refusing overnight travel for training, attending a coworker’s baby shower after being fired, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. Can I refuse to travel overnight for training?

Our company is switching software for our management systems. We have two locations in our area, and the company is telling us that we are to close our offices and all of our staff are required to travel three hours away with two overnight stays to be trained on the new system.

This seems unreasonable to me. We all have families and personal obligations. We will be training with coworkers from this other city who get to go home each night. We do not work in an industry that typically requires business travel so none of us agreed to travel when we accepted our jobs. I realize to many it may not seem like a big deal but to moms with small children (some of whom are single mom) and people with pets, this seems unfair. It does not seem reasonable that we have our lives hijacked for three days and two nights. Can it really be more cost-effective to pay for travel, meals, and hotels for five people? Five people who are angry and disgruntled about having this hardship placed on their lives in order to keep their jobs? It really does not seem fair.

Business travel is … well, it’s pretty normal. Even in jobs where it’s not a regular thing, it’s not uncommon to have it occasionally come up — for training or a conference or a retreat or whatever. Having to spend two nights away once in the course of a job isn’t outrageous. It can feel inconvenient, yes, but being angry and disgruntled about it is a reaction that’s pretty out of sync with workplace norms.

And it absolutely could be more cost-effective to send five people to training; if the training is being conducted by another company, there can be huge costs associated with bringing them to a new location.

People who don’t live with another adult usually handle this by arranging for back-up child care and pet-sitters. If there’s a reason that you truly can’t do that without significant hardship (for instance, if you were caring for a child with special medical needs), you could talk to your manager about it. But if it’s just that it’s a pain in the ass to go, there’s not really a fight to be fought here. You’re very likely to encounter this at any job you go to.

2. Warning employers about an anxiety disorder around politics

I’m a recent grad and am looking to enter an office job for the first time. Unfortunately, I have an anxiety/panic disorder than can lead to very powerful, meltdown level panic attacks. My attacks are triggered by the general presence of politics in images, conversation, and media. It’s not too bad in daily life – I can avoid looking at things that might trigger me, I speed away from rallies or strikes, I politely ask people to change the subject or leave the room if need be, etc. I’m medicated and undergoing therapy for it – so while it’s a disorder, it’s not a disability. Mostly it’s really embarrassing once I’ve calmed down.

But I’m a web designer and would like to work for a studio or corporate office, and, should they ever take a job that requires me looking at, researching, or otherwise having to be exposed to politics for the sake of the project, I’d have to withdraw from the project (which might mean I leave work for 3-6 months until the project is complete, which isn’t going to fly in an entry level position).

Since this isn’t a “disability” level disorder, at what point should I let prospective employers know about my issue? I don’t want to lead with it, so to speak, but I’m concerned about going into a job and having to deal with not being honest when I tell them I can fulfill the position’s duties.

This is going to be particularly tough to ask about because it’s so different from the types of panic disorders most people are familiar with; I suspect many people are likely to think you’re just overreacting and not take it seriously, which is not the reaction you want, obviously. So it’s tricky. That aside, though, I think the situation really means that your best bet will be to focus on employers where it’s highly unlikely that this will ever come up (just like someone with severe anxiety about, say, public speaking might avoid applying to jobs where they might need to give presentations or lead meetings).

3. Attending a former coworker’s baby shower when I was suddenly fired

I was recently invited to an ex-coworker’s baby shower. We were friends outside of work, and I definitely want to attend. The problem is, most of the people there will be from my old job. This wouldn’t be a big deal, except that I was essentially fired/forced to leave with no warning. It ended up being a blessing in disguise, as I didn’t realize how toxic management was until I left, and I’m happily employed at a much better place now! However, my sudden departure caused quite a stir, and it’s likely that the people at the party will want to ask me about it. How do I handle the questions about why I left?

It’s really up to you and how much you want to get into what happened. Personally, I’d go for either totally concise and matter-of-fact (“They fired me because X, but I’ve moved on to Y, where I’m incredibly happy”) or declining to discuss it at all (“It’s a bit of a story and today’s not the day for it, but I’m doing X now and really loving it”). I think with either of these, you come out looking good without getting sucked back into drama that you want to keep behind you.

4. Should I tell a prospective employer what other companies I’m talking to?

My job search is proceeding well with two companies. When mentioning that the process is proceeding with “another company” (especially because they ask if that’s occurring), is it good, bad, or neutral to mention the other company by name? I thought this would make it real and not a bluff. Would your advice be different if I was referring to an actual offer received at another company?

In general, there’s not usually an advantage to naming the other company, and it’s really not the other employer’s business. In some fields, though, it can be useful to mention that you’re being recruited by, say, Google. But you don’t need to name names in order to make it credible; employers are used to candidates talking with multiple employers and aren’t likely to be skeptical.

5. Mentioning coursework on a resume

I just finished my MA in Museum Studies, and I’m applying to jobs (it’s not fun).

I know that in the nonprofit world, grant writing and development are important skills. As part of my MA program, I wrote two complete hypothetical grants for a major federal program (IMLS). I got A’s on both, and my professors deemed them “fundable.” I’m wondering how I manage to communicate this on cover letters and/or my resume without coming across like a 10-year-old who got an A on a spelling test.

I think you can mention it in a cover letter if it’s directly relevant to the job or in an interview, but I wouldn’t put it on a resume, just like I wouldn’t put most other coursework on a resume. You don’t want to sound like you’re giving it too much weight, since the ultimate measure of a grant is whether it actually gets funded. Your professors may be right that the grant applications you created were fundable, but until they pass that real world test, they won’t be as compelling as actually funded grants would be.

{ 486 comments… read them below }

  1. Dan*


    You spend a lot of time talking about “fair” in your letter. You know what? I might just side with you and agree that it isn’t “fair.” The sad reality is that even if you’re right, that doesn’t change anything. If the boss says you gotta go, you probably gotta go.

    1. Boo*

      Agreed with this, although I also wonder if there isn’t something else going on here for OP and OP’s coworkers to be so angry and disgruntled over a one-off inconvenience. OP, I get that it sucks, I really do, but it’s pretty small potatoes in the grand scheme of things, plus it could be useful to have as an additional skill on your CV. Maybe try and see it as a little break away from the routine, look into seeing what cool stuff/places to go you could take advantage of in the evenings.

      1. M-C*

        Good point Boo, these days it’s a rare employer who forks out any training at all, usually just requiring you to pay for it yourself, do it on your own time, or just hiring someone else instead who knows about that already. The level of venom on reporting what’s ultimately a good thing for the employees makes me wonder whether the employer isn’t mixing it up with other locations because that particular one has gotten so toxic it’s impossible to deal with on its own?

      2. Natalie Anne Lanoville*

        Perhaps they’re really poorly paid. I was working at a job where I was hand to mouth. The $200 it would have cost me to cab my pets to the kennel and put them up would have meant eating beans for months.

        My insisting to my boss that it was absolutely impossible resulted in one training session being held in town, which many even lower-paid staff really appreciated it.

    2. Chriama*

      I agree that the level of unhappiness in this post is odd without more context. Did they give you very short notice or expect you to share hotel rooms or not give you a per diem for food? Do you have lot of work and the company expects you to keep it up by working from your hotel roomsin the evening. 3 days and 2 nights is the length of a camping trip, and this sounds like a 1-time deal. You can never guarantee that you *never* need to travel for work, so why do3ds it sound like you feel like the company is acting in bad faith?

      1. Beezus*

        I get the sense that neither the OP nor any of the coworkers has traveled for work or ever expected to travel, and they’ve made assumptions about what is normal and reasonable accordingly, and maybe no one has alternate experience to tell them otherwise. We all have times when some outside perspective helps us accept change a little more readily – hopefully that’s what this post does for the OP.

        1. Emily*

          Yep – that plus bubble effect. One person starts off a little miffed, they start grumbling to each other, realize everyone is a little miffed, and then miffed becomes annoyed becomes outraged, because the fact that they all agree with each other about how unreasonable it is magnifies how unreasonable it seems. Like, EVERYONE thinks it’s a bad idea, not just me, so it must be a REALLY bad idea.

      2. JC*

        +1 to Beezus. I’m used to traveling for work, but I didn’t find the OP’s reaction to traveling to be wildly out of line for someone who does not normally do it. Being away from home by not-your-choice can be annoying to downright disruptive if you have to find backup care for others at home. But, yes, it is also a totally normal part of business life for many people. I also hope that the OP will learn from reading others’ perspectives on this issue here.

      3. Burlington*

        Chriama, I think you hit it on the head. It’s not that we don’t all see that it’s an inconvenience, but it does seem like OP and his/her co-workers feel like their employer is acting in bad faith, that because travel wasn’t mentioned when they took the job, any level of travel represents a significant betrayal, and that just seems like… a LOT.

        And, I mean, what is the reasonable alternative? Three hours is certainly too far to drive each way for three days (THAT would be a crappy thing for the employer to expect). If the training is being held in that other city, it sounds like the alternative is simply not being trained in your new CMS, which is going to be much worse, for much longer, than three days in a hotel away from the kids.

        1. MT*

          I think betrayal is a super harsh word. Business needs change. employee responsibilities change. It is part of life.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          It’s once. ONE time. It’s not a lot, it’s for training, and it’s only for a few days. Betrayal is way too strong a word. Overly dramatic, IMO. It’s not like they suddenly changed the job description and now the OP will have to travel every other week.

          I do agree, however, that without more details it’s difficult to understand why the OP is so upset. We only have her word that everyone else is too.

        3. Kyrielle*

          But for a single parent, around-the-clock childcare for your kids might mean someone in your house that you haven’t vetted and don’t know, if you’ve never need it and don’t have a support system. It might be problematic for kids who don’t do well away from parents (without specific health issues or disabilities, even, never mind those). And I would not be surprised if it’s hideously expensive; regular childcare in a big center during the workday is bad enough. You’re talking needing an extra 12+ hours of childcare beyond what most regular centers are open…for three days running. Do these people have the money for that banked up?

          If you have another adult in the house, no big deal. If you have an extended support network in the area, also no big deal.

          If you don’t have one of those, this is somewhere between “expensive but doable” and “impossible” (and will lean more toward the latter based on cost vs income, the area the OP lives in, and how short the notice is).

          1. observer*

            Understood. But that doesn’t make the outrage really understandable. The essential request is not all that unreasonble. This is enough of an outlier that it’s understandable that the company hasn’t really taken that into account (assuming that this is what the OP’s issue, which we don’t know.)

            As Alison said, if this is indeed the problem, then talking to the company about the issue and seeing what can be worked for THAT person makses sense. If the company refused to try to come to some accomodation, I would understand outrage. But that doesn’t seem to be what’s happening. After all the OP says that all 5 peole are outraged – “angry and disgruntled” per the OP. ALL 5 have such situations? That really does seem odd.

            1. Kyrielle*

              If you can think about it coldly and logically, agreed. But I think OP’s letter may have been written in the first flush after everyone freaked out and discussed it and freaked each other out more. (And the type of training mentioned makes me wonder if this is a near-minimum-wage call center or data entry job, as well, in which case finances would be a real bear for travel with reimbursement after, regardless of kids/pets at home.)

              Yes, it’s time to take a deep breath and address the issue, rather than the “fairness” factor. But I can see why someone who has a nice orderly life with no business travel, who had never _had_ to travel, would be disturbed when it first came up if they had any obligations or financial scenario that made it a hardship.

          2. Brandy*

            I totally agree. I am a single woman with pets and I don’t have a back up. This would be very inconvenient for me and I would be livid also. Whey can they not get one person from the other place to come there and train, or teleconference. We do this all the time. They can take over your computer and have it on the wall screen and teach. Also Id be personally out the money to hire a pet sitter, out of pocket. Its not right.

            1. Observer*

              Classes are not always just about showing a particular screen or set of screens. And, the cost to set up a class for a small group can really be enormous. Furthermore, depending on how the training is structured, 5 people may be to small of a group for what is intended.

              The reality is that people should always have at least one level of backup – life happens. Sometimes even that is not practical, but it’s not an utterly unreasonable expectation. If that falls through, it’s also not unreasonable to talk to the boss about the problem. Or if the backup is extremely expensive relative to the payscale of the employee.

            2. TAD*

              I’m a single woman, have pets of my own and foster dogs. About six months of the year I have one trip of 2-3 nights each out of town. I board them ALL. Even my foster dogs. I’m the one who chose to have pets, so I pay for their care when I go out of town. I do take a charitable deduction for my out-of-pocket expenses paid to board foster dogs. If it’s not all the time I don’t understand why it’s not right.

          3. Not telling*

            Why do people always think that only working parents are inconvenienced by working outside of normal hours???

            Child-free workers do not live empty lives. They do not leave at 4:59 and spend the rest of their time staring at the boob tube. They have commitments. To their families, to their friends, to their communities. And it is not always cheap or easy to reschedule these commitments just because an employer asks or demands.

            From a purely legal standpoint, it is not legal for employers to treat workers differently based on their familial status–which is a two-way street. That means an employer cannot require that child-free workers travel out of town, nor to attend training, while giving parents a free pass on a work requirement. (Employers also can’t base raises, promotions, or performance evaluations on familial status so if this training affects any of these things, it can’t be extended to those who are given an exemption because of their family).

      4. Anonsie*

        I think a lot of folks here are assuming the letter writer and colleagues are professional staff who may typically have trainings, conferences or meetings, or at least be able to benefit from this in some way. For a lot of professional staff, sure, this isn’t weird at all.

        What it sounds like to me is that the writer & co are staff for which this is not typical and won’t really benefit from it due to the nature of their roles. She notes that all the other branches are being totally shut down and the entire staff is going to the training, so I’m guessing that includes staff like switchboard operators that would normally never expect to do such a thing at any course in their jobs and would have no provisions in place for it. There is no way 100% of the staff at every branch is in a role where work travel is really a normal and expected thing that happens sometimes.

      5. INTP*

        I don’t know, I understand the level of annoyance. Someone people might be in circumstances where it’s very complicated, costly (i.e., single moms needing to find overnight babysitters), or nearly impossible for them to travel, and not want to disclose these circumstances at work. Other people might just hate it. If they took the job with the understanding that there was no travel (and this might have been an important deciding factor in taking the job versus other opportunities), I can understand being a little miffed about it suddenly popping up. It’s not gravely unjust or anything, I can just understand the annoyance. I also wouldn’t consider it out of line for someone who can’t travel for whatever reason to propose alternatives like doing a training course on the software in their own time, though this probably isn’t the hill you want to die on if it’s just an inconvenience.

        1. Brandy*

          Agreed. We do training classes here from remote places for as little as two people. Its very easy, just requires a conference phone, wall and them to take remote access of your computer. Traveling is very inconvenient and a huge hassle .

    3. PEBCAK*

      I’m also wondering if the OP is exempt. If they are not, they do have to be paid the appropriate overtime.

    4. AnotherHRPro*

      The misuse of the word fair in the workplace is a pet peeve of mine. This may be a hardship for you and your co-workers and you may not like it, but that does not make it unfair.
      Are they paying you for your time? Are they covering your expenses while traveling? Then it is fair. Yes, some people will have additional hardships with child and pet care. But your employer is not responsible for that. And if they base their decisions who has kids or pets, someone without them would be saying it isn’t fair to them.
      Your job is requiring you to travel for this training. Try making the best of it. Learn something new, spend time getting to know your co-workers in the other location that you don’t get to see very often. Who knows, you may actually enjoy this business trip.

      1. AnotherHRPro*

        Another thought for the OP. You indicated that the training is 3 hours away. If you absolutely have to be home each night you could drive back and forth. This is not ideal, but it is doable. If training is from 8 am to 5 pm each day, you could be home by 8 pm and leave in the morning by 5 am.

        1. Kyrielle*

          While I agree this is “fair” in a business sense, I also see where it would be a hardship. If the kids are young, they cannot be left alone – and most standard child care centers open at perhaps 6:30 am at the earliest, and close at 6:00 or 6:30 pm. You’re talking needing a nanny or the like for those days (and possibly the nights, and in any case 5 am is quite early for one to arrive), which is a whole other ball of wax.

        1. Cube Ninja*

          New career goals:

          1. Have cotton candy machine installed in break room.
          2. Initiate project tilt-a-whirl at earliest convenience.

          1. Constress*

            +300 for cotton candy machine installation! The tilt-a-whirl (aka The Vomitron) must be installed in a tiled room for ease of cleaning, please.

                1. Judy*

                  I think you’re thinking of microwave popcorn. A popcorn machine doesn’t burn the popcorn. ;) That’s why we want it.

                2. majigail*

                  I worked in a video store and had to make popcorn, I always burned it in the machine and cleaning it was the worst.
                  I vote for a snow cone machine.

              1. Hlyssande*

                We have fresh popcorn in the break room one Friday every month, and the dept that does it rotates every month. :D

                Popcorn Fridays are the best.

      2. JB*

        It’s not fair if the employer didn’t give them enough time to find child care or pet care. I have a cat with special food needs, so I can’t just get an automatic food dispenser for him and leave it at that. And finding a pet sitter on short notice can be challenging. But if adequate notice was given, then, yeah, it’s an inconvenience but not unfair.

        But I also agree with some of the other commenters that if the OP and their coworkers have never had to travel for work, then they don’t really have a frame of reference for what’s usual in that respect.

        1. Case of the Mondays*

          I have a special needs cat too but even though I rarely travel for work, I have a few people lined up I can call in an emergency. What if my car breaks down or I’m in the hospital? Everyone needs backups, not just for work emergencies but they come in handy then too.

          1. VintageLydia USA*

            It’s a heck of a lot easier to get emergency help with pet/childcare if it’s a TRUE emergency (like being in the hospital.) All of my kid’s grandparents have jobs AND live out of town but dropping everything because I’m in the hospital is a lot easier to justify to their own employers than taking time off for the sake of *my* work schedule. But at least I HAVE a support system. Not everyone is so lucky.

          2. JB*

            If my car breaks down, I have AAA, so my cat’s dinner will be late but not missed. Like VintageLydia said, I have a backup for true emergencies, like if I have to go to the hospital, but this isn’t one. Sure I could ask a relative to come and do it, but it’s not really fair to dump that on them last minute, and I likely couldn’t get a pet sitter. Because I never, ever have to travel for my job, I don’t have a list of backup pet sitters.

            Like I said, if the employer gave adequate notice, then it’s *not* necessarily unfair. I think it reaches the unfair level only if reasonable notice wasn’t given. Well, and also if there’s no exceptions or accommodations for people who cannot make other arrangements for child care. As another commenter pointed out, some people specifically take jobs because they won’t have to travel for them. But usually some arrangement can be made (even if it’s kids go on the trip) if enough notice is given.

      3. hildi*

        I had an epiphany on the perspective of “fair” one time. What I discovered is that people tend to think of fair in one of two ways:

        1). Fairness is taking into account individual circumstances and treating everyone differently according to what the person needs. It’s fair that a single person with kids should not have to be required to do something I was never originally expected to do. What’s fair is that the employer take a look at everyone’s circumstances to see if sending them to overnight training is a good idea. I suspect OP subscribes to this version.

        2). What’s fair is that everyone gets treated the same no matter what. The employer doesn’t care about individual life circumstances because if I do that for you, then I have to do that for everyone. And some people don’t think that’s fair that some people get individualized treatment based on their own life choices.

        Watch for this orientation toward fairness when you listen to people talk. It’s really interesting to me and something I’ve observed over and over.

        1. Heather*

          So true! And then there are also the people who subscribe to #1 for themselves, but think #2 should work fine for everyone else. ;)

        2. Vicki*

          Hildi – Your epiphany is correct. You may want to learn more about Psychological Type and the MBTI. What you’ve written is part of the textbook description of people who prefer “F” (think of the individuals) vs people who prefer “T” (treat everyone the same way).

          1. hildi*

            Vicki – so funny you should mention that because it was in a MBTI class I was teaching that I really saw it play out!

            I divided people into T or F. For each group I had several pieces of candy in a paper bag with instructions for them to divide up the candy so everyone gets a piece. The catch was that there wasn’t enough candy in the bag for everyone to get a piece. The goal was to observe what they use to base their decision on. It was absolutely fascinating to watch the Feeling Preference give up their pieces of candy so that others could have theirs. The F’s would say: “Oh, that’s ok, I don’t like that flavor” or “I’m trying to avoid sugar.” The Thinking Preference got out rulers and talked about how they could divide up the pieces so everyone got the exact same size. It was one of the most fascinating things I’ve observed.

        3. ReanaZ*

          I feel like there’s also an Option 3 of “Fairness is treating everyone equally, unless there’s a compelling case to be made for why they get an exception.”

          Under Option 1: It is unfair for the employer to ask everyone to attend a training because some people have circumstances that makes that irritating or a hardship.

          Under Option 2: It is unfair to make exceptions for anyone, but it is fair to require everyone to attend regardless of their circumstances.

          Option 3 would be: It is fair to require everyone to attend the training, even if they have pets or normally don’t travel or don’t have a lot of extra cash to front business expenses. But it also fair that Sally the single mom with a child with leukemia doesn’t have to go.

      4. Dee*

        Sorry but one or two nights away I’d fine but 3 weeks as I’ve been asked after an already two week stint in Canada in winter is not okay

    5. MaryMary*

      Having worked through a couple internal system implemenations/changes/upgrades, I’m cringing at the idea of doing system training for a roomful of people who are unhappy about out of town travel as well. Changing from an established system to a new one is hardly ever popular. Even if the old system was terrible, it’s still comfortable and familiar. I wonder if the system change is fueling some of the angst, and then the travel adds fuel to the fire. I agree with Alison and the rest of you that one-time travel shouldn’t be that uosetting, but OP’s company is setting their system upgrade up for failure if people are this riled up about the training.

    6. Vicki*

      Is the OP a manager or an Individual contributor?

      Just as another point of view, I’ll toss in the factoid that I have worked at 7 different tech companies over 30 years and forced overnight business travel for ICs was _never_ “normal”. It was unheard of.

      1. Judy*

        It has been my experience if my normal location is not at corporate headquarters, almost everyone would have to attend an orientation at headquarters, and many training sessions over the course of years, like 1 every year or so. I’m not sure I’ve worked at a company that didn’t have training at corporate unless it was a course that many people at my location needed to take.

        As a software engineer working with teams on 4 continents, and 3 engineering locations within the US in my last job, there were times I was travelling monthly, and rarely a year that I didn’t at least go on 4 trips. (I’d say only the years I had newborns.) Between traveling to the companies manufacturing our electronics to the plants where our products were assembled to meeting with engineers on the team, I traveled quite a bit. One year I had 3 trips to Europe and one to South America, along with 2 trips to corporate.

      2. majigail*

        Knowing how expensive in person software training can be, I can see that they would want to have 5 people travel (and bonus, no one has talked about having to share rooms!) Management may look at this as a team building experience. If they’re willing to shell out for transportation, hotel and food, they must have a good reason.

  2. Dan*


    You spend a lot of time trying to say that your issue doesn’t rise to the level of a disability… but you want accommodations for it anyway. And since when does getting treatment mean it’s not a disability? I’m not trying (or interested in) playing word games, but if it’s having that big of an effect on you, it’s a big deal. I think you ought to get the paperwork and don’t try to hard to minimize your thing. Because, you can’t try and minimize it in one breath and then ask for accommodations in the next.

    1. qkate*

      I agree with Dan’s sentiment. The ADA exists for good reason, and does cover many ‘high-functioning’ mental disabilities, including anxiety disorders. Needing to take several months off work likely wouldn’t qualify as a “reasonable accommodation”, but there may be other options for you, such as asking if you can not be put on projects involving politics. But even if you don’t seek accommodation under the ADA, I still encourage you to not dismiss your condition as “not a disability”. Mental disabilities deserve the same recognition and understanding as physical ones, no matter how “mild”. Trying to downplay them carries a tacit negative judgment of mental disabilities as somehow not being “as real” as physical disabilities. (But enough of my soap-boxing on the matter. :) Back to practical advice…)

      Ultimately, it might be most comfortable for you if you are in a position to determine your own work, such as being self-employed or freelancing. It may take a while to establish yourself in such a position, especially since you describe yourself as entry level. But you could start out doing some web dev work part time while holding down a day job that’s insulated from politics. I also agree with Alison that you may be able to find positions where politics wouldn’t typically appear in your assignments. There are loads of web dev jobs where you work on a company’s own products, instead of client-based work.

      Whatever you decide: best of luck, OP!

      1. Zillah*

        I agree with all of this. I’m not quite sure how the OP is distinguishing between disorder and disability, but it does confuse me – I have mental disorders that are treated that I still absolutely consider to be disabilities, because, well, they are.

        That aside… OP, you may also try to think about how to present the question in a slightly different way. Rather than ask specifically about political work in the context of your anxiety attacks, what about asking what kind of clients they tend to have and what their projects generally consist of? There are so many reasons people might have to want to avoid political work that I think you could probably even ask directly about that – while for you, it might be anxiety, there are certainly issues that many people feel strongly enough about that they wouldn’t be comfortable working on anything for the opposing camp, so to speak. I can’t imagine it’s so uncommon to come across.

        1. Chriama*

          Really good idea! If you can find a company that specializes in, say, managing websites for small business owners like restaurants this may never come up. However, this will depend on how pervasive this condition is. If you needed to look up something about local laws, would it be a trigger if you stumbled across a blog criticising a policy or local politician?

        2. fposte*

          We’ve seen people before who think “disability” means “qualifies for SSDI,” too, when of course for ADA it’s a very different, much less debilitating standard than that.

      2. Not telling*

        Unfortunately #2 said that any words images or mention of politics triggers their anxiety attacks, so it’s not just about what projects they get staffed on, but also what everyone else is staffed on. NO employer is going to accept that reasonable accommodation means turning down a client altogether.

        Even if the employer made the accommodation that #2 could work from home for the duration of a political project in the office, there are still going to be inevitable staff meetings where the client’s name or project come up. And what about co-workers chatting about something in the break room or someone receiving a mailer from a local official? It doesn’t seem like there would be any way for an employer to fully accommodate #2.

        I think AAM made the best suggestion–#2 should target employers where they are least likely to encounter issues, and then after hire, just let the employer know that they occasionally suffer from panic attacks and while embarrassing or temporarily disruptive, #2 won’t let it impede their work product at all.

        For #2, speaking as a designer, your best bet is probably to target in-house design positions. Graphic design firms will work for all kinds of clients and it would be virtually impossible to avoid the triggers as you describe them. If you target companies to work directly, you can better avoid jobs where triggers are prevalent. Some examples from my local area that might suit you: A local theater company looking for a staff designer to design their posters and playbills and gift shop memorabilia, a scientific research institute (physics laboratory) looking for a designer to put together slideshow presentations for symposiums, a publisher of medical textbooks looking for a designer of anatomical graphics. These jobs may not give you as much bandwidth in your design portfolio but they will probably have work environments more suitable to your situation.

    2. UKAnon*

      I think that I can understand where the OP is coming from, but I agree, this sounded exactly like a disability by any legal definition.

      Best of luck with your job search OP.

    3. PEBCAK*

      It’s not that simple. It would have to interfere with regular functioning. I’m not sure it rises to that level, and if it doesn’t, the OP can’t just decide it does.

      1. fposte*

        Well, it’s not that simple either :-). For one thing, it sounds like the OP is currently doing considerable accommodation to avoid letting a big part of public life trigger her phobia, so it sounds like it does interfere with regular functioning if it’s not accommodated.

        For another, most ADA interactions don’t get into legalistic parsing–they’re conversations between an employer and an employee, and if the request can be accommodated with low-impact changes, most reasonable employers aren’t going to look for a legal reason to avoid the accommodation. What that means for the OP would depend on the situation, of course; if she genuinely can’t be in the office even if somebody else is doing political work, that’s going to be a tough accommodation, but if it’s just assigning that work to somebody else in the office, it may not be that big a deal.

      2. Jules103*

        Not a lawyer here, but, was previously ADA coordinator as part of my job. I believe the ADA defines disability as limiting an “essential life activity” such as breathing, walking, hearing. I am not sure that an inability to be exposed to politics would qualify for an accommodation. I hope the OP is not job hunting in DC. If so I would strongly advise moving to somewhere “politics” is less pervasive.

        1. Natalie*

          It’s a fair bit broader than that. From Wikipedia:

          “The ADAAA also added to the ADA examples of “major life activities” including, but not limited to, “caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating, and working” as well as the operation of several specified major bodily functions.”

      3. Anonymous for PTSD*

        Your symptoms have to interfere with regular functioning in order for you to be diagnosed with a mental illness. If LW has been given the diagnosis they mentioned, they have interference with regular functioning to at least some minimal degree.

        1. Trigger Yawning*

          Seriously?!? How can you expect to bring something like this to an employer and have them do anything but laugh you out of the office? Talking politics is something that people do in offices all the time. Let alone what if you were talking to a client?

          Do your self a favor and if you can’t get over it – work from home or away from the general public. I think this younger generation is really going over board by putting trigger warnings on everything! Get into cognitive behavior therapy and work though your issues or go full disability and stay home!

          Sounds like a real special snowflake here!!!

          1. Cube Ninja*

            I can safely say that this is the most insensitive comment I’ve ever read on this blog and I’m disappointed at the complete lack of empathy. While LW’s specific trigger points are likely uncommon, that’s not the issue. Anxiety disorders cause a hell of a lot of stress on the body and the mind.

            “Just get over it” will be an appropriate response to mental disorders around the same time that it becomes an appropriate response to having AIDS.

            1. beachlover*

              Seriously! I have issues with Depression and anxiety, I hate it when people dismiss it with ” oh, Just put on a happy face, you get over it!

            2. Emily*

              Oh, wow, just get over it! Why didn’t I think of that?? All this time I wasted on therapy, medication, and controlling my exposure to situations that trigger my anxiety, and all along I could have just gotten over it!

            3. neverjaunty*

              I am getting the sense there is a person or persons who likes trolling here – there’s a sameness to these “OP is a whiner!!!!” comments and they seem more frequent lately.

              We’re an opinionated bunch but the civility is one of the things I like best about AAM.

              1. JB*

                I haven’t done any kind of statistical analysis or anything, so I’m not gonna say definitely yes or no, but I’m with you on that. I’ve been getting the same kind of feeling.

              2. Ask a Manager* Post author

                I’ve responded to TriggerYawning below (and set her to moderation for any future comments), but I’d really appreciate it if we not call people trolls here. It’s used too often when someone simply disagrees with the majority.

                1. Jackson*

                  Here, here!
                  I’m a free speech advocate, writer, editor, and debater, and I’m SOOO tired of people immediately beating up on anyone with a dissenting voice. Just because we’re in a highly polarized political system that’s on the verge of collapse doesn’t mean all our human communication has to be just as deeply polarized. If OP doesn’t like the insensitive comment, then he or she gets to choose not to read it. (It really works!) At the same time, if Trigger Yawning has learned that they catch more flies with honey than vinegar, then they should be called out and shamed for it. If Trigger Yawning had been a little more polite, I’d be inclined to agree with him/her. As someone with both anxiety and a deep love of politics, I have a hard time knowing how to feel about this situation. Therapy IS good for helping people change their behavior, and in general – not regarding OP necessarily because I don’t know how old they are – younger generations are much more likely to want people to work around them so they don’t have to change how they behave. That, taken to it’s logical conclusion (I’m also a debater!), is a recipe for a social disaster.
                  But yet my heart breaks for OP, because I can only imagine some terrible trauma has happened to them, and I so deeply hope and wish for healing for them.
                  Now can we all please stop fighting? :-(

              3. Anonymous for PTSD*

                I’ve noticed, lately, that there’s always that one person in each post. There might be a couple of people giving the same less-common opinion, but there will be that one who gives it in the most inflammatory way possible.

            4. qkate*


              Someday “just get over it” will be as offensive as telling someone in a wheelchair to “just stand up”.

              I look forward to that day.

          2. Elizabeth West*

            And then would you complain that they’re on disability? “This younger generation doesn’t want to work! They just want to be on disability!’ Get over it!”

            Go away.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              Actually, I read that my decade- the 1960s group has the highest % of disability of any group from other decades.

          3. UKAnon*

            Maybe because most employers are sensitive to serious health problems, rather than being rude, dismissive and boorish. Let’s hope you never get ill or need understanding for any reason.

          4. fposte*

            Honestly, Trigger Warning, you’ve made a few comments now that seem to be shallowly dismissive; we’re pretty good with disagreement around here, but can you phrase it less meanly, please?

          5. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Trigger Yawning, I welcome dissenting viewpoints here, but you need to express them kindly and civilly. I see that today was your first time commenting so you might not be aware of that. You’re welcome to contribute here, but you need to be respectful to letter-writers and other commenters. (And there’s a way to share the basic viewpoint you’ve shared here while still being civil; this is about how you’re expressing yourself, not your basic opinion.) Thank you.

          6. Anonymous for PTSD*

            This reply has no relevance to my comment.

            Nobody here has said a single thing about trigger warnings. You’re getting yourself worked up over something that hasn’t happened. Take a deep breath and step away from AAM until reading comprehension comes back at least.

          7. Natasha*

            My guess is you’ve never had a panic attack. As someone who has worked in the mental health field for over 3 years and am going on to get a graduate degree, I can assure you that nobody who has ever had their lives severely impaired by these terrifying, nearly uncontrollable experiences feels like a special snowflake.

            With the intense, in-your-face news coverage and heated political dissent everywhere, I am not surprised that this exists. Of course this can be caused by so many different things. Point is, let’s treat our fellow humans with some compassion before we box them into a group and effortlessly dismiss them.

          8. Anx*

            I’ve had a specific phobia and undiagnosed anxiety since I was 7 years old. Do you really think a child fainting over and over again at the same triggers is a generational issue?

            At least a good chunk of this ‘younger generation’ is medically literate enough to understand how phobias work.

    4. Laurel Gray*

      I think a reasonable accommodation can be made for the panic attacks without the specifics of politics triggering them being disclosed. I’m a believer that in the workplace some personal issues can be handled and controlled without full disclosure (to everyone).

      1. The Strand*

        Great point. You don’t have to be completely, 100% candid. Anxiety disorder or family issues are not that rare; the circumstances you might experience might be. Only tell them what they need to know.

    5. Anonsie*

      I can shed some light on what’s going on behind the scenes of that conflict, from personal experience. Basically, you’re right and I agree with you in general, but

      People are extremely dismissive of recurring health problems, often to the point of outright hostility at the very suggestion that you have one even if you’re not asking for accommodation. Folks who have such recurring problems have, in all likelihood, been met with a lot of suspicion and hostility and burned bridges when it’s come up in the past. Even well meaning people often shut down the conversation by insisting that you’re not like really sick. People are significantly less receptive to you being factual and will rather forcibly direct you to waving it off as Not Serious when you bring it up, even if they’re not jerks.

      Often people move from being Not Jerks to being Jerks once they’ve known about it for a certain amount of time. I have a friend with lupus who calls it the three month sympathy window: once someone has known about your issue for three months, they start getting cranky about why you’re still sick and why you can’t just take better care of yourself and stop being sick. And she has lupus, which has the benefits of being well known enough for people to at least not think you’re straight up lying about it. If you have something less well known or something stigmatized already, good luck with getting that much.

      Then there are A LOT of jerks who will actually get aggressive from the perspective that you’re trying to get one over on them or get something special, and they’ll intentionally try to keep you from getting whatever little accommodation you need, or they’ll try to disrupt you in other ways if they can’t do that. You wouldn’t imagine this is common, but it’s so common that you eventually learn to defend against it proactively whenever your illness comes up.

      If you call it a disability or register with any disability service program (like in your university or work), that becomes its own separate issue that adds an additional layer of distrust from a lot of people. It turns a lot of people who were Not Jerks before into Jerks, and a lot of Jerks into jerk overdrive because it flags up that “trying to get special treatment” center of their brains that makes them hate you. Once you use the magic word “disability,” people interpret that as you exaggerating your actual issues, especially if it’s not something that visibly impedes your ability to get by every day. And I do mean visibly, because if it impedes you invisibly every day then you’re exaggerating AND a hypochondriac sissy. That leads you to not want to actually classify your problem as a disability even if it really should be, because often the repercussions of that socially outweigh the accommodations you can get.

      Anyway, back to that “but.” The but is that sometimes the smartest thing to do really is to downplay it as an ongoing issue and just try to get slack only when it is emergently needed, and this is the tactic just about everyone I know with an ongoing health issue does (at least at some times) because we’ve all found through our own experiences that it’s the one that works most often. “I had a thing, it doesn’t matter, I’m better today” doesn’t pour gasoline on bridges or start up alarm bells like “I had an issue with [illness] but it’s better today.” That said, it has its obvious pitfalls. The thing is that going ahead and plowing through as “having a disability” also has really big pitfalls, and you have to just decide which one is least likely to cause problems in your individual setting.

      1. Anonsie*

        Oof this is longer than I thought. This isn’t meant to be a rant at Dan! Just hoping to elucidate some of the contrasting terms in the letter that a number of people have been wondering about.

        1. Dan*

          I know what you’re getting at, and strangely, didn’t seem to take your comment as a rant :) To me though, when you’re writing anonymously to an advice columnist, there aren’t any social side effects to calling a spade a spade. It also makes you wonder if the writer truly has the appropriate grasp on their own situation. It’s one thing to give advice to someone who admits they have a disability, and wondering about the best way to ask for an accommodation, or if they even should. It’s another to give advice to someone who swears they don’t have the exact thing that they otherwise admit to having.

          As per the accommodation, I get it. In all likelihood, I probably have a sleep disorder that I’ve never been formerly diagnosed with. I can’t go to bed much before 2am, and really, really stress over having to get to work before 10am. (I usually get into work around 11am, suck it up for 10am, but cringe over anything earlier than that.) What used to be a night owl now has a diagnosis, but I’d feel like a real chump if I went to HR and got it on the record. FTR, about 10 years ago, I had a job that required a 5am report. I chose that with the intent of getting on a normal-people schedule. I had that shift for 6 months, always showed up on time, and performed well. But after work, I was chronically fatigued, and couldn’t get anything done the rest of the day. I switched to the afternoon shift, and functioned much better. So, I honestly tried, and know that early mornings aren’t for me.

          As to another aspect of your post, I have a STBX MIL that is a falling down drunk alcoholic. This is probably the epitome of the mental health stigmas that you’re talking about, and well, let’s just leave it at that. It’s hard to *not* be dismissive when someone has an untreated health issue that impacts others, and then says, “but I have a disease.”

          Some stuff is just way too complicated.

          1. Anonsie*

            It’s really hard to have an appropriate grasp on your own situation with this a lot of the time. It seems like it should be simple to just assess it objectively and put an appropriate label on it, but that objective assessment becomes difficult when every other person you’ve talked to about it has tried to contort your situation into one that makes more sense to them. The term just has a lot of weight and it’s often not a label you want even when it seems appropriate. I mean, you can already see some disagreement here about whether or not this is a disability and where the line is drawn on that. Aside from the social stuff I mentioned before, a lot of people also get the “other people have it worse and are REALLY sick, you’re not sick enough” from your own health care team because they also see the worst of the worst. That’s when you get these it’s-a-big-problem-but-not-like-a-big-one pretzels of logic.

            Then there’s just personal feelings about it. I don’t ever call myself disabled and I feel uncomfortable with any time I’ve had to sign up for accommodations under something with the term disabled in the title, but my condition is often listed as a good example of a chronic physical disability that’s largely unnoticeable. I just don’t want to be in the box even if, as you say, the social ramifications are generally low stakes.

            It’s just one of those small things you don’t want to give up sometimes. You already give up a lot. Ok, I have to structure 100% of my life from my career path all the way down to my daily plan all around my capabilities. I have to deal with the pain and the side effects, the sudden flares and symptoms I can’t explain to people. I can’t even sleep in the positions most comfortable to me without hurting myself. But for god’s sake, I want to be able to decide how people describe me at the very least. In that one avenue I don’t want my illness to be the deciding factor like it always is for everything else. It probably seems silly but you gotta boost up what you can sometimes.

      2. hellcat*

        I’ve got an invisible chronic condition that’s (mostly) managed now, but – yes, this. All of this. Finally getting my diagnosis last year was a huge relief, because it turned out I wasn’t a wimp or a whiner or anything like that. There was (is) something actually wrong.

        1. Anonsie*

          Or depressed and anxious! Did you get that one? They always seem to go for the Xanax before anything else.

          Getting a diagnosis is the biggest freaking relief. Before that you’re just a sissy hypochondriac as far as anyone’s concerned.

      3. Natasha*

        I really appreciate you posting this. It is so insightful and honest. I hope I have not acted this way in the past, but I will be very, very cognizant to avoid this unconscionable behavior in the future.

      4. Anx*

        “That leads you to not want to actually classify your problem as a disability even if it really should be, because often the repercussions of that socially outweigh the accommodations you can get.”


  3. Anon Accountant*

    #1 Is part of the frustration due to worries over a lack of childcare or other obligations such as caring for elderly parents and not having anyone else you can ask to help out?

    1. Ann O'Nemity*

      This is the part to which I’m sympathetic. I have a co-worker who is a single mom with no family. When she has to travel for work, she pays more in childcare than she earns working those days. I imagine she’s not the only one in this type of situation.

      1. MT*

        Agreed. If this is just a one off time, sometimes you must make the extra effort at work.

        Its a crappy situation, if the OP doesn’t go and get the training, could this lead to future issues at work.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      If this is the case, the OP would have a good reason to be concerned about the trip. Pet and childcare is expensive. However, she said that all the employees were mad about it. Either she’s projecting her own feelings on them, or there’s something about the trip we don’t know.

  4. Elizabeth the Ginger*

    #3, since this is a social event with a particular purpose, you can turn that to your advantage in not talking about your firing – “Oh, I’m happy at Newjob. But let’s keep the focus on Marigold and her baby right now! Did you decorate a quilt square yet?”

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Yep. This one is an easy redirect. “Oh we should not take away from Marigold’s joy by talking about work, now.” It will probably feel good to talk to these folks as friends without mentioning the job = added bonus.

    2. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

      #1 – even when I interviewed interns – I always had to mention – “it may or may not happen, but are you OK with flying?” because our corporate HQ was 250 miles away and we would go there occasionally for day trips. I never had one answer that it was a problem.

      #3 – if you were fired from job A – and moved on – successfully – the only thing I could say is that some might resent OP’s presence, as a boast. So the answer – “Let’s focus on the shower, that’s why *I’m* here” is the best way to go. Also – managers should note – a fired employee, especially one who was popular with his/her peers, will likely still maintain social contact with others. Just because OP was fired from a job – this does not mean that OP’s social life ends.

      Although – I was “effectively fired” from a place once — landed a much better position, substantial increase, etc. but had to go back to the old facility for some credit union business. Some resented my presence. And then a few years later I ran into them all at a football game at my alma mater. It was nearly pathetic.

      1. Vicki*

        “I never had one answer that it was a problem.”

        You do realize that people hedge, fudge, or outright lie in interviews because they’re trying to appear “flexible” and “hirable”, right?

        My “favorite” interview question in times of old was “We work a lot here. Are you willing to put in long hours and stay late?” My answer was “I get my work done”. (Subtext: in 40-45 hours per week, no weekends.)

    3. Baby Shower OP*

      I always love Alison’s wording in situations like this, and I appreciate any additional phrases to keep in my back pocket so I don’t repeat myself the entire day.

      I did find out that two of my old managers (the nicer ones, but it’s a family owned business) will be there, so that could potentially add another layer of awkwardness that I’m not looking forward to. At least I can politely excuse myself if things get too weird.

      1. danr*

        If they’re smart, they’ll ask “How are you doing?” You’ll say “Fine” and that should be the end of it.

      2. KerryOwl*

        It’s likely that they’ll be looking to *you* to set the tone of the conversation. If you’re friendly and casual, I think they will be relieved that you’re not bitter and snarky, and will be friendly and casual right back at you.

      3. ThursdaysGeek*

        At the holiday party at NewJob, I ran into the manager that laid me off from OldJob, who was playing in the hired band. Even though I think he was at best inept as a manager, I went up and talked to him and was pleasant to him. By my being sociable, it was not uncomfortable for me at all. I don’t know if he felt awkward, but I made it so I did not.

        1. Baby Shower OP*

          Huh. I hadn’t thought of that, but it makes sense (though my first reaction would typically be to pretend I hadn’t seen them). I’ll have to keep that in mind! Thanks!

          1. Jazzy Red*

            Yes, do that. It will take the discomfort out of the party right away. Be pleasant, don’t trash your former employer, and talk about the cute baby things. It will make the party more fun for you, and for your friend.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          This is a good idea- be the first to address the other person. Set the tone you want for the rest of the event. If I have to dodge a particular person it just makes the whole event too long and too much work.

    4. JB*

      I agree, this might even be the best time to see these people because there’s a built-in reason to redirect the conversation. Even if she’d left for some fantastic, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, she’d still want to redirect the conversation back to the guest of honor out of politeness. And in the future, if the OP runs into any of their former coworkers, the initial awkwardness is already out of the way.

  5. Gene*

    The only way I can see #1 being this big a deal is if management came in Friday afternoon and dropped the bomb that you’d be leaving on Sunday night to be there Monday morning.

    I know when we installed a new compliance monitoring package, 3 days training for 5 people with one instructor was in excess of $5000, plus expenses, more than 5 years ago. No matter where the training takes place, you are not going to be producing any work for those days, and I’m sure you all expect to be paid your normal salary. Travel, meals and hotel for 5 people is probably saving your company a pile compared to the cost of the training.

    Just a thought, would you be complaining if your office was the one where everyone got to go home each night?

    1. Chuchundra*

      Well, it depends.

      For some people, the expense of paying someone to watch your kids and/or pets for two overnights would be well beyond their budget. That’s assuming you could even find someone. If you don’t have a family member or friends who can take your kids for two nights, finding someone to do it could be pretty difficult.

      It’s one thing to expect back-up child care plans for normal working hours, it quite another to expect someone to have them for overnight stays when your job hasn’t required that in the past.

      1. MK*

        But they don’t expect people to have such plans already in place, just to make them now, for this one-time thing. And even if the job doesn’t involve travel, it’s fairly common for work to spil out of usual working hours, so it’s not an outrageous demand. Especially since this is training about new software, which is most likely necessary for the employees to do their job.

        1. Rex*

          Actually, getting a babysitter for a few hours, and getting someone who can do two overnights are two very different prospects. The latter can easily cost thousands of dollars, there’s a whole different degree of vetting you need to do (would you trust that 13 year old to watch your kids for 48 hours?), and the logistics are much more complicated, not to mention the challenge for the kids if it is someone who doesn’t already know them and their routines. Let’s not equate the two things.

          1. jag*

            “The latter can easily cost thousands of dollars, ”

            Really? I live in one of the most expensive places in the US and could find someone for several hundred dollars a night. On top of the day pay of perhaps, I think one thousand tops.

            I guess maybe in some places there is no one available so you have to pay travel…..

          2. observer*

            Most of what you say is true – but you totally lose credibility with “easily cost thousands of dollars”. Under normal circumstances, that’s simply not true. But, if you have special needs such as an ill child, you are also not leaving the kid with a 13you babysitter anyway.

      2. Yvi*

        I am recently pregnant with twins and no family in the area and I have no idea how I’d get someone to look after them for *overnights*. There’s just no support net in place for that here that I am aware of (other than my husband). Getting someone to look after kids overnight is vastly different from having someone cover a few hours in the evening.

        1. Brandy*

          In your situation, I’d bring the kids to the training after speaking with the hotel in advance. Any business hotel worth it’s salt has a list of babysitters in stand by. Then you just need daycare, not overnight care. A reasonable employer would be OK if had to bow out of any extra dinners etc.

          I had I do this when I returned to work and had a trip I couldn’t move. Baby came on the plane with me, and I got childcare at the area of the meetings.

          1. Rayner*

            Whoa…. that’s a little bit… odd.

            I would say you’d have to know your boss and your co-workers SUPER well in order to do that and negotiate beforehand about how you’re going to handle still being a parent on the road. Many bosses would definitely not be okay with you turning up, two children in tow, and just expecting to be allowed to drop them off at the daycare, particularly young children who won’t just entertain themelves. What happens if your training overruns by an hour or more? Do you get let off because you have to go pick up your kids? What happens if the daycare closes for the day? Are you just going to just sit in the hotel room with your kids and miss the training or bring them along to sit in a conference room for eight hours? What about afterwork networking and stuff? Day care shuts at five, do you bring the kids along too?

            And forget it, if the boss decides you’re going to share rooms.

            Not to mention, not every hotel has childcare and not every hotel you stay at will have access to it. There’s a difference between, “nice hotel that also caters for tourists/families” and “business hotel. Room. Breakfast. Go to office for training.” kind of places.

            1. Rex*

              I agree that it depends on the employer, but I’ve seen this kind of arrangement happen before, sometimes also with a grandparent/nanny in tow. It’s not necessarily outrageous.

              1. Rayner*

                I suppose entirely it depends on your office culture and on how far up in that culture you are. Like, if you’re the new hire and only been there three months it might not be the best time to propose that, but if you’ve been there a long time and are comfortable with the culture and making that kind of plan.

                It just struck me as way outside of what I normally do but then again, I don’t have kids. I’m used to getting up and going at a moment’s notice and wouldn’t think to bring along someone else to take care of a sprogling.

              2. jag*

                And beyond how common it is, what’s the alternative. This is a good idea – certainly worth trying.

                Even if you’re a new hire.

                Push for what you need in life. That’s the only way you’ll get it.

            2. Judy*

              I did that for training at corporate when my youngest was 4 months old. We were driving, and I brought my (retired) mother along. My manager suggested I use a hotel I normally didn’t, because it was in a more walkable area of town, although a little further from the office. It worked out fine, and my colleagues at corporate got to see my daughter one evening at dinner.

              1. Judy*

                And my parents have been to several medical conferences with my sister and her husband, to look after the kids during the day.

            3. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

              This obviously varies by company and culture. My organization will actually partially cover the travel expense for a childcare provider that you bring with you on a work trip.

            4. Emily*

              I would clear it with my company first, but I’d hope that if I explained there was no other option (no family/friends, excessive cost of professional overnight care) and promised that I’d arranged for them to be cared for during the day when I was at training, that they’d be willing to accommodate my need to have them staying in the hotel with me overnight. Clearly it’s not ideal, but I would hope that my employer wouldn’t say no and leave me in that desperate of a situation.

            5. Xay*

              It truly depends on the employer, but this is why business hotels are starting to offer their own childcare options or do referrals to local babysitting/nanny agencies. I’ve been fortunate enough to either coordinate travel with my SO or have permission to bring family with the understanding their transportation costs are not reimbursable nor any upgrade beyond a standard room.

          2. Artemesia*

            Normally my husband handled the childcare when I traveled for work events, but on one occasion when I was making a speech and he was not going to be able to do that, I brought the baby and arranged baby sitting on site. It did mean that I could not particpate in some networking social events, but it was not difficult to do. It is hard to come up with overnight care if you don’t have relatives who can do it and the expense is horrendous for someone who is paid not very well Most people should just suck it up but there are single mothers for whom this would be a huge burden and there should be some option for them that doesn’t require this kind of travel.

          3. Kyrielle*

            Which works for babies or very young children in general, but is disruptive for school children, who then miss school.

            1. fposte*

              Though it’s also disruptive for them if their parent is unemployed; if we’re really talking in extremis, we need to recognize the possible consequences for the adult as well.

            2. Judy*

              But school children usually have friends and do overnights quite a bit. (I think my kids would be at someone’s house or have someone at our house every weekend if they could.) I’ve had their friends’ parents call and ask if they could spend Friday night with us, and could we pick them up at their after school care because they’ll be out of town. I’ve had one of the girls in my Girl Scout troop spend the night before an event because her parents had to travel.

              1. Kyrielle*

                True. My oldest is only in kindergarten, so we don’t have a lot of friend-families yet (maybe one that I think we know well enough to ask); I forgot that this will probably change in the next year or two.

          4. lowercase holly*

            this is what i was thinking. if you can’t find long-term childcare in your area, ask to take the kids with you. it’s worth asking about. i guess the only issue would be them missing school since it is 3 days? one of those days would be a school day.

        2. tesyaa*

          It’s quite likely that someone with infant twins would be able to explain to management about extenuating circumstances – same goes for someone who is the sole caretaker for an elderly person.

          As for those with inconveniences that don’t rise to that level: have they even talked to management about possible solutions (e.g. company-paid onsite childcare at the training site?) I’m not saying management will go for this, but it’s unclear whether anyone has even tried to explain difficult circumstances or ask for accommodations.

        3. AvonLady Barksdale*

          You mention your husband, though. If you go on a business trip, your children will be with their father.

          I’m sympathetic with people who don’t have support systems in place– I moved to a place where I knew no one except my boyfriend– but it’s pretty important to find those support systems, and if you can’t, to have an honest discussion with your employer. A rational, calm, honest discussion that doesn’t mention the word “fair”. I’ve had to do some day travel recently and had a moment of, “Wow, what would I do with the dog if my boyfriend weren’t around?” but I thought through it– I can call a sitter or I can board him or I can see if an acquaintance would be willing to take him for a day. The first two options are expensive, but so is owning a dog.

          Now, I know dogs aren’t babies (believe me, I know this), but this employer isn’t asking anyone to travel excessively, and if a parent simply cannot do it, then it is up to him or her to approach management with a solution or ask for some kind of accommodation.

          1. Yvi*

            I have been reading this site for a long time (usually post under a different name) and from what people here say I get the impression that it’s completely irresponsible to not at least have a backup to a backup to a backup child care method in place. Like, if my husband is at a conference plus my mother is in hospital and so on… And that bothers me.

            As for pets, I am lucky in that this is completely not a problem for me – just one phone call and 7€ a night for each cat and I can leave them at the local shelter. If only it were that easy for kids ;)

            1. Judy*

              Certainly I’ve pushed back on travel plans when my husband is travelling.

              But things happen. Take yesterday in fact. Snow day at school. The place that the kids do before and after school care will usually do “snow day camp” for school age kids. They have some teachers out sick, so they couldn’t do that. My mother in law lives in a place that is hard to get into and get out of, so she’s not a backup snow care. My mom has a regular volunteer gig on Tuesdays, but my dad would be home. So we dropped them there. Final backup would be the snow day care at the Y, but the kids are not very fond of that, I guess some of the kids there the last time they were there were a little mean.

              Today, though, they are at their regular place having a snow day camp. Monday, everything was shut down including where my husband teaches, and I just worked from home.

            2. Rayner*

              I don’t think people here think that you need to have a back up to a back up to a back up, but they do feel like you shouldn’t be completely at sea when the first plan falls through if it’s not a dire, once in a lifetime emergency. Like, you should have an idea of what you’ll do if your husband is away at the same time as you are if that’s something that could happen/does happen often enough, even if it is just an idea, not a 100% down on paper, military planned exercise.

              But like you said, there’s a limit to preparedness.

            3. Rex*

              Agreed. I think people are really underestimating the inconvenience and expense that could be involved. Not saying that OP is right to draw a line in the sand the way she does, just saying I understand why this could really throw some people.

            4. AvonLady Barksdale*

              But those are particularly extenuating circumstances– not the initial circumstance of business travel. Sure– if your normal childcare falls through or if your husband is at a conference while you’re traveling or if if if if… there are tons of “ifs”. We’re not looking at those, and we could expand on them forever if given enough time. I’m saying– and I think a lot of people are– that one short business trip, planned well in advance, may be difficult but it is shouldn’t be impossible, and if it IS impossible, then it should be dealt with professionally.

              I do believe that the responsibility of children and pets comes with having care options, even if that means, as many have suggested, taking the kids with you and hiring a sitter onsite. You can give me a ton of reasons why you can’t go and many of us can give you a ton of solutions that would enable you to go.

            5. Laurel Gray*

              My issue with people’s opinions on child care back ups, particularly paid services, is that no one is taking trust into consideration. With most baby sitters and nanny situations, rapport is built. The woman who watched my son in her home had a state licensed day care and could legally watch up to 6 but chose to only watch 3. I first met her and told her how I would be going back to work when my son was 6 months. I started leaving him for 2 hours at a time to run errands and then for half a day and finally for a full day. In 3 months I was aware of her “system” and day care structure and was comfortable enough where I wasn’t calling checking on my child. I’m sorry but I just don’t think it is that easy for everyone to call a nanny service and leave kids with a stranger for 48+ hours for a work training even if money isn’t an issue.

              1. Judy*

                Unless it was your regular provider, you wouldn’t be leaving kids for 48+ hours. You’re most likely contractually obligated to be paying your regular provider for the 10+ daytime hours anyway. Or the hour before and 2-3 hours after school.

            6. majigail*

              As an employer, if my employee came to me and said they couldn’t travel because their husband was out of town and mom was in the hospital, I’d like to think we could work something out. But if I announced that this was happening and the next words out of an employee’s mouth was that it was impossible and unfair, I would definitely push back.
              PS I LOVE traveling for work, but I only do overnights twice a year. I get why some might not, but I think it’s the best!

          2. BananaPants*

            That’s true, but overnight childcare and pet boarding are two very different things.

            3 years ago when we only had one child, my husband worked 2nd shift and I was sent to Europe for a business trip. I was given less than 2 weeks notice and in the end I had to limit my travel to 1 week because of the difficulty in arranging evening childcare. We were able to have my parents and my FIL pitch in but it was a LOT to ask of them to leave their jobs early to drive 45 minutes to our area, pick our daughter up at daycare, take her home and prepare dinner/go through the evening routine, and not be able to leave our house until midnight when my husband got home from work, only to have to get up and work a full day themselves the next day (getting in early so that they could leave early). The three grandparents alternated days and it was still exhausting. If we hadn’t been lucky enough to have family willing and able to pitch in, we’d have had to pay $20-25/hour for an evening babysitter to do all of that for 7-8 hours every day. It’s not a situation where the teenager down the block can do it; for late night/overnight care you NEED a vetted adult caregiver. I explained this to my manager and we agreed that I could meet the objectives of the trip in one week rather than the original 10-12 days that were planned.

            If we didn’t have the grandparents willing and able to help out for free, we would have incurred a significant additional child care expense with little time to save up for it. Business travel is infrequent in my current role and at this stage in my life I would not choose to take a role which required frequent travel. Expense and inconvenience aside, I hate being away from my family.

        4. TOC*

          Many professional childcare services (like nanny agencies) offer temp nanny services for overnight stays. It’s still hard to leave your kids with a non-family caregiver, but at least the nannies are screened and trained. My mom’s nanny agency offers this service. Families will often hire the nanny for shorter periods (like an evening out) to become comfortable with that particular nanny before she/he does an overnight stay.

        5. jag*

          Ask other parents for ideas.

          I’m a fairly new parent, and we get info from other parents in the area – on an email list, with parents we are friends with, and even parents we don’t know that well but see at playgrounds etc.

          I’m not saying things aren’t tough, but ask around and get in the habit of asking around. We don’t have family near us and asking/networking with other parents has proven very important.

        6. Not telling*

          We all have choices in life, and we all have circumstances that are beyond our control. That doesn’t mean that employers are responsible for accommodating them.

          If the training is for a new software platform that everyone will be using (and it sounds like LW’s situation is pretty much like this), what is an employer supposed to do? Agree that working parents don’t have to go, and when the new platform is online the working parents can spend the rest of their lives twiddling their thumbs while everyone else does the work?

          At some point, all of us have to admit that we are responsible for finding jobs that suit our lives, not that employers are responsible for reshaping jobs around our lives. And we have to admit that jobs may change. Truly for some people there may be a point at which a job situation is so incompatible with their life that they will have to change jobs (or accept a demotion or some other reduced accommodation if it that is possible), in order to accommodate the circumstances of their life.

  6. Alma*

    I am reading that #1 is not just referring to the frustration of making these arrangements, but probably to the expense involved. Am I correct, OP?

    Boarding a pet, or engaging a pet-sitter in one’s home is not an unreimbursed job expense for tax purposes. Making arrangements for the care of children is not, either. This can be a hardship on many of us if no family lives nearby, or Mom needs to pay someone to stay in the home to care for and transport children to school and activities.

    1. Cheesecake*

      Everything would be so easy if we did not have to work. We wouldn’t need to engage nannys or pet-sitters, because there is plenty of time to do it yourself. Problem is while there is no nanny expense, there is a bigger food/home expenses. This is usually covered by a paycheck. And that is why we have to do thing we not always want to do.

      1. Tenley*

        I make a good salary and have months to plan for business travel and it’s still no small deal to arrange for my pet boarding (travel to site, making sure shots are up to date, expense), never mind if I needed to secure consecutive overnight stays for a child.

        1. Cheesecake*

          My point is not that it is easy to do arrangements. I was a pet owner myself, lived alone and traveled once a month for 6 months, believe me, i share your pain. My point is, sometimes you need to make these painful arrangements for the sake of the paycheck.

          1. AvonLady Barksdale*

            I completely agree. Owning a dog is not cheap. Having children is REALLY not cheap. Sometimes the hit to the wallet really hurts, and sometimes arranging things is a pain in the butt, but that’s often part of the deal.

            1. Katie the Fed*

              And it’s kind of part of the package when you decide to have kids or get pets – you (ideally) take into account unforeseen expenses like this and budget accordingly.

              1. Short and Stout*

                Except, I personally actually have set aside a fund that is just for pet expenses and known boarding I’ll incur due to travel — and the boarding alone nears $1000 a year. I took on a pet knowing this. I absolutely either would not have adopted a pet had I not had a wage that could cover these expenses, and conversely, if I had young children or a wage that simply couldn’t cover pet expenses I would never have accepted a job if I reasonably thought there might be a chance of consecutive overnight stays three hours away.

                1. Remy*

                  I suspect the wage might be a factor in the huge amount of unhappiness with this particular situation, aside from the need for the workers to actually make arrangements. I’ve had this kind of training in white-collar jobs– but primarily it’s been in frontline-type or data-entry-type jobs barely above the minimum wage. Suddenly the scenario becomes a lot more akin to a real hardship.

                2. Katie the Fed*

                  I’m not sure how trip reimbursement works everywhere, but when we travel we get a per diem for meals and incidentals – it may not be a ton depending on the location but I could usually cover pet boarding with it. But I’m guessing that’s not always the case.

                3. AvonLady Barksdale*

                  This is also true– I waited to get my dog until I had certain things in place, like steadier finances and a better commute. I also waited until I had a partner, though that’s not for everyone! My dog’s rescue asks very specifically about finances before they approve people for adoption.

                  For some reason I can’t reply directly to Katie the Fed below, but Katie, I have never traveled on a per diem– I find that to be unusual outside of government or non-profit, though that’s my personal experience! I get reimbursed for expenses that occur because I travel– hotel, food, transportation, etc. Dog boarding wouldn’t be covered. So while I do understand the hardship, I think that’s part of the deal when you have a dog (I can’t speak about having kids). If I can’t afford boarding for a 2-night trip, it’s on me to find an alternative, especially if given reasonable notice. In fact, one of my goals in our new town was to get to know people who love doggies– and six months in, I have a few friends who would totally take him for a couple of days if we needed them and a network of colleagues who would be happy to stay here if asked.

                4. De Minimis*

                  I had a per diem in one non-government job, but it was a big company so it functioned in much the same way.

                  I rarely travel and may have to in a couple of months. I sympathize, because it will be a huge pain for our household as well, and yes largely due to the pet issue. I am tempted to just commute [it’s about 100 miles away] but our reimbursement is pretty good so you generally end up coming out ahead when travelling.

                  Dogs are sooo expensive and aging dogs even more so. In our case, we had little choice but to take on the responsibility, they belonged to a terminally ill relative and no one else could [or would] care for them.

                5. Koko*

                  I tend to agree with you, except the reality of the current economy is that one-third of Americans have no savings at all, and 3/4 are considered to be “living paycheck-to-paycheck with little to no savings.” It’s not so easy to tell a huge chunk of the population that they should forego the experience of parenthood because they aren’t financially comfortable as it is to tell them they probably shouldn’t adopt a pet. Pets are a luxury, children are…something more essential to most people.

                  (I say this as someone who neither has nor wants children…despite my own feelings, I recognize that it’s a major life goal/event that most people wouldn’t consider opting out of just because they aren’t destined for the middle class. “Waiting until we’re financially stable,” is very much a privilege that children of the middle and upper classes can afford toe exercise. Children of the working class and much of the 3/4 of the population who doesn’t earn a college degree are less likely to expect that their finances will be considerably better a few years down the road.)

                6. Hlyssande*

                  @ the gold digger

                  That’s what I’m hoping to find in my apartment complex for a few weekend conventions I’m going to/working at this year!

                7. Natalie*

                  @ Koko, and for that matter, what are you supposed to do if your circumstances change after you have kids? I’m sure plenty of people had kids from 2000-2008 assuming they had all the contingencies covered, and then suddenly they didn’t.

                8. BananaPants*

                  @ Katie The Fed – I work in the private sector and when I travel for work they reimburse actual expenses, we don’t get a per diem. Corporate travel policy clearly spells out what expenses are and are not reimbursed. Most people I know who work in the private sector have expense accounts rather than a per diem.

              2. Rex*

                Yes, it would be nice if we can all do this, but sometimes your car dies unexpectedly, and there is an unforeseen family medical expense and your boiler dies, and not everyone can have emergency funds to cover everything all the time. Not even to mention the time and expense to find and vet someone to care for your child for that long, if you don’t have family backup I can easily see this costing thousands of dollars, and not necessarily being something you would budget for when it has *never* come up before.

              3. Mike C.*

                Oh the other hand, you generally can’t give away your children if your financial situation changes.

                1. Koko*


                  Pets are like children in a lot of ways, but no so much in others.

                  Like the fact that pets, while dependents, are actually usually *adult* animals that can be trusted not to harm/kill themselves when left alone and can legally be left alone without the state arresting you or seizing them. While overnight pet boarding is almost as expensive as overnight childcare, but in a pinch if it’s only a couple nights, you can leave your pets in your own home and convince someone to come check on them X times a day or to spend the night in your home while you’re away and hire a dog walker to take them out a couple times a day. I have friends who are perfectly willing to check in on my cats for 10-20 minutes per day over a long weekend in exchange for $10-20 and a six-pack left on the kitchen table. I doubt any of them would be willing to care for a human child for the same rate.

                  When I was in the maybe 7-12 age range my best friend’s parents would occasionally watch me for one night if my (single) mom was in a desperate situation, which might be the equivalent “in a pinch” situation for kids, but for younger kids I’m not even sure that option would be there if they don’t have a best friend whose house they’re already staying at a ton and whose parents you trust.

              4. Chuchundra*

                Part of the package might be taking a job where you don’t have to travel and that otherwise fits into your family obligations. That’s the kind of job the OP1 says she has.

                There are limitations on your earning power and career path for a job like that, but that’s part of the trade off. It’s not unreasonable to be unhappy when the deal changes.

                1. Katie the Fed*

                  agreed, but if it’s really just this one time, I don’t think I’d make this the hill to die on.

                2. neverjaunty*

                  Small hills can sometimes change the course of a whole war.

                  Which is to say, sometimes “just this once” means “any time we want, and we’ll point out that you didn’t put your foot down the first time.”

                3. Katie the Fed*

                  “Which is to say, sometimes “just this once” means “any time we want, and we’ll point out that you didn’t put your foot down the first time.””

                  But there’s no reason at all to think that’s going to be the case. And even then, employers are allowed to change the terms of a job, and it’s up to the employee to decide if they can live with it. So if the job for some reason becomes a travel-heavy job, refusing to travel probably isn’t going to work. Looking for a new job becomes the best solution.

                4. Kyrielle*

                  Depends on whether you have any way off the hill. If you cannot afford child care for the time – if your salary and savings don’t permit it – then yes, it’s the hill to die on. Because you have no choice. And yes, it’s reasonable in that case to be upset that the job changed its requirements on you, even if only temporarily. It’s not reasonable or helpful to express that feeling to management – because “fair” isn’t a business requirement and it won’t help your case – but it’s a completely reasonable feeling and I think sharing it in your letter to an advice site is understandable.

                  And then you go address the “can we do anything about this” scenario with management, as calmly and clearly as you possibly can (which is hopefully very).

  7. Zillah*

    1 – OP, before I talk about the rest of your post, I want to draw attention to something specific you said:

    I realize to many it may not seem like a big deal but to moms with small children (some of whom are single mom) and people with pets, this seems unfair.

    I know it’s not really what you were asking about, but the fact that you specified “moms with small children” strikes me as problematic – and if you present it that way at work, I think it’s likely to go over badly. This could be a serious issue for any single parent, not just mothers, and by the same token, there’s nothing inherent about being a mother (as opposed to a father) that makes you essential for two nights. Gendering this is inappropriate and plays into stereotypes that a lot of people have become pretty uncomfortable with.

    That aside, though – look, this sucks, but I think that in this situation, you need to focus on you. You seem to be investing a lot of attention in your coworkers’ situations. Banding together can sometimes work, but here, since the request isn’t super unreasonable on the face of it, I think you need to try to figure out a way to make it work or talk to your manager about your specific situation if you really, really can’t.

    1. UKAnon*

      I’d read that as meaning that some of her coworkers were worried because they were single mums/had small children, rather than a blanket statement for all workplaces.

      1. doreen*

        I’m sure she didn’t mean it as a blanket statement for all workplaces (maybe there aren’t any single fathers where she works) – but saying it’s a big deal to moms with small children , many of whom are single implies that it is also a big deal to those moms with small children who are not single. Although if they’re not single they presumably live with someone who can care for the child for two nights.

          1. Rex*

            Well, yes, when people are creatures that depend on them for food/care/shelter, be them children, pets, or elderly family, those obligations can be particularly challenging and expensive to cover when you are gone. Can we not play my obligation is bigger than your obligation?

            1. HR Generalist*

              You have a point, but I also don’t want to play the “family is the only real responsibility” game. Some people may also be board members, club or team executives, municipal politicians – there are those who perform activities in the evenings that aren’t just about family.

              Single people (and those without kids) are regularly told “your needs aren’t as important as [this person’s] because you don’t have real responsibilities” (i.e. you have to work Christmas Day because you have no children, now you have to stay late so this person can leave early to take care of children, etc)

              1. fposte*

                But there is a significant difference in responsibilities you can leave for 24 hours and those you can’t, and that’s a difference that matters if I’m an employer dealing with staff in the OP’s situation.

                And I’m speaking as somebody without those responsibilities, so it’s not like I’m defending myself here. But this isn’t about the right to Christmas off, it’s about the fact that some responsibilities can’t be let go. That’s not a playing field that can be leveled, and that’s okay–it doesn’t always have to be.

                1. JB*

                  Yes this. I don’t have kids and I never want them, and I don’t want to be the person who always has to pick up the slack for coworkers with kids so that they get to attend every recital and science fair and PTA meeting, and my outside activities are important, too. BUT I *can* cancel a meeting or miss an event. You can’t leave your 3 year old at home for the weekend all alone.

                2. LBK*

                  Exactly. It shouldn’t ever be assumed that the childless person will pick up the slack and in a tricky situation they shouldn’t be the default answer, but when stuck between a rock and a hard place, caring for another person is something that pretty much takes top priority in terms of things that can’t be cancelled or let go.

              2. JC*

                Yes to fposte’s comment. I also don’t have or want children, so I am sympathetic, but can we agree that having to care for another person (child, parent, whomever) inherently makes traveling for work more difficult than not having to care for another person?

          2. jag*

            As a generalization, people without children have less obligations. They might have pets, or fragile plants, or old relatives, or something to take care of. Or volunteer obligations. Or a second job. Or even personal health needs that require time to deal with in the evenings.

            But in general, if you have kids you have more obligations than if you don’t. If you’re a single parent, it’s harder than if you have a partner. If you’re poor, it’s harder to arrange/pay for child care than than if you’re rich.

            Yes, these are generalizations. They are generally true.

            “Can we not play my obligation is bigger than your obligation?”

            Some generally are. Not always. Often or usually.

            And what fposte said nails it: “there is a significant difference in responsibilities you can leave for 24 hours”

            1. llama*

              Oh my gosh, SO well said. For example, I am single and I don’t have any pets, so while I may not have obligations there, I can’t always afford to front the cost of business travel, even though traveling itself is something I love. And I haven’t been able to read through every single comment so I don’t know if fronting the cost of business travel has come up but that can be quite stressful depending on circumstances.

              1. Alma*

                +1, Bama. The car may be reliable for around town driving, but not something you’d want to risk on the highway. Fronting gas and meals is a hardship on anyone living paycheck to paycheck.

                Though I would expect in this instance, with everyone going to the same place and staying at the same hotel, the business would pay for meals right then on the corporate credit card.

            2. AnotherHRPro*

              We need to remember that not all employees share their list of obligations. I am single without children. What people at work don’t know is that I support 2 people in my extended family. One is just financial support and the other is due to medical issues as well as expense. Not to mention my pet who has multiple medical issues. I have chosen to not share this information. And when I have to travel, I make arrangements. It is not easy, but it is something that adult, working people have to deal with. Yes, for some it may be easier. But don’t assume you know what their life is like. I don’t have children and I don’t know how difficult that is. Others don’t live my life and know how difficult it can be.

              My general point is that we can not make assumptions about people and their obligations. If work requires travel, then employees have to travel. I have never had a job that didn’t involve some travel at some point. If you have a lot of obligations, then you should get a job that generally doesn’t require travel. If you are concerned that your job is starting to require frequent travel then you should ask your manager about that.

            3. Vera*

              You are right. But at the same time, we have to be careful when saying things like that. I’ve been told countless times how “lucky” I am that I don’t have children so I could travel or go to conferences or even sleep late. But the truth is we can’t have children. It is not our choice, it is a painful subject, we don’t talk about it, as it is anybody’s business but ours, but it hurts. We understand the thought behind the generalization, but in this case, it is blind shot to something that pains us very, very much.

              1. Natasha*

                I’m so sorry. Many people are callous and make off-the-cuff comments about a very personal, often sensitive subject. I wish you peace and happiness.

        1. Liane*

          ” Although if they’re not single they presumably live with someone who can care for the child for two nights.”
          Not necessarily. It is not uncommon to have a household where Wakeen works days & Leia works nights, so that someone is always available to deal with their kids, pets &/or the odd home repair appointment. (Or because it was the only shift available or it paid more or…) If Wakeen has to travel for training, Leia might not be able to get the time off, even if there was a lot of notice.

          1. Doreen*

            There are a lot if possibilities (the other parent could be a SAHD)but chances are the OP doesn’t know the details of her coworkers situation any better than we do , and that statement just has an “only mom will do ” vibe to me.

            1. Anonsie*

              I guess it depends on your workplace, but I know the parent split for a lot of my coworkers because it comes up when you’re trying to figure who can be at work late or early or whatever.

        2. Katie the Fed*

          Yeah, I don’t generally want to parse an OP’s words, but I cringe when people invoke the “single mom” argument – women have worked really hard to be treated equally in the workplace and implying that mothers are less able to fulfill job responsibilities frustrates me.

          1. Rex*

            Well, yes I agree about being treated equally, but at the same time, single parents *do* tend to have a harder time finding coverage. And most single parents are single moms. We can agree that it is important to find ways to meet your work obligations, and also agree that there aren’t enough support systems out there for single parents and it can be an inconvenience.

            1. Katie the Fed*

              But none of these appear to be the OP’s issue to fight. She’s invoking “single moms” as an argument when it’s not even clear that the particular single moms in question are finding this to be a hardship.

        3. SystemsLady*

          As a woman who has to travel a lot for her job and probably won’t be the primary kid watcher in the marriage – +1.

          In addition, I want to say to the OP that people who travel frequently have pets and children, too. It is true that we choose to be in that arrangement, and it is completely fair that people who don’t normally travel might need to ask for accommodations from their managers. If any of you five are having problems finding or paying for pet care, by all means talk to your manager about *that* (as Alison said).

          However, what I want to say is that, even in my industry, it isn’t considered “unfair” to those employees with pets and kids to have to travel just as much or as far as employees who don’t have either. Sometimes we will help each other stay closer to our respective hometowns, but that is about it.

        4. Anonsie*

          Ah I see what you mean.

          It’s a stretch to say that just because there is another parent figure in the house that the one being gone isn’t going to be a huge issue, though. Maybe Parent B works third shift and there would be no one at home at night when the kids needed them, maybe Parent B isn’t able to pick up and drop off the kids around their own work schedule, etc. Most of the families I know have a balance that would easily require a third party to step in the cover something if one was unavailable.

      2. Katie the Fed*

        “I’d read that as meaning that some of her coworkers were worried because they were single mums/had small children, rather than a blanket statement for all workplaces.”

        But that’s something for them to worry about. OP doesn’t need to take up their fight for them. I wouldn’t be to thrilled with someone decided to fight my battle for me.

        1. Meg Murry*

          Yes, this! OP, if you want to talk to your boss about how you don’t think this arrangement makes sense for you or if you and Jane want to talk together to the boss about how this is a hardship for you and your pets and Jane and her kids, that’s fine. But don’t complain to the boss about how its unfair/unreasonable for someone else, unless that person has specifically asked you to fight this battle for them – and even then, that person should ideally be part of the conversation with the boss.

          You might think its unfair to the parents or pet owners. But the parents or pet owners have to decide for themselves if they want to rock this boat with the powers that be, or if they want to suck it up and take this one for the team. This is especially important if they are in the situation where they don’t want to remind the powers that be that be that they are parents – no one wants the boss thinking “Jane already took 2 days off last month to deal with her sick kid, and now she’s whining she can’t travel because of the kid?” when Jane actually isn’t complaining about this at all. Not saying this is how is should work, but I’ve definitely worked places where that is how it did work, and it meant women with kids had to work twice as hard to prove themselves against stereotyping or mommy tracking.

          1. jag*

            Actually, where I work I’ve fought battles on behalf of more junior staff. Not naming them, but telling management that there are other people in the organization for whom a particular policy is not good. As a relatively secure employees I feel it’s my responsibility to bring that up, even if other people are too afraid to do so themselves.

            Not everyone can rock the boat. Some of us can, and if we can, and the issue is important, we should.

            1. Katie the Fed*

              But are these people more junior? I can see the need to do it in those cases, but we have no information to suggest that’s at play here. And if none of those people are raising it as an issue, then it comes across a bit patronizing to assume they do find it a hardship and can’t make it work.

              1. Heather*

                Can’t speak for jag, but I was thinking about the work world in general and not the OP specifically. But either way, the person willing to advocate for others needs to make sure those others are OK with them doing it – otherwise, yeah, it could come off as really patronizing.

                1. jag*

                  I haven’t checked that it’s OK for me to advocate for them, but I heard them complaining to me and others they trust, and know they are reticent to speak to their own managers or higher-ups. So I spoke up, without an personally identifying info. That’s a privilege and also it seems a responsibility.

  8. Student*

    #2 Anxiety can be a disorder serious enough to be considered disabilities and merit accommodations under the ADA. That’s between you and your psychologist to work out, though.

    If you get into a situation that requires you to explain this, you might try explaining that your anxiety disorder manifests similar to a severe phobia. That’s easier to relate to, and it’s something most people are passingly familiar with.

  9. super anon*

    RE: #1, out of curiosity what would you all suggest if someone really couldn’t travel for the training due to extenuating circumstances? What if someone was the primary caregiver for their 2 elderly parents, of which one is disabled and needs someone with them 24/7 to make sure they are cared for. There is no one else who could take care of said grandparents, nor could they afford a live in care giver for those days, and they absolutely could not be left alone for 3 days and 2 nights.

    Would that be the kind of situation where it’s reasonable to make a case for and pout your foot down on not going to training/away?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      In that case, I’d go and talk to your manager and explain the situation. You want your tone to be collaborative problem-solving, not putting your foot down. A reasonable manager will work with you in a situation like this if you explain what’s going on.

      1. super anon*

        put your foot down wasn’t a good phrase to use, but i couldn’t think of something to concisely convey a sense of “i really can’t do this what can we do about it”. collaborative and problem solving worked perfectly – so Allison to the rescue.

        as a follow up, what if you have a manager that just won’t budge and it’s either go, or lose your job? the states is at will employment so i assume it’s perfectly legal for an employer to do that kind of thing? i imagine a reasonable boss wouldn’t let it get to that… but from some of the letters i’ve read on here i’m sure there’s some out there who would.

        1. Chriama*

          You could take FMLA leave (possibly unpaid) to protect your job. However, if this is a necessary requirement to be able to do your job, I don’t know what would stop them from firing you in a few months when you’re no longer at the same level as your coworkers.

            1. De Minimis*

              Yeah, please don’t become an FMLA abuser. This was rampant at a former workplace. Migraines were the most common one—not that migraines aren’t legitimate, I know several people who have severe episodes of them, but the people who were never at work or who left any time they got mad about something always had FMLA and it was almost always migraines.

              1. ReanaZ*

                I feel like maybe this is between people’s managers and doctors, and perhaps you don’t know everything about someone’s health issue just because you like snarking their supposed work habits?

                Also, as a severe, chronic migraine sufferer (just got approved to try a treatment that requires documentation of 15 headache days per month for 6 months that are resistant to other treatment, so you know I’m probably just faking it to get in on that hot unpaid leave action), I can tell you that heightened workplace stress will give me a migraine Every Goddamn Time. Not a fake one because I don’t want to go to work if I’m upset or stressed out or overwhelmed, but because for most sufferers, stress (like being angry about something at work) is an extremely sensitive migraine trigger.

                It actually massively sucks, because you know what is worse than having a stressful work situation? Being unable to go to work to deal with the situation because you’re paralyzed in pain and unable to see, which makes you more stressed out, which sometimes causes ongoing cycles.

                And you know what is even worse than that? Dealing with judgmental jerks who think that you’re just faking your health issues for attention or so you can be slack and roll in the glory of crappy unpaid medical leave benefits.

            2. Chriama*

              But in the example given by super anon above, what if the option was go out of town or be fired? Couldn’t you take FMLA leave for the same time period as the trip? You would be using the time to care for a sick parent, which you couldn’t do if you were away.

              I do think it wouldn’t be a long term solution to a boss who couldn’t accomodate you (e.g. arrange for a temporary caregiver or remote training) and told you to go or be fired, but wouldn’t it be the best short-term solution?

              1. fposte*

                I’m not seeing how it would work–the employee doesn’t need leave from her job to caretake if she’s been caretaking alongside of her job. If there’s something particular happening on those days, like surgery or something, maybe. Perhaps there’s somebody who knows more about the application of the law who can chime in–partial day FMLA, maybe?

                And of course that doesn’t mean the employee can’t be fired for not having the training.

                1. De Minimis*

                  At the workplace I mentioned above, it seemed like people got more or less permanent FMLA that they could use whenever they wanted, though if they ran out of sick leave they would have to take leave without pay. But the supervisor could not say anything and they could not be disciplined for poor attendance, so a lot of people would try to get some kind of FMLA documentation on file.

                  My spouse was in the process of filing FMLA paperwork to care for a family member at one point, but it was a situation where it wasn’t going to be permanent. It’s pretty difficult though when it’s to care for another person, since they have to consent to their medication information being released.

                2. Anonsie*

                  If your work is essentially uprooting and moving to a new city for a couple of days so you can’t attend those days, it kind of seems like it fits? I don’t know if it would hold up under legal scrutiny or anything (in fact I doubt it would) but I see the logic.

                3. fposte*

                  @De Minimis–you can get intermittent FMLA, where you can be out periodically for an ongoing problem; like any other FMLA, that’s limited to twelve weeks per year, which is less than a quarter of the year (not that that isn’t a lot, but it’s not all the time, either). Intermittent FMLA is apparently a bit of a headache for employers because it really can be tough to do anything to weed out slackers.

                  I’m not finding much to guide me on the notion of taking intermittent leave to make sure you’re available to care for a family member in the evening. I’d say that while I think it’s a dubious plan, an employer who can’t find anything sure to say it’s not covered would be wise to approve it–presumably it meets the other standards, like the cared-for person being a spouse, parent, or child and being able to submit medical certification if appropriate.

        2. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

          What I am taking from the OP is that this is vital training necessary to do the job, not some team building exercise in the woods.

          If it is vital training necessary to do the job, I don’t think the boss would be unreasonable to insist that attending the training is required for further employment.

          People get on planes and trains and automobiles for the jobs all the time. The OP’s boss isn’t requesting anything outlandish or unreasonable.

          1. UKAnon*

            I don’t think it would be unreasonable to insist on attendance, but I do think it matters how the boss has handled it. If there’s been less than a month’s notice then given the job has never involved travel before I do think that’s unreasonable – particularly if the boss knows that people have other commitments, like children, that they can’t just drop at a moment’s notice.

            1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

              I sort of agree in that, if I was the boss, I’d be thinking about the employees’ home circumstances and wanting to give plenty of notice, but I’m not sure 3 weeks is that different from 5. One is more considerate but I don’t think 3 is unreasonable.

              Things like the OP described are usually scheduled well in advance. I think she would have mentioned if it was a surprise, short notice situation.

              1. AvonLady Barksdale*

                I completely agree with this. Some things are just necessary in our jobs. I can’t imagine a boss springing this on everyone; while I’m sure it happens, I think most managers understand that people have lives and commitments. With plenty of advance notice, this is something that can be worked out– and if it can’t, then it’s time for a calm, non-defensive conversation.

              2. SystemsLady*

                I agree that 3 weeks is plenty, especially because it doesn’t sound like this is a very long trip or extremely far away.

            2. Cheesecake*

              Wakeen’s Teapots Ltd. is spot on. I personally do travel but try to do anything to avoid unnecessary visits if things can be done by phone or telecon/skype. But sometimes travelling is unavoidable and can happen even if the job officially requires none; OP’s example is a perfect one and on top it is a crucial training.Heck, i traveled for a month when we have implemented a new system. After all it is not 17th century and OP does not need to travel for a week by boat and by horse to visit a nearby farm.

              My colleague travels very frequently (at least once a month) and quite often last minute. She has a son, a dog and a working husband. Everyone is alive and ok.

              1. Cheesecake*

                Son, dog and working husband – i am not sure why i have chosen this order, please don’t judge :)

            3. Elizabeth West*

              No notice at all would be unreasonable, yes. But I don’t think this is unreasonable, because it’s one time. They’re not changing the job to require travel–they have this new tool on which the employees need training.

          2. Colette*

            Agreed. It’s an inconvenience to those who need to travel, but it may not be possible (logistically or financially) to offer a second training session in the OP’s location. It this is training required to do the job, it’s reasonable to require the employees to make whatever arrangements they need so that they’re able to attend.

            1. Dynamic Beige*

              Sometimes, training courses need a certain number of people before they’ll do it. So, having one office with 5 people who need training isn’t a large enough cohort to justify the expense. Sending those 5 people to another location may be cheaper and fill up the required quota by combining those groups. I took a continuing education course once and the instructor said that we had just met the quota, one less person and it would have been cancelled.

              I’m single and I have two cats (insert standard spinster with cats joke here). I also travel for my job, not always but often enough. I didn’t have pets for a long time because of the nature of my job. Now, if I’m going to be away for a couple of nights, I have a LitterRobot, an automatic kibble dispenser and a Drinkwell fountain for the little fuzzbutts. It’s not ideal, but it works. If it’s more than 2 nights, I pay a neighbour’s kid to come in and feed them in the morning and at night. Which is also a good thing because if there’s a problem while I’m away, they can alert me (which hasn’t happened yet, *knocks wood*) If I didn’t have that kid (and I won’t eventually) there’s boarding options or I’d ask one of my adult neighbours or I’d find someone, somehow. Because that is the part of the responsibility I decided to take on when I decided to have pets — if I can’t care for them temporarily, who can I find/pay to do it for me?

              With my job, sometimes they do per diem (not often) most of the time it’s either crew meals (take it or leave it) or they will reimburse your expenses provided they’re not insane. The problem is that when they decide to do per diem, they also have to leave you enough time to go and get your food (which often isn’t possible) and the place you’re at has to have enough places you can get food for a reasonable price. There’s nothing like going to a resort, being given $50 per diem and the only thing you can order is the $20 breakfast buffet, lunch is a similar price and the entrées start at $20 for dinner. That simply isn’t enough money to cover meals in a place like that, especially if it’s some place in the middle of nowhere where you are pretty much trapped and have no choice but the onsite restaurants.

              The thing that gets me is the repeated use of the word “fair”. Nothing in life is fair and if you’re upset because your company wants to send you away for 2 nights to do training — that’s a total 1st World Problem. If you’ve got an issue, like fear of flying or sick parents/children with special needs, then go into your boss’s office and explain to them why you cannot participate in the training. Maybe one of your coworkers could coach you on the training back at the office. Maybe the training will be offered again at a location or time you feel is more manageable. Maybe you’ll just watch your career stall. The choice is yours. Also, a lot of people I know would be practically jumping for joy at the idea of getting away — all expenses paid — from their daily grind for 2 nights/3 days, so I just don’t get why all the aggro over this. It’s not like they want to send you away for 2 weeks or 2 months.

              1. SR*

                “The thing that gets me is the repeated use of the word “fair”. Nothing in life is fair”

                I understand what you’re saying, I do. And yes, I agree that it seems like OP needs to suck it up unless she truly has obligations that she can’t get around, in which case she needs to talk to her boss. But just in general I think that “life isn’t fair” is a poor outlook on life. Sometimes it’s unproductive to overly focus on it, yes, and sometimes people have a misguided sense of how fairness works, but schoolchildren are taught that things should be “fair” for a reason. It’s not a dirty word. Fairness and treating people well are good things. Life *should* be fair, ideally – people should be treated reasonably and equally. So, yes, you need to be realistic and practical, but at the same time I don’t think the strong reaction against people bringing up the concept of fairness is really warranted.

                Sorry, /rant.

                1. Colette*

                  Treating people well is a good thing, but that’s not the same as treating everyone exactly the same, which is often what people who talk about ‘fair’ are looking for. However, in this case, it sounds like they are being treated fairly – all of the employees in that location are being expected to take the same amount of time away from their personal life to attend this training.

                  Yes, people should be treated fairly over the long term, but treating everyone identically in every individual situation is not realistic. There’s not likely to be an equal number of promotions, raises, or crappy overtime shifts to treat everyone identically, so attempts to be “fair” would just result in everyone getting equally poor treatment.

                2. Dynamic Beige*

                  And you know what, I would agree with you except for one thing: I don’t think it’s a negative attitude to take, railing against the inherent inequities of life, that would be negative (and fruitless). Things happen and those things are not always “right” or what we want for ourselves or “fair”… whatever judgement we put on them, they still happen. Hospitals are full of people where things have happened that are not fair — so are corporate boardrooms. Except when it’s obvious abuse, the important thing in my opinion isn’t whether or not it’s “fair” but how you respond to it and deal with it. My mother had this thing where if my sister and I had to share a piece of cake, I would have to cut it and my sister would choose. But I’m sure from my sister’s perspective, it wasn’t fair that I was always the one who got to cut (being older than her, it was a safety with sharp objects issue).

                  It’s not like the OP’s boss is telling them to go out and dig a trench for the new drainage system. The OP’s boss is not asking them to do anything crazy or out of the ordinary or painful (physically at least). It may not have been a requirement of their job previously, or repeatedly, but for this one time it is necessary and to stick out your lower lip and stomp your foot and say it’s not fair… c’mon. If someone this upset over a mandatory training session, they must have a pretty sweet job the rest of the time, possibly better than any job I’ve ever had and you know what? That’s not fair. :P

                3. I'm a Little Teapot*

                  +1 million. Just because life isn’t fair doesn’t mean people shouldn’t try to make it fairer.

              2. Zillah*

                I don’t disagree with your overarching point, but I think that diminishing people’s issues on the grounds of them being “first world problems” veers into pretty iffy territory very quickly.

            2. Burlington*

              I totally agree with this, with the addition that if it’s a one-time thing (which it appears to be), then the arrangements can be a little extraordinary and still be reasonable. It wouldn’t be reasonable for an employer to expect you shell out big bucks for an overnight sitter all the time, but if they’re asking you to do it ONE time, it’s totally different. “This is what has to happen, this is the only way we could make it happen, I need you to do what you need to do this one time to attend.” And of course, if you absolutely can’t, then it’s calm non-defensive conversation time. But “this doesn’t fall into the normal course of my business” isn’t an adequate reason to refuse to go if it’s truly a one-time thing.

      2. majigail*

        Agreed, and I think the response is definitely going to depend on the kind of employee you’ve been up to that point. Have you been a great employee who catches on to things quickly (in this case, software?) Do I think you can miss this and be at the same place everyone else is in a month or so? OR are you the problem employee that is constantly having problems with the computer that really NEEDS to be at this training?
        I don’t think it’s unreasonable to ask for an exception, but exceptions are most likely given to the exceptional.

    2. Fucshia*

      I wonder if a remote meeting would work. They would need a camera at each end, screen sharing software to show the slides and program,1 monitor on the trainers’ side to show the remote students, and 2 monitors on the students’ side (1 to view the slides/program and 1 to view the instructor).

      1. jag*

        Doing that for more than a few hours is extremely draining. It’s possible, but hard. And to do it right, the trainer really has to structure the training properly, not just add the technology to her/his existing methods.

      2. OhNo*

        Seconding what jag said, virtual instruction can be really difficult, especially if your pre-planned lessons aren’t designed for a vietual environment.

        That said, doing a virtual meeting with additional training from coworkers when they get back might be a reasonable solution if someone absolutely cannot go to the training.

      3. Bonnie*

        That was my initial thought as well, but with software training this way can be difficult. If the software is new and takes three days of training, the students may not have the vocabulary to ask the right questions which can derail the training for everyone else.

    3. Katie the Fed*

      Super anon-

      I work in a place where people are expected to do shift work at times, travel, etc. I have had two employees who had these kinds of issues – one is a single mom, the other cares for an eldery parent with dementia.

      In both cases, they’ve let me know that while they’re willing to travel or work shift work, they’d 1) prefer not to if at all possible and 2) need several weeks’ notice to arrange care. I think both requests are reasonable – I tried to avoid i if possible but they were able to arrange care if necessary.

      To be frank – people who are the primary caregiver should have contingency plans in place for these kinds of situations. I understand that’s not an easy thing in all cases, but it’s necessary in case something happens to you or something like a work trip comes up. It’s not reasonable to expect that you’ll be immune from all work travel or work requirements because of your caregiving situation. (In the military, for example, deployable personnel are required to have family readiness plans – if you don’t have a caregiving solution then you’re probably not going to have a military career.)

        1. Former Diet Coke Addict*

          Yup. My husband is Cdn military and is regularly away for weeks or months at a time, along with his coworkers. Most people are willing to help with a little bit of flex–along the lines of “Crap, my husband is away and my regular overnight sitter is visiting her parents two provinces away and my mom is in the hospital and I have to travel for a night, can I drop off my kid for a sleepover there for one night?” is one thing. There’s very little flex for someone going “Can you watch my kids overnight? My husband is gone and I have no other plans and now I have to travel.”

          And what’s more, most people are far more willing to help if you’ve demonstrated a good faith effort to help yourself.

      1. Sadsack*

        You raise a very important point regarding having a contingency plan. Anything could happen to the caregiver, even if it isn’t an unplanned business trip. What if she gets sick or injured and is hospitalized? What then? I think that, as it has been suggested above, each employee needs to evaluate his or her own situation and have a private conversation with management if they truly cannot make appropriate accommodations.

      2. Colette*

        It’s also important to have those arrangements in case you’re hospitalized or otherwise unable to do it. A sudden work trip isn’t the only thing that can cause you to need alternate arrangements.

      1. KerryOwl*

        That’s what I was thinking! How could anyone hold down a full time job, whilst at the same time being the primary caregiver for someone who requires 24/7 care?

        1. Beezus*

          I agree it’s less likely, but it’s possible to have an alternate caregiver available during the day, who is absolutely not available for overnight care.

        2. CAA*

          It’s no different than having a child who requires 24/7 care. You use daycare. There are elder daycare facilities and hired caregivers who come in for 8 to 10 hours while you work elsewhere.

    4. Chief Detail Officer*

      “RE: #1, out of curiosity what would you all suggest if someone really couldn’t travel for the training due to extenuating circumstances? What if someone was the primary caregiver for their 2 elderly parents, of which one is disabled and needs someone with them 24/7 to make sure they are cared for. There is no one else who could take care of said grandparents, nor could they afford a live in care giver for those days, and they absolutely could not be left alone for 3 days and 2 nights.”

      My turn to be curious: how do you explain the person being able to go to work every day leaving behind the elderly parents? I’m assuming there would be arrangements already for day care, and the problem would only be to find help for the period outside normal work hours during those 2-3 days, correct?

      1. Chief Detail Officer*

        The reason I was asking is that my mother was in a very similar situation once, and easily solved the problem by asking the day caregiver if she knew another caregiver who could sleep in the house for two nights. Turns out the caregiver had a friend who was a nurse assistant in-between jobs and was glad to take the gig for a low fee. If that hadn’t worked, she’d have called a hospital nearby to see if one of the nurses there knew someone in the same situation.

        1. jag*

          This is a good point. Child/eldercare is expensive, and that’s worth everyone thinking about the costs.

          BUT it’s also possible to find backups if you have enough time to look and are wiling to ask around with people you trust.

      2. Helka*

        There are plenty of adult daycare services around, but like regular daycare, those have limited hours — they’re not 24/7 affairs.

      3. super anon*

        i wrote this thinking of my mother who is in this kind of situation. my grandparents don’t have a daytime live in caregiver because they straight up refuse to have a stranger come in their house to take care of them. my grandmother is disabled and needs 24/7, but during the time my mother is at work my grandfather is able to do the basic things needed to take care of her, but because of his own health it isn’t safe to leave them alone for 3 days attended. my mother has been able to work out a shift schedule at her job that allows her to be home during the day and working during the night when they’re less likely to be awake and active, but she admits that she does worry a lot while she’s gone about them because my grandfather is slowly slipping into dementia, and she isn’t sure how much longer she can stay away to go to work.

        i’ve always wondered what options my mother would have/what she could do if her job absolutely insisted that she had to leave for several days on travel, because they don’t really have the budget for hiring someone for days at a time (nor would my grandparents allow someone else in the house anyway), and i live on the opposite side of the country so i’m no help either.

  10. RG*

    OP #1, I realize that arranging child care or pet sitters could be difficult and/or expensive, but if this is such a problem for a “voluntary” trip, well, what happens if something bad happens? I mean, God forbid you get in a car accident, or stuck in a weather emergent, or anything like that, but do you not have a plan in case something like that happens? Is it basically impossible for any of the people involved in those plans to help now? I know that this is a bit of topic, but the fact that this would be such a hardship for a trip that’s in your control makes me wonder what would happen if you had to deal with something out of your control.

    1. Zillah*

      I’m not sure that’s quite fair – for something truly catastrophic like a car accident, I can see people having a lot more flexibility than they would otherwise. I mean, if nothing else, “I need to take off the next three days because my daughter two states away was in a horrific car accident” is going to be met with a lot of sympathy by any reasonable manager, where “I need to take off the next three days because my daughter has a work event” is far less likely to be.

    2. fposte*

      The fact is that a lot of people don’t have the luxury of that kind of backup, and that’s why when something catastrophic happens it can be quite catastrophic indeed. That doesn’t mean they’re planning badly any more than a minimum wage worker is planning badly if she can’t replace a dead car; it just means their resources only stretch so far.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Thank you. I have been in really tight situations where there is no back up. And what you do, in answer to RG is pray/keep a positive thought/ whatever it is that you do. I am not being snarky, you just realize that there is nothing left but prayer or hoping for the best or whatever equivalent. I have told myself things like “I don’t have the luxury to get sick or in an accident.” I think it makes me a little more careful about my choices. Obviously, getting sick/having an accident is not a choice and it happens. But all you can do is hope for the best.

        I still remember those times as vividly as if they were yesterday. I remember how knotted my stomach would get worrying over something else happening that would push me to the tipping point of losing my job on top of dealing with personal crisis.

        RG and everyone here, I hope you are never faced with these types of choices but sadly. most of us will encounter some very difficult choices at some point.

        Where I landed with all this, is that some things only come around once in life. For example- my father’s last illness and passing would only happen once in my life. If I missed it there would not be a second chance later. In the example here, if my employer chose to make me pick between my dad and my job. I would have chosen my dad. I would have left the company.
        Punchline- I think if someone is working for an employer that forces these types of choices then they need to move on anyway.

        1. OhNo*

          “And what you do, in answer to RG is pray/keep a positive thought/ whatever it is that you do. I am not being snarky, you just realize that there is nothing left but prayer or hoping for the best or whatever equivalent.”

          Basically, this. In the case of a serious emergency or some kind of catastrophic incident, the answer you come up with for child care/elder care/pet care is going to be a (hopefully) one-off emergency response to the situation. It’s perfectly reasonable to say, “Well, I was just in a car accident, so I guess Fido is going to be alone in the house for 24 hours just this once”, but it wouldn’t be reasonable to do that every time you need to go out of town for work.

          Someone might have emergency plans in place that are not suitable for a work trip or any other kind of long(er) term, non-emergency situation – so RG, the situations really aren’t comparable at all.

    3. HR Generalist*

      I’m hearing a lot of “I’m extremely important and don’t make any plans in case something happens” discussion. I’m a double-income-no-kids so maybe I’m just entitled, but we always have a plan for our pets in case either of us have something come up (partner works shift work and I’m on days Mon-Fri, so if I don’t make it home one night it could mean the pets are alone in the house for 12+ hours). On a normal day we do things like leaving extra food/water out. We have emergency contacts who have agreed they can take the pets if need be (and back ups for those contacts)…
      Again, maybe just my entitlement speaking as someone who has decided I’m not responsible enough for children, but I think there should be some sort of plan in place on a “just in case” basis.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Not entitled–it’s reasonable to do this if you have responsibilities, even if they’re small furry ones and not small diaper-wearing ones. Because anything can happen at any time.

        This reminds me; I need to text my pet sitter.

      2. neverjaunty*

        Yes, I think it is pretty clueless, if perhaps not entitled, to reading people as saying they’re above all that planning. Not having a perfect domino system of multiple fallbacks is not a failure to plan.

        1. I'm a Little Teapot*

          Exactly – what fposte said above applies in a lot of cases. A lot of people just don’t have the resources to have contingency plans for everything. If you don’t have family in the area, you can’t have family take care of your kids. If your job barely pays enough to cover your normal bills, you can’t pay for emergency childcare. That’s not bad planning (unless your job pays decently and your bills are for living beyond your means) – that’s just unavoidable.

    4. Rex*

      It’s totally reasonable (if not always possible) to prepare for all the likely contingencies, but I think since OP had never been asked to travel before, she considered this an unlikely contingency. And, look, you just can’t prepare for everything. You have to make your best guess of the things that are most likely to happen and prepare for those first.

    5. summercamper*

      OP, if this is your situation – you must go on this trip to save your job, and you have absolutely nowhere to turn for childcare – then help is available. Look into “Safe Families for Children.” It’s a national faith-based nonprofit that provides temporary care for children in difficult situations. Parents retain full custody and are not suspected of abuse or neglect (unlike foster care), but the host families receive the same rigorous screening, training, and oversight. If this is a situation where you are really desperate, this might be a solution that will allow you (or a colleague) to keep your job by attending the required training.

  11. Blue Anne*

    #4, I did find it useful once to let a recruiter know about a big company I had gotten an interview with off my own back, partly so that they’d know more about what I was looking for, and partly so they’d understand why I wasn’t as enthusiastic about the littler jobs they were pitching to me. (I eventually took the job with the big company and as a result the recruiter didn’t get any commission, oh well.)

    But when talking to the actual company interviewing me, I don’t think I’d have name-dropped in that way, just because it would have felt awkward to me.

    1. Chriama*

      I don’t think it’s necessary to name drop. Usually sharing information about other interviews is because you want to know where you stand with this job — i.e. they’re your first choice but you need to get back to the other company by x day so you’re wondering where they are in the decison-making process.

      1. Blue Anne*

        Oh, yes, I definitely agree with that. But as I understand it, the OP is asking specifically about giving the names of the other companies, rather than just confirming that there are other companies you’re talking to.

  12. Apollo Warbucks*

    #1 I’ve worked on software implementations and they are fraught with difficulties, take advantage of anything that will make your life easier, even if it’s a hassle now, you’ll be so glad that you did later.

    I understand that it’s an inconvenience but I don’t think there is much you can do other than make arrangements to go. Software implementations are very rare so it’s not likely going to come up again any time soon and training is very expense so in making the decision your company would have considered the most cost effective way of providing the training that you need to do your job.

    If it helps there are a few positives from going:

    * Buying in to changes will reflect well on you with your management / those involved in the implementation
    * The training you are being given will make you more efficient at your job
    * If you apply for another job with a company that uses the same software the training will be a point in your favour
    * You’ll be able to use it as a great example of dealing with change / adaptability in cover letters and interviews

    Not going will mean that you will have to rely more on your co-workers for their knowledge and training and that might end up causing a lot of frustration and annoyance. I’m the most laid back and patient person in the office, but when people refused to go to training sessions for the new software being released, then phoned me up to ask stupid questions and complain they didn’t understand how it worked (when a 30 min session in their local office would have answered the questions for them) I nearly blew a gasket.

    1. Anonimousse*

      But in your case it was only “a 30 min session in their local office”, and not “two overnight stays” like OP1 says. Mega-huge difference there, and WAAAAAY beyond an “inconvenience” as you call it…especially for those who took the job specifically because they were led to believe that they can just go STRAIGHT HOME RIGHT AFTER WORK (as in, their actual home or apartment or whatever, and not some hotel / motel)

      1. Apollo Warbucks*

        What I intended to say was the op might like to consider how not going might affect them in their job, and how their coworkers might be affected too. I mean to imply I thought a 30 min session is the same as a 2 night business trip.

        Inconvenience seemed like a good word to use to acknowledging that it is a distribution to the OPs normal routine and would require some extra work on their part to make going on the trip workable.

        The scale of the inconvenience could be minor or major we don’t know from the letter.

  13. AnonieGirl*

    OP#1 – I’m actually unclear if the situations described (children/pets) applies to you or you’re just commenting on your teammates situations. If it’s the latter and just boils down to you not wanting to go and not having any real obligations, you’re probably going to have to go or start looking for a new job.

    1. OhNo*

      Exactly. If the OP just doesn’t want to go, and so is using other people’s obligations to get everyone out of going, that’s just not going to fly. It would make sense to ask your boss about an accommodation for your specific situation, but using the “some of us have kids so none of us should go” line won’t go down well.

      Not to try and derail, but the letter honestly just sounds to me like the OP doesn’t want to learn this new system and change the way they do things. Which is fine, but that impression is something to be aware of if you do end up taking this to your boss, because it sounds like the system is going to change whether or not you’re on board, and whether or not you get trained. It’s probably going to end up being a big case of “suck it up and deal”, much as I hate to say that.

      1. Sadsack*

        I agree that OP should worry about OP’s situation, but I think reading into OP’s post that she doesn’t want to learn the new system is a bit of a stretch. I don’t see anything written here that indicates OP just doesn’t want to learn.

        1. OhNo*

          Eh, it’s just the impression I got from the letter. I’m not saying it’s true, just that it’s something to be aware of if they bring it up to their boss. It would really stink if they had a legitimate concern and the boss didn’t take it seriously because of the way in which it was presented.

    2. Katie the Fed*

      Yeah I was a little confused too. To be completely honest, I’m having a bit of trouble with the letter because it’s SO common for people to have to travel for work, and in my world people often travel to truly unpleasant, war-torn places that three days in, like, Sheboygan, just doesn’t sound like an extreme hardship, unless there are other factors at play.

      1. Cat*

        I am guessing everyone in your line of work knows that upfront though. I travel for work too, knew it up front, and it wasn’t an issue. But there are people in other positions at my office who haven’t traveled for work once in twenty years on the job. I don’t think it would be reasonable to expect them to have backup infrastructure in place just in case something extraordinary came up.

        I don’t think it’s unreasonable for the employer to ask here or even require it if it’s necessary. But I don’t think that means we should dismiss the hardship this could create to employees either. If you’re a single mom who is already paying $15-$20k a year in childhood, being asked to line up an overnight nanny when you’ve never anticipated that would be a job requirement really could feel like the straw that broke the camel’s back.

        Admittedly, pet sitting I’m less sympathetic about because I find that neighborhood children are happy to do this at reasonable prices on short notice.

      2. Rex*

        Well, sure, plenty of jobs require travel. You usually know that when you take a job. In this case, the OP says she has never traveled for work, so it’s possible she took the job with that understanding, and she feels like her employer is changing the terms. Not saying the employer can’t, just saying these are different circumstances than you’re describing.

        1. Katie the Fed*

          OK, you’re right that it’s a bad comparison. I guess I’m just having a hard time understanding being this upset over a single 2-night/3-day work trip.

        2. Anna*

          I think what’s important is something Alison has said many, many times in responses to writers. Your job can change at any time and it’s up to you to determine if that’s something you’re willing to accept. The underlying message to me is that there is no situation when you’re working where you should assume something that wasn’t previously part of your job will never be part of your job. So based on that, even though the OP started the position thinking there would be absolutely no travel, clearly that has changed to this one time thing. This one time training is vastly different than the employer suddenly saying that the job now includes twice monthly trips to X. If that were the case I can absolutely understand the upset; however, this is once. One single time. It doesn’t feel significant enough to warrant this kind of reaction.

      3. Chuchundra*

        A lot of people never travel for work and that’s not something they’d ever expect to do. I think it’s a bit odd that people don’t get this.

        I’ve been at my job for over 25 years and I’ve done overnight work travel exactly once and that was for a conference that I specifically asked to attend.

        1. jag*

          “A lot of people never travel for work and that’s not something they’d ever expect to do. I think it’s a bit odd that people don’t get this.”


        2. NE*

          Agreed. Even if the OP has to suck it up and attend this training, I find the annoyance completely understandable. Its’s not just taking care of family or pets. Some people have significant commitments outside of work– or maybe even second jobs.

          Corporate training is usually bad enough – to have to ruin an entire weekend for it would be too much.

      4. the gold digger*

        three days in, like, Sheboygan, just doesn’t sound like an extreme hardship,

        Except you know they are crazy in Sheboygan, right? Their drunk mayor? The town could be considered a combat zone.

        1. Katie the Fed*

          I did not know that! Sheboygan is always my go to of all-American midwest cities. Dang. I’ll have to find a new one. Quad Cities, Iowa?

          1. fposte*

            Ahem. Quad Cities are *four* towns, only two of which are in Iowa, thankyouverymuch.

            But individually they’d still work for you, so help yourself :-).

          2. the gold digger*

            Well, it’s a go-to all-American city as long as you don’t mind the mayor getting drunk and talking about how he would like to boink his sister in law, getting drunk and passing out, and getting drunk and groping a woman. All in public. Some of it caught on tape. :)

            1. Not So NewReader*

              I think about stuff like this and at some point, I grow more concerned about the people that elected the person, than the person the article is focused on.
              We have it here, too. We make nationwide headlines with ours. It’s concerning.

      1. AnonieGirl*

        Exactly. That’s why I said “no real obligations” meaning nothing pressing that the op absolutely must not be away from for a few days.

    3. Bonnie*

      I noticed this too. While it is possible that the manager may make an exception for the one team member who is a single mom and can’t get overnight childcare coverage, I don’t think that is going to get the OP or the rest of the team out of this trip.

  14. Swedish Tekanna*

    OP#4 This is one of those interview questions I really dislike because I find myself wondering what is behind the interviewer’s question and trying to frame my answer accordingly. I read an article on this a while back (which I can’t find now) where they asked various interviewers what was behind various common questions and – surprise, surprise – the answers were all different. So I don’t know whether they will think I am unfocussed, not as committed to their own job opening as I have been presenting myself, in demand, will be indiscreet about them, etc. Last year at an interview I answered that I had been in touch with a couple of other places in the same industry (true). The interviewer then asked how many interviews I had had recently altogether and then asked me which companies. I replied that as an EA I liked to respect confidences but they had all been in the same city (London). The interviewer scowled and wrapped the interview up shortly after. I agree with Alison that specific company names are not really the employer’s business.

    1. Apollo Warbucks*

      I’ve always thought I’m being asked that either because the recruiter wants to know who else is hiring so they can try and sell their services to them, or firms want to know if I might be about to get another offer that might take me off the market or to see if I’m in a desirable candidate to other firms (as a way of validating their own judgement, if they like me it might be reassuring to know other firms are seriously considering me for job too)

      1. Lily in NYC*

        Yup, this happened to me when I was young and naive enough to answer this question from a headhunter. Now I just say that I’ve been asked to keep it confidential and mention that I will give them the same courtesy. I should mention that I’ve never, ever received a question like this from an in-house recruiter or hiring manager – only from external headhunters.

    2. Jen*

      From a hiring-manager side, I ask this question to candidates I really like, mostly so I know my chances of landing them, or whether we need to ramp up our pipeline. I don’t generally ask about which companies (because we don’t have too many “dream job” employers in my area, so I don’t really care) but I will ask about position, maybe location (if our location is better/worse for them), and timelines for other applications in process (in case I need to speed things up if I can) in an effort to gauge how hard it’s going to be to win a particular candidate. Generally it’s not about the candidate as much as it is the impact on my hiring process.

      1. Iro*

        This is how I always took it when the HM asked me this as well. They must really like me and want to gauge their timeline/chances of landing me.

        I’ve always been asked “Who else are you interviewing with?” though so I usually name job, and then take a moment to explain why I the company I’m currently applying with is my first choice.

    3. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

      #4 – when asked, I would state = “Well, I think they want to keep that confidential, just as I respect YOUR confidentialty in my application here.”

      That suffices.

    4. I'm a Little Teapot*

      I get this question a lot from temp agencies – they all want to know which other agencies I’m currently registered with. I get the sense it’s their way of keeping an eye on their competition.

  15. Henrietta Gondorf*

    I could certainly be wrong, but I am concerned that OP 1’s situation seems exacerbated by the employees collectively complaining about this situation. I get venting, but you have to be careful with that stuff. You don’t want it to be a situation where the venting becomes whining becomes toxic and hard to do a decent job because of resentment.

    1. Cordelia Naismith*

      +1 — This is exactly the vibe I got, too. Venting to co-workers is fine, normal, and a time-honored tradition, but you have to watch out to make sure that venting doesn’t turn into a self-perpetuating spiral of negativity.

      1. fposte*

        Right. For all the discussion that some people really don’t have the resources to make this work, this resistance seems to be more about surprise and displeasure than inability. Hopefully if that’s the case AAM’s answer will help them settle down and shrug it off.

        1. Boo*

          I’m also wondering if OP’s coworkers are hoping they will be able to push her to complain to management on behalf of everyone. Be very careful of this, OP. I fell into this trap once, and of course when I stuck my neck out, none of my coworkers backed me up…

  16. Nobody*

    #5 – When I first graduated from college and therefore had limited experience in my chosen field, the career counselor at my school advised me to add a section to my resume with a heading of “Projects.” I put a short description of two to four projects I did for classes that were relevant to each job for which I was applying. I’m no resume expert, so maybe this was a stupid idea, but that could be a way for you to include your grant-writing project on your resume.

    1. Turanga Leela*

      Yeah, I used to have a bullet point under my college degree that said “Coursework included” and listed some major areas of study. I think that sort of thing can be fine before you have a lot of professional experience, and I wouldn’t be alarmed to see grant-writing listed in that context (although I wouldn’t write that the mock grants were “fundable”).

      Do other people think this looks hopelessly naive or unprofessional?

      1. Cordelia Naismith*

        I agree with this. I think, if you’re applying to your first job out of college, there isn’t really a better way of letting a potential employer know what skills you have. I’d be okay with it in that context, as long as the resume writer doesn’t make a bigger deal out of it than it really is (an “A” on a grant-writing school project does not necessarily translate to funding IRL).

        As soon as you have that first job, you should take the coursework stuff off your resume, though. You should be able to illustrate your skills through actual work accomplishments at that point.

      2. Rebecca*

        I put some large research projects I had done in the education section of my resume after I graduated with my Masters. I did not have a ton of real work experience, so I framed these in project management language. I actually had one interviewer tell me that one of the projects in my resume was why I got the interview, because they were looking to do a similar project in the job. I think as long as you are representing it correctly and it doesn’t represent the bulk of your resume, adding a few things from school is ok for people just entering the workforce or switching career paths.

      3. Too many years grant writing*

        Hopelessly naïve.

        In real speak, a grant being “fundable” honestly just means that the applicant has a basic capacity to follow written directions. It is true that being able to tease out appropriate objectives, goals, outputs, impact, etc. isn’t always obvious at first glance – but that’s true with all technical writing. But actually getting a grant funded is often a far more mixed bag of work than just completing a good application. I’ve been awarded huge grants where on later reading of the application noticed definite grammar mistakes and put forth a “fake” project because it was for a donor that really wanted to fund us but just needed the paperwork. And I’ve not gotten grants where “perfect” applications were submitted due to a wide range of other issues and/or the level of competition.

        That being said, lots of these job hunting processes may want to see writing samples. And that’s the perfect time to have a fake grant. If anything, at this point I would perhaps take the time to edit any of those grants and work on trimming it to a 4 and/or 2 page length depending on how long it is. Very few employers will want to see a longer writing sample, but having one ready to go is helpful.

        1. fposte*

          See, and on the library side (the “L” in IMLS) I don’t think it does look hopelessly naive, because people don’t tend to come out with a lot of grant experience and even the course project can be a real plus; there are also often other relevant projects and practica that will end up on the resume as well, so it’s not like it’ll be the lone thing that’s not work experience.

          Sure, it’s not remotely the same as getting funded, but it does indicate somebody’s been able to negotiate the website and the requirements, and that’s an advantage. It’s kind of like the way having submitted but failed still puts you in a better position next round.

          1. fposte*

            Actually, let me retool because the thread digressed a little: just adding a “Projects” section shouldn’t be done for the hell of it, because a lot of course projects aren’t worth listing. But especially in a professional program there may well be projects that would be, and that could be a way to do it.

            1. jag*

              This is an important point. So many people who are involved in hiring in general dismiss listing coursework as “naive” and “not relevant” but class projects done in professional degree programs that re intentionally designed to be similar to work experience are often worth listing. They might not be as strong as real paid work, but they’re far more important than a general history class or whatever.

              I did a project for an MLS where were doing pro-bono work for a client, meeting with them, etc. I think that’s worth a mention if the project is related to the job I’d be applying for.

          2. Too many years grant writing*

            My hopelessly naïve comment was in regards to the project being fundable – not the project itself. I think that listing it as a project and/or using it as a writing sample is great. But the problem with the “fundable” evaluation is that it’s being made by a professor – not the grant awarding agency.

            I don’t think listing the class is a problem. That kind of course work did help me get hired – but I stand by my evaluation of that mentioning that a professor and not a grant awarding entity acknowledged the grant as “fundable” is….naïve.

            1. lindsay*

              Word. I’ve written IMLS grants before that ranked high in the peer reviews but weren’t funded because of the number of projects vs. budget.

              That said, having a basic understanding of grant writing is important, especially at small museums where everyone is doing everything. Using a grant as a writing sample or bringing it up in the interview is a bonus, even if you’re not applying for a development job. As a development officer who worked in a museum, I really liked working with program staff that knew what I was looking for re: content when I was writing a grant for their program.

              1. fposte*

                And in my experience on the library side, there’s still a lot of people who learn grant-writing by doing. Somebody who’s worked through the IMLS specs to create a pretend proposal may not be a rainmaker, but they’re a few days ahead of somebody who’s never even seen the web pages or familiarized themselves with the categories–and sometimes those few days can be pretty valuable.

        2. Cath in Canada*

          I have to agree – in my world, at least two-thirds of the grants submitted to a given competition receive a “fundable” score (where “fundable” means “coherent, and containing all the sections we requested”), but only about 10% actually get funded.

      4. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

        Nah…I have a graduate degree that might not sound relevant to my field on the surface, but it’s the most relevant degree that exists. The coursework I did was highly relevant….i chose the courses directly linked to the job i was preparing for. I use one line on my resume to list these courses. Other people with the same masters could have done different courses not relevant to my specific field, but relevant to theirs. So I think it’s worth pointing out.

      5. VC*

        Sometimes it’s the only option! I work as an employment counselor for immigrants, and in many non-western cultures it is the norm for new university graduates to have zero work experience. Not part-time, not under the table babysitting, not during the summer holiday, often not even internships. Culturally, it is expected and normal for young people to be dependent on family and focus solely on finishing the degree. In these cases, identifying some relevant final year projects, along with the soft and technical skills used in completing them, is the only thing to put on the resume.

      6. Not a rocket scientist*

        It’s something I like to see on resumes for people who are fresh out of college. The way they write about their projects, especially group projects, is sometimes informative, but often it just gives me a jumping off point for the interview. “Walk me through how you made the Whizz-Bang Widget for CS 101.” “How did you and your teammates decide to divvy up roles?” “How did you handle conflict within your team?” and so on and so forth. After they’ve had a full-time job or two though I start to wonder why they didn’t do anything noteworthy enough to take up that space on the job.

      7. I'm a Little Teapot*

        I’m years out of school, and I’ll still have “coursework included” bullet points under my degrees if they’re relevant to the specific job I’m applying for.

    2. Artemesia*

      For new graduates I think this is both legitimate and a good idea. Some programs involve doing things like writing grants, developing various kinds of work products, developing materials for clients etc etc. A student who had done this sort of thing has a much higher level of workplace ready skill than someone who has just written papers and taken tests. I think it belong in the cover letter e.g. a bit about the hands on nature of the program and experiences that are work relevant and also belongs as a section on the resume less about what courses were taken than what kinds of projects were done that might prepare one for the work. I had some students create a program evaluation for a client — they did the interviews as to expected outcomes and designed the instruments to gather data etc etc. This is real work and much more impressive preparation for similar work in the real world than taking a course ‘on evaluation’ The student who created grand applications though simulated as mastered some beginner skills that most people don’t have in this area on graduation. Obviously down the road, the course stuff comes off the resume, but it might still creep into the cover letter if say a new job involved program evaluation or grand writing and you had done them as part of classes although not in your previous job.

  17. Macedon*

    #1. I think this is where differences between industries tell, because my immediate reaction was a moment of silent awe that there are jobs out there that don’t involve an element of semi-regular business travel. That said, while I understand this might be a new and unplanned inconvenience in your schedule, I think you should make sure when bringing up your concerns to a supervisor that you don’t come off as slightly entitled: travel, training, off-the-clock networking and team-building events are an increasingly frequent part of professional life, and for you to decline participation in terms quite as vehement as the ones in your letter might suggest to an employer that you’re not exactly as willing to ‘take one for the team’ as is everyone else.

    #5. I think that while you can put down any additional academic work and courses you’ve undertaken that have yielded real-world results (certificates, qualifications, actual grants), standard MA training that is integral to your degree wouldn’t need to make it on your CV. Your ability to write efficient grant proposals seems to be expected of a graduate from your programme, so it’d be superfluous to reassure employers of it.

    1. Mike C.*

      More of a philosophical question but if so much, as you put it, “travel, training, off-the-clock networking and team-building events” are becoming the norm, isn’t it the employer who is acting entitled, not the employee for questioning the issue in the first place?

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Right on, Mike C. I could not agree with you more. Then employers wonder why health care costs are so high as their employees are never rested/always worried/etc. A little self-examination would not hurt these types of employers.

      2. Macedon*

        I agree with you in theory – I don’t especially endorse these tacit requirements, but I acknowledge them as something we tend to sign up for, the moment we take a gig. It’s why you should always make sure that your salary reflects this ’employer entitlement’ (over your time and personal resources).

      3. I'm a Little Teapot*

        In my experience, “entitlement” is a word used only to dismiss the wishes (and often needs) of less powerful people, and it’s almost never used to describe the powerful who are truly used to getting anything they want. Job seekers can be “entitled,” but somehow executives and company owners rarely are. Young people struggling to find work or working in low-level jobs are “entitled,” but wealthy retirees and Boomers who’ve worked the same job for 25 years and have gold-plated benefits and fat paychecks aren’t, even when those wealthy retirees and secure complacent Boomers are screaming at the low-paid retail worker and threatening to get her fired because she’s not allowed to refund their widget without a receipt or something.

        Which is why it’s a word I’m really, really sick of.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          FWIW, I was that boomer that was screamed at by my previous generation. I am saddened to see that boomers did not learn from that.

  18. BRR*

    #1 I think of it differently. When you make a choice to have children or pets there is a checklist of things that come along with it. Finding someone to care for them when you’re gone is one of them. I say this as someone who makes an ok but not great salary in a very high COL area. Boarding my dog for 3 days would be around $200.

    #3 I would also try to focus attention on the soon to be mom. “It’s a long story, today is really about Jane so let’s all celebrate with her.”

    #5 I would just be careful not to apply for any positions where they want grant writing experience. My classmate in my arts administration program wanted to work at a big museum and there was a mid-level grant writing position asking for 4-5 years of grant writing experience. She wanted to say her class in grant writing qualified her with her other work history. She knew it was a stretch and ultimately skipped applying though.

    1. HR Generalist*

      Ehhh, I’d take advice for #5 with a grain of salt. We often publish job ads that ask for certain years of experience or skill. If the talent pool ends up that nobody meets that bar, we lower it and take the next best people. I can definitely say we’ve asked for years of experience, not met it, and taken education/coursework as an “equivalent” so from the HR standpoint you should apply to any job that you want.

      I’m often telling people to expand on their education in their resume. Having a degree in something is not just a piece of paper, you learned real skills and took relevant courses. Even a “relevant coursework” section is helpful to show recruiters that you’re not just a piece of paper, you’re a skilled employee who paid for your own training.

      1. BRR*

        Maybe it’s just that I knew what they wanted and they definitely really any grant writing experience and I don’t think a class counts. It might work at a smaller nonprofit where people wear many hats but this was a large museum.

      2. Burlington*

        Education and skills are totally different! If you’re spending more than like 2 lines on your resume on Education, it’s probably too much (exception being if you’re an absolutely new grad).

        In the example BBR gave, the org wanted 4-5 years of grantwriting experience. The interested applicant had zero years experience, but was starting with a baseline knowledge that many don’t have. That’s a reasonable substitute for perhaps one year of experience. I’m all for just removing years of experience qualifications because they’re not really predictive of success and they screen out a lot of potential diversity on your staff, but that particular example is a huge stretch.

        1. HR Generalist*

          Agreed, but education can develop skills. In college we had a proposal-writing class where we drafted real proposals with researched data and numbers (i.e. the document could have been taken to a funding body and presented, in the same way, for a ‘real world’ application). Not all courses are relevant but there are definitely some that develop real skills – a course on Microsoft Excel is another example.

          As the individual who took a writing course, I would probably put a line in my education section stating that I had taken a post-secondary grant writing course and completed two proposals, or whatever you call them (I’m not familiar with this at all). In my organization if we had no one to meet the 4-5 years grant writing experience we would keep lowering the bar and there’s a definite chance this candidate would get an interview. We often do year-for-year education to experience equivalencies. So we might be looking for 4 years experience in HR, but a 4-year HR degree would be considered an equivalent. Maybe we’re a little on the ‘progressive’ end, we hire lots of young educated people, but we’re also in a fairly remote area where it is hard to find experienced employees.

    2. fposte*

      I agree that it doesn’t substitute for requested grant-writing experience; another problem is that it’s very focused on a specific funder, and while IMLS is lovely (I’ve gotten a grant from them) their terms change and update frequently. On the other hand, it’s a good familiarity to have, and I do think it’s likely worth mentioning in the cover letter or interview as something you’ve done for positions where the experience isn’t a pre-req; that does put you a little ahead on the learning curve compared to somebody who’s never explored the process. I wouldn’t mention that the professor said they were fundable, though, because it doesn’t really matter– the point is the experience.

      1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

        Yeah, writing two grants, IMO, isn’t grant-writing experience – it’s an introduction to grant-writing. Grant writing has become such a specific and technical skill set. For one, you have to be ready to adapt to applications that range from the federal government to small family foundations. The ability to adapt is such a huge part of gaining experience as a grant writer. Also, you gain speed with professional experience. Writing grants gets much harder when you have 20 due in 5 weeks. Someone with experience and a bank of “boiler plate” paragraphs could probably do this. And, having taken a grant-writing class myself, grants for class are usually pretend. When you can literally make up information that will suit the funder and fit well with the request for proposals, it’s a much easier endeavor than having to work with real-world constraints.

        On a slightly separate but related topic, I find that college professors’ standards don’t often match employer standards. They are comparing students to other students, not to people with professional experience.

        1. BRR*

          I think of two fundraising classes I took. Neither had actually done any fundraising experience in over a decade. I learned more about fundraising from my 5 month internship (at 12 hours a week) in a development department than two professors who had just been reading about fundraising.

          1. jag*

            The quality of experience in a class can depend greatly on the professor. I had a professor who was involved in both writing and evaluating grant applications in my field for big donors. That was great stuff.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          The class project requirements in my last attempt at school were actually pretty good–we had to find real-world stuff to work on for real, actual clients (not for pay). When finished, this would give us actual work to put in our portfolios.

  19. Knitting Cat Lady*


    It can be more cost effective for the company to pay for travel and accommodations for five people than to hold the training twice. It’s very very likely that this is the case.

    And being disgruntled about this whole thing strikes me as a bit of an over reaction. They’re not doing this at you.

    How many employees are in the other location? More than five?

    You have to learn how to use this new software if you want to continue employment at your current place.

    As for care of small children: Are the children in some kind of daycare or at school already? My parents babysat plenty of my friends from school and kindergarten when their parents had to leave town for a few days and couldn’t take the kids with them. I stayed with other kids from school a few times as well. I even had the neighbours upstairs look after me for a couple days a few times.

    And pets: Cats are easy. Give the key to your house to someone you trust not to take off with your TV, tell them what to feed them and done.
    Dogs are a bit more complicated, but I bet there’s plenty of teens around who’d look after a dog for a few days for a bit of pocket money.

    1. Katie the Fed*

      And you can usually board dogs at the vet’s office (and get whatever vet services need to be done while they’re staying there). I can’t trust most people to handle my dog, so she gets boarded for $30 a night.

      1. Persephone Mulberry*

        This is our go-to when we do the occasional weekend away. Neither of them has died yet (I’m kind of surprised the one hasn’t managed to overeat himself to death, actually. It’s good to know he does, in fact, have a “stop eating” button in his brain).

      2. Azalea*

        My parents have done this on many occasions with their quite spoiled cats. They do fine, but you have to be careful of the “revenge puke” they will leave behind. Hell hath no fury like a pissed off cat.

      3. Helka*

        If they’re healthy cats, yeah. A lot of health conditions make that unfeasible — and crank up boarding costs/reduce boarding possibilities, too.

      4. JB*

        Yeah, although it depends on the cat. I have a friend who does this. I volunteer to check on her cats while she’s gone because in my many years of cat experience, I’ve run into quite a few cats who get lonely or stressed by being left alone that long, and quite a few of them eat all their food the first day, or knock over their water bowl, etc. I’ve mentioned to my friend that her cat does this, but she still won’t hire a pet sitter. If I didn’t volunteer to check on her cat, he’d be without food for the second half of her trip.

        So, yeah, you can do this if you have to, but not for every cat.

    2. Kerry (Like The County In Ireland)*

      I have a diabetic cat who gets insulin shots twice a day, which can unnerve people but it’s easy to teach and most experienced pet sitters have experience with giving shots. And he’s a good boy who is very easy-going, thankfully.

    3. blackcat*

      When I was teaching, I once got a panicked call from a single parent whose parent was suddenly extremely ill. She wanted to see if, in case she couldn’t get ahold of her kids’ dad, I would be willing to care for them for a weekend in a pinch. She had the economic privilege to offer to pay me well, but even if she hadn’t, I might have been able to either help or find someone who could (ie, my then unemployed cousin who nannies when she’s between jobs). She did end up getting her ex to take them after one afternoon of my babysitting. (And I would have been WAY less helpful if they were very young kids. I can handle a 15, 12, and 9 year old. A 7, 4 and 1 year old wouldn’t have been possible for 22 year old me to wrangle for days unless I had a prior relationship with each of the kids).

      Schools can provide a good back up network, but I can see parents being unwilling to put their kids in the care of someone they don’t know well. This parent called me because she knew me and as a part of my job, I had gone through the whole background check thing. But most teachers, even childless ones like me, have too much work to do to dedicate a few evenings to caring for small children.

  20. Alis*

    Well, who watches the child when you work? Or the pets? I have a dog. I also have two small children (under 5) and one of them has autism.

    There is one thing I know about a special needs parent – if your child is so disabled that you cannot leave them two nights (and some are), then you aren’t a career parent who can hold down a job. Realistically, you have daytime care, respite, and a solid link of SN moms/sitters just in-case. Similar instances for typical children. This is assuming, of course, you have no spouse or ex to take over.

    As for pets, boarding or sitter or neighbor.

    It sounds a lot worse than it is. I remember when my H left for his first week (work), we were nervous, but it was fine. Kids survive too. Yes, more fruit loops and a dirtier house, but they would be fine.

    I find nearly always, it is person’s anxiety that is the problem, rather than the actual kids. Or pets.

    The only thing I would add, for those who must make exceptional arrangements, is to give them plenty of time to prepare.

    I have also brought my kids and used drop-in daycare near the hotel, or hired a sitter in-hotel.

  21. Closing doors opens eye to the fatal gift of a well-timed lie*

    #1: if there are five people from your site traveling to the training – that’s actually not so many that if anyone has a special case situation, they could go to management and ask to talk it over.

    I can’t tell from your letter if only you are unhappy, or if several of you are unhappy about this.

    While admittedly setting up arrangements for kids or pets or othe dependants can be a hassle – is there any chance you can re-evaluate this trip in your mind as a pleasant break from the same old day-in day-out of the job? You get three days of dining out for free, possibly some alone-time in the evening and the morning. And a three hour journey each way? I’m guessing by car? So much nicer than 8+ hours spent flying and waiting at the airport that most business trips call for.

    Helpful hint: will you have your own room at the remote location? See if you can pre-arrange a king-sized bed. It’s on my “profile” for every hotel I stay at when I travel (~5 weeks per year). Few things are as luxurious as lounging on a king-size bed, watching HBO or reading a book.

    1. NotMyRealName*

      Yes, this is what I prefer. A second bed is useless to me! Also, rooms with one king bed generally have a small loveseat which really makes the room more comfortable to me.

  22. Not So NewReader*

    OP#1. The times that I have seen this strong a reaction to travel for work is because there were a bizillion other problems with the job and the travel issue was the icing on the cake. I do get it. I have seen these strong reactions to travel. It came with people who were burned out beyond belief.

    This may or may not apply to you, but I am just going to throw it out there: If you have a nasty workplace with a lot of problems, start breaking the problems down into manageable bits and chip away at some of the issues. But people should not refuse to travel because of unrelated problems X, Y and Z. Those problems should be dealt with head-on and dealt with separately. Upper management will never figure out that you do not want to travel because you have a toxic boss and a lousy work environment (or whatever is going on). That will never correlate in their minds.

    In places, where I have seen refusals to travel, all the problems went into one pot- like a stew or a soup pot– and the problems all cooked together in one massive mess.

    Yes, reactions were very strong. I have seen people threaten to walk off the job. Typically, the reasons given are obligations at home. But the real reason is total exhaustion. Working hard, possibly long hours and no energy left to make the trip. Or the exhaustion could be from the sheer toxicity of the workplace, where an 8 hour day takes everything a person has.

    If this resonates with you, my suggestion is take the training with the idea that it could be a resume builder. It puts you one step closer to that next job. I personally hate-hate traveling for work. But I partner up with someone (where ever possible) and go.

  23. David*

    #1: Someone up above commented on how struck they were by the fact that there are jobs that don’t involve some semi-regular travel. Well, let me be the flip-side of that.

    I work in an industry where the vast majority of the people in my relatively large company have zip/zero/zilch reason to EVER travel for their jobs. We’d actually have to go out of our way to find a reason to get these folks out of the office, much less out of town. So if you’ve worked in a job like that and it’s suddenly sprung on you that you have to travel for work, that can be a tremendous shock. Travel has never been a part of their jobs because there’s never been a practical need for it, so they’ve never had to concern themselves with the contingency plans of having to travel for work. If they ever do travel for personal reasons, they’re probably bringing their kids/pets along with them. And some of them just never travel because they don’t like straying far from home.

    Everyone’s work situation is different, and there are jobs where travel has NEVER been a factor, so when the prospect arises it can be very uncharted territory for these folks.

    1. Persephone Mulberry*

      Yes, but. If something did come up, would their reaction be “crap, how am I going to make this work?” or “It’s not FAIR, you can’t DO this to us!” -? I think most people’s reactions would be closer to the first than the second.

      My husband works retail. As in selling stuff in a store, in a mall. There aren’t many jobs where work-related travel would be less anticipated than that. And a couple years ago, even HE got called on to travel – they needed coverage at a branch of his store four hours away, and his store was in the best position, staff-wise, to limp along short staffed, so off hubby went, for two different weekends. It was short notice, it was inconvenient, but we made it work (and it made a *really good* impression on his regional managers).

      1. David*

        I’m not speaking to the OP’s response of “it’s not fair”…I think that’s inappropriate no matter what the issue is. Life isn’t fair.

        I’m speaking to the overwhelming number of comments that seem to be unfamiliar with the fact that there simply are jobs out there where travel was never part of it. There are. It’s a reality. And asking those people to travel can be quite startling to them.

        1. fposte*

          And to be truthful, I might well go first to the “it’s not fair, you can’t do this to me” place initially. I’d probably work through it, but I can understand that as a kneejerk “Oh, are you kidding me?” reaction.

        2. Laurel Gray*

          David, I totally get the point of your original comment. I can even think of specific friends and family members who have zero need to travel in their work and would be surprised/confused/worried etc if they were told they had to – even ones who didn’t have kids, pets or elder parents to look after.

        3. esra*

          Eh… I work a job that will pretty much never involve travel and I don’t think I’d be startled. A bit surprised maybe, but not shocked or startled to the point I couldn’t deal with it.

    2. The IT Manager*

      I agree on your read of the situation. The LW is in a job where travel is completely unexpected and quite possibly low wage (which makes arrangements much harder), but …

      Yes. It can really be more cost effective to have 5 people travel for training at another site than to pay for training for those 5 people at their site. Training can be super expensive and travel can be surprisingly inexpensive for businesses.

      This requirement seems fair and reasonable to many, many people – people like your bosses most likely. Honestly most people will see little to no “hardship” in this. Child-care especially for single parents is an issue that the bosses should understand, but I would avoid bringing up pets as an issue. Pets can be left alone with someone stopping by once or twice a day to check on them, left with friends, or boarded.

      I really cannot tell if you have any of the issue you mentioned or if you’re is bringing up issues for the other 5 people or if you’re throwing out hypotheticals because you just do not want to go. If you actually do have a hardship, consider bringing it up to your bosses, but only if it is a true hardship.

    3. Elizabeth West*

      Yes it can, but this is one time. They’re not changing the job description to include travel–they’re requiring training on a system that the employees will then use at their location. It’s not something I would consider hugely egregious. And it’s not arbitrary; they need the employees to have this training so they can do their jobs.

    4. Laurel Gray*

      Also wanted to make the point about reimbursement of expenses. Some people have credit issues and never had to mix their finances with their work because they do not travel or have any other expenses. So even if the company provides them with a hotel room, what about the credit card to hold the room? What about the cash up front they will pay to be reimbursed later? I think there are other issues to look at to understand where the outcry could be coming from, even if exaggerated.

      1. Judy*

        In my experience, even if the company reimburses afterwards, the hotel rooms are reserved by a company card, and paid directly by the company, along with airline and rental car. It’s only the meals that get paid later.

        But I’ve only worked at one company that didn’t have travel cards for nearly everyone and we just filled out the expense report and the bill was paid.

        1. JB*

          In my experience, that’s not always been the case. Even the job I have now requires me to do all that myself and get reimbursed later.

        2. Laurel Gray*

          Many companies pay for the room in advance but the hotel still requires a credit card which may put an authorization hold of a couple of hundred dollars on it at check in.

  24. Juli G.*

    OP 1, before making any complaints I would look at the overall work/life balance. Does your company let people work from home with sick kids? Does your manager let you take a long lunch on the day of your child’s school Valentine’s Day party? Do they understand you can’t have a meeting past 5:45 because Rex’s doggie daycare closes at 6:30?

    My employer lets all those things go so if they asked me to make an overnight work, it would be hard (10 week old at home) but I would do it because they flex for me all the time.

  25. Not So NewReader*

    OP#2. If I worked with you and you told me this about yourself, I would not be clear on what it is that I need to avoid. I do not tend to think of rallies and strikes as politics, this could be just me. I tend to think of those things more as controversy. But to me politics is Democrat vs Republician vs Whatever Other Party.

    I hope I do not sound like I am picking at words here, but I truly would not know what you were telling me, if we were talking. I would think that if I avoided talking about the elections, I was helping you. I think that developing more examples of things that are triggers are the best way of conveying what is upsetting.

    I have been watching the use of the word politics around me here and it seems to be a catch all word for almost any situation where people are at odds. The sad thing is that the words “politics” or “political” have some how become equivalent to saying “hopelessly unsolvable”.
    “Oh it’s all political!” = “Oh, it’s all hopelessly unsolvable!” I think the word politics has lost its meaning.

    As you go along, please come up with more examples so that people can more accurately answer you.

    1. Jessie*

      That’s a really good point. Every workplace has “workplace politics”. So I think it would be important to mention that it specifically relates to “government issues” and not everyday, power conflicts in the workplace.

    2. Michele*

      I was wondering the same thing. How sensitive is the person? Will they have a panic attack on election day when people wear their “I voted” stickers?

    3. soitgoes*

      I had a similar thought. I work in an industry that isn’t inherently political, but we deal with government agencies behind the scenes all the time. And last fall my boss ran for mayor, so the local elections dominated our small talk for months. And we all watch and talk about Game of Thrones, which is chock-full of fictional politics. Basically, people will talk about what they want to talk about, and discussing world news in a calm manner is generally considered a good thing for intelligent, informed adults to do. If there’s a workplace violation that discriminates against a protected group, things are going to get political. What if someone talks about watching The West Wing on Netflix?

      I hope the OP’s therapist/doctor/etc. is fully preparing him for how to deal with stuff like this, because it’s not a matter of avoiding jobs in government or whatever. Requesting to limit all conversations to the Real Housewives is bound to result in a whole new stack of emails to AAM.

      1. De Minimis*

        Federal government could be a fit, depending…..although the rules regarding political expression are looser than a lot of people realize, it seems like a lot of the places I’ve worked people err on the side of not talking about politics at all.

        1. soitgoes*

          It really depends on what the OP’s specific triggers are. If the job is for an agency that manages things that become political talking points (welfare, for example), then that person could never answer the phone at work or, outside of work, talk about what he does for a living.

      2. qkate*

        I think “Requesting to limit all conversations to the Real Housewives is bound to result in a whole new stack of emails to AAM.” is a little extreme, no? Do you really only have two topics of conversation available? Politics or Real Housewives?

        I specifically abstain from talking about politics at work for reasons of common sense. As a manager, it’s really not my place to jump into political discussions–I could make someone feel uncomfortable, or worse, like I view them differently because our world views happen to differ.

        In short, there are plenty of things to talk about besides politics and Real Housewives–I find such things every day.

      3. I'm a Little Teapot*

        Yeah, I seriously wonder how OP2 could work in most environments. I’ve had phobias myself, so I understand where OP2 is coming from (even if I find this particular one mystifying) but…there are some things you really just can’t completely avoid.

        I find it helpful to have a prescription for Ativan and a bottle of medication in my purse. I almost never use it, but it’s really helpful to me to know that *if* I had a panic attack there’s something to help me deal with it. Part of my anxiety is fear of fear itself, and knowing I have something that can help me calm down often helps me not panic in the first place.

  26. Jessie*

    OP #2: I had a friend once who had panic attacks for something unrelated (particular music), but similar in that it’s not something most people would associate with any sort of panic disorder. So, knowing my friend, I can look at your situation without judgement.

    However, I’ll be honest: my initial reaction to hearing about something like that is “what else is going to come up?” Because my initial, unfiltered thought will that this person will have more issues than just panic attacks surrounding a very specific thing.

    So, unfortunately, that’s probably what you’d be looking at if you disclosed the issue. Someone might think “sure, we don’t talk about politics around here, but I bet she’ll cause issues in other ways”. It’s not a fair judgement, but I think it’s very likely to happen.

    In my opinion, your best bet would be to try to find a job where dealing with politics is unlikely and bring it up when you feel comfortable with the people you’re working with and they already know you’re someone they can work with. Someone mentioned trying to find something with restaurants or other small businesses. I think that’s a great idea.

      1. Anonymous for PTSD*

        Because the employee is good at the actual job? And virtually anybody “could freak out” – people like LW (and me before recovery) just have (had) a specific sensitivity, a term for it, and some kind of treatment plan for it.

        1. Artemesia*

          But this OP expects to be released from work for months at a time if a project has any political associations. If I hire someone to do a job, then I need a person who can do the job. I don’t think it is a reasonable accommodation to have to find someone else to do that job for months at a time because this person can’t handle rather ordinary information. This strikes me as a severe disability that would be very difficult to accommodate most places.

          1. UKAnon*

            Actually, I read it more as that that’s all she could do to manage her condition, but she knows that she can’t expect that and so wants to make sure that the situation never arises precisely because that isn’t a reasonable accommodation.

            1. NoPantsFridays*

              That’s how I read it too. That she would try to find jobs/fields where she would not face such projects, or ask to be placed on other projects, specifically because she knows that’s not a reasonable request to make of an employer.

          2. Anonymous for PTSD*

            That’s all true. Mental illness is often difficult to live with and therefore difficult to accommodate in some situations. But LW was writing in to ask for advice on preventing that situation.

            And I was responding to Trigger Yawning’s question about why an employer would want to hire any employee with a mental illness.

      2. fposte*

        It sounds like you’re pretty unfamiliar with phobias–and with hiring. It’s not like people with phobias are ticking bombs, and the OP is undergoing therapy that’s likely to make this less of a problem. When I’m hiring, my question is whether this problem can be accommodated in my workplace. If it is, then the phobia is a non-issue.

        1. qkate*

          Agreed on all counts. What would be an insurmountable issue in some offices is totally not a big deal at others.

      3. Not So NewReader*

        “Why would an employer want to deal with someone who could freak out?”

        Well, to start with, not all employers believe given a set of givens that a person will “freak out” while working for them.

        Additionally, some employers look for ways to give back to the community that shelters them and allows them to prosper. One of those ways is by hiring qualified folks that might require some accommodations (not just because of disability). I had an employer that did not mind hiring people with a prison record. I had another employer that routinely hired young people with working papers- he believed it was important to give young people an early start if they wanted it.
        That’s two examples. But there are people out there using their businesses in unique ways to offer a better life for someone else. Sometimes things go awry. But it does not stop them from trying again.

  27. ali*

    #5 – If you have the time available, look for a nonprofit that needs help with grantwriting – most of them do and will love for you to help if you’ve had coursework in the area. If you can help one org get one grant funded, you’ve suddenly got something real to place on your resume. And bonus, you get to feel good about helping out an organization that needs it.

    1. Too many years grant writing*

      As someone in this line of work, I wouldn’t recommend that. Any nonprofit willing to take the kind of help the OP can offer (specifically upaid) probably isn’t able to provide much training. When I was in grad school, I had a volunteer position like this that was a mess. The only applications I worked on were incredible long shots that the organization had nearly no chance of getting, so having an amateur fumble in the dark but get out something was a hair better than doing nothing. All the grants that had a real chance of being funded were handled by people with experience. I was not trained, I learned nothing, got nothing funded, and had an overall terrible experience.

      The other real issue is that grants can take a very long time to get funded. So as a volunteer/get experience/pad a resume/ move on plan – it’s a long game at best and potentially a way to be stuck in a bad spot.

      1. BRR*

        A fair number of people on here would like to break into grant writing. Do you have any advice for how they can gather the experience employers want?

        1. Too many years grant writing*

          I’d recommend looking at a wider variety of development positions. First, it’ll open the jobs that are available to you and positions like a “development assistant” can offer a chance to try a bit of everything – including grant writing. Also I’ve found that organizations are far more open to train those kinds of jobs.

          Personally, I got into the field by being a research assistant on a large grant funded study – so basically I managed one large grant. Then in grad school, I ultimately did get a decent volunteer set up doing prospect research and working with donor databases which is how I ended up doing grant writing. Showing great organization, the ability to juggle/multitask, and being a bridge between inside and outside an organization were far more important in my hiring history than anything to do with my writing

          Where I’ve seen myself/peers/classmates taken advantage of have been positions where one writes the grant to get a paycheck and/or the promise of a volunteer position becoming paid. I’m sure there are examples where that works out….but I’ve seen it go badly too often.

          1. ali*

            Highly agree that “development assistant/associate” type positions are the way to get into the grantwriting world. My own start (not including in school) was actually a position in academia where I was a web developer and we needed a grant to fund a project I was heading. There just was no one else available aside from the already overworked university grantwriting office (who didn’t understand the project anyway). So with my experience from school, I managed to research and write (and win!) the proposal with very little help. It wasn’t something that was part of the job or the job description, it was just something I did to further fund my own work.

            I left that job shortly after securing the funding and am now completely in online fundraising. The only grantwriting I’m now doing is completely volunteer (usually as a board member), which makes me happy because it is definitely not my favorite thing. But keeping the skills fresh should I ever need them for my career again.

            The other way to go about it is to go to school for it, and ideally find an internship actually doing it. I have a Master’s in Nonprofit Management from a very highly acclaimed university and it has opened a LOT of doors for me.

            1. Too many years grant writing*

              I basically did this. I was a research assistant, shifted to a Nonprofit Masters program where I was able to volunteer with a variety of organizations, and was hired pretty quickly post graduation. While my school was acclaimed very highly where it was based, the biggest advantage for me was the high number of places to volunteer in the city.

              While the degree definitely helped me get in the door – I’m perhaps less than enthusiastic about getting it in general. It definitely didn’t teach me how to write a grant well (that happened by actually doing it and taking grant writing courses offered by the grant making entities, i.e. the EU), but I can’t deny that it opened doors.

      2. ali*

        I don’t disagree with you, but if the OP has already had grantwriting courses, it doesn’t sound like they need training. It sounds like they need practical, hands-on experience. If you can’t get a job without the experience, you have to find a way to get the experience so you can get the job.

        Your volunteer experience also sounds vastly different than mine. Goes to show it depends on the organization you’re working with. I was lucky to have orgs that knew what they were doing and already had the grants they wanted to apply for lined up and literally just needed help writing the document. Although, the process of identifying grants and determining the feasibility for an organization is also a good skill to have, that is generally on the development person (or board if there isn’t one).

        1. Too many years grant writing*

          I took grant writing courses in grad school – and while they helped….all grants aren’t the same. I’ve taken multiple EU grants and feel pretty confident with those, but I’ve never worked on a USAID grant – doesn’t mean I don’t think I could figure it out….but I’d still benefit from some training. Not to mention, volunteer experiences – particularly in development can just be a really wide range of bad to good. Among my classmates, it was pretty common to bounce around a few organizations before finding a place where the volunteer dynamic wasn’t a mess. While it definitely can work, I just think it’s a real crap shoot. Not to mention, where I currently work – our development interns are all doing filing and data entry. No writing to speak of.

          1. ali*

            That’s interesting to me because all my volunteering ended up being writing and editing the actual proposal documents. Most of my classmates already had an organization they were working at full-time and were able to write actual grant proposals for their classes that were later used in real life, which was awesome. For those of us without an organization, I think we actually benefited more because we did get to find a variety of organizations to work with that had a variety of needs, giving us broader experiences.

  28. Michele*

    #5–If you are fresh out of college, there can be a short section of your resume that includes achievements in school, such as a research grant or award for outstanding academic achievements. I think what you are talking about could be worth a sentence there. For example, after I finished grad school, I attended a workshop on writing grant proposals. When I applied for positions teaching college, I included that on my resume. It got a lot of questions during the interview, and based on the feedback from a department chair, it was the deciding factor in having an offer extended.

  29. Helen*

    I think we’re being too hard on LW#1. She seems to be in a job where travel is very unlikely and uncommon (hence her coworkers all sharing her anger). She wrote in to AAM, she got a response, and now she knows better. I don’t think we need to speculate on her family’s disaster recovery plans, whether she needs to look for a new job, etc.

    1. Liane*

      Agreed. This isn’t the only question that has gotten a lot of You Should ‘ve Had a Backup Plan/Emergency Fund comments. Sometimes they reply to posts where the OP explicitly states that they have them.

      1. Helka*

        Agreed — and I tend to view “here’s advice for the you of 3/6/12/more months ago” as being pretty unhelpful in general. The OP is faced with this problem now; telling her how she could have prevented it in the past doesn’t address what she needs to do in the present moment, with the present situation.

        (Granted, good “here is what to do now” advice can certainly come with “and here’s what to do to prevent it from happening again next year” but it shouldn’t be the sum total of the advice given.)

    2. Laurel Gray*

      My mom would have a very similar reaction to this OP and she has no pets or minor children. She has never traveled for work ever and even her personal travel drives her up a wall (ok, I’m lying it drives me up a wall). My mom has always worked in environments where training has always been onsite and she has worked with many of her coworkers for several years. It would definitely be a big deal if she had to travel for a training.

      1. Sadsack*

        Maybe it would be a big deal, but it is all in how you handle it. I think that is what people here are suggesting. Individual employees should consider their own situations and make plans or discuss the issue with their manager in private. Immediately putting up a fight that you should not have to travel ever when the manager suddenly requires it isn’t going to solve anything.

    3. themmases*

      I agree. I think they come from a good place, but it seems like comments here often treat letter writers as though they’re planning to go to their boss’s office and say exactly what they wrote here anonymously. From there it regularly seems to slide into an argument among the regulars about how it’s reasonable to even feel about a work situation, based on unrelated horror stories or on how others organize their work/childcare/finances/lives.

      To be honest these types of threads have started to really put me off reading the comments here, and it used to be my favorite thing to do for a break at work.

  30. Mimmy*


    I’m pretty familiar with common mental health issues, but I’ve honestly never heard of discomfort with something that specific rising to the level of an anxiety disorder. I’m genuinely curious about this.

    I think the best course of action is to find jobs in fields where governmental and political issues are uncommon. When you’re networking, make it clear that you want to avoid those areas. My only concern is that by labeling it as an anxiety/panic disorder, people may wonder if you’re exaggerating. I am not saying that you are! I just wonder if you might want to consider framing it more around of the types of employers you’re interested in, saying that you are not interested in any job where coming across governmental affairs or political campaigns. Again, I’m not trying to belittle your disorder…I just know how judgmental people can be about mental health conditions. It shouldn’t be that way, but unfortunately, until the stigma is eradicated, this is the reality.

    Best of luck to you!!

    1. Mimmy*

      Argh….I just wonder if you might want to consider framing it more around the types of employers you’re interested in, saying that you are not interested in any job where coming across governmental affairs or political campaigns IS COMMON.

      Thou shall not post until finished with morning coffee….

    2. De Minimis*

      Maybe just frame it as wanting to avoid environments with a lot of tension/drama, though no workplace is going to say they have a lot of either.

      It’s hard, you never know when something like that can come up. I know where I used to live one of the major business figures was this insurance broker who was a activist in his political party, and his employees apparently had to put up with his political diatribes at work [he even sent them “voter guides” at each election.] I think it was legal since it was a private business.

      1. soitgoes*

        Exactly, political stuff pops up all the time. As I mentioned above, my employer ran for mayor of his town last fall. One of my best friends held political office in the past, at the age of 18. It’s something she’s really proud of, and it comes up enough because it’s just so cool and because it means that she’s a lot of people’s go-to person for info about local policy. “Can my landlord do that?” and the like. Could an employer bar her from ever mentioning her huge personal accomplishment (that many people view as being incredibly neutral and non-offensive, and even conservative) because of a coworker’s accommodation?

        This is incredibly specific I realize, but as people get older, involvement in politics increases as people have kids and get involved with the school board, or if they join their condo association, or if they’re lobbying for more frequent trash pickup. It’s hard for recent grads to wrap their heads around sometimes, but once you cross over into 30, it’s rare to meet an adult who isn’t involved in the local happenings in some small way.

        1. qkate*

          soitgoes–I think you are extrapolating from your own personal experience to the general population, and I’m not sure if that extrapolation is a solid as you are making it out to be.

          I almost never discuss politics outside of my social life, and I know it is that way for many of my friends as well. I also understand it’s probably the opposite for a lot of people (like yourself!). I just mean to say, I think there’s a greater diversity of experience when it comes to exposure to politics than you are painting here.

          1. De Minimis*

            Yeah in my experience it’s been different, as people get older they tend to be less engaged, because I think many start believing that nothing ever really changes so why bother….

    3. Trigger Yawning*

      “people may wonder if you’re exaggerating. I am not saying that you are! ”

      I however, am saying that this feels like it is exaggerated. there is a common trend among generation cup cake to cloak their inability to handle real life grown up world in anxiety disorders. I don’t think that any employer is going to make a “reasonable exception” for someone with panic attacks caused by random occurrences. I mean – what of someone has the radio on and theres a political add or someone has a bumper sticker or whatever?

      Work through your issues and get over it already! We all have drama/trauma leave it at home! If you have a mental disorder you and only you are responsible for treatment!

      1. Anonymous for PTSD*

        “If you have a mental disorder you and only you are responsible for treatment!”

        True, but the rest of your comment shows a tragically poor understanding of mental illness.

      2. Anonicorn*

        “there is a common trend among generation cup cake to cloak their inability to handle real life grown up world in anxiety disorders.”

        Could you lay off the age discrimination? It’s pretty vile.

      3. Bix*

        Are you trolling?

        If you’re not, then your advice to the letter writer is anything but helpful. The letter writer said that she is medicated and undergoing therapy. So yes, it sounds as though she is taking responsibility for her “mental disorder”. And yes, she is working on her issues and on her way to “[getting] over it”.

      4. BRR*

        There is a big difference in saying you have something wrong and doing nothing versus seeking treatment from professionals which the LW is. They also take steps to avoid it and don’t expect the world to bow at their feet. i think the LW is doing everything right.

        Don’t generalize an entire generation. People could say the older generations are complacent after staying in a position for 30 years and unwilling to adapt to any new technology or procedures. While some people fit the stereotype it’s just not true. People of all generations are good employees and bad employees.

        Or we can say that my entire generation is generation cupcake, who caused the environment for us to turn out this way?

        1. I'm a Little Teapot*

          “You are not a brave truth-teller. Perhaps these thoughts should remain in your head.”

          Bravo. Something that needs to be said to a lot of people who think being jerks makes them awesome.

      5. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Hey TriggerYawning, I’ve set your comments to go through moderation because you’re not respecting the comment policy here (which you can find linked just above the comment form). Please read it and follow it. Thank you.

      6. hildi*

        I’m very glad my generation gets to be associated with something so yummy. Much better than Generation Brussel Sprouts. Or Generation Liver & Onions.

      7. Kat M*

        The ironic thing about folks who criticize our generation so much is that they were the ones who either raised this generation or at least put systems in place that encouraged the current situation :).

        Also, generation cupcake? I’ll take it. Cupcakes are delicious and make people happy. The world can use more of that.

          1. HR Generalist*

            I think what K is saying is that most mental illnesses are chronic, in that you can treat them or deal with them so that you are well, but they will always be a part of your life in some way.

            There is a spectrum of wellness associated with mental illness, so although I may not be anxious right now I know that I am an anxious person and will always fall a little higher than my laidback non-anxious friends. Periods of wellness can also be fleeting – like with someone with alcohol dependency issues, they might abstain without issue for years and then fall back into old habits.

            1. Anonymous for PTSD*

              Many mental illnesses are chronic and many symptoms come in cycles – but is it actually true that the majority is chronic? I think stating this might be dismissive of people who have recovered, partially or completely, or whose experience with mental illness proves to be temporary. It’s also pretty discouraging.

              1. K*

                I agree with HR Generalist.

                From what I’ve seen, I would call it the majority. It could be that I just have more experience with chronic illness. But can you give an example of a mental illness that’s not chronic? I can’t think of one.

                For example, I’ve seen a lot of documentaries on eating disorders and in every single one the people who call themselves “recovered” and are by all appearances just fine admit that a) they still occasionally have disordered thoughts and b) their life has been forever changed by their experience having an eating disorder.

                It’s very possible to deal with a mental illness well enough (either on one’s own or with help) so that one can live happily, etc., but I don’t think it’s possible to be “cured” completely – by this I mean I don’t think someone with a mental illness can ever become the person they would have become had they not had that experience. It is an experience – something very close to one’s being and self. This is why I don’t like the term “mental illness” – it suggests a separation from the “illness” and one’s self. This isn’t like the flu. Once you recover from the flu, it’s as if you never had the flu. The effects of having a mental illness stay with you because they are so entwined with how you experience life, and experience shapes who we are.

                (Just to be clear, this subject is very near and dear to me and I welcome this kind discussion.)

                1. Anonymous for PTSD*

                  (This is also hitting close to home for me, and I don’t want to argue. I’m glad we’re being patient and polite here.)

                  I’ve known people who have had periods of depression and recovered. The average episode of major depression lasts six months without treatment (much shorter with treatment). There’s a big chance it could recur, but that doesn’t happen to everyone.

                  I’ve recovered from self-harm and an eating disorder. I know other people who have, too. I no longer fit the diagnostic criteria for PTSD (not all the way there yet). I strongly agree with a lot of what you’ve said – that the effects and experience of having a mental illness stay with you, and that experience shapes who you are. I think that can be a part of recovery, too.

    4. Manders*

      I’ve got an anxiety disorder, and one of the most frustrating parts of it is that a lot of what triggers the fear can be so irrational. People tend to be more sympathetic to phobias if they’re common fears (snakes, needles, airplanes, spiders) even though statistically, those things aren’t very dangerous at all.

      I think OP #2 could have good luck avoiding companies that work with political candidates, but I would be concerned about how they would handle overhearing discussions about politics in the office. The presidential election is coming up, and people are going to mention that kind of major current event. If OP can’t handle overhearing those conversations, they may be better off freelancing.

      1. Helka*

        That does depend on the workplace, though. My office culture strongly discourages political talk — I don’t think it’s impossible that the OP could find someplace similar. I can think of maybe one or two comments I overheard in 2012 regarding the election, total, and one of those wasn’t in my workspace.

        1. Hlyssande*

          Ugh, can I please work somewhere like that? In the 2008 election, we received a letter from the CEO that strongly hinted we should vote Repub.

          And when one of the supervisors (!!) in my department asked the division president what he thought of the elections last fall we were treated to a 20 minute diatribe regarding the current government.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Unions tell people how to vote. I saw one friend’s letter from her union. The letter made it sound like they knew who you voted for, they would check to see if you voted the union line.

            1. De Minimis*

              From my experience it really depends on the union, I belonged to one where they took political stances in the newsletter but a large number of the membership still tended to vote the other way [and basically voted against their own interests.]

        2. Mouse of Evil*

          At some places it’s even a policy. I worked at one university (in the Bible Belt, no less!) that strongly discouraged political *and* religious conversation, if it made anyone in the office uncomfortable. It was in the staff handbook. (And back in the 90s, when things were still reasonable, we could have long political conversations involving people on both sides of an issue, and everyone would still be friends afterwards. Simpler times. :-) )

          But for the OP, I’d say that there are a lot of web development scenarios that don’t involve taking on any private clients. You could work for a real estate agency, or a university, or a library, or basically all kinds of private firms. I regularly see ads in my town for a large insurance company that apparently has a large IT base here, and runs a HUGE website. I would suggest, however, that if you don’t have some coding skills on top of your design skills, you might try to pick some up, because that will make you more marketable to a wider range of employers, and it might be easier to find a job that won’t ever deal with a political client.

  31. Victoria, Please*

    OP#2, try educational institutions. I had the hardest time finding a really good web developer and programmer last year. Believe me, we keep politics OUT of the office.

    1. Kerry (Like The County In Ireland)*

      No talk about state budget cuts, Pell grants, federal student loans or how Walker wanted to dismantle the U. Wisconsin liberal arts colleges and turn them into a technical training ground? That’s politics.

      1. Onymouse*

        But OP can put on some headphones and avoid those conversations. Those types of messages would never make their way into the work itself, which is what I think OP is most concerned about.

    2. H*

      I work in an educational institution where the coworkers looooooove to talk politics. I don’t, so I’m able to disengage and not participate, but my strongest feelings about those conversations are annoyance, not anxiety.

      I think that’s the biggest problem LW 2 will face. It seems relatively easy to find an office where the work is a-political, but what about the workers? That can be a wild card.

      1. qkate*

        True, but I think that’s a wild card she’s already used to coping with–in public, on television, meeting new friends-of-friends, etc. My take on it was she was looking to avoid contact with politics as a requirement of her actual work tasks.

  32. JMegan*

    I just want to say, for those who are expressing surprise that OP #1 wasn’t expecting to travel, that there are plenty of jobs out there that don’t require it.

    I work for a municipal government in a large city. The nature of my job – which is entirely administrative, and includes no contact with anyone outside the building – does not require travel. The fact that I work and live in a large city means that any training, conference, etc that I would be expected to attend, are likely to be nearby. (And the fact that I work for the government means that there is next to no funding for me to attend anything outside the city anyway, heh.)

    I won’t say it’s impossible, but I would be very, very, surprised if I were ever required to travel outside my city for this job.

    OP, you have my sympathies on the inconvenience factor. But I’m with the others in suggesting that you draw some boundaries between inconvenience and impossibility, and between your logistical challenges and those of your coworkers. Not just for this one issue, but life in general is a lot easier if we choose what battles to get involved in.

  33. Michele*

    I can’t even figure out if LW#1 has children, or is using other people’s kids as an excuse (it doesn’t affect me, but Bertha would be horribly put out). If the LW doesn’t have someone who can help with the kids, there may be options at the training location. If they have their own room, bring the kids and find childcare there. I have attended conferences where on-site childcare is available and stayed at hotels that offer it. There may also be a daycare in the area that will take the kids.

    If the kids are old enough to be in school, contact their friends’ parents to see if they can spend the night for a couple nights. When I was growing up, sometimes friends would stay a couple of days with us while parents attended some sort of emergency.

  34. H*

    #1: I know my take on this is largely based on the geographical locations I am used to, and that to some this suggestion is going to seem completely bonkers but perhaps you and your coworkers could arrange to carpool there and back to avoid staying overnight. It might not fully eliminate the need for extra child/pet care, but could cut down on the amount of time it is needed for.

    1. fposte*

      The OP said it was 3 hours away, though; I don’t think a 6 hour round trip is really viable on top of a full workday, especially when it’s not a single day of training.

      1. H*

        Right, and for me based on how far I usually have to drive to get places worth going, 3 hours is an easily and frequently done day trip. (On the flip side, current coworkers who grew up in the area where I now work think 2 hours is an overnight trip, so it really does depend on geographic norms how comfortable you are with the idea)

        1. fposte*

          Yup–that’s definitely not a standard I’m used to! I can’t imagine leaving at what, 5, and coming back at 9 or so and having to do it again the next day.

        2. LBK*

          Yeah, YMMV on this one. I have some coworkers that commute from out of state/nearly out of state that spend 2+ hours on the train to get to work every day. An extra hour wouldn’t be that dramatic in comparison.

  35. Z*

    I really disagree with AAM on the last letter. On my resume, I had a line under my most recent degree with ‘relevant coursework’ where I just listed the most relevant courses/skills that applied to the job at hand. People brought it up in interviews positively and I never had a problem with it. It looked like:

    Chocolate Teapot Academy, Olalaberry, MA
    Concentration in Spout Making, 2009
    – Relevant coursework in grant writing, econometrics, chocolate teapot research methods

    1. LBK*

      I think this would depend on how long you’ve been out of school and how much other work experience you have. If you’re only a few years out and you only have unrelated work experience it could help tie you to the position somewhat, but if you’ve been out of college for 10 years and have held 2 other positions similar to the one you’re going for, it would strike me as out of touch to still be including college coursework.

  36. Travel Tips for 1st Time Business Travelers?*

    For OP #1: I wonder if it might be helpful if we could generate a list of some useful tips for people who are new to traveling? For instance:

    Find out the policy on food and beverages. Some businesses will just give you a per diem of maybe $30/day for food. Other companies might reimburse you up to a certain dollar amount. They may also require receipts for all expenditures.

    Some companies may assume you have a credit card that you can use for all expenses, and will reimburse you after the trip. If this scheme will cause you trouble – ie, you have no credit card, or you have a very low limit on your card, etc – bring this up with your management before the trip and see what kinds of accommodations can be made.

    I’m sure the AAM gang has a lot of advice they can share on this topic.

  37. long time reader first time poster*

    Eh, I can see how LW #1 and colleagues would be put out. If I had taken on a job with ZERO expectations of travel when my kids were very young, being gone for three days at a stretch would have been very challenging.

    For one thing, my kids still nursed at night, even after I went back to work. They didn’t take bottles at night. They nursed. I didn’t have any overnights from them until they were each two years old. Being away for three days would have meant weaning them, and the discussion of that personal choice wasn’t one I was prepared to have with my manager.

    Before I had kids, I always thought you “just got a babysitter!” when you wanted to do something that didn’t involve children. It’s really not so simple — especially for an entire weekend. If you don’t have family nearby, and you have very young children, there really aren’t a lot of palatable options, so I can understand the butthurt.

    Just because a hotel provides “babysitting services” doesn’t mean that you actually want to leave your kids with someone you haven’t met or screened for long periods of time, either. When I went back to work I spent weeks interviewing and checking references of potential day care providers. I’m supposed to just leave my kid unattended with any old person because the hotel provides them? I don’t know if I feel good about that.

    Would I suck it up and figure something out? Probably, if my job was on the line. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t feel pressured and unhappy about it.

    1. Chuchundra*

      You see this a lot around here. Someone will write in about a job giving them some new requirement and there are a lot of people who will respond,”What’s the big deal? I have to do that all the time in my job.”

      The matrix of people’s lives can be pretty complicated. Some people expend a lot of effort either finding a job that fits into that framework or bending their lives around the job parameters. When those things change unexpectedly, even if it’s just a one-time thing, it can create a lot of hardship. If you’re someone without a lot of resources, adapting to that hardship can be daunting, if not impossible.

      There are a lot of comments to the effect that,”I don’t see how a three day/two night trip is such a big deal.”

      To them I might suggest thinking really hard about the kind of person for whom that might be a big deal.

      As you point out, even if you have a spouse or a family member to provide child care over that time period, for parent with young children they may never have been away from them for a whole day, let alone two or three.

      I don’t know what the answer is for OP1. As I noted above, if all of your co-workers are as unhappy about this as you are, maybe you can band together and request a different solution.

      1. Colette*

        Sometimes it’s helpful to get some perspective about what is reasonable or normal. I can certainly understand why it would be a pain for a single parent to have to be away for 2 nights. However, sometimes it comes down to a choice – is it easier/cheaper to figure out a solution to go on the training or to find a new job, possibly while unemployed?

    2. Judy*

      Well, being away 3 days would have meant pumping for 3 days. With my son, I didn’t have to travel until he was a year old. With my daughter, I had a training course at 4 months, and I was lucky that my mom was able to come with us. I did go on another trip before she was weaned, and just pumped for the 2 days.

    3. Rana*

      Thank you for this. As the mother of a child currently in a similar situation (nurses at night, never took a bottle) I cannot fathom how I would make something like this work without it being traumatic for her. Even her father cannot soothe her at night in my absence, nor her nana, and she adores and trusts both of them.

  38. TotesMaGoats*

    #2-I waited a bit replying in case you had chimed in and to see what others might have said that was helpful. Since you haven’t, and I’ve had time to mull this over, here are my thoughts.

    1. I would look for freelance/contractor type jobs in your field. Being a freelancer would give you the opportunity to choose your jobs and avoid those that would trigger your anxiety. There is uncertainty in being a freelancer but I think plenty of people do it successfully for it to be a viable option.
    2. I would strongly suggest that you do consider your disorder a disability given what you’ve told us. The ADA is in place for a reason, to allow people to get the accommodations they need in order to work. However, I don’t know realistically how an employer could fully accommodate you. Banning all talk of politics would be very hard to enforce and large blocks of time away from the job would be even harder. It’s possible you could be switched to other projects but not always possible.

    Intellectually, I know that anything can be a trigger for anxiety and panic attacks. Both of my degrees are in counseling. I know that this is true. And it can be the strangest or most mundane of things. I would encourage you to continue your therapy and to work with your therapist on ways you can frame this discussion with your employer. I think many people go into ADA discussions without giving enough or the right kind of information and then are upset when they don’t get what they need. I would also frame it, for interview purposes, as the things you can do instead of “i can’t do research on x, y and z.”

    I will say that given the pervasiveness of politics in american society, the chances of avoiding are really, really low. I think you may require a lot more work with your therapist. It would be easier to ask for work on non-political projects than banning talk about politics at work.

  39. MuseumGirl*

    This is to OP #5: I would be very wary of putting grant writing experience on your CV or Cover Letter. I too have an MA in Museum Studies, and the course work you completed probably hasn’t prepared you fully for grant writing, even if your professors deemed it worthy of funding. Since I don’t know the program you graduated from, I can just say that if you produced the grants independently and in under 48 hours then you should include it, otherwise leave it off. Grant writing is some of the most persnickety, short deadlined, crazy inducing work I have to do at my museum job, and unless you want grants due within 24-48 hours given to you, keep it off. Another word of advice: it took me and my cohorts an average of 2 years after graduation to get full time staff positions. Contracts are the way to go for the new museum grad, most of us received offers through contacts we made during the contracts, and supervisors we impressed.

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