I work with my boyfriend, I’m allergic to my office, and more

It’s seven short answers to seven short questions. Here we go…

1. Managing a low-performer who keeps improving every time she’s warned, but then slips again

I have someone on my team who I hired a few years ago. I have struggled since she was hired with getting her to pull her weight. Most of the rest of the team give her the easy part of projects so that the project gets done and that hopefully she won’t mess it up. Every six months or so, she makes a mistake that is big enough that we have to do a written warning and performance improvement plan (PIP). We set out criteria for improvement, we set a deadline and she improves (and saves her job in the process). Then a few more months go by and she starts to slip up again and the process starts over (since she successfully completed the performance improvement plan we have to start the verbal warning, written warning with a PIP, final written warning cycle again).

I don’t know that this person has the ability to be successful at this job. How do I break the cycle of PIPs and either get her performance up permanently or where I can let her go? My boss is pressuring me to just fire her already, but she keeps meeting the terms of her PIP so I can’t fire her.

You’re locking yourself into overly specific terms in the PIPs, it sounds like — or in your own head. Instead, you need to be clear that she needs to not only meet the terms of the PIP during the timeline while she’s on it, but she needs to sustain that new level of performance going forward even once the PIP ends. Make it clear — both in your meeting with her and in the written plan — that if her performance slips back once the PIP is over, you won’t be starting with a new one from square one, but rather will need to let her go at that point. Use language like, “I need to see this level of performance sustained over the long-run, and if the problems recur, we will not go through this process all over again.”

And I agree with your boss that it sounds like you need to just fire her at this point. If you’re bound to policies that require you to do yet another PIP (although you shouldn’t be, in a good organization), then do it now and make it a short one — like one month, not three months.

2. Talking to coworkers about my boyfriend, who works with me

My boyfriend and I work in the same department. This is not an issue; everyone knows (we were a couple before we started working together) and we manage it professionally well.

However, my boyfriend is having conflicts with a colleague of his. As the department staff tends to be quite friendly with each other, it is normal for people to ask about the significant other of a colleague. The issue is that his colleague sometimes asks me where he is at a certain time and although I know where he is, in my professional capacity I do not, so I dont really want to tell them and I think they should try to email him to find out where he is or what his work schedule is for the day.

Also, my boyfriend is looking to find another job elsewhere. I am sure that if he does move on his colleagues will try to ask me “what is he now doing?” or “where is he now working?”, etc. I dont want to answer their questions (as they are just being nosy jerks) but I dont know how to say it without sounding rude. I practically want to say “that’s none of your business” but I know that saying this will then ruin my relationship with his colleagues. How do I do this?

Well, first, don’t make your boyfriend’s conflicts with a colleague your own conflicts. You should have your own separate relationships with people and not take on his battles for him. That said, it’s perfectly reasonable to respond to questions about where he is today exactly the same way you’d respond if they were asking about any other coworker — “I’m not sure” or whatever. At work, you’re his coworker, not his keeper.

As for how to answer questions about him once he leaves, you’re going to really sour your own relationships there if you refuse to answer harmless questions about how he’s doing or where he’s working. You’ll be far better off giving quick answers and moving on than taking an adversarial approach with people.

3. Applying for a job at a science museum when I just graduated from a university that teaches very literal creationism

I’m a job-hunting recent grad, and I’m applying for jobs all over the place. One of the more interesting openings I’ve seen is at a science museum working as an educator. I’m a communications major, not a scientist, but I think I’d do well at the job and I’m hoping I’ll get an interview.

The problem comes from my educational background. I’m a graduate of a decently-sized Christian university that puts heavy emphasis on a literal 6-day creation week. These are the sorts of folks who believe that the earth is no more than 8,000 years old, that fossils are the result of a catastrophic world-wide flood, and that evolution only happened on a small scale — like wolves and dogs, but no further than that. The fact that all their professors agree to teach this is a big selling point for the school, and it’s advertised quite prominently. Anyone who googles my university will realize this within about three minutes. My high school and elementary school (the application asked for those as well) are much the same.

For the record, I went to this school because my parents agreed to pay for a significant portion of my tuition — which was a big sacrifice for them and a great help to me. The school is fully accredited, and I felt like I got a good education, but it had the opposite result that my parents intended — I came out pretty turned-off to an exclusively literal belief in creationism. I now believe that evolution can be compatible with faith, and at the very least students should be exposed to an accurate, respectful explanation of both sides of the issue (something I didn’t receive growing up).

Do you think this is something anyone will even notice or care about? If so, how should I go about addressing this? I understand that my religious beliefs are protected by law, but I also suppose that the museum is interested in hiring people who agree with the science they teach. Ultimately, I hold different religious beliefs than my educational background would lead someone to assume, and I don’t want to be discriminated against because of them.

Yes, many people will notice and care, so you’ll likely need to address it head-on in your cover letter and possibly be prepared to talk about it in an interview too. But even then, having graduated from a school that requires its professors to teach things that are fundamentally at odds with the mainstream scientific community is going to be a fairly significant obstacle for you in applying for work at a science museum, especially as a recent grad without lots of secular work experience to balance it out.

4. Will having an out-of-state phone number hurt you when applying for jobs?

I currently have an out-of-state phone number from Pennsylvania, and I was laid off from my job a year ago and I had no choice to move back to Georgia with my family until I can get back on my feet.

I have been searching for a job since day one when I got here and it has been a year of extensive searching, even to other counties around me. The only thing I was able to find is a temp agency job that I was only able to work on and off, along with the frustration of not finding something steady.

Which now brings me to my question. With the hundreds, possibly thousands of applications I filled out, could having an out-of-state phone number possibly be affecting someone seeking employment?

Eh, these days people are pretty used to seeing cell phone numbers with area codes from all over the place. I wouldn’t worry too much about it as long as you have a local address on your resume. I would, however, take a fresh look at your resume and cover letters to see if those are the issue — because when someone isn’t getting interviews after hundreds or thousands of applications, it’s usually those two things that are to blame. Read this and see if you spot yourself here.

5. Explaining that I’m leaving a new job due to salary cuts

I’ve been at a new job for about four months. It deals with X and Y, but is heavily focused on X. I’ve discovered that I really prefer working with Y and honestly hate X (and think I’m bad at it). I know it will look bad to have been here only a few months if I apply for a new job. However, my company also just announced salary cuts due to budget issues. I feel like this gives me an out — does it? And if so, how do I mention this in a cover letter as to why I’m looking so soon?

Salary cuts? Hell yes, that’s an out. You agreed to take the job for a certain salary, and now that’s been changed on you.

It’s tricky talking about this in a cover letter — since a cover letter should really be about you and why you’d excel at the job you’re applying for and not problems at your current employer. In fact, you might even consider leaving this job off your resume altogether, particularly since four months isn’t long enough to have any real accomplishments there anyway, and that way you won’t have to deal with the instant red-flag of why you’re looking again so quickly. But if you decide not to do that, your best bet is probably to say something like “My new company is undergoing significant budget cuts, so I’m looking for something more stable.”

6. Should I really give my manager feedback when he asks for it?

Typically during my annual performance evaluation, my supervisor asks me how I think he is doing as a supervisor. In past years, I have always been positive. This year, however, there have been some issues that have cropped up, mostly involving micromanaging and his apparent desire for his employees to be “yes” (wo)men. Anyway, my performance evaluation is coming up, and how am I supposed to answer his question this year? Do I just tell him I think everything is going fine? Is it ever worth it to come up with constructive criticism? Or, perhaps I could ask him why he is asking me about his performance?

Don’t ask him why he’s asking you — he’s asking for feedback because that’s what thoughtful managers do. If you have a good relationship with him and he’s generally proved himself to be open to dissent, then yes, talk to him about your concerns. Just frame it a little more diplomatically — instead of talking about micromanaging, talk about the specific ways that you’d like more autonomy and propose strategies for making that work while still keeping him in the loop. And instead of saying he seems to want yes-men, explain what’s given you that impression.

Of course, if he truly only wants yes-men, that might be a flag that he won’t be open to hearing any of this — so, as is always the case, you should use your judgment based on what you know about him from working with him — to figure out if he’s reasonable enough to discuss this without penalizing you for it later. Good managers will be, bad ones often won’t be.

7. Am I allergic to my office?

I work in an office (no place industrial) and have been having severe reactions the past few months. It started out as tiny hives that would come and go, but the past few weeks the hives turned into huge itchy, stinging, red welts over 90% of my body. It was so bad I had to go home from work several times.

I had no idea what it might be, so I went to my doctor and had allergy testing done. I am moderately allergic to a couple types of dust, but not enough to cause a reaction like this. The doctor has said that in many cases, people never find out what they’re allergic to, because they can only test for certain known, common allergens and there’s a million things (limitless, really) that one could be allergic to. I was given some strong allergy medication which has really helped, but what I’m noticing is I only get flare ups when I’m at work. On days off, I rarely flare up at all. I’ve tried dusting my office area but I’m starting to wonder if it may be a cleaner or chemical housekeeping is using. I haven’t started using or eating anything new. I’m trying eliminating certain foods and soaps/lotions one by one to see if any of them are the cause. I can’t think of anything else.

What can I do about this? I can’t keep taking days off just because I’m flaring up. I’m going crazy with itchy, unsightly hives, which make it uncomfortable/embarrassing to work with my colleagues or customers. I work in a large building and I can’t really ask the cleaners to switch to a different cleaner (if that’s even what it is). Our office area carpets are rarely washed or vacuumed, so I’m going to ask about that, but otherwise I’m stumped.

Ugh, that’s awful. I’m throwing this one out to readers, who may have ideas for you.

{ 443 comments… read them below }

  1. Anonymous*

    OP #7

    Do you think it’s your personal office? Or the building in general? Did they do a mold test? I could easily see mold growing in various corners or the fake ceiling in my building.

    Do you think it could be something like the bathroom soap? Maybe you could ask what cleaners are used and get tested for those?

    I wonder if buying a filter would help. I guess it depends if its a contact allergy or stuff in the air. Although I suppose if its a pretty open office (cube, no door, etc), an air filter might not be able to create a bubble for you.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      On the subject of air filters … I have no idea if this would help in the OP’s case, but in case this helps her or anyone else: My fiance has terrible allergies and was resorting taking Benadryl almost daily to fend off symptoms (which can’t be good for you, right?). We bought two of these:

      … and he hasn’t had to take a single Bendadryl in the three months since we first brought them home. Crazily effective.

      1. Anonicorn*

        Ooooh, thanks for the recommendation. I’ve had awful allergies this year, and this might be something I need to consider.

        1. Esra*

          Same here, this year has been brutal. And honestly, I’ve spent way more than 200$ on allergy meds.

      2. Mena*

        AAM, resistance to Benadryl builds – it isn’t a daily medication by any means. And now I’m off to check out the link …

        1. Bea W*

          Is this true of other allergy meds? I find I need to switch my allergy meds up every few years.

      3. Bea W*

        I have HEPA filters at home, and they are a noticeable improvement. Other people I know who suffer from hay fever type allergies and asthma have said the same. It even worked for a friend’s asthmatic cat. He got much better once she started using an air filter. Not sure if they would do much for skin reactions, unless there is something in the air that is causing them.

    2. Pussyfooter*

      OP #7
      If you have an in-house cleaning staff or supply closet, can you explain to someone in cleaning that something at work is making you sick and ask if you can bring small containers to get samples of the products they use? If they say ok, then take the samples home and touch/sniff one every couple days (when you are not having a reaction). If it’s a cleaner/maintanence product, that could give a really clear reaction.
      Maybe an outsourced service could let you take small amounts too? Bad allergies are so exhausting :'( Good luck.

      1. Stevie*

        They are also legally required to have the MSDS sheets available for anyone who asks. She could try reviewing that information with her doctor to see if any of those chemicals could be the issues.

        1. William*

          I’m not sure the MSDS sheets would be much help in this case, other than giving a long list of chemicals for the doctor to test. You can get an allergy to nearly anything. When I was in elementary school, I developed an allergy to sweat – not even joking. I’d be running laps in gym class and break out in hives, and eventually my throat would start to swell shut. Fortunately I eventually outgrew it.

          Testing the cleaning chemicals is a good idea, provided you do it in a controlled situation – have someone else around that can call 911 or use an epi pen – since you will be exposing yourself to the possible allergen in a much higher concentration than what is already giving you a severe reaction.

          Also, if you dry clean your work clothes but not the clothes you wear on your days off, or in some other way clean them differently, you may want to check that that isn’t the problem. Since they are in direct contact with your skin all day they could cause a severe reaction.

          1. Jessa*

            The key is not testing the cleaning chemicals per se. The key is looking at the OLD sheets vs the new ones. IE if they used for instance Johnson brand chemicals last month and Smith brand chemicals NOW because of a new contract, you put the sheets side by side until you find out that Smith brand floor cleaner has LALALA23 in it and Johnson brand did NOT. You then ask your doctor to see if you’re allergic to LALALA23.

            It’s not about testing every single chemical in every single thing you come in contact with. It’s about finding out what CHANGED in the last month since you started having allergic reactions.

            1. Jessa*

              Also go ask your co workers if any of them has suddenly gotten an unusual pet. You might just be having a problem because your neighbour is now bringing in alpaca hair from their weekend farm.

              Compare the ingredients in your usual stuff at home too, they may have changed something in your laundry soap or you may have developed a problem with a previously okay chemical. Try washing your clothes in NO soap a couple of times. If you washer has a sanitise setting, try that instead. Or if you must use soap use double or even triple rinses, or a full on separate wash after with no soap. Just because you were NOT allergic to something yesterday does NOT mean it has not passed your allergy trip wire now.

              If you work in a place with uniforms that send them OUT. Check whether they’ve changed processes too. (Hospitals, hospitality services, a lot of places that have uniforms also have cleaning services for them.)

              1. Jamie*

                Yes, but she’s not having any reaction except at work, so I’d think that would rule out laundry soap, etc.

                1. kf*

                  It could still be the laundry soap. I washed my son’s clothes in a new detergent once. He was fine when I dropped him off at daycare but by the time I picked him up, he had hives that began to spread to every inch the clothing touched. The daycare woman said it started about 3 hours after I dropped him off. Poor guy!

                2. Cruella Da Boss*

                  But wouldn’t you also wear the clothes that you washed in said soap on the weekend too?

                  OP says there isn’t the same reaction on the weekend.

              2. carlotta*

                But also, you can become allergic to something, and once your immune system registers it as a threat. Especially, apparently in your mid-twenties because apparently your immune system is most alert then. So I’m told…

                1. Bea W*

                  This happened to me. Started developing hives to some kind of material in a mattress pad that I had no problems with for 3 or 4 years prior. My dad had the same reaction to it, but it was right away when they were put on the new beds. It was really weird. Also got hives from eating my favorite cookies, except I’m not sure if the formula didn’t change, but for the mattress pad, there was no change except that one morning I started waking up with hives.

                2. Poe*

                  This happened to me, too! At 25 I was diagnosed as allergic to animals after never having had a problem before. I decided to keep working at a horse farm, keep riding, and keep my cat. I also now keep some allergy med companies in business…hahaha

      2. Odd skin stuff sucks*

        It is a rare condition, but ask your doctor to rule out mastocytosis via a blood tryptase level check.

      3. Bea W*

        This was my first thought – that there was a change in the cleaning products used either switching from one brand to another or a different formulation of the same products. The key to finding out the culprit would be finding out what changed at the time the reactions started. It’s possible to develop a reaction to something that didn’t cause one before (happened to me!), but there’s a good chance, some new factor was introduced into the environment that triggered it.

    3. Cathy*

      I’m so sorry you’re going through this. I’ve also had chronic idiopathic urticaria (recurring hives with an unknown cause) in the past. I did a lot of research at the time and found that it can be caused by a virus, stress, heat, cold, scratching your skin, a parasite, etc. Unfortunately, I was never able to figure out the cause. Mine lasted about 6 months, then they just went away.

      I was able to hold them off enough to get through a work day by taking a combination of benadryl and tagamet. It had to be both medicines, neither one was sufficient alone. The alternative was a prescription steroid, so the doc and I agreed it was better to start with the OTC solution and go to the prescription if they got worse or it stopped working.

      If you think it’s the cleaning supplies triggering the problem, then you could come in on Saturday and clean your own work area with safe things. Then put up a Do Not Clean This Area sign for the cleaning crew.

      1. Anonymous*

        I have a similar issue. Mine started about six months after my son was born and I was told that most of the stress, heat, cold stuff isn’t actually the cause (they don’t know what causes chronic hives) but it can exacerbate it. They told me the good news is, it’s a real thing and you can treat it with allergy meds. I take a 24 hour non-drowsy allergy pill every night and I’m good. However, if I forget, back they come. I was also told that they could go away just as easily and can come back even ten years later. ( I was also told it hits 10% of the population and I’m in the 10% that have it the worse. Oh, joy.)

        I’d suggest that if you do your due diligence and can’t figure out a specific cause, I’d concentrate most on treating it and ignoring it. That helped me. But obviously, only if you can’t find an actual cause.

    4. PPK*

      Had another idea for OP #7. Is there anything outside at work that might be getting you? Any plants on the way in or that you might touch taking an afternoon walk? Do they spray the lawn heavily?

  2. jesicka309*

    I quite often claim that I am allergic to working, but my boss never sends me home. :( It’s cruel, I say, cruel.

  3. Jessa*

    Regarding the PIP. One of the points of the next PIP needs to be “you may not be on another PIP for x amount of time (make it way longer than the last time she has been on one. IE 1 year or more.) Or make it something that “more than one PIP in x amount of time will result in termination.” She’s playing the system. By sticking straight to the exact terms of what you’re giving her, you need to move the marker to the point where she HAS to perform or leave.

    1. FiveNine*

      This is great advice, prospectively. But OP has the boss pressuring OP to fire the employee already — a point that really jumped out at me more than anything else about PIPs etc. in this post. I’m wondering if OP is unnecessarily not only cycling through multiple PIPs but now treading a fine line his/herself because of it?

    2. Jazzy Red*

      If my boss told me to fire an underachieving worker who seriously has no intention of doing any better, I’d do within 5 minutes.

      OP, this is affecting your entire team! Pretty soon you’ll see your team members leaving for places where one person isn’t allowed to drag down the other co-workers (if they haven’t already started leaving). Do what your boss is telling you to do. There are hundreds of people out of work who would work their hineys off, given the chance.

      1. Jessa*

        I’m wondering if the OP is between a boss and an HR hard place. IE the boss wants the person gone and HR is all “if they pass the PIP they’re safe.” Some companies are really particular about the PROCESS system. The OP needs to get WITH the boss, in order to make the process get to FIRING. I figured with the boss on board you could craft a PIP that would either do one of two things. Turn the employee around or fail the employee out the door. The key to this is a PIP that is A: technical enough and B: of long enough duration to either make the employee actually do the work or make the employee give up doing the work and go back to being lazy and therefore get fired. Since the employee is actually PASSING the prior PIPs it’s obvious that at SOME level they CAN do the work.

        1. fposte*

          I don’t think so, though–she doesn’t mention HR, and she does mention that she’s the one who hired the person. I think it’s just difficulty in pulling the trigger, if you’ll pardon my callousness.

          And I’d argue the employee doesn’t really meet the PIP, because the improvement isn’t supposed to be short-term.

        2. OP1*

          OP#1 here. I am stuck in a hard place between HR and my boss. We also have been through 4 HR people in 3 years with some significant lags in between). The first two times, I honestly thought she had taken to heart the message. Now, I am pretty sure that she is gaming the system I just can’t get all the stars aligned. I think the feedback about putting in there that any further PIPs will be grounds for termination and extending the PIP beyond 30 days are great advice. I will keep reading though so keep throwing suggestions out there.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            *kicks HR*

            The time limit is what jumped out at me. She knows exactly how long she has to perform at the desired level before she gets in trouble again. Once that time is reached, she relaxes back into her slacking. As long as there are only PIPs and no other consequences, she knows nothing will happen.

            It’s the same as kids who know if they whine for five minutes, Mom/Dad will always give in at six. If you give them a warning, you have to follow through or it’s meaningless.

          2. Joey*

            Theres no need to even get to another PIP. Have her sign a memo with the attached language:

            “Failure to MEET and MAINTAIN the acceptable level of performance outlined in the PIP issued to you on x date may result in discipline up to and including termination.”

          3. fposte*

            Whoa, Jazzy did indeed call it. So what exactly is HR saying–that she can only be fired for failing to meet a PIP?

        3. SevenSixOne*

          I used to work in a place like this– any given manager had zero authority to fire her direct reports, she’d have to notify the zone manager, who would decide whether to notify the district supervisor, who would decide whether to notify HR. Big surprise, someone who didn’t work with problem employees day to day didn’t know or care WHY they were problem employees, and many of the problem employees were basically untouchable for reasons I never understood. Grr.

  4. Nik*

    #7: Maybe you can leave a note for the cleaners asking what exactly they use? They can write down whatever products they use to clean, and you can always test it out at home to see where your reactions are coming from.

    In the meantime, Benadryl might help your symptoms and it comes in a non-drowsy variety so you aren’t passing out at work.

    1. Jazzy Red*

      I take Benadryl every day (one tablet), and I never have a problem with it. It’s a good medication, and the big box stores usually have a store brand that works just as well, and is less expensive.

      1. Lore*

        The topical Benadryl (I like the clear gel but I think there’s also a lotion) can also be really helpful for allergic hives. I had a hive episode a few years ago (cause never fully identified but best guess is an uncommon-but-not-unheard-of side effect of a strep virus–which I would suggest to the OP except that it’s lasted so long) and slapping the gel on each patch of welts as they erupted was a life-saver.

        1. Jamie*

          Yes – the topical gel is wonderful. I have an allergy to fresh cut grass so if I even just touch the lawn right after it’s been cut my hands break out in hives and swelling – this is the only thing that works.

          I love Benadryl when sick, because cold meds make me super hyper…but that stuff works like sleeping potion on me. One capsule and I’m out for hours. They give me Benadryl via IV with my infusions and it takes 12 minutes to run in…I’m always dead to the world before I’m 5 minutes in. It’s like surgical anesthesia for me. I’ve never tried the non-drowsy for work – I keep meaning to, though, since I cannot take the regular unless I want to be found sound asleep on my keyboard.

        2. Pussyfooter*

          Even Benadryl keeps me awake :( I spent last spring sitting up in a chair every night for months with a mysterious new allergy. Clemastine Fumarate was a cheap and easy to find OTC, 10 years ago. It controlled my hives. Now you have to know to ask for these pills at a pharmacy.

          Strep throat can present like torture or you can have it for months with no discomfort at all–I’ve had both. The error rate on “rapid strep” tests is statistically high (sometimes it takes two tests), but can give a quick check for this. OP might keep a list of conditions mentioned in this post and show it to their doctor.

    2. Lillie Lane*

      Speaking of reactions to cleaners…a week ago, one of my coworkers ran out of the bathroom, yelling, “My a$$ is on FIRE!” It must have been some cleaning product that was used on the toilet seat. The building manager suggested he go home and take a shower. It was just a very funny situation. But I feel very bad for the OP. How horrible!

  5. Elizabeth*

    Regarding #3, museum jobs are often extremely competitive to begin with. Even my friend with a degree in museum education found it hard to find a job quickly – there are lots of interested people and not much funding in lots of places. Unfortunately, OP, this might have been long odds even if you’d gone to another university. Give it your best anyway, but don’t put all your eggs in this basket.

    1. Bwmn*

      This question/answer reminds of a question a few weeks ago about working for a think tank sympathetic with one cause, but the person’s long term professional interests were with the opposite side of the aisle. In Alison’s response she mentioned that the only way it would really work is if the person committed to providing a “conversion story” – and I think something like that should be addressed in the cover letter.

      Yes, the museum professional field is already super competitive – but if you know that all of your educational background indicates “literal creation” – be upfront about your personal journey. Not to make the cover letter longer than a page, but that it’s addressed up front and rings emotionally true.

      1. Chinook*

        From a museum interpreter point of view, the conversion story from creationism to evolution may be a strength if spun correctly. After all, after having been on the other side, you now know all the arguements and probably can counter act them effectively. As a visitor, I think it would be wonderful for the interpreter to be able to discuss that aspect with anyone who brought it up. Since most of us who are taught evolution are also taught that creationism is a backwards ways of thinking that needs to be ignored, we don’t have any real way insight into udnerstanding why someone would think that way in the face of evidence. The OP, on the other hand, could bring that insight into that type of role.

        1. Gjest*

          I understand that argument, but the OP doesn’t have a strong science background to prove to me that they actually could explain the scientific fact of evolution. The lack of a science education is the major problem here.

          1. Anonymous*

            +1 – Not only does the OP not have a science education, but any science she has learned (in school) is from a creationist perspective. Even if she now disagrees with this, she still hasn’t had reputable science instruction since, what, elementary school?

        2. Not So NewReader*

          Chinook, I tend to agree with you. The little I have read about Creationist thinking covered A LOT of scientific studies and presented counterpoints to those studies. Surprisingly, the read got quite technical. I found myself drawn in to reading more.

          OP, I don’t know if you have a strong background in the particulars of how Creationists make their case. If you do have that back ground I would be sure to speak to that point. Since you were not convinced by their counterpoints, I am sure you will present the scientific angle quite well.

          Some museums are doing hand-stands to try to make themselves more interesting and draw in more paying visitors. You might be able to help a museum accomplish that goal.

        3. Marco*

          I am a bit concerned by the OP mention of “Teaching both sides”. There are no both sides. One is a religious view with no foundation in real science and the other is a scientific consensus where only in the very minor points there is really any academic controversy.

          If I were in charge of hiring for the museum, even a good conversion story that mentioned “I used to believe this, but now I believe both have a place” would be a huge red flag that this person really dopes not understand the science of evolution.
          And how could she? Nobody bothered to teach it to her. In fact this “Teach the controversy” thing is one sided as well. It’s actually a ploy to introduce creationism in school, a fact that can be easily gathered by reading the creationists own websites.

          If she wants the job, she should go and first learn about biological evolution. Understand that there aren’t “two sides” as far as science is concerned and that she probably has a very distorted view of evolution even after her “conversion”. The least she should do is to learn what evolution is really about.
          I would suggest the talkorigins.org website where not only they have great articles about evolution, but their piurpose is to counter creationism. She is likely to find her own old arguments (and even some current ones) and the science that goes against them. Armed with that, she should at least be able to give it a good shot. And end up with more knowledge in case she doesn’t get hired. Knowledge of reality is always a good asset.

    2. Gjest*

      I agree. There are also plenty of science grads (especially in wildlife, ecology, management, where all the budgets are being cut) that are looking for jobs, and would be happy to take a science educator job. Unfortunately for the OP, I think your bigger problem is going up against people with science degrees, when you have a communications degree. The creationism issue is just another nail in the coffin, but I think actually a smaller one.

      1. Forrest*

        I agree. I worked at a history museum and the two educators there both had history degrees and the one who was a director had her masters in education. I think with the combination of non-relevant degree work and her school’s reputation, the OP is out of luck.

        1. AdAgencyChick*

          Well…not necessarily. Being a history major and being a good writer/communicator often come together, but, sad to say, plenty of science majors can’t write. I work in a fairly technical field of advertising, so I hire about an equal number of English majors and science majors — people who are able to blend an understanding and love of science with an ability to communicate clearly and effectively are hard to find, and can come from either side. (For the record, I was a science major too — but one who’s had a lifelong interest in writing.)

          And OP, convince the hiring manager in your cover letter just like you’ve probably convinced many of us reading your post that your school doesn’t reflect what you believe now — because when I read the first few lines of the post, I thought, “If I were hiring at this museum, I certainly would toss this resume immediately for that reason — why on earth would someone who’s interested in science go to a school that teaches creationism?” But you actually sold me on why you did, and that’s exactly what you’ll have to do to have any chance of getting an interview for this position.

          1. some1*

            +1; with the caveat that I would leave out the part that your college choice was dictated in part by your parents’ willingness to pay your tuition.

            I have friends who work in science who take such a huge issue with schools that don’t teach evolution that I don’t think financial reasons would help sway them. I would put way more emphasis on the fact that the curriculum turned you off after you started thinking critically about it, as you mentioned.

            1. AdAgencyChick*

              Yup. You can’t recreate your post in a cover letter — it’d be too long — but the key point the hiring manager needs to walk away with is that your experience at a school that *doesn’t* approach the subject of evolution scientifically is actually what convinced you that you do have a love of science.

          2. Forrest*

            I think in the case of an educator, a science background that has no exposure to any science besides creatism is a stronger hinderance.

            Additionally, we know that the OP has a communications degree – which covers a lot of things. We don’t know if the OP is a good writer at all actually or what her focus was on.

            In the case of becoming an educator, I’m taking the stance that it’ll be a lot easier for people to make up being weaker in writing than it is for someone with no scientific background (because lets face it, if the OP’s only science education has been creationism, she really doesn’t have a science background at all) but is a decent writer.

            1. Chinook*

              “I think in the case of an educator, a science background that has no exposure to any science besides creatism is a stronger hinderance.”

              You are making a large assumption that the OP hasn’t chosen to expose himself to evolutionary science on his own (and that creationists also turn their back on all science when all they are referring to is evolution. They don’t take issue with chemistry, phsyics or other aspects of biology). For the OP to make the change from one side to the other and do so against his own upbringing implies to me that he does know quite a bit about evolution. You don’t turn your back on your own culture without atleast understanding what you are choosing.

              1. Forrest*

                Maybe. But considering she’s applying for jobs all over the place, I think this is a case of either “I have no clue what I want to do” or “I need a job, any job.” So I’m not completely confident on her science background.

              2. TL*

                I hate to sound so elitist – but there’s a huge difference, 99% of the time, between what someone has been self-taught and what somebody has learned via traditional educational manners.

                Learning proper science from a textbook and a Ph.D, with a lab course attached, in a structured manner is hugely different from learning enough to reject one’s upbringing. I’m a huge proponent of informal science education but when it comes to being the person presenting the information the standards should be much, much higher.

              3. Anonymous*

                I am an astrophysicist. You strongly underestimate the breadth and depth of science that runs directly counter to creationism.

                My PhD was in nuclear astrophysics – I smashed atoms in order to figure out how the stars make the elements that we are composed of. There is absolutely no biology involved, much less evolution. It’s mostly nuclear physics, really. My field of research studies how the stars, solar system, and planet were formed. It took a lot longer than 7 days, just from very basic nuclear physics arguments. My entire field of research is directly and fundamentally opposed to literal creationism.

              4. Donalbain*

                Creationists have abandoned the entire scientific method. That is the only way that you can come to the creationist conclusions. And in the process you have to reject physics, chemistry, geology, astronomy, all of which directly contradict the creationist mythology.

          3. CH*

            My daughter is going into her senior year as a science (zoology) and English major, which many people find an odd combination. Although her dream is to work in a zoo setting, I’m always looking for the other possibilities, so your comment is interesting to me. Actually, this summer she is doing marketing communications and other duties for a company that sells software to scientific researchers. It has been a great experience for her.

            1. LPBB*

              I think that is a great great combination. If I had it to do over again (and had realized that I have a math learning disability while I was in school instead of 15 years later) I would totally combine English with a science degree. Your daughter, as she’s finding out now, will have so many more opportunities open to her than if she had just majored in English or just in zoology.

              1. Elizabeth West*

                Me too–both the English and math disability. If I didn’t have the latter, I would totally have been a scientist. When I was a kid, I wanted to be Quincy!

                1. Pussyfooter*

                  …..sometimes I go to youtube and play the Quincy theme music…and Hawaii 5-o, of coarse.

                  Any major that helps someone communicate better with others would likely help them. Her daughter may be doing this just for the love of both majors, but it’s a really savvy idea.

            2. Gjest*

              I think it is a good idea to combine the English and science majors, but your daughter must also keep in mind that good scientific writing can be very different from what is taught in English classes. I have a BS and MS in biology, and the most useful English class I taught (useful to my profession anyway…) were technical writing classes that I took. I strongly advise her to take technical writing.

              1. CH*

                She actually tells people just that–that science writing is very different from “English” writing–since she does a lot of both. I agree that technical writing is a must.

              2. Gjest*

                I should have written “most useful classes that I TOOK” not taught…so much for being technical!

            3. AdAgencyChick*


              Technical writing pays way better than, say, journalism or publishing or other more “traditional” routes for an English major. And if you have the aptitude for science, it’s really fun! I feel lucky to have found this career path, and I hope that your daughter enjoys it too if she chooses to go that road.

              1. Elizabeth West*

                I’m back in school studying tech writing right now. Should at least let me eat while I write novels. ;) I wish I’d looked into this before–the whole English lit teaching path was a total time/money suck, since it wasn’t for me. :P

                1. Pussyfooter*

                  I’m feeling clueless.

                  What does a day in a technical writer’s job look like anyway? Other than writing computer manuals, what projects do technical writers get to work on–hard science text books? i.e. what do you get to do as a tech writer?

                2. A. D. Kay*

                  Trying to reply to Pussyfooter, below. Tech writing and editing jobs can be all over the map. I work in IT, and have produced online help systems, training courses, Flash tutorials, API documentation, white papers, you name it. The audience has ranged from business users to developers. Other industries include oil & gas, heavy equipment, petrochemical, medical, and probably others I’m not even aware of. If you really want to find out more, visit the Society of Technical Communicators’ website.

                3. Elizabeth West*

                  Pussyfooter (nice handle, btw):

                  My job is as an admin at a technology services company, but I edit and assemble software assessment reports as a big part of it (or rather, I will be; we’re still transitioning those duties). I already used the crap out of my foundation class textbook at work a zillion times.

          4. Forrest*

            Educators spend a lot of time creating curriculum. A lot of people seem to be interchanging docent with an educator. There’s a lot more to being an educator than just saying five talking points to a group of kids.

            1. Gjest*

              Very good point. This is a paid educator position that the OP is interested in, which is very different from just someone on the museum floor talking with visitors. So more important that they have a science background.

              But my opinion is that the docent or interpreter would be most effective if they had a good understanding of science as well. After all, that is who is actually talking to the general public most of the time. And the general public is generally scientifically illiterate.

    3. LouG*

      I agree. Also, this stuck out to me: “at the very least students should be exposed to an accurate, respectful explanation of both sides of the issue (something I didn’t receive growing up).”

      OP, you should know that at a science museum, you’re not going to get the chance to give an explanation of “both sides of the issue”. Evolution, that’s it. It’s a science museum, after all. If that would bother you, than I would reconsider applying.

      1. TychaBrahe*

        Thank you!

        There are lots of controversies in evolution, more so than in most sciences. When you have a controversy in physics, you can try to design a better experiment to solve it. When you have a controversy in evolution, all you can do is keep looking at the available data and wait for new fossils to be found. But the ONLY controversy in evolution that involves creationism/Intelligent Design is about how to stop having creationism taught in classrooms as science. What you are asking people to consider is the equivalent of teaching astrology alongside astronomy or alchemy alongside modern chemistry.

        Having said that, as the atheist movement grows, the number of people who became atheists while attending religious institutions is booming. I cannot imagine anyone being surprised by someone who went into a religious school fully invested in the ID myth who came out with an understanding and respect for science. I realize that you are still a person of faith, but there’s no reason for you not to explain that like many young people today, confinement in a religious environment had opened your eyes.

        I urge you to read this post to the amazing blog Why Evolution is True. Please note that while the author says he has lost his belief in ID, he never discusses his faith, which we can presume he still has. http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2012/11/26/the-value-of-stridency-a-creationist-becomes-a-biologist/

        1. JoAnna*

          Please don’t equate literal 6-day creationism with Intelligent Design. Many people (I would venture to guess most people, actually) who believe in ID see it as the exact same science as atheistic evolution, except that they believe God (or a god, or gods, or what have you) was the impetus and/or designer of the process, or that a deity created the building blocks of life and let the natural process take it from there, etc.

          IMO, neither atheistic evolution or ID evolution should be taught in schools; just the science should be explained without any commentary on if a deity was responsible or not, as that isn’t in the realm of scientific discovery.

          Literal creationists, on the other hand, believe that the Judeo-Christian God created the earth in 6 literal 24-hour days, and that this happened approximately several thousand years ago (with various wacky explanations to dismiss or explain away fossil records, carbon dating, etc.)

          The two are not at all the same.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            I agree; the personal beliefs need to be kept out of it. Science is based on empirical data and faith, while an awesome thing for people to have (if it doesn’t turn them into hatey oppressive jerks), doesn’t address that.

            I also agree with the other posters about the OP’s degree being the bigger problem here. The museum would probably reasonably expect an educator to have at least some science background.

          2. fposte*

            Though intelligent design still isn’t science–it’s a religious complement to science rather than a religious rejection of it.

          3. TychaBrahe*

            Intelligent Design is not the belief that a sapient creator guided evolution. Intelligent Design is a fabricated name to give credence to creationism, pure and simple. It was developed by creationists specifically to outmaneuver the 1987 Edwards decision. It denies natural selection, which is a fundamental tenet of evolution, and something we have actually observed repeatedly in laboratories in organisms with lifespans short enough to make such observations possible in our lifetimes.

            Further, this is a manufactured controversy. Evolution is not atheistic any more than fluid dynamics or algebra or music theory is atheistic. You can believe that certain chords sound harmonious because God or Vishnu or Apollo wants it to sound harmonious, but that has no bearing on music theory.

            1. JoAnna*

              This is false.

              “The modern theory of intelligent design was not developed in response to a legal setback for creationists in 1987. Instead, it was first proposed in the late 1970s and early 1980s by a group of scientists – Charles Thaxton, Walter Bradley and Roger Olson – who were trying to account for an enduring mystery of modern biology: the origin of the digital information encoded along the spine of the DNA molecule. Thaxton and his colleagues came to the conclusion that the information-bearing properties of DNA provided strong evidence of a prior but unspecified designing intelligence. They wrote a book proposing this idea in 1984, three years before the U.S. Supreme Court decision (Edwards v. Aguillard) that outlawed the teaching of creationism.” – source

              1. Jamie*

                I agree with all of this – of course ID isn’t science. But it’s also not coupled with creationism the way the poster to whom your responding said.

                I believe in ID, I also believe that has no place whatsoever in a science class. I absolutely unequivocally believe in evolution and creationism being taught scares me – because it’s not science and it’s not true.

                Creationists believe in ID, but not all people who believe in ID believe in creationism even remotely.

                This calls for a Venn diagram!

                1. Heather*

                  I think someone else replied yesterday to another comment to say that even if ID isn’t creationism, the term has been hijacked by the creationists to get their ideas into science textbooks. They call it ID but what’s in the book is creationism.

                  You’re dying to make the Venn diagram aren’t you? I hereby give you permission ;)

                2. Jamie*

                  Hee – I doodled it in a meeting!

                  Doodling while listening actually increases your concentration, so I was a better worker while sorting out ID from creationists which couldn’t have less to do with my job. Then I started Venn diagramming all kinds of things – and that is why you bring pretty colored inks to meetings!

                  And I hadn’t realized that it was being c0-opted…I hate that, but makes sense.

                3. TychaBrahe*

                  What you’re referring to as Intelligent Design is actually called theistic evolution, the belief that evolution by natural selection happened more or less the way science says it does, subject to revisions as more data appears, but that it was guided by a sapient intelligence, usually intended to be the Judeo-Christian concept of God. If that’s what you want to believe, fine. It doesn’t matter if you believe that God is rolling dice to see which atom of uranium undergoes radioactive decay, because it doesn’t change the math and science of radioactivity.

                  Intelligent Design, though, is creationism.

          4. Marco*

            You must be reading different ID websites and books than I do. The belief that evolution and the cosmos happened scientifically but with a godd at the helm are essentially the way the Catholic Church sees the science.

            The ID movement in the US is fundamentally different from real science in their approach and while they do have their young and old factions, even the old earth creationism (or ID, but since the Dover trial we know ID is just a ploy to go around the law) is based in theology and very little science.

            The problem is that the ID folks are starting from the premise that there was a creator or designer. Facts are then interpreted to fit that premise.
            Real science follows the evidence. ID tries to find any area they can to fit their “designer” into. Look at the bacterium flagellum. They claim that at least at the bacteria level god (or the “designer”) had to intervene to create from scratch because it couldn’t possibly have evolved.

            When Michael Behe was asked in court about it, he claimed he didn’t know of any peer reviewed papers that could explain how the flagellum came to be, only to have the opposing lawyer drop a stack of books on his witness stand all having to do with the flagellum.

            And please, don’t call it “Atheistic” evolution. Evolution is an explanation of the evidence we have. It’s no more “atheistic” than it is religious.
            It does create some real issue for Christianity, I’ll give you that (no adam and Eve, no original sin, no Jesus, etc.) but there are plenty of other religions that don’t conflict with it at all.

      2. Sophia*

        I agree, not all ideas are valid or need to be presented, especially when it relates to science. Also, one way to even see if this is something she would like is to volunteer at a science museum or something similar. Again, a job is probably a long shot given the competition for the job.

        1. AnonyMouse28*

          Yep. The fetish for (false) equivalency is so prevalent as to get exhausting, sometimes.

      3. Liz in the City*

        I thought the OP meant this in the context of her education at her respective schools, not necessarily at the science museum where she’s applying.

          1. Bea W*

            Same. I think this is why she had the question in the first place. I figured if she thought Creationism had any place at the museum, she wouldn’t be as concerned about being rejected because of someone would see the name of the school and just assume she her beliefs fall in line with those of the school.

      4. danr*

        Oh the other hand, many science museums have people and groups coming in who are actively challenging the exhibits because they don’t give “both sides”. Having a person on the staff who can recognize and counter the arguments may be a big plus, especially if he ‘speaks their language’.

        1. Forrest*

          But that comes back to false equivalency though.

          Not all sides are equal. And frankly, I find it hypocritical of these groups because its not like they’re arguing for presentation of both sides. They’re actually arguing for their side to be equal or better than any other viewpoint. A scientific museum shouldn’t have to play in a game it’ll never win.

          1. Anonymous*

            I totally agree with the false equivalency argument – not only are these people not open to accurate information being presented about the other side, but false equivalencies in the media are one of the reasons people are so badly-informed these days. Instead of saying “X believes this, and Y believes this, but X’s beliefs are founded in research and other evidence, while Y’s are not backed up by facts”, we get “X believes this, while Y believes this…and on to the next story.” It’s not biased journalism to tell people what the facts are! Argh…

            But in the case of the OP’s letter, I got the impression that the OP meant that schools like hers should have to teach both perspectives as opposed to only the creationist side – not that in general, we should teach people about both and let them decide. I still think it’s ridiculous to present creationism as “science,” but at least showing both sides might help some students realize that there ARE other ways of looking at the issue when they otherwise might not.

            1. Felicia*

              I think unless the OP understands that it’s ridiculous to present creationism as science, they won’t be able to get a job in a science environment.

            2. Forrest*

              I agree that the OP thinks her school should teach both.

              I disagree with the suggestion that the OP should sell herself to the museum as someone who can speak to the naysayers. The museum shouldn’t be even playing into that game since it’ll never win.

          2. Felicia*

            “Presenting both sides of the issue” comes back to presenting something as science that is not science. Evolution is science. Creationism is religion. They should not be presented as equally valid options in a scientific context, and creationism has no place in secular education outside of a world religion’s class. If you think creationism has place in a science class, or if you think it’s an equally valid alternative to evolution, then maybe working in anything related to science isn’t for you.

            The OPs school sounds like the school described in the book The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner’s Semester at America’s Holiest University (and maybe it is, there can’t be too many that teach literal creationism), and because I’ve read that book, seeing that someone graduated from that school would make me hesitate for anything vaguely science related, since they start so far behind where someone would be at a secular university.

            1. Chinook*

              But creationism should be present in a science class on evolution as an example of how a theory can be disproved with facts. Normally I wouldn’t recommend disproving old theories for the heck of it, but because creationism is so prelavent in a vocal subculture, it is worth the time to take their points and prove them wrong with the facts. In fact, it would be a great way to show how science and human belief have evolved over time (pun intended) and how human myths were created to explain what humans didn’t understand. Then, you go on to show how human curiosity wasn’t satisified and we realized that we need a scientific method to logically and dispationately study the world around us. In fact, this is how creationism was refuted in my Catholic high school and it has the possibility of leading students to examine why they believe what they believe.

              1. Heather*

                That would work for people not inclined to believe in creationism to begin with – but there’s a lot of research showing that confronting certain kinds of views (emotionally-based things like religion, espeically) with facts only causes the believers to cling harder to what they want to be true.

                I’ve read that the way to change some people’s minds isn’t to say YOU’RE WRONG AND HERE’S WHY…it’s to identify the beliefs they have that *are* accurate and talk about the things you agree on so that they think of you as a trustworthy source on that. Then they’re less inclined to automatically dismiss your beliefs in an area you disagree. I guess it’s a complicated version of “catch more flies with honey,” really.

                Not that I’m any good at doing this, myself ;) But I’m trying to learn!

            2. Forrest*

              I really enjoyed that book! Highly recommend.

              Its kind of funny – my friend lives nearby and I picked it up at the nonsecular school that’s pretty much right across the street from the university the book is about.

      5. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yes — I actually couldn’t tell from the letter precisely where the OP’s views now fall, but it doesn’t sound like she’s squarely on the science side. Combined with the education issue, I think it’s going to be prohibitive.

        1. clobbered*

          I can’t believe I am going to say this because I usually roll my eyes when people recommend it, but this may actually be a situation where the OP should set up some online presence to bolster their credibility as a science communicator. Now “you should start a blog” is terrible advice normally because the reality is most people really suck at it. But I am going to give the OP the benefit of the doubt since they are in communications field.

          Pick a consistent theme. Eg. monitor something like the Knight Science Journalism tracker, pick a couple of stories a week from it, and re-cast it for a middle school audience. Focus on stories that would battle the stereotype your background would convey – so evolution, climate change and so on.

          It is a competitive field and you do have a giant handicap , so you need to do serious work to counter it to even stand a chance.

        2. Bea W*

          I got the impression that she is more on the side of evolution, and has likely rejected literal creationism. Her expressed fear is that someone reading her resume will assume she holds the same beliefs that her university promotes, which she says are different from her own.
          The phrase “I now believe that evolution can be compatible with faith…” was a flag for me, someone who has faith but rejects creationism, that she’s likely come to the dark side. ;-)

          She has probably had umpteen conversations with people debating creationism vs. evolution and whether or not evolution can be compatible with faith. When you’re used to talking to creationists and have been raised in this kind of fundamentalist religious environment where people take the Bible literally and you still identify as someone who believes in God, this is how you explain and defend your believe in evolution to other naysayers or doubters, “I believe evolution is/can be compatible with faith.” It is also how you have to explain it to people who, like you, believe in evolution but assume generically that religion rejects science.

          I’d faint dead away if I ever heard that come out of the mouth of someone who falls on the side of creationism. Creationists and evolution are like oil and water.

        3. CJ Klok*

          If the applicant has her mind set on getting employment with a science museum, or any other legitimate research institution for that matter, I would strongly advise her to stick it out and get an additional graduate qualification (science communication, or a similar – with an emphasis on evolutionary biology) from a reputable university. She should top this off with at least one peer reviewed publication on some aspect of evolutionary biology, or the teaching thereof, and a few popular publications where she specifically repudiates the scientific disinformation dished out by her undergrad religious college. That way she can galvanize her revised and corrected viewpoints with potential employers.

          Although her undergrad education has been lacking in academic rigour it does place her in the unique position of having first hand experience of the counterproductive effects an education based on magical thinking can have on a new job seeker. Her subsequent studies will also allow her the to address these issues with better insight, and hopefully well reasoned empathy, when she is confronted with museum visitors similarly affected by religious based miseducation.

          If, on the other hand, the museum job was just one of many she looked into she might want to consider finding employment elsewhere. While still maintaining a clear view of the academic handicap her religious college inflicted on her.

          Good luck.

      6. Chinook*

        The Op isn’t arguing for a spot ofor creationism in the science museum. I interpreted what she said to mean that she wishes she had been taught both sides in school instead of only creationism. It isn’t like she is trying to infiltrate the enemy and change the focus of the museum but she could be quite useful for those who go there that are, like her, trying to understand why evolution is right and creationism is wrong.

        As a side note, intelligent design (in my understanding) is not the same as creationism. Intelligent design a master plan with a master builder and could go with either creationism or evolution. Creationism takes the Genesis story as literal (even if it contradicts itself).

        It is also important to note that it is the “theory of evolution”, not the “fact of evolution.” It is a very strong theory but one that cannot be proven until the missing links have been discovered (which may never happen). Just because a theory has yet to be disproven doesn’t give anyone the right to question the intelligence of those who doubt it. That being said, science museums do take a stand on evolution as the most probable theory and do a very good job of trying to prove it with the facts they have available.

        Finallym if anyone doubts my intelligence and stand on this issue, I live close to a major dinosaur bone field and I can’t see how anyone could look at those and not see the earth being millions of years old). I just also happen to understand that nothing is black and white.

        1. Gjest*

          It is important to note that the word “theory” is used differently in science than it is for laypeople, however. When people hear “theory” they think of speculation, guesses, etc. A scientific theory is based on evidence from testable, repeatable measures. I think the general public do not (as a whole) understand this. Not saying that you, Chinook, do not, but I think there are too many people who do not understand this.

          1. Gjest*

            And I meant to also say that a scientific theory is as close to scientific fact that you will find. To a layperson, they might as well be equivalent.

        2. Jamie*

          As a side note, intelligent design (in my understanding) is not the same as creationism.

          Exactly. Creationism is completely different than intelligent design.

          The best way I can think to explain the concept of intelligent design is human reproduction. I decided to have children so participated in an action which would lead to that end. A conscious decision to create life started the ball rolling, but it was science and biology that took two cells and created people who borrow my car and take turns feeding the dogs.

          The biology inherent in human development is amazing and, in many cases, out of our hands once it’s started (barring medical interventions for some things) – so you can believe life was created on purpose and still fully believe all the science that goes into the actual creation of life.

          1. CathVWXYNot?*

            There may be differences in the formal definitions, but in an attempt to get around a ban on teaching creationism in US public schools, every instance of the word “creationism” was replaced in a textbook with “intelligent design”, with the rest of the text left intact. So there are a great number of people on the side of not teaching either in public schools who are highly skeptical of claims that the two are different…

            Details at http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Cdesign_proponentsists

        3. Felicia*

          When used in non-scientific context, the word “theory” implies that something is unproven or speculative. As used in science, however, a theory is an explanation or model based on observation, experimentation, and reasoning, especially one that has been tested and confirmed as a general principle helping to explain and predict natural phenomena. So evolution is a theory in the scientific sense of the word, not the same way the word is used non scientifically.

          1. Felicia*

            Oh, Gjest got there first! Lots of people don’t know that in science theory means something different.

            1. Gjest*

              I’m just sitting here clapping my hands that someone else posted this too! Yay, someone else knows the difference between scientific theory and regular old theory!

                1. Felicia*

                  I was a communications major:) I learned the scientific definition of theory in highschool and somehow still remember it. I’ve also always been personally interested in evolution.

                2. KellyK*

                  Another English major here who also knows those definitions. What we commonly refer to as a theory is more like what’s called a hypothesis in scientific terms.

                3. Broke Philosopher*

                  I knew it and was a…well you can probably guess my major from my screen name. People who like to keep informed about the world should know basic scientific ideas, including the scientific method and some vocabulary.

          2. Marco*

            Good job. In normal parlance we say “I have a theory” when we mean, at best, “I have an hypothesis”. I guess someone saying “I have an hypothesis” would come across as a total bore and that’s why we use “theory” instead. But that leads to the type of fallacies as in the previous post where those that don’t know the scientific meaning of the word will say something like “well, it’s just a theory, it’s not like is a proven fact”.

            Sadly, this is a failure of science education when most people don’t realize there are no “facts” in science. Math has “proofs” but science has a well constructed theory as the best possible explanation of the evidence. When you say “theory” you are already saying: “This is the best we got so far”.
            But certainly not “here is something I just pulled out of my behind. I call it a theory.”.

        4. RG*

          “Theory” has a very specific meaning in science, and scientific theories rarely (if ever?) turn into fact – so the fact that no one is calling it the “fact of evolution” is a straw man. For example, gravity is still a theory, but there is very little argument that it exists (although there are some fuzzy bits on how exactly it works).

          And yes, you are free to doubt the theory, or try to disprove it, which is the very basis of science. But you have to do it with the tools of science, which is not the premise of creationism or intelligent design. Neither movement is offering any evidence or designing any experiments to disprove, they are just saying it’s wrong because it’s too hard to happen on their own.

            1. Felicia*

              I totally forgot to mention that gravity is a theory, which totally illustrates the concept of theory in science very well…people wouldn’t react the same to those who doubt the theory of gravity. Yet gravity is a theory in the same way evolution is.

              1. Another English Major*

                Theory of gravity is my go-to when trying to explain the concept of theory in science.

          1. RG*

            And by “turn into fact” I obviously mean get called “the fact of…” I agree – there are as close to fact as you will find in science.

            If you want to describe something with a more murky position in the science realm, it’s a hypothesis, not a theory.

          2. Anonicorn*

            But gravity is also a law (as it has a mathematical formula), which is about as close to “fact” as you can get.

            Theory is about “why” rather than the “what.” We know evolution’s what and seem to be constantly finding more evidence to support the why.

          3. FreeThinkerTX*

            I like to tell people who use the straw man argument of a scientific “theory” being something questionable to feel free to try to dispute the theory of gravity. . . by jumping off a very tall building. How’s that “scientific-theory-isn’t-a-fact” stance working for you now?

            I’ve found that IDers are fond of straw men. Like the guy who says bananas are an atheist’s worst nightmare [because of how it fits in the hand, how easy it is to “open” and to eat, etc.], but never once considers how, say, a *pineapple* might be an IDers worst nightmare!

      7. OP Science*

        I’m the OP on the science question here – and I should clarify. When I said that students should be exposed to both sides, I was referring to students in schools like mine where creationism is taught. I heard a lot of horrible “evolution is just silly!” arguments, and it was only on our field trips to science museums that I started to realize that “those silly evolutionists” were actually reasonable, smart, well-informed people.

        I had one science professor in college who did this really well. I suspect he was a secret believer in theistic evolution or otherwise “compromised,” because he did a really good job of explaining the overwhelming evidence for evolution. He kept his job by repeating things like “we don’t believe this, but you need to know” – and it convinced me! While religious schools are entitled to teach their religious beliefs, if they really think that creationism is absolutely true, than they shouldn’t be afraid to present “the other side” rigorously and accurately.

        I believe that science museums can serve a really valuable purpose in homes and schools like mine – they can reach those outside the public school system with a well-reasoned defense for evolution. That’s what they did for me, and I’d be honored to do the same. I do not believe that creationism has any place in a science museum.

        1. Heather*

          Thanks for coming back to explain!

          I was just thinking that maybe instead of a science museum, you should look into working with organizations that are fighting to stop creationism from being taught in public schools? I’m sure they’d be happy to have someone who’s been on the inside, so to speak.

        2. Marco*

          Thank you for coming back and clarifying. I wasn’t sure about your statement and I interpreted it wrongly. I apologize.

          I think you are right that your professor was a secret.. “believer” is not the right word, but a secret “something” for sure. His approach would be the same I’d have if life circumstances put me in a position to have to teach creationism (probably I’d have to be trapped in a theocracy with the death penalty for apostasy, but I digress).

          Of course, I am an atheist so I don’t even believe in the “there is a big guy pushing this and that” explanation, but who am I to tell you what you (or anyone else) should believe or not?

          Where I lose my patience is with religious believers that feel compelled to teach their beliefs in my schools or pass laws in my community based on their beliefs.

          But aside from all that, maybe you alumni of those universities where evolution is not in the curriculum should push for change so that those that follow you at least get a working knowledge of it.

          As you found out, it can create problems in the job market.

          By the way, you sounds like a very reasonable and competent young person. I would be happy to hire you in my museum. If you were capable of overcoming the limitation of your academic upbringing, there is no telling what you are capable of.

          If you are curious, go to talkorigins.org. They have great content (if unappealing design) and should answer any questions you may still have.

  6. Jessa*

    Regarding the allergies – You should be able to check with facilities about any new cleaners they are using in the building, or with the cleaning company to see if they’ve changed anything, if this is happening in your office and you’ve already ruled out any changes in your living situation, these are reasonable questions to ask. You can also ask about moulds as others have already suggested. But if you’ve ruled out your off work areas, I’d talk to your bosses about it, because if it’s effecting you it can be getting other people as well.

  7. Anonymous*

    1. Managing a low-performer who keeps improving every time she’s warned, but then slips again

    I supervise 5 accounting clerks and I have one guy who doeesn’t get it. He’s been in the position for 3 months and I don’t see him improving. He’s gotten rude and arrogent refusing to correct his mistakes. I don’t have the power to fire, if I had I would have done so. The owner doesn’t want to fire him and he’s a destruction to the whole team. It’s really frustrating to deal with a low perfomer, at least you have the chance to fire. I am dreading going to work everyday becuase of this guy.

    1. Lindsay J*

      Yes. At one of my positions my manager never fired anybody. Like, I was there for 10 years and the only way people in the department got fired was through loss prevention or throughHR’s attendance points, not through our department.

      It made life so frustrating as a manager. I would honestly work short handed than have to coax and coddle along somebody who has no interest in working (or rarely, no ability. However, 99.9% of the time it seemed to be an issue with the belief that the work they were doing was beneath them and they were not going to put any effort in, rather than an honest failure to grasp the tasks at hand). It was highly frustrating to me to have to figure out how to try and motivate these people to complete the bare minimum they needed to do every day, and it was frustrating for my high performers because they were thinking “why do I come in and do a good job each day when others come in and do practically nothing and get the same wage?” I would complete endless cycles of write-ups and then when I had fully documented the problem, completed the sequence of progressive disciplinary action, and wanted to let the person go, my boss would essentially tell me that it was my responsibility as a manager to make those people be better and that she wasn’t going to sign off on the termination papers.

      It was so frustrating for me and so frustrating for my good employees to have to work in the same environment with these people. If you have tried significant coaching and given this person chances (which it sounds like you have given them plenty!) and you have the opportunity to let them go, seriously, do it!

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yes. And if you’re a manager at an organization that won’t let you fire when you need to, get out because you can’t actually do your job (and you risk it harming your career in the future if you want another management job, since you won’t be able to demonstrate experience with firing, creating a strong team, and having high performance standards to future employers).

        1. Joey*

          The caveat I would add is that as a manager you can’t typically fire someone willy nilly without some pushback. You need to work within the parameters of your company’s procedures for firing before you say “HR won’t let me.”

    2. Chinook*

      You have an accounting clerk who refuses to correct her mistakes? My mind cannot compute how wrong this and how wrong they are for this particular career path. How would they react to the IRS/Canada Revenue when they get dinged with fines for an incorrectly filed tax return? How about to whomever is balancing the books when it loosk like money is missing from the till but, in reality, two numbers got swapped?

      *Chinook just walks away, shaking her head*

      1. Jamie*

        I’m with you. Of all positions, this is the one where you need to be accurate and open to correction. My head hurts.

        1. Heather*

          Unless you wanted to work for Arthur Andersen. Or Enron. Or any number of defunct companies :)

  8. Anonymous*

    #7: I am allergic to everything somewhat mildly. Antihistamines that are recommended for daily use by my allergist are Zyrtec (best if you aren’t in the 1/10 people who have the drowzy gene for this), Rhinocort (still effective, but more expensive), and last place is Claritin.

    In addition to asking the cleaning crew what they use and the air filters are used, also take a look at your chair. Cushioned chairs hold onto everything, so it may make sense to try one of the mesh onees.

    1. Rana*

      You might also look into Allegra as an anti-allergy medicine – it was the only one that didn’t make me hyper or dopey. (I have odd reactions to stimulants and depressants, so I’ve tried a lot of allergy meds, and this was the only one that worked without side effects.)

      Talking to an allergist again about effective strategies would also be a good idea, even if they can’t identify the allergen.

  9. Allergy sufferer*

    Re: allergies. I had the same issue. I changed jobs and I suddenly sneezed all.day.long. I went to the allergist for the first time in my life. I discovered a bunch of allergies I didn’t know about, but none I’d encounter in an office. After some time, I realized that after hours, my boss had taken to sitting in my seat and working there. He has several cats. And as it turns out I’m highly allergic to cats. Maybe it’s something like that where the previous person left behind some allergens or someone is using your office after hours?

    1. Marie*

      Skin problems, rather than breathing problems, probably narrow the range to things the OP is touching, rather than breathing in. I’d second the mesh chair, and add a thorough wipe-down of all work surfaces (coming in extra early so the OP doesn’t look OCD). Only if those don’t work would I try finding out what products the cleaners use, etc.

      On a side note, I once stayed with a friend whose house gave me asthma attacks (I don’t have asthma). I had to sleep with the windows wide open in mid-winter, just to get through the night! I still don’t know what it was – her cats, her incense, or possible mould spores as it was an old house. I do know I will never visit her house again.

      1. Judy*

        Does it really? My only hives have come from medications, and they were certainly from taking a prescription. My first reaction was from an antibiotic, and we called in to the doctor who said it couldn’t be that, to continue to take it. So I went from itchy hives on my arms, to 3 days later all over with trouble breathing, and then I went to my family doctor instead of the one who prescribed it.

        I would say that since it’s spreading all over her body, that it’s most likely systemic rather than contact related.

        1. Jamie*

          My mom got horrible hives when she ate strawberries (which she loved and didn’t become allergic to until her 50’s – stupid bad surprises.)

          If the OPs hives are limited to a certain area of her body (hands, face, something you touch at work) then I’d certainly assume it was received tactically. But if they are all over or on unexposed, untouched parts it could be triggered by something in the air.

          1. Laufey*

            My father developed an allergy to MSG (an additive in almost everything) during his forties. He later developed an allergy to hops in his fifties (poor man can’t drink any decent beer now). I wonder if there’s something that triggers allergies to things routinely eaten as we get older.

            1. Editor*

              Some allergies get worse with exposure. I’ve worked to keep my inherited allergic tendencies under control by limiting what I’m exposed to, but I am fortunate not to have breathing allergies, just skin contact allergies.

              I’ve developed a weird food intolerance to basil, however, and I am very unhappy about that.

              1. Lillie Lane*

                I recently developed allergies to cats and dairy. As a former Wisconsinite and cat owner, it is SO cruel!

  10. snuck*

    Re allergies: you could take preventative antihistamines – Telfast/Claratyne etc but as an every day indefinately option it’s not going to be fun (or cheap!). Hunting down the allergen could be tricky – it might be a new cleaning product (or a new cleaner who handles it differently or uses it at a different strength), it might be a perfume that a colleague is wearing, it could be the dye in your stockings. Where do the hives appear, at what time of day, where have you been just prior (hives are usually within half an hour of exposure) – keep a little diary of what you were eating, drinking, doing, where you were etc in the hour before the outbreak. Scratching makes them worse, as does hot clothing/covering them up etc. Ice, cool water etc can help in the immediate moments.

    Re the PIP woman – I’d check corporate policy and skip as many steps as you can. For the smallest infraction start the escalation process if you can’t skip steps. If you can skip steps just jump straight to PIP “Jane this is the fourth PIP in four years, I don’t know why we need to continually have this scenario play out, this is the last PIP and will be effective for at least twelve months. If you feel you cannot maintain a professional level of accuracy in your role then let me know how I can help you with your efforts to find a role that you will be happier in” and voom… done. But yeah, unless she has valuable knowledge and will be hard to replace I’d be done with her with fair notice and generous leaving dates so long as she plays nice. Oh… and don’t word your PIPs to be so specific if you are saying “Jane will always check her TPS reports have a cover sheet” then Jane only has to do that, when what you really want is “Jane will check that all reports are sent out in the agreed format with the correct correspondence” or even “Jane will follow reporting procedures as outlined in her work instructions” which is even better.

  11. Anne 3*

    OP # 7 – I FEEL YOU. When I moved offices last year I broke out in hives on my face, arms, hands, stomach, legs – I looked disgusting and my skin itched like crazy, it drove me mad. I went to the doctor who told me the same thing about allergies – not worth testing for since it could be anything (aside from changing offices I was in in a new apartment in a new city in a new country). He adviced me to take some OTC antihistamine, which helped a bit with the itching, but not with my overall look. After about three months it cleared up – and I still have no idea how or why or what caused it in the first place. Fingers crossed it doesn’t come back – it wasn’t fun to see strangers physically recoil from me. I hope you have similar luck or that you find out what’s causing this.

    1. Sophia*

      One option I haven’t seen mentioned is stress. Is there something about the job that is making you stressed or anxious? This may be the least probable scenario, but I know that the 3 times I’ve broken out in hives, it’s been extreme stress-related. Again, I know it may not be the case especially because of the frequency but wanted to throw it out there

      1. AMG*

        #7 Not only can stress be a factor, but your diet can aggravate allergies that wouldn’t otherwise be present. For example, gluten/wheat sensitivities, dairy, sugar, red meat or processed foods that have chemicals that inflame/agitate your system. You wouldn’t necessarily realize their effect on your body. But combine them with other mild irritants like whatever is in your office, and there you go–hives.

        There is a good book called the inflammation diet that can speak to this. Can identify ways to sort out whether this is the case and what to do about it. Members of my family have improved dramatically in their allergic reactions to certain foods, and it diminishes their environmental allergies as well. It’s been pretty amazing, really.

        1. S from CO*

          #7 – This is great information from AMG. I also have suffered from allergies for many years. Recently I was tested for food allergies. My doctor works with this lab: http://meridianvalleylab.com/
          I also recommend that the OP get tested for yeast. Good luck and I hope you find out what is causing your allergic reaction.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          I’m with you, AMG. I changed my diet (simpler foods), got rid of the chemical cleaners in my house and now my reaction to environmental stuff is not noticeable to me most of the time.

          One doctor explained it this way- we have to be exposed to something several times before we have a strong allergic reaction. So it makes sense that we reach middle age and suddenly have reactions going on. Exposure is cumulative. Plus our chemical load increases as we age. For example, it can take 11 years to get steroids totally out of the body. While a body is trying to get rid of that- how many more things did it take in during those 11 years?

          What hit me between the eyes, was when I stopped using fragrances around the house. I lost weight. Evidently the fragrances were triggering low grade allergic reactions that were blocking me from my weight loss goal.
          Who’d thunk????

    2. FreeThinkerTX*

      We adopted a Great Pyrenees 2.5 months ago. I’ve spent the entire time since then suffering from itchy, watery eyes; sneezing; intermittent mild hives; runny nose, etc. But just in the past few days I’m noticing the symptoms easing up a bit. I assumed they would. I’ve had an allergic reaction to every pet I’ve ever brought into my house, and my body eventually adjusts.

      I know allergies can be life-threatening for some people, but my immune system seems to always figure out the new allergen isn’t out to get me. [And it’s a good thing, too, because I bonded with cats long before I bonded with people, and I would’ve never made it out of preschool if it weren’t for the support of my cat waiting for me back at home! Ditto any and all stressful situations for the entirety of my life.]

      1. Lora*

        Awwww! I have a Pyr and a Newf. Be ready to buy a new vacuum cleaner every year though. Fur EVERYWHERE. Just give up on wearing black–khaki and white are your new wardrobe. And the part about how they like to run all over the neighborhood is true–mine runs down the road to the day care so he can play with the kids.

        1. FreeThinkerTX*

          We took the Pyr to the groomer after we’d had her a week or so. They “de-shedded” her, and it’s made a HUGE difference in the amount of fur coming off of her. I have taupe colored carpet, and during that first week it looked like it had snowed inside the house!

          We had a visit from one of the foster moms at the Pyr Rescue group (SPIN, “Saving Pyrs In Need”) before we were allowed to adopt, and she made sure our fence was solid and tall so that Amber can’t escape. She’s terrified of people, and I don’t think we’d ever get her back if she got out. Thankfully, she has shown no interest in escaping; she seems content to keep my property free of other critters (raccoons, opossums, armadillos, skunks, rats, etc.). It’s fun to watch her patrol the yard, especially at night.

  12. Lily*


    Jessa, I agree that she is playing the system! Snuck, I love your wording! OP, thank you for writing in, because I recognize your problem as the next level in my management education. For my own amusement and edification, I list the levels. Thank you Alison!

    1. employee does not answer emails and misses meetings and deadlines
    2. employee answers emails and attends meetings, but misunderstandings abound. Since goals are a moving target, they are not achieved.
    3. employee is aware of performance problems and has great intentions for the future, but doesn’t deliver
    4. employee is aware of performance problems and is able to meet PIPs, but slacks off once the conditions are met.

  13. Vanessa*

    #3 I think you’d have a better shot if the position was for anything other than science education. Unfortunately with an educational background such as yours you may be immediately written off as not qualified to teach science. To be honest, speaking as a scientist, this may be an accurate assessment. Additionally, you’re going to be competing against candidates who have strong science education and who lack the political baggage of coming from a creationist background. Now, if you can speak to your strengths as a communicator as well as perhaps discuss how you have strengthened your knowledge of science informally (as in separate from the creationism faux-science) you might have a chance. Good luck!

  14. Stevie*

    #7 Has anything else been coming up at work lately that could be stressing you out? I’m personally prone to panic attacks, but I’ve heard of other people who can break out in rashes if overly stressed. I know that in my case, I can get a nagging sensation from knowing that I’m forgetting something. Then if I can’t pinpoint it, I get freaked out that I’m panicking for no reason. It continues to spiral for no reason, really, and suddenly I’m crying and unable to function over something as simple as forgetting to take out the trash.
    That’s probably way too much information! But I would know that if it was a stress issue that caused light hives in me and I couldn’t pinpoint what was doing it, I would freak out until they got bigger and bigger.

    1. KJ*

      I was thinking along these lines as well — especially in the absence of any clear allergen. This used to happen to me in high school when I got particularly stressed.

    2. Kristen*

      Yes to this. I have broken out in full body hives a couple times in my life due to stress- the triggers were things I didn’t even realize I was that anxious about. I would just keep breaking out until I could deal with whatever it was. They are so painful and itchy, so I feel your struggle!
      This might be way off, but it’s worth considering if there’s something you’re worried over at work; it might even be in the background or seem silly (I once got hives before a first date and had to cancel, despite having been on lots of first dates before!). Something stressful doesn’t have to be causing outright panic attacks to result in a physical reaction. You can learn to manage this though, last time I started a new job I felt them coming and was able to calm myself down :) haven’t had a full outbreak in years.

    3. ExceptionToTheRule*

      I, too, have an allergic reaction to extreme stress that manifests as a rash & hives. Nasty business. Oral steroids and prescription steroid cream do an ok job of managing the symptoms until I get my stress levels under control. I also highly recommend lukewarm oatmeal baths. Aveeno makes a nice one that’s very soothing.

      1. Amy*

        Stress hives are the worst! I was bullied really, really badly by some of my classmates in my study abroad program. I went home for a couple of weeks for Christmas, and a few days before I was supposed to fly back for the second semester, half of my face broke out in hives because I was so stressed out/nervous about going back and facing my classmates. Benadryl worked magic.

    4. Anonicorn*

      This happens to me as well. I already have eczema, but stress (and heat) makes it worse.

      It helps me to use a mild lotion like Aveeno every morning and night with a Cortizone with aloe to do spot-relief during the day. I otherwise have to use scent-free detergent and fabric softener, and other products for sensitive skin.

  15. Lora*

    #3: Sorry, I think you are outta luck on this one. Not only are there plenty of recent science grads begging for jobs, there are plenty of PhD scientists with tons of experience begging for jobs–NSF and NIH budgets have been squeezed to the max and are only likely to be cut even more. The PhDs have, for the most part, done teaching assistantships for years in the course of their studies, and many are teaching as adjunct professors right now for a pittance. They have been educating people about science for years and are going to be delighted to take a full time job with benefits, ANY full time job with benefits.

    And yes, you are correct that the creationist school would be a dealbreaker in any case. Even disregarding your actual beliefs, you’re likely to be so very far behind in science that getting you up to speed would not be feasible for an employer. I’m talking, you’d have to attend community college remedial science classes before you’d even be allowed to enroll as a freshman at a state university in a science course. It’s not just being able to give a lecture and walk through an exhibit with people, you have to have a deep understanding of how scientists work, the epistemology of the research, and how the techniques themselves work, which you would not have gotten in high school.

    Sorry to be such a downer, but I really think you’re better off pursuing something else.

    1. Mike C.*

      How in the heck does a college that teaches biblical literalism as science have accreditation? OP #2, is your school even accredited?

      If not, you have much bigger issues than trying to work at a science museum.

      /What were the lab classes like, anyway? How does that even work?

      1. TL*

        Liberty University – accredited, teaches creationism.

        I have a friend who goes there and apparently a large number of the student population is there because it’s the only university their parents will pay for. (Unfortunately, that friend is a biology/education major and wants to be a teacher, which frightens me.)

        1. Heather*

          I do not understand how these schools get accreditation. Well, I do (politics), but it makes me crazy.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            I was told that having accreditation is not enough. It’s necessary to look at the group who is doing the accrediting.
            I learned this in reference to finding an online school. I got a headache just thinking about researching all of this.

    2. Bwmn*

      I think that without knowing more about the position – it’s a bit unfair to necessarily say how inappropriate she’d be for the position. The position might be 10 hours a week working with young children and doing simple experiments. My first job after graduate school (in a sociology hybrid field) in 2005 was as the only research assistant on a neuropsychology study in a research hospital. I had no direct education other than showing I knew general research concepts. However, it wasn’t a science/neuropsychology heavy position and the principle investigator had been burned by a number of prior psychology educated research assistants, so I got hired.

      Therefore, if the OP is reading the requirements of the position realistically – then it’s not necessary to completely write off the OP’s chances. However, I do think it’s fair to acknowledge that many institutions associated with academia (i.e. most museums) may have a knee jerk negative reaction to her university. So being prepared to address that upfront and briefly in a cover letter is probably a good idea.

      1. Mike C.*

        It’s not a knee jerk reaction when the particular educational institution is teaching something that goes against a long established scientific consensus. The school might as well be teaching miasma theory of disease at this point. There is a ton of material that most BS holders (let alone MS or PhD) have to go through to graduate, and not only did this candidate receive little to none of it, she instead received incorrect information.

        I wish the OP best of luck, but holy crap find something else.

        1. Bwmn*

          The OP has already said she doesn’t have a degree is any kind of science (or education) but feels she is a good fit for the position. Therefore she must have read the job notice and feels that a degree in communications (and any other prior experience had) is appropriate for the position.

          Assuming we trust the OP’s assessment of the job posting and her resume – and that the relationship of her university to science is the only problem, then I think people are being too harsh. A science museum near where I grew up has an acitvity area for children ages 0-7. While I assume PhD’s design the overall materials – I sincerely hope PhD’s are not the staff members actively engaging with toddlers in the space on a daily basis.

          1. Gjest*

            Sadly, though, there are PhDs who have to do this because there isn’t anything else out there. I’ve sat on hiring committees for very entry level technician positions where 1/2 the applicants were PhDs. Some of those toddlers are most likely being taught by PhDs.

          2. Lora*

            “I sincerely hope PhD’s are not the staff members actively engaging with toddlers in the space on a daily basis.”

            Dashing your hopes too, Bwmn–they have at the very least a MS. These days, scientists go through undergrad, a 7+ year PhD, 5+ years of postdocs, only to get part-time work paying <$20k/year teaching as adjuncts with no benefits. Lots would kill to have full-time work, period. Heck, there is a notorious case (Doug Prasher) of a guy who was practically a Nobel Laureate–and many folks felt he should have gotten the Nobel for GFP instead of the guys who did–driving a shuttle bus for a car dealership because it was the only full time work he could find.

            1. Bwmn*

              First, I’ve seen these job postings and some of them say things like “must be 18 to apply and have graduated high school”. If people with MS degrees are the ones getting these jobs, then that’s good information to share.

              My primary point though is that if the job post is calling for a science or education degree, if the job post is calling for a postgraduate degree – then the OP’s problems extend well beyond her university and more the time she’s spending on applying for jobs that she’s woefully unqualified for. I’m just saying that if we assume she correctly read the job post, and has correctly qualified her resume – then commenters piling on her about a job that has requirements we know nothing about isn’t helpful.

              1. Hous*

                Having worked in one of those positions, I can tell you with absolute certainty that OP is not the only college graduate who’s thinking it doesn’t look like such a bad gig. We did have a few masters-level people as well (education, not science, at a children’s museum). As with so many jobs these days, they are getting lots of over-qualified applicants, and even if the OP has more education and experience than is required, there are probably a lot of other people who do as well, without the complications.

                1. SB*

                  Except, there are also plenty of employers who are leery of hiring overqualified candidates (there was a post on it earlier this week) So, perhaps it’s not such a far shot. If she is closer on the mark to their stated requirements, and her only issue is that her degree comes from a “non scientific school” (to be very PC), I don’t see why it would be such a terrible long shot, esp if what she is educating isn’t about evolution. For example, the history and science museum our school went on a trip to every year had a sensory discovery lab. It was about using your senses, and had nothing to do with evolutionary science.

              2. Lora*

                “If people with MS degrees are the ones getting these jobs, then that’s good information to share. ”

                See the following:
                The PhD Bust by Jordan Weissman in The Atlantic 2/20/13
                US Pushes for More Scientists… by Brian Vastag in the Washington Post 7/7/12

                When I’ve hired technicians, where the job description is for someone with community college science and the job consists of washing glassware, processing purchase orders and filing paperwork, I have gotten multiple applications from MS and PhD level scientists. Once in a while we hire such people as contractors for extremely junior positions, for which they are insanely over-qualified.

          3. Mike C.*

            I don’t care what the OP “feels” is a good fit, that’s not for the OP to ultimately decide. And as someone who was a math and biology major and worked extensively in evolution, I think I’m qualified to say that there are some serious, serious issues with the candidacy of this particular individual.

            1. CathVWXYNot?*

              +1. As someone with a Bachelors and PhD in genetics and molecular biology and who has published papers on human genome evolution, and who has friends in the museum interpreter field.

        2. TychaBrahe*

          I’ve worked at a science museum, one of the largest in the country.

          Outside of the curators, no one was required to have a degree in science. At the time (mid-1980s) most of the female docents were senior citizens whose experience was a lifetime of volunteering, although many of the men were retired from jobs in engineering and science. The paid explainers were sometimes college kids and sometimes just the sort of people you saw in minimum wage state jobs. The lead explainer when I worked was a college student, but her major was finance.

              1. Gjest*

                Yup…if it’s a paid position, there will be people with MS and PhDs applying.

                Actually, at my last job we had a PhD volunteering. Ugh.

      2. TR*

        even if it’s just 10 hrs/wk teaching children, the position should still require an extensive science background. Teaching science professionally should always be based on a thorough knowledge of science and how to think like a scientist – look at all the bad science reporting we have because reporters who specialize in science aren’t around very much anymore.
        Even simple experiments can have more complex explanations if the kids ask the right questions. And the person in the position should have the ability/knowledge to reason through them with the kids.

        1. Gjest*

          Exactly. I don’t think they need a PhD, but at least a very solid BS (that obviously starts with teaching evolution and does not include creationism in a science curriculum. Leave that for theology, philosophy, etc.)

      3. V*

        It’s possible that she took a lot of science classes in classes, even though it wasn’t her major (although, given the emphasis on creationism, I question their validity). I was a communications major in college, but I had made it through Calculus III and statistics, with better grades than many math majors.

        1. fposte*

          Unfortunately, I don’t think science classes would help her, for the very reason you mention. I’m with people upthread in thinking that she’s simply not competitive for anything science-related without an additional credential from someplace with solid scientific practice.

        2. TL*

          Eh, I wouldn’t really consider 12 hrs of classes in a field a lot. (Certainly more than most people, but unfortunately not a lot.)

          I graduated with over 70 hrs in the STEM field and ~55 of them were biology. And there are still (large) areas of biology where I am definitely not at all knowledgeable.

          Also, I agree with fposte’s comment above. We’re talking about decades of deficient science schooling at this point – from elementary all the way through college. It’s unfortunately quite a mark against her.

          1. V*

            If memory serves me correctly, math classes were typically 4 credit hours. I know I was just one class away from a math minor. While I don’t think I’m qualified to teach it, I definitely think I’m qualified for a tutoring position, which is kind how I’m viewing the job the OP’s talking about.

            You do need a strong foundation of the subject, but you can never know everything, no matter how many classes you sit through (or years of experience working in the field).

            That being said, I definitely think the OP will have a difficult time qualifying their position on science. If I took my kids to a science museum, I would be infuriated if they started lecturing my kids on creationism.

    3. The IT Manager*

      I’m talking, you’d have to attend community college remedial science classes before you’d even be allowed to enroll as a freshman at a state university in a science course.

      Are you kidding me? This is not about creationism. If someone graduated from an accredidated high school (am assumption I am making about the OP’s school) then they have taken some basic science classes, and they can enroll in freshman level science classes at any state university.

      Whether the OP passes or does well is another thing, but the entrance restrictions for freshman level classes at state universities are virtually non-existent.

      1. Lora*

        Not every state university is open to all high school grads. Some are in fact selective. One of my grad schools, UMass, regularly limited nonmajors to special non-major classes, at which they had to achieve at least a B, before they’d be accepted for freshman-level biology. University of California, University of Illinois U-C, UMich-AA, UNC-Chapel Hill, UWisc-Madison are all selective and require either a solid high school background in science with AP or college prep classes, or demonstration of good grades in the nonmajor classes.

        1. TL*

          My university, you had to test into the intro chemistry class (and if you failed, you had to pass “baby chem.”)

          And while we had specific non-majors science courses (that we majors could not take), to take anything but the first 8 hrs of biology you needed at least 16 hrs of specific science classes.

        2. The IT Manager*

          I stand corrected and I think that’s awesome. College’s may not be as lax as media coverage has made them out to be.

          My view could be skewed because I attended an engineering school. Basically all freshmen took chemistry. Your next “science” class was “Physics for engineers” or “Physics for physics majors” but you had to be enrolled calc II by then.

          1. TL*

            I have a brother who went to an engineering school, two at state schools (one medium and one large) and I went to a small liberal arts private school.

            Your view is definitely skewed. :) We all had significantly different college experiences. (Mine was best, of course. :P )

          2. V*

            This surprised me too! I attended a small liberal arts school and you were free to take whatever science class you chose.

            I do kind of think they are doing a disservice to students by forcing non-majors into a certain class. Someone could take a more challenging biology or chemistry class and decide they do want to major in it after all, but I think you won’t get a real feel for the subject if you take the class for non-majors. I’m also assuming most of these instructors won’t care as much, since these students are just looking for these 3 or 4 credit hours to check off their degree requirements.

            1. Natalie*

              You seem to be making a number of unfounded assumptions here. In particular, why on earth would a halfway decent professor care less because they are teaching non-experts? Most intro level college classes are full of people who have no interest in being there – teaching uninterested 18 year olds is sort of par for the course.

            2. Lora*

              At the big schools, the intro classes are chock-full of people who did do the AP classes and are pre-med/pre-vet/nursing/pharmacy and have declared their science major already. Pre-requisites for senior level science classes typically are 3 years of previous classes, so if you can’t enroll in the freshman level class you need, you’re looking at an extra year in college.

              The non-major classes are, as are most intro classes in big universities these days (including the Ivy Leagues), taught by TAs. The syllabus is typically set by the professor, but the actual lectures and homework and exams and so on, are done by TAs; they range in quality from “imparting knowledge is my life’s goal” to “screw it, give everyone an A, I have research to do”. At that level everything is in a big auditorium with 400 of your best friends and minimal air conditioning, staring at slides anyways.

              I taught one and actually liked it better than teaching the upper-level classes. People actually do get more interested in science, and you get better questions from the nonmajors: they come to office hours to talk, they email asking for more reading material about a subject we only touched on in class. Upper level classes, everyone is too busy and/or has Senioritis.

            3. TL*

              At my school, the assumption was that if you didn’t take the prerequisite classes you’d fail. I agree with that assessment-our science program was very competitive.

    4. Naomi*

      I have been to a lot of museums (including science museums, recently) and not everyone there had a background in science. For example, I was at an astronomy-themed museum, and the people working the telescopes and helping guests look through them certainly had a strong knowledge of astronomy, but many of the other employees did not. In fact, I often find that I have a stronger knowledge of science than those employees without science degrees who are supposed to be explaining things to kids (I don’t have a degree in the hard sciences). If a science degree is not required for this position, I don’t think the OP should rule herself out because she doesn’t have one.

      I do think it would be a good idea to take some basic science classes, focusing on evolution and biology, at a community college or online. These classes would help the OP get a better understanding of the scientific method and evolution, and would help to sell the “conversion” narrative. While these classes would not bring OP up to the level of someone with a science degree, that shouldn’t be a problem if the position doesn’t require one. Let’s not forget that employers are often hesitant to hire overqualified people, and a science Ph.D applying for a job which doesn’t require any science degree is certainly overqualified.

      I am also troubled by OP’s comment that evolution and creationism should be taught side-by-side. No one who actually understands the scientific basis for evolution would think this–it’s like saying children should be taught that aliens landed at Roswell alongside real history.

      1. Stevie*

        Don’t forget that MIT offers most of their basic undergrad classes for free online. You don’t get any credit, but you can watch lectures, see the homework sheets, and pretty much walk your way through the class. As a non-MIT engineering student, this resource has been a lifesaver!

  16. FormerManager*

    For#3, are there any volunteer openings at the museum? This might be a way to show that you’re generally interested and possibly even explain your situation.

    1. Mike C.*

      There’s still a metric ton of science this individual is going to have to learn, and volunteering alone isn’t going to cover it.

        1. Mike C.*

          The same logically fallacy twice in the same week? Are you kidding me?

          If you have something to actually say, drop the Anon tag and post a real point like an adult.

          1. Amy*

            I think what Anon was trying to get across is that this person is earnestly trying to get a job, and made a probably execellent financial decision in going to that school, but your reaction to his/her question seems to be a little condescending or angry, as if you were taking it personally.

            I’m not an expert on what chemistry or physics classes are like at religious universities, however I wouldn’t just assume that the OP doesn’t know anything about science, just because his/her school doesn’t teach evolution. There are science fields besides biology that wouldn’t be affected by a creation theology…I think?

            And you could still be a relative expert (compared to us english majors) on the biological systems of different animals, no matter what your think their origins are. It would probably get in the way if you were looking to do research or develop different medicines, but at the museum level, as much as I disagree with Intelligent Design/Creationism being taught in schools, it doesn’t really affect our understanding of the way bodies work now, just how they came to work that way.

            1. TL*

              Unfortunately, it actually does affect the way science is taught, probably across the board. The way you think about science is just as important as what you know. Accepting creationism is rejecting all scientific evidence to the contrary and definitely not critically evaluating the data the way a scientist should.

              1. Josh S*

                Except that the OP hasn’t “Accepted Creationism” but actively done the opposite of that, perhaps exactly because of the evidence s/he was exposed to.

                1. TL*

                  No, not the OP. The professors who taught science at OP’s school. They’re the ones I’m referencing in regards to the quality of science education taught there.

            2. TL*

              It’s like saying because I read (a lot, especially in the classics) and took two English classes at college, my evaluations and criticisms should be taken just as seriously as someone who’s been trained in interpreting and discussing literature, like an English major. And that I’m qualified to tell others how to interpret, based only on my readings of the books and not on years of research, thought, and building on others’ thoughts.

              1. the gold digger*

                Well, I would actually agree that your opinion is as valid as an English major’s – and I was an English major.

                English is not physics or chemistry or math where there is a high level of objective data. English is subjective. Why do people like what they like? What makes something good? Some people love (or claim to love) “Ulysses,” but I hated it. Does that mean I don’t understand it? Does it mean it’s not good literature? Or does it matter at all?

                You can argue about facts and data with science, but English, it’s all about opinions. There is no one authority.

                I say this because I believe it and also because my husband’s dad is a retired English professor who thinks he is the Smartest Man in the World and that his knowledge of literature makes him qualified to judge everyone else in every other field. I really don’t care what his opinion about a certain poem or book is: either I like it or I don’t and he can’t tell me I’m wrong. :)

                Whereas if my college boyfriend, who is a professor of electrical engineering, were to disagree with me on a question about physics, I would recognize that he actually has more knowledge than I on the issue and should be recognized as an expert.

                1. Jamie*

                  Some people love (or claim to love) “Ulysses,” but I hated it.

                  Thank you. My dirty little secret in school was hating Ulysses. And Shakespeare. And Beowolf.

                  I remember being called well read once and arguing that I don’t think it really counts if you hated it.

                2. Heather*

                  But that’s not what being an English major is about. It’s not about giving your opinion about whether you like a certain book. It’s about learning how to analyze a work and make your argument for what *you* think the author was trying to say, backing it up with evidence from the text. Which is a learned skill for sure and one that requires a LOT of critical thinking ability.

                  So your FIL claiming that his having read a lot of other literature qualifies him to be the sole judge of a book’s quality? Basically boils down to:
                  Being an English Professor – UR DOIN IT RONG.

                3. TL*

                  Hmm, I meant along the lines of use of metaphors, symbolism, imagery, how it fits into the sociological framework of the time, discussing varying commonly accepted interpretations.

                  I have opinions about books and they’re valid but I don’t feel like I understand them the way people who actually study them do. (Also I almost always miss symbolism so when people point it out to me, I’m like “what?! That’s a thing?!”)

                4. Apostrophina*

                  English is not actually all about “opinions.” It has elements of history and structure, among other things. (When I was a TA, it was always a shock to my students that their papers were all marked up, since apparently they’d been taught that all you had to do for an A in English is dribble out an honest opinion, and I stand by that verb.)

                  Nor does “like” particularly enter into it. A coworker of mine recently told me he was reading Moby Dick. I think that book has an interesting place at a crossroads of literary eras, as a work with a lot of psychological themes that might be worth considering, as an artifact of America’s evolution as a separate culture, but like? The only way I’ll reread that is if someone has a gun pointed at a loved one. I encounter art all the time that I don’t like, but whose place in the world I can appreciate. It doesn’t mean those things aren’t important; it means nobody likes everything.

                  It’s not as important to daily function as science education, I suppose, but this idea that English education is all about flailing around with your fuzzy thoughts and no intellectual organization does a lot of harm to people who need to learn to think clearly in every part of life.

                5. Forrest*

                  I agree to a point. A lot of media is subjective (literature, media, etc.) but not all of it. I’m thinking of when people try to agree with an author about what the point or meaning of her own piece is.

                6. the gold digger*

                  Heather, I am not disagreeing that majoring in English requires critical thinking. But there is no central authority for what is right and wrong in English, whereas you aren’t going to have to prove that gravity exists in physics or that 2+2=4 in math.

                  BTW, I was not a very good English major. :)

                  And yes, my FIL IS doing it wrong! He thinks he knows about EVERYTHING, not just English. But in-laws are another topic. (My marriage advice: marry a rich orphan.)

                7. Forrest*

                  I also think its important when it comes to media of all forms that good and liking/enjoyable are not interchangable.

                  Like someone said, Moby Dick is a good piece of literature. But everyone likes it.

                  Likewise, a lot of people like Fifty Shades of Gray. Doesn’t mean its good.

            3. Gjest*

              But that is exactly the problem. If you have a fundamental understanding of evolution, you realize that your last paragraph is false…evolution is what helps explain many biological systems, including “our understanding of the way bodies work now.” Think antibacterial resistance….without understanding how evolution works, you may not understand how resistance develops. It is important that people in science education know this, and are able to teach it to everyone, from toddlers, to their parents, to their grandparents who are taking them to the science museum.

              1. Amy*

                Ok, that makes sense.

                I have enough understanding of evolution to understand co-evolution, the fetal adaptive response, etc (thanks to my “evolutionary medicine” class!); I wonder how schools that teach literal creationism handle ideas like recent, recordable adaptations of various species.

                I think I was more thinking of my local science museum, which is for children haha…think your basic cardiovascular/muscular/skeletal/organ systems, star collapses and a supernova happens, look at electricity creating static pull, head-bone-connected-to-the-leg-bone type thing.

                1. Natalie*

                  @ Mike C – it’s pretty boring. Just wait for something to happen and yell “praise the Lord!”

            4. Mike C.*

              The fact that the OP discusses science as if multiple arguments need to be treated with equal weight regardless of accumulated evidence or presence/lack of predictive qualities in the underlying theory says all I need to hear about their qualifications.

              And no, you cannot speak with any authority on biological systems without a good understanding of evolution. You might as well tell me that someone can be a great long haul truck driver without understanding why you have to periodically put gas in the tank.

            5. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Unfortunately, I think that while it probably did seem like an excellent financial decision to her to do this, in the long run it probably wasn’t — and she’s likely to be hampered enough by the school that she would have been better off with loans and a different education. I say that with regret, but I do think it’s likely.

              1. Amy*

                That makes sense if s/he wants to go into a science-based field, definitely. Since s/he is “applying all over the place” though, I hope for their sake it wouldn’t affect their chances of being hired at a non-scientific position in a different field. If the education side of the current job their applying to is what’s interesting, maybe a job at a ‘living museum’ would be better fitting for the communications major. Something like Plimoth Plantation, or a historical person’s house that has been converted to a museum.

                1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  I think it will indeed make her chances harder at a wide range of jobs — many hiring managers (myself included) consider such schools much less rigorous. She’s going to encounter a lot of employers who will discount her because of the education alone.

                2. Felicia*

                  Anything ancient history would also pose problems, since that school also teaches that the world is 8,000 years old. I have heard (not first hand mind you), that history education at such schools are also poor because students are taught Christian Revisionist history, which might pose a problem at museums in general.

                3. LPBB*

                  I’m replying to Felicia here. I actually had a long reply addressing the Christian Revisionist history issue typed up and then discarded it.

                  Anyway, for those who are interested, Google “David Barton” for a taste of history taught from a perspective some Christians hold. He’s an especially good example because his “theories” hold sway over a frightening number of political office holders on all levels of US gov’t.

                4. Felicia*

                  Hopefully i’m replying to LPBB right, but David Barton was what I was actually thinking of when I mentioned Christian Revisionist history! Not sure if that’s the case with the OP but i heard that with many schools that teach literal creationism also teach his “theories” as history, so the OPs history education is also probably lacking.

                5. AnonyMouse28*

                  Nope, not just science. I would screen the OP out at the resume stage for a number of reasons, all tied to her education. I’d be worried about a lack of exposure to diverse methodologies and thought processes (as well as a lack of exposure to a diverse and fast-paced environment, but I digress), a lack of rigorous research ability, skill sets that are narrow and specific rather than broad, poor problem solving skills and an an inability to communicate to the widest possible audience. All of these judgments I’d make in the thirty seconds or so I take reviewing her application–it’s not fair, it may not even be accurate, but screening isn’t fair or accurate. Screening is screening, and I’d screen OP right out solely on the basis of where she went to school.

                6. dejavu2*

                  Re: AAM -> It can also make it more difficult to get into a decent grad school. I’ve known others similarly situated.

              2. Heather*

                I regret that she was put in a position where her choice was to take what her parents were willing to give or go into debt to get a better education – as a society we do a crappy job of making sure that everyone who wants a real education can get one – but I don’t regret that she would have been better off with a different education. We’d be screwed if Liberty or Bob Jones were generally viewed as being the same quality as, say, U of Michigan.

                1. Mike C.*

                  Funny you should mention UofM, they do a good deal of fascinating digital evolution research.

                2. ThursdaysGeek*

                  While I have a generally negative view of Liberty and Bob Jones as well, I would like to point out that some Christian colleges provide an excellent education, including in the sciences.

                  I attended a small Christian liberal arts college, then left because I couldn’t afford it, and ended up in a state university. The quality of teaching and professors was much better at the college. My spouse got a chemistry undergraduate degree from that same college and graduate degree from the same university and would agree that the college provided a better education, even in the sciences.

                3. Heather*

                  Mike C – Ha, that’s funny – I just wanted to name a well-respected public university & pulled U of M out of midair.

                  Thursdays Geek – But was it a regular college that happened to be affiliated with a religion, or a school that teaches everything from a religious standpoint? Biiiiig difference.

                4. Jamie*

                  But was it a regular college that happened to be affiliated with a religion, or a school that teaches everything from a religious standpoint? Biiiiig difference.

                  Absolutely. I mean technically Notre Dame and Loyola are religious universities but there is no arguing that they are well respected schools.

                5. Mike C.*

                  ThursdaysGeek is absolutely correct. Religious affiliation does not mean that the quality of education is bad or otherwise tainted. Institutions like Bob Jones and Liberty U are in clear but vocal minority.

                6. ThursdaysGeek*

                  I would actually consider it a school that teaches from a religious starting point, and provides pre-seminary education for people in that protestant denomination. It is not known as a school that teaches creationism as science, and has graduates that do well in various scientific fields. However, I know that other people (like my brother) are able to graduate in non-science areas and still belive in creationism.

                7. pidgeonpenelope*

                  Yeah I attend one of those religious schools that teaches evolution. I went to a University before that and hated it. I attend this private college and the quality of education is much better.

        2. TL*

          I think a lot of scientists are frustrated by the national view towards science – it’s not important, anyone can teach it, the bad reporting that’s going on, the funds being cut.

          A degree in communications or journalism isn’t the sole necessary qualification for communicating about science, yet our national discourse is saying that’s all you need to discuss a highly complex and nuanced field in a time where it’s more and more important that we make science available to the general population. So – not personal but extremely frustrating.

            1. TL*

              Mike C., this is out of left field – but do you run a science blog with a lot of liberal politics through in?

                1. Gjest*

                  Thanks for the link TL! And probably no thanks…there’s a lot of procrastination material in there….

              1. pidgeonpenelope*

                Wow! That really looks like it could be Mike C’s blog. Dare I out him as my hubs? Mike has an internet biologist twin out there.

                1. Lora*

                  Not a big believer in nominal determinism, but I do know an inordinate number of biologists and bioengineers named Mike. At my last job we referred to them all by their last names.

                  Hardcore chemical engineers tend to be named Andy or Dan. Don’t ask me why, there are six Andys in my department, and it’s not a big department.

                2. Jamie*

                  Weird – I know several mechanical engineers named Andy. And I don’t know anyone named that who isn’t in engineering – I never thought of that bef0re.

          1. TychaBrahe*

            By that argument, I shouldn’t be allowed to document software because I’m not a programmer and don’t know how to think like one.

            I have two rare skills. First, I can talk to and understand technical people, so that I can convey to the non-technical user how the software is supposed to work. But also, I can understand the non-technical user, so that I can convey to the technical people what problems the user will encounter with their software.

            I can easily—very easily—see the OP doing my sort of work with science, assuming she can understand what the curators are trying to convey. Because the curators probably loved science from an early age and have no idea how to communicate with someone who doesn’t understand that the stars and our Sun are the same thing, that things that look solid are actually mostly empty space, and that correlation is not causation.

            1. Forrest*

              If she was interested in doing marketing or fundraising, I would agree with you. But she’s applying to be an educator.

              I’m a fundraiser who recently started working for a medical foundation. I don’t have a medical background but I have a lot of experience raising money, particulary through written communications. And thankfully there are people hear who can read what I write and correct me from a factual stand point, while I can correct them from a stand point of this is how we will make your program money.

              But just because I’m learning this and can spit out some facts does not in any way mean I’m an authority nor should people be learning from me.

              There’s an extreme learning curb here and I haven’t seen anyone argue why an employer should take a risk on someone and spend a lot of time teaching them when they don’t have too.

              1. Gjest*

                I agree with this. And the OP’s situation would be as if you went to a college that rejected modern medicine, but you were working as a fundraiser.

          1. Heather*

            I think Mike C just has a bit of a hyperbolic style and people read that as “taking it personally”.

              1. Naomi*

                I think you’ve focused mostly on the problems with OP’s candidacy (and there certainly are many problems!), rather than potential solutions, and that’s what people see as taking it personally.

                1. Mike C.*

                  1. I’m not the only one who has taken this approach, but the only one who has been accused of “taking it personally”.

                  2. Having a personal interest (or not) doesn’t have anything at all to do with a requirement to propose solutions. the two have nothing to do with each other.

                  3. The “Anon” poster hasn’t bother to respond to explain themselves, which is pretty much what I was expecting.

                2. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  I don’t think Mike is coming across as taking it personally. Feeling passionately about it, yes, but I feel passionately about lots of the letters I print without taking it personally, and I’d guess Mike is the same way.

                3. Naomi*

                  I wasn’t saying that I thought you were taking it personally, just explaining why I thought other people did.

              2. Heather*

                I just meant that you tend to use dramatic/passionate language to get your point across.

                I do the same thing in real life…to this day my mom thinks I take everything personally when it’s just the way I talk when I care about something.

            1. KellyK*

              Not hyperbolic, I don’t think. I’d say “intense.” (And I think that’s what people are mistaking for “taking it personally.”)

                1. Jamie*

                  How very meta of you. :)

                  I get what you’re saying – Mike tends to be very passionate and adamant about the points he’s making. Not a bad thing, just a distinct communication style which can be misinterpreted has having a personal stake in the game.

                  Been accused of it myself IRL.

                2. pidgeonpenelope*

                  I get accused of that in my communication too. I can be pretty terse and it can hurt people’s feelings. I’m also crass. So there’s that.

              1. Ariancita*

                See, I don’t even read intensity in his posts. His posts read terse–so no extra words. To the point.

                I appreciate it and read it as rather dispassionate. Shows interpretation and meaning is created on both sides, especially with textual discourse.

          2. Ariancita*

            I agree. I don’t think he’s making points any different than a lot of folks here. I think Mike C’s approach is direct and succinct and maybe some people read that as angry?

            I really appreciate his style. With longer posts, I’m mostly tl;dr, unfortunately.

        3. Jamie*

          I would never dare speak for Mike C – but I totally get his reaction.

          This is his area of expertise and experts tend to bridle at what seem like attempts to minimize the importance of knowledge and skill in the field.

          It sets my teeth on edge every time someone says they can do what I do “because even my grandma is good with computers now” or because they can install some software think they should be making big money in IT. (I blame those stupid for profit IT school commercials. And NO your life as an admin isn’t all cupcakes and unicorns and if I have to see that guy gushing about it while tossing a football to his son again I will throw something solid at my TV)

          As much as I admire people I know installing Office without calling me, it doesn’t make you an expert and it doesn’t make you qualified for a position in IT.

          And I don’t think Mike is saying (nor is anyone else) that she’s not qualified for anything – but even non-scientist me gets that if you think creationism is a view that should get fair and balanced coverage in teaching science you ….shouldn’t even think about teaching science.

          1. Naomi*

            The thing is, the OP isn’t applying for a position that requires a science degree. It’s more like saying someone can’t apply for a nontechnical role, like marketing, at a technology company if they don’t have a computer science degree, when in fact you would want someone with a marketing or communications degree in that role, not someone with a technical degree who would probably be searching for a job that actually uses their qualifications.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Given the specifics in this case, though, it’s more like applying for a job at a tech company if you’re a recent grad from a school whose platform centers around opposing the use of technology.

              1. Naomi*

                I think that the OP not having a science degree and the ideological slant of her university are two different things. Many people in the comments seem to be saying that lacking a science degree in and of itself disqualifies the OP for a job which doesn’t require a science degree. My comment above was aimed at disagreeing with that–I think that if the job doesn’t require such a degree, it’s not a problem that she doesn’t have one, and having a science Ph.D might actually be a problem for a job that doesn’t require a science degree at all.

                I think the anti-science university is a different matter, and that it is a major problem for the OP’s candidacy. Which is why I’ve focused to giving the OP advice to overcome that, like learning more about basic science and conveying that she does not believe in creationism anymore. I don’t think that just because OP was coerced by her parents to attend a religious institution, she should be forever discouraged from even applying for jobs with any relation to science at all. It will be harder for her, but that’s no reason to give up before she starts. I do think that OP should learn the basics about science, hence my suggestion that she take community college courses in biology and evolution, both because it is valuable in and of itself and because it will strengthen her candidacy.

                I also specifically said that I was concerned about the OP’s statement regarding teaching both–if this is actually what she believes, then she shouldn’t be applying to jobs involving science until she’s better informed. On the other hand, if she doesn’t believe in creationism at all and was just saying that out of a habit of placating religious fundamentalists, that’s a lot easier to fix.

            2. Forrest*

              Except both the OP’s school and degree are the problem here.

              There’s more to being an educator than being a good communicator.

    2. bearing*

      This does strike me as a good idea. If nothing else it will give the OP some information about whether s/he understands the kinds of qualifications that museum employees usually have and whether his/her educational background will be perceived as a black mark.

  17. Anon*

    OP #7-I feel for you here. I know that there are some pretty nasty dust bunnies among other things running around one of my buildings. Every time I walk in the door, my itching and coughing ramps up. To the point that my boss actually noticed it. We found out that the air ducts had never been cleaned. I get mine cleaned at my house every 3 years or so. This building was built in the early 90’s. You do the math.

    So we are checking on that. There was also a mold issue because of water damage. You can still smell it. All this to say, yes, you could very well be allergic to the building. What you can do about it? I would say to start keeping a log of your reactions in the facility. It will probably help narrow things down for your dermatologist. Did you notice it get worse after washing your hands? Arrived at 8am, starting itching by 9?

    There may also be a head part to this. Who knows why our bodies do what they do sometimes but if you are anxious about it, you may find yourself scratching more as a compulsion. I know that’s an eczema thing for me.

  18. the_scientist*

    OP from the literal creationism university- I’m going to be very harsh here; I think you’re out of luck. In fact, I think you may need to look at taking some science courses at a real university (sorry, but a university that teaches literal creationism is not a real university, at least in the sciences) if this is a field you’d like to go into. Furthermore, your position is one of “teaching both sides of the issue” which is anathema in the scientific community, where evolution is accepted as the fact that it is and there is no other side to the issue. I can’t see any scientist hiring someone who is so tolerant of creationism.

    OP #7- as someone who’s all too familiar with the random allergic reaction, I feel your pain. I would ask the cleaning staff if they’ve switched cleaning products, wipe down your chair and desk, and also, think about if there’s any construction happening inside or around your building. Sometimes construction blows fine particulate into the air and that could be what’s freaking your body out.

    1. Mike C.*

      I’m going to be even more harsh – if you think there are “two sides” to the issue of evolution, then you know nothing about modern biology, or the scientific method. The latter in particular, science isn’t like a political discussion where there are multiple sides and the truth is somewhere in the middle. There are right answers and there are wrong answers and there are systematic methods to evaluate evidence and to improve understanding over time. Knowledge of how this works is simply fundamental.

      Your degree in communications did as much to prepare you for work in the sciences as it did to prepare you to perform brain surgery or design a bridge. This isn’t to say that you are stupid or that you are incapable of learning these things, but rather to say that your college failed you, and failed miserably. In many ways doors that should be opening up for you were instead closed.

      1. Amy*

        I personally accept evolution as the only current plausible explanation of how the earth/life came to be as it is, however I also am for education. I’m not the OP so I can’t speak for her, but I think there’s something to be said for “hearing both sides of the issue”, just so that you can know what other people think/what other theories are being thrown around. It’s hard to argue against something if you don’t even know what you’re arguing against; cause then all your arguments tend to be just straw-man logical fallicies.

        I agree that volunteering would be a great way to get a feel for the particular museum and what the most common backgrounds are for people working there. I know theater majors who work at science museums, because all they have to do is memorize a script and have a basic understanding of the exhibits so they can answer questions. I also know scientists who are horrible at communicating their ideas, which is about as useful as a literal creationist in terms of educating folks about science. So who knows? Good luck, OP!

        1. TL*

          It doesn’t belong in a science classroom/museum, though.
          The other side of this particular issue is appropriate for faith-based discussions/debates or (sadly) political discussions, not evidence-based discussions.
          And memorizing a script and some basic facts is not an appropriate way to teach science. I’m sorry, but it’s just not.
          (Yes, there are scientists who are horrible at communicating, which is why we need people cross-trained in science and communication in order to make science available. Truly cross-trained, though, not given some facts to memorize.)

          1. Gjest*

            Totally agree with this. The majority of the public is almost completely scientifically illiterate. We need people with strong science backgrounds who are good communicators to be in positions like educators at a science museum.

            I used to work as a researcher at a public aquarium… although talking to the public usually made me want to run screaming, I tried to make an effort to go out on the public floor and talk with visitors routinely, because I saw how little understanding people had about science, and felt like I could really teach people while I was out there. Hopefully I did…

          2. the_scientist*

            You are so spot on! One of the things I’m really passionate about is scientific literacy, even as simple as how to read a claim about some magic herbal medication and understand why it’s too good to be true. Science has a huge PR problem and one of the best ways to combat that is genuinely knowledgable, enthusiastic, passionate educators who make it engaging and fun.

            To add to that, you’re totally right: creationism has no place in a science museum, at all, in any capacity. It simply does not deserve any credence- in science, not all opinions are created equally.

            1. the gold digger*

              And numeric literacy. My favorite dumb reporter story appeared in the Austin paper years ago. The reporter announced that since X percent of the blood samples taken at the UT student health center tested positive for HIV, X percent of the entire student body had HIV.

                1. TL*

                  I went to university in San Antonio and our Sexual Diversity Alliance was freaking out about this. It was..interesting once I saw the actual data.

              1. fposte*

                I just went round on the difference between “increase in risk” and “risk” with a doctor.

            2. Emma*

              I am a huge fan of Ben Goldacre, a British doctor and epidemiologist who is passionate about science literacy (mainly to debunk quackery and junk medicine). His book “Bad Science” is a short, funny read about scientific inquiry!

          3. Heather*

            If you guys haven’t read it, I highly recommend “Unscientific America” by Chris Mooney. It’s about why people are scientifically illiterate & how science communication can help fix it.

            1. FreeThinkerTX*

              Dang. I own this book but have never read it. Time to pull it down off the book shelf!

        2. Mike C.*

          Stop it with the “hearing both sides of the issue”, that’s not how science works.

          If you want to challenge a long held scientific fact, propose a testable hypothesis and repeatable experiments. Until then there is no “other side” to discuss.

          Don’t you see the difference between a well supported theory backed by over a hundred years of evidence and research that continues to this day, with predictive qualities and repeatable results and a minority interpretation* of a religious text?

          /As an aside, that’s right, the vast majority of folks who use the Bible as part of their religious practice don’t actually have an issue with evolution, or many other commonly scientific ideas. The idea that there’s a “war” between religion and science is actually quite silly.

          1. the_scientist*

            However, I have seen terrifying statistics that indicate that the majority of the US population believes that creationism as a “theory” is equal to evolution as a “theory”, likely because science education is so poor and fringe lunatics have politicized and gutted the education system to the extent that no-one understands the difference between a “theory” and a scientific theory.

            TL;DR: there are no two sides to this issue, you’re absolutely right.

            1. fposte*

              Ah, yes. The “If it’s so great, why is called a theory and not a fact?” misapprehension.

              Oddly, they never seem interested in taking on the theory of gravity.

              1. pidgeonpenelope*

                OMG! That whole bit about “why isn’t it a fact” really aggravates me. It also means that our schools are disappointingly bad at teaching science.

          2. Amy*

            There’s an ‘other side’ as long as people are arguing it. For people who believe in Creationism and want it to be taught in schools, sometimes the best way to counter it is to address their arguments head on, which does require knowing what their arguments are. That’s all I meant by ‘hearing both sides’. Learn what others are saying so that you can address it directly.

              1. Gjest*

                Exactly. The “other side” belongs in a theology, philosophy, or similar class. Not in a science class.

              2. Amy*

                True. I think the only acceptable way for it to even be mentioned in that sort of context would be, “Some people believe XYZ. This is why we know it to not be true”, and then lots of sciency stuff follows.

              3. ThursdaysGeek*

                Yes. Science doesn’t deal with a god or no god. Put that in the philosophy or religion classes. All of it, both the god AND the no god parts. None of that is science.

            1. Mike C.*

              But why should we have to deal with every idea that lacks merit? Many of these crazy ideas are arguments made rapidly, loudly and in bad faith.

              If you want to discuss it in a non-scientific forum (philosophy class, etc), then great. But otherwise treating it as “two sides” confuses the issue for non-scientists and gives the impression of scientific merit when really there exists none.

            2. Emma*

              A problem with addressing their arguments is that hardcore believers then “move the goal posts.” We saw and continue to see it with anti-vaccine crowd. Once thimerasol was removed from vaccines, they could no longer credibly claim it was causing autism. So their argument changed to say that it was a preservative or by-product (aluminum). Once that was rejected by the scientific community, the current trend is that it’s the number/volume of vaccines that’s the problem. You see? It.never.ends.

              As was mentioned upthread, countering beliefs with facts inspires folks to cling more forcefully to their beliefs. Some trenchant believers are thoroughly defined by their beliefs and will continue to tweak them to ensure their core isn’t shaken.

              +infinity to the false equivalency discussions upthread too.

        3. TychaBrahe*

          But you’re missing the point. She doesn’t want to design a bridge or perform brain surgery. She wants to write the document about the company’s procedures on reviewing bridges designs. Or she wants to write the hospital’s newsletter outlining recent groundbreaking work by their chief neurosurgeon.

          1. fposte*

            I agree that she doesn’t, in all likelihood, have to have a science background to do that, and I think that’s still true–I just looked at the Science Museum of Minnesota, and they’ve got staff that came from non-science.

            However, I still think the anti-scientific university makes her a tough sell as a job candidate unless she manages one hell of a conversion narrative.

          2. TL*

            I disagree. She wants to discuss science, in real-time, and pass on knowledge of science.
            For documentation or newsletters, or if you’re specifically a go-between, you can go back and forth and check your answer with the technical person until it’s correct. You don’t necessarily need knowledge, though probably the more you have the more the tech appreciates it, because someone is there to fact-check you.
            For something on the ground, interacting in real time with museum goers, presumably trying to get kids interested in science, they don’t have a lot of time for “I don’t know” and , frankly, I would expect them to be able to get into as in-depth a conversation as the kid wants. You can explain things better (if you’re a good explainer) because you truly understand them; when you don’t know the answer, you can teach the kid to think about the problem scientifically with you.

            I have a friend who teaches high school math and she got a dual degree in math and education, not because she needed linear algebra or abstract mathematics to teach geometry but because she can prove to herself and her kids everything that she says. No matter where her kids take her, she can reason through and prover her answers. Same principle should apply in informal education as well.

            1. fposte*

              It sounds like you’re talking about how you envision the position, though; that’s different from how people tend to actually hire for such positions.

              1. TL*

                I’m refuting Tycha’s point that the OP may actually be qualified for science communications without a background in science.
                Which is, yes, based on my ideological world not the real one, sigh. But I would imagine that it is actually prohibitive in this world, too, if only given how many science people are looking for jobs.

      2. Ask a Manager* Post author

        ” In many ways doors that should be opening up for you were instead closed.”

        This is exactly what worries me for the OP, totally aside from this particular job.

        1. TL*

          Unfortunately, I think many of the kids who are “forced” into places like Liberty don’t have enough financial knowledge or experience to realize that you can get through college while incurring debt and be just fine.
          Many of the upper/middle class college-age kids I know were completely sheltered financially – they didn’t know what a living wage was, how to budget, how to shop while considering price vs. quality vs. occasion (my favorite was out-of-state parents picking the graduation dinner restaurant because apparently their child couldn’t understand “a nice place, no more than $30/head”), or if their parents had loans out in their names to pay for college.

          1. Felicia*

            Many people who are raised to have the religious beliefs taught in places like Liberty are also taught that debt is the absolute worst thing ever.

            1. TL*

              When I see my student loan payments leave my bank account, I’m inclined to agree. *grumpy face*

              Though I wouldn’t trade my university experience for anything, really. My parents sat me down and talked about taking loans and paying them back and financial jibberjabber lots and lots – I have debt, but it was a reasoned, informed decision on my part and I don’t regret it.

              1. Amy*

                Yeah, I wouldn’t trade my $100k undergrad debt for an education at Liberty or BYU even, but I do regret going to undergrad right after high school instead of working for a few years and saving up so that I wouldn’t have this debt. Thankfully my parents allow me to live with them rent-free while I job search so that I can use my part-time earnings to cover my 1.3k monthly payments. Ugh. Debt. So Gross.

                I don’t think enough people are told that there are other options than going to undergrad right away, that may ease their financial situation.

                1. Ms Enthusiasm*

                  I wouldn’t recommend it, though. If it is possible to complete college right out of highschool then do it! It is so much harder to go back later. I went back when I was 34 and I’m now about to turn 40 and am still going. At least I only have 4 classes left. But people who are 10 years younger than more are already 2-3 levels above me at work. It’s almost embarrassing.

                2. Ms Enthusiasm*

                  Oops But people who are 10 years younger than *ME* are already 2-3 levels above me at work. It’s almost embarrassing.

                3. Emily, admin extraordinaire*

                  Hey, don’t lump BYU in with Liberty, please. I graduated from BYU, and was taught evolution in my science classes (granted, as an English major I only took freshman biology, physical science, and an agronomy/horticulture class, so I don’t know how it was treated in the higher-level biology classes, but there is a course on Evolutionary Biology listed in the course catalog that looks pretty standard to me), and the Creation in my religion classes, and everything was just fine. :P

                  Okay, okay. I won’t say that there isn’t controversy about teaching evolution at BYU–there is, just like there was controversy about studying feminism and socialism and Freudian psychology in my English classes, or nude art in the science classes. But in general, the academic classes at BYU are taught according to current theory and practice, and the religion classes are taught according to current doctrine, and it’s up to each individual to come to their own conclusions regarding the intersection of the sacred and the secular. Which is how it should be.

                4. Emma*

                  I wish the gap year was a common experience in the U.S. the way it seems to be in the UK. I too would have appreciated some breathing space to work, regroup and truly evaluate whether college was even right for me….instead of jumping right into college.

              2. Elizabeth West*

                Ugh, I wish my parents had done this. It was more of a “Yeah, okay, here’s an advance on your allowance; you don’t get one next week” type of thing. I think it should be taught in SCHOOLS. Because while my parents are fiscally responsible, they kind of neglected this; maybe they thought we’d learn it by osmosis, and maybe my math disability had something to do with it. They didn’t really know how to teach me something that was so hard for me to learn (budgeting, etc.). But the many children who don’t have the math issue are still not learning these things.

                1. TL*

                  Yeah, my mom’s a financial whiz and we actually did learn through osmosis – kinda. All of their big financial discussions were held in front of the kids and spending decisions were fully explained – no, we’re not buying Twinkies because money is tight this month. Yes, we’re putting away money for your college every month like a bill. Is the quality worth $300 more?

                2. Jamie*

                  My husband did this for the kids. I was always so reluctant to use the words “we can’t afford this now” but his philosophy was to be honest about belt tightening.

                  I think it all boils down to me viewing financial constraints as something of which to be embarrassed and him just seeing it as a normal and non-shameful part of life.

            2. Kelly L.*

              This is true. Avoiding all debt is a growing religious practice in some sects. I think this may be a Dave Ramsey thing, but I’m not sure.

              1. Jamie*

                Those people on TLC with the billion kids do this, too. The Duggars.

                But they run a used car lot and offer financing and credit (so…debt) to other people, so I’m not sure how that works.

                1. anon*

                  AFAIK financing and/or credit is facilitiated through the dealer, but it isn’t actually the dealership itself extending the loan, yes? Which is a sidestep on the issue, but for some people, sidesteps are all they need.

                2. TL*

                  My friend is Muslim and their family doesn’t believe in debt so they use a service that allows them to pay car bills without taking on debt? I’m not sure, but it is specific to the Muslim community. Sidestep indeed.

                3. Forrest*

                  Sidenote, it drives me crazy how they say they’re self sufficient and don’t need government aid when they get free healthcare for life due to Daddy Duggar serving in the state house of representatives or whatever.

                4. Natalie*

                  @TL, there are quite a few workarounds used by Muslims. In my area a popular one is basically a sale-lease back: the bank buys restaurant equipment, say, for a new restaurant and sells it to the restaurant owner at a markup and on an installment plan. The restaurant owner is aware of the markup.

                  (Wikipedia has a long article on Islamic banking if you want more in depth info.)

            3. some1*

              And many people with these beliefs put a huge emphasis on marrying younger than the rest of the population, and think it’s a good idea to go to a school where everyone will have your faith and values in order to choose a suitable spouse.

          2. A Teacher*

            Um, I had parents freak out last year, literally, because I made my juniors and seniors in dual credit classes apply for their FAFSA pins and then said you’ll need to figure out financial aid because due to,FERPA your college shouldn’t be speaking to your parents without your permission. Parents told me their child was “just a baby and didn’t need to underwent that stuff.” Sad. Hence this year we are doing a whole unit on financial aid and still applying for pin numbers, which in the end most parents were happy we did.

    2. pidgeonpenelope*

      I agree with you here on the Creationism bit. I attend a Christian college and even we are taught evolution and we’re taught that the Bible doesn’t conflict with the theory of evolution. I’ve also taken a course called “Creation and New Creation” which discusses how even the Creation story may have been originally misinterpreted. It’s a lot to discuss so I won’t go into it but lets just leave it at “the OT is crazy full of metaphors.” There are still students who get offended at being taught evolution saying it’s fake and that there’s no way the earth is that old. Ugh.

      I’m also a Comm major at this Christian liberal arts school and I don’t think there’s a chance in hell I would get a job at a museum. I am looking volunteering so that I can intern and interning so that I can get my foot in the door. I still wouldn’t think I could get into a science museum even though I’m a total nerd for geology (rocks are so cool!).

  19. Shannon!*

    OP 7- I’m a chronic hive sufferer, too! And the allergist’s response sounds similar to what my doctors have told me. Antihistamines dont prevent or treat the hives- i really so have to wait it out and its terrible. Almost 3 years later, I’ve been able to figure out a connection between my hornone levels and the flare ups, and stress at my job can often aggregate them. Hopefully this helps somewhat.

    1. Andrea*

      Another reader with chronic hives. There seem to be a lot of us. I’m lucky because they seem to stay under my arms and inside my knees and elbows and on my thighs…hey, at least they’re not on my face and neck and chest, which would drive me nuts, I think. Anyway, I use Allegra every day because it helps with my sneezing, and I feel like maybe it helps with the hives, too, or maybe I just get them a little less frequently than I used to. I use Benadryl with it when things get itchy. I also use a lot of cortisone creams (with aloe) and Aveeno lotion. Besides an air filter, another thing the OP might try is ibuprofen. An anti-inflammatory really seems to help me when I’ve got hives, as it reduces the swelling and puffiness and seems to help slow the spread. I usually take 4-5 of those 200 mg pills at a time; my doctor says it is safe to take up to 6 of those 200 mg pills every 4 hours for a day or so (of course, check with your own doctor).

      1. Jazzy Red*

        O Lord, I’ve had hives inside my eyelids, inside my nose, and most frightening, in my throat (I went to the walk in clinic for that one. Got it from Alka Seltzer, which contained aspirin).

        Then there’s the metal sensitivity, which resulted in me giving away just about all my jewelry (costume stuff). I can wear surgical stainless steel, but I pretty much keep it to earrings now.

        And second hand tobacco smoke. I know I don’t have asthma, but I sure do get a severe reaction from it (wheezing, headache, teary eyes, etc.).

        I should live in a bubble.

      2. Shannon!*

        I’m glad to hear yours are managed with Allegra. I’ve been lucky in the sense that I was able to link my own outbreaks to increased levels of estrogren. Birth control actually aggravates the symptoms and, instead of staying on my face and scalp, the hives will pop up all over my body. However, I have found a great couple of doctors and I think I’ll finally be able to make some progress in treating the hives instead of dealing with them.

        Yay hives!

  20. fposte*

    #7–Another possibility is eensy bugs. It’s a big bug year in my area of the country, and not all bites are noticeable and not all allergic responses are to bites.

    Not that that helps much in what you do about it. On general principles, though, I’d try swapping out your chair for a while and putting a blanket or something from home over the new one when you sit on it, given that that’s probably the surface your body comes into most contact with there.

  21. Chassity*

    #4. Just in case, sign up for a free Google Voice number. You get to select the area code that you want and it rings on your phone. You can even do different voicemails for different groups of people… I have one for my coworkers, one for my family and friends, and another for people who aren’t in my contact list. If you already use gmail, Google calendar, or any other Google service, you can use the same login to create your Voice account.

    1. Josh S*

      Well, you’ve beaten me to it. Google Voice is a great solution for this sort of situation. You don’t need to change your cell#, but you can still provide a ‘local’ number to potential employers. (Plus, if a call comes through from Google Voice, you can have it show differently in your phone, which would give you a clue that it was job-hunt-related!)

  22. JMegan*

    #7, there’s one thing that I don’t see mentioned here. Definitely your office cleaners, facilities staff, etc should be involved – but I don’t think it should be left up to you to contact them. I don’t know where you work, but in my Giant Office Building, I don’t have access to the cleaning staff at all – I would likely have to go to the EA in my area, who would go to building management, who would talk to the cleaners. I wouldn’t just grab the person who is emptying my wastepaper basket and ask for a copy of the MDS, you know?

    There are two reasons for going this route and making it official. One, your manager needs to know why you’re taking so much time off work, and if there are any reasonable accommodations that could help you (work at home days, etc.)

    And two, building management needs to know what’s going on with their air (or whatever) quality so they can fix it properly. Maybe there are ten other people in the building experiencing the same problem. Or maybe you’re the only one, but if it’s a recurring problem you still need to have it documented somewhere.

    So go up whatever chain of command you need to go up, but I wouldn’t try tackling this alone. Good luck, it must be awful for you!

  23. Darcy*

    #1: I learned that all PIPs should contain the language immediate and sustained improvement. That way you don’t start over, if the improvement isn’t sustained, they haven’t “satisfied” the PIP.

    1. AnonAdmin*

      Yes. I inherited a problem child when I moved into a management role. She became one of my indirect reports and had been shuffled around and allowed to perform poorly for some time, including having been placed on, and successfully completing, a PIP. I put her on another PIP with the words “immediate and sustained improvement”. And less than a month later she resigned.

  24. fposte*

    #7 again–has your doctor suggested a rheumatologist or endocrinologist at all, by the way? It might be worth asking about that, since chronic hives are so often not allergic but a result of auto-immune stuff.

    1. 22dncr*

      My mom suffered for 2 years with hives. Sent to an Allergist, ENT and even a Psychiatrist (he told her she was one of the saner people he’d ever met!). Her Liver enzymes were always elevated and they were always asking her how much she drank which drove her crazy with her 1 beer a year habit! Turned out be her gallbladder which she had removed. End of problem. And the way she found this out was from a friend of my cousin’s that was a Nurse. When she found out about my Mom’s problem/symptoms she told her to have her gallbladder checked – bingo!

  25. some1*

    #2: People will ask about your boyfriend when/if he puts in notice and after he leaves because it’s a natural curiosity, not because they are rude and nosy. I have been around people who are very intrusive so I personally try not be like that, but even I have asked co-workers casually about our mutual co-workers that I know they were friends with who resigned and went to other places. As long as people aren’t grilling you about his new salary I’d just answer their questions.

    1. LisaLyn*

      And enthusiastically, if you are worried that they are looking for some sort of indication that he made a mistake in leaving or whatever. I’d just say, “Oh, he is just so happy in his new position and things are just going great for him.”

  26. Chassity*

    #7. A few years ago, I developed excruciating digestive pain that made my whole body ache and my skin incredibly sensitive to touch. After seeing over a dozen doctors, getting an endoscopy, and a colonoscopy, and receiving numerous false diagnoses, and trying lots of medications, I realized (after doing a liquid diet for the colonoscopy) that it may be food-related, something no doctor had considered. Turns out, after getting a tick bite months before, I became allergic to beef, pork, and lamb (any mammalian meat), and it showed up on the food allergy skin test. Although I didn’t have any skin reaction, apparently that is the most common form of this allergy. It takes three to five hours to appear and/or cause pain. A University of Virginia doctor, Dr. Platts-Mills, discovered it after he came down with it. Even John Grisham has it! Some people only have digestive issues, some people only have skin reactions, and some people have a combination of it and can go into anaphylactic shock. I, too, was always worse at work and had my office checked for black mold, but it turns out it was because I ate a sandwich with bacon almost every day because I was always in too much pain to do anything more for myself. It’s worth a shot! UVA’s official website for the meat allergy is http://allergytomeat.wordpress.com/.

    1. LisaLyn*

      Wow! I am glad you figured that out! It does prove that sometimes we are the best advocates for our own health since we live with ourselves 24 hours a day! :)

      Again, I’m just glad you figured it out!

    2. Elizabeth West*

      Turns out, after getting a tick bite months before, I became allergic to beef, pork, and lamb (any mammalian meat), and it showed up on the food allergy skin test.

      Ooh, I just read about this not long ago. Two cases showed up in my state (Missouri). I know we have those ticks here, because I used to see them on my childhood dog. I’m glad you found out; it sucks to know there’s something wrong but not what it is.

  27. The IT Manager*

    All you commenters on #3 note: She doesn’t say that she wants to make a career in a science museum. She doesn’t say this is a dream job.

    …I’m applying for jobs all over the place. One of the more interesting openings…

    LW#3 follow Alison’s advice but be aware that you may not be very competitive for the job since you were not a science or education major. It sounds like your college’s unscientific stance is not even your biggest impediment.

    Frankly you’re probably also not competitive because there will probably applicants that want to work in a museum or science education with a driving passion whereas you’re just drawn to it because of the job opening. Be aware these people have the potential to write an awesome cover letter about why they want to do this.

    I’m not saying don’t apply, but be aware of your competition. Although you think you could do the job well, your competition could be filled with people with a science or science education background who are much more qualified than you. With a communications degree, you may not even be considered qualified.

    1. Gjest*

      “All you commenters on #3 note: She doesn’t say that she wants to make a career in a science museum. She doesn’t say this is a dream job.”

      Noted…and I agree with your next 3 paragraphs.

    2. LPBB*

      I was coming to this thread to post something very similar for LW #3. As we all know, this is a tight job market and it’s very tight for museums of all types. I think that even if you had gone to a secular school, without a background in science or education you would still be at a disadvantage.

      One other point that has been touched on in other comments. The language you used in your letter to Alison comes very close to using the phrase “teaching the controversy.” When you write your cover letter, please try to avoid any such language. For people involved in science education, “teach the controversy” is code for allowing creationism in through the back door. Combined with your educational background, such phrasing would make you very suspect and, if I were the hiring manager, I would be very inclined to put your application in the No pile.

      Lastly, because these topics can get a little heated. I recently finished a job that involved analyzing astrophysics/astronomy doctoral theses to find the sources of the data used. A lot of times these sources could be easily determined simply by reading the Preface/Dedications of the dissertations, so I read a lot of those. I was surprised by how many people were clearly coming from a religious and even evangelical background. These were people studying the Big Bang, interstellar chemistry, etc. All sorts of things that do not mesh with a literal interpretation of Genesis. Faith and science definitely aren’t incompatible and I don’t think that anyone is trying to tell you otherwise or denigrate your beliefs.

    3. Anon*

      As a department head at a nationally-recognized science museum who is in charge of hiring front-line staff, I can say that 99% of the time, “Museum Educator” positions require a bachelors degree in anything, several years of experience (paid, volunteer, or intern) interacting with the public, and possibly a Masters degree in Museum Studies or Museum Education. These positions don’t need to have a solid science background (although I suppose it could be a plus), as long as the people are willing to learn and teach the lessons being created by the museum’s Education Specialists, Curators, and Research Scientists.

      Each museum has its own “curriculum” based on their mission statement and collection and all of their programs should flow from that. The entry-level staff aren’t the ones creating the programs (except at very small institutions), but they are the ones in charge of interacting with the public — so hiring managers (including me) look for people that are friendly, energetic, and enthusiastic to learn everything being taught at the museum.

      In fact, I’ve tried not to hire people who are only passionate about scientific research because I fear that they’ll only be using my department to get their foot in the door to transfer to the Research division in 6 months. People that are genuinely passionate about teaching and customer service are the ones that are my rock stars.

      1. Gjest*

        I can see your point, but I still think it would be best if people teaching science had a good background in science. They don’t have to be PhDs, or researchers, but it would be helpful if they had a solid understanding of scientific principles. They might not be creating the curriculum, but it would be helpful if the people teaching the information are starting with a good understanding of scientific principles. And thinking that creationism should be taught along-side evolution is not demonstrating that they have a solid understanding of science.

        I agree that it helps if they are passionate about teaching and interacting with people, though. Scientists can be pretty boring to listen to (NB! I am a scientist…)

    4. Josh S*

      This is, by far, the most helpful comment in response to Question #3 that I’ve read on this thread. Thanks for actually hearing the OP’s question rather than beating her over the head for the academic position of her alma mater, which she actually disagrees with.

      1. Mike C.*

        The OP’s position of “wanting both sides to be heard” exposes a serious lack of understanding of how science works.

      2. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I don’t think people are beating her over the head, or at least not trying to — but the letter does read as if she might not fully understand the difficulties of her position and people are explaining those, as well as talking to each other about the issues raised. (In fact, many of the comments on this topic haven’t been directed at the OP at all, even though they’re about her situation; they’re discussing the issues raised with other commenters.)

  28. iseeshiny*

    I’m kind of shocked that a university which teaches only literal creationism could even receive accreditation.

    1. De Minimis*

      I think a lot of the religious schools have created [so to speak] their own accreditation. I know that is the case on the high school level. I went to a similar high school.

    2. Amy*

      Yeah, they usually are accredited by the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools (TRACS)

      1. Lily*

        I went to a Christian university that taught both with an emphasis on creationism. It was a fairly large school that is regionally accredited. They didn’t make up their own accreditation.

  29. Lily in NYC*

    What the heck, #2? You seem to have a chip on your shoulder about some pretty harmless stuff. It is completely normal to ask where a colleague is going when they quit – I bet it’s the first thing almost everyone asks when they find out someone is leaving. I’m just not seeing a problem. If it is really so upsetting to have someone ask where your boyfriend is during the day, then just say “I don’t have access to his work calendar” and that’s it. If you truly want to have good relationships with his colleagues, then you need an attitude adjustment because I bet your contempt comes through loud and clear even if you don’t voice it.

    1. Jamie*

      Yeah – I was thinking about this. People asking me where various co-workers are all the time, and I’m not dating any of them…nor am I their keepers. It’s just something you ask when looking for someone. And asking where he’s going next is totally normal also – if people just cut ties and vanished into the netherworld when leaving a job networking would be a lot harder.

      It seems like there is something a lot deeper going on given how angry you seem to be over some innocuous questions.

  30. CoffeeLover*

    How common are creationists in the US? I’m really curious. In Canada, genuine creationism is a pretty rare site to see (and I live in Canada’s version of the “bible belt”). I tried finding a school that solely teaches creationism in Canada with the power of Google and wasn’t able to find anything.

    1. Heather*

      Extremely, depressingly common. And I live in the Northeast -nowhere near the Bible Belt. :(

    2. Felicia*

      You probably wouldn’t be able to find a university in Canada that only teaches creationism (that isn’t a seminary), because we only have public universities (other than seminaries). And at least in Ontario, even private highschools and elementary schools have to follow the provincial curriculum to an extent, so they wouldn’t be allowed to only teach creationism, though they probably teach both creationism and evolution.

    3. the_scientist*

      I’m also in Canada, although not in the bible belt and the higher education system is really very different between here and the US. Like Felicia said, we basically only have public universities, so the accreditation standards are the same across the country, which in my opinion makes the education standards higher. There are a few religious universities- Redeemer and Trinity Western come to mind (Trinity Western was the source of quite a bit of controversy awhile ago- they wanted to open a law school but were shot down by the supreme court of Canada due to their homophobic code of student conduct). There’s also Tyndale, but that’s a seminary, and Booth University, which is the Salvation Army bible college.

    4. KarenT*

      I had the same thought about Canada. There are a lot of universities with religious ties, but I couldn’t find one that was teaching creationism as science. I found a lot of religious courses, but even they didn’t seem to be teaching creationism as fact so much as “this is what fundamentalism is.”

    5. Elizabeth West*

      I think it’s gotten pretty common. Plenty of politicians have jumped on the “take science/evolution/bc ed out of schools” bandwagon. So many, in fact, that I suspect it has very little to do with God and more with special interest campaign contributions. It’s really sad because we’re already behind other nations in terms of STEM education. Plenty of budding scientists who could absolutely discover amazing things are actively discouraged from learning.

      I hate subsidized ignorance. I really, really hate it.

      1. Amy*

        Especially sad that those who often make education policy decisions have no dealings with people who actually have Ed.D’s or Child Development degrees…

    6. LPBB*

      I think part of the issue is that the “teach the controversy” movement has been hugely successful in convincing non-scientists that there actually is a controversy among scientists about the validity of evolution (and other issues). So when people are asked about their acceptance of evolution, I have the feeling a certain percentage of them are being influenced by this idea that it is not generally considered by scientists to be established fact.

      I’m basing this theory solely on half-remembered articles about the disparity between what non-scientists think about the scientific consensus on climate change and the actual scientific consensus. It’s definitely also reflective of my own existence in a generally liberal secular bubble. I do know individuals who don’t accept evolution, but in my case they are definitely a tiny minority.

    7. CathVWXYNot?*

      Until last month, the Canadian science minister was a Creationist…

      (we got a new one, whose views on the matter have not been made public. The old one didn’t convert. At least, not as far as I know).

      1. CoffeeLover*

        Ya, there are definitely creationists in Canada, but at least in my personal life, it’s a rare sight (I can think of one person in my entire life). The other thing is that I find Canadians don’t broadcast their religious beliefs to the same extent as American’s do (politicians in particular, but with the average Joe as well). It’s quiet possible I have many creationists in my life, but I just don’t know they are creationists. I just wanted to see what it’s like in the US and it does sound like creationism is more common/socially acceptable than it is in Canada. I read a bit about it today and I can definitely see how different laws and educations systems in each country have impacted that.

  31. LCL*

    #7-two things.
    First, what kind of HVAC does your office have? Is it ducted? Can you see into the ducts? Can you find out if they have been cleaned lately? The heater/AC serviced? A minor dust allergy can become a big deal if air is circulating through filthy ducts, or if there is some other crud in the heating system.

    Second-what Chassity said about meat allergy. Google Alpha gal, it is a real thing, spooky to read about.

  32. Anonymous*

    #7, I had the same issue back in early 2000. Building was less than 3 years old, big open room with cubicles. After about 4 months I started having the hive issue like you describe. It was so bad that they would have to regularly send me home to remote in. They brought in people to test the air for mold but reported nothing. It eventually developed into hives that would appear away from the office from heat and stress. The Doctor’s never could figure it out and at some point I had to go on prescription antihistamines and carry an epipen. After a year of this they laid me off, I still had the hive issue for another two years. Later I learned that the company had to completely replace their heating/cooling system a few months after I left. While I never knew 100% what caused it, I highly suggest talking to your manager about the issue while it’s still only happening at work, see if they can bring someone in to check the ducts/filters for mold/standing water etc.

  33. Mena*

    #1: You don’t know if she is capable of being doing the job? As her manager, you should. You need to assess and determine this quickly. (and you hired her years ago?) To allow this to continue is not being fair to the other memebers of the team. Do you want any of them to leave because you won’t deal with the weak link?

    #7: I’m unsure if the office is purely to blame, even if your noticing lesser flare-ups on off days. I have a number of allergies and there isn’t such a clear on-off switch. I suggest going back to the Allergist and pressing a bit more for resolution. Trying to identify the issue within your office, if indeed it is there, is much too broad. And like the doctor said, you may not pinpoint it. The key (and task of the Allergist) is to find what can suppress the allergic reaction and this can be hit or miss for a while with medication changes. Good luck!

  34. Julie*

    I had several episodes of extremely bad hives. My doctor wanted to hospitalize me, but I resisted. Eventually, I ended up taking a prescription allergy medication for a year and then they went away. They would begin in the early afternoon and become worst toward evening. I eventually came to the conclusion that it was the Prevacid I was taking and that maybe the cyclical nature of the hives was due to the timed-release mechanism of the medication peaking as the day wore on. One of the side effects can be skin issues. I discontinued that and no more hives since. All this to say, check any medications or supplements you may be taking, prescription or otherwise.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      Oh, good point. If she’s taking more than one thing, even OTC, two of them could be interacting too.

  35. Elizabeth West*

    #2–working with boyfriend

    I second saying “I’m not sure; you can email him,” or something similar if they ask where he is. As for him finding another job, it’s none of their business where exactly he is or what he’s doing. You can say what kind of place it is without saying what or where; I did this when my boss left at Oldjob and everyone wanted to know where she had gone. She didn’t want them to know and asked me not to tell them.

    Etiquettehell.com suggests doing something called “bean-dipping” to change the subject, as in: “Oh, he’s fine; found a great job at a [bank or whatever]. So have you tried Mary’s bean dip? It’s terrific.”

  36. Denise*

    #7 is timely for me. I’m pretty sure this new round of allergic reactions I’m having is something office-related, since it happens every single day except for weekends, telecommuting days and other days I take off. I am beginning to think it’s the flowers a coworker has started bringing in to make her space pretty. Has anyone started bringing in new plants to your office?

  37. Nerdling*

    #3 – I think that your situation is one that illustrates a problem I wish it were easier to explain to someone in high school getting ready to make a decision about whether and where to go to college: That you have to balance where you can afford to go with how much a degree from that school is actually going to help you in the long run.

    Yes, you were able to afford to go to this school without accruing lots of debt because your parents agreed to pay; however, now it sounds like you’re starting to see that the education they paid for might not be worth all that much in terms of helping you find a job. That’s not much of a return on your parents’ investment.

    Sometimes it’s better in the long run to work through school and take on that debt if the degree you’re going to be getting will help you be competitive. Unfortunately, it’s very hard to explain that to someone who is 16 or 17 years old — I know I had a hard time seeing the long-term ramifications back then. Parents who push their kids into attending schools with poor reputations by dangling the tuition purse over their heads aren’t doing them any favors. :/

  38. Anonymous*

    #7 Allergies can change over time, you can go from not being allergic to something to being allergic to it and back to not allergic. Also you can have a reaction to something one day and not the next. It doesn’t even have be your workplace, you could have suddenly become allergic to a medication or a food too. A lot of people have mentioned cleaning products and mold, but it could be something like cockroaches or mice that have recently infested your building or a nearby one and are moving into yours. You can take daily medication for it, and if it’s something you might come into contact with on a frequent basis, it’s actually better take it daily rather than the delay in having an effective amount in your bloodstream when your start taking it again. There are now generic version of Benadryl, Claritin, Zyrtec and Allegra so it doesn’t have to be that expensive either (I get the gigantic size of generic Zyrtec at Sam’s Club for example.)

    1. Anonymous*

      And not to freak people out, but it could be an autoimmune response and not an allergy. If OP#7 has any family history of autoimmune disorders this should be considered.

  39. Editor*

    Having worked with an editor who graduated from Liberty University, I have to say that I didn’t encounter any difficulties with her communication and computer skills. She didn’t proselytize at work, and I don’t think creationism came up in general conversation. She didn’t have as extensive a working vocabulary as I did and didn’t always pick up on spelling errors I spotted, but I found that was true of many college graduates just starting out. Editors really benefit from reading a lot about many different topics.

    I think the OP should take Alison’s advice about the cover letter. Because of my experience, I wouldn’t rule out someone from Liberty automatically, but I wouldn’t give the person an interview if I had six applicants with bachelor’s degrees in science and master’s degrees in science education — and that might very well be the case. The OP should also take Alison’s repeatedly stated advice about applying and moving on — don’t agonize about the job.

  40. Anonymous*

    Regarding the out of state area code and move, make sure to make it clear that you actually live in Georgia. If all your recent work experience is out of state, you may want to say in your CL “I’m a Macon native and recently moved back” or something like that.

    You could also get a Google Voice number with the local area code and have it forward to your cell phone. That’s what I did when I moved cross-country. I just think it’s a nice touch.

  41. Rich*

    1) I had a subordinate like this once, though I did not have the authority to hire/terminate. It got bad, and nobody with the right authority did what they should have done. You need to have the conversation of consistently meeting standards or they will be terminated. I think one very last chance is more than generous, and sometimes people will improve when they’re on their last chance.

    2) You and your boyfriend are two separate individuals. Be polite, and just answer the questions. Nosy as people will get when he leaves, just be pleasant and diplomatic.

    4) People move, people use their mobile numbers as primary contact. If they’re that foolish to discriminate based on an area code, think of what that says about them.

    6) Tread carefully, but I wouldn’t see why a diplomatically worded suggestion in a one-to-one scenario would be completely disastrous… unless he asks you in front of a room of people.

  42. Vicki*

    I’m wondering where LW #1 works. If it’s in any of the 49 US States that have (ugh) “At-will employment” you don’t need a PIP. You just decide one day you don’t want someone coming to work anymore.

    1. AB*

      “At-will employment”: that’s not the only thing that matters, though. If it’s company policy to give employees an opportunity via PIP, you don’t want to fire someone someone without it (I’ve worked for a large company in which HR required managers to follow a strict process, just to avoid the risk of lawsuits from terminated employees).

      Obviously, in this case, since more than one opportunity has been given for the employee to shape up, just doing what AAM asks should easily solve the problem: “Make it clear — both in your meeting with her and in the written plan — that if her performance slips back once the PIP is over, you won’t be starting with a new one from square one, but rather will need to let her go at that point.”

      1. Jessa*

        Exactly. If the company has a policy and it’s a strong one (of the here’s our manual, sign that you got it, we do this to every single person in it and follow it strictly,) kind. You have a pretty good case for a labour cause if they DON’T follow it in your case. The law may LET them fire you for no reason, but the policy can become a kind of contract that they’re bound to. The stronger they enforce a policy across the board, the more they have to apply it to everyone, particularly if any lack of enforcement has the flavour of acting against a protected class.

        So if the company says warning, written warning, PIP, out. Then if you pass the PIP you’re still there. This is probably what’s happening here. The PIP is not broad enough to get rid of the rules lawyer that’s on it. She knows how to work the system to stay.

  43. Laura J*

    As far as dealing with a mysterious allergy at work – it sounds like you don’t want to be a pain by asking the company to make changes to cleaning products, etc., but it might not be that big of a deal. I lot of people have allergies or love someone with allergies (even if they aren’t work-related) and your boss might be sympathetic. I, for one, am allergic to all but one kid of air freshener and nearly every perfume. Now, I do have the advantage of being the boss, but it can still be awkward to let a staff member know that their relatively subtle hand lotion is causing me to have headaches all day. I would suggest being upfront with your boss about what is going on – but don’t ask them to take responsibility for solving the problem – acknowledge that you feel kind of annoying asking, and offer some possible solutions, and keep the frame on how it will help you contribute as much as possible at work. Offer to do the work yourself – for example, will they allow you to talk with the cleaning company about switching to natural (like vinegar-based) cleaners? Is there a maintenance person you could have a short meeting with who could give you a list of what is used so you can be tested for it? If you were my employee, and you were valuable, I would be concerned that your allergies might be distracting you enough to limit your performance, and I would be glad to invest a reasonable amount of time – mine or yours – in trying to find a solution. As long as your boss doesn’t feel that you are demanding that they drop everything to become the Sherlock Holmes of office allergens, and your request doesn’t come across as whiny or blame-y, I think this is totally reasonable.

  44. Amanda G*

    To the person with the hives – please * PLEASE * please see a dermatologist educated on ‘Dermatitis Herpetiformis’. This is a little known/little understood Autoimmune disorder. Your story matches mine, to a T. It took my going to John’s Hopkins in tears and wasting about 90% of my PTO to figure this out. Its a small skin test that will make a world of difference. A Contact Dermatitis Patch test couldn’t hurt either.

    Side note – I am not the typical age or allergic to gluten, but my Hopkins doc stated there is very little info on this disease, so I encourage you to test anyway. Don’t let Google convince you its not worth it.

  45. Penny*

    #OP7 please try one of those allergy control diets and see if it is something you eat. For years I had this same problem, I thought it was the latex on my bed, the paint on the walls at the office, chemical cleaners, even the pots I used. Only after 2 years of agony did I quite by accident learn that I had developed an allergy to citrus. As there is a two day delay between consuming it and the reaction it was nearly impossible to figure out. Those allergy controlled diets help to figure out what causes it because it allows for a long delay time. Good luck and I hope you find it.

  46. Steve G*

    AAM – you posted too much in one day for me to read!

    # 1 – such person needs to go

    # 4 – I don’t have a solution but can commiserate. I lived 50 miles from Manhattan when I was last job searching, near an express commuter rail. No call backs, nothing. I decided to go out on a limb, moved to NYC, suddenly got lots of interviews, then a good job within 3 weeks. I am upset that lots of other people don’t have the option to do so. Hell, I barely did. My mom cashed out bonds I got when I was born to pay for my security deposit (and I was 29 at the time!). And once I got my job, I realized it was totally not urgent that I start so soon. They totally could have waited for an out of town candidate to move.

  47. Sandrine*

    About #3 :

    I really, REALLY don’t get all the piling on on the OP.

    Sure, OP might not want to make a career out of this.
    Sure, OP might not have the education that would be “ideal” for this type of position.

    But seriously. SERIOUSLY. OP is not aiming to be a surgeon. Or a science teacher.

    Furthermore, it’s clear to me that the OP understands at least why her education is lacking, and who’s to say that she hasn’t already taken the steps to correct that ?

    That’s why I would emphasize that side of the application. What the OP went through, what she did to “correct” and how she likes the correction, things like that.

    That won’t guarantee her the job, obviously, since there are probably many others with more qualifications. But this shouldn’t disqualify her right off the bat.

    1. Gjest*

      As AAM said upthread, I don’t think we’re really jumping all over the OP. In general the comments sound to me more like a discussion of the issues involved with the OP’s letter. I didn’t see where anyone was really attacking the OP, and if the OP is reading this, my suggestion is take all of the comments as a bit of understanding of what you are up against. Sure, go ahead and apply, but do not be surprised at all if you apply for jobs such as this and do not get anywhere with them, because of the issues that many people commenting raised.

      Also, you said “OP is not aiming…to be…a science teacher.” The OP states that the position is a “science educator.” Same thing in my book.

      A last point (and then I should get back to actually doing science…): the OP did not state in their letter that they were even particularly interested in going into science education. If they were truly interested/passionate about science, there are things that they could do to overcome the challenges of 1) no science degree and 2) degree coming from literal creationist college. They could take classes, volunteer, etc. etc. But for a passing interest in a random job they saw posted? Nope, waste of time.

      1. Jamie*

        Also, you said “OP is not aiming…to be…a science teacher.” The OP states that the position is a “science educator.”

        My book too, that’s why this is important enough to spark these comments. Kids do take what educators and authority figures say at face value. If they are even positing creationism in the same sentence as evolution some kids will absolutely give them equal weight and then that’s a lot of work for a parent or teacher argue about later.

        I’m a parent and from time to time the kids would come home saying something to be true that I didn’t feel was the whole truth – not that the teachers were lying but oversimplifying to the point where I felt compelled to teach them the nuance. The kids would always believe the teacher over me – I was a mom what the heck do I know about the civil war or the first Thanksgiving for crying out loud.

        Ever try to teach kids there was more to the first Thanksgiving than drawing turkey hands and the Native Americans and pilgrims eating pie and watching football…or whatever they teach them in school? Until they are older school is the final authority on stuff like that and mom is just babbling about political tensions between the groups for fun.

  48. pidgeonpenelope*

    #7: I’m not a doctor and so there’s no way I can diagnose but it sounds to me like you might have chronic urticaria. I have chronic delayed pressure urticaria which means I have hives and pressure placed anywhere on my body causes welty itchy hives. It’s auto-immune and there’s no cure. If this is something you do have, you’ll go on a ton of anti-histamines but my allergist has me on modified Cyclosporine which, he believes, will put it into remission. I had to see three allergists before I found one who understood what I had and how to treat it. I think you’ll have to go doc hunting too. Good luck! I feel your pain!

  49. wanderer*

    It’s fairly rare, but I had a manager who would break out in hives in response to severe prolonged stress and personally witnessed her breakouts a couple times. Were you stressed out more than usual on the days you broke out? It’s more likely some allergen, but maybe it could be a combo of the two (stress messes with the immune system and allergies are basically the result of the immune system overreacting)?

  50. Kate*

    The Creationist applicant states that she believes that “both sides” of the question of evolution should be taught. There are not 2 sides, there is one. Any person who believes that there is a valid religious alternative to the scientific consensus is not fit to work in a science museum. I’m also afraid that her choice of a batshit crazy religious school is going to follow her for a long time, I would be unlikely to read beyond the name of her shool on her resume.

  51. jamie*

    I will be often to blogging i really thank you for your content. The article has really peaks my interest. I am going to take a note of your site and checking for fresh information.

    1. Heatherbrarian*

      Alison, I think this comment is a spammer? (Total lack of grammar/content plus the name links to a suspcious-looking website.)

  52. K*

    #7 I am allergic to my office as well. I had never knowingly suffered from allergies before and was at my office for several months before I started having any symptoms. Once they started though they kept increasing in severity until one day I had to go to the hospital.

    My work sent me to an allergy Dr. so we could find out what it was that was causing the problem. After doing two rounds of general tests they asked me to get about a quarter sized samples in ziplock bags and drop them off so they could do a multi-day test on my skin to see if I had a reaction. I would highly suggest you try this. Just ask the cleaning department to allow you to get small samples of the cleaning products. It isn’t a huge inconvenience and a very reasonable request. Take these samples to an allergy Dr and have them see if you have a reaction. I suggest going to an allergy specialist to test things you think you may be allergic to so they can test you in a safe, scientific and responsible manner and will be able to accurately read the results.

    The test I was put through required me to drop off the samples in advance so they could be prepared for the test. Then the chemicals that were on a cloth were placed on my back, taped on and labeled. I was not allowed to shower through this entire testing process which if I remember correctly lasted four days. I came back a couple days later and they checked my skin to see if I had any reactions and took off the samples from my back. Then they had me come back again a day or two later to see if my skin was doing better, if any new reactions manifested or if any had stayed the same or gotten worse. They do a muti-day test because it can take up to three days for your body to have a reaction to something you are allergic to. Also allergies are complicated. According to my allergy specialist, you can be predisposed to be allergic to something and be having no physical reactions because it takes just the right amount of exposure to trigger the actual allergic reaction. This means you can be around something 50 times and never have a reaction but the 51st time can trigger your physical response and you will then suddenly have reactions from then on. Our body goes in cycles as well. Apparently your allergies can change every 2-5 years.

    It turned out I was acutely allergic to the carpet cleaning solution that was used at my work. I let my boss know and they will be using a different cleaner from now on. It isn’t a huge deal for them to just find another cleaning solution if that is what you are allergic to. I also had to be moved to another office because the office I was in had already been cleaned with the carpet cleaner recently. Now that I am in a new location, no more allergy problem.

    You may also be allergic to numerous stuff. It is possible too that once you trigger one allergy it makes your body more sensitive and other allergies may start manifesting as well. All is quite annoying and can really compromise your quality of life. I wish you the best in finding some alleviation.

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