4 more reader updates: blue hair at a job interview, subversive wellness committee, and more

Here are four more updates from readers who had their questions answered here this year.

1. Should I become a subversive wellness committee member?

I wrote asking about being a “subversive” wellness committee member. I want to thank you and your commenters for being so helpful and supportive! I did end up joining the wellness committee, and we’ve had two meetings so far. There isn’t a lot to report–no new initiatives yet–but I played a roll in framing the conversation as not so much “what random programs can we start” but more “what programs would people like to have, and what hurdles to people face that prevent them from making healthy choices?” We put together a survey of employees, which got a pretty good response rate and found that the biggest hurdle people face is “time” and the programs they are most interested in are gym discounts and healthier food options at the office (instead of just snack machines). So I hope that helps the committee focus on doing things people actually want.

2. Can you have blue hair at a job interview?

I do have an update, but I’m afraid it’s not a very interesting one. I did go very, very blue for my wedding, and it was great. However, I didn’t end up applying for the big job, even though I’m still a huge fan of that company.

At the time, I was a couple of months in to what has turned out to be a full year of running on all cylinders. It was all good stuff, but it should have been spread over maybe 3-4 years. I have underlying anxiety issues which I exploited pretty badly to make it work. I’ve finally gotten myself on medication for it and am re-assessing my long term plans.

What you said about knowing my industry got me thinking. I’m a trainee accountant. My current workplace worships the ground I walk on despite the polychromatic hair. But long-term, it just isn’t going to fly if I go into a practice. I thought I wanted that kind of career anyway, but realistically, it wouldn’t work with my anxiety problems. I’m too prone to working myself to the point of breakdown.

Instead, the current plan is to stick here and keep getting experience and certifications until I’m comfortable setting up my own little shop. There’s a goth accountant I know in another city who makes a business of doing taxes for tattoo parlors, online businesses, etc.; people who don’t feel they get taken seriously when they go to a traditional practice. She hasn’t been open to new clients in years, too much demand! So I’m looking at doing the same thing for my city. I know a couple of professional authors and screenwriters who have expressed interest in that kind of service as well.

I’m on track to get my first major accounting certification at the end of next year and plan to celebrate with a shiny new scaffold piercing. :)

3. My coworker showed me the warning our boss sent him (#4 at the link)

I didn’t discuss the weirdness with our boss, and things continued moving on. The new guy did not improve – I think he was still taking away productivity, not adding it, due to training and correction requirements. In due course he was terminated. Co-workers who were in the office at the time report that he was “shocked” to be let go. You would think that being formally put on notice – and, from what I saw in the email before I stopped reading it, it was for things that he continued to do wrong throughout – would be a fairly large sign, wouldn’t you?

Anyway, no earthshaking updates or surprises there. I hope he’s able to find a position that’s better suited to him.

4. Can I invite my former coworkers to coffee after I was laid off? (#2 at the link)

I was the writer with the very unfortunate and uncomfortable layoff but who still wanted to keep in touch with her former coworkers! Here’s how things played out:

I got to see my former coworkers and keep in touch with one of them very frequently. I think my former manager still feels a bit awkward about it. Anyways, I interviewed with this large communications firm and immediately thought I blew it. A week later, I was called in for a second interview and skills assessment test. Thought I blew that one, too. Apparently, they called my former manager and he left a stellar reference for me and was offered the position the day before Thanksgiving!

So I’m moving now, and I’m super excited! Thanks so much for your help!

{ 25 comments… read them below }

  1. De Minimis*

    #2…I know of a guy who has started his own successful small business in a similar fashion, doing accounting work for small businesses that might not feel comfortable with a traditional accounting firm.

      1. AnonK*

        For sure. As someone who made the questionable decision of going bright pink at a conservative firm, I sort of want to hang out with #2.

        I’m now at a very laid back place and have gone boring with my hair. I felt the consequences (both good and bad) and decided it was for the best.

        I love the ingenuity of catering to people who would seek this out, however.

    1. Verde*

      Agreed! EVERYONE needs accountants, including all those tattoo shops, record stores, boutiques, etc. who might not feel comfortable working with a “suit”. I’ve had purple hair off and on over the years, and a nose ring that I never take out, and I’m the Financial and HR manager at a fairly large public radio station now. I get to be the linear thinker that I am, but in an environment that I am comfortable in and inspired by every day.

  2. Twentymilehike*

    Happy Xmas eve :)

    Hearing about number 1 makes me happy. It’s not always easy to follow your heart and it sounds like she is doing just that.

    And speaking as someone who conformed to a suit, I sometimes miss my days of rainbow colored hair!

  3. Ashley*

    #2: I LOVE this update! What an awesome way to make your chosen career (one that is traditionally somewhat stuffy) fit into your personality and style as an individual. This has really made me re-think my own career path (also traditionally stuffy) and how I can make this work for me. Love it!!

    1. GoofyPosture*

      I also love that you’re getting help for your anxiety! I found a therapist that’s really helped me face the stuff that used to freak me out plus some medicine that’s made a world of difference. There’s a lot of misconceptions about mental healthcare and it can be hard to seek it out – but you don’t need to let anxiety rule your life!

      1. Angst*

        Completely agreed. Fellow anxiety sufferer here and seeking help/medication for it does indeed make a world of difference!

        1. #2*

          It has been HUGE. Both the medication, and outside reassurance that no, it’s not actually normal, much less the productive tool I’d been using it as, and that I’m not a failure if I’m not working 24/7. I still have a long way to go but everything is so much better.

          The only thing is… I wish I could find a therapist with the same approach to their practice that I’m working on to mine! Someone who actually talks with me rather than just saying “and how are you feeling”, knows about LGBT issues and doesn’t think I’m still stuck in rebellion because I have blue hair.

          1. Saturn9*

            Oh yes, that trite explanation of an overlong teenage rebellion phase is what they always say when someone continues to collect tattoos and/or piercings and/or alternative hair colors past the teenage years. Couldn’t be anything so simple as different aesthetic preferences, that would just be normalizing it.

            Don’t settle for a shrink that doesn’t “get” you. Ever. Keep looking, ask around on forums, it’s important to do this right.

            And I’ll add my thanks to the growing list of thanks for opening my eyes to putting an alt twist on a traditional career—there’s hope for us all! :D

            1. Elizabeth West*

              Don’t settle for a shrink that doesn’t “get” you. Ever. Keep looking, ask around on forums, it’s important to do this right.

              Oh so true. My mother is a shrink and she is always having to deal with crap bad ones have left her patients with. Ugh!

  4. ChristineSW*

    I actually skimmed through the original thread for #2…oh how I wish I had more time to read it! For the record, I love Alison’s red hair!

    Anyway, glad it worked out for the OP :)

  5. Need some advice*

    I am interested in making a career change and get into accounting, I would appreciate any advice. I finished college in the late 80’s; my major was home economics/business option. So I have taken some business classes. One of my daily tasks for my last full time job (which ended in 2012 due to a relocation) was to take care of paying the bills (such as: power, gas, locksmith, plumber, etc.) for the office. I would like to take some accounting courses (maybe with certifications) to learn accounts payable and receivable. I am open to advice…as to type of accounting careers, classes, training, etc. Thank you :)

    1. De Minimis*

      Most schools have similar tracks for accounting, there’s usually a year of introductory classes and a year of intermediate, then a lot of courses that either expand on basic concepts or move into other areas [tax classes, for example–tax is kind of its own universe in accounting.]

      The introductory classes [usually called something like Principles of Accounting] will give you the building blocks of AP and AR and in theory you learn enough there to do basic accounting clerk work. Intermediate tends to be the “weeding out” course, but the thing about a lot of accounting is that you keep going back to a lot of the core concepts you learn in those first couple of classes, just with more variations and in greater detail.

      If you’re interested in doing small business type accounting learning QuickBooks and getting a certification would probably be a good move.

  6. Zelos*

    #2: congrats and go you! For the record, if I see my theoretical future accountant sporting blue hair, I would think he/she is extra awesome. :) Good luck!

  7. fposte*

    Awesome to #1 for turning what could have been a mix of vanity exercise and worker-blaming into something that people might actually find useful.

    1. Bea W*

      I remember this one and the discussion and cheered a little. That’s one less workplace subjected to another “biggest loser” contest.

  8. Not So NewReader*

    OP 2. Let me join the chorus of voices saying I think you are awesome.
    My tax prep (CPA) lady just retired. I was near tears for the reasons everyone is saying. This was like visiting a friend. With others it is like having a root canal. She would type things into the computer while we chatted about the previous year and our hopes for the up-coming year. As the years with her rolled by it became almost like a tradition- just something I looked forward to.
    After she left I went to this person that I don’t think has smiled since 1989. Oh my.

    Please, please listen to others here and have a plan that includes what you will do when you are wildly successful.

    1. #2*

      Well, if I’m wildly successful, I’d love to start a larger practice. We have a tech incubator nearby as well, it would be great to swap Firefly references and tax returns with the jeans and MacBook crowd. Maybe set up a partnership with Death & Taxes!

  9. Sarahnova*

    I love, love, love the idea of becoming an accountant who specialises in working with “alternative” businesses. What a fantastic way to rethink your career, play to your strengths and stay authentic. It’s inspired me quite a bit too!

  10. Fellow Blue Hair*

    #2 – I think it’s awesome that you’re looking to make your own way and keep your blue hair! All the luck to you!

  11. Hugo*

    #1, it’s good that you joined and are contributing ideas to the wellness committee that may be actually valuable.

    These “wellness committees” are nowadays just fluff that companies claim are “benefits” for employees – just another way to put up a smokescreen while they slash and burn actual useful benefits. Like you said, working reasonable hours so you don’t have to eat junk on the way home – that’s valuable. It’s also nice when you don’t have to pay $500 per month in health insurance, which leaves people money to buy decent food.

  12. #2*

    Aww, I feel all loved and stuff. Thanks folks.

    If anyone in Scotland needs an accountant, look for me under the name Black Ink Accounting in… Say 3-5 years. :)

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