open thread

IMG_1923It’s the weekly Friday open thread!

The comment section on this post is open for discussion with other readers on anything you want to talk about. If you want an answer from me, emailing me is still your best bet, but this is a chance to talk to other readers.

(And the attempt to see if we’d get a more manageable number of comments by doing these weekly has resulted in the exact opposite. But since there’s clearly demand and interest, they’ll stay weekly for now.)

{ 1,060 comments… read them below }

  1. Estranged*

    Has anyone here ever had a long-term estrangement from parent or other family member? Care to tell your story? I’m almost three months into an estrangement from my father and while he’s been supportive and loving in many ways, there are also huge things that are problematic in the relationship. He’s got a very forceful personality, he does not listen to me when I speak and he insists on treating me like I’m 8 years old (though I’m nearing 40). He can be critical and judgmental over things that he knows nothing about, particularly the profession I’ve chosen (talking out his ass is what I generally call this) and he is so incredibly negative, it’s just exhausting. Given all of this, the estrangement has actually been a relief to me. I would like to try and re-establish a relationship at some point with much stronger boundaries obviously, but for now the peace is taking precedence. So I’d just like to hear from others who maybe have similar stories or ideas for navigating this kind of thing.

    1. Barbara in Swampeast*

      The Etiquette Hell forum has lots of stories and advice about family members who don’t behave properly and giving the “cut direct.”

      1. Zebulon the Great, Teriyaki Style*

        In actuality, Etiquette Hell is filled with fractious people who stress over perceived and unrealistic concerns, and is actually a lovely place to learn about anti-etiquette.

        They don’t know very much about actual etiquette.

        1. Human Resources Recruiter*

          And the “cut direct” doesn’t actually mean what EH people seem to think that it does.

          1. Meganly*

            *Especially* about throwing your own birthday party, which is on par with cannibalism according to her :P (I will never forget that thread!)

          2. fposte*

            I knew her on Usenet ages ago, and would not, shall we say, have turned to her first for etiquette guidance.

            However, I’ll read a good wedding horror story wherever I can find it.

          3. Artemesia*

            LOL. Yes the owner of that site has very firm political beliefs and is happy to ban anyone who differs with her in any way. It is a truly loathsome spot on the internet.

              1. AdAgencyChick*

                Me too, though I don’t spend any more time there for similar reasons to those described above!

              2. Anonymous*

                Me too but the admin over there scare me. For an etiquette site the moderators seem to get a real kick out of treating posters like two year olds (having been the recipient of at least two dressing downs for having a darker sense of humor than the moderators).

            1. some1*

              I used to be a regular on that site as well, and her official stance was “no politics” but she had political pundits (from only one side) on her blog roll.

          4. No name for this post*

            If you do disagree with her, she will document everything you’ve ever said to her on an unindexed page on her website. And keep it there forever. I am just one of many subjects on a page-o-crazy she maintains, and our disagreement was nearly a decade ago.

        2. Barbara in Swampeast*

          We obviously have had different experiences there. I stop reading if the thread gets fractious and move on to the next thread.

            1. nyxalinth*

              Because even people who are into etiquette have strong opinions and sometimes go into He/She Who Must Be Heard and Obeyed and Is The Final Authority on All?

    2. ExceptionToTheRule*

      I went a very long number of years without speaking to or seeing my father. He had problems (undiagnosed mental health problems) and I reached a point in my life where I decided I wasn’t going to be the person he took them out on. Just because you’re related to people doesn’t give them the right to make YOUR life miserable.

      There came a point several years into the estrangement that I went through the stages of grief. That was very helpful when he died this spring and I knew there wasn’t anything I would have done different.

      Good luck. It’s a hard row to hoe.

      1. Mimi*

        I’ve gone through an estrangement as well, and yes – it very much is like a “death”…..a death of a relationship, but still.

    3. Anonymous*

      I have. My dad and I were estranged for 3.5 years. Very long story short, he had substance abuse problems and a crazy “new” wife who hated my guts. He allowed her to say some extremely disrespectful things to me, and he did as well (on my birthday, no less). The next day, he called and said he didn’t understand why I got so upset and felt like no apologies were in order. (FWIW, I was in my early 20s at the time).

      Fast forward three and a half years later, I decided that I wanted to reach out and repair the relationship with him. I made the first move and it was well-received. He ended up passing away unexpectedly a few years later. The bottom line is that I’m glad we made amends before that happened. My younger sibling was not on good terms with him when he passed away and it haunts him.

      If and when you want to make the first move, do it. Do it in a way that feels comfortable you. And just remember that you only have control over yourself and no one else.

    4. Poe*

      I do not have personal experience with this, but I have a close friend who has been estranged from their mother for nearly 8 years now. The biggest thing she did to make peace with it was to see a counsellor – check if your work has benefits like an EAP, or call a local university that offers a program in counselling to find out if they have a training clinic if you need a low-cost alternative. My friend went 2 years ago and said she could finally feel okay about her choice. I wish you the best of luck. Please look out for yourself and take care of you. *awkward, unasked for internet hugs*

    5. German Chick*

      I believe many people can relate to your situation, because even if they are not affected themselves, they know someone who is. Strangely enough, it is not a subject often talked about, probably because it hurts and and is scary. It helped me to read and hear people talk about it. Unfortunately, the only book and documentary I can recommend are from a German journalist. So I would be interested to hear other readers’ recommendations. My good thoughts go out to you.

      1. Worker Bee*

        Hi German Chick what german book/documentary can you recommend. Greetings from another german reader

    6. Jean*

      This subject has also come up in the comments section of the Corporette web site, along with suggestions of other sites and resources. You might check over there. Sorry you’re going through this.

    7. AnonHR*

      I have- and it did in completely change our relationship.

      Our estrangement was a result of a series of events/actions that aren’t generally reflective of my father’s personality, so you may not relate as much to my experience, but I wanted to share in case any of it helps.

      I grew up in a close knit family and had a huge falling out with my father after my mother died. We both just needed more than we could give as far as emotional support and couldn’t understand how the other person was coping. That happened just as I moved away to college, and I didn’t speak to him for months, didn’t come home for holidays, etc. As we both drifted, slowly, back toward a new normal after her death, we didn’t know each other any more. Since my family is close knit, after some apologies and continued healing (a lot of those wounds are still not healed after 8 years), we now do our best to make life seem like it’s normal because we both think that family is important. But, I will never have my dad back the way I would like, and that’s something that I’ve come to accept. By that, I just mean that we severed that comfortable parent-child relationship in a big way, and there are questions about expectations (everything just feels more formal/thought out than things should be with family) . We’re afraid of losing our relationship again, so we’re more careful, and that means there isn’t the familial honesty that a lot of people in enjoy (and hate :)). It’s not that we’re not truthful with each other, but we’re missing an easiness we used to have and I don’t expect that to come back any time soon.

      All that said, I am glad we’ve been able to get back to having a relationship and I don’t regret the estrangement, it was kind of necessary at the time. I would give it some time and not try to plan out a re-connection. Let yourself heal and make sure you are in a place where you are capable of establishing those boundaries out a desire to have a relationship with him because you love him, not because you feel like you need him but can’t have him too close (I hope that distinction makes sense)

      Anyway, that’s my dissertation on estranged fathers :)

      1. Estranged*

        Let yourself heal and make sure you are in a place where you are capable of establishing those boundaries out a desire to have a relationship with him because you love him, not because you feel like you need him but can’t have him too close (I hope that distinction makes sense)

        That distinction makes a lot of sense and I really appreciate you saying “let yourself heal.” That helps too because at the moment, I’m kind of caught in a place of thinking I should do something to repair this (given my father’s personality, I know that it will be on me to make the first move, which is fine it is what it is), and wanting to enjoy this peace I have, away from his negativity and infantile treatment of me. I’m fine with taking this time and I know it’s healthy for me, but it helps to have the affirmation that letting time do it’s thing is OK.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          It is very hard to wrap my mind around this one BUT here goes: We cannot interfere with other people’s learning experiences. Just as the adult child needs the time out SO does the parent.
          The parent has to rethink/regroup and face their own learning experiences.

          Try not to think of this as one-sided. It is actually multi-sided.

          I believe that there are situations in life where we have to let a loved one “go it alone” for a while. It’s not ours to remedy. Other things need to happen. And those things are nothing we can provide.

          1. Estranged*

            Thank you so much. This helps me a lot, to reframe it as my dad needing to go it alone for awhile. You are right that I can’t provide what my father needs on his journey right now and it’s important for me to remember that. Thank you again!

    8. Calla*

      I haven’t spoken to my mother since… early September of last year probably? Without getting into oversharing, she was very emotionally manipulative among some other things. I have zero plans to re-establish a connection (unless there’s a MAJOR change, MAYBE, which I don’t foresee because I have told her why I not speaking to her and she still pretends like she has no clue).

      The biggest relief to me (since she is very manipulative & good at playing martyr) was that my family members may not have agreed, but understood. However, I’d say, if your father is the type to try it, be prepared for him to get other family members to say you should talk to him. My mom definitely did that.

      Agree with Poe re: counselling, though it sounds like you’re handling it pretty well. Still, I found it very helpful when I was feeling guilty and doubting whether I had any right to cut off ties.

      If there are any specific questions I’m happy to answer if I can.

    9. Sophia*

      I’m estranged from my mother and when we are both at family functions, we say little more than ‘hello.’ We had an extremely unhealthy relationship and she is toxic. Drawing boundaries has been the best thing for my own health and sanity. If you want to commiserate, letme know and I can share in more depth via email

    10. Mena*

      I sympathize with your situation and have been in a similar one. Setting boundaries and sticking to them is key. There may be topics that you just cannot talk about and you need to end or leave the discussion (and this may mean physically leave the discussion). I think it is important to maintain the boundaries and not get drawn into the chaos he is creating. You cannot control him; you can only control yourself and how you react. Try to be firm and consistent. Some people will amend their behavior when not receiving the desired response in return – I’m wondering if he, on some level, enjoys putting you on the defensive.

      And the peace of the break will become comfortable. Try to think about those boundaries and not let too much time go by before trying to re-connect.

      Good luck.

    11. Ann O'Nemity*

      My mother is an abusive drunk, and the strategy of detachment helps me to have a (limited) relationship with her that isn’t harmful to me. The support group Al Anon taught me about “detachment with love.” Detachment is a tool you can use to stop yourself from enabling, but it can also be used to protect yourself from the toxic person in your life. It’s all about setting limits that work for *you.* It’s about putting your own well-being first, and not feeling guilt or responsibility to the toxic person.

      In my case, detachment is never talking to or seeing my mother when she’s drinking. It means blocking her number so she can’t call be when she’s drunk, ever. It means cutting any visits short the moment she starts drinking. I still love and care for her, but protecting myself and my family comes first.

    12. Nodumbunny*

      Only thing I wanted to add is that I think they’ve dealt with this topic over at Captain Awkward (which someone here recommended one time – thank you), so you might want to check that out. Best of luck to you.

      1. monologue*

        Seconding this. There is a lot of stuff at CA about setting boundaries and how you don’t have to maintain relationships with family members if you don’t want to. There is also a CA forum now where you could go post about this and get more replies if that’s something you’d be interested in doing.

        1. Estranged*

          Already a big fan of CA! Seems many of us are similar in the sites we visit. I have read much of CA’s postings on family relationships. I will go search for ones specifically on estrangement. I love her kind, yet tell it like it is tone.

    13. Jubilance*

      I was estranged from my father for a few years. Our main issue was his desire to run my life from 1000 miles away and treat me like a 2year old, even though I had 2 degrees, a great job & was doing very well for myself. Overall he felt I wasn’t right solely because I wasn’t doing what he wanted me to do, and it was very stressful for me. I finally told him that if he couldn’t love me, support me and respect me the way I was now, we had nothing to discuss until he could. After a few years he finally made his way back around and we were able to have a cease fire…until he dropped out of my life again. I figure it’s his loss and it’s been much better for my mental health to not have him and his negativity around.

      Best of luck in your situation, whatever you decide to do.

    14. Same Boat*

      I am estranged from my mother. We will never be close, but our relationship is at least cordial now, which it was not for decades. What I had to work on was learning to accept my mother for who she is, not what I wanted her to be. I also had to let go of my anger toward her. This was so hard (my childhood was pretty nuts), but carrying around all that baggage was not doing me any favors. Not only was it keeping me from being able to have a civil chat with my mom, but it was keeping me from living a positive and fulfilling! Once I could do that, things became more manageable. Now I can speak with her on the phone without flying into a rage. She has not changed at all, but how I relate to her has changed completely.

      So, all I can suggest is that you work on accepting your dad and all of his faults. He’s probably not going to change. Also accept the fact that while you may love him, you may not like him. It’s okay! Who you’re related to is a total crap shoot. Give some thought to what you want from your relationship with him, what you can realistically expect and what boundaries would make you feel comfortable. If seeing him for a few hours once a year is all you can take, then that is all you can take. Don’t push it if you KNOW you do not want to go there. Finally, take your time with this. It might take a few months or a couple of years. Either is totally fine! Talking things out with a good therapist can be helpful, as can yoga, meditation, journaling, etc. Do things that make you feel centered and calm. When you’re in that place, sorting out the other stuff becomes easier. Good luck!

      1. Estranged*

        Don’t push it if you KNOW you do not want to go there. Finally, take your time with this. It might take a few months or a couple of years. Either is totally fine!

        Thank you, it’s so helpful to hear this because I’ve recently been feeling like I shouldn’t take a lot of time with this, but I’ve come to realize that I need this time. It’s important for me, so it helps a lot for someone else to affirm that it’s OK if it’s a few months or a few years.

    15. annnnnon*

      you might want to read the book “Codependent No More” by Melody Beattie. It was extremely helpful to me. You may think it has nothing to do with you, but trust me…you will be shocked at the revelations you will have from reading it. Good luck.

      1. BJ McKay*

        I am very well-known for shouting “Codependent no more!” while raising my fist in the air as a conclusion for all relationship advice I dispense. It’s a great book!

      2. Estranged*

        I’ve read that book. I’m a big fan of breaking co-dependent patterns, which is another reason I recognize that the relationship with my father needs to change drastically in order for it to be at all workable for me. It’s good to see another person recommending that book because I do it all the time. It’s my Bible on jettisoning the crazy and regaining peace.

    16. Kristina*

      I have a cousin who basically ‘disowned’ her mom (my aunt) after various issues including her mom needing to take care of my other cousin who has mental issues and being made to choose between the two. She chose the one who has actually came close to suicide because she doesn’t want to lose yet another child (she had three now two). Basically its some serious sibling rivalry that got out of hand and left my aunt (who should be a candidate for sainthood with what she had to put up with in regards to her kids and her ex-husband) with one kid and not being able to see her grandchildren for ‘reasons’. My cousin has also ceased communication with our whole family. I believe it been three years and our holidays are much calmer without my cousin screaming at people and being a general mean person.

    17. the gold digger*

      I have cut myself off my from husband’s parents because they are so toxic, as in, I have not been with my husband to visit them for over three years. (That is usually my husband’s Christmas present to me – he visits them by himself.)

      When they threatened to disinherit him if he did not “repair” the relationship between them and me, I started writing letters to his mom. Actual letters not emails, as I can control the timing better and it’s less likely that I will get a response composed when my MIL is drunk and angry. I stick to subjects like books and gardening and she writes about how the world is going to hell and it’s all the fault of Old White Men.

      I would like my husband to break off with them, but that’s his decision. My life is a lot better since I stopped trying to make them happy. The only good thing is I get a lot of blog material out of them and their drunken ravings.

    18. Julie*

      I was estranged from my younger sister for 8 years after our mother died. She made multiple accusations about the way I cared for my mom and that I was purposely keeping her away from my sister. Needless to say, I followed my mother’s wishes to the T and my sister didn’t like my mother’s choices, So, she put that off onto me. I didn’t really speak to my sister during those years. My grown children continued to associate with her and her family. I didn’t want to insert my issues into their relationships. Any time I had any conversations with my sister, I was not nasty or accusatory. She eventually started talking to me and inviting me to her family’s events last year. I learned that she had gone on medication and she is now quite pleasant and conversant with me. We also happen to live across the street from each other. Awk-ward…

    19. Mints*

      Ughh I wrote a long post that disappeared when I hit submit. Okay, I’ll rewrite the advice/support bit I had at the end, without my novel length autobiography:

      You’re an adult who chooses who to have in your life. If interacting with people is painful, don’t do it. You can have fond memories, and that’s okay and doesn’t negate the abuse/negative times. If (big IF) you decide to open the door again, you can limit it to only the interactions you find beneficial. Blood ties and history don’t need to mean current relationships. Breakups (including familial breakups) get easier with time

    20. Aisling*

      I’m about a year and a half into an estrangement with one of my sisters. I’d finally had enough of her toxic judgments on my life, and when she escalated even further to the point of trying to force me to choose the decisions she wanted me to make, I told her I was done. I did grieve – more so for the sister I wanted her to be, rather than the sister she actually is. It was a tough three months or so at first, but I’m now at a point that I can see her at family gatherings and be civil. And when she tries to do some of the same crap that used to get a rise out of me, it just doesn’t work anymore. I feel more amused than anything else.

      The hard part is the rest of the family thinks I’m being ridiculous, because that’s just how she is. But I had to make the choice for my own sanity. I hope at some point we might reconcile, but if it never happens, I’m okay with that too.

      1. Artemesia*

        One of my hot buttons ‘that’s just how she is.’ Well I don’t put up with abusive crap ‘That’s just how I am.’

        Feel free to use the line with your insensitive relatives.

        1. Aisling*

          Ack, stupid phone! I have, and then I’m labelled as being difficult. Family can be quite interesting.

    21. Anon for this one*

      I’m a semi-regular commenter on here but will go private for this one. My mom’s family is crazy, literally. We finally severed ties about 7 years ago for the most part. Between having lies and rumors that were false spread about us in our hometown, to an uncle pulling a knife on my sister, to another uncle throwing beer bottles at my parents’ home we had enough.

      Some of the family has mental illness, which as someone that suffers from and has been treated for depression, I get but they don’t treat the illness they choose to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol. There is enough petty vindictiveness there to make at least 2 made for TV movies so we have pulled ourselves away. It isn’t easy and it changes our perceptions of what was a “good” family. It is hard to talk about because we’ve had friendships destroyed and reputations put into tatters because of others’ lies. My mom still deals with a lot of anger and my sister and I can’t do much to help. In the end its been healthier to remove ourselves but for the bare minimum when it comes to contact. It sucks and I’m sorry that you have to deal with it.

    22. BettyD*

      Captain Awkward ( gets a lot of questions about estrangement and how to handle with it, and she herself has dealt with estrangement by degrees with her parents.

    23. anon for this*

      I’ve been estranged from my father for 7 years. Our relationship has been difficult since I became an adult and we had to schedule our own time together outside of custody agreements. The break came after an argument he had with my husband shortly after we were married. Until then they’d gotten along famously; better than my father and I ever had. But they argued about some dumb thing. My husband tried many, many times to apologize, even though they were at least equally at fault, but my father wouldn’t accept his apology and stopped contacting me for a while too.

      I was sad at first, then angry. I can be very stubborn (like him). I decided having him out of my life is easier than dealing with the constant disappointment of having him in it. My brother has young kids and is constantly let down by how little my father seems to care about them. The other complication is my grandmother who is in failing health but I haven’t been to see her because I don’t want to see my father. I really regret and feel bad about that. But I think the estrangement is the best choice for me.

    24. TL*

      I’ve done short-term estrangements – my mom goes off the deep end and I turn my phone off, delete emails and wait for her to, er, reequilibrilate.

      My dad was estranged from many members of his family for over ten years – the only reason they got back in touch was because my mom knew his family growing up and wanted us kids to know our grandparents. She called her FIL when she found out she was pregnant and listed out very specific rules; i.e., you don’t punish my kids for any reason ever; my kids are not ever to be left alone with your wife (this actually applied across the board with all the grandchildren); if you are get angry, leave the room; talk only to the adults about problems you have; and do not bring up any family history. She didn’t negotiate or try to explain why the rules were there, she just laid them down and said “yes or no?” and they agreed.

      No second chances if they broke the rules. It worked out really well – I had a great grandfather and my dad actually enjoyed rekindling his relationship to a certain extent with his father.

    25. monologue*

      My father stopped talking to his mother after the last straw in that relationship happened in 2003. My Dad and I chose to attend her 90th birthday with many extended family members present in 2012 and I believe since then he does the odd phone call with her but he keeps it very short and doesn’t go see her in person even since the new 2012 contact. The relationship was very difficult for him for a long time, and he does better without the constant stress. He still supports her financially now though, as she is in assisted living, and gets some updates through his brother who still maintains regular contact.

    26. Not So NewReader*

      My mother died after years of me not speaking to her.

      She has been gone a couple decades, now.

      Where did all that land for me?

      I found that I missed not having a mother but I did not miss HER. I decided that she wasn’t suffering anymore- that was probably the biggest problem we faced was her pain. I grieved not learning things that normal mothers teach daughters. (That will probably be life long grief in some form.)

      I learned that nature actually does abhor a vacuum. As I moved through life I met older women that took an interest in me and pointed out little helpful things. I had to learn that life has an ebb and a flow – a give and a take. Sometimes our missing gaps get filled in later on but we MUST allow people to do that for us.

      Some folks feel very strongly that you must repair the relationship. Some folks feel that you must forgive. The truth is that only YOU know what is best for you. And only you know how you usually reflect on situations later on- what types of decisions you regret later and what types of decisions make you feel you did your best. I felt that I put in 2000%. (Whether I did or not is debatable, but at the time I gave everything I knew how to give.) I put my all into salvaging the situation because I knew once I walked away I probably would not go back.

      I didn’t go back. Some situations are too large for one person to handle. Also, I realized that I was blocking others from seeing the situation as it really was. (LOTS of shock for other people later on. People would tell me stories as if I had no clue these things were happening.) I also learned that because of my status as the daughter that made me ineffective more often than not. It took outsiders to have effect on the situation.

      I read a lot. That has helped. The statistics showing how many people feel they were abused as children is staggeringly high. Reading about parent/child relationships helps. And trying to understand the era that my mother grew up in also helps. No single magic bullet, but numerous small helps.

      Making a break from a parent or both parents involves making a new and stronger commitment to yourself. It’s not our fault if our parents let us down. But it is our fault if we let ourselves down. Be good and kind and fair to yourself, always. If you want help with something (a broken faucet/a broken heart/house-breaking a puppy/whatever) go get it. Don’t perpetuate the deprivation you had.

    27. Anonymous*

      Both I and my fiance have been in this boat and have handled it differently. He’s been estranged from his father on and off over the past 10 years or so, mainly stemming from issues from when he was growing up and the completely toxic family dynamics that exist now. I think he wants to maintain a relationship with his father, but it’s trying (hence the “on and off” nature of having no contact with him). Whenever they’re in one of their no contact phases, at some point he’ll usually decide that he values having a relationship more than he values not having the stress and aggravation that speaking with him can bring.

      I, on the other hand, have had no contact with my father’s family (grandparents and aunt) for 11 years, and my dad hasn’t been in contact with them for almost as long. His parents are narcissists and his relationship with them was extremely toxic, and unfortunately, their practices have totally worked on his sister and ruined the relationship he used to have with her. I cut ties with all of them because I got tired of the constant attempts to manipulate and control what everyone in the family was doing so that we were all doing the “right” thing – AKA whatever the parents wanted us to be doing. My relationship with them came to a close when they started actually spreading lies about me to other family members and family friends (I hadn’t been able to go to a casual weekend gathering and they spent the whole day telling people I had done things I hadn’t – basically trying to make me look as bad as possible since I wasn’t there to defend myself….Yes, adults actually did this). I had one brief follow-up communication with them after the event explaining that the way they were treating me was not okay and cut ties. To this day, they still do weird manipulative things to try to reel us all back in. I am 100% okay with not having a relationship with them or even speaking with them ever again, but it took me time to get to that conclusion. I totally agree with Not So New Reader’s statement about missing the relationship but not THEM. I miss the relationship I had with them when I was growing up, but I totally do not miss the people I discovered them to be when I got older. The level of aggravation and emotional stress involved with maintaining that relationship was unhealthy for me and I ultimately came to the conclusion that I would be better off not having them in my life.

    28. Anon*

      I’m working on estranging myself from my grandmother, but I’m doing it badly. I have a difficult time doing things that I know will hurt people. This is made even harder because I can’t stand to be around her for a reason that she’s unaware of (she didn’t do anything about my uncle molesting my aunt throughout her childhood. He passed that behavior to his son, who unfortunately thought it would be a great idea to molest tiny child me). My immediate family knows, but I feel certain that she would either disbelieve me, consider it it not a big deal or decide that it’s my fault if I told her about it. I’m currently just finding myself incredibly ‘busy’ every time she wants me to visit. Not healthy, but I don’t know what else to do.

      Sometimes it’s better to keep relatives far away, even if it’s hard and even if you feel like a bad person for doing it.

      1. Simonthegrey*

        I was mostly estranged from my grandmother for my adult life. She has since passed away. I did see her one more time before she passed, and by limiting the time spent, I was able to feel that we had parted on good terms. It was strange, though; after she died, I had many people coming up to tell me how sorry they were for my loss, and many of them discussed how they missed their own grandmothers so much and that I must be devastated. I didn’t want to seem ungrateful for the connection they were trying to make; I generally resorted to the trite “she’s in a better place now” and “she’s no longer in pain” to try to deal with that.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        I could build a good argument for why your estrangement IS indeed healthy. Consider this: If you met someone who was living in an outhouse what would you tell them? You’d say something about they needed to get themselves to a safe place, right?

        It’s healthy to move away from unhealthy situations.

    29. Jill of All Trades*

      I haven’t spoken to my mom in 6 years. I used to get a lot of people who thought I should have her in my life no matter what because she’s the only mother I’ll ever have (this was usually from people who’d had a wonderful relationship with their mom who’d passed away and they’d give anything to have her back). Just because she’s my mother does not require me to have a toxic, selfish, angry, sabotaging person in my life.

      It’s also not about forgiving them to fix the relationship. Forgiving someone is something you do for yourself so that you are not letting it fester within yourself or letting that person live rent-free in your head.

      It’s so refreshing to me how all of the commenters have been supportive of your choice (not unusual on this blog at all but unusual IME for this topic). It’s definitely a difficult choice to make and sometimes difficult to maintain that distance. You need to do what is right for you.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Bingo. We end up walking the last mile alone- because not everyone agrees with our choices. Part of the decision to walk away from a family member (members) involves figuring out if you have exhausted all other options. Once a person feels that they have tried everything there really is no other recourse but to walk away.

        I get concerned when people say “oh you should do x or y”. We do not know what goes on behind closed doors. We just don’t know.

    30. Prickly Pear*

      My parents are little pockets of sanity in their respective families. The older I’ve gotten, the less time I spend with my extended family, with a few notable exceptions. The way I see it, if you can’t choose your family, then at the very least you can limit the time you allot to them- and some cases, zero sounds just about right.

      1. Estranged*

        Thank you to everyone who commented. I read all the comments and I am grateful for the help you all provided to me. It’s not an easy thing to handle, but it is necessary.

        My father can be very loving, but also very forceful. I know that he loves me, I have not ever questioned that. It’s his method of relating to me that is a problem. I simply cannot handle his not listening to me and his treating me like I’m a child.

        Some additional information – this estrangement happened because my father promised to do something for me that he then backed out on and his backing out had major consequences that I’m still trying to sort out. He sent me an email to let me know he was backing out, he was apologetic, but he didn’t seem to get the full scope of the consequences. I just told him it was fine he backed out because I am the type not to freak out, I just handle things because it is what it is. He was supposed to come for a holiday visit, but then decided not to do so because he thought it would be awkward. I told him it was best if he didn’t come and that was that. Haven’t heard from him since and it’s been so peaceful. I feel like I’m getting on solid ground again emotionally. At the same time, I’d like to have a relationship with him, but it cannot be the way it was before. I simply cannot tolerate being treated like a child. So, we’ll see how it shakes out. For now, I will let time do its thing and enjoy the peace until I’m ready to deal with this with him.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          hmm. Sounds so familiar. Yes, build your own resource pool and do not depend on people who are not dependable. (It’s a good rule to apply to all, not just your dad.)
          In the end, my mellowed out dad needed me more than I needed him. But I did what I could for him and I enjoyed the mellow years very much. Like I sense in you, I never stopped loving my dad. That made it tough- I felt conflicted more often than not.
          I guess I don’t per se have regrets but I have a thousand learning experiences. I frame them as “going forward, I will chose x not y and I will do A not B.” I think that is because I eventually learned that I cannot unring a bell. (That was hard to do- I kept looking for a time machine.) I can only change what I do in the future.

          So my first step was I decided to expect NOTHING from my father. And I do mean nothing. At first that was lonely. Then after a bit it was “not awful”. Yet later it became “okay”. I also looked at his parents. He had a terrible relationship with them and they basically cut him loose as soon as they could. There was very little respect/love either way in that story. And a key point for me was that he never learned/saw how a parent conducts a relationship with an adult offspring. He never had that-I was uncharted territory for him.
          All these things were little helps for me. But it took quite a few to start to make a change in things. And just like you are saying. It took bunches of time, lots and lots of time.

          Just my opinion- I think you are doing okay with it all.

          1. Estranged*

            I think we might be related Not So New Reader. My father had the exact same thing going on with his parents – not a lot of love on either side and they cut him loose ASAP as well. My father actually tried to forge a relationship with his mother toward the end of her life, but it was tenuous and he actually ended up cutting her off about two years before her death because, get his, he could no longer tolerate the way she spoke to him (bad tone of voice, as though he was stupid, etc.). Amazing that he doesn’t see he’s repeating the same patterns with me.

            But anyway, thank you again for the kind words, I am doing OK with this, taking it one day at a time. Due to his backing out of the promise he made, I have a lot on my plate to deal with the consequences of that. Prior to that, he’d been very reliable so it was sort of a shock that he backed out, but not really. I could see it coming in his behavior/talks prior to it, so yeah. Thing is, I’m not even all that angry that he backed out, that isn’t even the real issue here. The issue is the way he relates to me is totally unacceptable. I’ve let go of being upset that he backed out.

            I truly believe everything happens for a reason and this has given me the chance to breathe and to think about what I need going forward. Though it is painful, it’s a huge silver lining to have this peace and I’m not taking that for granted.

    31. Ann Furthermore*

      I’m late to the party here, but I do have a relevant story to share. My brother died suddenly last week. I was not exactly estranged from him, but I had gotten to the point where I was civil to him and tried to include him in things for my mother’s sake.

      He battled addiction issues all his life, and in the end, they finally caught up with him. His struggles were a source of great sorrow and turmoil for my family, and countless hours, days, weeks, and months were spent trying to figure out what to do about him, how to get him into treatment, how to protect my parents, and so on. About 10 years ago he did something that gave me no choice but to provide my parents with proof that he’d been deceiving and manipulating them. They were both just crushed. It was, by far, the worst thing I’ve ever had to do. I was so furious with him for putting me into that position that I never was able to completely forgive him for that.

      I tried to get past it. I tried really, really hard to get past it. And I never could, not totally. I know that addiction is a powerful thing, and in his case it was triggered (at least in part) by the time he spent in combat when he was in the military. I tried to remind myself that he was a kind, warm-hearted person, deep down. I prayed for him to find peace and contentment. But still, I just couldn’t completely forgive him for what he’d done.

      Now he’s gone, along with any chance for reconciliation that we might have had. And I’m OK with that — or at least mostly OK with that. My whole family tried so hard to help him, but at the end of the day he really didn’t want to be helped. We gave him ample opportunities to turn himself around, and extended many helping hands to him that were not accepted. He made his own choices.

      So my point is that whatever you decide — whether it’s to continue having limited contact with your father or to let him back into your life — make sure it’s a choice you’ll be able to live with. Make sure that your decision is solid and well reasoned, and not driven by emotion, nor made in the heat of the moment. Put enough time and care into it that you won’t second-guess yourself later.

  2. Sunflower*

    I just got back on the job search band wagon. I applied to 2 jobs this month and had one interview this week and another next! I had a really good experience in the interview for the first job and I don’t want to get ahead of myself but I’m feeling a bit of the old ‘don’t buy the first dress you tried on’ syndrome. I’m pretty unhappy (and underpaid) at my current job- but not bad enough to take the first new one that comes at me. I’ve never really been in a spot where I can choose what job I want next. Has anyone else ever taken the first job they interviewed for? Is it common? Are there other things I should be asking myself?

    1. Barbara in Swampeast*

      Sunflower, the problem with using the “don’t buy the first dress” analogy is that you can always (usually) go back to that first dress after you have tried on others. You don’t get to go back and accept a job offer once you have turned it down.

      If you do get a job offer from your first interview, please forget that it is the first and evaluate it on its own terms. Were you able to establish a rapport with the interviewer (who was hopefully the manager of the position)? What were impressions of the job and the company? Are you excited about the job? Do you need to ask a few more questions to feel comfortable taking the job?

    2. BW*

      I didn’t take the first job I interviewed for because they didn’t give me an offer. I took the first job I interviewed for that gave me an offer out of law school. The market was pretty tough so I wasn’t going to say no to it no matter what. But it worked out well for me. The money was good and the place had phenomenal benefits.

      I interviewed with the office manager, then with 2 attorneys is be working with, then with the president (there were several office locations). Later I found out they actually had 1000+ resumes and interviewed dozens of people. They told me they wanted me to start ASAP. But when I got up there they didn’t have much for me to do at first. I was confused about that but then they told me it was because they didn’t want to lose me to somebody else. But they were the only person who asked me to dance, so to speak.

      TLDR: I think it’s fine to take the first opportunity that comes along if you get a good gut feeling about it or if you’re not in a position to be choosy.

    3. KC*

      When I was ready (beyond ready) to leave my last gig, I ended up taking the first job that was offered to me. It was the second job I’d interviewed for. I think that if the job had raised red flags for me in any way, I would have been willing to wait it out to see what else came along.

      1.5 years later, I don’t think the move was the wrong one. It got me out of my last company and out of my last city, and came with a tidy salary bump. I think as long as you’re going into the decision-making process with your eyes wide open, then it doesn’t matter if it’s the 1st or 15th job you’ve interviewed for.

    4. My two cents*

      Good for you to be thinking this through carefully. We spend so much time at work, it’s important to try to find somewhere that we will be happy. However, that being said I don’t think you should disqualify the job if it could be a good fit for you, just because it was the first one. That is just a timing issue, it could have been the second or third interview; it’s the “fit” that you really need to be looking at. (Incidentally, I did buy the first (wedding) dress I tried on and loved it and never looked back!) Good luck to you!

    5. Kitty*

      When I was job hunting a couple of years ago I ended up accepting an offer from the first company I interviewed with. I had red flags during the interview but ignored them as I was desperate to leave my job. BIG MISTAKE!!
      I don’t think there’s anything wrong with accepting the first offer but you have to be sure that it’s the right job for you. Don’t ignore you’re instincts!

    6. Dan*

      The only times I’ve ever seriously job searched were when I had no job. Both times, I was lucky enough to have two offers to choose from.

      I still keep in touch with coworkers from my previous employer, and go figure, I encourage them to leave. The thing is, I was rather certain I would have stuck around that company for the long haul, but I got laid off a few months ago. The job I have now is night and day better, and I actually thank my lucky stars that I got shoved out the door.

      So I encourage my friends over there to not get stuck in the “rut” and stick around because it’s comfortable.

      One of my friends asked me if there was *anything* I liked about the old company better. There are only two things that come to mind: The old company was much smaller, so it was quicker to get from the parking lot to my cube, and the old company had free coffee. This one does not. It’s pretty bad when those are the best things you can come up with.

    7. AnonAthon*

      Yup, this happened to me last year. I had just started to think about moving on from my current job (which I liked in many ways) and my first application and interview resulted in an offer. It felt a little reckless to take it without any comparisons, but the fit felt right and there were no red flags. So far, so good! I took AAM’s advice of really seeing the interviews as a two-way street, and that helped me feel comfortable with the choice too.

    8. TL*

      I just started the first job offer I got after lazily job-searching while having my old job.

      It’s kinda rocking my socks off. I’m really excited about the work that I was doing and there were all sorts of green flags when I was interviewing/negotiating the offer and, two weeks in, it’s looking to be exactly what I wanted. I mean, minor details are not perfect, but overall I’m quite happy.

  3. BCW*

    I had an interview earlier this week, that seemed to go well. They said they wanted to set up another interview to meet the team. Problem is, this company is based in another state and they do ALL communications through HR. How long do I wait to follow up with HR about scheduling this next interview?

    1. fposte*

      Was it clear that HR should be contacting you? If so, then I’d wait until next week and then check in to see what their time frame is. If it wasn’t clear, I’d check to see if they need to know your availability to proceed.

  4. Stephanie*

    Oof, my best suggestion would be find a therapist that specializes in this kind of thing (family therapy?). S/he should be able to help you work through issues from this as well as figure out an effective way to reintegrate your father to the degree that’s best for you.

    Don’t be afraid to shop around! Sometimes it takes going to a couple of therapists to find the one that “clicks.”

    1. Elizabeth West*

      I second this. In situations of this nature, people are often surprised by how hard it is to set boundaries. It feels almost “mean” to them in some contexts, and the conflicting feelings can cause them to cave. A good therapist can help them work all that out and learn tactics they can use to deflect some of the toxic behavior.

    2. Aisling*

      I also second this. I didn’t, and it was a really tough few months for me – work started to be affected, among other things.

  5. en pointe*

    Does anyone have an opinion on Max Fisher, the WorldViews writer for The Washington Post?

    I’ve been trying to “broaden my horizons”, so to speak, and have started to really enjoy reading his blog; I find it well-written and informative. However, I honestly don’t know all that much myself about the foreign affairs topics he explores and, thus, am limited in my ability to critically evaluate.

    So, if there are other readers here, do you guys generally find him credible / unbiased? …Should I be taking what he says with a healthy grain of salt? Any thoughts would be appreciated.

  6. thenoiseinspace*

    Opinions, please! Do you guys follow up on applications sent through a system (ie no email address, just fill out the long form and hit “submit”) ? If yes, how? Who do you email and how do you get their address? Do you think following up in this way is helpful, or should people just apply and then leave it?

    1. Sunflower*

      For systems like this, I always apply and leave it. I never know who the application is actually going to. If there is also a generic email address that job inquires can go to, then I would email that and follow up. But if there isn’t, I don’t know how you even could follow up. So if anyone has been able to after applying through a system, please let us know!

      1. thenoiseinspace*

        Actually, that’s why I brought it up – I had never even considered it a possibility before, but a jobs site for my industry just posted an article about it. They recommended using LinkedIn to track down either HR employees or lower-ranking members of the office and emailing them to follow up. To me, that seems like way too much (it’s probably annoying to them, and how would you know which one to email?) but then again, the site is staffed by volunteers who actually work in the industry and I’ve been wrong before, so I wanted to check the general attitude here.

        1. Ruffingit*

          It is too much and it absolutely would annoy them. Amazing how many of those job site articles post bad advice. So many job seekers are shooting themselves in the foot without even knowing they’re holding a gun.

    2. Poe*

      I apply and leave it, but in my last (excessively neurotic) job search, I would note on my printed job description and on my application spreadsheet whether or not the app system sent me an automated confirmation email, just so I could at least relax a bit about those ones.

    3. Ruffingit*

      No, following up on apps doesn’t make sense to me and as I recall, Alison discourages it as well. Apply and mentally move on. If you get an interview, follow-up rules change of course, but just applying? Do it and move on to the next app.

        1. Ruffingit*

          Thanks, I hadn’t read that article. I just remembered her saying that following up after the app was annoying to employers and shouldn’t generally be done. Appreciate the link! I’m always learning something here :)

          1. thenoiseinspace*

            True, I definitely think she was only referring to email applications. :) When I read the article on the other site that advocated this behavior, my first thought was “this sounds like a newer version of calling the employer every week.”

        2. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Just to clarify, that’s really for if you’re feeling like you must follow up. It’s fine to do it the way I described in the article (once, by email, and without being demanding of anyone’s time), but it’s totally fine to not do it too. It rarely makes a difference.

      1. Peredur*

        It’s worthwhile to note the application somewhere in case you get a response and can’t recall what you’d applied for (this happened to me once) but yep, absolutely agree, move on mentally.

        1. Ruffingit*

          Agreed, but that’s more about personal record keeping as opposed to following up with the HR folks on the app. Keeping track of where, when, how, etc. you applied for a job is always a smart plan!

    4. Joey*

      Apply and leave it. No need to follow up on any application submission unless you get some type of error submitting it. It’s actually a little annoying.

    5. Labratnomore*

      I did this once. I found the HR person on LinkedIn, and sent an e-mail. It was almost a month after I applied when I sent that, I was surprised not to get a call because I knew I was probably the most qualified candidate they would receive (based on location and industry there weren’t many other choices with my background). I received a call from the hiring manager in a couple of days. It turned out they suspected that I made significantly more than what they were offering so that is why they didn’t call me prior to that. It turns out the pay they were offering was about half of what I made at the time, so they were right not to call me. That goes to show, like the salary survey from the other day, that titles at different companies may have a totally different meaning. It wasn nice to get some resolution to the application though and good to see that my e-mail was well received.

  7. MR*

    I never look at the comments for the open thread, because every time I see the post, there are always hundreds of posts. This time, six posts in, it truly is an open thread…interesting!

    1. Poe*

      I have finally gotten the hang of adjusting my reading to the time zones, and am very excited to have actually commented on several posts less than 8 hours late!

  8. Katie the Fed*

    So, just an update – last week I posted that I had to have a difficult chat with an employee about a number of issues where she’d been falling short. We had it on Monday. She’s been doing better. One thing she did again today (wore jeans) so I had to re-engage on that (was something not clear) and she apologized profusely and offered to go home and change. She had thought that dressier jeans would be ok, and I told her she should have at least asked.
    That was actually the least of the issues and she’s been making an effort on the other things, so that’s good. I think she’s trying, and we’re trying to communicate better.

    1. fposte*

      I’m side-eyeing the return with jeans myself, as it sounds like testing from here, but if it doesn’t to you and she’s pulling her stuff together otherwise, then hurray!

      1. Katie the Fed*

        It did to me too, that’s why I addressed it immediately. She actually was near tears about it – she felt really bad. She admitted that she thought it would be fine since they were dressier and promised she would talk to me about anything she finds unclear in the future.

        1. hilde*

          I don’t find this at all suspect with some people (that she legitimately thought the dressier jeans were ok). I think how she responds to you is a better indicator – and it sounds like she was pretty upset (with herself?) and then went and rectified the situation. I am thinking back to a scene when I was brand new in this job. I’d like to say that I didn’t understand the culture, but now I realize that I was young and fantastically stupid. It was my first week-long training event that another coworker and I put on. Since I was new, he was pretty much handling everything and I felt like I was just shadowing. So one of the mornings I didn’t give myself enough time to get ready and eat breakfast at the hotel, so I brought it with me. Why I chose cereal remains a mystery to me (because I hardly eat cereal! I really couldn’t have chosen a bagel or something less obvious?). anyway, I stood in the back of the room and ate my cereal. I cringe retelling this becuase…DUH. No one said anything to me except a day or so later when my supervisor called me up and very gently but firmly told me not to eat cereal again in training. Turns out someone at the training reported it back to her. At first I was pissed at the lady that tattled on me, but that quickly morphed into being pissed at myself for being so obviously dumb. My overall point is that at the time I seriously didn’t think it would be a big problem. But I was swiftly availed of that notion and I have wised up. So – sometimes people really honestly think their decision would be ok.

            1. hilde*

              Ditto. And then when I start to feel all smart and smug over the newest people in the workforce, I stop and remind myself that I’m only in my early 30s and still likely doing idiotic things compared to where I’ll be in 15-20 years. Kind of sobers me up.

              1. CTO*

                Has this ever been the subject of a whole thread on here: “What was your most embarrassing mistake early in your career?”

                If not, it would be a fun one!

                1. hilde*

                  I think it may have been. I’m not very good at remembering specifics like some of the regulars are, but it seems to me she’s done some of those topics before. I agree – it would be fun to know how horrendous we all were. :)

        2. VictoriaHR*

          Is there a written dress code somewhere that you can give her? It sounds like yours is verbal – maybe consider putting a formal one in place in writing.

          1. Katie the Fed*

            No, and that’s part of the problem. And she rightly pointed it out. Our leadership has been hesitant to issue a written one for some reason.

        3. Jax*

          At my business casual office, some girls have worn:

          1. Dress pants with hoodies
          2. Dark trouser jeans dressed up (and hidden, I guess) with nice blouses and jewelry
          3. Colored skinny jeans (bright blue/orange/white)

          Out of those, the dress pant/hoodie girl was the worst. But she wasn’t wearing jeans, so no one said anything.

          Today, addressing dress code violations feels like being the fashion police. There’s lots of blurred lines.

          1. AmyNYC*

            My office is business casual (I wish I had a reason to dress up a little) and the only problem I see here is the hoodie.

            1. Jax*

              Colored jeans and trouser jeans ARE jeans. They slide under the radar because of the cut and color.

              I have a pair of very dark wash skinnies that I’ve worn dressed up with a blouse/cardigan/boots and held my breath. If my manager had called me into his office I would have been like, “Yeah, I know. I’m wearing jeans.” I did the same thing with white denim capri pants this summer.

              But it creeps me out a little that my boot cut dark wash jeans–no matter how dressed up–would be frowned upon. It’s all denim! One just has bigger legs! Either it’s okay for the office or it’s not! /end rant

    2. Rachel*

      Great to hear! I have always loved bosses who are clear with expectations and even who correct me with clarity.

    3. Jessica*

      We are not allowed to wear jeans where I work but I have to admit I wore them three days this week because it was just SO cold and they were the warmest things I had (yes, I should invest in some wool pants at some point).

      1. the gold digger*

        I have discovered fleece-lined tights. I wear sweatpants over them, though, to walk to the bus stop, which is fine with most of my clothes except the very fitted retro dress with the slit up the back that tore up to Dallas as I stepped onto the bus.

    4. OhNo*

      Not to try and justify her assumption, but I do wonder – is it possible she wouldn’t have had time to buy new clothes to accommodate the dress code, and so figured that the dressiest thing left in her closet would have to do?

      This occurred to me only because I got a “talking-to” over the dress code at one of my very first internships, and I couldn’t make time to buy new clothes fast enough to satisfy my boss.

      (Although to be perfectly fair, you sound infinitely more reasonable than that boss was. Her complaint was that I had “been wearing the same grey pants for a week” – well, no, actually, I just only had two pairs of dress pants at the time and they both happened to be the same shade of grey.)

      1. Katie the Fed*

        What? That’s ridiculous! I’ve worn black pants every day this week – they’re pretty much my go-to. That’s a ridiculous thing to pay attention to.

        She has an adequate wardrobe, I think – she just thought it would be ok. The big issue to me was that she didn’t check first.

      2. Schmitt*

        Our dress code is theoretically business casual but I think I’ve finally cracked it…. Whatever the top boss lady thinks is chic. Despite wearing dress pants all the time last year I got marked down in appearance on my yearly review. This year I’ve gone with dark jeans, though they are “discouraged” in the dress code, and added a scarf, which is more like what she wears, and I just bet that my score in that area goes up this year. Ugh.

          1. Schmitt*

            Yeah, and here’s the kicker: I’m a programmer.

            (But there are good things about the job too.)

          2. Lynn Whitehat*

            I’m a programmer too. At a certain level, being “client-presentable” becomes something you are evaluated on, which I actually think makes sense.

      3. Jessica*

        Your boss would be shocked if she ever went to Paris where people have no qualms about wearing outfits for days in a row.

      4. Kelly L.*

        I so expect to be written up for this someday. I wear black dress pants all the time. All. The. Time. And I prefer flare legs, so all three of my pairs are flare legs. There are slight differences in them…which probably only I can identify.

        1. So Anon*

          People really notice things like that? Never mind factor it into reviews? Yikes.

          I don’t have the easiest figure to work with, so I found a pair of dress trousers I like and I bought 5 pairs of them. 3 black, a grey, and a brown. All the exact same cut and style. And a pair of jeans that I wear on Fridays made by the same company in a similar cut. And I wear them on Fridays in a federal agency, no less.

  9. Betsy*

    Today is my last day in my current job. It’s always such a weird feeling, like moving to a new house. Even if you really hated the leaky windows, the neighbor who kept screaming goats, the fact that the coat closet was on the other side of the house from the door, and the hot water heater that took 20 minutes to heat up, you still feel vaguely nostalgic. I find little things that I’ll miss. It’s not regret, because I am fairly confident this is the right choice. It’s just… wistfulness. Change is change.

    1. Barbara in Swampeast*

      I have always felt a little regret, even had tears a few times. It is a big change and you are leaving a little bit of yourself behind. It’s growth and change. Good luck on the new job.

    2. Rachel*

      I always feel this way when I transition.
      I think it is because no matter how exciting the new opportunity is, it isn’t fully “real” yet. You can’t visualize your day to day in the same familiar way.

      It fades quickly as you are busy learning the new job!

      Good luck!

      1. Elsajeni*

        I recently moved cross-country, and I’m having a similar “wait, this is REAL?” experience — it’s only in the last week or two that it’s started to feel feel permanent. I kept feeling like I was, I don’t know, at summer camp or something and in a week or two I’d be heading back “home” to my familiar neighborhood.

    3. Sunflower*

      I always feel this way too. Especially because starting a new job, even if its 100% the right choice, is always scary and overwelming. Good luck! It sounds like you made the right choice.

    4. BausLady*

      Interestingly enough, I felt the same way when I left my last company. Even though in that case, I was leaving due to a layoff. But I had been there 6 years and it was my first corporate job out of college. But you nailed it: Change is change.

      Good luck with yours!

      1. Dan*

        I felt relieved when I got laid off from my first professional job just a few months ago. TBH, I don’t miss it, and hang out with the old gang from time to time, so that’s all good.

        My network came through for me in ways that may not have been possible had I left voluntarily. I got an *awesome* job with a 25% pay raise. So every day I’m thankful I got laid off. I had two weeks severance and two weeks of PTO, so I only went a month or so without getting a real pay check. (I got five weeks of unemployment, but it’s fairly low in Virginia.)

        1. Stephanie*

          (I got five weeks of unemployment, but it’s fairly low in Virginia.)

          Dear God, yes. Especially so, if you’re in northern Virginia.

          1. Stephanie*

            Boo HTML. I meant this.

            (I got five weeks of unemployment, but it’s fairly low in Virginia.)

            Dear God, yes. Especially so, if you’re in northern Virginia.

    5. Erin*

      Today is my husband’s last day in his current job. He has many of the same things you describe. Totally normal! Even positive change is stressful and hard. Good luck and best wishes for your new career.

    6. anon-2*

      Of all the jobs I left in a 40-year career, there has only been ONE where I held my nose and ran out the door.

      Any of the others, I had the same wistful feelings. It’s natural.

  10. KC*

    This one’s for Alison (and anyone else from the “What do you Make” thread who mentioned aggregating the data):

    Any plans to take the data from that post and turn it into a searchable database that folks can also add to? I could see it being a really valuable/popular tool.

    1. Sunflower*

      Yes that would be great! In the meantime, I’ve been using the ‘find’ option to filter out what I’m looking for.

      1. KC*

        That’s what I’ve been doing up to this point, but I’m itching to see all that data in a format where analytics can be run on it! :)

      2. Another English Major*

        That’s a good tip, thanks! I’m so glad that Alison did a post like that because it is really useful information, especially when I get to see what other people actually did with their English degrees.

    2. evilduck*

      I was really hoping some data-addict with more time than I have would do this! I’d love to see some visualizations, too.

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I’d love to. It’ll depend on how much it will cost me to pay someone to do the data entry for it. I can throw 100 bucks at it, but I’m not sure if the project is way bigger than that would cover. A few people have emailed me saying they’d do the data-entry and I’m waiting to hear back about how long they think it would take so I can judge whether that’s a reasonable price or not. If not … well, I’m open to other options that don’t have a higher price tag!

      1. Dan*

        Tell you what… the data is screen scrape-able, so I could throw a few hours at writing a script over the weekend. If the results are worth paying for, I’ll collect the $100. If they’re not, then so be it, and I don’t get paid. I’d deliver a CSV file that has the data laid out in a tabular format.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          You are awesome for offering, but don’t do any work yet! Another commenter who is also awesome sent me a script that will do most of the work, it looks like. I’m going to wait for replies on that post to finish coming in and then will be able to use the script to generate a CSV file of the data separated by category (at which point someone will just need to spend a little time cleaning it up).

          So now, the question is, what’s the best thing to do with that CSV file?

          1. TL*

            Someone suggested doing some things with GIS to make an interactive map type thing, I think. Which would be really interesting.

            Though I have no idea if you could do that with the file you have. That’s way beyond my computer knowledge

      2. KC*

        I wouldn’t be able to set up the back-end of a database, but I’d be willing to volunteer my time to physically enter the data into whatever tool you’d be using.

      3. Kelly*

        I’m willing to volunteer some of my time towards the project if there is someone to manage the project. I wouldn’t know where to begin first but follow directions well and have enough working knowledge to be useful. Keep me posted and I’ll be happy to lend a hand.

    4. pgh_adventurer*

      I’m tempted, but last I checked there were over 1,700 posts and I really don’t have the time to do that! Alison did say she’d pay for the help though, so hopefully someone will bite.

      1. Amy*

        Press Control-F and type in a portion of your title or a key word to find posts related to your search. Worked for me anyway… :)

    5. CS*

      I haven’t been following this blog everyday so I don’t know where to locate this thread? Anyone have the link for it? Thanks.

  11. anon-2*

    Put up with it — put up with what you can – and live your own life.

    But living your own life is what should – no, MUST take priority. You cannot go living your life for other people, or as other people direct. As a child, yes. As a teen, and perhaps a young adult relying on parents for financial support, you have to have a high tolerance.

    As an adult – live for YOURSELF, your spouse, and your children first.

    Here’s a weird but true story = my wife and I have an acquaintance. This woman was around 29 – back in 1996. My wife and I traveled from Massachusetts to Atlanta to attend the Olympics. She was going with her older brother’s family and older sister’s family.

    We compared schedules. We agreed to meet at one event – and go for lunch after that. And we did.

    She said “I’m awfully glad my brother let me come out today with you guys …” and we cut her off. “Ann – you are a 29 year old woman. You have a good job. You have an apartment. You NEVER need your brother’s permission to go off and have a beer with your friends. YOU ARE AN ADULT CAPABLE OF MAKING YOUR OWN DECISIONS.” I also reminded her that our daughter was 18 at the time, and if she asked permission to go off to have lunch and a beer with a friend, our response would be “ETA? (estimated time of arrival home) and you’re technically underage, skip the beer if you’re driving and order iced tea.”

    I was also very close to my father — but when it came my time to go I made my own decisions – some he wouldn’t have made. But we became closer as we got older. I would advise – keep doing what you’re doing – but never close the door on your Dad.

    But also don’t disturb your peace in the process.

    1. Estranged*

      Thank you. The door isn’t closed. It’s ajar. I’m finding that I need this time to regain my mental equilibrium. We will reconnect at some point and that is something I will have to facilitate because my father is not the type to do that. He is extremely stubborn and will cut his nose off to spite his face. So I know it’s on me to make the first move. For now though, I just can’t. I need this time. And I feel badly in some ways because he is getting older (nearing 70) and I fear taking too much time, but I also just need the peace. I have to regain my own solid footing before I can invite him to my ground as it were.

      1. anon-2*

        Take the time you need.

        But I always say to never close the door, because there may come a time when you can’t re-open it.

        It looks like, to me, that you are on solid ground. And it looks like, you love your Dad in spite of the difficulties. Good for you.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        My father mellowed right out after his bypass surgery. (sigh)

        I did not see that one coming.

        Sometimes unforeseens change the whole story line. Once he started dealing with his issues, our relationship shifted for the good. Yeah, his hand was forced on that one because he couldn’t even walk 12 feet before the surgery. Am not saying that your dad is going to get sick. I am just pointing out that life continues on and sometimes things happen that cause relationships to go in a new direction.

        May time be kind to you and your dad.

        1. Estranged*

          You are right that unforeseen things can change the story line. Interesting about your dad having surgery and mellowing out. My father had bypass surgery a few years ago. I had hoped it would cause some mellowing on his part, but it didn’t. He’s still incredibly negative and bitter despite having no real reason to be. His life is damn easy – Retired for years, no debt, owns his home outright, has stellar health insurance that pays nearly 100% of costs, and yet he’s so negative. The world is going to hell in a hand basket in his view and we must all discuss this ad naseum. When he starts in on this nonsense, I look for that hand basket because hell would be an improvement over listening to the negativity, the judgment, etc.

          I have a strong faith in God and I know that this time is necessary and I am remembering the silver linings of it. Just having some peace in my life, not being bombarded by the negative constantly, being able to make decisions and not having to hear the “Well you know, what you need to do is…” It’s so nice to just be free of that.

          Not So New Reader, thank you so much for your comments on this topic. You’ve said a few things upthread as well and it has been particularly helpful. I so appreciate being able to hear from others about this. Your words have been wise and I am taking them to heart.

  12. AnonForNow*

    I’m in the middle of a “friend breakup” and am not sure how to handle a wedding invitation from a mutual friend.

    I’ve been friends with Jolie for 20 years (since high school). I’m in the process of deciding what I want my friendship with her to be, and I suspect I’m going to land somewhere between “Friendly, but only seen each other a couple times a year” to “Not friends.” I haven’t spoken to Jolie since before Christmas, and our last communication was a snippy text exchange in which she was frustrated with me for being out of touch.

    Jolie’s other best friend in our early 20s with Samantha; they’ve stayed friends. Samantha was Jolie’s (platonic) plus-one at my wedding a few years ago. She ended up being a HUGE help – like an extra bridesmaid, driving my family members around, dealing with little crises that popped up. I’m incredibly grateful to her.

    Samantha is getting married this spring. Jolie is her maid of honor. I told Samantha that I didn’t expect an invitation (we’re not close; I’ve seen her maybe three times since my wedding) but that if she wanted my help I would be delighted to be behind-the-scenes and do whatever she wants me to do to help out. This week, I got an invitation to her wedding.

    I’m not sure what to do. Obviously, I should go – I absolutely want to celebrate Samantha’s wedding, give her an expensive gift, and help out in any way possible. But I’m afraid that it will be super awkward (for everyone, but I mostly care about Samantha), depending on what I end up deciding and doing with my relationship with Jolie.

    What do you guys think?

      1. AnonForNow*

        Yes, an important point: I am not sure that Jolie can be trusted to “keep it mature.” This is part of why I’m considering the friend breakup.

        Happy to share more details if necessary, but for not suffice it to say that I’ve come to realize that I don’t like how she treats people, her rudeness, her self-centeredness, etc.

        1. Anna*

          You could keep it friendly, but not close until after the wedding. Will you be telling Jolie that you’re ending your friendship with her or are you planning on letting it die from neglect (which is totally fine, however you’re comfortable handling it). If it’s die by neglect, then there’s no reason why you shouldn’t go to the wedding and if it’s by telling Jolie, there’s no reason you can’t have that conversation until after the wedding. Unless it’s many many months away…

        2. Colette*

          My thoughts:
          – If you can be busy elsewhere when she’s around, do so.
          – If you can’t, be cheerful and polite – “it’s so good to see you, what a beautiful wedding!”
          – If she reacts badly (and publicly) to your presence, apologize to your friend and leave.
          – If you really think she’ll put making a public scene over your decreasing friendship, you can choose not to go.

          As others have said, she’ll probably be too busy to spend much time on you, so odds are you’d be fine to go, but it’s also fine to choose not to.

        3. OhNo*

          If you’re comfortable with it (and there’s no requirement that you should be), play up the “busy but apologetic” friend angle with Jolie. Basically – fake that you like her and still want to be friends to get through the wedding, and then after it’s over, follow up as you were planning to anyway. This method is not especially kind to Jolie, and it runs the risk of being very stressful for you, but it may be the best way to avoid drama at the wedding – especially if Jolie is the type of person to sabotage her friend’s wedding just to throw a shit fit.

          Speaking from experience, I’ve only done this once and it was majorly stressful for me. Plus it required an awkward conversation of the “I know you thought we had patched things up but I was just putting on a happy face to spare X’s feelings and keep the drama down. My feelings actually have not changed.” In my case it was worth it, because X had a wonderful time and we remain friends to this day – but it had the effect of absolutely ruining any chance of a polite relationship with my former friend, and ended up ruining X and her friendship in the long run as well (which I still feel bad about).

    1. Bryan*

      Can you just keep your distance? And if you can, will Jolie also keep her distance?

      I mean she’s the maid of honor, and it sounds like you’re a guest but with no additional duties so you don’t have to sit at the same table or anything.

    2. fposte*

      That it’s as awkward as you make it. If you want to go, go; don’t let your relationship with a secondary-becoming-tertiary person affect what you do for the primary person. What the heck are you planning to do with Jolie that would keep you from being in the same room with her? She wants to see you more, you’re not going to, but you remember your close times fondly (I hope, given its duration)–there’s not an opera in that unless you want one.

      You also don’t have to go to send Samantha a present, so if that’s where the concern is hanging feel free to send her a silver set while you’re hanging out at home.

        1. Fiona*

          If it were me, I’d probably make an attempt to reach out to Jolie in advance – “Listen, I know things are awkward between us right now and I’m sorry for that (unless you’re not sorry). But I really, really don’t want to ruin Samantha’s special day and I know you don’t either. Let’s keep our personal issues out of Samantha’s wedding, agreed?” How she responds to that might, I think, tell you something about how she’ll react to your presence at the wedding itself. If you still get the feeling that Jolie is going to try and create drama, you might have to look out for your mutual friend and put peace at the wedding over your desire to be there.

        2. Ruffingit*

          But you don’t have to play a role in the opera. How Jolie chooses to act is on her, not you. If she chooses to make a scene, then so be it. You can politely excuse yourself from that nonsense, tell the bride she’s beautiful and then leave. You have no control over what Jolie chooses to do. You can only plan for what YOU will do. If Jolie makes a scene, starts a fight, etc., you’re not obligated to participate and you can excuse yourself and leave the scene.

        3. athek*

          I would also throw out that nothing may happen. I was on pins and needles at my wedding because my dad and uncle are estranged (full-circle in the open thread!) and I was scared there might be a scene. I tried to keep everyone separate, but something out of my control happened at the rehearsal dinner and they ended up sitting at the ends of next-door tables. And… nothing happened. That night or at the wedding. They just completely ignored each other.
          If that’s not the case, I would just try to avoid her and not engage if she tries anything. Good luck!

    3. NK*

      Unless the wedding is very small, I doubt you’re going to have much time to interact anyway, so I would go. Every time I’ve been in a bridal party, I’m usually doing bridal party things most of the evening. And for the times you have where you have the opportunity to interact, I think you can easily avoid/be cordial to each other. The only caveat I’d mention is that if you think Jolie is petty enough to do something to ruin the day for Samantha (like making a scene), then I might consider not going.

    4. Mena*

      Try to focus your decision on whether to go only on your relationship with Samantha; the decision to go or not go shouldn’t be based on who else is attending.

    5. anon-2*

      Huh? You’re thinking of declining an invite to a friend’s wedding because they’re someone there you don’t want to be friends with?

      One of the things about being an adult – and being capable socially, is that you sometimes have to tolerate or accept being around other people that you might not want to otherwise hang around with.

      AnonForNow – it AIN’T **YOUR** day. It’s Samantha’s day. Do what you have to do , swallow your pride, exercise your toleration – to make HER day what it should be.

      And you never know — sometimes awkward situations tend to work themselves out on days like you’ll have at Samantha’s wedding.

    6. Del*

      Unless the wedding is really tiny, you should be fine. If you were both intended to be in the wedding party or something, that might get awkward, but just attending the wedding when you’re on stiff terms with the MoH shouldn’t be a big deal.

      (Caveat: unless Jolie is out to start some serious drama, which would be a much bigger hit to Samantha than it would be to you. I would not assume this is the case unless you’ve seen some serious drama-mongering from Jolie in the past; snippy text messages aren’t enough to imply it.)

    7. AmyNYC*

      I am guilty of this too, so no judgement, but did anyone have a “friend breakup” before reality TV? It seems the more Hills/Kardasians/Real Housewives people watch to more they bring that “drama” in to their real life.

      1. AnonForThis*


        Truly, this situation couldn’t be further from something like that – at least on my end. I’m a simple-living Quaker, awkward nerd, overly sensitive, etc. This relationship is truly the only “drama” in my life; hence my desire to rid myself of it.

        1. Anonymous*

          Quaker queries:
          Have you taken your questions to MfW to see what rises in you there?
          At the wedding, can you remain centered & connected as you would during MfW? My experience is that that shifts perspective & allows for participation/response from a deeper place.
          Always fun to find another Quaker out there!

      2. athek*

        I had a friend breakup in high school (before reality tv!) It was bad. And awkward. And sad.
        Short story: My best friend said and did some pretty hurtful things. I think she was jealous of something, and it came out badly. But it was so hurtful to me, and she didn’t apologize, so I refused to speak to her again.
        I think about her and some of the good times we had, and I feel nostalgic. At one point, I thought about contacting her, but I haven’t.

      3. Ruffingit*

        Not a fan of reality TV, but yes I’ve had a friend breakup. I initiated it. The person in question was not a horrible person by any means, but she was emotionally exhausting. Everything was one huge drama with her and everything had to be examined on some deep psychologically level. It was just too much and I couldn’t do it anymore. My decision to let her go was confirmed given that she contacted me with long emails (we’re talking single spaced pages upon pages) and some texts. I ignored it all. Some relationships just have to end. It’s not easy. We had five years of some good times, but she just depleted me emotionally and I had to move on.

        1. Windchime*

          Yeah, I don’t watch reality TV (at least not the drama-filled stuff) and I also have had a friend break-up. Friend X was emotionally draining as well and I always ended up feeling inferior to her on top of that. The final straw was when she felt slighted because I was occupied with helping a close friend (Y) through a tough time. X sent me a long, nasty text and then defended me on Facebook (because apparently we are 12 years old). I was actually kind of relieved. She has made contact a couple of times over the past year or so, but I’ve just been lukewarm in response.

          1. Ruffingit*

            She sounds rather selfish if she got bitter because you were giving attention to another friend who needed it. I just don’t have the time or desire for people like that in my life. I have enough really good friends that dealing with the jerks isn’t even on my radar. And sometimes it’s not that the people in question are jerks, they just take up too much emotional energy. Either way, it does feel good to let go, that relief you spoke of when your friend unfriended you.

  13. Stephanie*

    Hair question (I know these are always contentious):
    I’m in my late 20s and am prematurely graying. The way my hair is currently styled (an Afro), my graying pattern/color results in one large chunk of silver in the front and a smattering of curly silver hairs in another portion. The way it looks…it almost looks like I intentionally put silver in there.

    My question is…should I dye it for my job search? I do wonder if the gray (in combination with the Afro, unfortunately) might not be conservative enough for some jobs.

    1. Lucy*

      Is it an afro like your gravatar, or a large one? I think your current style is quite conservative, and I wouldn’t be concerned about the gray either.

      I wouldn’t dye it just for an interview. I have gray hairs, and I dye mine, but because I like it dark, not because of my job.

      1. Stephanie*

        That’s an old photo. It’s grown out to like a medium length, but it’s not huge.

        Dying gray hairs is hard! I used to try and dye it (when I had fewer, heh) and the maintenance was annoying. Finding the right shade of black is surprisingly hard.

        I would say my graying pattern’s sort of like Ursula Burns’: Except I have more and my hair’s longer than hers.

        1. Natalie*

          I am also prematurely gray (starting getting gray hairs in my early 20s) and I get my hair dyed by my hairstylist. Obviously that’s not an expense everyone can afford, but if you can I think it’s worth it! You’ll never get hair dye in your bathroom or on your towels (sorry mom!), the color and coverage level can be adjusted to exactly correct, and I suspect the professionals have access to better products than we get to buy at Target.

          If your budget is tight and you have a really good relationship with your stylist, you might be able to talk her into figuring out your color and giving you the formula for some set fee. You can then buy the dye and fixer and whatever at a beauty supply store and do it at home.

      2. Sophia*

        I agree, if your avatar is your current style, I think your hair is conservative. The only reason I can think of dyeing your hair would be if you were in an industry based on, or highly prioritizes, youth. Otherwise, I love grey hair and if you like or love it, rock it!

        1. the gold digger*

          If it is clear that you are prematurely gray, I wouldn’t worry about it. People will be taken aback (maybe) for a second that your face and your hair don’t match and then they won’t think about it.

          It’s when you are maturely gray and jobhunting that you need to become good friends with Clairol. (#14, Light Ash Brown.)

        2. Stephanie*

          I’ve got a pretty youthful face, so most people just (correctly) chalk it up to premature graying. I started getting gray hairs in middle school, actually. They just rapidly multiplied in high school and college (from stress).

          When I still relaxed my hair, it gave me this Rogue-like streak (from X-Men).

          1. MeganO*

            I think your hair looks great in your picture, so I’m sure it still looks good at a longer length. I’m greying early too (I’m just into my late twenties), and I think I’d have an easier time with it if I had a cool streak like yours – and I wanted a Rogue-like streak SO BAD when I was in high school!! I’m sure that’s the “you-want-what-you-don’t-have” thing coming out though.

    2. Victoria Nonprofit*

      I unfortunately don’t have any advice about the job search aspect of this, but I love this style in general. I LOVE gray hair – I think it’s really pretty. Mine are sprinkled throughout my dark blonde/light brown hair and don’t add up to anything interesting. I wish I had a “streak” (or all gray/silver hair).

      1. Judy*

        Mine is too, in my dark brown hair.

        I was sitting at the table in a girl scout meeting a couple years ago, and one of the kindergarteners said “How did you get those silver threads in your hair?” Her mom was in the room at the time and was horrified. I just laughed.

        As I get more, it does seem like I might be getting a streak like my mom has. At 78, she’s salt and pepper gray except for her temples.

        1. Kelly L.*

          I want to get streaks at my temples, but I’m strawberry blonde and I expect I’ll just be suddenly all white-haired one day instead.

    3. CTO*

      I love gray and silver streaks in hair, even for people in their 20s. I have a few gray hairs (age 27) but my hair is light enough that they don’t show much. A friend around my age has lots of silver streaks in her dark-brown hair and I think it’s really pretty.

      But whether or not you cover that up for the interview would depend on the company’s culture, I guess. Could the gray help you look a little older and more mature, or is it just attention-getting?

      I recall that back in the day, my mom used a mascara-like product to add temporary highlights to her hair. Is there something like that you could use to tone down the silver when you need to, without getting rid of it more permanently?

    4. Lindsay J*

      I think a lot of people have graying patterns like this. One of my colleagues had a big silver streak in her hair and although my job had a “no extreme hairstyles” policy and a streak of blonde or red like that would have been problematic, nobody gave her a second look because they knew it was natural.

      My grandmother also grayed in a similar pattern and as far as I know nobody looked at her askance at work, either.

      It might be different in some of the very conservative fields – finance, etc – so I don’t know if what I’m saying holds true for them.

    5. Colette*

      I have a friend who had that happen, and she left it natural for years. It actually looked really good, and I can’t imagine it being an issue at most places.

      If you’re in a really conservative industry/location, it might make a difference, but otherwise I think you can leave it as is.

      (My other thought is that if you dye your hair and get the job, are you willing to keep dying it?)

      1. Stephanie*

        (My other thought is that if you dye your hair and get the job, are you willing to keep dying it?)

        *groan* Ugh, no. I’ve dyed it before with mixed results. My gray hair is stubborn and doesn’t dye easily, plus finding the right shade of black is hard. Jet black hair on me just looks…odd.

        I go back and forth on the hair thing. I’ve pressed it (i.e., straightened it) for interviews and had the same thought (“Do I really want to have to constantly straighten this if I do work here?”). For the most part, I’m not in a particular conservative industry or location. I might run across a company or two that would be, however).

        My friend works in a conservative industry (management consulting) and she just wears a wig constantly. =/

        1. Colette*

          If I were you, I’d leave it as is. If that’s not OK with the company you’re interviewing with, then that’s an important message about fit.

          Of course, if you’re desperate for a job, that may not be your best choice.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        Oh, good point about continuing to dye it. I dye mine because I also began going gray premature, and I look overall younger than I am and I’m not ready to give that up yet by going all gray. But I have to keep up the roots ALL THE TIME.

        1. Rana*

          Ugh, yes. I started going grey in my early thirties, and it didn’t take long for me to decide it wasn’t worth the expense of paying someone to dye it for me (and I was too cowardly to do it myself). I was very glad when the roots had grown out!

          Now it is a streaky mixture of silver and dark brown; it used to be brown with silver streaks, but now it’s shifting to silver with brown streaks. When I have it cut properly, I get compliments on it all the time.

    6. Trixie*

      My favorite Stacy London has a similar look, and her Pantene contract included a “gray clause” that allowed her to keep it. So whether you go short again or keep it longer, you can make it work. But if its an unnecessary source of stress on an otherwise already stressful day, maybe just temporarily dye it through the job searching process.

    7. Cath@VWXYNot?*

      I got my first white hair when I was 19, and now have lots. Like yours, they’re not evenly distributed – I have one whole section that’s about 40% white. The worst part is that the white hairs don’t curl like the brown ones do, so they stick out literally as well as with the colour contrast!

      I usually do dye it, but I’m not very conscientious about roots etc. so I often have some white showing. At my last job interview, when I was 34, I made a conscious decision NOT to cover the white, because it was a more senior position and I have a young-looking face! (it had been a long time since the last dye job and then I got it cut quite a bit shorter, so there was no problem with roots etc – all the dyed hair was gone). I might do the same next time, depending on the role and how far in the future it is, but if it’s more than, say, five years from now I’ll probably dye it.

    8. athek*

      My hair is just starting to gray and I’m having the same questions about starting to dye…. I just haven’t pulled the trigger yet for a lot of reasons.
      Mine is just threading all over, which makes me wonder, does that look more unkempt to people than whole streaks in places?

      1. KLH*

        I just started growing out my gray after about 10 years of dying it, and the the front is all gray at the part. Which really pleases me as one of my models for this was Caitlin Moran, but it turns out her gray streak is dye!

        I think it depends on the level and industry you’re looking in. I was going back to librarianship (a notoriously dowdy profession) in a hospital, so even with the gray I am fashionable and well-dressed. If you need moral reinforcement, get a copy of O magazine from November last year–they did a big spread on guiding African Anerican women back to their natural hair texture and color, and it was interesting and bolstering.

      2. esra*

        I have the threading all over and opted for hi- and lowlites instead of full out dye job. It grows out better, and the whites/greys blend in better.

    9. Kerry*

      I can see if you worry about it aging you, but conservative? It’s your actual hair! Right? I may be conflating what people “should” care about with what people actually do care about . . . but lady, if you like it, rock it. It is YOUR HAIR.

      And I would LOVE to have a gray silver streak in my awesome tiny afro. Instead I have limp mousy-brown hair that’s going gray in a boring way (I assume, it’s under a bunch of red dye right now.) Maybe in my next life.

  14. Lucy*

    What do you all think about having biweekly/monthly meetings with your manager to define expectations and monitor performance? I’ve been the top performer on my team for a long time now, so I don’t want it to be like I’m putting myself on an improvement plan, but I would like to make sure that my priorities stay in line with my manager’s. I think it’s something my manager is open to, I had a check-in meeting a few months ago with her and it went really well, and she said that we can have them on a regular basis if I’d like to. Some time has passed since then, so I don’t know how to reopen the subject.

    If it matters, she sits about 6 feet away from me and we’re in constant communication throughout the day. She regularly gives feedback and I’m not concerned with my performance, I just want to check in on more big-picture stuff.

    1. Poe*

      I have a monthly one with my supervisor who sits about 6 feet away on the other side of a frosted glass wall, and it seems like the perfect check-in–not too often, but not so rarely that they are no longer timely.

    2. MaryMary*

      My last job strongly recommended monthly meetings between managers and those they managed. I found them very helpful from both a manager and a direct report perspective, but it is quite a time commitment. To reopen the conversation with your manager, I’d start by saying that you want to get the meetings you discussed on both your calendars, and then verify with her how often and for how long you should meet (as in, “I was thinking we’d touchbase once a month for about half an hour, does that seem reasonable?”).

    3. CTO*

      I’ve always found occasional “formal” check-ins really helpful even when I’m performing excellently and communicate with my manager daily. You’re both open to it and both see the value to be gained, so go for it!

    4. Anon*

      I recently started doing weekly 15-30 minute coffee dates with each of my three FT direct reports. I was starting to feel out of touch with their workload and priorities and this has worked well to get me in the loop with what they’re working on as well as help them prioritize the most important projects. I was frustrated that they weren’t working on what I felt was most important and just a short chat every week has worked wonders to keep us on the same page — plus, coffee!

    5. Nodumbunny*

      I had monthly “check-ins” with my boss and with each of my direct reports. I think monthly is the right timing, but I might frame them as check-ins or touching base, rather than explicitly about performance. You’re giving her an update about how you’re doing on each of your tasks and in the process, she is giving you feedback and you’re both revisiting the prioritization.

    6. Contessa*

      I would like monthly meetings. We just agreed to do one with a team I’m on, and I expect it to be very helpful. We can tell each other tricks and experiences we’ve had, and discuss difficult cases.

      1. Lucy*

        We actually do the exact same thing with our team! It’s very helpful.

        I just think I’d benefit from one on one meetings with my manager so I can get more granular about my place in the goals and priorities.

    7. Betsy*

      I had a weekly scheduled meeting with my manager at my last job, and I absolutely recommend having them as frequently as your manager will permit, even if you talk regularly in an informal way. It becomes a time to bring up concerns, ask procedural question, talk about priorities, and showcase yourself a bit.

      Don’t be afraid to use it just to tell what you’re accomplishing! We had a post a whole back about manager vs coworker references in which people commented that our managers don’t always know all the awesome stuff we’re doing.

      I’d also recommend treating it as a formal meeting, including some planning, even if it’s just jotted bullet points to discuss. It will make your manager less likely to cancel it regularly if you always treat it seriously.

  15. Former OP*

    I’m the OP#3 from last Thursday. My boss continues to be insane and has doubled down on his requests to our technician, forcing him to sign a warning that he “failed to adhere to job requirements” and “was abusive.”

    And today my boss told me “You look just awful! Are you okay?” and when I said I was fine but not wearing makeup, he said “Haha! I just couldn’t tell! You look so….awful!”

    So we’re all applying for new jobs! Hooray!

    1. Jax*

      I got so many “Are you sick?” comments from coworkers the last time I came in without makeup that I haven’t done it since!

      33. The age when makeup became a requirement to look healthy. Boo.

      1. Mimi*

        Wow, I’m so glad you posted this. Here I thought it was just me who gets these comments!

        I do look “healthier” when wearing makeup. I’m naturally very, very pale (“ghostly” almost) and bronzer works just to give me a natural flesh-color, if you can believe it. There have been times when I’ve come to work sans makeup, and people always ask me if I’m ill. I’m embarrassed to say, “no, this is how I really look” so I end up saying “yes, a bit under the weather.”

      2. athek*

        Ugh. I get this too. Gives me a complex — now I can leave home without it.

        The worst was when my grandfather asked me if I had a shiner (nope, just dark circles under my eyes)… I was 12.

        1. Tris Prior*

          I had a friend who was convinced my husband was beating me because of the enormous shiners under my eyes. (nope, just dark circles. Was born with them; you can see them in my baby pix.)

    2. louise*

      oh dear. Yes, run for the hills! And treat yourself to ice cream or your vice of choice this weekend. You deserve it for not resorting to physical violence at the “you look awful” remarks. Wow. Just wow.

    3. Rachel*

      That’s awful! Yes I hope you find a new job ASAP!

      On a side note, does anyone ever wonder if always wearing makeup sets up a false expectation of what women actually look like? I have had teenage boys ask me “when do girls’ eyelashes turn black? When they are 16 or something?” I am like- no that’s mascara. The boys reply that it doesn’t look like makeup they see in the ads, it just looks normal. Argh!

      1. Lucy*

        I think that’s true. Some men (maybe even most) say that they don’t like it when women wear makeup, that they prefer the natural look… but what they actually think is women not wearing makeup is earth tones and mascara, at least.

        1. Jen in RO*

          It took me *years* to realize that I’m not the odd woman without perfect skin – everyone else was wearing foundation!

    4. HAnon*

      I would start logging instances of that kind of behavior so if anything happens (hopefully not!) to put your job in jeopardy before you find a new job, you have something to go by…not that it would stand up in court in a legal sense, but just a record of behavior from the boss in case you need to make a case for unemployment claims…comments that would constitute harassment, etc. In my experience, usually the state will side with the employee.

  16. JM*

    I recently applied to a job through one of those online applications but it had no place to attach a cover letter later in the process. Should I put it in the same document as the resume and attach like that? I went back and edited my profile to make the combined attachment but do recruiters like that?

    1. MaryMary*

      I always assumed if there was no place to attach a cover letter, that the recruiter/hiring manager didn’t want to read through an additional document and that attaching one wouldn’t be helpful. I may be wrong, I underestimated the power of cover letters before reading this blog.

    2. JC*

      I once applied for a job through an online system without a cover letter. Not because I didn’t have one, but because the only file upload was identified as “resume”. Some systems ask you to add the cover letter later in the process, so I was horrified when I realized I should have included my cover letter with my resume. And yes, this job did ask for both a cover letter and resume with the application.

  17. Philly Girl*

    I’m targeting this towards mainly NYC people but anyone feel free to chime in. I’m 25 and have 3 years experience in marketing/event planning. I’ve been thinking of moving to Manhattan for a while but am terrified at the cost of living vs avg. salary. I’m in Philly now so it’s not like I’d be coming from the middle of nowhere. I’ve found a few cost of living calculator sites and the discrepancies are really bizarre. I make 32,000 now(underpaid) and am barely getting by. com told me i need to make $46,624 in NYC to maintain the same lifestyle- okay sounds about right to me. City told me I need to make $81,000- UMM WHAT? I’m thinking to live an average 20-something life in NYC I’d need to make around 55,000. Anyone have any advice on a good salary/cost of living calculator? Or if any of these figures sound accurate?

    1. JM*

      There’s a lot of questions like: where would you live? Would you have roommates? I think you would be ok in the $50,000-$55,000 range but it just depends where you want to live. Try applying and seeing what they offer because there isn’t too too much in that range.

      1. Philly Girl*

        I’d want to live in Manhattan(not entirely opposed to outer boroughs or NJ) and would definitely have roommates. This question came up after seeing the thread on how much people make. I really started diving into research and found a lot of my friends live in Manhattan on about 55-60,000 and take vacations. Also not sure how much their parents are helping out though.

        1. JM*

          Philly is pretty pricey itself so take what you pay per month now and maybe add a couple hundred for extra rent and utilities. Obviously, you have bills that will be the same everywhere like loans, cell phone, etc.

        2. Lindsay J*

          Can you ask your friends? I know it’s a touchy subject to bring up money, but maybe if you don’t directly ask about their salary but do bring up your dilemma they might volunteer information.

        3. AmyNYC*

          Can I ask why you need to live in Manhattan? I’ve happily been in Brooklyn for 8+ years – more space, less tourists and crowds.
          You say down stream you want nothing north of midtown,that’s going to be awfully big challenge on the salary you’re working with.

        4. Mouse*

          My sister lives in the Lower East Side, rents a great room for $1300 a month, and I believe she makes around the $45k – 55k salary range (not totally sure on that though). And she can still afford vacations! So, it’s certainly possible, if your dream is to live in Manhattan!

    2. r*

      I don’t have any great insight into this, but whenever I’ve contemplated a move, I’ve made a simple spreadsheet to compare costs. For example, go to craigslist to find a sampling of apartments that you would actually want to live in. (Neighborhood, quality of space, etc). Plug in the cost of the apartment, plus an extra $100-$150 for utilities. Think through how often you eat out, hobbies… anything that you will definitely want to continue in your new city. Get a few prices and plug those in too. Now compare them to what you’re spending now. Is your current gym $30 a month, but the same plan in NYC $60? Is rent in a safe neighborhood $300 more expensive? Add it all, and then round up!

    3. Bryan*

      I think $81k is high. I think preparing for what it’s like to live there since that will be your highest cost. Do you already know people to live with or would look to rent with? What areas would you be ok living in?

      Don’t forget that if you have a car now you won’t need it. The cost of a metro card is far cheaper than gas, maintenance, etc.

    4. doreen*

      One thing I can tell you is that the accuracy of any salary/cost of living calculator depends greatly on housing/neighborhood. In some neighborhoods , $1500 for rent gets half of a two bedroom apt , while in other neighborhoods you can get a 3Br for under $2000. And I’m not talking about dangerous neighborhoods, just neighborhoods that are not “popular” (yet)

    5. Philly Girl*

      Thanks for the opinions! I would want to live in Manhattan(nothing north of uptown though) but would be open to across the river in NJ or Brooklyn (I’ve heard Brooklyn is almost at Manhattan rent prices though). I’d want to live with roommates- even if I don’t know them- and I’ve heard a lot about converting 3 bedrooms into 4 to scale rent down. I’m pretty good at searching out cheap rents- in Philly I live in center city and pay considerably less than other people in outside neighborhoods. I’ve searched craigslist but heard the ads can be fake.

      1. Emily*

        As someone who found her current Manhattan apartment on craigslist, I can tell you some of the ads are bait and switch (as in, “sorry, we just leased the one pictured online, but we have lots of other beautiful homes available….” , but if you look through enough ads and neighborhoods, you can come up with a pretty accurate range for the areas you’re interested in. This will help you be a more informed consumer when it’s time to make the move, too.

        I don’t know how much disposable income you need to be happy, but if you’re open to roommates and have beer rather than champagne tastes, 55K sounds like enough but would probably be as low as I’d go. I don’t think you’d need your parents’ subsidies if you’re not a social butterfly – going out here is expensive. You’re right that Brooklyn has some places that are getting as pricey as Manhattan, but there are deals to be found there still. Harlem has some areas around 125th that are up and coming and still cheaper than what you’ll see once you hit Central Park. We live up-up-uptown (around 200th) and prices are a lot cheaper but we’re a 30 min train ride away from any scene that doesn’t involve loud bachata music and Presidente beer. But we’re in our 30’s and have swapped standing in line at hot bars to standing in line Saturday afternoons at the Trader Joe’s on Broadway to get a good deal on groceries. Good luck with your move!

      2. A Jane*

        The apartment sizes in Manhattan and BK areas that you’re thinking about are small. Like, take whatever living room you have in Philly. Divide that in half and that’s your room. Oh, and btw, your apartment will probably be old and may not have a elevator. If you’re seriously looking and ok with roommates, I recommend either the Stuyvesant Town – Peter Cooper Village. They’re renovated apartments and have a little more space, but do know that the walls are thin.

        Also, from a cost of living standpoint, $56K to $65K would be about right.

    6. Stephanie*

      NYC has better transit than Philly (Tokens? Wtf?), so you might be able to get by without a car (if you aren’t already doing so). That’ll help. I have friends who make in the 50s/60s and do fine in NYC. Most do have 1 or 2 roommates.

      I looked at moving from DC to NYC at one point and the biggest thing I noticed what that you got “less” apartment for your money. I think Philly has a similar housing stock to DC (lots of rowhouses, small-to-medium apartment buildings, etc). Main things I noticed were that dishwashers were way less common, laundry in the apartment was unheard of (and sometimes not even in the building), and that central air was pretty uncommon.

    7. AVP*

      Hmm, it’s really hard to say without knowing your exact details and expectations. The BIG question to ask yourself – are you willing to live in Brooklyn or Queens, or does it have to be Manhattan? If Manhattan, how do you feel about Harlem or Washington Heights?

      Basically…I’ve lived in Brooklyn on as little as 28K a year, and that wasn’t fun. Now I make 52K, and it’s totally fine. I don’t have student loans to pay off, but I spend more than I probably should on going out, nice dinners, and clothes, and I’m still saving. I live alone in a small studio – if I had roommates I would be rolling in extra cash.

      On the other hand – if you’re picky about your neighborhood, and about not having roommates, and you want to live like Carrie Bradshaw, you need to make quite a bit more.

    8. Joey*

      Dol has a good cost of living calculator if I remember correctly. Personally I use the most recent ACCRA cost of living index report I can find which you can frequently find at your local library.

    9. Rachel*

      I’m 24 and I make do on a very tight budget on $36k in NYC. It’s totally doable. My apartment is in a not-trendy neighborhood and is small, but my roommate and I are totally comfortable in it. I don’t take cabs, pretty much ever, but buy an unlimited Metrocard so I can get everywhere I want to go. I pack lunch four days a week, sometimes five. I go out for dinner or drinks with my friends pretty much whenever I want, but I prioritize it as a “thing I do with friends” and try to avoid ordering in or going out due to laziness. I can’t go shopping whenever I want. I can’t go to the movies or the theater all the time. But I budget for the fun stuff that matters to me, and I make it work. Most of my friends are making similar salaries (we’re almost all in nonprofits).

      1. Philly Girl*

        This gives me a lot of hope! Your lifestyle sounds a lot like mine so it’s good to know I could do it if need be. Can you elaborate on what are considered trendy vs non-trendy neighborhoods? Are you taking about in Manhattan or NYC as a whole?

        1. AVP*

          I’ve lived in a whole bunch of different NYC neighborhoods on little and medium budgets and I’m happy to chat off-network if you want. Send an email to (usually my spam email address)

    10. Eric Brasure*

      1) Don’t live in Manhattan on your salary. Just, don’t.
      2) I would strongly advise you to consider Queens.
      3) If you don’t have any real reason to move to New York, I wouldn’t do it. The housing market here has gone from “dysfunctional” to “what the hell is going on, we’re in serious, serious trouble”.

      1. Emily*

        As someone who is counting the months (17) until my partner’s contract is up and we can get the hell out of NYC, Eric, I agree whole heartedly with your complaints. A close girlfriend and I were commiserating about life in NYC and decided we moved here too late (late 20’s) and probably would have enjoyed our experience more if we had done our NY time a little younger (early-mid 20s) when we were easier to please and had a more youthful attitude.

        So if I’m offering advice to someone in Philly Girl’s position, I would say think seriously about what your expectations for NYC are (per AVP’s brilliant advice), why you’re contemplating this move, and seriously think about how much it sucks to live in a place that is such a PITA. If you decide to go for it, you will not be the first or last broke 25 year old living in a closet-sized apartment chasing a dream. If you decide not to take the jump, do it because you’re making the best choice for yourself, based on some honest reflection – not because you’re afraid. If you’re happy and feel secure in the choices you’re making, the endless apartment searches and claustrophobic bedrooms are just bumps on a thrilling ride.

        1. AmyNYC*

          Preach, Emily! As I said I’ve been here 8+ years and I think I can only do it for another few… the energy and excitement is great but after a while it gets to be exhausting, infuriating and crazy making. Also it’s CRAZY expensive and I want my own apartment – I know too many 40 year olds with roommates (plural!)

          1. Stephanie*

            Also it’s CRAZY expensive and I want my own apartment – I know too many 40 year olds with roommates (plural!)

            OMG, this is what burnt me out in DC and it’s nowhere near as bad as NYC. I just foresaw being 39 with a roommate and got freaked out (I’m 27). My last apartment search was particularly horrid (lots of open houses where I felt like I was “auditioning” for my housing). I love visiting NYC, but I realize I’m getting harder to please as I get older. I figured lots of other, more affordable places offered city amenities without the cost.

        2. Eric*

          I’ve lived in New York for 15 years and I’ve watched it go from the tail end of being a real, vibrant place for creatives/very beginning of Manhattan becoming Dubai on the Hudson. 45+ commutes are the norm (crammed into the armpit of a stranger, after having to let two packed trains to by–no “sitting and reading” to be found as a general rule), the housing stock that you could afford at your salary is, frankly, decrepit and in “transitional” areas (read: generally safe but buy your toothpaste and deodorant at the Duane Reade near your office, because you have no real amenities nearby like a drugstore), and… no. Just no.

          I make a pretty good salary and have a nice rent-stabilized apartment in a great neighborhood, but if you don’t have a LOT of money or 15 years of knowledge about how to live here, you do very, very badly.

          I’m not trying to scare anyone–if you have a real reason to be here, and you’re willing to put up with living in a windowless room in an apartment with 4 roommates where you might not even have a bodega nearby, then please, move here. But if you’re a normal working person who just wants to “experience New York”? Trust me–it’s not worth it.

      2. NYC*

        I think what you have to decide is what percentage of your salary you want to dedicate to rent – it will be higher than almost anywhere else in the country (for a smaller space). If you are wedded to Manhattan, take a look at Washington Heights and Inwood – they are more affordable than most other places in Manhattan and an easy ride downtown. If possible you want a rent stabilized apartment, but these are becoming rarer (so your rent can only go up a certain % every year).

        One thing is that there are cultural institutions that have great deals for younger people (and they all define them differently) – like opera tickets to the Met for $25 or something inexpensive (alas, I am too old now so don’t pay attention) and that was really great.

    11. MK*

      I just wanted to say that this discussion is fascinating! I grew up in NYC (Queens girl) and later moved to DC for a job…. which means that I’ve spent my whole entire life in high rent areas. I watch HGTV sometimes and I’m always amazed what the housing prices are in the rest of the country.

      1. AdAgencyChick*

        Right?! I live in NYC, and every time I travel, I have to avert my eyes when I see ads that say “2-bedroom condos, starting at $300K!” and I think, “I would kill to pay $300K for two bedrooms!” I always thought by the time I was as old as I am, I’d be a homeowner. Nope. Hubby and I are priced out of THAT in our neighborhood, for sure.

        I have reasons for staying here and it’s worth it to me, but good god, it’s depressing to think of how little we can afford here.

        1. MK*

          I think you captured my feelings exactly! I would love to have my own place one day but my student loans, my career (I work in public interest law and academia) and high cost area are huge barriers. Le sigh… at least we can fantasize right?

      2. Emma*

        I’ve lived in the Bronx for a bit, so I have to promote Woodlawn, at the top of the Bronx, as a place to live. It’s a tiny Ireland with its culture and bar scene, is relatively cheap (back in 2009 I was seeing 2-bedroom advertisements for about $1,200), and is walkable with Van Cortlandlt Park at your disposal. However, it is a *shlep* to Manhattan. It took me an hour on a good day (walk, one bus, two trains, walk) to commute to work in Washington Heights and you’re somewhat limited on the weekends as far as bus service went.

        As for moving over to NJ, I’m assuming you mean places like Hoboken or Jersey City?- all easily connected via bus or PATH train. Hoboken is just bananas expensive and certain areas in JC are becoming quite pricey. If you’re willing to go further afield, Newark is gentrifying like mad (and you can eat all the delicious Portuguese food in the Ironbound) while having quick access (PATH train) to the World Trade Center and Jersey City. But you have to be careful, because there are still some very dangerous areas in the city.

        Good luck in whatever you choose!

        1. Mimco*

          Our daughter, 24, wanted to move to NYC when she graduated from college. We told her to think about her priorities before deciding and look into her options. She has had disasters with roommates in the past, doesn’t like stairs and wanted a big closet. She decided to take a job outside the city, about 45 -60 minutes by train. She loves it. She can go to the city anytime she wants. Housing is more affordable and she feels she has the best of both worlds.

          1. Emma*

            Very nice, Mimco! Yes, there are many vibrant small and mid-sized cities making up the suburbs of southwestern NYS and northern NJ. And for all the bashing that NJT gets, I rarely had a problem getting into or out of the city…not counting extreme weather or St. Patrick’s Day, which is universally regarded as a cluster.

          2. VintageLydia*

            That’s pretty much where Mr. Vintage and I are at in regards to DC. We’re roughly an hour from the city so we can go if we really wanted to, but own a home we could never afford even 5 or 10 miles closer to the city. We’re in the outer reaches of Northern Virginia and I am AOK with not being near Old Town Alexandria anymore (though I miss some of the restaurants there. Even tourist sushi is better than boonie sushi.)

  18. Read all the feminist blogs*

    I realized recently that way too many of the feminist blogs I read are by white women. AAM feminists: What non-white feminist blogs should I be reading?

    1. Calla*

      I read CrunkFeministCollective, Racialicious, and RedLightPolitics. I have heard good things about (and have read one or two articles at) AngryBlackWoman. WomanistMusings is another, but one of the authors has said some homophobic things, so I don’t read it.

    2. yay feminists!!* They also have a facebook page: Guerrilla Feminism

      It’s all about intersectional feminism. Lots of articles/info by people/trans* women of color.

    3. Mints*

      I like gradientlair. It’s on the tumblr platform. She writes with an academic perspective usually and there are lots of sociology perspectives

      1. College Career Counselor*

        I’ve liked Tressie McMillan Cottom. Academic/Sociology/Education perspective, so not _just_ feminist, but she’s worth reading.

      1. Emma*

        Thanks, everyone! I’ve fallen out from reading feminist blogs because I was just finding the same-ol’, same-ol’ (and I just kinda gave up on Feministing…first their new format put me off, then I was just getting irritated with a lot of the content). These look great.

          1. Rana*

            Ugh, Jezebel. Go check out The Hairpin or The Toast – they have a lot of what used to make Jezebel good, and none of the crap. Plus their comment sections are good.

  19. Katie the Fed*

    Back to wedding talk for me – did anyone else do per-marital counseling? We’re signed up – our wedding will be civil/secular so we’re doing the counseling with a private therapist. I just feel like we’re dropping pretty serious money on the wedding but I’d like to also think about, you know, the marriage. We generally get along swimmingly and have no conflicts, but it still seems like a practical thing to do.
    Anyone care to tell me about your experiences and what to expect?

    1. KC*

      We didn’t do pre-marital counseling, but we both DID see therapists on our own for several years (once a week for me, a couple times a month for him), before we ever met. We both credit out therapists for helping us get to a place where a healthy, long-term relationship was possible for us to engage in. And I think that seeing a therapist is worthwhile in general, so it can’t hurt.

    2. CollegeAdmin*

      In keeping with the bizarre theme of advice, etc. that my parents received for their wedding, they were required to meet with a priest or something for marriage counseling…within a few weeks of the wedding as a last-minute “you need to do this” thing. The guy told my mother that my father was ready for marriage, but that she was not – that she had “authority issues” or something. He also gave them questionnaires to fill out, changed their answers, and then asked them why they answered the way they did. When they pointed out that he changed their answers, he said, “Well, yes, but if you had answered the way that it reads now, why would you have answered this way?” Very odd.

      Related: My parents were also told that my mother could not give birth to my brother without having taken the hospital’s birthing class first. She was in labor at that very moment – my father told them to stuff it.

    3. anon58*

      We were married in a Catholic ceremony so we were required by the church to undergo what Catholics call “pre-cana” which is basically counseling. Often times they do these as weekend retreats, but there wasn’t one that fit our schedule and my mom works for the church so we were able to fit in a half-day weekday session with a church leader….
      Anyway, it was great! We covered conflict management strategies and talked about some of the issues that arise in marriages (money, parenting strategies, etc.). It was nice to spend some time thinking about what a marriage is and how it’s different from just dating.

      1. r*

        We just finished our pre-Cana class, and for us, the benefit was not so much the classes themselves, but the discussions they prompted afterwards. We’ve been together for a very long time and have talked about all of the big stuff, but some of the topics, like family dynamics, and goals for the next 50 years, were things we hadn’t discussed in full. Plus, it was nice to have some time to think about our marriage and what we wanted from it. I mean, we’d spent hours talking about cake and photographers and so on, so it felt good to talk about the stuff that actually matters!

      2. doreen*

        I did the one day pre-Cana , which was actually pretty good. But it wasn’t counseling in the way that couples counseling is , and it wasn’t so much about conflict management strategies. Mostly what it was about was discussing ( as individual couples, not as a group) issues that the participants had never though to discuss before – it seemed like a lot of people just assumed they would have the same ideas about parenting ,finances, goals etc but had never actually discussed them . Some couples were surprised to find that one partner wanted completely separate finances and the other wanted completely joint, or that one was willing to have no luxuries in order to buy a house while the other renting and frequent moves to buying

      3. athek*

        I did Pre-Cana too, and liked it much more than I expected. It gave us a full day to just talk to each other about different things.

        1. the gold digger*

          My priest just told my husband to give me aspirin if I have a headaitch and told me not to stand in front of TV during football game. He said we should be nice to each other.

          But my cousin and her husband did the full pre-Cana and it was great for them – they had to put together a budget and plan meals and talk about who would take out the trash and if they were going to have kids and if so, who would take care of them during the day. Basically, they talked about the things that derail a lot of people.

        2. MeganO*

          Yep – my husband and I did pre-cana. I really felt that it was going to be a waste of time (we had already talked about money, kids, where we thought we’d want to live, chores, etc.), but there were some really great insights. We had to do one group retreat kind of thing, where we pretty much just talked as a couple – some of the folks there were married and just wanted to reconnect, so there was a big variety of experience. We also did a questionnaire thing and then went through our responses together, and that turned out to be helpful too – no major red flags, and some interesting new ways to think about how we were relating to each other (how much “family” time were we each used to expecting in our household, etc.). YMMV though, I’ve heard some crazy stories.

    4. CTO*

      I think nearly anyone can gain from some good counseling. My husband and I didn’t do counseling sessions, but did do a prep class that was probably about 4 weeks. It involved some guided conversations together about different topics, some personality and communications profiling/discussion, etc. We both definitely appreciated it. It helped us keep focused on the marriage when we could have gotten wrapped up in just the wedding itself. And we felt closer and more confident about our compatibility.

    5. Nodumbunny*

      We did premarital counseling, even though like you we had little conflict. We found it very valuable and still jokingly reference (but also use) the “fight fair” guidance/role play the counselor had us do.

    6. Judy*

      We did pre-marital counseling with a minister in our church, but not the one that married us, we got married in a different city.

      We were each given a workbook (I’d assume by now maybe even a website) to do some testing in, and they checked it, and compared and discussed it with us.

      Lots of questions about finances, kids, household duties, etc.

      Trying to bring out differences that we hadn’t discussed. So this was not about conflict resolution, but about expectations.

      1. Judy*

        We may have role played a conflict, but it was mostly about bringing out our expectations so we would both be on the same page.

    7. Rachel*

      Yes do it! We did pre-martial counseling and it is actually MORE helpful when you are not having major conflict. When you are in a major conflict, the therapist will need to focus on that. In a stable relationship, you can spend your therapy time talking about big issues: money, kids, lifestyle, religion, or lack of it, and sexuality.

      Couple of notes: please look for a licensed marriage and family therapist. Other professional counselors will often do marriage therapy. However I feel like the educational requirements and preparation for LM FT’s are much better.

    8. KS*

      We did pre-marital counseling and found it valuable. I highly recommend it! Basically, it’s a guided discussion on how you feel about finances (e.g., how much money would you spend on something without consulting your spouse? $100? $1,000?), children, religion, communication, conflicts, among other helpful topics.

      I’ve always thought my husband and I are very open and communicative, have similar life goals, etc., but the counseling session unearthed some subjects we hadn’t thought of yet. (Nothing earth-shattering, just interesting aspects to marriage we didn’t consider as boyfriend-girlfriend.)

      I’d say, do it.

    9. SarahBot*

      My husband and I (we’ve been married for just over a year) did pre-marital counseling. Like you, we didn’t have any big issues or conflicts in our relationship, and we’d been together for almost ten years at that point (and lived together for 4ish years), so I felt like we’d seen each other at our best and worst – but we tend not to have big-picture conversations on our own, and so I wanted a sort of formal venue for discussing what I felt like were the Big Three: kids, money, and conflict.

      (I was actually the instigator in terms of us going to pre-marital counseling – my husband tends to be skeptical of therapy in general, whereas I’ve been seeing a therapist for 5+ years. I started going in the wake of a death in the family but ended up continuing because it’s done me so much good. I expected a lot of pushback from my husband, to be honest, but he said that if I thought it was important, then it was important to him, too.)

      Since I already had a therapist, I asked him for recommendations – he recommended a private therapist who specialized in working with couples. (If I recall correctly, seeing the pre-marital counselor was covered by my insurance, so it ended up being about $60 or so out-of-pocket.)

      When we met with him, he started by asking us a little about our history (our family make-ups, how we got together, etc.), and then asked us why we had decided to do pre-marital counseling. We actually ended up doing much more talking than our counselor did – he would make observations or ask questions every once in a while, but it was mostly my husband and I talking things out.

      I had originally intended for us to have two or three sessions, but the first session (plus the ensuing conversation on the way home and for a while that evening) ended up addressing the issues that I had in mind so well that we ended up only doing the one session.

    10. Anonymous*

      We did a pre-cana weekend ( and also two sessions with a marriage counselor. Prior to the sessions, we did a FOCCUS inventory ( which helped us to identify areas of potential conflict, and areas where we just hadn’t really thought to talk about our expectations.

      The only problem is that I’m very literal, so our counselor was quite concerned that I had answered yes to something like “are there things about your partner that you would like to change.” I had to clarify that of course there are. I wish he wouldn’t rip hte bag of cookies open and leave it open for them to get stale, etc. There are things about myself that I’d like to change too. I’m not expecting either of us to change, but I was just trying to be honest that neither of us is perfect.

  20. Gwen Soul*

    Thank god an open thread!

    So today we had an interview candidate come in wearing jeans and a turtle neck. I also had ot ask her three times who she was. Eventually she said “am I [name]?” so I was so unsure I had the right person I actually printed out her resume and asked her if it was her current one. She is the right person and now we are stuck with her for 8 hours because we flew her in and have an all-day interview set up for her and I don’t know if it is better to go through with it or let her know now it won’t be a good fit and let her explore town the rest of the day.
    The jeans thing is a big sign, she is from California, but this is a mid west fortune 100 health insurance company, not a start up so not sure where she got that idea from.

    1. The Other Dawn*

      I would go through with it and see what happens. But I would definitely take into consideration her behavior and the fact that she showed up in casual attire. If she turns out to have stellar credentials and interviews well, seems like a good fit, etc., maybe less emphasis on the initial impression. Maybe she was jet lagged or luggage got lost? I don’t know.

      1. De Minimis*

        Even in California showing up in casual attire would not be a norm unless it was for certain tech industry jobs [like the startups you mention] but otherwise dress code standards are generally the same.

        1. Elizabeth*

          I think everyday dress can be a bit more casual than in some parts of the country, but jeans are still not interview attire outside of tech. I might cut the applicant a bit of slack if she’s very inexperienced (about to graduate college and applying for her first job, for example), but would keep in mind that she might need more mentoring on professional norms than another candidate.

      2. Elizabeth*

        While in general I think people shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, I do think this is a red flag. Going from California to the midwest shouldn’t result in so much jet lag that you forget to dress up for an interview, and a savvy job-searcher would never check her interview outfit. If her luggage were lost, the right way to deal with it would be to mention it immediately upon meeting the interviewer – “It’s so nice to meet you! I’m sorry about my casual attire – the taxi drove away with my suitcase when it dropped me off at my hotel.”

    2. Anon*

      No advice on what to do for the day itself but is this a sign you should review your pre-screening process? Flying someone in is a big deal and with the candidate being such a bust I’d definitely be asking questions about how she got to this point in the process to begin with (it’s not just the jeans, it’s the weird evasion of simple questions). Maybe she just really fooled the pre-screener but it would be worth looking into.

      1. Gwen Soul*

        She did well in the pre screen. I am confused how she got this far. I went ahead and took one of our slots and she is nice enough, but just lacks common sense and is very shy, I don’t think this is the right job for her since we require a lot of customer interaction. She also is recently our of school and her friends told her to wear what she would wear to school

        1. The Other Dawn*

          Based on this information, she’s a pass. Common sense can’t be taught. Shyness can be overcome, but that could take a long time and you don’t want to alienate customers. Sounds like she probably didn’t do a lot of prep work for how to present herself in an interview.

    3. Barbara in Swampeast*

      If she doesn’t have any skills or experience that makes her stand out I would vote to let her go sightseeing.

    4. BJ McKay*

      I live in Austin, one of the most casual cities in America, and I would never wear jeans to an interview. My field is very casual, too.

        1. Gwen Soul*

          Nope, she made it a question. I was so confused I showed her the resume I had so she would have a chance to say she musy have misunderstood and was there for someone else.

          1. thenoiseinspace*

            Oh, that is BIZARRE. I would seriously be wondering if it were a fake name if she can’t even recognize it…

            Is there any chance there was a pronunciation error or language barrier?

            1. Natalie*

              It could just be a verbal tick. I’ve met more than one person (often young women, but not exclusively) that use a rising inflection after every sentence. It is totally bizarre and annoying, but I wouldn’t say it implies something dishonest just yet.

    5. Katie the Fed*

      I’m actually a proponent of letting things like that slide initially. And I say this because I once had a new guy fall asleep on the first day of the job, and while some people would think that’s an unforgivable offense, I decided to just talk to him gently about it and let it go – and he turned out to be the best, hardest, most loyal employee I’ve ever had. He was mortified about it and was generally just brilliant, so it was such a minor blip generally.

      I’d go through the rest of the interview (garghhh at an 8-hour interview – she might be REALLY nervous).

      1. Littlemoose*

        I feel like that could have easily arisen from insomnia due to anxiety about the new job! Glad it worked out well. On my second day of my current job, I overslept and was 15 minutes late. I was mortified, and my supervisor gave me a stern waning but let it go. Thank goodness, because this job is a great fit for me and I’m good at it, if I do say so myself.

  21. Anonymous*

    I’m at a crossroads and could use some advice from those who have been in similar situations.

    I moved from Old City six months ago. I loved her to be in the same city as my significant other, as well as waiting a much-needed change from Old City. I work at home most of the time. It’s been very difficult to make friends here – in fact, I have made no new friends. This is hard for me, because I was very social in my old city (i.e. church group, business networking group, volunteering, etc.).

    It seems like every door that I try to open in New City gets closed. I’ve tried to find a church group, but nothing seems to fit. I’ve reached out to various nonprofit groups about volunteering – no response.

    The easy thing would be for me to return to Old City, where I have a support system. The difficult part is that I don’t want to leave my significant other. He’s “open” to moving to Old City with me, but really, really loves New City a lot.

    Has anyone else dealt with this? Thanks for reading/listening. :)

    1. Barbara in Swampeast*

      Six months is a very short time. I think part of your fitting in problems might be that you want to immediately replicate your old support system and that’s not going to happen. I think you need to give New City at least another six months or even a year before deciding to move back. Find a church that seems OK. It won’t be like your old church, especially at the beginning. Attend services and participate in any other activities you are interested in. You have to get to know people and they have to get to know you. Same for volunteering and networking. Find an organization that is just OK and get involved. After two or three months, evaluate the church, the volunteer organization, the business network and see if it feels like it might work for you. If not, find another and begin the process over again. This will take time.

    2. The Other Dawn*

      Some cities can be very closed to “outsiders” for whatever reason. I haven’t been in this situation and actually am not very social, but I would say to try a few more things and stick it out for a few more months. Maybe a book club or something?

      1. CTO*

        Maybe, a local newcomers’ group, or something like that would be another way to connect with people. It can definitely be hard in some cities/cultures. I’d give it a little more time before making a decision about moving. Hang in there!

      2. Elizabeth West*

        My city is. If you’re not a church person, married with kids, or a twenty-something college kid, FORGET IT. And dating here is a freaking nightmare for anyone over 40 (basically, there’s nothing). Although I did find some like-minded Doctor Who nerds to hang out with through Meetup, so keep trying. :)

    3. Parfait*

      It took me about 5 years to build up a good circle of close friends when I moved across the country. I mean the kind of friends you can call on when you need help and they will deliver, not just casual coffee-date friends.

      Once you make one friend, you will start meeting their friends and it will snowball. Keep trying to get out there! Try, the strictly platonic section of craigslist, and when you go out, strike up conversations with people. I met one of my best friends in a bar – we got talking after I asked if I could look at the menu she had, discovered we had things in common, and when we were parting ways I took a deep breath and asked if she would like to hang out again. And she said YES and gave me her card.

    4. Laufey*

      The first year I moved out of my house was rough. Really rough. I moved to a part of the country with no family and no friends. Because I didn’t know anyone, I got an apartment which I could afford without a roommate, which meant it wasn’t in the hip, happening part of town where (it seemed like) all the other young adults lived. It was a city with a bad reputation crime-wise, so I was very nervous about just hanging out downtown by myself with no one to know if I went missing. Even with a very friendly workplace (where getting a beer on a Friday night is not out of the ordinary), it felt like I was just going to working, going home, sleeping, wash, rinse, repeat. I started drinking by myself a lot (not advised) and just felt very miserable all in all. I tried to make friends, but it’s very hard when there aren’t preset clubs advertising and stuff. And then something happened. I realized that I had been in that city for year. I could no longer play the “I just moved here card.” So I looked at what I was doing and what wasn’t working and changed it. I say this just so you realize, yes it’s hard to make friend. Yes, changing cities is hard. You’re not an inferior person for not knowing anyone six months in. I really wish someone had told me that at some point, so I’m telling you.

      Obviously, what works for one person won’t work for everything, but here’s what worked for me. Find the smallest group of people possible. I grew up in and around farm country and rode horses my whole life. So I found a barn near this city and started riding again. Boom. Instant people with same interests. There were a couple courses in college that I had always wanted to study but never got a chance. So I took a course at the community college after work. Boom. Instant people with same interests. You mentioned church groups – try finding a young adult, or sports team, or baking committee – whatever interests you – group. Just show up. Don’t wait to be invited. For volunteering, follow up with them and/or find smaller organizations that might have less bureaucracy to wade through to volunteer. For business networking, find chocolate teapot makes or chocolate teapot spout attachers or chocolate teapot handle shapers.

      Good skill!

      1. Anonymous*

        Thank you for sharing your experiences. It sounds like we were/are in very similar situations. Oddly enough, this isn’t my first time moving to a new city where I knew no one. After this most recent experience, I’ve realized that maybe I just got incredibly lucky in Old City in the friends department. It took me about a year to really build up a good support system/group of reliable friends. I was also very lucky to work with a lot of people who were in my age/stage of life at the time, and that helped a lot too.

    5. Lindsay J*

      Is New City in a different part of the country? I moved from the North East to Texas and it was hard because it really is a different way of life down here and my yankee brashness doesn’t always mix well with the “Oh bless your heart” southern niceties. My city also can be very insular, with people proudly displaying “BOI” (Born on Island) stickers on their cars and starting arguments in news article comments with, “Well I’m a BOI and you clearly aren’t because…” (The opposite faction is “IBC” which is “Island By Choice”).

      I had a really hard time at first. I was one of the oldest people at my job (and I’m only 27!) and it was difficult to relate to people whose concerns were who they were bringing to prom/whether they were going to pass their driving test. Those that were old enough for me to at least go out and have a drink with I just never clicked with so they would plan things like bingo nights and exclude me.

      Outside social groups were a problem, too. I just always felt like an outsider no matter what because everyone already had their own friend groups, they had different values than me, etc.

      Things got better slowly.

      I left that job and found a new one, and found that I related to the people there better – a lot of us are transplants from different states, rather than natives. They introduced me to friends of theirs, in time.

      I went on and found a group and wound up becoming a regular at pub trivia for awhile. That kind of got old and my schedule changed and I stopped going, but I made some solid connections from there. I mentioned wanting to start volunteering on my Facebook and one of them mentioned that they volunteer at a local food pantry and gave me all the info on that.

      Most recently I decided I wanted to start exercising again and decided to try something with a social component. I tried crossfit awhile ago with a coworker and I just didn’t like it or feel like I fit in in their “box” but I found online that there is a dance studio that runs Zumba classes right by my house that does a first class free. I went last Thursday and really enjoyed it, and it seems like there are a lot of girls my age that go there. I felt awkward, and certainly didn’t hit it off right off the bat with any of them but several of them gave me “hang in there – it gets easier” comments at the end of class and I feel like in time I can probably make friends there.

      It’s all really trial and error and giving things time. Unless it’s a tiny city I doubt you’ve tried all the different possible social groups there are so there’s still a possibility that you’ll fit in great somewhere. After 6 months here I was miserable. I coming up on a year and 6 months after moving here and I’ve never been happier.

      1. Anonymous*

        New City is Nashville, if that helps. I came from “the North.” And I’m NOT in the music industry either.

        The people here are “friendly,” but not particularly welcoming, if that makes sense. There are a ton of churches here, but in my experience, when I’ve inquired about community groups, they don’t really know what to do with me. (This isn’t a Nashville-specific problem – it’s a church-wide problem, but that’s another topic for another day.) I’m 30, single but seriously dating someone. They typically want to put me in groups with women in their early 20s because most of the people my age are married with kids. My last group had a good mix of singles, engaged, marrieds.

        My workplace is a sales office, so no one is really there all the time, which is why I work from home a good amount. There’s no “socialness” to the office either, if that makes sense.

        I’m trying to save money for a down payment on a home, so I have a really tight budget on what I can afford. Unfortunately, it’s in the un-hip part of town where there are not a lot of younger people. The rents here are nearly double what I used to pay for a very nice apartment in the wealthiest part of town in Old City.

        I think what is bothering me is that I really feel like I gave up a lot to move here (i.e. a good living space, a great church, a great support/social network, etc.) and I haven’t had a good return of my investment yet.

        I’ve decided to give it a full year and if I’m not happy, I’m moving back. My significant other is aware of my unhappiness/depression and understands completely. I’m really going to give it a good try these next few months though. I really think if the friends/social situation changed a little bit, it would help tremendously.

        1. Addy*

          I also have moved to Nashville because of a significant other. I’m 25 and I was MISERABLE for the first year, and now that I’m in my second year it’s getting a lot better. Hang in there!

          Want to get coffee, internet stranger?

    6. kaybee*

      I moved to a fairly closed off city about a year and a half ago. The locals are what I call “friendly, but not warm”. They’re always polite, but I never feel like I connect beyond acquaintanceship – everyone makes it clear they already have their friends and family, so thanks but no thanks.

      So I got involved in some groups and now, I have a nice social group of other “transplants”. I think it’s really telling that all my close friends here are also newcomers. Your city may be similar, where you need to reach out to people who are also new in town. Just being new in town together seems to be a bonding experience!

      That said, I am pretty happy here now but it took about a year. My SO moved here about 6 months after I did, and he hates it. So we have a deal: we’ll stick it out another year (because my job is going really well) and then we’ll move to somewhere we can BOTH be happy.Maybe you can reach a compromise like that with your SO – you’ll keep trying for another 6 months, but if you’re still unhappy after a year, you can start discussing other options?

      1. Anonymous*

        I like the idea of a compromise. Like I said, he is “open” to moving to my Old City, which is all that I’m asking for at this point.

        I’m definitely going to give Meetup groups a try – it can’t hurt. I completely agree with you – it’s very telling when many of the people you meet are transplants. There are a good deal of transplants here in New City (Nashville), but many are very transient – they tend to stay for 6 months to a year, and then leave.

        1. kaybee*

          That’s really interesting because I’m just a few hours north of you (St. Louis – it would be funny if that’s your “old city”!) and I’ve found that a lot of newcomers are transient as well. I’ve met a few people who moved after I did and they’ve already left.

          I hope things get better and that you and your SO find a good solution! I empathize a lot, moving far away from family/friends was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

      2. Stephanie*

        I kind of had that issue when I had to move back to Phoenix to job search (my folks live here). I found people here are friendly, not warm as well. So I made a lot of acquaintances, but no close friends.

        I don’t think it’s a rudeness thing. I picked up here that it’s very common to grow up in Phoenix, attend one of the big three state schools, and move back to/stay in Phoenix afterwards (since most of the AZ population is clustered around Phoenix). So I found a lot of people had family here and classmates they knew forever.

        It was kind of awkward, but I eventually found the other transplants, mostly through very specific ECs and Meetups.

        1. KLH*

          Hey, I am in Phoenix too! And yes, it’s kind of closed off. I would not have moved here had my family not already migrated.

    7. Stephanie*

      It gets better!

      I moved from Texas to the DC area for my first job and literally knew one person.

      Here’s what helped me and resulted in a lot of close friends:
      1. Crazily enough, I posted an ad in the strictly platonic section of Craigslist saying “Hi, I just moved here and know no one. I like [x,y,z]. Want to meet up?” I got a few weirdo responses (and definitely had to reiterate it was platonic on occasion), but I met a couple of buddies that way.
      2. I reached out to friends from elsewhere and asked if they knew anyone in DC they thought I’d click with as a friend. Soon, I met one friend who introduced me to another friend and so on.
      3. Classes! I tried various activities where I would do an activity for like eight weeks. This got me to meet new people and see them on a regular basis. I tried improv, which helped meet a lot of people and introduced me to a whole community.
      4. Meetup? I’ve had mixed experiences, tbh, but if you stick to smaller groups that’s probably a good way to meet people.

      Good luck! It’s hard and it took a good six months before I felt like I had any good friends after I moved. I know some cities are easier to do this than others (DC was good because there were a lot of people my age who also moved there for their first job).

        1. Stephanie*

          It was hard, but I don’t regret it. I met a lot of people who I probably wouldn’t have met if I stayed in Houston post-college (because I would have defaulted to just hanging out with college friends who also stayed in Houston).

          Also, take this as an opportunity to try out new things! Improv? Never did it before, loved it, and made a bunch of friends doing it. MMA? Same deal.

      1. Natalie*

        Jumping off # 1 – I know more than one person who has used OK Cupid to make friends. There’s a setting for “just looking for friends” and the search function works pretty well. You will still get dating message, but you can just ignore/block those folks.

        1. Fiona*

          Also, OKCupid is just kind of a fun site if you like quizzes/surveys/personality assessments. It’s kind of like virtual people watching.

      2. CTO*

        I’ve actually met cool people through Craigslist platonic ads, too. As long as you’re smart and careful, there are legit, nice people out there!

    8. Malissa*

      When I moved from Big City 1 to Big City 2, the transition was very easy. I could find friends and people to hang out with.
      When I moved from Big City 2 to small town….That was a very different story. I tried very hard to make friends, I tried quite a few things. It never really worked out. I seriously thought I had an issue. Then I realized that people in that town either graduated from high school with their friends or had children the same age as their friends. Given that I didn’t grow up there and didn’t have kids…I would forever be the outsider. I did eventually make a friend that is still very close.
      I was ever so happy to move out of small town and now live in middle sized town that explodes in population for the winter. I’ve made a couple of new friends already and it’s been 7 months.
      So it really does vary on a city by city basis how easy it is to find new friends.

    9. monologue*

      If you work from home most of the time, are you at an office or other work place a couple of days a week? If you are and you like anyone there, try to go for coffees or lunch with them.

      If you’re working totally from home, is it possible to do any of your work in coffee shops or an outside studio? Even if you don’t end up meeting your BFF there, this can feel less lonely. My city has some new places popping up that are coworking spaces for freelancer type people. Is there anything like that? If you have the means you could rent space somewhere like that and see familiar faces coming back over time.

      Do you have any hobbies you can go out and do? It sounds like you’re already looking into some stuff which is awesome. I’ve found classes helpful because you see the same group repeatedly. If you take public transport, look for people from your class that go the same way as you and chat on the bus on the way home after the first couple of classes, or suggest grabbing a coffee together at break.

      Can you meet people through your partner? Any invitations to house parties, clubs, cottage weekends, dinner parties where you can meet new people?

      On another blog I like, people usually recommend in these sorts of situations, but I’ve never used it myself.

      Also don’t forget to reach out to your old supports. Can you skype with close friends or family from your old city? I found this really useful when I moved away and felt isolated. I felt like I had actually seen people in person just from video chatting.

      Good luck! I hope you can get in to a volunteering position or community group soon : )

    10. NatalieR*

      If you are still reading, I moved to Nashville knowing very few people (none that well) 5 years ago. And it was tough at first. I’d be happy to take you to lunch or coffee. You can email me through my linked site. Welcome! It took me a few years, but now I have a great circle of friends and life here.

  22. AnonMousyNonNon*

    Urgh, my performance review is next week. Last year, I got meets expectations across the board, despite improving my turn-around by 90% (when compared to the person who previously held my job, since I was recently promoted and couldn’t compare against myself) and taking on considerable additional responsibility (including training new staff and implementing streamlined best-practices/training staff in new software). I asked then what I could do to exceed expectations (since that’s what I’m striving for) and was just told ‘Meets Expectation isn’t bad.’

    This year, I’ve continued to improve turnaround (and have doubled my output, assisted in major projects assigned by corporate), and I pinched hit for a colleague that was on FMLA. I have an email file full of accolades all the way from senior management AND from outside clients.

    I don’t know what I’m going to do if I get “Meets Expectations” again. Especially now, when our reviews are going to be scrutinized by the company we just merged with (and I suspect they’re going to weigh in heavily if there are layoffs).

    Advice pretty please??

    1. ClaireS*

      It’s hard to say whether your improvement over the last person in the job warrants better than meets expectations as they may have hired you because that person wasn’t meeting expectations to begin with.

      But, that being said I can see how this can be demoralizing. In some companies, meets expectations is the norm and you need to be a super hero to exceed it. If you do just meet expectations again maybe engage in a serious conversation with your boss about what it would take to exceed expectations and try to make the conversation as specific as possible (e.g. Do you need to triple output). That would serve 2 purposes: 1) helping you understand how to get there and 2) making your boss critically think about the rating system.

      Good luck!

    2. IndieGir*

      I would say it depends. Are you getting decent raises/bonuses? Do you have a good relationship with your boss? If yes, then don’t worry about meets vs. exceeds. Some companies (like mine) mandate that only 20% of folks get exceeds so for us it usually means that only 2 people on our little team are allowed to be “exceeds” in any given year and we are pushed to tell people how great “meets” is. However, there is quite a bit of flexibility in the pay associated with meets so exceeds vs meets doesn’t really mean a much bigger bump in the money area.

      If, on the other hand, you are getting stinky raises or feel you are seriously underpaid, then as much as I hate to say it, start looking. I know that answer sucks, but sometimes you could walk on water and it still wouldn’t impress anyone because they’ve made up their mind that AnonMousyNonNon either is 1) just an OK performer or 2) isn’t going to put on his/her boogie shoes and find a better job. And in any event, looking around can help you determine your real market worth. Good luck!

    3. MaryMary*

      You could ask how many (percentage) employees receive an exceeds expectations. To Claire’s point, at some companies exceeds expectations is for superstars only. Maybe top 5% or less of performers. I totally understand why you’re frustrated (especially since no one is giving you direction on how to improve), but if your performance is being graded on a curve, it might give you piece of mind that you’re in the 93% percentile, but that still works out to a meets expectations.

      1. Nodumbunny*

        Yes, my husband (Fortune 100 company) is only allowed to give out a certain percentage of exceeds expectations during performance reviews and even then he has to be prepared to defend it vigorously.

        1. Judy*

          Always amazing that “Exceeds expectations must be no more than X%” and “Needs Improvement must be at least Y%”. So you’re certainly free to give more NI ratings, but you’ve got to fight to get even the targeted percent of EE ratings.

          1. Joey*

            most people think they are above average. Give them free reign and this is statement is proven consistently.

            1. Judy*

              To (probably badly) quote a Dilbert “So you only hire from the top 10% of the graduating class, but you pay based on industry averages?”

              Companies that promote a culture of “Hiring only the best” shouldn’t need to only recognize no more than 5% as exceeding expectations, and force at least 10% into “Needs Improvement” and a PIP every year.

    4. Fiona*

      This reminds me of my last review. My supervisors comments were all positive, but I got mostly 3/5’s. I was like, on an A-F scale that’d be a C, how can that be good? I didn’t push it because I don’t intend to be around for a second annual review.

    5. Joey*

      Well its pretty hard to exceed expectations if they don’t tell you how.

      My first thought is don’t take a meets expectations as bad. Usually that means you’re a good performer doing exactly what you were hired to do. Too many people see it as a B or C.

      As for how to get an exceeds you’re really shooting in the dark. The best thing would be to look for the commonalities of people who got an exceeds. Are they performing functions above their job? Did they do something innovative that had a real impact? The only thing you really have to go off of is it likely has to be something that no one else is doing that had a significantly positive impact.

      FYI- I know its said here all the time, but this is definitely a reason people leave their jobs.

    6. Rat Racer*

      Lots of companies (my last two included) will say that “Meets Expectations” is a very good review because their standards are so high. (And admittedly, both companies are full of very high-performing type-As, and being “average” among them is no small potatoes.) With that said, it’s stupid that if “Meets Expectations” means that you’re doing a fantastic job, that the next tier down “Partially meets” or “Does not meet” expectations. I would think that a company would not want their employees to fall out on a normally distributed bell curve, where just as many employees score 4s and 5s as score 1s and 2s.

      This isn’t advice (sorry) just musings.

  23. The Other Dawn*

    I went on an interview last week and went well. I expect to hear early next week one way or the other. (And I know I will because it’s someone I’ve worked with before in a vendor-to-company relationship.) I hope I get it. It would be a fabulous opportunity. Not only is it a newly created position doing something I enjoy, but the person I would report to is a wealth of information and at a senior level. I can learn so much from her. And it’s only 10 minutes down the road.

  24. Noelle*

    Finishing week 2 of new job! So far it’s going very well, although it’s definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone. I’m learning a lot of new things and I think once I’m up to speed I will like the job. I honestly don’t like it as much as my old job (which was being eliminated at the end of this year), but it will be much better for my career in the long run so I’m trying to focus on that and learn as much as I can.

  25. CollegeAdmin*

    I am non-exempt. I end up staying late at least once a month to assist with events and take down meetings. College employees are encouraged to take comp time (e.g. I stayed an hour late on Tuesday, I should come in 1 hour late or leave 1 hour early on Wednesday) instead of putting it in as overtime.

    Putting aside the issues of a) comp time is technically not legal, I think, and b) I would prefer the pay to the “free” time…both of my bosses (when they remember that oh gee, CollegeAdmin isn’t supposed to be there this late), tell me to come in late in the morning. I would prefer to leave early for traffic reasons. Can they mandate when/how I take my comp time?

    1. fposte*

      Assuming you’re at a private university, I can’t see any way it’s legal not to pay you OT if you’re genuinely non-exempt.

      That kind of makes the rest of it a moot point–they can’t mandate the timing of comp time they shouldn’t make you take in the first place.

    2. AnonHR*

      As far as I know there’s no reason that comp time wouldn’t be legal if it’s in the same work work week like it sounds like it is. As your employer, I also don’t see any reason they wouldn’t be allowed to give you your work schedule as they see fit.

      It never hurts to ask though? Have you told them you prefer to beat the traffic instead of getting the extra sleep? If so, and they say no, is there something they need you there for in the mornings?

      1. AnonHR*

        To clarify- it sounds like you typically come in 9-5, but are being asked to work, say 9-6 Monday and then 11-5 Tuesday in some weeks, meaning you haven’t actually worked more than a 40 hour work week at the end of it so it’s not actually a case of OT vs. comp time, just an adjusted weekly schedule.

        If that’s not the case (or you’re in a state with daily OT regulations that I’m not accounting for), ignore everything I just said :)

        1. CollegeAdmin*

          True. I have a 35-hour work week, 8:30am to 4:30pm. Overtime under 5 hours in a week is payed at straight time, not time and a half.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Just to clarify: As long as you don’t work more than 40 hours in a week, they don’t have to pay you overtime. Anything over 40 hours must be paid at time and a half.

            But if they’re just adjusting your schedule within the week to keep you from going over 40, that’s perfectly legal.

            1. fposte*

              Oh, right, for some reason I was thinking of working late on Friday–probably because today is Friday! Sorry for the misinformation, CollegeAdmin.

              1. CollegeAdmin*

                I think I know, but can someone confirm for me how Friday would be different (like, if I stayed late tonight)? If it makes a difference, and I don’t think it would, my timesheets are submitted every other Friday, and today is not one of those Fridays. (Today is a payday Friday instead – yay!)

                1. AnonHR*

                  If your timesheet consistently logs Sat-Fri, that’s what your work week is. Starting Saturday and ending Friday, you start a tally of hours, once you hit 40 during the week, the additional hours start getting paid time-and-a-half.

                  I think it’s confusing because a lot of people talk about anything outside their regular schedule as being overtime, which isn’t the legal definition, so the “comp time” that IS illegal is if you work 45 hours one week but get paid a regular rate for all of them (or worse, not paid for the extra 5 hours at all) and instead of paying you, they bank 5 hours that you can take off later.

                  So, they aren’t trying to avoid paying you overtime that you worked, they’re just not letting you work any overtime by adjusting your schedule.

                2. AnonAdmin*

                  If you are asked to stay late on a Friday AND you have not flexed your time Monday-Thursday to allow for the extra Friday hours such that you don’t go over 40 hours total for that week, you would be owed overtime.

                  However, if you worked shorter days Monday-Thursday, you could work extra hours on Friday to get to 40 total for the week, and they would not need to pay you overtime.

                  TL;DR – If your total hours for a week exceed 40, you need to be paid OT for the hours over 40.

                3. fposte*

                  And remember that that’s over *40* hours–if you work more than your scheduled 35 hours, that doesn’t entitle you to overtime until you hit 40.

            2. Dan*

              Standard disclaimer: It’s different in California. CA employers must pay 1.5x after 8 hours in a day, and 2x after 12.

              I loved being an hourly employee in CA :)

          2. Paige Turner*

            Has anyone else heard of this? I’ve only had one job that was FT non-exempt where I ended up getting an hour or so of overtime here and there, but it was definitely at time and a half, even if it was only 15min or so.

    3. ClaireS*

      I don’t know whether or not they can mandate it but have you tried straight up asking for what you want?

      Start with a convo about your preference to be paid and if that’s a no go then when they say “come in late tomorrow” respond with “I’d actually prefer to leave early, is that feasible”

      Maybe you’ve already done this but sometimes the simple solutions are the hardest to see.

      1. CollegeAdmin*

        I do this each time, and one boss in particular kind of winces but says okay. She then either forgets or is deliberately obtuse the next time as well – “Oh, come in late tomorrow.” “Boss, the later I come in, the worse traffic is, as I’ve mentioned before. I’d like to leave early instead.” “Oh, um, okay, I guess…I guess that would be okay.” We’ve done this song and dance at least 10 times, and I’ve been here less than a year.

        1. ClaireS*

          Ugh. That really blows.

          What about a dedicated conversation outside of when it actually happens?

          “I wanted to chat about comp time. Typically you ask me to come in late but this doesn’t jive with the traffic. But you don’t always seem comfortable with my leaving early. Is my read on that correct? Is there a reason why coming in late is preferred?”

          Maybe that would work?

          1. CollegeAdmin*

            I like this, actually – I mean, I know what the reason is, but they’ve never flat-out told me. It’s because I’m due in at 8:30am (when our office opens), but they don’t come in until 9:30am or later – whenever they feel like, really. I wonder if they’d actually tell me or just dance around the answer.

        2. CollegeAdmin*

          Oh, I missed the first bit about my preference to be paid. I get told to take it up with the budget people, who then tell me to take it up with my boss – all while these people are saying this in this tone of, “Take the hint, we do comp time, not overtime.” I push for it if it’s multiple hours (last night I stayed an extra 3 hours), but if it’s only 1 hour I usually give up.

          1. Elizabeth*

            They presumably have budgeted $X for your pay for the year, and don’t want to go over that if they can avoid it. Obviously you would rather make more money, but it’s reasonable for them to not want to pay you more. It also might seem like a small thing to pay you for just a couple more hours a week, but if they’re implementing it as a policy across the board, it could add up to a big difference. (If all their hourly employees worked & were paid for 37 hours/week instead of 35, that would mean a 5% increase in that part of the budget.)

      2. Sunflower*

        This. My guess is they don’t want to pay you anymore than you’ve been scheduled but it never hurts to ask.

    4. HR*

      Comp time is legal as long as it is used within the same week (i.e. you stay late on Monday, and leave early on Tuesday). Unfortunately, there is no law (that I’m aware of) that would prohibit your employer from mandating when you take your comp time (again, as long as it’s within the same week).

      If by any chance you’re in California, however, overtime is based on an 8 hour day, so if you worked over 8 hours in a day, you would receive overtime for that day.

    5. Bryan*

      You should check your state laws about comp time regarding the legality of it. Depending on the state (looking at you California) you can use the AAM standard “I don’t want us getting in trouble.”

      1. CollegeAdmin*

        Just looked it up. “If an employee is a non-exempt employee, meaning an employee who is due overtime, the employer may not award compensatory time in place of paying overtime compensation.” However, the rest of the FAQ page (, not like yahoo answers or anything) references 40 hours a week – I work 35, which is full time at the college.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          If you’re not working more than 40 hours in the week, the overtime law doesn’t come into play. Because it’s not overtime until you’re working more than 40 hours in a given week; until then, it’s just modifying your schedule.

          (Except in CA.)

    6. The IT Manager*

      I think they can. It sucks for you, but it sounds like if you are going to be out that they prefer you there at the end of the day rather than the morning. They can have that preference, I think.

  26. Anon for This*

    Just gotta share that I just got laid off–they’re closing our entire office and moving corporate positions to one of our factories instead. It’s weird, because I’m currently AT one of our factories (not the one corporate is moving to), so I’m remote from all the affected people, yet everyone here knows and is kind of treating me with kid gloves. I’m actually pretty fine with it–I needed this push to get out and look (I’ve been with the company 12-13 years), and now I can do it with the blessing of my company and my boss and his boss.

    I used to kind of skim the job-hunting advice on here, thinking it wasn’t relevant to me, but now I’m soaking it up, and am going to buy the guide and all that stuff.

    I am curious what other people have received for benefits in similar situations. We received six months notice (though they can let us go sooner, with two weeks notice, if we’re no longer needed, and of course at any time for bad performance) and a month of severance for each year of service, up to a max of six months (which of course I qualify for). They’re providing placement services, but I’ve heard from other people who have been let go (singularly) that they suck at stuff like resumes, so I’m going to just stick with AAM for that kind of advice. And our we also receive a payout that will cover the first three months of COBRA payments. All of this is, of course, provided we sign the separation agreement, which I still haven’t thoroughly read, but I have a while. There’s also a stay bonus of two months’ salary for those who stay till the very end.

    Anyway, just curious if this is generous, average, or less than average.

    1. Katie the Fed*

      I have nothing to contribute, but I wanted to say I’m really sorry to hear you were laid off.

    2. Colette*

      I’m sorry to hear that.

      Some placement services (& the people within them) are good at things like resumes, while others aren’t. They also sometimes have job postings that aren’t open to the public, and sometimes have meet and greets with employers. Even if their resume advice isn’t stellar, it can be helpful to have someone else look at your resume and point out what doesn’t make sense. Asking for advice does not obligate you to take that advice.

      Good luck.

    3. Bryan*

      I’m sorry to hear that.

      This sounds like an extremely generous severance (pending when you’ve read the agreement). It also gives you plenty of time to start looking for a new job. I would at least try the placement service, you don’t have to follow their advice but maybe it will be helpful.

    4. Graciosa*

      I would definitely say generous. Some years ago, multiple weeks-per-year of service were the norm, but severance seems to have been drifting down pretty consistently to the point where a single week-per-year of service is more the norm, Caps on maximum payouts are also pretty normal.

      Make sure you take care of yourself during this transition. Even if you see the good that can result from this – and I hope there’s a generous amount of it waiting for you – it can still be a difficult time. Treat yourself with the care you would accord a dear and beloved friend under the same circumstances.

      Best wishes.

  27. Kelsey*

    Any start-up employees here? Can anyone who works at a start-up offer some advice to someone who is thinking of applying to them? Some of the job postings are a little weird and I feel like regular interviewing/job applications rules don’t apply to them. Mostly can anyone just offer some insight on how their experience working at one is/was?

    1. The Other Dawn*

      I worked at a small bank for 12 years. I was with a bank and a few of the branches were bought by an investor and became the new bank. I was there on Day One. It was chaos, it was a huge learning curve and it was a hell of a lot of work. But it was worth it. I built a great resume. And it was fun most of the time.

      The person that succeeds in a start-up is one that is very open to learning, is comfortable with the unknown, can function when things aren’t black and white, doesn’t throw around the phrase “it’s not my job”, realizes that the job description is usually ever-evolving, can often work without written procedures and policies, is resourceful, and follows through. Being in a start-up can be one hell of a learning experience and you can work your way up pretty quickly (in my experience).

      When you interview I would say to show that you can adapt to change and can roll with the punches. That’s important in a start-up. Good luck with the interview!

    2. Anne*

      I’ve worked at a software start-up for 3 years now. I absolutely love it, but it’s definitely not for everyone.

      Interview process: Fairly standard. Submitted a resume and cover letter via email, followed by a phone interview and an in-person interview over about 2 weeks. The hiring timeline was short (my first day was exactly a month after I applied), but that was fine for me as I was unemployed.

      Company culture: We are relatively small (<20 employees) and many of us work from home as we are geographically dispersed (California, England). There are five people in my state, and we all work from home. We have a culture of "do what it takes to get it done." We've all put in long hours when necessary, although my usual workload is 45 hours per week as the most senior non-manager on my team.

      Pros: Great vacation policy (25 paid days per year, plus 8 additional paid holidays), I work from home full time, truly great colleagues, amazing boss, amazing company upper management.

      Cons: This is partially due to the nature of our work, but it can be hard to predict when you'll have to work late/put in overtime. We don't get health insurance from the company, but we do get reimbursed for our insurance premiums (I use my husband's insurance, and reimburse him for the cost of my premium). There's no company handbook because our situation changes all the time (when I started, there were about 8 employees, and now we've more than doubled in size).

    3. CC*

      I’ve worked for two startups so far. You definitely wear many hats, and depending on the company you may not get much training in wearing those hats. I was thrown into the deep end a few times at my first job; once I sank (I didn’t even know what questions to ask in order to “swim”, and not enough mentoring/supervision for my boss to see that I was drowning) but most of the others I had enough background in something related that I figured it out.

      As far as “regular” application rules go, startups are unlikely to have much of an application system. Both of my startup jobs I got by sending a resume/highly customized cover letter cold, directly to the manager/director/VP of the department I wanted to work in – there were no jobs posted when I applied. (I also had a lot of “sorry, not hiring” responses to this approach, for obvious reasons, in addition to one “we’re not hiring but we want to interview you anyway, and did we mention we’re not hiring right now” which was kind of weird.) If their website has any instructions on applying, follow them, otherwise, directly contacting the appropriate department head is reasonable, in my case either the director/manager of engineering, CTO, VP technology, or any of the variants on “boss of the engineers”. Well, maybe that’s just for technical positions, I’m not sure about other types.

      Every startup will have a different culture, and that will change as they grow. Corporate growing pains suck; going from 15 people to 40 people requires a lot of different communication habits, and we all know how hard habits are to change.

      I’m kind of curious what was “weird” about the job postings :)

      1. Kelsey*

        Similar to you, most of the sites have an email address that you email your info to. A lot encourage you to show your creative side so I’m not sure if that means submitting a resume and cover letter with some interesting graphics or thinking outside the box?

        As far as ‘weird’ postings, one job said they offered ‘sick health bennies’- irony lol? Mostly just extremely relaxed and casual speak that to someone like me, who has applied to probably over 200 corporate/university jobs, has never really had experience with before.

        I’ve only interviewed at a couple start-ups but on my first interview, I think I freaked the owner out a bit. My first mistake was I wore a suit. I realized about halfway through the interview he wasn’t going to ask me generic interview questions so I got comfortable pretty much as the interview was ending. I wasn’t surprised or upset when I wasn’t hired and my second start-up interview went much better

        1. CC*

          Ha, I think my interview suit made one startup think I would be unhappy in a (sometimes dirty) production environment. Or that I was a corporate desk jockey type. Or both. (This when my resume and cover letter showed that I have done plenty of hands on field work, sometimes in a dirty environment that a lot of people don’t like to even think about.)

          “sick health bennies” … hm, somebody likes puns and slang. Sounds like a sign of the company’s culture. I know about but never really liked using “sick” as a positive adjective. Does that make me old?

          Unless it’s a job in the creative field (in which case you want a portfolio) my interpretation of asking for an application that shows your creative side is that they, consciously or unconsciously, are looking for somebody who has similar worldview and sense of humour to the people screening the candidates — which I think would lead to a pretty low-diversity team who all think roughly the same way. You could try reflecting the attitudes in the job posting (puns and wordplay, in the example you used) to try to get through that screen. I don’t know if that would help or not in getting an interview, and I don’t know if it would be a fit on your end if you did impress them that much by reflecting back what they wanted.

    4. A Jane*

      I’ve applied to two start ups which both had larger company support. In this particular case, they were able to leverage some of the existing processes through the hiring process (website applications, HR/benefits support from a high level). However, some of the “weirdness” I experienced were attributed more to managers new to the hiring process.

  28. Anon for this*

    I have two related issues. What do you do if you are truly bad at your job? I don’t know if I’m bad because I was never trained properly, because I’m lazy (I feel lazy, but everyone says I work hard, so maybe not?), or I’m just plain not good at this. My bosses keep saying I need to use my common sense, so I think maybe my common sense, however you would define that, just isn’t right for the job. I keep forgetting things and making mistakes; maybe I just have poor judgment. I’ve asked multiple times for tips to avoid mistakes, and my bosses simply tell me there is no one procedure, and to just use my common sense (which clearly is not sufficient). I’m trying to apply elsewhere, but I’m not having much luck because I don’t have specialized experience, and I need more money than a generalist-type job would pay so I can make payments on my school loans for the job I don’t want to do anymore. Does anyone have any insight?

    The second question is, has anyone had luck leveraging their law degree for something else besides practicing law? The internet seems convinced that I can do this, but I’m not really getting anywhere.


    1. Anon for this*

      My workplace is very toxic, by the way, but I don’t think that is the sole problem. Of course, it doesn’t help when I am constantly being given contradictory advice by the same person, but still.

    2. A Non-Mouse (A Rat?)*

      Let me know if you figure this out, because I have had trouble figuring this out too…I feel lazy but I get everything done well, I realized I was bored.

    3. Katie the Fed*


      I think you need to figure out what drives you – what do you like about your job or what do you want to like about your job. If you’re not passionate about your work it’s going to show. Even if you job is dreadfully boring – try to find something that drives you or makes you happy about it – use that little nugget of good to convince yourself that you give a shit.

      That would also help you figure out what kind of jobs you want to apply for. What kind of job do you want to do?

      On law degrees – a lot of lobbyists in the DC area have law degrees

    4. Anon*

      I have a law degree, and it took me 2 years to pass the bar exam. In the interim, I worked in human resources. There are a lot of legal issues that crop up in HR, and having a law degree has been an asset to me because I can understand, interpret, and explain the various complecated employment laws. I finally passed the bar, but I’m still working in HR.

      Unfortunately, I don’t have any advice on how to break in to HR. I fell into it by accident through a temp agency when I was desperate for any work I could get. I just happened to luck into something I was good at. I learned everything I know on the job.

    5. The Other Dawn*

      “The second question is, has anyone had luck leveraging their law degree for something else besides practicing law?”

      You could get into banking compliance. Lots of those jobs like to have someone with a law degree since you have to research regulations, interpret them, etc.

    6. Elizabeth West*

      I had a job like that, where it seemed like my brain fell out when I walked in the door. It really was the workplace in my instance. After I left and found Exjob, I did SO much better.

      There are some good suggestions in the answers below. Maybe you can ask at your school, too; some of your professors might have some suggestions.

    7. HR lady*

      Have you looked into whether you might have ADHD? Feeling lazy, forgetting things, and making mistakes (repeating the same mistakes) *might* be signs of ADHD.

      I’d keep looking for another job. It’s possible you and your current job (and/or boss) just aren’t a good fit. Some people are better with detail-oriented jobs than others, for example, and maybe you need a job with fewer details to keep track of.

    8. CC*

      I hate hearing “use your common sense”. No. What most people call “common sense” is actually *experience*.

      If somebody is telling you to use experience you don’t have and refusing to explain what that looks like, then it could be that they don’t know it well enough to explain it themselves.

      1. Anon Just This Once*

        CC thank you for this definition. I once worked for an organization where I was constantly told “it’s just common sense” any time I asked a question (a lot of these questions were about I should best approach a situation to make sure that what I was doing was inline with the organuzations policies). They treated common sense as though it was a universal truth. I always understood “common sense” to be something that was subjective and dependent on things like experience and culture. It was so frustrating to be constantly told to “just use your common sense”.

    9. Paige Turner*

      Good luck, Anon, I’m sure it’s stressful asking for help and being given lame “advice” from the people who are supposed to be training and encouraging you :( Anyway, this isn’t your question, but if you haven’t already, I’d recommend checking out income-based repayments and other options for paying your student loans (IME the student loan websites are awful but they are generally more informative and helpful when you get someone on the phone). That way, if you do start considering other jobs, you’ll have an idea of what your loan payments might be- you might decide that it’s worth it to take a new job at a lower salary because you’ll have better prospects long term, and you don’t want the student loan payments to stand in your way. I have an MA in social science so I know about student loans keeping you up at night…

    10. smallbutmighty*

      I used to feel that way in the job I have now, which I now love, so I’ll go through the relevant factors that I think contributed to my issues. Maybe some of this will resonate for you.

      1. My job was too big for one person. I felt inept because I was dropping balls, forgetting things, and making mistakes. Based on some objective metrics, it was determined that my department needed more head count, and we hired on additional people. Now that three people are doing my job, I feel competent and energized about my work. (And yeah, being overworked can look like lazy. I felt tremendous guilt about the amount of time I spent staring slack-jawed at my monitor getting nothing done, but the truth was that the overwhelm was kind of insurmountable. I only recognize this clearly in retrospect.)

      2. I didn’t have an effective manager. My old nominal manager had 20+ direct reports and traveled internationally much of the time. He didn’t manage us at all. We now have an effective manager who gatekeeps, delegates, filters the projects assigned to our group, frames our tasks so that we understand what we’re doing and why we’re doing it, and helps us find signal in the noise. No one was doing this for me before.

      3. I was newish at the job and didn’t get much training. It just plain takes time to learn the ropes. Sometimes a long time. It didn’t help that the other two people in my immediate group when I joined were tenured and were overworked themselves. They intuitively understood the kinds of things I struggled with, and they weren’t able to explain effectively to a clueless noob . . . nor did they have time to make that effort.

      4. My specific role was a new one. There was no clear description of what I did, and likewise no clear boundaries to indicate what I didn’t do.

      5. I had an undiagnosed learning disability (nonverbal learning disability) that makes certain everyday tasks challenging for me. Getting a diagnosis and learning to manage my time and responsibilities with my particular needs in mind was HUGE. Fortunately, it wasn’t the kind of thing I had to ask for accommodations for; I just had to mentally acknowledge that certain things take me longer, certain things will always be hard for me, etc.

      I hope something here helps. It’s awful to spend every day feeling incompetent. In your case, you may find you need to move on, but I’m happy to report that it IS possible to go from hating to loving the very same job.

    11. Dulcinea*

      I am a new lawyer (under 3 years experience) and I often tfeel the same way you do, and get similar feedback from my bosses. From the anecdotal research I have done chatting with other lawyers, new and older, this is just part of the process/learning curve. You’re lucky that your bosses are nice about it and not screamy senior-partner stereotypes.

      But I think the nature of the practice, and the nature of people who are drawn to it, is to feel like a flailing idiot for the first few years. If you find a workplace that will let you learn like the one you seem to be in now, you can make it through that period and come out a better lawyer at the end.

      Like another poster says, when people sya “commno sense” they mean experience. Expereience can only be gained over time. If you like your workplace and like the work that you do, trust your bosses when they say you are doing fine, keep asking questions and learning from your mistakes, and hang in there!

      Finally, no, I don’t know a lot of people who managed to use their law degrees to find work other than practicing law. I do know a lot of people who have law degrees who happened into other fields but I wouldn’t say the degree helped them get there.

      1. Stephanie*

        Yes, I think this is the legal field! Not at attorney, but I worked as a patent examiner and later as a patent searcher. And I got yelled at (literally sometimes) to use “common sense.” I think it is a field where you just flail for a while and then suddenly hit a groove (or leave). My associate friends at white collar firms all say the same thing.

        In terms of working outside the law…compliance? After getting laid off from my searcher job, I’m struggling with this as well. It’s a weird set of skills that isn’t always the most transferrable! Plus, people tend to assume anything related to the law is lucrative/prestigious/exciting and seem baffled why you’d want to leave.

      2. littlemoose*

        This actually reminds me of something I heard on “Law & Order” once: “It’s law school, not lawyer school.” This is actually really true, in my opinion. Most law schools provide little to no instruction on fundamental tasks like writing client letters and memos, conducting depositions, etc; I know mine didn’t. There’s a huge learning curve both with law school and practicing law. Try to keep that in mind, and resist the urge to berate yourself!

    12. anon in tejas*

      This is far too common in the legal field.

      I’d suggest trying to develop a method to “using your common sense.” Are you not researching something properly? Go back to basics on how you research. Are you making too many mistakes when writing/grammar? Develop a method to proof read/edit so that you can catch them better.

      It may be helpful to try to get someone (legal secretary, another associate attorney or paralegal) to walk you through some of the problem solving if you need a concrete checklist.

      This feeling about unsure if you are bad is something that a lot of lawyers feel. For me, I got over it and I love practicing law. Others don’t. For some, its dependent on a fit with if you’re in the right area, etc.

    13. MK*

      I’m a lawyer with 5 years of experience. I think practicing law has a huge learning curve and it doesn’t help that courts are like different worlds depending on the judge, specialty (civil vs. criminal vs administrative), and jurisdiction. But the uncomfortable feeling goes away with time. Also, I currently work in health policy at a university in DC. I knew I wanted to focus on public policy so I jumped at the first opportunity that I could to do that and never felt happier about leaving litigation behind. So, if you find that you don’t want to practice law anymore, what are you interested in?

    14. CLM*

      “anyone had luck leveraging their law degree for something else besides practicing law?”

      I used to work for a law media website that reported news in the legal industry. I came with journalism traning, but about half our staff had law degrees instead.

    15. Stephanie*

      The second question is, has anyone had luck leveraging their law degree for something else besides practicing law? The internet seems convinced that I can do this, but I’m not really getting anywhere.

      Hmmmm, if you have IP experience, tech transfer? Still sort of legal, but there’s definitely more of a marketing and business aspect to it. I see fellowships posted like CodeX at Stanford ( Still legal, but might get some other skills outside firm work.

  29. Laura*

    So I had an interview a while ago that I thought went well. They called me back for a second interview, so I was feeling really good about that. The second interview lasted a grand total of 5 minutes. The woman interviewing me asked me two basic questions, adn then while I was answering the second one she interrupted me to say the guy who had originally interviewed me who was supposed to be there was sick, but he still really wanted to meet with me, so could I meet next week? I said yes. She said I will call you by the end of the week to schedule a meeting with this guy. End of the week she doesn’t contact me, so I email her and ask about timeline. It’s not like she said she’ll contact me if she wants to schedule another meeting, she said she would contact me TO schedule another meeting. A week after she said she’d contact me, she responded to my email saying I didn’t get the job. I feel like my time was totally wasted with that second interview (and my bus fare!) . Is this normal? I hope it isn’t. That woman who did the 5 minute interview was just rude and made me uncomfortable. Why tell me she wants to schedule another meeting, when t hat’s a total lie? Why only ask 2 very basic questions in a second interview, when the first with the guy who wasn’t there was much more substantial? I think this was the worst interview I’ve ever had.

    1. Jean*

      Total sympathies on reading this. Advice, gained from this site: Vent and let it go. Job-hunting is stressful on both sides of the desk (for different reasons), so it’s reasonable to expect to encounter or occasionally display (alas) a certain amount of weird behavior from the people involved. One of my favorite mantras from this site is that although it’s annoying to experience odd behavior from folks who end up NOT hiring you, the benefit from such experiences is knowing that you’ve probably avoided getting into any longer-term contact with not-a-good-fit-for-you people.

    2. Lindsay J*

      This happened to me!

      I interviewed at a home depot and the two people who interviewed me were really impressed. I thought the interview went really well, and at the end of it they told me to come back for a second interview with the district manager.

      The interview with the district manager was maybe 5 minutes long. I arrived on time. I was dressed appropriately. I greeted him, he shoved my application at me and asked “Is this you?” I said yes. We made smalltalk about the weather for a few minutes. He dismissed me. I didn’t get the job.

  30. One foot out the door*

    What words do you use when you resign? I have to give my notice Monday and though I detest my current job, I’m actually pretty nervous about resigning. My boss likes me, has no idea this is coming, and I’m worried he’s going to get mad and yell. Also, I requested my last two days off to use up my vacation, which they only pay out at 50%. Do you think this is OK?

    1. Lindsay J*

      Some places have rules where you aren’t allowed to use any PTO after you put in your two weeks. Check your handbook to see if your company is one of them. Otherwise, asking won’t hurt.

      I doubt he will yell at you, and if he does, that’s on him, not on you. It’s a job, not a personal relationship, and you have to look out for you.

    2. HR lady*

      Just keep it professional and say that you’ve found another opportunity you couldn’t pass up.

      FYI, they might not let you take the last 2 days as vacation time. (To say that differently, they might be fine with it but that would make your last day of employment the day before those 2 days, and then you’ve given less than 2 weeks notice… if that makes sense.)

    3. LMW*

      I think a lot of people feel that way, but it rarely turns out to be a big deal. AAM always gives good advice on this: Just stick to the facts and leave out the feels. You don’t need to say why or go into details. Just say something like “I’ve been presented with a great opportunity and need to give you my notice here. My last day will be X. Thanks for the opportunity.” You don’t need to say why or how you felt about your job. That rarely does anyone any good.

    4. Anon*

      In the past, I’ve told my boss I had another opportunity I wanted to take.

      I just resigned from my horrible job yesterday (without having something else ligned up but in my field steady work is hard to come by anyway) and I actually told my boss, “Our expectations do not line up in any way, shape or form and I do not think we’re going to be able to make things work. My last day of work will be February 28 and I’ll be using up my vacation time before I leave. Here’s my written notice. I’d appreciate it if you could sign my copy of it it to indicate you received it on time. Thanks.”

      On the surface, he took it well (though I’m expecting nasty rumors to be spread behind my back).

  31. Moving out of state*

    I know there are workplace cultural differences across the US, and I’m a bit curious about some of them. I live in Silicon Valley, and most of my career has been in software startups working in HR. Things are admittedly quite casual, and many of the workplace norms here probably wouldn’t fly elsewhere.

    I’m moving to Phoenix in a few months. Are there any workplace cultural norms I should be aware of?

    For example: In Silicon Valley, because we work with a lot of east coast and international clients and customers, the workday starts between 7:30 and 8:00 AM (unless you’re an engineer, and then you get to come and go as you please). 9-5 isn’t really 9-5. What time does the workday start in Arizona? I realize that it may vary from company to company, but I’m curious if there’s a consensus.

    1. Stephanie*

      Things start pretty early here usually between the summer heat and the time zone that’s behind almost everyone else. My dad goes into work at 6:30 every day.

      1. Moving out of state*

        Oh, good. I like my early hours because I get extra time in the evening. I was afraid I would have to give that up when moving. Thanks!

    2. Ash*

      Only thing I can say about AZ is remember it doesn’t follow daylight savings, so the time will shift halfway through the year in relation to your CA and East Coast peers. That said, I think its really more the nature and culture of individual workplaces rather than state-specific.

    3. MaryMary*

      I’m not from Arizona, but I think it’s perfectly reasonable to ask these questions during the interview process and/or while you’re onboarding.

      1. Rose*

        NO KIDDING! I am CONSTANTLY amazed by how much the locals complain about traffic here and it is NOTHING compared to Bay Area/SoCal.

    4. Rose*

      I’m in Phoenix, I work 8 to 5 but I’m in public service. Those with a choice tend to work later, like 9 to 6.

      One thing about Phoenix dress codes, at least where I work: sleeveless tops are totally OK, as are open-toed shoes. Because it is SO hot in summer. And make sure to wear tops that don’t show a lot of sweat, lol.

      I love living here, btw!

      1. Rose*

        I would just add that, overall, things here are more casual than most other places. And I’m from California, just fyi.

        1. Stephanie*

          I’m fairly certain a large percentage of my dad’s male coworkers buy their office attire from the BassPro in Mesa.

    5. Stephanie*

      Oooh, another thing! The Valley is HUGE. Phoenix itself is like 500 sq. mi. or something.

      Not sure if you’ve been here before, but that is one adjustment, especially coming from a dense area like the Bay Area. The highways are kind of overbuilt, so traffic isn’t a giant issue. But commuting distances can be pretty long if you don’t live near your office.

      1. KLH*

        And nobody thinks you can take the bus anywhere. And if you take public transit, you’re either a downtown-living hipster wannabe or have DUIs.

    6. the gold digger*

      unless you’re an engineer, and then you get to come and go as you please

      My husband is one of those Silicon Valley engineers. He works until late at night from home. So it’s not always what it looks like. :)

  32. A Non-Mouse (A Rat?)*

    I’m hoping someone out there has an experience like mine. Sorry in advance for the novel-like length. I am in my late 20s, I graduated from university with a degree in sports, found that world so, so hard to break into and so underpaid that it was unlikely I would be able to keep on (I was specifically hoping to work in post-secondary varsity sports administration). I stepped sideways into fitness and recreation at a mid-size multi-sport facility, but I wasn’t great at the job and the work environment kind of sucked. The parts of the job I was good at were the admin kind of tasks, so I took that and went into admin assistant type stuff. I worked as an executive assistant in higher ed, which is what I am currently doing. I am okay at it–I am definitely not a rockstar, even though I do try. I like my coworkers and organization, but I find the job itself bores me. I am only here until mid-2015, after that my contract is up (temporary cover) and I will be looking for something else to do.

    My question is, how do you figure out what you want to do? I try hard, but I don’t really excel at anything, and I am afraid to go back to school for something if it turns out that I’m not good at it, especially because I have no debt now from degree #1, but no financial resources to do it again. Do I call people and ask for info interviews? I don’t even know what to ask, because I don’t even know what I am good at and don’t know how to find out. I’m not looking for a dream job, I don’t believe in “do what you love, love what you do”, I just want to find something I am genuinely good at that doesn’t bore me. Does anyone know how to figure that out?

    TL;DR: How can I figure out what I would like to pursue as a career?

    1. JM*

      I have a similar issue but kind of the opposite. I know I do a lot of things well, but I still can’t find my niche of what I want to do everyday and it makes me crazy. I’m going to assume you like the higher education field; have you thought about teaching or maybe in the alumni office? I guess I have no real advice for you except that I feel your pain.

    2. Colette*

      My advice:
      Look at things you’ve accomplished. For each one, figure out three or four skills you used to accomplish whatever it was. (Problem solving, customer rapport, intuition, etc.)

      Then look at things you like to do. Figure out what skills you use there.

      When you have both lists, pick the common skills. Think about what jobs you could do that would use those skills.

      It’s also important to realize that many of us fell into what we like to do, so if you can’t figure out what you want to do, try different things (ideally, without job hopping – maybe through volunteer work or by taking on new responsibilities within a job) until you find something that you’re excited about.

    3. Bryan*

      I like the info interviews, but try to figure out before hand if you like the industry?

      Whatever you do, don’t go back to school because you don’t know what you want to do!

    4. Aisling*

      Check out your public library. They generally have databases that help with job searching, resumes, and interviewing skills, and at least one of the databases my library has also does an assessment for you, to see where your strengths and interests might lie. It would be a good starting point, hopefully.

    5. Paige Turner*

      If you’re still interested in sports administration, would you consider that kind of work but with other age groups/workplaces instead of post-secondary? Maybe you could find a job in a high school or a city sports camp or other youth sports program. Of course, this is assuming you’d like working with kids, but even if you can find a part-time job (coaching your favorite sport during the season, etc), it could help you gain experience and make connections. I admit that I don’t know anything about that industry, but I’m guessing there might be some other opportunities out there that you could use to supplement your admin experience. Good luck- I’m also in my late 20s and trying to figure out what to do with my expensive degree.

    1. Ash*

      Generally good! You just need to find one that meets your interests. Met some friends off of them and generally had fun at most events I went to.

    2. Stephanie*

      I found them kind of awkward. But I think my issue was that I was going to the huge, general interest ones (like a 20s/30s young professionals one in a large metro area). I think you’ll have better luck if you stick to smaller, interest-specific ones.

    3. Elsajeni*

      I’ve had some great times at meetup events, although I agree with Stephanie — the larger and more general the group is, the harder it can be to find how you fit into it. What worked best for me was finding smaller, more focused groups and choosing very activity-centric events for the first couple times I went. It’s easier and less awkward to fit yourself into a group of people who mostly know each other already when they’re, say, playing a board game you also enjoy and you can talk about that, versus when they’re just sitting around chatting at happy hour and you have to kind of plunge in all, “Uh, hi! I’m Elsajeni! So, what are you guys talking about?”

    4. Kitty*

      Good – I’m a memeber of a few different ones in the UK and have found them to be really good ways to meet new people

    5. Jubilance*

      I run a Meetup group in the Twin Cities and I’m a member of several.

      The group will be as good as the organizers and participants. The group I run has several assistant organizers which allows us to have multiple Meetups per month. Other groups are run by a solo person so the participation is lower.

      Go and socialize! I try to encourage new people to visit one of our events where they interact with everyone and socialize.

      1. Victoria Nonprofit*

        What’s your meetup group? I’m in the Twin Cities and looking for new activities/buddies.

    6. Gwen Soul*

      Love them, met most my good friends through them. I would not sue them professionally though. I have been helping to run a board game one f or the last 10 years

      1. Jessica*

        I have a book club on there. Yes, they can be awkward, but you have to push through that. Some people seem to view it as a dating thing whereas other people are just interesting in the activity/meeting potential friends, so that can be weird sometimes. My advice is to pick something you’re truly interested in and really stick with it. Try to attend every meeting and you’ll eventually find yourself with a good, core group of friends who like the same thing you do.

    7. Elizabeth West*

      Keep trying until you find one you click with. I’ve tried a couple and only recently found one I liked. It didn’t exist until recently, so if you don’t find a good one, don’t write it off too fast.

    8. Parfait*

      I have had good experiences and middling ones. Nothing terrible. Find a niche topic you’re enthused about and start showing up. Give it a few tries and see how you feel. I’ve joined ones where nobody much showed up, and those were a bust, but I’ve found one great one that I really enjoy and have made some fun pals there.

    9. kaybee*

      I joined a bunch when I moved to a new city and now I run a fairly large one. It’s really as good as the organizers – I try really hard to introduce myself everyone, get them integrated in with the group, and to plan events with activities so we’re just not all staring at each other.

      I’d say that for your first event, pick one with what seems like a manageable group for you (for me, it’s about 15 – enough to mingle, but not overwhelming) and an activity planned (book club, board game, etc.) so you’re not left with having to make small talk for the whole event. And what was really great for me to realize is – you can leave if it’s not working for you! I left a couple events pretty early because I realized I wasn’t jiveing with the attendees and I never had to see them again, so it didn’t matter if they judged me for bouncing.

    10. Lindsay J*

      Some are great, some are awful, and some are just meh.

      You can kind of judge before hand by looking at the group info and their reviews.

      Do the group description and rules seem like they were written by somebody who is really anal-retentive? Might not be the best group.

      Do all the meetups only have two people who attended – the organizer and one weird guy? Might not be the best group.

      Do all the previous meetups center around bar crawls while that’s not really your thing? Might not be the best group for you.

      By screening out the obviously bad/weird, I’ve had some really good experiences. Some places are more difficult to get an in with because everybody knows each other so you have to go several times. Some places are really great and open and you feel like y’all are new best friends after one meetup.

      It’s really just all about finding a group you fit in with. I’ve had some great experiences and some so-so ones.

      Personally, I like events were you do something followed by meal and/or drinks. Photowalks and dinner, pub trivia over drinks, biking and then eating. All were great because you had something in common to talk about. Sometimes the just plain dinner or drinking ones are more awkward because you have no natural starting point for conversation, and sometimes the ones that are just doing [X] don’t offer you the opportunity to actually socialize with the people you with because you’re all just so focused on just doing X.

      My favorite group was one called [My area] quarter-life crisis group. We were all between 25-30, looking for new friends, and they were just really chill. We went to a brewfest (beer tasting event) and to dinner to sober up afterwards and felt like best friends by the end of it.

    11. Rose*

      Looooooooove Meetup! If you don’t like one, there’s always a thousand more. Put yourself out there!!

    12. LMW*

      I run one too! My group actually looks very large and is pretty well established (4+ years), but our actual meetups never have more than 12 people. We have a pretty niche topic, and always have a good mix of regulars and new people and our regulars are really good about introducing themselves to everyone. I love it, and it has really changed my social life (I’ve met so many new people and had a chance to develop a casual interest into something a little bigger). That said, we’ve had our ups and downs and go through good times and bad times. It really depends on the regulars and what they are like and the leadership team.

    13. the gold digger*

      I have not attended any of their meetings, but I am fascinated at the idea that not only does my staid Midwestern city have a polyamory meetup group, they have schism and have two groups: young polyamory and (regular, I guess) polyamory.

  33. Audiophile*

    I’m hoping someone has some advice on this. I’ve been having a tough week, my grandmother is nearing the end and I’ve tried to explain to my supervisor what’s going on. He is, in my opinion, faking concern. I work the front desk for a large company but my position is contracted through a security company. I’ve made it clear that my grandmother does not have much longer. He keeps ‘checking in’ because he needs to have coverage for my position. In a moment of frustration, I said ‘she’s not dead yet, I’ll let you know when I can’. I just got tired of the fake concern asking ‘how’s she doing’ and then following up with you need give enough notice. I understand he needs a body for my post, but this is his responsibility. I cannot time her death for him, so it’s convenient.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      I’m sorry about your grandmother. :(

      Seriously, he needs to back off you. I don’t know what to tell you, except maybe say, “Apollo, I know we need to find someone to cover me when I have to go be with my family. I know it’s frustrating that I can’t tell you anything until I have something to tell. Is there anything I can proactively do to help you line someone up so we can be ready?”

      1. Fiona*

        Agreed 99%. My only objection to this advice is that Apollo is a cool name and shouldn’t be assigned to jerks. ;)

    2. fposte*

      I’m so sorry about your grandmother. That’s really hard.

      I have to say I come down on the side of fake concern over honest indifference most times. That could just be a taste thing between you and me, or it could be what you’re really annoyed about is the fact that he won’t stop repeatedly asking you a question you really don’t have an answer to yet. If it comes up again, can you outright turn it into a conversation about notice and assure him you’ll let him know?

    3. Barbara in Swampeast*

      You haven’t given much detail, but it sounds like you are taking one day off at a time from work. Maybe you just need to take a whole week off at a time?

      1. Audiophile*

        I haven’t taken any days off. I’m not asking for any time until something happens. No point in sitting around and twiddling my thumbs, because then when it does happen, they’ll complain I took too much time.

        Fposte, my company requires 4 hrs notice. And he kept repeating, he didn’t want me calling him at 6am and announcing she’d died because my shift starts at 7:30.

        1. HAnon*

          You may want to look at your company handbook and see what legal provisions are provided for bereavement periods…it may just apply to immediate family, but never hurts to check.

            1. Audiophile*

              Unfortunately, the contract company I work for is pretty crappy, so if we have any bereavement period, it isn’t much. As it is, I’m going to take sometime at the beginning of next week, unpaid of course. Even if I argued for early vacation days, they wouldn’t give it to me. This should just serve as more ammunition to continue my job search.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          Um. I agree with the poster who said to see if a cohort will be on stand by for you.
          And yeah, this person could be insincere about asking about your grandmother but like fposte said that is better than cold hearted. It could be the questions are driven by worry about filling your post. In an odd way, that means this guy is in your corner – he wants to make sure your post is filled so you can get out of there. Why not help him build a plan? It only benefits you if he has an idea about how he will handle things.

          Sometimes the very conversation we try to avoid is the one that is necessary.

          1. Audiophile*

            I appreciate everyone’s feedback. I eventually spoke to the client and explained what was going on, because it started to feel like harassment. For instance, he called at the desk a few times over a few days to “check in” and really what I was trying to get across is there’s nothing to tell until there’s something to tell, so please stop asking me about it. It’s not as if I was going to wait to call out, and that’s how it was being treated. To continue to ask questions was only making it worse.

            As it is right now, I’ve taken Monday and Tuesday, though she has not passed away yet. It’s a matter of when at this point, not if.

            I’m not saying for certain that his concern wasn’t genuine, but it was also clear it centered more on him, than it was on me. I’ve had instances where I’ve called out before with less than 4 hours notice, only once to my recollection, they found coverage. It does not need to be chaotic or treated as a catastrophe.

    4. Rachel*

      Another way to approach the problem is to proactively plan a coverage system. Even if you had no grandparents, you might be in a car accident any day. Or win the lottery! It makes sense to approach the boss about helping develop a plan if the boss is worried in the situation.

      1. Judy*

        Do you know your co-workers well enough that you could make a under the table agreement to take your shift? I’m just thinking back to a time that a co-worker’s mom was very sick with cancer. Although we were not in shift work, we did have project responsibilities that were due. Another co-worker and I kept up to date on where he was in his project, and had instructions about some things. When his mom did die, our team overall didn’t miss a deadline.

    5. smallbutmighty*

      Maybe he doesn’t know how to respond?

      I have to admit I always struggle to make appropriately sympathetic noises when people’s grandparents die. Mine all died either before I was born or when I was very young, and so I’ve never tended to think of grandparents as particularly important people. I think of them as . . . old people. Who die.

      I know this is awful, and I think I’ve gotten a little better at faking empathy, but the loss of a grandparent just isn’t something that resonates with me as a tragedy, so I have to phone in my sympathies.

      I *am* sorry for your loss, sincerely, though, as it’s always hard to lose someone you love.

  34. Elizabeth West*

    Open thread! Adorable kitteh pics!

    I got some news on my books. Nothing major, but encouraging.

    1. NewBook (the ghost one)’s first reader got back to me. He had very few notes and said that he thought it was good, like a cross between Michael Crichton (CRICHTON OMG) and the guy who wrote Ghost. He also said he thinks it’s publishable and not to give up on it. Well I wasn’t planning to!! :D

    2. Oldbook (the bank robber one)’s critique-er said on Twitter that he still has my book because it WAS one of the ones he had pinged some publishers about taking a look at (OMG). While this means nothing in terms of publication (they could say they don’t want to see it; they could look but say no, etc.), it does mean that Critiquer thought it was good enough to inquire on. 0_0

    That means a lot to me personally, because this guy is a well-respected (and talented), semi-famous horror writer and approval from him is a very good thing. I really want him to send it back soon so I can see what the hell he edited! I hope it gets published and people like it, because I happen to really enjoy it myself and I want to make the detectives a series and I have a sequel planned arrrrggghhh. (I had three other readers and they all liked it.)

    The other question: if the books go anywhere (an iffy proposition, and one that isn’t in the near future, as it takes ages for a book to come out), should I even finish school? I guess I’ll worry about that when the time comes. It’s taking up more time than I want to spend on it, but I’m trying to get on top of the schedule issue by carving out time every day to do both. You can only eat an elephant one bite at a time. :)

    1. louise*

      It feels so gratifying to get good feedback! I’m happy for you and I hope you are patting yourself on the back because while you can only eat that elephant one bite at a time, sometimes it’s nice along the way to hear that you’re making progress. :)

    2. Laufey*

      Way to go! You’ll have to keep us posted!

      Disclaimer: I am not an author. I have never been published. But I do like Terry Pratchett’s approach to it. He kept his full time job throughout his early successes until, in his words, he “was losing money by going to work.” Keep in mind that even if (when? :) ) you become a bestseller, you’ll only get a small percentage of total revenue from those sales. I would definitely keep writing, but plan on needing to have a full time career in the mean time. If that means you need to keep going to school to get degree/license/certification, then you should stay in school.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Yes, that’s what I’ve been thinking. I only know two published writers who don’t have day jobs. One is Critiquer (he has multiple irons in the fire and good sales) and the other one just got a day job (errghh).

        I like my current job, thank goodness! :)

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Wise move. Especially in this economy to have more than one income stream. I know plenty of people who have written books and yet still do something else as their day job. I think it makes them very interesting people.

    3. LMW*

      I’m a published author, know a lot of published authors, and worked as a book editor:
      1) Congrats! That’s fantastic feedback.
      2) How does finishing your degree fit into your future if they don’t get published? What if you only make pennies off them? A friend of mine had her book published last year. It’s selling really well for the genre. She had $14,000 in taxable income last year, and most of that was freelancing. My book did really well for the genre. I made about $20,000, spread out over 3 years. Not nearly enough to live off of.
      The point is, you can be a “successful” writer and still need to have a regular job. Given that, how does school fit into your plans?

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Yes, you can; that’s totally true. We can’t all be J.K. Rowling and rolling in dough, haha.

        It’s the wisest course to finish, I know. I went back because of my job situation; the fiction writing was not a consideration. I probably will go ahead and finish, because at least I will be able to get tech writing jobs with the training. Or even freelance if it comes to that (although that will be difficult for me unless I have help, due to the financial stuff). I just get frustrated because there is SO much homework and I’d rather be doing a couple of other things with my time. :P

  35. Anonymous*

    What’s the weirdest, off-the-wall question you’ve ever been asked in an interview? What’s your worst “bad interview” experience?

    1. BJ McKay*

      “Is that your natural hair color?” (Yes, it is.) I THINK the guy was trying to find out if I was high-maintenance but it was just weird.

    2. Anonymous*

      Him: So you went to [women’s college]… I went to [nearby college] so I always wondered, what is a [women’s college] girl like??
      Me: Well, we’re a self-selecting bunch really, so a lot of us are high-achieving academically and also in extracurriculars. Often we feel in competition with ourselves to continue to do better, and the atmosphere of high-achieving women in leadership positions throughout campus really inspires all of us.
      Him: Hmm… yes… but what is the [women’s college] girl LIKE? What defines her? I could never get one to date me, I had to go to [other women’s college]!
      Me: …

      1. Madstuart*

        …this sounds way too much like some guy who went to Amherst or UMass, probably talking about Smith. (Though it could be Mount Holyoke.)

    3. kaybee*

      I worked at Quiznos in college and desperately wanted to get out of food service. Got called in for an interview as a law firm runner and was so PSYCHED for a chance at my first office.

      Imagine my disappointment when I spent the first 15 minutes of the interview answering questions about the Chicken Carbonara sub. The interviewer could not believe that I did not know the exact combination of ingredients that made the alfredo sauce “so addictive.”

      What really killed it for the interview, was when they asked how I felt about picking up dead birds (apparently birds flying headfirst into the glass building was a real problem?) and unclogging toilets. My response as an inexperienced 20 year old? “Um, well I baby-sat in high school so I’ve changed a lot of diapers…I guess I’m used to getting my hands dirty.”

      Fortunately, I did NOT get that job.

      1. Jennifer*

        Why on earth is a law firm runner going to have to pick up dead birds on a regular basis? Can’t you call Animal Control?

        1. fposte*

          In my experience, dead animals on private property are the responsibility of the owners/tenants. And if these dead birds are littering the entryway to the lawyers’ office, they aren’t going to want to make their clients walk through them.

          1. Natalie*

            We used to have some falcons that lived on one of our buildings and very kindly kept the pigeon population down. The only problem was the small graveyard of pigeon bones and feather chunks they left in their wake. And yes, it was our responsibility to clean them up.

          2. MaryMary*

            In our building maintenance charges tenants a fee if we call them more than X number of times a year. Our IT guy is in charge of removing dead pigeons from the balcony outside our office.

      1. HR lady*

        I might actually try to gently correct him/her: “oh, you’re thinking of Panama City Beach. The Panama Canal Zone is in Panama.”

        But that assumes that (1) I could quickly figure out that they meant Panama City Beach and (2) I could deliver the information in as kind and “not a big deal” tone as possible.

        And then I’d quickly change the subject, or keep talking somehow so the person doesn’t have to be too embarrassed. (“yes, going to high school in Panama was such an experience. Once I moved to the states I realized blah blah blah….”)

        1. the gold digger*

          Unfortunately, I am not quick when it comes to tactful, gracious corrections, so I just replied, “Oh! Well. Um. Do you get Cuban sandwiches when you’re in Tampa?”

          This is the same guy who wrote that he was in charge of “corporate highers” on his LinkedIn page. Blesshisheart.

      2. Mouse*

        Oh WOW! What DO you say to that? Because it indicates the recruiter in incredibly stupid.

        Realistically, I would probably say “umm, ok.” And smile.

    4. Danielle*

      The weirdest questions I’ve been asked were:

      1.) You have 5 blocks. How would you arrange them? (I was so bewildered that I asked them to repeat the question!)

      2.) If you were a tree, what tree would you be and why?

  36. Ash*

    Has anyone used a life coach or a career coach during their job search? I was at an alumni event last night and someone who is breaking into the field heard that I was job searching and offered her services at a discounted cost. Are they worth it? I follow AAM advice but so far no luck so wondering if I should just see what she says, but wanting other people’s experiences, too.

    1. pgh_adventurer*

      I did 2 sessions with a life coach when I was between jobs early last year. I think it can be helpful for some people, but for me, I found I was fairly uncomfortable trying to articulate my goals to someone when I wasn’t clear on them in my own head.

      The most helpful thing for me was actually the worksheets the coach had me fill out, like picking a list of the 5 values I felt most strongly about out of a list of 100, or doing a wheel-shaped graph on how satisfied I was with various aspects of my life.

      Another option: my “coach” was actually a trainee who was required to work with several mentees, some paid, some unpaid. He charged me $1. Maybe if you asked at a life coach training school, they could hook you up with a similar deal.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      This might help:

      Also, find out exactly what services she can offer and what her background is. She might be more about helping you think through what you want to do and helping you make goals and stick to them, but if she’s at all selling herself as being an expert on actually getting hired, she’d need a background with a lot of hiring experience herself (which most of them don’t have).

      1. Anon*

        I experienced this a few years ago and it was rooted in undisguised minor depression. I have no idea if that’s the case for you but you’re describing how I felt exactly so I thought I’d share. I started with my family doctor and got some meds and did some really great talk therapy. It’s been 3 years and it sneaks back in but I’m so glad I got help.

        Once again, maybe this isn’t the case for you at all.

        1. Anon*

          Ahhh! Wrong reply. This was for the poster talking about feeling really lazy about their work ethic. Sorry.

    3. ChristineSW*

      I’ve been wanting to get hooked up with a career coach too, but they’re probably very expensive, and I’m honestly not at all comfortable with going through a trainee. I’d probably have the same problem as pgh–I can’t even get my thoughts straight in my OWN head!

    4. Fiona*

      I found a career coach very helpful a few years ago when I knew I wanted to get out of straight admin work but wasn’t sure exactly how my skills would translate to what I wanted to be doing. I really, really needed (and still need) fresh eyes to help me look at my not-very-quantifiable job and pick out the noteworthy accomplishments.

      1. Wren*

        I’m in the same boat as Fiona. I have a lot of experience in a field I don’t like and don’t know how to move on.

    5. Stephanie*

      Using one now. I like her for the most part, but jury is still out. Her interview prep is really good, but some of her methods feel a tad salesy.

      Problem is, there are a lot of self-proclaimed “experts” who are nothing more than snake-oil salesman. I found this coach through my friend’s mom, who has a pretty good BS detector.

      I would ask a potential coach her experience with hiring. I would also ask about her specific services. Is she helping you figure out a path? General interview prep? Access to key networking contacts?

    6. Sunflower*

      I looked a lot into career counseling when I couldn’t find a job. I almost paid for one and then I found AAM’s post on them and it totally turned me off (definitely read it because it opened my eyes a lot!)

      I think if you are looking for a JOB, it’s not worth it. It sounds like people have had mostly bad experiences when it comes to strictly job hunting.

      If you are truly trying to figure out what to do with your life, what career path you want to chose than they can be helpful. Make sure you find someone who is actually licensed though!

      1. Stephanie*

        I think if you are looking for a JOB, it’s not worth it. It sounds like people have had mostly bad experiences when it comes to strictly job hunting.

        Yes, this. They are great if you trying to switch industries and have no clue how twenty years in mortgage lending transfer to anything else. Just for looking for a job, when you have a good idea of what you want, tends to complicate things (i.e., you get too many cooks in the pot).

    7. Contessa*

      I’ve used a career coach (when I first graduated, couldn’t find a job in my field, and couldn’t pay my bills) and a life coach (more as a therapist, because my company’s EAP didn’t cover actual psychologists for some reason). I got some help from the job coach (specific things, like making sure my voice doesn’t get too high-pitched on the phone, and how to put together an elevator pitch), but not much from the life coach (while a very nice woman, her advice was very generic). I don’t think I would use either of them again, though. The job coach ended up falling off the face of the earth and not returning my calls, which was good because I didn’t really like him, and I got a real psychologist who is wonderful.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        I posted about my experiences with my coach which have been very good, and money well spent.

        I also recommend checking the potential coach’s profile and background (mine was previously in senior management for many years) and it’s also good if the first session is free, as that is when you can talk about what you want to achieve with the sessions. (I had to buy a block of them to begin with, now I just see my coach on an occasion basis for check-ups).

    8. Not So NewReader*

      I went for life coaching in regards to work. I liked the perspective: a job is a part of life but not all of it. And I too had a hard time because I really had no clue what I wanted to do. Unlike employment counselors that I went to I found life coaching to be very upbeat.

  37. louise*

    I posted to an open thread awhile ago – November, maybe? – asking for suggestions in handling my employee who simply didn’t see the need to be professional at work (sunflower seed spitting among a number of more problematic behaviors/attitudes).

    fposte and some others shared some helpful suggestions, but really, I ended up getting lucky. Right before Christmas he announced he had a new job! I know I didn’t grow in my management skills the way I could have if I had addressed things better/earlier with him, but frankly, I’m just grateful that particular problem solved itself.

  38. Ash*

    One more question semi-related to a post earlier this week and specific to LinkedIn:

    If you keep more than one type of resume and are applying to multiple different types of jobs, how do you structure your online resume, e.g. LinkedIn? I am working to build separate resumes but wondering what to do about that…

    1. Lindsay*

      I really strugged with this and even deleted my LinkedIn for a while when I was switching industries.

      My only thought would be to be minimalist – just put your basic job history and the bare facts for each. And then write an overview of your skill set for your summary box.

    2. Rachel*

      Here’s how I handled it: I put my tagline as skill 1/skill 2. I did not highlight my admin experience like I do on my admin resume. The reason was that I didn’t feel like admin jobs were as likely to utilize the LinkedIn network as the other professional skills I have. Then I did my overview highlighting skills from good to various job tracks I was pursuing. Under each job, I listed to bullet points. One highlighting the first skill and one highlighting the other.

  39. TLT*

    Does anybody have advice on giving your resignation, like what you actually say? Especially when you hate your job!

    1. NK*

      Depends on the situation a bit, but generally speaking, I’ve just gone into their office or pulled them into a conference room and said, “Boss, I have found a new position that is a good opportunity for me, so I will be leaving Company X. My last day will be Y, two weeks from now. Let me know how I can help with the transition during that time.”

      It’s really no different whether you love your job or hate it.

      1. Elizabeth*

        It probably wouldn’t hurt to prevaricate a little to soften the blow. You don’t have to say you loved working there and you’ll miss it if that’s not true, but perhaps something like, “I appreciate everything I’ve learned here at Company X. It’s been really valuable experience, and I’ll always remember my time here.”

    2. ClaireS*

      Don’t burn bridges! It’s so tempting but it’s not worth it.

      Focus on whatever opportunity your moving to or whatever reason your leaving (e.g. I’m looking forward to focusing on my family or this new position allows me to move in a new direction with my career).

      If you focus on what you’re headed to do it stays positive and away from the “i hate this place and my manager” territory. If they push you, just stick to your “I’m excited about new opportunity” reasons.

      1. TLT*

        Yeah, I definitely don’t want to burn bridges. I guess I’m mostly afraid he’s going to yell at me and make the last couple of weeks awful. Also, I requested what will be my last two days off…

        1. NK*

          It’s good to prepare yourself for that possibility. But it may not happen, and even if it does, just keep your own professional composure – it’ll just make him look like a jerk if he’s yelling at someone who’s calm and composed. And it will be your last awful two weeks at that job!

          If you want to try to get out earlier, you can also say, “what would you like my last day of work to be? I’m willing to work up to (date that is two weeks away).” But you have to be prepared to work the full two weeks, of course.

    3. anon-2*

      As NK says below.

      BUT – be prepared — I’ve given resignations in the past, and management may act unprofessionally, blow up at you, etc.

      Don’t fall prey to that tactic, if it happens. Retain your professionalism and dignity.

    4. FarBreton*

      I’m wondering about this, too, and I think I’m actually going to email Alison about it. I don’t mind the work I do, but my boss is a nightmare. Among other things, he spends most of our interactions telling me that I’m terrible at my job, but hasn’t given me any clear sense of how much I need to improve or if my job is at risk. (Example: while leafing through document that I prepared exactly to his specifications: “This is all fucked up, but I can’t deal with this or you right now.”) Luckily, I have another job already and offers for other, better-paid work. I’m really tempted to quote him on all the things he’s said to me when I resign and tell him that I clearly shouldn’t stay, but since I like most of the other people in the office, I should probably keep it positive. I also have no idea if he’ll get mad at me for leaving (since they have a backlog of work), not care, or tell me good riddance.

      1. TLT*

        Good luck! My boss actually likes me and sees a future for me here. I however, do not. Just yesterday he offered me more responsibility/visibility within the community. I’m afraid he’s going to feel blindsided, even though he knows how miserable my coworkers make it for me here. Thanks for all the advice so far-great tips!

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Remember to thank him. NOT because you want to but because that is something that he needs to hear and it will make the conversation a tiny bit easier for the both of you.

  40. NK*

    How do you deal with a significant other who is miserable at their job and encourage them (without pushing) to look for a new one?

    My serious boyfriend has an awful commute, little opportunity for advancement, and a crappy boss. Basically the only upsides are that it’s a very well-known company and the benefits are good. He’s always saying he needs to get out. His resume is polished and ready to go, but I don’t think he is really in full job search mode. I am getting to the point where I don’t know what to say when he complains about the job other than “look for a new one!” (and also – “read this post on AAM!”) but I don’t want to be a nag or overstep my bounds.

    1. fposte*

      I’d vote for two possibilities:

      1) open up the possibility that maybe he’s not as ready to search as his complaints suggest and see what that’s about


      2) let it go, because it’s not you, it’s him. He’ll search the way he wants to when he wants to. If all you’re getting from him is complaining about a situation he won’t change, you can address that more directly, but that’s a communication issue rather than a job search issue.

    2. The Other Dawn*

      I’m in the same situation. When I say to look for a new job, he says no other job will pay him what he’s getting now or that there’s nothing out there. And that could be true because his pay is quite high for his industry (security) and the economy sucks. He would have more opportunity if he chose to get an EMT cert or a pistol permit, but doesn’t want EMT or armed security responsibility. It’s just frustrating to hear. I don’t even suggest it anymore. He’s not willing to look. If he wants to suffer, that’s on him, not me. Just be a sounding board.

    3. Colette*

      “You’ve mentioned that before. What are you planning to do about it?”

      Maybe not that exact wording, but this isn’t your problem to solve for him.

    4. CTO*

      Sometimes it helps to ask questions that can lead the other person to their own conclusions. So ask, “You sound really unhappy. Are you just venting, or do you want to leave?” or, “Can you see yourself doing something else for work?”

      Leaving a solid job is scary and hard, even when it’s making you unhappy. Be supportive, remind him of his strengths and good qualities, and help him feel safe. That will give him more courage to make a move.

    5. Leslie Yep*

      First, just want to send you some internet hugs because I’m in this situation too and it’s such a drag.

      So, two suggestions that are probably about 75% me projecting my own issues.

      One, ask your partner what he wants or needs from you. My significant other appreciates it when I forward opportunities to him, and reviews cover letters/resumes, but doesn’t need or want me to fire him up or follow up with him about whether he applied.

      Two, tell your partner what YOU need from him. This is basically impossible so I’m suggesting it with that full caveat. It’s so hard to say to someone who’s struggling that they need to cool it on the complaining or that they get X minutes every day to vent before we put the lid on it for the night. But there’s just a huge cost to the listener. I started to realize that I was having panic attacks and extreme exhaustion at the end of MY workday just anticipating that I’d have to go home to another night of moping around and general misery. This can go on for a long time so make sure you are emphasizing your partnership — you can’t be the long-suffering partner while he tries to decide his next steps, and how you support him can encourage him to deal, or at least stop enabling him to wallow.

      Again, internet hugs.

      1. NK*

        Thanks, all. I’m a problem solver by nature and so it just generally kind of drives me nuts when someone has the same problem all the time and doesn’t DO SOMETHING (when possible, of course). So it’s partly my issue too. I appreciate all the advice!

  41. evilintraining*

    Ugh. I got reamed out by a teenager yesterday (the manager’s daughter) simply because she didn’t understand our company’s processes. Our system generates an automated email when accounts are sent, and all the data is included so that they can check to make sure it was entered or uploaded correctly. Princess totally flipped out on me, asking why she should have to do our job when they’re paying us. I tried to explain that it’s done as a courtesy, and we do check the data, but there’s always the possibility of human or computer error. She continued reaming me out, saying that she doesn’t have time to check the data, they’re paying us, etc. Oh, how I want to call her Daddy, but that’s like walking into a mine field.


  42. Rebecca Black*

    With a transition to New Job, former colleagues (higher up than me) have bad mouthed Old Boss to me. Same thing with people in my field who know I’ve left. I don’t disagree… But, I also don’t really think it’s appropriate. Strategies for not engaging with that?

    1. ClaireS*

      Use a standard media trick: change the conversation. When they say “oh you’re out from under Old Boss now. How great you don’t have to deal with her Rampages” you say “I’m really excited about x opportunity with the new company.”

      If you don’t want to answer a question that’s asked, give the answer of something you want to talk about. Politicians do this all the time.

  43. Cruciatus*

    Just saw a job posting I’d like to go for that ends today. Haven’t updated my references in a while and won’t be able to ask people in time to be references (which are required to complete the online application). Two of the people I have asked before (and they said yes) but years ago. I figure it should be safe enough to leave their names, though I feel bad about not being able to contact them in time. And I’d still need one more reference to enter… (I wasn’t expecting to apply to anything so soon which is why I was not prepared with references). Any thoughts?

    1. Sunflower*

      Apply! When I go through the interview process, they always ask before they contact my references and usually ask if the list is the most updated. They definitely won’t contact them before an interview though. If it gets to that stage, just tell them that you’d like to provide them with the most up to date information. I don’t think any employer will think it’s weird or dock you points for it.

  44. Anonymous*

    Wow the post-your-salary post was depressing. Not a complaint to Alison or any of you, of course…just, wow.

    Anyway, I was the nonny who’d posted on an open thread a few weeks back about what to do with my friend whom I’m drifting from with her stratospheric levels of interest in Hobby X. I should’ve clarified, her Hobby X is food and cooking, which is probably another reason why she’s so adverse to eating out other than the multitude of food sensitivities she and her friends have.

    Anyway, I phrased the request per suggestions there and it…didn’t go as expected. Something along the following (over IM, which is what we usually talk on):

    Her: hey, you want to meet up with bunch of people for baked goods swap?
    Me: hmm, I’m not really feeling the mass baking sessions nowadays, and I can’t make anything you guys can eat. Why not go out?
    Her: …because there’s no cookies?
    Me: due to school and work and stuff I really don’t have the time/energy for epic cooking sessions anymore, why don’t we just eat independently and go out and do stuff?
    Her: like what?
    Me: I dunno, we can think of something.
    Her: Friends often work into evenings and weekends, so going out is hard to organize.
    Me: (thinking) …harder to organize than a baking session/baking swap? As if a swap would end with a drop-off in five minutes…


    1. fposte*

      Well, it could be that she really isn’t non-food socializing these days and this isn’t going to work. But the conversation as reported here sounds like you just vetoed her suggestion and then waited for her to create one that you liked–can you provide an alternative suggestion for her rather than somewhere that’s out at some unspecified time?

      1. Anonymous*

        Well, I didn’t have a specific thing to suggest in mind at the time (it had been a long day and my brain capacity was at -10), but I was testing the waters to see if she’d be open to going out in any shape instead of her usual all-afternoon or all-evening gatherings at her place.

        I can definitely go back and suggest something more concrete. I appreciate the other point-of-view…I was feeling pretty “shut down” by her “…because there’s no cookies?” response myself. So maybe we’re both being shutting each other down?

        1. Colette*

          I like fposte’s idea. Can you find a couple of options (cooking demo, concert in the park, yoga, etc. – some things that are not closely related to each other) and then get in touch to suggest you do one of them?

          1. Anonymous*

            I will try to find something and report back in another open thread.

            I do want to ask though: am I reading too much into her tone? The way she phrased her cookie reply and her instant dismissal of arranging an outing really rubbed me the wrong way, since logistically it’s not any harder to arrange a 3-4 hour cooking session at her place with the usual attendees than a 2 hour jaunt at the park (or whatever) with the same people. I suppose, other than the frustration with her that’s been building up previously (NotSoNewReader said something about square peg and round hole, which sounded right), it was the tone in her dismissal that was really frustrating to me.

            1. Cat*

              One thing I’m wondering – is it possible money is a concern for her? Maybe she doesn’t want to spend the money going out. Would she be more amenable if you suggested a free or very low cost activity?

              1. Anonymous*

                She makes more than me, so yes, cheap is the name of the game here. (Although historically she has expressed a strong preference for staying in vs. going out.)

                Thanks for the dose of perspective, everybody.

                1. Cat*

                  I don’t know – sometimes people have unexpected drains on their finances. It can be hard to know.

            2. Colette*

              I’d suggest something else and see. It could be just her initial reaction & she’d like to do something you’d suggest, or it could be that she’s going to do the cooking session anyway and adding something else with you is too much, or it could be that she really isn’t interested in doing something else.

              I do think that the onus is on you to suggest some other options, since you’re rejecting the one she suggested. (“I don’t want to do what you suggested” + “I have no suggestions” either puts a lot of stress on her to pick something else or makes her think you don’t really want to see her.)

              1. fposte*

                Yes, I’m agreeing with this. The way you say it’s not that much harder to organize another event makes it sound like you think she would be the one organizing that other event. And that’s not how it works–she hosts the events she wants, and events that you want are things you have to host, so the non-cooking outing is all on you to plan and rope people in for. And remember how you were too tired even to think of an event to do, let alone to plan one :-)? It sounds like you might be somewhat underappreciating the degree of admin she’s been putting in to organize events, and that might be coloring her response too.

                1. Anonymous*

                  Hmm, I can’t remember exactly how I phrased it, but my intention was for me to plan the alternate event since it would be my idea–I just wanted to be sure she was even open to going out, since the last…five?…things were all gatherings at her place. (Although at the time I was completely brain-dead and couldn’t think of a suggestion for activities on the spot–she initiated the conversation.) My frustration at the time was due to her phrasing, as if finding the time (even if booked in advance) to go to a 2-hour jaunt in the park (or whatever alternate activity) is any different than finding the time to gather up at her place to cook. I figured either way, the group is going to be out 2 hours or whatever, so the way she said “it’s hard because of people’s schedule” just seemed like a brush off.

                  I didn’t actually say she had to plan the alternate activity, although if she interpreted it that way I can definitely see grounds for being cross. But yes, thanks for the much needed perspective.

                2. Anonymous*

                  In fact, upon pondering I bet that was her interpretation–that I was asking her to plan something else (because all the food stuff is stressing me out). Which was completely different than what I meant. So thanks again, all!

        2. fposte*

          I think the mutual-shut-down is a distinct possibility, and it’s certainly worth seeing if you can find a way around it.

          I could see her not being sure whether you’re saying “I’ll get the gang together for Stupid Movie next week” [thing that will happen] or “I won’t plan any event myself because I like it when you plan things but I want you to plan something else” [PITA] or “We’ll do lunch sometime” [blowoff]. If you can’t get her out to a movie or a walk or a bar night or a midnight coven or something specific that you conceive and invite her to, then accept she’s a cooking friend and decide how much cooking you’re prepared to face.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Here’s the deal. She is going to keep doing her epic cooking. This means that she probably does not have time to do a lot of other things.
      And yeah, she can’t guess what you want.
      Find a freebie activity that is of general interest. Tell her to bake her cookies. And go. Don’t use IM for this- use the phone.

      I don’t read anything into the cookie remark. It sounds like two tired people trying to talking to each other and not really thinking through what the conversation is about.

      It could be that the friendship has run to it’s limit but I am still seeing you both are still trying. I think you both could do with some additional sleep- just my opinion- you guys sound tired. Get some rest first and see where that puts you.

  45. Fiona*

    I don’t know if this kind of thing flies on open threads, so shut me down if it’s not ok. But I would love, love some help, ideally from another sales/marketing professional, with a resume critique/rewrite for a specific job I’m targeting. I’m on the LinkedIn resume group but this thread gets way more visibility. Thanks!

  46. Chriama*

    I need some help with this:
    I need some advice on getting paid.
    I work part-time in my faculty computer lab. There are about 15 part time students here, so last semester our timesheets were filled out by 1 person but we each had to sign our own to get paid. I went home for the holidays before the last timesheets were ready for me to sign. I signed them as soon as I got back in the new semester but then a few weeks later I realized they still hadn’t been submitted — Not just for me, but I guess I need the money more than my coworkers because no one else has said anything.
    When I asked my supervisor, she said it was “too late” because the sheets were from December. She said she would check with the finance department about whether we could submit the timesheets even though they’re late.

    I want to resolve this without putting a strain on my relationship with my boss (she seemed sort of ticked off/disapproving when she said the sheets were from December, like I should have known to submit them sooner) so I’d rather not escalate it to a higher party. It’s about $150 total which is like a month of groceries for me, but I don’t know how much she’ll push back with the finance department if some clerk who can’t be bothered tells her it’s just too late.

    It’s been a couple days and she hasn’t said anything, so I’m worried she might have forgotten. How long should I wait before following up with her, and should I do it in person or by email? Also, if she says the finance people say it’s too late, how do I respond? I know they can’t legally not pay me but how do I tell her that in a way that sounds respectful and not argumentative or like I’m threatening legal action?

    If it helps, I’m in Canada.

    Thanks for your advice!

    1. anon-2*

      I don’t know about the laws in Canada. I do know about them here in Massachusetts – non-payment of wages due is a felony.

      Now – I’m not suggesting you go to the police, swear an affidavit and have her locked up until you get your money (although I have seen it done) …

      I would ask again, but indicate that you’re running out of patience, and you may have to escalate this. After all, you have to eat…

    2. fposte*

      Urgh. I’m in the U.S., so obviously some things will be different, but we teeter on the edge of the situation you describe, and I’m damned if I will let it happen. And I would be stunned if it weren’t a major issue to have students working unpaid at paid jobs due to the lab’s own horrible payroll tracking practices.

      I’m guessing the boss isn’t the person who’s filling out the time sheets? That may be a way into the conversation, to talk about filling out your own time sheets so that there’s no bottleneck that causes accounting issues like this one. But her response to your non-payment should have been horror and apology, and it’s a really bad sign that she blamed the victim. I might consider who else could be looped in if she’s unresponsive–is there a connection with your program that would allow you to mention this to a faculty advisor? Is there a department admin who’s getting these time sheets?

      If you’re not doing the general conversation about this hideous timesheet situation, I would follow up by email, to keep a record, and be a little firmer: “You said you’d check with the finance department about getting late checks cut for the work we did last December that still hasn’t been paid. Has finance said we can solve the problem that way?”

      1. Chriama*

        We moved to filling out our own timesheets this semester so it’s not an issue going forward. I’m debating just letting the whole thing go because it’s not a lot in the grand scheme of things, but it’s my money and I want it!

        I think I might try sending an email to her outlining the problem and potential solutions as kind of a follow-up/reminder. I think email will be less confrontational since I spoke to her in person the first time, and I can make it more about *me* needing the money than about *her* making sure I get paid.

        How would you phrase an email like that? I was thinking something like:
        “I know they were signed late, but I don’t think the finance department can actually refuse to pay me for hours worked. Would it be better if I followed up with finance on my own behalf?”

        I want to imply the whole “legal obligation” thing without sounding like I’m one step away from reporting it to the media (or worse, one of the student newspapers! lol). How would you say it?

      2. Chriama*

        Also, just to clarify: Our wages are only processed every 2 weeks so if you submit a sheet after the deadline you won’t get paid until the next period. This means at the beginning of the semester there’s quite a lag before your first paycheck. I got paid yesterday for the first week of January and in 2 weeks I’ll get paid for the 2nd and 3rd week.

        Also, everyone here makes about $100 per week, so there’s kind of an attitude that it doesn’t matter if pay is delayed because no one’s depending on it to feed themselves. It’s true that I’m under no real hardship because my parents make sure my rent is paid, but it just doesn’t sit right with me that I don’t get paid for time that I spent working.

        1. fposte*

          We have the same lag with time sheets, and I think that’s pretty common. All the more reason to make sure that subsequent pay gets processed tout de suite.

          It doesn’t matter if your parents can help you out or not. When you do a job, you should be paid for it. If you’re late getting your own timesheet in, that’s one thing; if the system has screwed up, it’s on your employers to fix it.

    3. Bryan*

      “hey I just wanted to follow up on the time sheets, is there any update on them?.”

      Did the other students also miss the time sheets? Everybody might be shy. I would just ask, hey I know you left when I did, did you get paid for December? If there are five of you that have not been paid it’s easier to approach as a group.

      It is probably illegal to not pay you for your work though so you will get paid, it might just be a battle. Is there anybody else you could check with?

      1. Chriama*

        I know that no one else has been paid because all the timesheets are still in the folder. Like I mentioned above no one is really hurting without the pay. We’re all students, so everyone is a little hesitant about speaking up, and if I made a big stink about it I’m pretty sure no one would support me. I just want to end this in a nice, non-confrontational manner. Is that possible?

        1. Fiona*

          Who is in charge of turning the timesheets in, and why hasn’t it been done yet?

          I like your comment above about asking whether you should follow up with Finance directly.

          1. Chriama*

            She’s in charge of it, but she only submits ones that have been signed. People tend to leave as soon as their exams are over but the timesheets weren’t done until the very end of exam break. Like I said, this isn’t a systematic problem going forward, it’s just that those last 2 weeks of December haven’t been submitted and it seems like she isn’t going to submit them. I think I’ll just email her about following up on my own behalf and try to imply that I’m in financial need which is why I’m making a big deal out of it.

            1. fposte*

              I would stay away from making suggestions that aren’t true, though. The fact that you did work and are owed money is more than enough reason to inquire.

              The whole arrangement sounds like a mess–the disorganized meets the meek. It should have been made clear that time sheets would need to be signed before your departure to get you paid on time, and the students should have made sure to get them signed.

            2. Aless*

              I’m in Canada and I can tell you they have an obligation to pay the wages. 2 weeks is nothing. I have seen cases where back wages were paid years later.

              Push back, be matter of fact and don’t ask. Tell her! Tell her you need the payroll processed. Don’t leave it up to her.

              One of the best advice I received was from my director who told me that you are your own best advocate. You are responsible to make sure that your payroll is done accurately.

              If you want to involve “authorities” I can forward you information about making complains to the labor board. It’s anonymous and since there seem to be a few of you, she won’t know who made the complaint.

            3. Bryan*

              I would be scared to pursue this back when I was a student but please fight for yourself. It’s very serious that you and 14 others were not paid for work you did. Your supervisor is so in the wrong about this. I’m hesitant to tell you this because I worry it would hurt you speaking up but she could be fired over this, it’s that serious to not pay 15 employees. Can you just take the sheet and submit it?

              I’m taking a shot with this but is your supervisor faculty? They might not be as concerned about the administrative up keep. You might want to contact a person in payroll or HR and let them know. If you don’t know whom to contact see if they have a general number and explain to whoever picks up they will help you speak to the right person.

            4. monologue*

              Financial need does not matter in this situation. Try again with her. I think your suggestion to mention following up directly with the finance admin is a good one. If you get more inaction, try asking the finance admin about it regardless. Maybe that person can then ask your supervisor about the sheets and your supervisor will likely not be able to ignore that.

              Also I’m Canadian too, and yeah, they have to pay you.

    4. The IT Manager*

      Hmmm …. I like the idea of you offering to follow up with finance, but it seems like the until your boss submits all the timesheets (still sitting on folder on her desk) finance can do nothing for you because they do not know that you haven’t been paid.

      You absolutely have to be paid. Frankly I am very surprised at your boss’s attitude; it may not be much money but college students usually need every penny. I can;t understand how anyone – your boss or your co-workers – think this can be okay.

      I honestly don’t know what is best to do.
      Do you know if all your co-workers have signed the timesheets yet or is your boss still waiting on a few other signatures?

      Because it sound like you and your co-workers dropped the ball by not signing before leaving for winter break. But your manager even dropped the ball even more by not reminding you all to sign before leaving and implementing a process that prevents this from happening.

      You should not drop this, though. That’s a horrible precident to work for free because it is a bit of a hassle for your boss to turn the time cards in late.

      1. Chriama*

        To clarify, most of us were physically not in the city when the timesheets were done. We signed them as soon as we got back and assumed they would be submitted with the next run. I do regret not following up sooner when I saw the sheets hadn’t been submitted, but with the payroll lag it wasn’t really at the front of my mind until now.

        I’m actually dealing with another problem where students haven’t been paid at all for grading exams last semester, and it turns out they never filled in the form that gets them on the school’s payroll (fortunately that one looks like it will be resolved properly). I think there’s just a lack of organization when it comes to making sure student workers get paid, because the people who need the work done aren’t the people paying for it. And it’s not a lot of money anyway, so students are even less willing to assert themselves.

        I think I will just email her next week and ask to speak to finance on my own behalf. Hopefully that will prompt her to push back with finance for all the students.

        Thanks to everyone for your concern!

      2. Nonymous*

        I also think that if the email with the supervisor doesn’t move things, please go to their supervisor. I hire students all the time and that would be a huge breach of trust if I found that someone was holding students’ timesheets and unnecessarily delaying their payment. It is illegal in the US, and it is unethical from my perspective.

        I also would not mention that this is little money or that no one needs it for a living so you should forget about it because that is absolutely not relevant. There is no need to apologize to the people who hired you for the fact that you need to get paid for said work (I have had students almost do that, when for some reason they don’t get an expected paycheck).

  47. pgh_adventurer*

    Anyone have advice on how to force yourself out of bed in the morning?

    I used to have to be at work by 8am, but I’m now a grad student and work flexible PT hours so I don’t have any pressing need to be anywhere in the morning. I still set my alarm for 7ish, but end up talking myself into staying in bed and snoozing for 30-90 more minutes. It’s killing my productivity and just reinforces me staying up till midnight or later. Any advice?

    1. Ann O'Nemity*

      I need help with this one as well! My hours at work are somewhat flexible, as long as I’m doing my 8 hours sometime between 7 am and 6 pm. I’d love to start earlier than my usual 9 am (so I can get off earlier), but it’s hard to get out of bed in when it’s still dark out!

      1. LF*

        Ditto here. But, if you can swing it on a grad student budget, the Phillips Wake Up Light alarm clock helps with the gradual waking up. Usually by the time my alarm goes off I’ve already gradually awoken.

        1. Littlemoose*

          I LOVE that clock! I got one last year because I’m a heavy sleeper and have trouble getting up in the morning. I definitely feel like it has made a positive difference for me in snoozing less. I also still set two alarms for about eight minutes apart, the first on my light clock and the second on my phone. I also had some success with Clocky, an alarm clock that rolls away and forces you to get out of bed to stop it; however, I thought the alarm sounded like R2-D2 having a seizure and it drove me bonkers, so I stopped using it.

        2. Kelly L.*

          I also like to do the gradual wake-up with a coffee maker with a timer. I set it for about 10 minutes before the alarm, and the wonderful smell of coffee wafting through the house starts waking me up so the actual alarm is less painful.

    2. Bryan*

      I wonder if they sill clocks without the snooze button.

      Would it work for you to place the alarm clock on the opposite side of the room? Then you have to get out of bed to turn it off.

      1. PEBCAK*

        There’s one called “clocky” that actually runs to the other side of the room, and another that bursts into five puzzle pieces and won’t stop beeping until you put them back together.

    3. Yup*

      Couple of things:

      Taking a shower helps me get in gear. If I’m padding around in pajamas, hours go by. If I get out of the bed and into the shower (and then get dressed properly, not back into pjs), then I actually begin my day. Is there any morning ritual like this that works for you? Turning on the TV news, brushing your teeth, having breakfast? Do that first.

      Make appointments or goals for early morning. Even if you don’t *have * to be anywhere til 11 am, you can: A. make an actual appt (for breakfast with a friend, or a dental check up, whatever) for 9 am, or B. create a mental list of outside things you need to do before Actual Thing at 11 am (get to dry cleaner, go to the ATM, mail a card, put gas in the car).

      1. monologue*

        this helps me. make an automatic routine so that you’re not getting up and wondering what’s next. In undergrad I made coffee immediately after waking. In grad school it’s shut computer immediately, turn on news radio, go to bathroom for shower.

    4. bad at online naming*

      I have done this my entire life. If there is nothing absolutely pressing to get me up, I snooze for an embarrassing amount of time. I actually have flexible hours, but I’ve discovered I’m far more productive in the mornings and feel terrible if I don’t get in before 9.

      I’ve mostly just given up, and set my alarm for an hour before I “need” (want) to be up, so I can snooze to my id’s context but not feel like an unmotivated blob afterwards. This sometimes snowballs (especially on weekends), but is okay the majority of the time.

      And sometimes I schedule meetings in the morning so I have something I have to go to.

    5. Chriama*

      Keep your alarm clock on the other side of the room! I find that I will never get up until I need to, no matter when the alarm goes off or how late in the morning it is, so I like to schedule immovable appointments relatively early in the morning.

      For example you could set a meeting with your adviser first thing in the morning, so you can’t get away with sleeping in.

    6. Elizabeth West*

      Do you get up later on weekends? If you sleep late on weekends, that can mess you up during the week. I get up at 6 on workdays and at 7 (no later than 8) on weekends and holidays. If I don’t, getting to sleep the next night is crazy. I try to be in bed by 11, but no later than 12 or I’m a zombie the next day.

      And I have my skating lessons on Saturday mornings anyway, so that gives me incentive to get up. Maybe make some plans then to help get you into that habit.

    7. LMW*

      I have been having huge issues with this too. I’ve been enforcing a strict and early bedtime routine (in bed with a book at 9, lights out 9:30) because I’ve been trying to get up so much earlier than usual (I’m up at 5). Aiming for 7 to 8 hours of sleep has really helped and I think I can start adjusting my schedule a little bit. I’ve also starting turning on the light next to my bed the first time my alarm goes off. Then I can snooze for 5 minutes and acclimate to be a bit more awake. I really want one of those sunrise-type alarm clocks, but haven’t gotten around to purchasing it yet.

    8. The IT Manager*


      At one (wonderful) point in my life, I was a full time student, but all my classes were in the evenings and weekend. I adjusted my schedule to go to bed around 1:00am sleep until 9:00am. It was bliss. Is there a reason you want to be up that early? Because with a flexible part time schedule you can adjust your life so that you time shift your activities to fit a later start.

      When I did that I did have to get room darkening curtains so now that I have to get up early again, I purchases a wake up light alarm clock and love it.

      In the end I think it is a chicken and egg problem. Go to bed earlier first and then waking up earlier will be easier. If you try to start getting up early before you start going to bed early, you’ll struggle because you are sleep deprived. and like someone else said, you have to do it every day. Staying up late ond Friday and Saturday nights and sleeping in on Sauturday and Sunday will mess up your circadian rythym every week.

    9. anon in tejas*

      reward yourself if you do it.

      i.e. if I get to the office before 8, I’ll get a starbucks.

      stream line your process in the morning might help too. (i.e. lay out clothes night before, pack lunch, etc.)

  48. Rude Boss/Anxiety*

    So my CEO is very rude. An expert in her field, but she’s also a cantankerous old lady. I came on board about four months ago (4 person team) and then my immediate supervisor got fired (over lunch!) and the office manager left for a new job. Now most of my interactions are with the CEO. Although she’s encourages me to take on new projects and has been complimentary, she is very abrupt and gets upset very easily over things like technology (e.g., the other day our temp explained that we don’t have software to make changes to a PDF and she yelled, “I don’t know anything about that, I don’t know what a PDF is.”

    I find it challenging to work with her, though not impossible. Should I stick it out or whether I should just try to find another job at the six month mark. She’s notorious in the field for being hard to work with. But I also have issues with anxiety, so I can’t tell if she’s really that bad or if I just feel anxious because I feel anxious.

    1. Jessica*

      I would stick with it, everything else being equal. It’s hard to find a job without ANY jerks (does anywhere actually enforce the “no asshole” rule?). Just accept that she’s a rude person and do your best not to take take it personally (easier said than done, I know). The exception would be if you were forced to spend a great deal of time with her on a permanent basis or she was your direct supervisor.

    2. AVP*

      My boss of 6 years is also notoriously rude and difficult, but its so widely known that no one takes it personally and we all just roll our eyes at each other behind his back. It definitely helps to have 3-4 other people around though who get it and who can commiserate with you when necessary. If I was alone with him all the time, I think I would go crazy. But ultimately, this is one of those things that you have to decide if its worth it for you personally, or if its a dealbreaker. I don’t think anyone would blame you either way.

    3. Mephyle*

      If the example you gave is typical, it sounds like her rudeness is not personal; rather it’s abruptness and impatience. Sure it’s hard to cope with but it’s not nearly as bad as the type of meanness that is directed at you in a personal way. Sticking it out could be doable (especially while taking specific measures to work on not letting your anxiety magnify it – I’m thinking of the kind of techniques you can learn with cognitive behavioural therapy) and would probably be worthwhile if it doesn’t get too hairy for you.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        This. Her anger is not with you. It’s with the ever changing technology, which annoys most of us.
        Offer a solution. Or offer to find someone that might have a solution.

        Yeah you gave us one example so it is easy to say “do x, y and z”.
        But that does not help much with the next blowup on an unrelated matter.

        Try, try, try to separate out when she is mad at YOU and when she is just PO’ed in general. Since she does say nice things to you from time to time there is a glimmer of hope.

        If you can corner her in a calm moment you might want to ask,”Sometimes you get upset and I don’t know how to help. Is there some way I could make things easier for you? How should I respond that would be helpful to you?”

        What I like about this is that she has to own her emotional outbursts. It puts you in a good place because you want to help.

  49. krm*

    I sent this question to Alison, but thought I woud throw it out to all of you…

    To give you a bit of background- I was hired right out of college to work in a VERY small office (family owned, three employees including myself). I was hired mainly to provide admin support to my boss and the other employees while I learned the industry, with the understanding that after a few months, when I was more comfortable in the industry, I would transition to a different position.

    During the transition, I was given many additional responsibilities, including several long term projects, of which I was the sole contributor. I have received nothing but high praise for the work I have done, both from my boss and coworkers, as well as clients. During this time, we hired several people, and I have been promoted twice. However, I am still the youngest person in the office by about 20 years, although a few of the people that were hired have less experience in this industry.

    My boss has made it clear that I am no longer an admin. I have a very specialized position within our office. I am the only person that performs this specific function. As it is such a small office, we don’t have a receptionist, and are expected to share in those duties- answering phones, checking voicemails left overnight, mailings, etc. I have one coworker who still views me as the office admin. She asks me to mail things for her, expects me to screen her calls and deal with the ones she doesn’t want to take, and assigns me various tasks, such as copying and faxing items for her, setting up appointments, etc. I know for a fact that she has not been instructed to leave those tasks to me. I certainly don’t mind doing my share of the admin duties, but the small tasks she has been giving me are adding up, and cutting in to the time I have to spend on my projects. Other people are also seeing that she keeps asking me to do these things, and are starting to see me as an admin as well. How do I push back? We don’t have a clear org chart, but I do not report to her. If anything ,we are peers, although she has been in the industry much longer. I don’t want to appear insubordinate, or seem as if I am complaining about these additional tasks, but I also don’t want my projects to suffer because she doesn’t want to make her own copies.

    1. fposte*

      I’m missing a key point: why are you choosing to perform these tasks for her when they’re not your job?

      1. Judy*


        Step one: “Jane, I can’t mail this for you”

        Next time, step two: “Boss, I’m having trouble managing my priorities, are my projects my highest priority, or is copying things for Jane my highest priority?”

      2. krm*

        I’ve done those things for her mainly in an effort to not rock the boat…these things used to be my job, but aren’t any longer. I’m not sure if she isn’t understanding that they aren’t my responsibility anymore, or if she is just taking advantage of my willingness to be helpful.

        1. fposte*

          Then you need to start saying “No.” You can say it more tactfully if you prefer, but right now she’s asking you because you’re doing it, and she’s not going to stop until you stop.

          Given that this is apparently an established practice now, I’d actually speak to the whole situation rather than just keep fobbing her off, since she’s built this into her workflow and should probably be notified to change that: “Sorry, Jane, now that I’m no longer admin I’m not going to be able to handle tasks like that for you in the kind of time you need.” You can still hang it on the transition even if it was a while ago.

    2. BausLady*

      This can be tough to navigate, but I really think you just need to tell her you’re not able to help with these things. Especially screening her calls and setting up her appointments. That’s ridiculous expectation for her to have. The next time she approaches you, just politely say that you’re right in the middle of X project and won’t be able to help her. After a few times, she’ll hopefully get the message.

      I just transitioned from a receptionist role with some HR duties, to a full time HR/recruiting role. The hardest part was telling people to just sign for whatever package themselves and that I couldn’t help them with their mass mailings anymore. It’s hard to do, but it’s necessary in order for you to continue to be successful in your job.

    3. IndieGir*

      You need to get firm with her, but in a professional way. On my second job out of college, the person who trained me thought that she had a right to assign work long after I had been there and was fully trained. When she tried to give me one of her cases to work on, I responded by saying: “I’m sorry, I’m working on a project for OurSharedBoss with a tight deadline so I’m unable to help you with that.” Repeat as necessary, as many times as necessary, regardless of your actual work load and deadlines. Say it calmly, professionally, and confidently. When I did this, the woman was about 10 years older than I, but it still worked like a charm.

      The most important thing is to never give in and do things to her to be nice, because you be back at square one again.

      1. IndieGir*

        Urgh — never do things FOR her to be nice, because YOU’LL

        Sorry — I got a case of Friday Brains!

        Although doing things to her might make you feel less annoyed as well!

        1. krm*

          I think some of the problem stems from the fact that she trained me, and during that training period, I was perhaps overly eager in trying to make myself useful to the office. I took a lot of admin duties off of her plate while I was learning the industry. I need to push back and make her see that I am not in a position where it is appropriate for me to act as her admin. I like the language that you use about tight deadlines, even if that isn’t always the case…I’ll give that a try.

          1. IndieGir*

            I can totally see how her having trained you is part of the problem. Training automatically puts someone in a 1-up position over you and it can be hard for them to let go of that. And I can also totally understanding trying to be helpful when you are new, and now she’s taking advantage. Good luck!!

    4. Aisling*

      One important thing to remember: you aren’t being insubordinate by telling someone that they are asking you to do something that isn’t your job. I wonder if the age difference is a factor here, as it sounds like you’re not wanting to push back because you see yourself as junior to her. If someone your same age was asking you to do the same tasks, would you still do them, or would you explain that those aren’t actually part of your job?

  50. Erin*

    My husband got a job offer for a role that offers either a car allowance or a company car. It’s a work from home position with frequent travel to customer sites, all within the same metropolitan area. However, they are saying that instead of filling out an expense form to get reimbursement for gas/mileage, they provide everybody with a company paid gas card, whether they have a car allowance or company car. Fine. But they automatically deduct $50/month from the employees’ paychecks to cover the cost of personal use of the car. The problem is that my husband almost never uses his car for personal reasons. We have small children and don’t even car seats for his car, so obviously we can never go anywhere as a family in his car. Our other family car is a minivan so we have no need to use his car. On very rare occasions, he might use his car to go grocery shopping (1 mile away) or we go on date nights about 4 times a year using his car. There is absolutely no way he would ever use $50 per month on gas for his personal use. His car is small and gets great gas mileage.

    I’m not going to ask the dreaded “is it legal?” question because I know it is legal for the company to do this, but how can we push back on this practice? Basically my husband will be subsidizing his employer’s business costs by $50/month (minus his very negligible personal use) for their own cost of doing business. Or at the very least, the car allowance of $X per month is really $X – $50.

    1. ThursdaysGeek*

      Would they still deduct $50 for a company car? If not, perhaps he should ask for one, instead of driving his own. (I’d prefer my own car, but I’m not sure if I’d want it more than $50 a month.)

      1. Sunflower*

        This seems to make the most sense to me. You can certainly try to push back and explain everything you just said but I think this is your best bet.

      2. Paige Turner*

        Just make sure you don’t put more gas into the van’s tank than would fit in your husband’s car’s tank :)

      3. Anon*

        Some company gas/credit cards require you to punch in the mileage to specifically avoid this practice.

    2. ClaireS*

      Anyone I know with a company vehicle has to track mileage for tax reasons (I’m in canada). It might be helpful if your husband tracked his mileage for a month and used that to show his boss that he’s not using the vehicle for personal reasons and see if the deduction can be renegotiated.

      If that doesn’t work, you may have to drop it. A company paid vehicle or a car allowance is a huge perk and it’s probably not worth arguing to aggressively over.

    3. Erin*

      Thanks for the input everyone! My understanding is that they will deduct the $50 either way (company car or car allowance.) We don’t want to annoy them since overall it’s a great comp package, so we might just grin and bear it. But we found out about the $50 deduction after he already accepted the offer and resigned his old job, so it was just a bit of a bummer. Apparently it’s a new policy they just started this month. Maybe it will be so unpopular they will stop it! I think filling the van once in a while using the gas card is probably the best option.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I have heard of other companies doing a similar deduction. That does not mean it is legal and that question I don’t know the answer.

        Uh- start using the vehicle once in awhile?

        Or check with you tax person to see if you can deduct it on your taxes?

        Don’t use the company card for your own vehicle. A lot of times you have to enter the mileage on the vehicle in order for the sale to be processed. It would set off a red flag if you entered the mileage of your personal vehicle.

  51. Tina*

    I’m about to start a new job on Monday (yay) after being in my current job for over 10 years. It is still with the same company and some familiar people, but it’s been such a long time since I was the “new” person, I’d love any tips/refreshers on adjusting to a new job. Thanks!

    1. Victoria Nonprofit*

      One thing I always wish I’d done is arrange to have coffee/lunch/a get-to-know-you meeting with everyone – including as far up the hierarchy as you can appropriately go. I tend to build relationships with those closest to me and miss out on those folks who are more removed from me.

  52. EduStudent*

    I recently got a LinkedIn request from a stranger, and I did end up accepting because of the work that this person does. It’s not directly in my intended field, but it is something that I would love to learn more about and consider. Is it appropriate for me to reach out to this new contact over LinkedIn and ask for an informational interview of sorts? And if so, how would you suggest phrasing it so it’s not awkward? I would be asking for a favor from a stranger, after all.

    1. Fiona*

      “Thanks for the invite to connect. I’d love the opportunity to talk with you more about your (job/industry). Can I buy you a coffee (or “Could we set up a 30-minute phone chat”) sometime in the next couple weeks?

      Then do your homework (research the industry, his/her company and his/background) and be prepared with substantive questions!

  53. Ruffingit*

    I just want to make a general statement that people should have more compassion for those who are job hunting or straining to make ends meet. I had this conversation yesterday with someone and I said that it’s amazing how many people make craptastic comments about how people should just take minimum wage jobs and if they don’t, it’s because they think they’re too good for them. Uh no. Actually, people often don’t take those jobs not because they’re too good for them, but because they can’t get hired at those places, the money they would make would be eaten entirely by day care, etc.

    Just saying the amount of judgment is horrid and people should just be more compassionate. It’s a jungle out there in the job land and there is no easy solution.

    1. ThursdaysGeek*

      Plus, people working at minimum wage still often need government assistance, because it’s not really enough to live on, especially since they’re rarely full time. I know a lot of working poor, who are working very hard.

      1. Ruffingit*

        Exactly. Minimum wage is not a living wage in most places. There is a huge difference there and when it is said that people think they’re too good to work minimum wage jobs, it makes me want to strangle the speaker. In many cases, it actually makes more economic sense to stay on welfare than to work a minimum wage job. And something is very, very wrong when that is the case. When Wal-Mart, a billion dollar corp. has a food drive for its employees, I think we need to be questioning wages and the way they’re set. Just saying.

      2. LauraG*

        Relatedly (well, it could be a word), I saw this today:

        It’s a calculator that tells you how many hours you’d have to work at Walmart (but really, any minimum wage job) to support your family in your area. In order for me to support my family with a minimum wage job, I’d have to work 134 hours. That leaves me 28 hours a week for sleeping, commuting, eating, etc.

    2. fposte*

      I love the point made that because so many minimum-wage workers are on assistance, the public actually ends up subsidizing their employers. I’d rather pay my sandwich maker directly than have my taxes heighten her employer’s profits.

    3. Bryan*

      You also have to apply to these jobs as well as better paying jobs. And it’s not like a minimum wage job accepts everybody off of the street. Like you can get hired by filling out your name. I often wonder if a fast food restaurant would hire me with a couple years of professional experience and two masters anyways.

      1. Ruffingit*

        That is a good point that many people miss Bryan. It used to be you could walk in, fill out an app at Wendy’s and be hired on the spot. That just isn’t the case anymore from what I’ve heard. And yes, if you have a degree of any sort, you are nearly always disqualified right off the bat because you’re overqualified. And forget about trying to work two min. wage jobs (which is another suggestion I’ve seen people toss out). The scheduling for a lot of min. wage jobs prevents that since it’s so sporadic.

        I know there are people out there who are working two min. wage jobs, but I’m just saying that in general people need to stop tossing that out as the answer to the job seeker’s prayer and that you’re lazy if you don’t do that. I usually hear this from people who have had the same job for 30+ years and have a retirement fund that their company matched at 100% just waiting for them to withdraw. Not everyone has been so lucky in the job market and a little compassion goes a long way.

        1. Laura*

          If you’re in highschool or college/university, or if you have previous fast food experience, you could probably get a job somewhere like Wendy’s. But if you have a degree and nothing but office experience, Wendy’s probably won’t hire you especially if you live somewhere with plenty of college students or others with 2+ years fast food experience who want those jobs. It shouldn’t be true, but minimum wage is also not a living wage here…well maybe if you live walking distance from work, in the least desirable neighbourhood, with multiple roommates and you don’t eat much. Then maybe it could work, unless you have more than yourself to support. I’ve applied for a lot of minimum wage retail/fast food jobs, and I haven’t gotten any. I think it’s because I have 0 retail/fast food experience. I worked as a part time receptionist through highschool. They only hire people with no relevant experience if they’re still in school (preferably highschool)

        2. Bryan*

          Yeah, I never hear it from somebody who is in the situation of needing a job to make rent or pay the grocery bill. And I completely agree with the two jobs. Good look getting them to work together (I’d give better odds for winning the lottery).

      2. Stephanie*

        Walmart opened up in DC and it got an insane amount of applications for not very many spots. My friend did the math and figured that Harvard College took more applicants than those Walmarts (granted, not the best comparison, but point made).

        1. Ruffingit*

          That really says something about how many applicants those jobs get. I don’t know why people think that MW jobs are just open all the time and anyone can come on in and get the job. As with other jobs, there are tons of applicants. So many misunderstandings abound about MW jobs, which contributes to the lack of compassion in my view.

    4. Nodumbunny*

      Just want to say that I hear you, RuffingIt. I hope no one here has made you feel they are judging you. I’ve been in your shoes before and I know it is a scary time and can really play havoc with your self-esteem. Once you have expenses like a house, daycare or a car payment, it is really hard to get out from under them, much less to do so quickly, so downsizing to a minimum wage salary really won’t work. I have a good friend in this position now and I worry about him every day.

      1. Ruffingit*

        I haven’t felt judged at all here and I’m actually not talking about myself with this at the moment, for which I am very grateful. But I have been in the position in the past of job hunting where people would encourage me to get MW jobs and it wasn’t something that was an answer for me for a lot of reasons. Everyone seems to want to talk about how people are lazy, not willing to work, etc., but that isn’t the case quite often. It’s just not as simple as people want to make it so compassion should be the watch word of the day. It’s rough out there.

        1. Emma*

          And as we often say here, education (or experience in another area) doesn’t mean you’re qualified! Just because I have a bachelor’s degree and work in public health does *not mean* I’m qualified or even overqualified to flip burgers, provide home care or waitress. Those are specific jobs that require specific training and to be good at them, a particular personality. You can’t just walk in, drop your state uni diploma on the counter and say “Where’s my uniform?”

          1. Ruffingit*

            A very good point Emma! So many people think those jobs are super easy so everyone can do them. Not so. Being a waitress for example is HARD. To do that job well requires a good personality, a good memory, the physical ability to be on your feet 12 hours a day. Not everyone qualifies.

          2. Laura*

            Well said Emma! If that’s how it worked, I would have done it already, and so would a lot of other people. I don’t really have the personality or the memory to be a good waitress.

    5. Elizabeth West*

      I love to see this on Facebook, because then I post links. Links after links after links. With titles like “Why You Can’t Bootstrap Yourself Out of Poverty,” and “X% of SNAP Recipients Now People on Minimum Wage.”

      If it’s in person, I tell them about food deserts, and the SNAP thing, and all the minimum wage jobs I applied to when I was looking, until they shut up and go away.

  54. Shoes*

    Let’s talk shoes for a second, ladies. What shoes would you recommend wearing to an interview? I have always worn heels with a closed toe… but I’ve recently realized that these are ridiculously uncomfortable (and had an awkward incident where I almost killed myself while giving a demo lesson in an interview). What shoes do you wear? Specific brands would be nice to hear, thanks.

    1. Mints*

      Payless safestep brand is my favorite work shoe. I bought them when $20 was my shoe budget, but I never replaced them because they’re super comfortable. Also they have grippy rubber soles (hence safe step) so you won’t fall down so easily. I have the black leather in like a two inch heel

    2. Nodumbunny*

      I like Munro shoes. They’re not beautiful, but they are professional looking and very comfortable. Not cheap, but last really well. I tend to wear a low heel, closed toe pump because I think it looks more professional/pulled together, but doesn’t kill my feet.

      1. Bookworm*

        Love the Payless wide-width heels! They come in every color you may possibly need, and the heel itself is not so high as to be inappropriate in a work environment.

    3. louise*{keyword}

      I’m afraid these are probably not the best idea, but I love them and wear them with both pants and skirts. I have them in red and wouldn’t hesitate to wear them to an interview. I have a narrow, flat foot and aside from having trouble finding things that fit well, most shoes–even most flats!–leave my feet hurting so bad I limp by evening and almost can’t bear any weight the next morning. These do not do that to me.

      But I have a feeling you’re probably looking for something cuter/snazzier? I’m out on that, ha.

    4. PEBCAK*

      Franco Sarto. A little on the expensive side, but really well-made and as comfortable a pair of heels as I’ve ever been able to find.

    5. Parfait*

      get yourself over to Corporette and take a gander at their guide to comfortable heels.

      Flats are fine too. Stick with the closed toe.

      1. fposte*

        I’ve split the difference with some nice kitten heels, too. I’m seriously big on Mary Jane style these days–I’m hard to fit and they hold me in the shoe better than anything.

    6. Elizabeth West*

      I wear boots or nice loafers or my leather Crocs Mary Janes. The only heels I can even walk in are kitten heels and I can’t find them anywhere. Plus, I don’t wear skirts, so that’s not an issue, although I might wear them if I could 1) find some that didn’t make me look like a cupcake top, and 2) if I could wear knee-high boots and tights instead of stupid hose and heels (I refuse to go without hose because I get blisters on my feet).

    7. Sunflower*

      Cole Haan. The heels have Nike Air insoles! Also try a slightly lower heel. I think flats can make women look kind of school child like so even if it’s a one inch heel it’s great!

      Warning: they are very expensive so I get mine from the outlet or when Macy’s and Lord and Taylor are having big sales.

      1. Natalie*

        I love the Air Talias – they’re just a nice, basic black pump but they are suuuuper comfortable. And they last forever – I’ve had mine for 5 years, I wear them during my commute all the time, and the only maintenance I’ve ever done is get the taps replaced. My shoe guy touches up the leather for free when he replaces the taps, which is awesome. (Anyone in the Twin Cities – Lee’s Leather Repair is the best.)

      2. A Jane*

        Second on the Cole Haan with nike air. If you’re going into a job where you’ll need to be wearing shoes like this all the time, definitely invest. I wish I did this for my event planning job where I was running around all day

    8. themmases*

      I really like flats with pointed toes, or kitten heels. To me the pointed toe makes them look a bit more dressed up, rather than like regular ballet flats I probably wear on the weekend. It’s common to need a half size up in those, but generally they’re really comfortable then.

      The two brands I own the most of are Nine West and Miz Mooz, and I get tons of compliments on both. Both are also generally quite comfortable soon after I get them, at least in boots and flats. And both will generally have the same shoe in a variety of conservative colors and a few fun ones. (I like having a pointy flat in every color, so that’s important to me!)

    9. Anonicorn*

      I wear kitten heel pumps in comfort brands.

      If you have the cash, Cole Haan is totally worth it. Aerosol, Naturalizer, adn Ros Hommerson are usually comfy with decent looking professional styles.

    10. Tinker*

      Gripfast 10-eyelet steel toe boots — replacing a pair of plain-toe Docs that I wore to all previous interviews, but weren’t ever really meant to hold a shine (that they did at all was mostly down to sheer bloody-mindedness on my part). I went with black; I think it’s more conservative and professional.

  55. ThursdaysGeek*

    I just read a reunion (of sorts) in a thread from yesterday, where two regular commenters discovered they went to the same university and were talking about a professor. So, I’m wondering if anyone else here went to my school. I attended Northwest Nazarene College (now NNU) in Idaho and Central Washington University in WA. And, if you didn’t go to my school, where did you attend? (Or, since high school was part of the thread yesterday, anyone else from Ashland, OR?)

    1. Shelley*

      Reader who lurks here. I am originally from Brookings, Oregon so I’m from your neighborhood in a sense. My ex-husband attended Central Washington U and his mom worked there. I have a friend who teaches there now. Proud alum of University of Oregon here. GO DUCKS!


      1. BausLady*

        I did not go to your school. I went to the University of MN, Morris. It’s the liberal arts campus in the U of MN system.

    2. The IT Manager*

      I attended the University of Missouri-Rolla (UMR) which had been known as Missouri School of Mines (MSM) and is now known as Missouri University of Science and Technology (MS&T).

      1. ThursdaysGeek*

        Ooh, and the name changes resulted in widely different initials too. That’s got to be confusing.

        1. AnotherAlison*

          I think every university in MO, except Mizzou, has changed their name in the past 15 years.

          1. The IT Manager*

            Yep! I think it was the Missouri Board of Regents that forced MSM and all other schools except for their flagship Mizzou to change their name. Personally I prefer MSM and MS&T because both convey that its a specialty school.

            I do wonder, though, the old seal used to show both the MSM and UMR names. The encircled the seal. There might not be room to add MS&T.

            ** I am not from Missouri. During my UMR tour I had to ask the tour guide about what she was talking about when she kept comparing UMR to Mizzou.

      2. AnotherAlison*

        Hey, I went there in 1996-97, and then on to a school with a better B-Ball program. . .j/k, other reasons having to do with procreation.

    3. Katherine*

      I went to CWU from 2002-2006, and then lived in Ashland, OR from 2006-2008. Could we have crossed paths?

      1. ThursdaysGeek*

        No, because I’ve only visited the Rogue valley and driven through Eburg on the way to Seattle in those years. I should probably wave periodically, because you’re probably not too far away even now. What took you to Ashland, and how do you like lithia water?

  56. Linneaus*

    I’m a finalist for a job in a specialized university library, and I’ve got to do a day-long interview including a 20-minute presentation followed by a question session that’s open to the anyone who wants to attend, and numerous meetings, and lunch, and coffees.

    I’m super-excited about the job — there are few libraries like this particular one in the country, it fits my interests/qualifications neatly, and it happens to be in the city where I live and want to remain.

    But I’ve never done an all-day interview before, and never had to prepare a presentation as part of a job interview before. The whole process sounds terrifying and exhausting and full with potential for awkward moments. I was wondering if any of you had advice for maintaining stamina through such a marathon? Tips for an introvert on staying “on” all through the day? Surefire strategies for making friendly connection in informal settings? (That last question makes it sound like I don’t know how to be a human…I do…It’s just that the whole job-interview setting makes makes one feel so not human.)

    Thanks for any feedback you can offer!

    1. BN*

      I have nothing of value to contribute, but I like your user name :) It’s my middle name (minus the -us).

    2. Sophia*

      Make sure you being snacks for throughout the day. Also, know that at the end of the day, if they are putting you up in a hotel, you can recharge at night. Not ideal, but that will be your downtime. My understanding is that the day will be jam packed, so making sure you can unwind how you want at the end of the day (book, tv etc) is important!

    3. Chriama*

      I would recommend finding a way to get away from people during transition periods if you can. I did an all day interview and halfway through the day I felt my enthusiasm just fall to 0 and be replaced with exhaustion. In retrospect, I wish I had asked to go to the washroom / refill my water multiple times just to be alone for a few moments and regroup.

    4. AdjunctForNow*

      I’m on the academic job market right now, and this format is pretty standard. Ask for a schedule in advance. Typically, they realize this is grueling, and build in time for breaks. For example, one place gave me an office to use all day, and another gave me half an hour to “prep for my talk” (which I actually used to zone out and play on the internet).

    5. Lindsay*

      I once had to do an all-day library interview that started at 7 am with breakfast and ended at 10 pm after dinner.

      And I did this on four hours of sleep, because the flight they originally booked for me got cancelled and I had to drive to a totally different airport (four hours instead of two!) to catch a different flight, and then a connecting flight.

      And I got four hours of sleep THAT night to fly back to my job in the middle of nowhere to close a hotel front desk.

      HOLY CRAP that was one of the longest days of my life. I felt like I was going to throw up just from being tired.

      And of course, I didn’t get the job.

      Bring food in your bag! If they give you breaks, GO TAKE BREAKS. Bring deodorant, gum, toothbrush, the works in your bag so if you feel crappy you can freshen up.

      Just remember to smile and ask questions if you are unsure of something. You will meet a MILLION people and you won’t remember any of them and that’s OK. And also, try to come up with something original for your presentation, and not something they’ve seen before.

      Good luck! You’ll be fine. And wear comfortable shoes! You’ll do a LOT of walking.

    6. Linneaus*

      Thanks, all! Your comments are helpful and encouraging. Packing snacks, deodorant, toothbrush, etc. is very smart. Basically, it sounds like I should pack as if for a long international flight.

      I knew that this type of interview day is standard for faculty positions, but this is a staff job, and I’ve never worked in a library or university before, so I didn’t know to expect it.

      Now here’s a question for any librarians in the audience: my masters is not an MLIS, but rather in the subject that the library specializes in. Many of my interviewers and potential co-workers, however, are MLISes, and such a degree is preferred for the position I’m applying for. I’m wondering if there’s anything that librarians would be be looking for or concerned about in a candidate without formal library/archive training. Any suggestions for what issues I could address that might reassure them?

      1. Nonymous* depends on the position (and yes, I am curious!)

        If they don’t formally offer you a few breaks during the day, what I do is go to the bathroom so I can take a few breaths in private.

        But I think having been on both sides, what helps me most is to remember that people are friendly and want to know about the candidate – and I want to know about them, the library but also some sense of the larger institution to figure out if I’d want to work there. Sometimes the lunch is more informal and you can get quite a bit of information about the culture and how people see their institution (that you won’t get having dinner with the Dean).

      2. Aisling*

        What library experience do you have? As an MLS holder myself, that would be my first question. Talk about any experience you have, as a volunteer, shelver in high school, whatever. If you don’t have any experience beyond using one as a patron, you wouldn’t be able to reassure me that you’d do fine as a librarian. Specialized knowledge is fantastic, but the MLS trains you for (among other things like management, cataloging, acquisitions, etc) working in a library and helping people through reference transactions. It’s not about knowing the answer yourself, but about helping people find the answer for themselves.

        1. Lindsay*

          +1. Having a degree in the subject area rather than an MLIS is totally OK. Also emphasize liaison capabilities (like to faculty in the subject) and emphasize your knowledge of your subject’s literature.

          That is – sell yourself as someone that professors would find endearing and on their side. If you have an insider’s view of a subject area, that’s a pretty good sell for a library. Be familiar with your subject area’s databases, too, and know how to search them like a pro!

  57. Emily, admin extraordinaire*

    So in the salary thread I noticed that there are a bunch of people who make their living in editing and writing. I’m currently a high-level admin who does a fair bit of writing/editing in the course of my job, but I’d like to do more with my education (BA in English with editing emphasis and MA in English with British Lit emphasis).

    I tried doing some SEO copywriting for my cousin who owns an online marketing business, but found that my style (I try to be straightforward and concise in my writing) conflicts with what they were looking for, and I failed miserably at it. I think I’d be good at technical writing (which is mostly what I do now) or perhaps grant/proposal writing with a bit of training, or editing of any type (I’ve done all sorts) but am unsure how to proceed.

    Any advice from current writers/editors? Should I look for tech writing certificates or courses? How can I break into the field?

    1. LMW*

      It sounds like you might be similar to me. I’m really good at some kinds of writing (over the course of my career I’ve written a lot of instructions, guides, factual articles, white papers and research reports), but I’m not very good at sales or promotional copy.
      In addition to tech writing (which I can’t comment on because I never went into that field), consider white papers or content marketing — if you are English major, you already have a lot of practice writing those kinds of essays, and if you like writing in that style they are actually pretty fun.

      1. Emily, admin extraordinaire*

        White papers and content marketing both sound like something I’d be good at, but I have even less of an idea how to get into doing such things than I do tech writing. Do you have any suggestions on where to look?

        1. LMW*

          Your best bet is to start trying to write that type of content.
          But from an educational standpoint, on Coursera right now there is a MOOC (online class) on Content Strategy that is really interesting. It’s three weeks in, so it might be too late to join, but they have robust discussion boards and a LinkedIn group that would offer you an opportunity to learn a lot and ask people how they got started. There seems to be people at a wide range of experience levels in it, so I’m really enjoying the discussion aspects.
          I took a bit of a roundabout path to this career – I started out in publishing, then moved to corporate and did website administration and edited papers and survey reports, and gradually took on more of the website strategy. And I had brief stints in straight up marketing and communications (even though my interest is far more on the editorial side than the marketing side). Now I do a lot of overall content strategy, which is kind of the best of both worlds.
          One thing that’s really important for doing this type of work full time or freelance is having samples. They don’t necessarily have to be published samples, but they need to be the type of thing that shows that you are capable of writing this type of material and coming up with plans to share it as appropriate. You might also want to look at entry level marketing and communications jobs that seem to have a more “thought leadership” track than a “promotional” track.

      2. ChristineSW*

        Just out of curiosity – what field are you in? Those are the types of things I’d love to write. I am SUCH a nerd when it comes to guides, fact sheets, etc.

        1. LMW*

          I’m a content marketer/content strategist. Right now I’m on a strategic marketing team, but I could easily see this role on a communications team, PR team, or editorial team.

    2. Christine*

      I am only a few years out of college, so my advice is limited, but I got my start editing at a marketing company. It was technical editing (think editing junk-mail) so it was mind-numbingly boring, but it at least showcased my editing and attention to detail abilities. I was lucky enough to be in a position where I could accept an internship, and I quit the editing job for a writing internship (paid) at a non-profit.

      I would highly recommend doing something like that if you’re able. The internship was full-time and extremely involved, I was like a regular team member and received some great mentoring from a woman who still gives me recommendations. I also did the SEO copywriting for a friends company, and using those writing samples, applied to a lot of freelance jobs on odesk and finally found a long-term one who sends me 2-3 jobs a week. Do you have any writing samples you can use to apply for jobs like this?

      I would suggest building your portfolio any way you are able while in your current job. Nights, weekends, any time you can write. Odesk is a great resource and you have to wade through a lot of postings that aren’t willing to pay you a lot, but there are some quality gigs. Craigslist often has some good stuff, and luckily most of these jobs don’t require a resume/cover letter.

      Having a portfolio to showcase your abilities would probably be the easiest way to find a full time writing or editing job without the relevant job history. Once you can point to past work, you could start applying for technical writing jobs, which I saw a ton of when I was job searching.

      Hope that is helpful! I am trying to position myself to be able to freelance full-time, and it’s definitely difficult.

      1. Emily, admin extraordinaire*

        I’ve done editing internships in the past (while I was still in school), but I’m not in a financial position to be able to do them these days. Plus I doubt they’re going to want a 33-year-old intern. :P

        I do have some writing samples, but I’m not sure how well they’ll translate into what I’m looking to do. I’ve written employee handbooks, book/movie/TV reviews for a fannish website I volunteer for, FAQ and a website guide for the website I administer at work, stuff like that. I have samples of the SEO writing that I was rubbish at (“700 words with a 7% keyword density of the phrase “chocolate teapot design”, which required a level of “saying the same thing over and over again in different ways” that I simply couldn’t maintain), but they’re so horrible I don’t want my name attached to them. :P

        I have done some freelance and volunteer editing, but not enough to add up to much (although I have samples of what I have done). I’ve looked at oDesk before, but haven’t applied to any jobs yet. I guess it’s time to brush up what portfolio I have and get cracking.

    3. Elizabeth West*

      I’m in school right now for tech writing; from what I can tell, it’s very competitive and you will have to have a portfolio of some kind. I could be completely wrong, however. :)

      Your job sounds very similar to mine; I just fell into this. But if you are at a large company, their documentation department (if they have one) will certainly have people you can talk to about this. They’ll be able to tell you what current needs are and what future prospects look like. My school program keeps telling us how much money we can make (yeah, right :P) but that there are all kinds of jobs we can do. Since they have a very high placement rate, I hope they’re right. :\

      Good luck!

      1. Emily, admin extraordinaire*

        I work for a state government agency; each department is responsible for producing their own documentation, and then everything is run through a QA editor before being published online or printed. That how I do most of the writing and editing that I currently do– the QA editor is not actually very good, and misses a lot of things, so I do a thorough edit/proofread before it gets to her (I keep hoping she’ll leave and so I can apply for her job, but no such luck so far). Between the two of us, we usually manage to catch pretty much everything.

        May I ask what type of program you’re in? Is it an online school, or a brick-and-mortar one? I’m not opposed to going back to school to fill in the gaps in my knowledge, but I’m not sure what kind of a program I’d want to look into.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          It’s brick-and-mortar, although a lot of my classes are online (I’m in the evening college program). I had a seated class last semester. It is a local state university, bachelor’s degree program. I’m on a probation-type thing with financial aid, because I already have a degree, but with tuition reimbursement at work and if I keep back some of this loan I just got, I should be able to finish even if I go over the proscribed time they set for completion. I don’t have to take any of the general ed courses, so it shouldn’t take that long–I only take two classes a semester. More than that, I just cannot handle in addition to a full-time job and now all the work I’ll have to do on my books.

  58. Anonymous*

    Okay, I need somewhere to celebrate. Was just contacted to schedule an interview for a position I applied for.

    I was actually going to post in this thread about a pretty squicky situation in my current job, but this is much more exciting and, well, less squicky. Obviously there’s a long way to go but it put a smile on my face after a rough couple of months.

  59. Sophia*

    I have an interview about 2hr from where I live. I’m also pregnant and my husband is geographically constricted to this area bc of his work. I know it’s far in advance, but since I’m one of maybe three others who are being invited for the two day interview, I’d be interested to hear others’ stories of either long commutes or long distance marriages/families. We already live about 40 min away from where my husband works, so a move half way is not doable. If I get the offer (and I know it’s a long shot!), my two choices are – we can move about 20-30min closer to my job, so his commute would be about an hour (sans traffic) and mine would be a little over an hour. We’d have to sell our house. Another option is that I could get an apartment near my work, and stay there two nights/three days and come back home for the other days (I’m in academia, so this type of schedule is doable). That would mean two days/three nights, one of us would be away from our 3 month old baby. (My mother is going to live with us to help take care of the baby, so depending on the choice, she might be with me for those days, or stay at our house). Thoughts? The academic job market is cut throat and this is my only interview . If I don’t get it, I can stay another year in grad school, but if I get an offer, it seems silly and risky not to take a tenure track offer when an offer the next year is not guaranteed – particularly one that is closer to where we live now. Thanks!

    1. Ruffingit*

      Haven’t done this personally, but I do know people who have had commuter marriages where they did what you’re thinking of – one of them lived in an apartment and they shared traveling to visit. The thing about this, especially with a new baby, is deciding how long it will go on. Obviously you won’t want to do this as the baby gets older because it will be away from one of its parents for a good amount of time. And, if it’s a tenure track position, I’m assuming you’re going to want to stay at the school until you (hopefully) are granted tenure? If that is the case, perhaps your husband can start putting out resumes now for a job nearer to your school.

    2. CS*

      I would go with option 2. Living away from your family a few days a week does not sound bad at all. It is not like you are only going to be home a few days a MONTH. You’ll still see your family every week. The other option just does not sound great at all for you and your husband to both have bad commutes. Plus your pregnant. Why would you want to do that?

      Several years ago, I did have to commute to work in a neighboring county by bus. It was about 2 hours each way and I had to take two buses but I lost more time because I had to wake up early to walk 30 minutes to my bus stop. If I had to start work at 9 a.m. that meant I had to wake up at 5:20a.m., if I remember correctly.

  60. CaliSusan*

    Have any of you tried StitchFix and, if so, what do you think of it? I’m in desperate need of new clothes for work and, while I have my usual go-to places for professional attire, I’ve heard good things about StitchFix and would be curious to know what your experience has been.

    1. smallbutmighty*

      I just got my first Fix in yesterday’s mail after hearing about it from friends. I wound up keeping three of the five items. (I liked all five, but the cut of the remaining two just wasn’t flattering on me.) I know I only have one Fix to base my impressions on, but I like it. Checking out online and mailing back the unwanted items was dead easy–pretty close to idiot-proof, honestly. And I love the three things I kept. Also, two of the three things I kept are not things I would’ve thought to pick for myself, but my husband and stepdaughters liked them and I like the idea of broadening my tastes a bit.

    2. Donnatella Moss*

      I got my first box in December…liked 4/5 items, kept 2. One dress was almost perfect but it didn’t fit, and another item I returned I just couldn’t see myself actually wearing, even though I liked it. I am getting box #2 next week. I really liked it, and it gave me the opportunity to mix up my wardrobe a little bit – especially because they give ideas on how to style each item.

  61. Lindsay*

    Calling all library types ~

    I work in a university library where books are often checked out and renewed for years. This is common among faculty and even library employees.

    I have a coworker that takes it upon herself, when she discovers something like this, to recall it from the patron “just to make sure it still exists.” Using her personal account, and even if we have multiple copies.

    My boss last year told me that this is NOT something we should do – but last week she did it again.

    Should I give the boss a heads-up? He’s a total weenie, but maybe he’d send out a blanket e-mail about our actual policy.

    1. fposte*

      I’d tell the boss before some senior faculty member finds out and raises hell. If the library wanted that policy, the library would enact that policy.

    2. LadyTL*

      I think it might depend on if you get complaints or might get complaints from the patrons figuring out what she is doing.

      1. fposte*

        It’d be tough for them to figure it out at most libraries. Recalls happen, especially in libraries that have no limits on renewals.

        I remember at my grad library, which at that time had infinite renewals, there was a secret policy that make a particular researcher recall-proof. If you wanted a book from that person, you had to go to him/her and ask to look at it. I found out when somebody new got hired to manage circulation and blew her top over it.

        1. Nonymous*

          I would definitively emphasize what kinds of negative faculty reaction this can have if found out if you bring it up. o

  62. Kou*

    I wanna piggyback on the shoes question above. I’m comfortable in heels but I get really self-conscious when they make a clicking sound on tile when I walk. I’m afraid it looks (sounds?) stupid when everyone around you has quiet shoes.

    I’ve been thinking about this a lot because when they interview residents here and do the big long walk all over the hospital days, I’ve heard some people crack wise about some of the women wearing heels they can’t walk in and end up limping. But then I wonder– what if they can walk in them just fine, but then you gotta listen to that all day walking with them? Is that annoying or normal?

    1. CollegeAdmin*

      I’ve wondered about this – I am one of the only people to wear heels in my office, and the clicking echoes in the hallways. The only complaints I’ve heard have not been about me, but another woman on the floor who cannot walk properly in heels (and therefore “clomps”) around the hallway.

    2. fposte*

      I *love* the clicking sound.

      What I don’t like is the sound of slingbacks on the stairs. THWAP! THWAP! THWAP!

      1. Lia*

        A former boss of mine banned flip-flops and mules(um, the shoe style) from the office for this very reason. Regular heels were okay.

    3. ClaireS*

      I am a stomper and I used to be really self conscious about it. Most of my office is carpeted but everyone still hears me coming. I’ve made a concerted effort to end the self consciousness and accept it (I really can’t change, I’ve tried). Now, I reframe it in my mind as Walking With Purpose.

      Maybe you can use the same mind trick and think of the clicking as the Sound of Power (thanks Parfait, I like that a lot!)

      1. ChristineSW*

        I’m a stomper too, and it’s a habit I’ve never been able to break unless I’m really thinking about it. At one job, one of the processing techs said I walked with confidence.

    4. A Bug!*

      The clicking sound is fine if you’re walking properly*; it’s inevitable unless you’ve got some seriously strong legs.

      Trying to eliminate the sound will make you look obviously self-conscious to others – they’ll still hear it, but it’ll register as unusual rather than what they expect to hear from heels.

      One thing you might do is, if you take long strides when you walk in heels, start taking shorter steps instead. Not unnatural shuffly steps, just shorter steps, at a more leisurely pace. Your feet will hit the ground at a slower speed and while it won’t eliminate the noise, it’ll make it a little less loud.

      *Properly as in heel-toe. If the ball of your foot hits the ground at the same time as your heel, you’re clomping.

      1. Kou*

        Hey, that’s something. I do take really long strides, maybe I feel like my steps are louder because they really *are* for that reason.

  63. Ash*

    Ugh. I really need to get over this job rejection. A really good friend just got promoted at the organization that I was rejected from last week. I am thrilled for him, but it stirring my still being depressed over losing that job. Sorry, just needed to rant.

    1. Victoria Nonprofit*

      Ugh, I’m sorry. Why is it so hard to be happy for someone else at the same time feeling sorry for ourselves? It comes up so often. Wish we could all find a way to conquer it!

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Ugh. I hate that stuff.
      Some job rejections really sting- more than other job rejections. Right here is one reason why.

      The quickest way out of something is to go directly through the middle of it. Sit down with a box of tissues and say to yourself “yeah, this hurts. My friend got promoted and I got rejected. yeah. this really hurts.” Say it over and over until the pang in your chest or the knot in your stomach goes away.

      If we push stuff like that to one side the pain gets bigger not smaller.
      But when we acknowledge that something hurts the pain goes down. The adult version of monsters under the bed. Look at the pain/fear/whatever, just confront it. If you need to cry- get there- do that.

      I have used this a few times. And usually the next day I have a surprisingly good day. Which is why I keep working with this idea- it seems to help.

    3. MovingRightAlong*

      It’s ok, you’re allowed to be thrilled and depressed at the same time! You’re even allowed to be upset and angry and NOT thrilled at the same time. As long as you’re not being depressed AT your friend, it’s just a normal feeling after rejection that you need to work through at your own pace. Your friend’s good news is completely separate from that time table.

      Good luck in working through it- it’s certainly a crappy place to be and it’s ok to acknowledge that. Indulge in some self-care if you need to. You deserve that time.

  64. HAnon - Need Book Suggestions!*

    I have a long commute every day, and this isn’t going to change in the near future. In fact, it’s going to get even longer because the office is moving.

    Because the company is not tele-commute friendly, I do not have the option to work from home. I try to entertain myself during this time by listening to audiobooks…so here is where I need suggestions! Anyone read anything interesting lately? I need lots of ideas! Also, anyone know of a free or inexpensive way to download these? I go to the library but the selection is limited, and audible is a little pricy for my budget right now. Thanks!!!

    1. Ash*

      Not a book, but I’ve been catching up on old RadioLab podcasts which are absolutely amazing. They’re free, usually a little over an hour long, and very enjoyable

    2. Meredith*

      I listen to a lot of podcasts, which are fun. I’m kind of an NPR nerd, so I do listen to a ton of those – eg, Fresh Air, Marketplace, and This American Life. Also, Nerdist, RadioLab, The Moth, and more!

      I do have an audible account, and I like it – I get a free download each month, and I think it’s something like $17/month. Librovox is a site that has free public domain works read by volunteers, but I’ve never tried it.

      1. KLH*

        My podcasts are Savage Love Magnum version, The Thrilling Adventure Hour, Wits, It’s Only A Game, On The Media (and its sidekick TL;DR), The Moth, Sawbones, and Judge John Hodgman. I listen to all the current episodes each week (I have a 3 hr commute 3 days/week, and a 2.5 hr commute the other 2).

        I am working my way through old Penguin Books podcast series, and just added The Floyd Radio Hour, Bat Segundo, and The InComparables to my list.

    3. Laufey*

      When I was in that situation, I “read” a lot of classic that I always meant to but never got a chance to – All Quite on the Western Front (pretty good), The Old Man and the Sea (very good), The Phantom of the Opera (okay, but Raul whined way too much), A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (meh), and so on and so forth. I also like Crichton a lot and they usually get pretty good narrators for his books. Same with Stephen King.

      I got a lot of mine from the library – sometimes they can order them from other locations, but now I usually go through It was originally for sharing used books, but you can also get audio books from there. You have to post a couple of books to get credits to fund your account, but once you get a couple in, you can listen to a book, post it, order a new one and just keep recycling your credits. You do have to pay for shipping when sending your books to someone else, but everything can ship via media mail, so it’s usually only a couple of bucks (and the best place to buy mailers is the dollar store, not an office supply store, fyi).

    4. AVP*

      I am loving The Goldfinch right now, and it’s really long so it should take you awhile.

      While I’m thinking about looooong books, I loved Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84 and Roberto Bolano’s The Savage Detectives, but those might be harder to follow in audio format.

    5. ClaireS*

      I love the How Stuff Works and Stuff You Missed in History Class podcasts. They are free, entertaining and educational!

      There are tones of old ones available for download.

    6. Elizabeth West*

      When I’m cleaning or doing yardwork (ugh), I like to listen to old timey radio shows–mysteries like The Shadow, Ellery Queen, etc. They’re fun and kill time. There are a lot of free ones on iTunes. There is also a radio mystery club where you can join for a nominal fee and then download mp3s of them.

    7. Leslie Yep*

      Tina Fey’s Bossy Pants is a great audio book – very entertaining.

      I really enjoyed both Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell and Life After Life by Kate Atkinson. But not sure how well they would translate to audiobook (especially Life After Life).

    8. Dorothy*

      I recently read and enjoyed The Art Forger by Barbara Shapiro and The Columbus Affair by Steve Berry, highly recommend.

      1. The Other Me*

        The Harry Potter books in audiobook are fantastic – even if you’ve already read them. Jim Dale is amazing.

    9. smallbutmighty*

      If you like podcasts, also has excellent podcasts on culture, politics, etc. I really like them. Also, if you’re politically left of center, you might enjoy Rachel Maddow’s audio podcast of her nightly show. I listen to it on my walk to work every morning and enjoy it a lot.

    10. Ruffingit*

      Anything by Elizabeth Berg. I just finished listening to a collection of short stories by her called Ordinary Life. Currently listening to another collection called The Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted. I’ve also read her novels, which are wonderful.

      Maeve Binchy is another favorite author of mine.

    11. Aisling*

      Ask if your library has Overdrive, which allows you to check out and download ebooks and audiobooks to your own devices. It’s a great service!

    12. Mephyle*

      Yes to podcasts. 1. I second Radiolab. 2. I additionally suggest BBC’s “In Our Time”. 3. And this may sound way out there but give it a try. “This Week in Parasitism”. I defy you to listen to the first couple episodes and not get ‘hooked.’

    13. MK*

      You should check out your local library’s website. Many libraries these days offer audiobooks and e-books that you can download. I’m a history fan so Robert Caro’s books on Pres. Johnson are great (and very long). Regarding podcasts, my favorites include Hardcore History, Frontline, Planet Money, and anything by NPR and Slate.

      1. Emma*

        I love Star Talk Radio, where Neil DeGrasse Tyson (Director of the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History) interviews everyone from comedienne Janine Garofalo to political comentator Bill Mahr to Anthony Bourdain to Lt. Uhura herself, Nichelle Nichols. His show meshes science and pop culture in a very approachable and usually fun way.

        My other favorite is CarPool, hosted by Robert Llewellyn (played Cryton on the British comedy “Red Dwarf”). Years before Jerry Seinfield was doing “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee,” Llewellyn was interviewing a variety of famous folks while driving them from a pick-up point to their destination. He’s talked with Ben Goldacre (*swoon,* a British epidemiologist and ardent fighter of quackery and other medical/clinical/public health BS), Stephen Fry (England’s national treasure), Brian Cox (physicist), Sir Patrick Stewart (do I need to explain?!) and David Mitchell (my spirit animal/writer and actor in British comedies like “Peep Show” and “That Mitchell and Webb Look”). And many more!

  65. Meredith*

    Has anyone left a job that they really enjoy to move very, very far away from friends and family to take another job? Especially a job that you are really not sure you’d enjoy? I’m particularly interested to hear if anyone is a civilian working on a US base overseas.


    I am have been working for about 5 years in a job that is related to my graduate degree (MA in Library and Information Studies), but not exactly what I had envisioned doing with it. I am an employee at a state university in the upper Midwest. I have grown to really enjoy my work, and have a lot of autonomy to work on projects that interest me. I also have a great office culture, support for professional development, and the chance for some upward mobility in my career. I also like the city I currently live in. To drive this home, I bought a home in my city a couple of years ago because I had envisioned myself staying here for several more years.

    However! I recently came across a civilian job in my field that is located on a military base in Germany. I have visited Germany many times (I even lived there for 13 months in my college years), and I have even visited the city that this job is near a few times. I do like the area, and I decided to apply. This job is pretty entry-level, but the pay is good when you factor in that the military pays for your housing. It would be a completely different type of environment – more public-facing, while my current job is much more administrative in nature. I reached out to a contact of mine who is a librarian on a German military base, and I have the skillset for this job based on her advice. I’m a pretty adaptable person, so I have reason to believe that I could own the job and enjoy at least most parts of it.

    I’m being realistic that this application may never turn into a job offer, but my little “what if” siren keeps blaring at me. As in, what if I leave this current job and move overseas and hate the work? I’m much more certain that I’d be totally fine living in Germany, as I have done so before. I’m just looking for some stories/encouragement from people who have done something like this!