co-signed on any of her delinquent loans, then they might have a more compelling reason to drag her back to the US and get her some help.

        1. BCranston*

          I’ve found that a lot of people, both in the US and Europe, tend to think emigration is simply a matter of pick up and go and that any paperwork that is required is a slight inconvenience and simple process. Perhaps the sister is of that mindset too, although I find that hard to believe since she had to get a student visa, but you never know. I think she got caught in that rule change and is desperate to stay and may not be seeing the options and consequences clearly.

          I hope the OP comes back with some more backstory as to how the sister has managed to survive this long without any paid work.

          1. Leb*

            Hello all,

            Thanks for the comments. I was the poster of #1.

            My sister supported herself on student loans while in the UK (hence the astronomical debt), and while she intended to get a part-time job in her ‘field’ she never managed to find anything so she just managed on her borrowed money.

            She finished her academic program in the summer and afterwards moved into a home as a live-in babysitter and has been doing that ever since, while attempting to look for a full-time job. Her main issue, I feel, is that she doesn’t really know what exactly she wants to do for a career, which I’m sure employers can pick up on. She is one of those people who got an MA because they didn’t know what else to do at the time, and to give you an idea about her career desires, her previous goal before going to the UK was to move to LA to look for acting/modeling work…

            As for the loan situation, we gave them (Sallie Mae) her UK number but they either don’t call it bc of the international charges or she just ignores it. My father is afraid of giving them any more info about her bc he wants to shelter her from the reality of her debt. I know, not my choice in actions either, but parents are parents I suppose…

            And I suppose last but not least **UPDATE** my sister is now planning to not leave the UK at all after her student visa expires as her baby sitting gig won’t wait around for her if she leaves, so she is just going to stay on. Not sure what a huge difference this will make but I’m fairly certain she will be caught out eventually. As stated by several above, I think it’s just a live and let live situation and let her learn her lesson in the end

            1. BCranston*

              Thanks for coming back and answering some questions!

              I think your conclusion is valid about live and let live, even though she goes illegal from the end of January. Is she aware that once that happens she can’t leave and re-enter the UK at all? She may also be questioned at departure and they could slap a minimum ban of entry on her of a few years at that point too. Even if she were to find a company to sponsor her she would have to leave and re-enter with the new visa and that isn’t going to fly with Immigration.

              I knew several people who overstayed their Working Holidaymaker Visas (from the Commonwealth) and stayed on working legitimate jobs for legitimate UK companies using forged African passports (they weren’t African) for years. These people were accepting of the shady circumstances of their employment or “legal” status, and none of them were ever caught. They were able to connect with certain elements within their ethnic group in the city that knew how to work the system and secure those falsified documents and also had large support networks to find jobs, housing, and security in the hazy grey world they put themselves in. I’m not condoning what they did, but London will always attract those willing to risk a lot to work and earn money in an exciting, global city. The successful ones tend to have a built in network to plug into that helps negate some of the more limiting aspects of their choice.

              I hope your sister can remain safe, find a local support network, and try to retain some modicum of control over her life once her visa lapses. She will be in a vulnerable situation, but it sounds like while you family may not be willing to enable her further, that you won’t be cutting her loose entirely.

              Good luck.

            2. Anonymous*

              As an aside, this should hopefully convince OP#2 that getting a masters only for some vague notion of career advancement is not worth it!

          2. Cassie*

            I have a friend who is like this. She’s thinking of quitting her job and moving to London where her cousin lives. And the whole time she’s telling me this, I’m thinking “but you don’t even have a valid work permit…” I’m not at all familiar with UK or European work policies, but I assume if she was in a highly competitive field, maybe a company would be willing to sponsor her. But she’s not – just clerical/office work – why on earth would a company push to hire you? And that’s not even taking into consideration whether the gov’t would approve it or not.

            I even asked her “isn’t it difficult to get a work permit?” and she basically said it wasn’t difficult at all. Her cousin could help her or something along those lines. (And she isn’t of European descent so she probably doesn’t qualify for citizenship of a European country).

        2. Ariancita*

          Lots of people try to do this. It’s very common, and certainly not a mental health issue. People try it because, in some cases (at least previously), it’s been proven successful (certainly not in most cases, but definitely in some). I’m not condoning it or saying it’s wise, but I think it’s a huge and strange leap to say the sister has mental issues.

          1. Rana*


            Young, naive, probably over-optimistic, sure. Mentally ill? For sounding like a fair proportion of other young adults her age? Yeesh.

    3. Jen in RO*

      For the record, in case anyone isn’t aware of this, the US uses the same type of policies. My (European) friend had an internship at a big US hotel chain after university, and even though they wanted to hire her full-time after the internship, they couldn’t justify it (i.e. there was no reason an American couldn’t do her job just as well). She decided wanted to go back to the States either way, so she applied for a master’s in her field, which got her a visa for two more years. During the master’s she met her now-husband… but I’m pretty sure they would have waited a bit more for the wedding if her student visa wasn’t expiring. (Luckily, they’re still happily married a few years later, so it wasn’t a “green card marriage”, it really was love :) )

  23. KayDay*

    #2 Grad School: The best advice I was given about when to go to grad school was “wait, and you will know when it’s time.” It turned out to be very true. At a certain point (if your field requires/highly values masters degrees) the job opportunities will start to dry up a whole lot.

  24. Tai*

    To #7 — I also have 11W feet. Finding that size is a miracle, let alone finding something that would fit when your feet are swollen. The next time your feet are swollen, go into a shoe store and ask them to measure them.

    A friend of mine who has wider, larger feet than I do buys her shoes online from Masseys. You could probably get a nice clog shoe that would look professional enough without hurting your feet.

    1. Ali_R*

      You can try for shoes. I’ve found 6pm has the best selection in quirky sizes and lowest prices. I picked up a pair of Dansko Kikis for $48.

      I like the search feature, you can narrow down your preferences by size, style, color, material, heel height; no more finding great shoes only to see none are in your size!

      We’re all over the map with sizes in our family. I have an adult daughter with size 6 4E width. I can get her into 6.5 WW. And me, I am a 10.5 narrow. Sigh!

      1. Anonymous*

        I second the Danskos my mom has the same foot issues and that is what she can wear to work most comfortably on bad days

  25. Chocolate Teapot*

    I was watching one of those Fly-on-the-Wall documentaries about the UK Border Control officials and there was an American girl who had come into the UK on a tourist visa, having worked in the UK before.

    If memory serves, the officials searched her luggage and found a stack of CVs. As they believed she wasn’t visiting for a holiday, she was allowed 1 day’s grace then had to return to America.

    1. fposte*

      Refusal of entry is pretty common and unremarkable–I know a couple of people it happened to. What she’s planning to do–go away and then come back–is exactly what they tend to be alert to. She also is asking for trouble, if she does make it back, to leave for any vacations.

  26. Sean*

    Err edit from my previous comment…because I’m a grammar Nazi like that. *your family is. :P

  27. Not So NewReader*

    OP #1. I was wondering about the bill collectors calling so often. That must make “at home time” so very pleasant. (NOT) I am wondering if something can be done to stop the constant calls. Perhaps the calls are driving the sense of urgency about your sister’s situation. I cannot tell from your post – is Sis even aware of how often they are calling?
    OP #2. Yes, your parents do want what is best for you. However, times have changed hugely- the world is different now. Know the area of the country you work in. I found out for me to get a master’s degree here would price me right out of the job market. Very few companies would hire me, unless I left the degree off my resume. I would argue for looking at the return on the investment. Let’s say that your master’s degree would cost X. How much more would you make because of holding another degree? Let’s pretend you would make 10% more than you are now. Divide that 10% increase into X- that is how many years it will take to get your money back. Granted – the numbers are not solid numbers but it will give you an idea. If you are saddled with that much more debt- there won’t be any money for house/kids/vacations/cars/etc.
    Since you love your job and seem to be thriving- I would say “If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it.” Just tell them your boss said you don’t need a master’s!

    OP #3. It sounds like you would just rather not have the key. If that is the case then give it back. HOWEVER, do realize that a key is indeed a position of trust and although your employer does not show appreciation for it- it does telegraph to interviewers that you are a trust worthy person. I had a similar situation once. I told the boss since I did not have a title to go with the key, I could not be held officially responsible if something went wrong. I was doing the company a favor by holding a key. The boss agreed! Shortly after that I received a modest raise and a new job title. If you frame it this way the barest minimum you can aim for is the boss agrees you cannot be held accountable for any major problems.
    OP#4 Alison’s advice is excellent. I have seen this one too many times. Yes, start looking around for an employer that CAN make a long term commitment to you. This one cannot.
    OP#7 I have bad feet, also. The surgical support stockings are great at keeping the problem knocked back. Another tip I had about shoe shopping is to shop in the afternoon/evening. Do not shop in the morning. Afternoon and evening will be the times that your feet swell up and you can see how the new shoes would fit during the bad times of the day. Once you get the shoes home- you can use shoe inserts in the morning if the shoes are a little big and loose when you first start your day. (I have even used a Kleenex that I can toss out in the ladies’ room.) Once the shoes start feeling snug take the inserts out and put the them in a plastic baggie in your purse. Other posters have found the same solutions I have found- men’s shoes, simple styles similar to loafers, low or no heel etc. I did find a nice pair of short boots like one poster described and I did not buy them. Oh, how I have regretted that choice.

    To all who commented on shoes- thanks! It’s so refreshing to hear ideas on this subject!

    1. K*

      I believe that if you inform bill collectors that the person in question doesn’t live at that address anymore (and, of course, that you’re being honest about that) and they can continue to call, they’re in violation of federal fair debt collection practices laws. Look up those laws and throw them at them next time they call. If that doesn’t work, send a letter. If that still doesn’t work, might be time to think about small claims court.

      1. EngineerGirl*

        Yup. They are allowed to call once and only once for information purpose. They are not allowed to disclose they are debt collectors. That said, I have had to get extremely aggressive with some debt collectors looking for someone I know. I have told them that I absolutely will report them for violations (and cheerfully have). I not responsible for someone else’s debt and I will not be hassled over it.

    2. just me*

      I so much agree with Not So New Reader on #2. I know 2 people that have masters. One in business and one in communication.

      One, for example, has good decent experience in general including project management with 3 underneath her for about a year, but has no management/supervisory experience at all but feels her ” 2 degrees ” B.S and Masters should carry her to to executive director type positions. She ” knows” more then her boss and complains about how he talks to her, his decisions, and even questions his vacations saying he takes too many.
      Whether these things are valid or not I don’t know. But this is all said with the.. ” I have a masters” so therefore I know more type attitude.

      The other has a $12 customer Service job and can’t get hired full time at anything else that she wants with her degree. She has no management/supervisory experience and has held only customer service type jobs. She is working part time in her field a little bit. She too wants ” THE job” to fit her degree.

      Our area is not a big city and the jobs tend to be more blue collar. Although I do not question the eventual ability for these 2 to get jobs and do well they have little to no experience to back themselves up to show a company what they have done. Only a degree.

  28. Blinx*

    #1 – Your sister might have better luck thinking long term. The UK has many large corporations with offices all over the US (one huge drug company comes to mind). Get a job in the US with one of those companies with a mind toward transferring to the UK headquarters several years down the road. It’s a long-shot, and depending on her chosen profession, might not be feasible.

    #7 – Check out They have shoes for people with diabetes and many other conditions. Women’s sizes go up to 13 ww, many lace-ups and velcros. The other option is to look at men’s shoes. Once I broke my leg, and when the cast came off I couldn’t wear my regular shoes for ages. I went to Nordstrom Rack and wandered into their men’s shoe department. They’re naturally wider. I was able to find a pair of casual black men’s lace-ups, which worked since I always wear slacks anyway.

  29. Kit M.*

    #2 makes me so nervous! Please stay in the job that you love where you’re valued and learning a lot about your chosen field!

    It seems that even if you find you do need a master’s in your field, waiting one more year won’t make a difference.

    1. Reeya*

      +1. The “on-the-ground” experience of working in your field is just as, if not more so, valuable as an advanced degree.

  30. Tee*

    As an American Expat living and working in Belfast, I have to say to OP#1 that what your sister wants to do is nearly impossible.

    I was only allowed my first visa, a fiancé visa, after extensive paperwork. Then I had 6 months to get married. Then, once I was married, I was allowed a two year Leave to Remain Visa. After those two years, I had to submit a stack of paperwork and proof that I was still married, still living here and still living with my husband before I was granted my Permanent Leave To Remain Visa. My two year Visa allowed me to work and have health care, but no other benefits. My permanent one grants me the rights of a citizen, except for the right to franchise, I can’t vote.

    I jumped through many many hoops and spent hundreds of dollars/pounds on this process. And until I had my two year visa, not one company would even talk to me, never mind hire me, because it was illegal to do so.

    Your sister is living in cloud cuckoo land and needs to actually research what her visa options are. I did all of the above just after 911 and it’s all changed since then, including having to take a written exam for your Permanent Leave to Remain Visa.

    It’s not just a matter of entering the country and finding a job.

  31. Ariancita*

    Question for #1: Why are the student loans calling to collect if you’re sister isn’t working. She should have a deferment on her loan payments while either unemployed or underemployed.

    1. fposte*

      Could be the sister never filed for either kind of deferment or the grad school isn’t eligible for an in-school deferment; the unemployment form also requires you to be diligently seeking work *in the U.S.*, including hunting for work near the address you give and registering with services if there are any. Doesn’t sound like Sis’s style.

      But if the sister isn’t familiar with deferments, she should definitely at least look at the thing so she doesn’t wreck her future completely.

      1. Leb*

        I am poster of #1

        My sister takes a very “head-in-the-sand” approach to life and is possibly one of the most stubborn people I know. As far as she is concerned, the debt is not her problem as she is not earning an income (technically) and she is not in the US. I don’t think she understands deferment/forbearance and wouldn’t care to find out. At the mere mention of the loans, she shuts down, doesn’t want to talk and hangs up…and we can’t exactly have a sit-down conversation with her 3,000 miles away. I know the loans are delinquent, but as long as they stay on the ‘other side of the pond’ I don’t think they bother her much…

        1. Gmac*

          Consider asking her has she considered how hard it would be to get employment in any country with a criminal record? Because overstaying is an offence…

        2. Ariancita*

          Wow, that’s really weird. Why not just fill out the simple paperwork to get a deferment and save the hassle? She’s really screwing with her future financial well being.

  32. Carrie*

    #7 – Alegria Dayna Professional mary janes in black, black wide-leg pants tailored as close to the floor as you can go without tripping or getting grubby, and do not ever cross your legs to raise your shoe into view. Your other clothes and your grooming will have to speak for you to offset the possibly seen shoes. Wear a more upscale and fitted top than usual such as a wrap jacket tailored just right, and put on noticeable but not overdone accessories. Fresh haircut, fresh color, consider having a professional blowout right before your interview. Go make sure your makeup is current, and consider having it done that day, emphasizing low-key. Make sure your cuticles are nice and your nails are clean — consider muted polish. Is your bag in good condition? These are all important for an interview, but if everything else about you is “just so”, the shoes will not “count” as much — if at all — if you end up unable to hide them. And, if you look so fabulous that you believe your shoes will not “count”, then you can be free to concentrate on your interview!

  33. Later*

    Re: the UK visa plan- she may be able to apply for the working holiday visa to keep a roof over her head, but you are restricted from working more than would reasonably fund a vacation, and all it would do is buy her time to figure out other options.

  34. Liz T*

    #1: Your sister has probably already considered this, but: where were your grandparents born? You might have a claim to EU citizenship. My grandfather was born in Poland, so I could apply to get citizenship there, which would let me live and work anywhere in the EU. However, for Poland, it’s a huge amount of bureaucracy and would cost more than $1000, so I haven’t done it yet. My sister and I keep saying we’re going to but have not.

    1. Jamie*

      This really varies from country to country. My dad was born in Germany but as he was already an American citizen by the time I was born I don’t have any greater rights to German citizenship than anyone else.

      I looked it up once out of curiosity and immigration laws are so complicated I’m glad I’m too lazy too move.

      1. Liz T*

        Yeah, Poland is particularly hungry for citizens. (I’ve read that there’s a “passport trap” set up–if you visit, and they find out you’re eligible for citizenship, they won’t let you leave until you get a Polish passport. As far as they’re concerned, you ARE a Polish citizen, and need to get the documentation.)

        1. Jamie*

          That stood to know actually. My grandfather was born in Poland as was my husband’s mom – and it’s been a dream of ours to go once the kids are out of school.

          Definitely makes sure things are in order first.

        2. Laura L*

          Hmm. Does this apply to great-grandparents? My grandparents were born in the US, but their parents were born in Poland…

          1. fposte*

            At one point, Ireland had an arrangement where you could be a foreign-born citizen based on a parent’s citizenship, and that citizenship could be created retroactively and posthumously. In other words, if I could have pulled the paperwork together, as I was considering doing, I could have registered my late grandmother as an Irish citizen based on her father’s citizenship; my late mother as an Irish citizen based on the citizenship I’d just obtained for my grandmother; and me as a citizen based on my mother’s citizenship.

            I have no idea whether Poland does anything like that, but you never know.

      2. Laura L*

        Although, people who have Jewish German parents or grandparents are eligible for passports. My friend just got one.

        I wonder if any of these countries will do this for people whose great-grandparents are from there?

        1. Jamie*

          True – that’s a completely separate set of regulations governing those who were stripped of citizenship during that time – as opposed to people like my family who merely immigrated to America and changed citizenship of their own volition.

          More info on the rules regulating German Jews reclaiming citizenship (and their descendants) can be found here:

  35. EngineerGirl*

    #1 – please let your sister know that if she chooses the illegal route and gets caught that she is pretty much permanently ending any chance to get into the country in the future. Once caught in an illegal act she will be in “the system”. That will come up every time she attempts to enter the country and she will be sent back to the US. She needs to go back to the US and find a legal way of doing it.

    1. tangoecho5*

      Agree. Not to mention if she does apply and get interviewed for a job how does she plan to explain not having a proper work visa? Does she think the company will overlook she is on a tourist visa and trying to find a job illegally and then do all the paperwork to allow her to do the work in a legal manner when they probably have a handful of other very qualified applicants without those restrictions?

      It sounds like OP#1 is going to have to learn the hard way. I want to know how she expects to support herself while looking for work? If she runs up a lot of discretionary debt such as credit cards, loans, etc, to support herself that she isn’t paying on regularily that right there could end any chances of her finding work since companies run credit checks. Including US based jobs. So not only would her UK work search be illegal based on her Visa type but her personal actions in regards to handling her finances show a lack of judgement and immaturity. Double whammy! And if parents or others are supporting her fantasy trip, then cutting off funding will be the wake up call she needs.

  36. Anon*

    #7 – Is it possible your sister is aiming to stay in the UK just to avoid the debt. Perhaps she knows how impossible it will be to get a job in the UK, but knows that her options in the US are slim-to-none due to her astronomical debt. So, she continues with this ill-conceived plan because that’s her only option?

  37. Cassie*

    #2: not sure what field the OP is in, but for engineering, there are some companies that will pay for their employees to get masters/doctorate degrees. So those students tend to be a bit older (not just 21 years old).

    Or there are online MS programs that might be worth a shot.

  38. CJ*

    #1 – As a Londoner – the job market at the moment is horrible here. It’s not unusual to have over a hundred applications per vacancy and more and more people are coming in from across the EEA. Added to this that immigration requirements are getting tougher, there is no way that an employer will sponsor your sister for a vacancy.

    If she overstays her visa, either she will be deported and not be allowed to return to the UK and might have problems getting visas for other countries with this on her record; or when her babysitting job ends, she will have to leave the family she is staying with and with no earning power could very quickly and easily become homeless. However as her head is so firmly in the sand about all this, I think something drastic will need to happen before she will try and sort out her situation.

  39. BW*

    #1 – She’ll probably have to learn the hard way. Maybe if you let up on trying to convince her, she’ll see it, particularly if she’s just a stubborn personality. You know, some people just dig their heels in the more you try to convince them of something, and you have to find some way to bite your lip and just let things happen.

    #2 – Unless you are in an industry or want to be in one that requires a grad degree, do what you want! Not all careers pay more for a grad degree over experience, and consider you will also be saddled with more debt to get another degree. You are in a great position. So many recent grads are having a tough time finding jobs to get started on their careers.

    It is also never too late to go back to school for a Masters degree if you decide later that it is something you really want to do. Many people do decide to do this later, and the upside is they can often take advantage of company tuition assistance.

    1. Jamie*

      Many people do decide to do this later, and the upside is they can often take advantage of company tuition assistance.

      This is a great point. With few exceptions everyone I know with a masters had it paid either fully or in large part by their employer.

      I know it’s tough to buck familial expectations – but it’s really common to go to grad school after working for a while and I have to echo Alison’s advice – in the corporate world there are far more positions for which it won’t be needed (and not rewarded) than those for which it’s required.

  40. Anonnnymous*

    #1 – Please, please tell your sister to think about this from a long-term perspective. In my experience working in immigration in the US, I saw so many heartbreaking cases where people in their 30s, 40s, 50s, and 60s had opportunities to work or study here but were denied the visas they needed because of immigration violations they had committed in their teens and 20s. If your sister were to lie her way into a visa and get caught, she may never be able to return. Please tell her to do everything by the book so that if she has a job offer 5 or 10 years down the road, she’s not denied the visa she needs because she made an error in judgment when she was fresh out of school. You never know where life will take you.

  41. FormerManager*

    #1 – One of the first things that I thought of after reading your post is that your sister is putting herself in a position to be exploited. Her naivety coupled with the visa situation could make her attractive to shady individuals, especially as a female in a foreign country.

    You really need to have a heart to heart with her. Can you skype? I find this situation worrisome.

    1. FormerManager*

      Also, if, heaven forbid, she is victimized in any way, her visa status could be a complication (i.e., she may be afraid to go the authorities or may face skepticism if she does).

      1. Jamie*

        Good point. I work in an industry where I’ve worked in close contact with most likely illegal aliens at former jobs. They are reluctant to tell management anything – no matter how trivial – so I can imagine how scared they would be of the justice system.

        I wonder if there is a relationship involved which is why the OP’s sister is so anxious to stay there. It just doesn’t make any logical sense from a career standpoint.

        I really liked Blinx’s idea above of applying to jobs here in the US with branches/HQ in the UK. At least there is the opportunity for transfer or business trips down the road.

  42. Anonicorn*

    #7 – First of all, Yay! I get to talk about shoes!

    The most comfortable pair of work-appropriate shoes I own are the brand Trotters, which come in wide and narrow sizes. I found them at a local store called Cook and Love. They specialize in hard-to-fit sizes like the wides and narrows. You could browse the store site then search for a brand you like on Amazon or Zappos.

  43. Sasha*

    #2 – There are a lot of good comments about the grad school thing. OP, your letter sounds like it could have been written by me. I experienced the exact same thing. My family pressured me, and continues to pressure me, even 5 years after I stopped pursuing an MA and I’m doing very well in my career (and no longer have any need for the original MA, or any other MA, at this point), and I am much happier. I just wanted to add that unless you have a very specific plan that would require an MA, like being a professional counselor, then I doubt an MA would add much to your marketability, not in the way job experience will. Please go ahead and take this wonderful opportunity being offered to you. There are also a lot of options for working and going to school if you choose to. It’s never too late for grad school and I think you’ll be in a better position down the road if you have the experience.

  44. Sasha*

    One more thing to add about #2 – I work at a university were we are generally crazy about degrees and tend to require degrees more often for jobs when it isn’t necessary. That being said – in my department, at least, we still preferred experience over the MA. Last year we needed to fill 2 positions, and there were many applicants that had MAs, but we wound up going with the people who did not have the MAs, but more job experience. In my experience and in talking with people in the corporate world, experience is worth WAY more than the degree.

  45. anon in tejas*

    #7. While in law school, I had some leg issues that required surgery. one of the downsides was that it hurt like hell to walk long periods of time, stand on my feet, or wear anything other than flats. I had presentations, clinics and job interviews that all required heels. I wore flats as much as I could and changed into heels before big events. I had a significant limp, and when asked I explained that I had some medical issues and couldn’t wear heels all the time. But I wore conservative flats. Currently, I do this as well with my work. I wear flats and change into heels at the office most days. I’ve loved Earth Shoes and currently wear them as my go to shoe. Even with pants, they are completely work appropriate (and velcro strapped!)

  46. ML111*

    OP #2 –
    Another option might be to enroll in a part-time masters program while you continue to work full-time. I realize this may not be for everyone, but I have done this myself (for two master’s degrees) and would highly recommend it for a number of different reasons.

    First, your employer may be willing to pay for some/all of your classes which would decrease the cost for you all while maintaining an income.

    Second, going part-time while working means that you are gaining both the educational experience AND the work experience at the same time. I was able to gain so much more from both of the programs that I did because I was able to combine the knowledge and experience in both capacities (school and work) on a daily basis.

    The part-time programs are usually full of other part-time students that are bringing unique experiences and knowledge to the program. You get first hand knowledge of what other jobs/industries are like, including what challenges (or benefits) others are being faced with. This helps you decide with better knowledge where you want to go and what you want to do once you have your degree.

    In terms of how long you wait, I think there can actually be a benefit to waiting and having more experience before you decide to go back to school. The 1st time I went back was I was 29, and I was glad I waited because I felt I got so much more out of it as a result of having more ‘real-world’ working experience.

  47. The Lost Freelancer*

    Hello everyone, I’m the submitter of question #4 (freelancing).

    I rarely see the producer so I have little opportunity to pull her aside to chat with her about my schedule, especially now that I haven’t worked in almost two weeks. I’ve spoken to other freelancers I work with and they told me that this was normal..that I need to keep emailing and reminding the producer not to forget about me because she is overloaded with work.

    Dear commenters, my questions to you are:
    –1. How can I word my email to her to show her how much I love my job but also get the answers I need regarding my schedule.

    –2. Does anyone know of websites, blogs or job boards for freelancers that are looking for work in the fashion industry?

    Any help is much appreciated! :)

    Thank you,
    The Lost Freelancer

    1. Rana*

      Speaking as a freelancer in a different field (editing and indexing) – so take with a grain of salt – I think you may need to seek out additional clients. Putting all of your eggs in one basket is not wise, especially since, as a freelancer, you are not as valuable to your client company as a full-time actual employee. You do good work for them, so they’re more likely to cut you a break than other, less able freelancers in their pool, but if they don’t have enough work to hire you all full-time, there will be gaps.

      You’re your own company, not an employee of theirs. Seek out more clients!

  48. OP #7*

    First of all, thank you ALL for the suggestions! I really appreciate it. Someone mentioned Lymphedema, that is exactly my condition. I do have compression stockings to wear. Lately I’ve been non compliant and need to get the swelling down to where I can wear them, I should be able to do that before I start applying for jobs though. I do always wear flats, I have a low arch as well and anything more than a slight elevation is very painful. I even wore flats to my wedding. (Actually I wore decorated tennis shoes. LOL) And I also do wear pants, as I’m not very comfortable in a skirt, though a long flowy one would be OK. I will definitely check all these suggestions out! Thanks so much!! :)

  49. Geoff*

    Not sure what the Anglophile sister’s situation is, but she might look into for 6 month work visas in the UK, or she might look at for year-long paid apprenticeships in London. Neither of these is permanent, however, and she will need to make additional plans. The OP is absolutely correct that it is much harder to find a job when you require a visa. Also, it may not be possible for her to work legally on a tourist visa.

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