where are they now: 3 reader updates

Here are three updates from readers whose questions were answered here recently.

1. Is this email from my coworker manipulative and weird?

I thought I’d give you an update on how things went with the manager who was so upset with me for not being able to commit my time on career development with her.

It turned out that there was a cost associated to the whole “test” of $60 and that she was slightly bent out of shape that I hadn’t reimbursed her. I didn’t remember her mentioning it but as soon as she told me, I paid her the $60 and she almost immediately stopped asking to meet with me.

She’s back to her pleasant self and we’ve chatted in passing a few times – not to discuss the “Test”….which I still haven’t had an opportunity to schedule. I thanked her profusely for taking the time and apologized for the delay in getting her the money.

All is well here…

Thank you for posting my question and giving me feedback and thank you to all your readers who provided feedback. (I didn’t agree with everyone but I understood what they were trying to tell me).

2. My managers won’t promote me until I’m 18 (#5 at the link)

When I first wrote, I was 9 months away from my 18th birthday. Now I am 3 months away. In December, the director of operations and the GM decided they didn’t want to wait, and they began management training with me. I recently passed the test for the required certification and am now considered to be an official manager – though of course there are still some legal limitations on me until I turn 18.

It has not been a smooth road – many people were resistant to the idea of a 17-year-old being their manager. There’s been a lot of bumps and backlash. However, all of the people who gave me the worst problems no longer work here, either by choice or by termination, and I’m gaining respect from the rest of the crew. There’s also been good parts – successfully running shifts with 15+ people; being the manager responsible for the shift that had a perfect-score mystery shop. I also am currently working on creating and leading an entirely new training system, which my store manager and owner/operator is pleased with. Of course, I still have lots and lots of improvement to do on the actual managing part, and I will always have room for improvement throughout my career. I know that even 20 or 30 years from now, I will still be adjusting my management style and looking to better myself.

When I graduate college, I’m going to have 3-4 years of management experience and accomplishments on my resume, something that no other graduate will have. My family and friends think I’m crazy for attending college and accepting a full-time management position while I’m 17, but I think I’ve sufficiently proven that my age is absolutely irrelevant.

Many thanks to AAM and readers in the comment section for the response to my original question.

3. The reader whose resume and cover letter I posted as great examples

I’d sent in the cover letter and resume that you ended up posting in November of last year, and I thought you might be interested in hearing how things have gone from there.

The first six months (I didn’t realize it had been that long until now!) have been the most challenging I’ve ever been through, but it’s been an amazing opportunity. One of the things that drew me to this position in the first place was that the number of job postings and the local news available indicated that it was a company in a state of flux, which usually means there are more opportunities for someone with relatively little experience to grow and develop.

About a month and a half ago, I was given the opportunity to help create and develop an entirely new position for our company, helping create, implement, and train others in key control points and procedures. It hasn’t come with a formal title yet, since we’re still developing the role, but I’m hoping that it’ll be formalized in the next month.

There are still days when I want to tear my hair out or when I come home wondering what I was thinking, deliberately walking into a situation like this (there are a lot of serious institutional issues that need to be addressed, but it’s all going to take time). But, overall, I’m satisfied with the result. It might not be a dream job, but it is a pretty phenomenal opportunity. I work with materials every day that I wouldn’t normally even see for another three to five years.

I guess, summing up, here’s what I’d say about my cover letter and resume six months into the job.

As many people said, I did go pretty salesy, even aggressive in my cover letter. At this particular point in my career, I was looking for somewhere that I could start making a name for myself—somewhere I would have the opportunity to help change things in a significant way and where I could grow quickly. The cover letter I wrote helped convey that, and was only ever going to work with a company that fit that criteria. Conversely, part of the reason I was hired was that they were looking for people who would do well in an atmosphere of constant change, and who would contribute to help getting it on course.

(I’d also say it’s unbelievably important to interview your interviewer (and to read between the lines). I’ve watched a lot of people burn out, and almost all of them didn’t realize what they were coming into.)

The next time I job hunt, are there things I would change? Absolutely! Now I have most of my relevant experience concentrated in one job, my resume will be a lot shorter and more focused, for a start.

Moreover, when going for this job, I needed to convince my prospective employer that they should take a chance on me, despite my relative lack of experience. I needed to demonstrate a very strong drive to learn quickly and adapt well. In the future, I hope to be able to rely on a solid block of experience and accomplishments that show how I have already achieved similar things.

Once again, thank you for all your advice, and for your phenomenal blog!

{ 26 comments… read them below }

  1. Elizabeth West*

    Yay for everybody!

    And thanks, Alison, for posting on the holiday. I’m off work for the next couple of days and was glad to have AAM this morning! :)

  2. salad fingers*

    re: #2

    As a very young manager, I have to very strongly disagree that “age is absolutely irrelevant,” but kudos to you for all of your drive and conscientiousness. Good luck!

    1. Leah*

      Age is irrelevant for the most part but there are legal restrictions on working hours and situations. Also, the company’s insurance might have provisions about having management who is legally an adult. It’s good to hear that management has been supportive of the poster.

      1. salad fingers*

        I was thinking less about legalities and more about the dynamic of a teenager managing (I’m assuming) non-teenagers. Lots of life and work experience to go at 17 — I don’t think it helps to approach the age difference like it doesn’t exist or has no impact on the managing relationship. I know that when I started managing a staff with a mean age of 40 when I was 20, I had a lot to learn about the way workplaces functioned practically, and even more about what my role in that one was. In all, I think age is not prohibitive, but in my experience, it’s not irrelevant.

        1. Diet Coke Addict*

          +1 to all this

          17-year-olds can have a wonderful head on their shoulders, be absolutely whip-smart, be confident and assured managers, and still have very real difficulties in relating to the practical ongoing personalities of a workplace, solving workplace issues, and working as part of a team. This is not to say that they can’t–certainly they can. But there’s a lot of life experiences no one has by age 17, and those can really make a huge impact in people’s worldviews.

      2. Felicia*

        My first thought was that here minimum wage for people under 18 is a few dollars lower, but also they’re allowed to work far further hours, especially on weeknights, and not allowed to work full time unless it’s summer. So often they’d want a manager who could work full time. But if the OP lives somewhere where that’s not the case, then great! They sound like the type of person who realizes the disadvantages they have from lack of life experience, and will try to adjust accordingly.

  3. LV*

    Wait, so… #1 paid her coworker $60 for this career assessment test which she has yet to actually take? What?

    There were over 250 comments on that post, most of which pointed out that this whole assessment thing was a pyramid scheme/snake-oil scam that didn’t actually mean anything and would have little to no positive impact on the OP’s career… and she still ponied up the cash and is still interested in taking the test?

    1. LV*

      Okay, I think I misunderstood the third paragraph of the update, and OP means that she hasn’t had time to schedule the discussion of her test results, not the actual test. I still think it was a bad idea to fork up the cash, since the whole thing was the coworker’s idea and she pushed it on the OP in a weirdly aggressive and inappropriate way.

      1. Jen RO*

        To be honest, I would pay $60 to get some peace. It might be too non-confrontational for some, but I’ve decided that I’d rather be ‘weak’ than stressed out.

        1. fposte*

          That’s what I was thinking. I don’t know if I’d do it, but I could understand somebody choosing to.

        2. Clever Name*

          Yeah, I can see why OP ponied up just to make coworker go away. The whole situation feels squicky to me, though. The “mentor” really had no interest in OP’s professional development and just wanted to trick her into selling her a product. Not cool.

          1. C Average*

            Yep. I’d probably fork over just to make the whole thing go away–would that all workplace annoyances could be eliminated with a flat fee!–but this interaction would forever change my view of this person’s professional and personal judgment and I’d likely steer clear of her.

          2. Ruffingit*

            This. I too can see both sides here, but I would not have ponied up because this was not for my benefit, but rather for coworker’s benefit financially. Not cool indeed.

          3. Nina*

            Exactly. That’s a messy situation, especially with the $60 fee. Because it’s not about time anymore, now money has been spent on this venture without the OP knowing about it.

            I’m thinking the coworker forgot to mention the $60 fee to the OP, or deliberately said nothing because she was sure the OP (or someone else?) would go in on the test. So when the OP didn’t respond immediately, the coworker panicked, hence the email. I completely understand paying the $60 just to get rid of her, but after the test was over, I wouldn’t be very chummy with her anymore.

            1. KSM*

              The ‘test’ is a snakeoil-y MLM thing, according to the comments in the first post (search for ‘energy’). The ‘fee’ is actually part of the business model–the coworker was presumably hoping to upsell the letterwriter on training and solutions.

  4. E.R*

    #2 “When I graduate college, I’m going to have 3-4 years of management experience and accomplishments on my resume, something that no other graduate will have.”

    This will be impressive, but I wouldn’t say NO other graduate will have it. I graduated alongside folks who did this or something similiar, not to mention graduates who worked and managed, then went to school to get their degree. Just be careful any time you assume no one has the same (or better) ideas or experience than you out there! But congrats on your good news.

    1. Jen*

      I had management experience in college – as a supervisor/manager at my part-time job and as a president of student government and I certainly used that for my first full-time job but after that no one cared about that experience and now 15 years post-graduation, no one I talk to would consider those to be the right kinds of management experience for professional management jobs. It’s good experience to have for professional development though.

  5. abankyteller*

    #2 you sound like you are wise beyond your years. If you were my kid I’d be very proud.

  6. Katie the Fed*

    #1 really, really doesn’t sit right with me, especially after this update.

    This woman is using the company (its employees and its time) to sell some kind of management snake oil. She basically tricked OP#1 to take some stupid test without explaining there was a cost, then demanded money for it without ever providing the rest of the service.

    I think this is crazy unethical and I wouldn’t want this going on at my company. Frankly I think she should be reported to the company for this. People should be able to show up at work without being scammed by a colleague.

    1. Hummingbird*

      Exactly my thoughts. I find it very suspicious that there was suddenly a $60 fee attached. I don’t believe the coworker told this to the OP. I know I would remember that amount, and I would have told the coworker “Thanks but no thanks.”

      I agree. The employer needs to know. Scam or not, the coworker is using company time (and employees) for other unrelated business.

    2. NavyLT*

      Yeah, that’s shady. Why would the coworker have to front $60 so OP could take this test, and why wouldn’t she mention that up front? The whole thing has scam written all over it.

    3. Polaris*

      #1 – I didn’t catch that this coworker was a manager in the original letter. That makes me even more uncomfortable because of the potential to abuse power. Even if she is not selling to her direct reports, there could still be a power imbalance. In fact, these sorts of schemes work better if there is. I agree with Katie. This is not right. I would not want it going on in my company.

  7. Bluefish*

    #1: I would not have paid the $60. How rude of the co-worker to even except (and expect) the money! What a total scam. OP, you’re a better person than me, I would have no sympathy for this.

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