my company pretends that former employees still work here, should I go back to school to replace my University of Phoenix degree, and more

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

1. My company pretends that former employees still work here

I’m concerned that my company is doing something that’s illegal: after an employee leaves, they continue to use that employee’s email address to contact clients as though that employee were still working there, and when a client calls, they just tell them that the employee is out of the office. This continues for months at a time, because they don’t want our clients to know how much turnover we have.

Given that I work in an industry that’s regulated by something called “The Integrity Act,” I’m concerned that after I’m gone, the reputation and rapport that I’ve worked to build with my clients will be completely destroyed by whoever is pretending to be me. How can I address this? Our corporate attorney indicated that she doesn’t see anything wrong with this (I had asked the question under the guise of requesting general info about a client), but I can’t help but feel as though this is in no way okay…what do you think?

It’s certainly not ethically okay. They’re lying to clients, and for seemingly little reason — clients are certainly aware of the fact that people leave jobs and companies have turnover. (Although if your company’s turnover is unusually high, I’m sure you’re right that they’re doing it to avoid seeming like all is in chaos.) It also seems likely to inconvenience clients, who may assume that the person they’re dealing with knows some bit of history about their account and thus doesn’t need to be told, when it could actually cause a problem that they don’t know.

I can’t think of a law this would violate, although I also don’t know what industry regulations you’re subject to, so you could certainly look into that. The issue to me, though, is that your company is okay with blatantly lying to people. It wouldn’t be such a big deal for them to just not make a point of announcing departures; that actually isn’t terribly uncommon. But flagrant lies like “she’s out of the office right now”? That’s a real ethical issue.

Can you just let your clients know when you’re leaving? Unless it’s explicitly prohibited by your company, you could just do a friendly “hey, wanted to let you know I’m moving on and today is my last day” message to them. If that’s not feasible, you and a group of coworkers might be able to successfully push back on your company -— sometimes a concerted push to complain about this kind of thing is enough to get it stopped. Sometimes it’s not, of course, but it would be reasonable to try.

2. I got blacklisted from a job after emailing the CEO directly

I applied and interviewed with a relatively new start-up company for a sales engineer position. I am changing fields to software from telecom, and I have been having a hard time getting a job due to this. I would go until the final stage of interviews and right when they are ready to offer me a job, I get cut off due to the different background.

I interviewed with them for about a month, got great feedback, everybody liked me, and, after the last interview with my manager, he said I had to do one more interview with the CEO. I said okay, but then last week they said they were ready to give me an offer and asked for references. I was ecstatic because I thought I was getting an offer without even having to talk to the CEO. I gave them references, they gave me glowing recommendations, and on Tuesday I got a call from the recruiter to discuss salary and saying he was drafting an offer letter for me.

On Wednesday, the recruiter called me again and told me that the offer has been put on hold because the CEO did not approve hiring someone with a different background than the first sales engineer. I was shocked because that was something they could have realized looking at my resume and not after giving me an offer. So I emailed the CEO, introduced myself, explained my background and experience, and asked for reconsideration.

Then next day, I got a call from the recruiter again saying I am rejected and blacklisted from the company because a “subordinate” like me should have never reached out to the CEO and he is really mad about it. I was shocked so I went on GlassDoor and checked the company reviews, and they were absolutely negative with people saying the CEO rules with fear and intimidation. I want to know if what I did was unacceptable reaching out to the CEO?

Yes, pretty much. You went totally outside of their process and tried to appeal a decision, which rarely goes well. (In this case, it sounds like there wasn’t even anything to appeal yet because you didn’t actually have an offer — you’d been told they were preparing one, but they hadn’t actually offered you the job.) Contacting the CEO, who you’d never even met, to try to address concerns that he hadn’t spoken to you about firsthand would rub most people the wrong way.

It sounds like the recruiter was overly harsh in his response (there’s no need to announce to you that he’s blacklisting you from the company even if he is — and maybe that’s a reflection of the culture you read about on GlassDoor), but you definitely did err in sending that email.

3. Should I go back to school to replace my University of Phoenix degree?

I recently saw the question about taking off University of Phoenix off your resume. I feel that I’m having urges to go back to school for a second masters degree but wanted to ask you for advice.

Two years ago, I received a master’s degree in marketing from the University of Phoenix. I felt very proud at the time because of the economy and because I was working in retail. Once I received my master’s degree, I ended up doing an MBA marketing internship to show that I had some experience in the field of marketing. But I haven’t been able to find any job, even in entry-level in marketing, such as a marketing coordinator or assistant position. I’m starting to worry that maybe it’s because of my degree from UofP. I live fairly close to California State University of Fullerton, and I love their programs in marketing and even their communications department, from what I have read online.

Should I replace my masters in marketing with the same concentration from Cal State Fullerton? Or should I get a second master’s degree in something that may complement my first master’s degree, such as a masters in communications?

I don’t think you need a master’s degree at all; communications and marketing aren’t typically fields where it’s required. If I’m wrong and you’re aiming for a career path where it’s truly necessary, then yes, I’d seriously consider redoing the master’s at a school that isn’t a for-profit. (But make sure that it’s truly needed for the work that you want to do; very often people go to grad school thinking that it’ll be a leg up, but it can actually hurt more than help for the reasons I talk about here.)

Either way, yes, I’d seriously consider taking the University of Phoenix off your resume for all the reasons I talk about here. It really can hurt you.

4. Is my boss too embarrassed to tell me the promotion she promised me no longer exists?

I’m currently on secondment at a higher-grade position than my contracted one, while covering for a colleague who’s taking a year’s maternity leave. The position was initially a rather limited one that mainly focused on management reporting, but with a few other management changes further up the org, and with the encouragement of my manager, I have expanded the role into more of a coordinating one, using the stats to manage the workload of my team and influence the way the wider group prioritized things. My performance appraisals have been excellent, and my boss has been talking for most of the year about looking for opportunities to move me to the higher grade band permanently and encouraging me to apply for this year’s round of in-role promotions, as there was a new coordinator role she wanted to create and which I’ve been working to build the groundwork for.

Last week, she announced to the team her provisional new team structure, which indeed included the new coordinator role. But then I was informed that this role was earmarked for the colleague on maternity leave, who will be returning at the end of the summer. Her old reporting role has seemingly been axed, or at least merged into the new role. There were no other higher-grade positions listed in the new structure. I was too stunned by this to ask questions at the time, and while she is still speaking encouragingly about my upcoming promotion interview (still a few weeks off), I am very concerned that I’ve been hung out to dry — not only will I be putting all this effort into interviewing for a promotion that no longer exists, but also that I’ll be rewarded for my year of hard work by an effective demotion and pay cut back to my old job, and she’s just too afraid/embarrassed to let me know ahead of time. What do you think?

It’s certainly possible, but you should just ask her.

If there’s only one higher-grade position in the new structure, it legitimately might make more sense for your more senior colleague to be the one moved into it. (They may also have a legal obligation to do that as well, since if she’s been on FMLA, the law requires that she be placed in a position equivalent to her old one when she returns.) That wouldn’t be a slight to you.

But there’s no need to speculate on what all this might mean for you — just talk to your manager! It’s perfectly reasonable to ask her how the new structure will impact the conversations the two of you have been having. And if you think you might be interviewing for a job that no longer exists, ask her directly about that too.

I think, though, that unless you were promised that you wouldn’t go back to your old job at the end of the maternity coverage, you should assume that you will. If you’re able to get a promotion before that, that’s great — but it’s not a slight if you move back to the old role, since that’s usually the intent when you temporarily cover for someone. It can end up feeling unsatisfying, certainly, and it can be the thing that prompts you to realize you’re ready to move on (either internally or otherwise), but it’s not a slight. In a case like yours, where you’ve demonstrated the ability to do much more while in the temporary role, that can definitely make it a lot easier to move up, but if there aren’t positions to move into, the reality is that they may not have many options for you.

But talk to her and find out what’s going on.

Read an update to this letter here.

5. How should I explain in my cover letter that I’m ready to move as soon as I’m offered a job?

I have a question regarding applying to jobs out of state. First off, I read your article and thought it was a great start. My situation is that my friend, who I’m moving in with, is already renting our future duplex, and I am ready to move as soon as I’m offered a job, and won’t need relocation assistance. I figured for the address part of my resume and cover letter, I would say “Relocating to Westminster, CO Summer 2016.” How do I state my situation in my cover letter? Do I say that I currently have a postal address in Westminster? Or that I’m currently renting a duplex and I’m ready to move whenever?

Just a short line noting that you’re in the process of relocating to Westminister and have already secured housing is sufficient. Putting it on your resume the way you’ve described here is smart too — so that if someone is only looking at your resume, they immediately see that you’re about to be local. But you don’t need to get into the details beyond that.

{ 226 comments… read them below }

  1. Dan*


    I had the opposite happen to me — after I rejected a job offer, the CEO of the company called me. This is a guy who I never met, and TBH, I’m pretty low in the pecking order. Even on the job, the CEO would be someone I’d never have to interact with.

    I gotta admit, I was pretty pissed. I felt as if they were trying to make some sort of “power move”, almost as if they were trying to guilt me in to taking the position.

    For those who may suggest that he might have made me an offer I couldn’t refuse; well, this is in government contracting, where my pay is limited by what the government will reimburse, which is rather formulaic. “An offer I can’t refuse” means I’m getting paid out of “overhead” (which is a no-no generally), which further means the next time budgets get tight, I’m the guy they can’t afford and boom, out the door. Not a situation I want to constantly worry about.

    So, based on my experience with that, I can see how they’d be pissed if you went jumping over peoples’ heads. It’s just so far outside the customary procedures that it raises peoples’ shackles.

    1. Jack the Treacle Eater*

      Or alternatively, he might just have been an unconventional CEO who really wanted you to come and work for him?

      1. Colette*

        Ultimately, motivation doesn’t matter. If your behavior makes someone feel pressured or uncomfortable, it doesn’t matter that you have great intentions.

    2. ScaredyCat*

      Oooh I had a similar experience too.
      I decided to take myself out of the equation after the 2nd interview (so somewhere in the middle), due to a policy I wasn’t really comfortable with. They told me I had to pay a certain sum of money if I ended up leaving in less than a year. Coupled with the fact, that my then employer had a contract stating that if we didn’t provide 3 months notice we’d have to pay a hefty fine, I was loathe to sign anything which came with caveats.

      Things went something like this:
      – 9am recruiter calls to schedule 3rd interview, and I tell her I don’t want to continue, along with the reason. She tells me it’s the industry norm (a lie!), but I keep saying I still don’t want to.
      – 12pm CEO calls and has the exact same conversation with me, and I keep saying “Still, I wish to stop here. Thanks for your time”. At one point he got pretty annoyed with me… but that’s life, I guess.

      While I find the phrasing of “how dare you, a mere subordinate, speak to me” awful, I can also get behind the motivations leading the CEO.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        The CEO could have said this in a dozen different ways, the fact that he chose this manner of speaking is a red flag to me. This or worse is how he speaks to people all the time. While I don’t think OP should have approached the CEO, OP did learn some valuable info about the company first hand. All is not lost here.

        1. ScaredyCat*

          Oh absolutely, the phrasing that the CEO used was dismal. I completely agree that it’s a HUGE red flag. So, this was indeed a bullet dodged.

        2. Koko*

          LW says it was the recruiter who used that language, actually, not the CEO. She emailed the CEO and then got an earful from the recruiter about her misstep.

      2. Nighthawk*

        I don’t think it’s legal to “fine” an employee for leaving without 90 days notice. I’m not sure a contract attesting to that would hold up in court. I could see the employer clawing back a signing bonus though.

      3. AnotherHRPro*

        It depends on what the sum of money was for. If it was base salary, then no. If it was a sign-on bonus, retention bonus, stay bonus or relocation payment then having a payback clause is normal in my industry.

        1. ScaredyCat*

          I”m from Europe, and never really heard of anyone getting a sign-on bonus here. At least not in my industry (IT), maybe it’s different in other industries? The money was actually the equivalent of my pay for 6 months.

          At the time I was hired as a contractor, which apparently made such an agreement legal. The company had a rather high rate of turnover, so this 90-day notice was a way to ensure that they would not be left in the lurch. Now in theory, if you came to an agreement with your manager, you could leave earlier (eg: after the regular 2 weeks), but it was not my case.
          Some of my colleagues agreed to let the new company pay out that sum of money, but this tended to sour the manager-employee relationship instantly. Not to mention, you’d then owe the new company a favor…

    1. Loose Seal*

      I think #4 (promotion not there anymore) isn’t in the U.S. “Secondment” is a British term. Also, a year’s ,a termite leave. However, I think the advice of talking to this manager is applicable wherever the OP is from.

      1. Loose Seal*

        Oh autocorrect *sighs*

        I had to work hard to keep secondment from changing to “second meant” and completely missed that my word maternity got changed to termite. I guess we have so little maternity leave in the U.S. that our American English dictionary doesn’t recognize it. /joking

        1. Minion*

          I’m sorry, but I’m cracking up over “termite leave”! The U.S. may not have sufficient maternity leave, but by god we’ve got termite leave! Got termites? Get six weeks paid leave to deal with them! We take care of our workers here in the good ole’ U.S. A.!

          1. Artemesia*

            Well a MAN can get termites and need termite leave so that is fair. With women it is just one inconvenience to business after another.

          2. Elizabeth West*

            I know–best typo/autocorrect ever.

            And earlier, Dan said “raises people’s shackles” instead of “hackles,” and I had this picture in my head of the CEO wildly waving ankle irons around screaming, “Lock him up! Off with his head!”

            I love autocorrect. :)

        2. SophieChotek*

          I loved it! (I couldn’t quite figure it out, but made me smile anyway.)

          Minion’s explanation makes perfect sense…
          I understand termites are pesky things to get rid of

      2. Jack the treacle eater*

        I rather like termite leave.

        Under UK law they are making the maternity returnee’s post redundant, in which case they would be under a legal obligation to offer an alternative role if one was available; if they didn’t do so, they might be open to a claim of unfair dismissal. If #4 is in the UK that might be why the maternity returnee would be offered the new post.

        1. One of the Sarahs*

          Yes, I came here to say this – it’s no reflection on OP at all, it just is what it is – company restructuring, and abiding by employment law in the process.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Probably. “The Integrity Act” in Canada appears to apply only to legislators. There is an “Integrity Act” in Queensland, Australia that applies to lobbyists, but from just a quick skim of it the OP’s issue wouldn’t be covered, as the Act covers the way lobbyists and politicians interact, and the OP is talking about the interaction of what would seem to be the lobbying firm and corporate or industry clients. IANAL (I Am Now A Llama), but I don’t think the law would apply, it’s more a question of preserving your reputation with clients.

        1. Prismatic Professional*

          I Am Now A Llama is the best explanation of that initialism ever! I would like lessons in becoming a llama please! :-)

          1. The Cosmic Avenger*

            I can’t take credit, it came up in another comment thread a few months back, IIRC (Interesting Initials Result in Consequences).

  2. Dan*


    You don’t really “replace” degrees. I’d also be very careful where you go to school for most business degrees. Particularly for an MBA, you only want to go if you can get into a top school.

    Go back to school because you know what you want to do with that degree, and you know that the degree will help you. I have no clue about the norms in your field, but grad school needs to be a calculated move, because it is a risk.

    1. Not the Droid You Are Looking For*

      Eh…I don’t know if an MBA has to be from a top school. I work with plenty of folks whose MBAs from a decent state school more than paid for itself because it automatically bumps them up a salary band.

      I do agree that it needs to be a careful decision that accurately reflects the debt to future earnings ratio.

      1. Dan*

        It’s one thing if you’re checking a box to move up in your current org, it’s another if you’re trying to switch careers with a different company. If the former, a UoP degree might actually work.

        1. NJ Anon*

          I have my masters from UoP. Perhaps it’s industry specific but it hasn’t kept me from getting jobs. I thought about taking it off my resume but a recruiter at an agency encouraged me to leave it on. So I do/did.

        2. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

          Again, I know plenty of people who have leveraged a switch to another company/field with an MBA from a mid-tier school.

          I think a lot depends on the field. For example, my friends who are in the financial sector a top school (Wharton, Kellogg, etc.) can definitely mean the difference between getting a job or not.

          But I also think that an MBA from Texas A&M or UT Dallas is waaay different than UoP.

    2. Artemesia*

      I agree that if you want an MBA to be a real entree to a powerful position that a degree from a top flight school is critical. But a lesser known degree can be helpful in some settings. The OP is probably better off just dropping the PHoenix degree from the resume and focusing on experience and skills tough.

    3. MBA*

      Yes I agree with most of what’s said here. Plenty of companies use language like, “MBA from a top-tier school required.” Granted this requirement usually doesn’t apply unless it’s a marketing or strategy position that requires 5+ years of experience but it does show companies are considering the caliber of the school.

      Check out the Forbes (or other reputable site) business school rankings. While Call State Fullerton is a great school, it’s MBA program might not be considered “top-tier”. You would want at least a top 50 school (think UC Irvine #42 or USC #38) if not a top 20 school (UCLA #17) if you want to be seriously considered for positions at a prominent company with minimal experience or as a career switcher. That’s not to say you can’t get into a good company with a degree from a lower ranked school! It’s just harder and recruiters don’t frequent these schools as often. Considering how much MBAs and similar degrees cost these days (100k+), you definitely want it to be worth your money.

      Also, any reputable MBA program (this includes good schools that aren’t ranked top 50) will have strong career services. Again, the higher the rank, generally the better the services because placement rates affect rank. A top 50 school will probably have a placement rate of 85-95% 3 months out of college. You want to know the placement rates before dropping that much money on a degree!

      Lastly, Alison is soooo right about a master’s degree. If you are going to do an MBA, it’s so important that you get some experience first because the job market is so competitive out of b-school. Coming out of the masters program with no experience is far worse than not getting the degree in the first place. B-school is really not a place to be uncertain about what you want to do because people with 5-10 years of experience are getting the same degree and competing for the same jobs.

    4. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.*

      An MBA in order to get a start in marketing isn’t much of an asset.

      First, I’m not sure that you can get into a good MBA program without some decent real life experience in your field of study (but I’m no expert on grad school admissions and would be happy to be corrected by someone who knows).

      Second, people don’t run around hiring MBAs for entry level marketing jobs. I would absolutely discard any resume that had an MBA on it for any of my entry level jobs. See the MBA, put it in the reject pile.

      OP, I mean this with a kind heart, an MBA in marketing, without ever having held a marketing job (like 2 or 3 years job min and then get your MBA), looks out of touch. This isn’t the same as a Masters in Engineering or Masters of Social Work, where it’s additional technical training. The latter is even necessary to get an entry job in that field. Marketing doesn’t work like that.

      I’d have a different answer if we were talking about marketing data analysis btw. Would be marketers are a dime a dozen, but people who are trained in the number science aren’t. I’m assuming we’re talking about soft marketing vs hard science. I covet a marketing data analyst and as soon as I’m able to carve out space in the budget for one, I will be very happy to see an MBA (but that’s still going to have years of real world experience to go with it.)

      1. Christopher Tracy*

        First, I’m not sure that you can get into a good MBA program without some decent real life experience in your field of study (but I’m no expert on grad school admissions and would be happy to be corrected by someone who knows).

        When I was looking into MBA programs, one of the good schools that has degrees in my field (risk management and insurance) wanted applicants to have at least five to seven years of work experience directly in the field or in a tangentially related one.

      2. CherryScary*

        Wakeen, what would you be looking for in a marketing data analyst? It’s something I’m interested in (and have been able to dabble in at the moment) and I’d love to move into it in a greater capacity. Do I need/should look into master’s programs?

        1. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.*

          I can’t tell you because I haven’t been able to budget for it yet so I haven’t gone through the process to identify what I’m looking for. I do it myself now. I like maths!

          All I know is marketing data analysts don’t come cheap. I’m hoping to be able to afford one next year. Right now all of our money is going to people and things to grow business. When I bring one on it will be someone who hopefully has X years of experience in a business world that translates to teapots. I won’t care about an MBA or not but I’d certainly be interested in someone who had one.

        2. Namast'ay In Bed*

          CherryScary – I’m a Marketing Analyst, and I would HIGHLY recommend getting Google Analytics Certified. It’s self-guided learning, extremely educational, and best of all, it’s free! After completing the trainings you take the Google Analytics Individual Qualification exam. It’s not the easiest thing in the world, but it’s done on your own time, won’t take years to complete, and it’s a completely legitimate certification from Google that is very practical and useful. Check out, it should have all the info you need.

          1. CherryScary*

            Oh good! This has been on my short list of things to do (we don’t do ecommerce, so some of the training stuff has been very much book learning without practical experience.)

          2. Formica Dinette*

            Thanks so much for this info! I report on certain metrics, but we don’t do anything with them, so I’m sure I’ll get lots out of this.

        3. Ann O'Nemity*

          We’re hiring one now. Bachelors or advanced degree in statistics, mathematics, or business. 3-5 years similar experience. Experience with Google Analytics and Adwords, Excel, Tableau, and a CMS like Salesforce. And we’d rather see experience over a master’s program.

          1. Tacocat*

            I agree. I’m doing more general business data analytics now, but from my experience, there still isn’t a good credentialing program for marketing data analysts. Many people from my Masters program (social sciences from one of the most top tier universities) earned their masters for an academic career, but are now working as data/business analysts because it turns out the training is a surprisingly good fit and it’s such a growing and lucrative field. A lot of us broke into it because of relevant project/internship work, combined with the strong applied analytical training from the social sciences. I think in a few years, there will be a more defined path, but at the moment, proven experience with some kind of relevant training seems to be one of the most common paths I’ve seen.

            1. Dan*

              The flip side to “not a well defined path” is that there are many ways to break in, as opposed to a “well defined path” which requires specific credentials that you presumably have to pay for.

              30 years ago, programmers were mathematicians and physics folks. Now they’re computer science majors.

              Data science and the like are what programming was 30 years. Few well defined paths, but I agree, in a few years there will be credentials.

        4. Namast'ay In Bed*

          CherryScary – I’m a Marketing Analyst, and I would HIGHLY recommend getting Google Analytics Certified. It’s self-guided learning, extremely educational, and best of all, it’s free! After completing the trainings you take the Google Analytics Individual Qualification exam. It’s not the easiest thing in the world, but it’s done on your own time, won’t take years to complete, and it’s a completely legitimate certification from Google that is very practical and useful. Check out Google Partners, it should have all the info you need.

          1. SophieChotek*

            That’s interesting. Google Partners is where one gets certification? I might look into that.

          2. AnonInSC*

            Thanks for this info. I’ve fallen into communications/marketing b/c I’m in a small org and someone needs to do it and overall I’m the best fit. But all my years of education are in a completely different field. I’ve been looking for ways to train myself up…..

          3. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.*

            Pet peeve. In the last couple of years, I have recommended this, I don’t know how many times, to people wanting to Break Into Marketing and really, freaking crickets. Even if you don’t want to be an analyst, these are golden, valuable hard skills that make you stand out as a candidate and you can use every single day to benefit the org.

            Everybody just wants to tweet. (Also, get off of my lawn! :p)

      3. Sans*

        Agreed. I’ve working in marketing my whole life. I’m a copywriter but I work with marketing managers every day. You don’t need an MBA to get started in the field. Yes, eventually you need one if you want to move up to senior level positions. But otherwise, the fact that you have a bachelors degree and an internship should be a good start and should qualify you for a marketing coordinator or assistant position.

        1. Sans*

          Forgot to mention — also agree that you really should have experience in the field before going back to get a masters. I’m always working with marketing managers who are going to school part-time on the side to get their MBA.

          1. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.*

            Supposedly, part time while working in the field, gives you best results. The people I know who have gotten MBAs have all been part time while working full time and they’ve gotten a lot of out of their classes because they and their classmates are using their own real world examples in class discussions.

            But I’m not an expert on MBAs.

      4. Sarahnova*

        yeah, this.

        An MBA might help you get a Marketing Director job once you have 10-15 yrs experience, but it will actively hinder you getting an entry-level job. As an alternative, I’d suggest a) start going to industry conferences, if you can manage it, meet people, and learn about the new stuff; b) try and get a volunteer gig doing marketing for a small nonprofit, get some tangible achievements and metrics behind you, and use this to be a credible candidate for entry-level jobs.

        1. Sarahnova*

          And on re-reading the letter, I’d say, OP#3, do not go back to grad school right now, at all. If what you want is to break into marketing, it isn’t the right time – it will have the dual disadvantage of making you less competitive and costing you money you can’t easily spare.

          Once you’re established in the field of marketing, you can do grad work part-time, and hopefully get it paid for by the company. But don’t do it right now. Seriously.

        2. Spooky*

          +1 to volunteer marketing. When I had just graduated, I did marketing for a graphic novel launch – doing any kind of media can be really beneficial because it’s usually pretty short-term and you can make a lot of connections.

          1. Spooky*

            Forgot to add – yes, it sucks to do things for free, but it’s still cheaper than a degree.

            1. Anna*

              Tell me about it. I have too many degrees to my name, including an MA that I don’t really need. However, when I realized I wanted to try my hand at marketing I did it for a small non-profit, then for a comic book festival. It is now my profession. Volunteering is a low-cost, low-commitment way to find out if you actually enjoy the work and can learn how to do it.

        3. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.*

          Yup, with an emphasis on hard skills please.

          Most people who are thinking about going into “marketing” have a mis-impression of what the jobs entail. Only a tiny percent of the job is coming up with ideas, and that’s pretty much never at entry level.

          Marketing is executing projects full of details, on tight time lines, without making big mistakes, and then checking results to see if you succeeded or failed. There’s a place for ideas but it’s a very small part of the job. Having a track record of projects executed could help.

          1. Sans*

            And although marketing managers do contribute creative ideas, more often they offer a broad strategy, and then as the writer, I come up with creative ways to execute that strategy.

        4. the gold digger*

          Depends on what you define as “entry level.” With the caveat that things may have changed since I got my MBA 20 years ago – P&G and other CPG companies recruited very heavily at my program (University of Texas, a top-20 school) for brand managers. My friends who got those kinds of jobs had not had marketing jobs before grad school, but they had worked.

          I agree that if you want a job with an investment bank or some other name company, you should focus on top 20 schools (because that’s where the recruiters go, not because the knowledge they impart is so much better). If you want the skills and knowledge to run a family business, then go where it’s cheapest and easiest (but still a quality program).

          1. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.*

            Yeah, I don’t know anything about how to get a job as a brand manager at P&G. Definitely not what I was thinking of when talking about entry level.

            1. Dan*

              My grad school is actually in P&G’s back yard. As I mentioned upthread, I have an analytic degree from the business school. It’s quite technical. A lot of alums from my program stay local and working on marketing analytics for P&G. Keep in mind too that it’s not just direct P&G hires, but the many CPG consulting firms in town that support P&G.

              I don’t know how our MBA’s fare as P&G hires, but CPG analytics employs many of my fellow alums.

          2. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

            Right. There’s this whole world of jobs that are pretty much exclusively available to graduating MBAs from top schools, and marketing jobs are absolutely included. I have a bunch of friends who got marketing gigs at Fortune 100 companies as a result of their MBA. Some of them had sortof relevant work experience, but others shifted from doing direct service nonprofit work, legal work, and so on. In my husband’s MBA class there were even a couple of folks who came directly from undergrad (although they didn’t tend to get the “big” on campus recruiting jobs).

      5. Dan*

        “Would be marketers are a dime a dozen, but people who are trained in the number science aren’t.”

        This is a drum I like to beat, at least at a very high level. If “everybody” wants to do the job, it’s going to be hard to get, and won’t pay well. But the harder-to-do jobs are easier to get, and pay much better. It’s supply and demand.

        My MS is a technical degree from a business school. (It’s official designation is MSBA.) MANY of my classmates go on to consumer marketing jobs, or were already employed in such capacity and the company was paying for their higher ed. I wasn’t in class with a bunch of kids bemoaning the lack of jobs.

    5. Minion*

      “I’d also be very careful where you go to school for most business degrees. Particularly for an MBA, you only want to go if you can get into a top school.”
      Is that true of any field or just marketing? I’ve thought of pursuing a master’s degree – I have a B.S. in accounting, but thought I might follow that up with an MBA from the same school I got my B.S. at – which is an online program. (Fully accredited and non-profit with a really good reputation, though obviously not top-tier like Ivy League schools) Getting an MBA would allow me to then get my CPA which, I thought, would open a lot of doors for me.
      However, if you’re saying I shouldn’t bother unless I’m going to a top-tier school, I’d really like to know if I’d be completely wasting my time.

      1. (Not an IRS) Auditor*

        It depends on your goals. If you want to go work in high finance, they care about pedigree and recruit out of the top tier schools only. And there are the occasional managers that really care. I know one controller who claims to only wants Bentley grads. That said, his protege went to a small liberal arts college, so clearly it’s not as end all be all as he claims.

        If you are looking to be a career auditor / consultant in a regional or smaller firm, or work your way up through an accounting department in a publicly traded firm, an MBA or MSA from SNHU or equivalent is going to be fine.

        1. Funny!*

          You mentioned my alma mater and grad school in your post – and I’m not done with grad but starting a job soon earning 35% more pay with NewEmployer paying the tab. I completely agree with your points and am living proof.

      2. BananaPants*

        Why not just get a master’s in accounting? That coursework would also let you get your CPA designation and would be focused in your area. An MBA is supposed to be a generalist degree (although you wouldn’t know it for all of the non-prestigious schools offering an MBA in IT or homeland security or whatever).

        Right now there’s a serious glut of MBAs. In the 80s, having an MBA was a pretty rarefied thing; in the 90s and early 00s most schools developed part time/night/online programs that any Tom, Dick, or Harry could go to if they paid the tuition. Unless one has an MBA from a top-tier B-school and some experience, it’s not likely to be a good value.

        1. Minion*

          I thought an MBA would be better in case I didn’t want to stay with finance the rest of my life. The MBA is, for me, more or less a catalyst to get to the CPA. I’m in Virginia and while a master’s isn’t necesssarily a hard requirement for a CPA designation, I don’t have quite enough credits to qualify, so I thought an MBA could serve a dual purpose – help me get my CPA and also help me to change fields if I ever decided to move out of accounting/finance.
          I might be all wrong in my thinking. :)

          1. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.*

            Not my field, but sounds like a good profile for controller or CFO of a small(er) business. Our CFO started with us when we were quite a bit smaller. He did a lot of business management in addition to finances. I’m 98% sure he came with an MBA as well as the undergraduate degree and CPA.

          1. Minion*

            Sorry – didn’t mean to lead the comments so far OT. Just wanted clarification on Dan’s comment above. Again, sorry.

      3. Rat in the Sugar*

        What state requires an MBA to become a CPA? I haven’t heard of that requirement here in Florida.

        LIke other fields, though, you want experience as much or more than degrees (and experience is definitely required for the CPA in every state, I believe.)

        1. Minion*

          Some states do, some don’t. I’m in Virginia and it’s not a requirement, but a certain number of credits is and I’m just shy of that number.
          I have experience… I earned my degree late in life, so I’m 41 now and have been working in accounting for the better part of 10 years, though in senior management as a Finance Director only for the last (almost) 2 years.

          1. De Minimis*

            Many states are at the 120 hour requirement, though I don’t know if some are strict about how you get those extra 30 hours beyond an undergraduate degree. I know many states don’t care what the hours are in so long as you meet the minimum accounting coursework requirements.

      4. Artemesia*

        If that helps you get promoted where you are it may be of value but ‘on-line’ MBA is unlikely to help you get a new job and if you want to play in the big leagues then the MBA needs to be from Yale or Harvard or Wharton or whatever because that is where they recruit. I have a relative who went straight to Harvard for an MBA from his undergrad degree at age 21. He was a CEO before he was 30 and finished as a CEO of a fortune 500 company. He always had lots of job offers at every juncture in his career.

        1. Minion*

          I’m not looking to break into the big leagues. I have no interest in working for one of the Big Four. I’m in a very rural area and I’m just looking to maximize my earning potential in my general area. I like my job, but I’m just not sure I want to stay in Finance/Accounting the rest of my life. I like management a lot and I’ve always been a bit interested in Human Resources, so I just don’t want to set my future in stone, so to speak, with a specific degree like a masters in accounting.
          Maybe I’m wrong and it won’t limit any future opportunities, but I don’t really know how all this works.
          A promotion where I’m at is pretty unlikely at this point – the only place I could go is to Executive Director and I’m thinking the current ED is going to stay until she dies, so I’m really thinking more about opportunities elsewhere, but still in my general area.

    6. Bryant*

      Hey guys,

      I was the one posting about replacing my MBA from UofP. I think the reason why I am thinking about getting a second is out of frustration. I’m about to wrap up an MBA marketing internship with a tech non profit and have been applying for months so I’m thinking maybe I just need to apply for more.

      But I do worry and get a little paranoid if there are any stigmas about going to university of Phoenix. When I went I did really feel like I learned a lot.

      Here some info and would really appreciate any advice.

      Got my bachelors in theatre arts and graduated right into the recession and wanted to change careers. I worked for Apple in retail and wanted to jump into a marketing or advertising coordinator position. I would consider myself as entry level since I’m switching but I have about 5 years of retail and sales experience with major known companies.

      Hopefully I’m not sharing too much, I genuinely would love to hear anyone’s input.

  3. Caramel Popcorn*

    While I agree that LW #2 didn’t handle the sisuation well, I think they may have dodged a bullet here. Maybe I’m being picky and reading too much into the wording, but calling someone you haven’t even hired yet a “subordinate” is rude, and being “really mad” becuase they emailed you is pretty over the top. Annoyed, sure. Peeved, maybe. Angry, no way. Just reject them and move on.

    That combined with the glass door reviews? Yeah, bullet completely dodged.

    1. Not the Droid You Are Looking For*

      It definitely felt like a situation where doing the wrong thing led to the right outcome.

    2. June*

      Exactly. I would have checked glass door and other research beforehand as a rule anyway, but this definitely sounds like a bullet dodged.

      A good lesson is how to do things as well, but dont think of the reaction as typical – as far as the being REALLY MAD and the BLACKLISTING is concerned.

      But yeah, you don’t need “tactics” these days. Follow the protocol and process that they have laid out and make sure you come in with a strong cover letter and resume and are polished for you interview. That’s what you can do. If you’re not the right fit your not. It doesn’t mean you’re not a good candidate.

      Keep at it! it’s hard but you’ll land something soon!

  4. Gene*

    Can you just let your clients know when you’re leaving? Unless it’s explicitly prohibited by your company, you could just do a friendly “hey, wanted to let you know I’m moving on and today is my last day” message to them.

    Or just send this email after your last day from your personal account. Or even better, since they keep the email account live, set it up to send an hour or so after EOB your last day. That way you can’t be accused of stealing the contact list. They have no power over you once you don’t work for them.

    1. Pwyll*

      I would probably not recommend contacting clients from your personal e-mail unless you had some kind of verifiable pre-existing relationship (for the reason you imply, that the company could say you stole the contact list).

      That said, any company with as silly a rule as this likely also has rules that prevent employees from informing their clients that they are leaving.

      1. Meg Murry*

        Yes, while I agree this makes sense in general, it would probably burn your bridge with the company on the way out the door, since they told you not to tell the clients.

        So it’s a question of which bridge would you rather risk burning – the people you may need to for a recommendation in the future, or the reputation with clients you may wind up dealing with in the future?

        I’d save this for a last resort, and first push HARD on getting them to let you send a “Jane Doe is leaving Teapots Limited as of June 3rd, please contact John Smith with questions about your account in the meantime. Thank you , it’s been a pleasure working with you.”

    2. KG*

      What about if you have client’s on your LinkedIn? Won’t they see there that you’ve changed positions?

      1. Meg Murry*

        Ah, there’s a good thought. If OP is an account rep where she has developed good rapport with her clients, connecting to them on LinkedIn, and then changing her information once she gets her new job (or possibly even sending a personal message through LinkedIn once she’s left) would be appropriate. It wouldn’t get to all her clients, but perhaps some of them will see it and know.

        If OP is in a position where she has a lot of clients with only a little bit of interaction that might not work as well though – but in that case her ability to have her reputation damaged might not be as obvious.

  5. Not the Droid You Are Looking For*

    LW #3, it may not just be that it’s a UoPhx degree holding you back, but also the fact you have a masters degree and are applying for entry level marketing positions.

    Every time I get an application for an entry level position from someone with a masters, I automatically start wondering what there actual goal in applying is.

    I would try putting out your resume without the masters and a great cover letter about why you want a marketing/comm job and see if that gets you better results.

    1. June*

      yeah – a masters for an entry level position + no resume with work experience in the field. Leave the masters off – what is your undergrad degree in (where is it from?) and see what happens.

      Double and triple check your materials – is your cover letter doing what it needs to? Your resume?

    2. Milton Waddams*

      Most likely they are doubling down on an idea that was pretty heavily pushed in certain circles, that a degree would get them a non-retail job. It’s a form of the “sunk cost fallacy”, sadly — instead of resigning themselves to the fact that their alma mater has swindled them out of a bunch of money that they’ll never get back, they double down on the degrees — after all, they reason, if a Bachelor’s is the new high school diploma, then surely a Master’s must be the new Bachelor’s. :-)

      1. Anna*

        Or, like me, they thought they would be going on to their PhD after the MA and then they got through most of the MA and the thesis writing and realized they were fucking done with school. ;)

        Seriously. I didn’t read anything longer than a magazine article for about a year after I completed my coursework and just had my thesis to write.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Same here. I finally stopped running back to the dubious shelter of Mother Education when I realized it was trashing my own writing. Not only did I not have time to write, but everything started to come out sounding like a school paper. NOPE.

        2. Ife*

          Heh, I almost went on for a master’s just because I loved school and learning, with the vague idea of “I could always go for my PhD and teach.” I was this close to applying, and then the one-two punch of the “how am I going to pay for this” and the relative lack of value started to sink in, and that was the end of that.

    3. DEJ*

      Was coming here to say the same thing. Have you considered taking another internship? I work in a PR field where several internships is common before landing a full-time job.

    4. ThursdaysWoman*

      I’d assume that most people’s ‘goal’ in applying to a job is to get a job.

      I have a doctorate in sociology, because I intended to be a professor. I have now learned that this is not the career path for me. Although I have excellent research design skills and experience in research, I am still entry level for many market research jobs because I have literally never worked in that kind of position before. I try to make this clear in my cover letter, but I guess people are probably just assuming that I have some kind of ulterior motive besides wanting an interesting career? I mean, that would explain why I haven’t been able to make a move outside of the dead end here.

  6. AcademiaNut*

    For #1, would what the employer is doing be illegal under some sort of non-employment law? They’re sending emails pretending to be someone else, without that person’s consent. I can see talking to a lawyer, or the police, if someone was doing that even in a social context. Then you can add in that this is in a professional context, in a field which has formal ethics standards and it gets shadier. Conceivably, a former employee could be implicated in wrong-doing based on the sender’s email address.

    1. Not the Droid You Are Looking For*

      I don’t know how it would apply to impersonating an employee once they have left, but during a recent IT/policy meeting we had the discussion the the organization actually owns the email address and account.

      And that anything they choose to with said email is legal (this was in the context of a “could we automatically sign people up for particular listserves” discussion).

    2. MK*

      I don’t know about US jurisdictions, but in many others, impersonating someone isn’t in itself illegal, contrary to popular impression. It can be illegal combined with other circumstances, like doing it for unlawful gain (fraud), to certain organisations (making a false statement to the authorities), under oath (perjury); but only saying you are someone else may not be a criminal offence.

      Also, is the company actually impersonating former employees? If they are replying to emails and sign “Jane”, when Jane has left weeks ago, that’s one thing, but they might just be omitting to say anything.

      1. neverjaunty*

        Fraud by deliberate omission is not a thing.

        Whether or not it is specifically illegal where the OP works, I am side eyeing the hell out of their in-house attorney and do not think the OP should rely on this advice.

        At a minimum, OP #1, you work at a company that operates unethically and that is not something you want following you around. If you are concerned about what happens when you leave, please talk to an attorney NOT paid for by your company to make sure you know what to do to protect yourself.

        1. JB (not in Houston)*

          In the US, it depends on the state. In my state, it very much is a thing, though only in one narrow circumstance–basically if the person doing the fraud knows that omission would matter to you and leaves it out to induce you to act/not act. You don’t generally have a duty to disclose info but you do in certain circumstances. I really don’t think it would be in this case absent facts that aren’t mentioned in the letter (and I probably would be if they existed).

      2. nofelix*

        I feel you’re forgetting defamation of character. Sure, some damage has to actually occur before it’s actionable, but would a decent in-house lawyer want that risk lying around? Any employee using the ex-employee’s name could conceivably cause damage without knowing it.

        1. MK*

          I am not forgetting it; it is yet another example that impersonating someone is not in itself illegal, but it can get you into hot legal water if other circumstances also occur.

          I agree that the attorney who sees nothing wrong with this is being very irresponsible and leaves her company open to trouble, but she is likely not wrong in that it’s not by itself illegal. But I was responding to AcademiaNut’s statement that one might consult a lawyer or contact the police in such a circumstance; the police won’t get involved unless the impersonation is an actuall crime (it’s usually nor) or part.preparation of a crime. And a lawyer would be similarly limited untill there was either a crime or damage to their client (except that they could write a strongly-worded letter, demaning that the impersonation stopped).

        2. fposte*

          Defamation cases are notoriously expensive and difficult, though, and they take some pretty significant smearing to be worthwhile. Somebody answering emails slowly in the OP’s name isn’t going to cut it.

          1. Anon For This*

            Ask me in about three months about the thing my sister is dealing with right now from an ex who is suing her for defamation of character, here’s the kicker, from jail.

            However, everything being said here makes sense. If you set up an email account in Jack Black’s name, you are not by definition breaking the law. If you set up that email account and then send emails out that are harassment or fraudulent or lead to harm, THAT is what’s illegal and the fact that you used someone else’s name to do it would be an icing on the cake situation.

        1. MK*

          True, and it’s the same with other professions (in my country, it’s also military, elected officials, civil servants, lawyers, doctors and priests!). But in those cases it’s not the impersonation of a specific individual that’s the issue, it’s the assumption of authority that you don’t have. I mean, if you are Allison Green and there is a police officer named Jane Smith, it’s equally illegal for you to say you police officer Smith (impersonating a specific other person) or are police officer Green (not lying about who you are, just what you are).

          1. Allison*

            Fun story: one time I was wearing a TARDIS hat at the supermarket, and because the TARDIS (for those unfamiliar with Doctor Who) looks like one of those British police phone boxes, an elderly lady asked me if I was really a police officer. I said no and explained that the hat was a reference to a show I liked, and she very seriously informed me that it’s illegal to impersonate a police officer.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Well, there could be a problem if the person sending the email did not have the same credentials or licenses as the person who “owned” the email. I am thinking of the financial sector where if you do not have a license to talk about/sell X product you had best NOT be talking about/selling X product. In this case, sending out an email as someone else would be a HUGE no-no.
      I should think the real estate sector would have similar issues.

      Add to the mix, what if the person sends out erroneous information under someone else’s name? The email “owner” would have to prove they did not send that email. Depending on the setting there is a chance of investigation and loss of licensing. Which in turn would mean the “email owner” is out of work and out of a career.

      OP, you could ask the lawyer if she would be okay with someone taking her email and conducting legal work under her name. Ask her is someone sent out bad information that caused harm to another then what would happen to her licenses and credentials. I am kind of shocked that the lawyer does not see a problem here.

      1. Graciosa*

        The lawyer may assume that the business is keeping the email alive (noting that it does belong to the company) in order to legitimately service their customers.

        If Customer emails to ask what happened to the teapot shipment, someone checking the account could reply back that the tracking number is 12345 and to please contact customer service (or the new email sender) directly if there are any other issues *without* actually impersonating anyone.

        This is a perfectly normal thing for a business to do, and the attorney may assume – upon receiving a question about keeping the email of a former employee open, checking it, and responding to customers – that this is what’s happening.

        If a replacement customer service representative is answering questions coming to the former customer service representative’s email, this doesn’t present any of the “pretending to be a doctor / lawyer / police officer” issues people have been discussing.

        The part that crosses an ethical line is when the new customer service representative actually signs the email “Former Employee” which is both bad and unusual enough that I am not sure an attorney would think to ask about it. It wouldn’t have occurred to me until reading this letter.

        So yes, the attorney may be screwing up here, or the attorney may not have had the one piece of information that changes everything.

    4. GoodGodLemon*

      I’m the person who wrote in for #1 – we are in the US, and I did manage to solve the situation….I wrote an email to all of my clients letting them know that I was leaving and then telling them how wonderful it had been to work with them, etc. I gave the contact info for my replacement, as well. They were so lovely and the message was well-received…..And then I went in to work the next day and was paid out through my two weeks notice and escorted out of the office. They didn’t have a specific policy relating to not telling your clients you were leaving, but were furious.
      The CEO was correct — they own the email address. However, they don’t own my likeness and had planned to have my replacement continue acting as me (yes, with my signature block still in place) but then getting around it by signing forms that go to the state as ….”So and so FOR my name.”

  7. Crispy Eggs*

    #1 – I wonder how contacts would react to getting emails after the OP’s departure if he/she already sent them a “today’s my last day” email. Surely some will be confused enough that this won’t completely save the OP’s reputation with clients. Would it maybe be worth also saying to the company “I’d prefer that clients not continue to be contacted in my name after I’ve left, and I’ve let them know I’ll be moving on”? Could be worth irritating a potential reference, depending on the importance of the OP’s reputation with the clients.

    1. Nina*

      I was also wondering how this actually works for the company, at least in the long term. The “He/she’s out of the office” excuse can only work for so long. And that could cause a bigger problem: the contacts think they’re being blown off when in reality, their rep no longer works there. Either way, it doesn’t look good.

      I thought about putting it in the signature somehow. A subtle way of letting clients know, like “Thanks for 5 great years! After (whatever date) please contact John Smith for info” or something.

      1. MK*

        Eh, I assume they aren’t blown off; I mean, they are not being told to call later, they are being serviced by another employee, and probably told to ask for the new person next time. But if the turnover is so high, clients will notice eventually.

      2. AdAgencyChick*

        That’s what I don’t get — how does this actually work for the company? Is it that most clients have no more than two or three contacts with the company? I can’t picture this working in my industry, in which you work with a client for months or years!

      3. Joseph*

        I don’t see how this works either. I mean, if I’m calling someone and they say “Sorry, John is out of office, but Matthew can help you”, my immediate response is going to include the question “When will John be returning?”. From there, you either give a specific time frame (and risk me preferring to wait till next Monday or whatever) OR you don’t give a specific time frame and get a bunch of follow-up questions.

        It’s also worth mentioning that in many industries/companies (possibly not OP’s though), employees use their personal cell phones for work, so a “sorry, John is out of office” could very well result in me calling John’s cell to ask a quick question (particularly if you’re vague about the reason he’s out of office)…which then leads to me finding out you’re lying to me.

        1. MK*

          It could be that the clients don’t care who exactly they are dealing with, as long as their bussiness is done. But in that case I see no reason at all for the deception.

      4. Rhiannon*

        >The “He/she’s out of the office” excuse can only work for so long.

        A former employer of mine was telling clients I was “out of the office” over a year after I had left. They did this because they still hadn’t hired a new account manager to replace me and were shoving my former clients on random admins and interns (none of whom lasted very long).

        For the clients I had spoken with almost daily, they caught on quickly and weren’t happy about it. But there were some clients I only connected with once a quarter and they didn’t seem to question that I was always “out of office” when they reached out to me.

      5. Phantom*

        The place my husband used to get his hair cut tried pulling this nonsense. One day he called to see if the girl who usually cut his hair was working and he could get an appointment with her. They said she wasn’t working that day but would be working the next day. When he tried the next day, they told him she was working later in the day. When he tried a third day, they finally told him that she didn’t work there anymore. So, he decided to find another place to get his hair cut.

        I guess they were hoping that he’d just say, “Well, let whoever is working cut my hair.” While he might have said that if they’d just told him she didn’t work there anymore right off the bat, he certainly wasn’t going to after the lies.

        Eventually, he found the girl who used to cut his hair via Facebook. It turned out she’d just switched to another location in the same chain! She’s since become a barber, and he’s followed her to two other employers.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I would definitely consider taking that preemptive strike of emailing the clients on my last day. Then I would be sure to inform the company of what I have done. If they get mad at me, oh, well. Their pay buys my labor. There is not enough money is this world to purchase my reputation or my future income. If management is “mad at me”, then so be it.

    3. Sadsack*

      I also thought about how this would impact a good reference. What can they say? OP told clients she was leaving when she knew we liked to hide that info to string them along? Probably not, but they could just say OP didn’t follow company policies/norms without elaborating.

      1. AdAgencyChick*

        Yeah, they’d never tell the truth about that. It would be “OP chose to badmouth us to our clients on her last day” or something like that. If they’re willing to lie to clients, for sure they’ll lie to people asking for a reference as well.

  8. June*


    I think going back to school can help you, but I am also thinking of your financial load. You’re already having a hard time finding work and I know how expensive schools like UofP/ITT Tech etc are. Soooo much more expensive for what they are giving you and it’s really crappy.

    My questions are: did you do your undergrad at a state school or not for profit university? Could you just leave the UofP masters off and see what happens that way? Or did you do both programs through UofP?

    What is your undergrad degree? Like Alison says, a masters in communication/marketing may not be necessary. I have cohorts who are working in well paying marketing roles without any degrees at all, because they, well, they marketed themselves well! ha. They showed their know-how with personal branding and it worked for THEM. Not to say this will work for you. But what types of roles are you looking for?? Are these roles you could maybe find an in into by having your own brand/online presence? What about working as a Virtual Assistant for a while freelance until you can get some resume built up?

    If you can afford it, in time and financially, to go back to school then definitely be careful about where you choose and what you choose. I’m not against it, but I think you really need to research what you are going to do next really really well.

    Best of luck

    1. Schuyler*

      I had thought about this some too (I’m a financial aid administrator). Since you already have a master’s, I’m assuming you did take out some loan funding to help cover tuition and/or expenses. I would really hate for you to end up in trouble because you took out too much loan debt, still have trouble getting a degree, and then end up in default on the loan… which may cause bigger problems for you. As others have suggested maybe shop around your resume a bit without the masters on it. And I’m not sure if this has bee suggested yet, but as Alison often suggests, maybe take a look at your resume and cover letter to see if there’s anything that needs to be changed there.

      1. June*

        and the costs of UofP in comparison to schools that “look better” on your resume are ridiculous. They are EXPENSIVE and they tend to prey on people who don’t really know better.

  9. June*

    #5, if you’re ready to move AS SOON as you get the job, why not just use that as your address without the extra info (unless you’re far enough away that would make interviewing in person a bit more difficult and require planning?)

    1. Chloe Silverado*

      I did this during my last move. Once I changed my address on my resume to a local one, I got a bunch of interviews – prior to changing the address I didn’t get called once, but at the time I only had 2 years of work experience in a crowded field so this may be different for the OP. In my case, my new city was only a 4 hour drive away so I could go there and back in one day without too much planning or hassle. I did explain the scenario during every initial in-person interview and it went over fine in every instance. If traveling to the new city doesn’t require too much advanced planning, I’d definitely recommend giving this a try.

    2. Triceratops*

      Yes, especially since your future roommate is living there — you can presumably receive mail there, so I don’t see a real reason *not* to include the future address.

    3. PedroElLeon*

      OP for #5 here. I’m moving from Minnesota, so outside of arranging a plane ticket and taking off time from my current job, there isn’t a whole lot of extra planning. Still think just using my local CO address is the way to go?

  10. June*

    #4 just communicate with boss. Closed mouths don’t get fed, you know. Just ask, matter of factly, what is next for you once new mom returns to work.

    1. dragonzflame*

      Closed mouths don’t get fed – I love this and am stealing it to use at the next opportunity.

      1. voyager1*

        I wonder if the job for the returning employee may be required by law. I get the feeling that this isn’t a USA written. Here in the USA there are certain laws that require a job for returning employees from maternity leave.

  11. Mando Diao*

    OP1: I encountered this when I worked at a small business that made the mistake of only using name[at]company[dot]com email addresses. Employees would inevitably end up with a lot of different web-based applications and crucial client/sales information connected to those email addresses, and it wouldn’t have made sense to start everything over from scratch when someone left and a replacement was hired. That’s how the “Claudia” email account ended up being passed between 3 or 4 employees over the last few years. Of course, this problem could have been avoided by using simple email handles like marketing[at] or bookkeeping[at] or admin[at], rather than linking important business stuff to the names of real people who might not work there forever. And of course, since we were still using the Claudia email, we would identify ourselves as Claudia if a customer called to follow-up on an email, just to reduce confusion (and because the customers for that type of business tended to be fussy and we didn’t want to give out our real names anyway). So I don’t see that your company is doing anything sinister, but maybe it’s time for you to start gradually transitioning over to generic email accounts. People can change the signatures as they come and go, but you won’t be losing any information or breaking chains of communication.

    1. nofelix*

      Seems like there’s a difference between using a generic ‘Claudia’ email for one-off customer service responses vs. using an email account with an ex-employee’s full name to correspond with contacts that would already know them. There’s a much higher risk in the latter scenario for the company carelessly tarnishing the ex-employee’s reputation.

      Words can’t explain how angry I would be if I found out a previous employer screwed over a contact of mine and pretended to be me while doing it! Despite what people are saying here I’d talk to a lawyer regarding suing for defamation of character.

      1. fposte*

        Such suits are usually about a 5 digit cost to the plaintiff. And not necessarily *low* five digits.

      2. Graciosa*

        Defamation generally requires serious harm to your reputation.

        It’s going to be very difficult to prove that if all you can show is that the company is pretending you worked there (which you did at one point, so probably not like falsely claiming you worked in a brothel which is closer to the nature of defamation) or that someone is answering emails at your former job as you (unless you can prove they are doing so in such a horribly offensive way that it seriously damages your reputation).

        Fposte is right that this kind of thing is extraordinarily expensive, but you should also know that defamation suits are also difficult to win even with much more egregious conduct than this.

        I’m not saying you wouldn’t have a right to be upset – I’m just warning you that the law does not have a remedy for everything bad in the world.

        1. nofelix*

          Noted. I would mostly just be talking to the lawyer about writing a strong letter, though I realise I said sue earlier.

  12. Jack the treacle eater*

    #2, there strikes me as something odd. You say you’re regularly being rejected at the offer stage because you’re changing fields, but this is something that should be obvious to the hiring company at the start of the process – if it was a problem, you’d think they’d reject at an early stage, perhaps even before interview.

    Telecoms to software isn’t really a big leap for a sales engineer either, unless the hiring companies are after a specific technical background or understanding – in which case, again, you’d have thought they’d reject early in the process.

    Do you have definite feedback to say that’s why you’re being rejected? If not, I think I’d be looking into possible issues further to see if they could be addressed.

    1. Random Lurker*

      For an SE, the leap from telecom to software can be huge. It really depends on the type of software we are talking about, and the target customer. I’ve worked in both software and telecom companies (though not as a sales engineer), and the technical requirements differ greatly. It would have been a non-starter in my n=1 experience.

      For OP, it is unfortunate that they didn’t have their hiring criteria in order before they wasted his time (and theirs). Chalk it up to another bullet dodged – in addition to being culturally toxic, they are inefficient to boot.

    2. Nye*

      This struck me, as well. If this has happened more than once, OP, you might consider reevaluating your interviewing style. Specifically, it may be worth talking to contacts in the industry you want to get into to make sure you sound knowledgeable about the field (eg, are using the right vocabulary, know the conventions, etc). It may be that you’re not coming off as well in person as you could be, and the “change in background” line is a convenient excuse for the interviewer to give.

      That said, while I agree with Alison that contacting the CEO wasn’t a great move, it does sound as if that specific company would have been a really unpleasant workplace.

    3. Artemesia*

      This. Once is annoying. But if it happens several times then you may well have a reference who is damaging you or something like that that seems to derail things at the offer stage.

    4. Manee*

      Hi I am the OP for that question. I do get great interview feedback but this is in NYC and someone is always having relevant experience than I do. I have been one of the final two candidates at every single company I interviewed with.

      I currently work for one of the major telecom providers in the country and although I am working in software it gives the impression that my job is mainly in telecom. I am trying to get into relatively new software companies so it hard to relate my current experience to that although I have the necessary qualifications.

      1. MyFakeNameIsLaura*

        Yuuuuuuuuup. Newer software companies tend to see telecom as a dinosaur. They worry that your skills won’t be up to date (cutting edge), you won’t be familiar with current trends in the field, and most importantly that you won’t fit in with the culture – which is generally less conservative/bureaucratic than telecom.

  13. Chaordic One*

    #1. My former employer has a real problem with this. I don’t think it is necessarily because they are attempting to mislead clients that employees are still working there. Mostly it is just not a big priority. (They are a bit lazy about such things.) Frequently, they seem embarrassed that they don’t have replacements for people who have left.

    On the occasions when my former employer is on the ball, email accounts are set up to deliver an auto response that the person emailed no longer works there and who they should contact instead. I advocated for having email addresses for lower-level employees, where there was a lot of turnover, that simply listed their title, instead of their name such as: That way the email would still go to the person filling the function, but there was a lot of resistance to that idea.

    Similarly, they sometimes had similar messages recorded on people’s stating that the person no longer works there and who and what number they should contact instead. Eventually, of course a replacement is usually hired and takes care of the phone calls.

    But more often than not, nothing is said or done until a client, whose messages were not being returned, calls the main desk (or a supervisor, if they knew who that is). It sucks.

    1. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.*

      Our sysadmin handles this smoothly. Somebody leaves, and we specify to whom that person’s email gets forwarded and that’s that. He just points Jane’s email address to Gloria.

  14. BRR*

    That’s a good point. And is it the offer stage or is the lw being rejected at the interview stage? I applied to some roles that were a change and I would get a phone screen or an inperson interview but they definitely weren’t close to making an offer. My background ruled me out after speaking with me about the position. In the letter it’s closer to an offer but are the other times the same?

    Also the glass door checking should happen at the beginning of when you are evaluating a company (with a grain of salt because it is glassdoor).

    1. T3k*

      Second checking glassdoor in the beginning. I always try to leave some room for thinking it’s just disgruntled workers, but it gives good insight into their culture if there’s enough reviews.

  15. Jack the Treacle Eater*

    “That was supposed to be a reply to Jack the treacle eater”

    Thought it was!

    For later when they’re separated by 30 or 40 posts!

    OP implies the rejection is typically at the final interview or even the offer stage: “I would go until the final stage of interviews … right when they are ready to offer me a job, I get cut off due to the different background”. Your experience sounds more typical.

    Might be that their candidacy is strong but they’re just shaded by someone with more industry experience, I suppose, but that’s not a reason to panic and is quite different to the way the OP seems to be reading things. Just thought it was worth thinking about in case there’s something else going on that can be addressed.

    Should stress I’m talking about the OP’s comments about their general experience, not really this particular situation with this one CEO.

  16. Jen*

    #3. You might consider removing the full degree fromUofP but replacing it with a note about “additional coursework in (very relevant thing you did at UKfP) and (other thing).” Not example, if as part of your degree you did a web analytics/SEO course or something on rebranding, and those things would be directly applicable to the role you want. No need to specificy details about this add’l coursework, and if t comes up in the interview, you can say you do online courses (at U of P if asked).

    I am hopeful you actually did learn relevant things in the program, so weave them in without trying to equate them with a NFP school degree.

    1. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.*

      Really good point. I wasn’t even thinking that the courses might be useful in the real world. I assumed it was “yaw yaw yaw case study Dove marketing campaign yaw yaw yaw”.

      If actual useful skills were learned, especially analysis or anything to do with numbers, I’d personally like to see that on a resume.

      1. Kyrielle*

        Also, instead of considering another Masters, if you’re worried you didn’t get everything you could have and you want more course-time (not another degree) – or if you want to double-check or extend your knowledge – maybe check out Coursera also. They have some marketing offerings, and if you don’t want a certificate, it’s free (at least it was last time I used it – my knowledge is a year out of date but I don’t think that’s changed).

        For the same reason that mentioning “additional coursework” could be helpful, so could this – though to be clear, even with a certificate it doesn’t have huge weight, and without one it has almost none *except* that it shows your interest and ongoing study. (It may, of course, also give you ideas or frames of reference that would help you interview better.)

        1. Spooky*

          Also try MediaBistro. They have some great classes that are very specific, so you could build a targeted skill set.

        2. Meg Murry*

          Rather than go back for a full MBA, OP, can you afford to just take a couple of classes (1-2 a semester) while keeping your retail job? With your UoP degree, you may be qualified to take a few mid or higher level classes, and develop a rapport with a professor that might be able to help you get another internship, if not a full time job. Being a current student (even if you only take 1 class at a time) would probably also make you eligible to use their career services and go to their career fair – which is the kind of place where a lot of entry level hiring takes place. Don’t go into a ton of debt for these classes, but if you can take 1-2 classes as a non-degree student (which also usually doesn’t require you to go through all the full application process, since OP already has an undergrad degree), you might get a better understanding as to whether your UoP degree really did prepare you or not, and make some valuable contacts. I’d only do it for in person classes though – don’t spend more money on online classes, because what you need now is networking way more than instruction.

          I don’t think you need to fully replace your UoP degree, but you may need more contacts to break into the field, and current professors in your area may be able to help with that, or you may meet current students that are employed that have some connections.

          1. June*

            the problem with a degree from UofP is threefold –

            They don’t have normal class structure (if you’re suggesting she take one or two classes there in a new program) they do like these 5-6 weeks modules of like one or two classes at a time, instead of normal semesters. Some people attend UofP on campus and some attend online, not all their course programs are online study.

            Their programs don’t tend to transfer well. So NFP schools might not consider the degree at all and require student to start at square 1. I believe they’ve gotten regionally accredited in the last few years, but I still think there are a lot of transferable problems with UofP

            THEY ARE EXPENSIVE. It could definitely HELP OP right now to go back to school, in order to push back when her loans come due, but to just be careful in doing so because she likely already has a very high debtload now.

      2. Come On Eileen*

        Haha, oh my gosh :-) I have to ask, is a masters in marketing/communications actually viewed as “yaw yaw yaw case study Dove marketing campaign yaw yaw yaw” ?! I’m in communications and have been thinking of getting a masters (mostly because I love learning and want to stay on top of trends in my field, not because I think it’s a golden ticket to a higher paying job) and your comment just struck me as so funny :-)

        1. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.*

          Ha ha ha, no. :)

          Taking case study kinds of courses in marketing undergrad or graduate, without real practical years on the job, doesn’t give you much to carry over to a real job — especially if it’s distance learning.

          A case study MBA course taken part time, within a classroom full of people who are also on the job, now everybody has their own points of reference from which they learn individually and together as a group. There’s world to be learned from dissecting the giant JC Penny mistakes of the last years, for example, but if you’re not bringing some experience into the conversation, I don’t see how the dissecting gets you personally anywhere.

          Definitely not dismissing case study based MBA marketing courses but hoping the OP might have taken some harder skills courses, now that Jen mentioned it.

          1. Come On Eileen*

            Thanks, it’s always helpful to get insights from folks outside my professional circle.

  17. jlv*

    Subordinate? Lol… be glad things didn’t work out for you at this company. They are snobs who do not understand that a working relationship goes both ways. Sure you were a bit cheeky and ballsy reaching out to the CEO but he’s not an aristocrat or royalty. He’s a business man, in a suit, sitting behind a desk. Be thankful you escaped from this ‘opportunity’. Imagine dealing with that ego on a daily basis and the caste system. My god!

    1. Colette*

      Well, I can understand why that would be a concern. The CEO doesn’t want to be dragged into every issue an employee has with her supervisor or job. There’s a chain of command for a reason.

      1. Rat in the Sugar*

        Well, it’s understandable that the CEO didn’t like it, and OP probably shouldn’t have done it, but I agree with jlv that their reaction was over the top. There was no need for the manager to talk about how mad he was, he could have just said something like “We find that unprofessional. We will not be considering a relationship with you in the future.”

        1. Not So NewReader*

          This. If the CEO is willing to speak this way to someone he does not even know, I think it’s reasonable to assume that it’s worse when he speaks to people he does know.
          It appears that the CEO thinks employees are a disposable commodity.

          1. Jennifer M.*

            But the CEO didn’t say this to the OP. The recruiter told the OP over the phone that the CEO was mad that a subordinate had contacted him. So who knows exactly what the CEO said to the recruiter.

        2. Sadsack*

          Particularly since OP was told it was the CEO who made the decision. That’s a bit different than being dragged into matters that should be left to one’s direct manager to handle.

          1. Colette*

            Well, CEOs make many decisions that the managers who work for them communicate to their staff. That doesn’t mean the staff should contact the CEO to discuss the decision.

      2. Alton*

        It sounds like the CEO is directly involved in hiring decisions, though, if he’s conducting interviews and making the ultimate hiring decisions. Regardless of whether it was the best choice, I don’t think it was that ridiculous for the OP to reach out to the person who seemed to be taking on the role of hiring manager.

      3. insert witty name here*

        Then the CEO shouldn’t have gotten involved in the hiring decision…

    2. Rafe*

      Or, you know, it’s the word commonly used in professional settings to describe the difference between the president and CEO and someone who is far below that level. Insubordination is a real thing that people get fired for, mistakenly acting as though there’s no difference between the chief and themselves.

      1. Rat in the Sugar*

        OP isn’t below the CEO’s level, though. She doesn’t even work at that company yet, so she’s not his subordinate. I mean, by that logic the CEO could call anyone on the street his subordinate. I don’t think OP should have sent the email in the first place, but CEO’s reaction was a bit much when we’re only talking about a candidate they hadn’t even hired yet.

        1. Artemesia*

          I will have to say that at every place I have worked, a candidate ‘reaching out’ to the CEO would have been put in the crazy pants pile. You don’t do that and you particularly don’t do it to argue that the decision was wrong to go forward. A person who runs to the CEO when an issue comes up is not someone you want to hire.

          1. LBK*

            Well, to be fair, it wasn’t exactly “running up” to the CEO – the next interview was with the CEO anyway, and he’s the one that made the decision. It wasn’t like a middle manager 10 steps down on the hierarchy rejected the OP and she decided to go over that person’s head. There does seem to be a disconnect between not wanting to be contacted but still wanting to have a say in every hiring decision (although I still agree that it wasn’t appropriate for the OP to try to overturn a hiring decision, whether it was made by the CEO or any other manager).

          2. AnotherHRPro*

            An applicant appealing a hiring decision to the CEO is definitely a crazy pants move. It does not matter if the CEO was the one that decided to move forward with the hire. This is a no-no.

        2. LBK*

          Agreed – she isn’t a subordinate at that point, she’s a prospective employee, and one whom you’d presumably like to put a good face on for. I do think this smacks a little bit of not understanding that hiring is a two way street and that a candidate doesn’t come groveling to your door begging to work for you – you also have to show that you’re a company worth working for. Even violating a hiring convention like this isn’t grounds to discard all forms of professionalism and start treating candidates like garbage. I also think that behavior doesn’t appear out of nowhere for people that don’t regularly exhibit it, so it probably is indicative that the GlassDoor reviews are right.

          Also, whether it’s technically correct or not, “subordinate” is a pretty demeaning term and I can’t picture a good manager ever throwing it in someone’s face like this. It carries the implication that you do what I say when I say because I’m the boss and that’s it. Which, again, is technically accurate, but it’s not a good way to manage.

          1. Graciosa*

            I’m not sure I agree that subordinate is a demeaning term, although most people seem to replace it with some version of “works for” in speech.

            I do agree that the hiring process is a two way street, and that good managers – or in the CEO’s case, good executives – should behave professionally.

            I have some sympathy for the reaction because this was such a bizarre thing for the applicant to do, and the demand for the CEO’s time to appeal a hiring decision has me wide-eyed. It has elements of a more consumer-oriented approach (“If the CSR doesn’t give you what you want, send a letter to the board of directors!”) which does not always work in a business setting.

            On the other hand, if you’re a CEO who refuses to talk to subordinates, you’re not going to get much information about what’s going on in the company – how many people who are not subordinates would be qualified to tell you?

            1. LBK*

              To be clear, I think it’s fine when you’re speaking in pragmatic terms about the hierarchy of your organization and outlining who reports to whom; “I have three subordinates” or “Jane is Bob’s subordinate” sounds fine to me (although in both cases I think “employee” sounds more natural). It’s when you’re reprimanding someone with it (or really any reference to how you’re higher up the food chain than them) that I find demeaning – there’s some element of “You are just a puny minion” that’s very dehumanizing. There’s very few situations in which I think it’s appropriate to remind someone of their place in the hierarchy, and I think most good managers would do it with different phrasing (so that you might not even need to explicitly call out the fact that you’re the boss and they need to do what you say).

      2. Kelly L.*

        True, but as someone else said upthread, OP isn’t actually subordinate to this person, because they don’t work there. The hierarchy only kicks in once she’s hired.

        1. Graciosa*

          Not true.

          This engagement with the CEO was part of the hiring process for the specific job.

          If she met him at a friend’s picnic while not involved in the application process, she is in no way his subordinate.

          In this case, she was *applying* – unsuccessfully – to become a subordinate. Ignoring the hierarchy which she aspired to join was a mistake.

          1. Kelly L.*

            Sure, I’m not saying it was a splendid idea, just that in this case, any authority the CEO had over her was just by courtesy. He was not actually in charge of her yet.

    3. NASA*

      LOL indeed. I don’t know too much about start-ups but how many people does this CEO Lord of Planet Q rule? 5? 10? 20? (I know they come in all shapes and sizes, but I still envision start-ups as 3-10 people working hard in a garage)

      Bullet dodged, OP, bullet dodged!

  18. Anon for obvious reasons*

    #1: My company does a version of this that I believe is outright fraud. Some sort of company safety officer is required in order to bid on most work in our industry. Our Safety Manager quit nearly nine months ago, and the owner doesn’t want to fill the position because it is overhead. The company is still sending out proposals with her name as Safety Manager. They actually have no one even acting as the Safety Manager and are just coasting along hoping they don’t get caught. This is fraud in my book, even if it may not be technically illegal (but I bet it is). This is one of those cases where the cheap can come out very expensive.

    1. Sigrid*

      They better hope that your former safety manager doesn’t get a job at a company who is bidding for the exact same work… (Assuming the companies you’re submitting bids to are paying attention to things like the same name apparently fulfilling the safety manager role at two separate companies, of course.)

    2. Pwyll*

      If they’re bidding on government contracts this is indeed fraud, and there are hefty penalties if they get caught (including being barred from ever recieving a government contract again, and if they win and submit an invoice, could be prosecuted under the False Claims Act).

  19. Mark in Cali*

    OP, this is a bit off topic but I’m curious if you are willing to share why the change from software to telcom has been challenging. I’m working on a degree in IT because it’s something I find interesting, but I also have the impression it’s lucrative. I’m sure there are a lot of factors like what you are looking for specifically and what the market is like, but I’m curious to know a bit more if you’re willing. Thanks!

    1. Apollo Warbucks*

      There are few tech people here that might be able to help, perhaps the open on Friday would be a good place to ask.

  20. Former Marketing Grad*

    #3: Marketing and communications are tough fields. The market is saturated with recent business grads with the same qualifications going after the same entry level positions. I graduated top of my class, had multiple well-regarded internships during and after college, and glowing recommendations from previous employers. It still took me 18 months, over 400 applications, and who knows how many interviews to finally land an entry level position. I almost always made it to the last round of interviews to be beat out by someone simply edged me out in qualifications. Some of my former marketing classmates found themselves in similar positions or stuck working sales jobs that have very little to do with the degree. While your degree may be playing a part in your struggle, you also need to remind yourself that these entry level positions in marketing/communications are extremely competitive. I can only imagine your proximity to a well-known university pumping out business grads every year isn’t helping your search either. Try to find online certificates, unpaid marketing jobs, or something to keep yourself busy and relevant.

    Good luck and keep grinding. Hopefully you’ll land something soon.

    1. Down the road*

      While entry level marketing jobs are hard to find, it is a field that crosses all industries, so once you make it across the threshold, you will probably find opportunities.

      The events industry is one that welcomes entry level marketing applicants. Hard work, long hours, a lot of travel, but a place to start building a resume and make great networking connections…

  21. Thinking of Grad School*


    If they apply for a job where the master’s degree wouldn’t be beneficial, could they just leave it off their resume? Or is that not allowed?

      1. AnotherAlison*

        In lieu of the degree, could you add “additional coursework in marketing: course x, y, z” to your education or other skills section, and only list courses that actually provided applicable training? Or does that invite too many questions, if you never want to divulge where your classes were taken?

        I’m thinking I would be more accepting of a few online marketing courses at UoP because I can understand the convenience factor, but a whole degree definitely raises the issues that have been beaten to death here. I’d present those courses as more on par with RedVector or SkillPath training, rather than a for-credit state university.

  22. PeachTea*

    I have to agree with the general sentiment regarding keeping the UoP off your resume and additionally not going back to school, especially with having the internship experience. Could you restructure your resume to highlight that, if you aren’t already?

    On a slightly related note, has everyone seen the new UoP commercials where the girl is singing about how “a degree is a degree and you’re going to want someone like me.” Then she goes on to say that if you don’t hire her, you’re basically not smart like she is. Those commercials rub me the absolute wrong way. They’re condescending and honestly, say the exact opposite of what I think they’re trying to portray. No, a degree from UoP isn’t the same thing as a degree from a state school. Just like a degree from a state school isn’t the same thing as a degree from an Ivy. Honestly, that commercial in and of itself would make me pull UoP from my resume if I was an alumna.

    1. Elle the new Fed*

      I JUST saw this ad after I read your comment. It ended a little harshly I thought.

    2. AnotherAlison*

      My jaw dropped when I saw this commercial. I viewed it as a recognition that the UoP degree is seen as worthless, and the best that they can do to counter that argument is say, “Hey, a degree is a degree.”

      (And seriously, if a “degree is a degree” then why the hell do they charge so much? I would go ahead and save my money, spend 2 years at the community college, and finish at the nearest state commuter school if the name on the degree doesn’t have any added value, thankyouverymuch.)

      1. Kelly L.*

        Yes! And the weird stretching of the tempo is so grating. The Toast did a great sendup of it. Link in next comment.

      2. Thinking of Grad School*

        EXACTLY! I know a person who got their degree from UofP, their student loans are 5x what mine are doing exactly what you described.

      3. Tyrannosaurus Regina*

        Seriously! On what planet is a community college degree not a better idea and a better deal than a for-profit school? Argh!

    3. Elizabeth West*

      Ugh, no I haven’t seen that but just reading about it sets my teeth on edge. I can’t wait until they jerk a knot in their tail for peddling this snake oil.

  23. Some2*


    I used to work for as a legal assistant for a law firm that did this. In fact, clients were routinely lied to about who they were talking with and who was actually representing them as a matter of course. There were 6-10 attorneys, and about 20 legal assistants in the office. Each legal assistant had over 200 clients. Some of the legal assistants used fake names, and this was okay – so clients would only know them by their fake name, and legal assistant would never give out their last name. (Often fake names were used if there were two “Jennifer”s in the office for example – one “Jennifer” would have to go by something else.)

    It was a terrible place to work and most people quit by post-it note or amidst a loud stream of obscenities in the middle of the day. We had, on average, one person quit every 2-3 weeks, so the turnover was constant. Often new legal assistants were hired and just told to use the old legal assistant’s name (so at work, “Anna” would quit, we would hire Grace, but Grace would only be known as “Anna” to clients). Clients NEVER spoke to their actual attorney unless and until the case went to trial; they only spoke to the legal assistants – but we were supposed to downplay the fact that we were assistants, so most clients just assumed we were their attorneys, and we were supposed to let them assume that.

    The whole thing was very, very messed up, but all of it perfectly legal.

    1. meg*

      That is not legal, especially at a law firm. Impersonating a lawyer is explicitly prohibited by state laws and/or state legal ethics rules.

    2. Temperance*

      Actually, this is amazingly NOT legal. It’s unauthorized practice of law, and incredibly unethical.

  24. Employment Lawyer*

    1. My company pretends that former employees still work here

    I’m concerned that my company is doing something that’s illegal: after an employee leaves, they continue to use that employee’s email address to contact clients as though that employee were still working there, and when a client calls, they just tell them that the employee is out of the office. This continues for months at a time, because they don’t want our clients to know how much turnover we have.
    Not legal, in my view. The company is getting a benefit from past employees by deliberately misusing their professional likeness and benefits.

    Frankly, that would be an interesting suit: if Company gets a contract because “Clyde is still working there and will be contract lead,” Clyde might be entitled to sue to get a cut. (I distinguish between intentional indifference like “leaving Clyde on the employee website”, and blatant lying.)

    The specific torts would probably be misrepresentation, interference with business relations (since this could affect you work in other ways) and some other things.

    1. De Minimis*

      It’s interesting, it’s a reverse of the common business law class scenarios about agency–usually they involve a former employee representing themselves as an agent of their former employer, not the other way around….

      So would the former employee having an updated resume online constitute notice that they no longer work at Old Company?

  25. Nick*

    #3 – superseding your U of Phoenix Degree –

    I sort of did this. I don’t have a degree from U of Phoneix, but one from DeVry. Class of 2003, back then it wasn’t so associated with anything nefarious and I thought it would be a good tech-oriented college to begin pursuing my interest in IT.

    A few years after I got my bachelors I did return to my school for my masters. I didn’t actually continue my IT path since I thought I could just get certifications instead. So I went and got a more liberal arts masters that was focused on film studies. This is because when I am not doing my normal 8-5 job, I am doing academic and scholarly writing.

    So I always felt that my masters kinda completed me, made me a more well rounded person, and also that it sort of “supersedes” my DeVry degree since it is from a state school.

    I still leave my DeVry degree on my resume, but my masters as well. I’ve had one person ask me about it in an interview. I feel like since my work experience it IT related, it shows I can do what I need to do, so I don’t see having my DeVry degree listed as too negative.

    1. Bryant*

      Thank you Nick for your reply. My name is Bryant and I am the one that made the original post.

      I want to say this. I truly felt that I learned something from my classes while I was attending the University of Phoenix. But I always feel like there a negative stigma towards going there and thats why I posted because one night I was curious about what people thought and came across ask a

      The reason why I made the decision to go back to school was I felt like maybe I made a mistake getting a degree in Theatre Arts and wanted to be more hirable during the recession and went back to Cal State Long Beach for a 2nd bachelors in Marketing and to also increase my gpa as well. After completing one semester, I received a letter stating that I would have to just graduate with my 1st degree because of too many students trying to get in (the year was 2009 and news of state schools being overwhelmed with student applicants and funding being cut). When I received this letter I burst into tears cuz I felt like my life was over and no one was going to hire me ever again. I truly felt like I was trying to better my situation and scrambled to figure out what else I could do.

      So I searched online about what other schools I could go to and found University of Phoenix. I did my due diligence to do my own research on the school and even chatted with friends on my facebook if they had or knew of anyone going to University of Phoenix. At the time it felt like it would be a good decision from the feedback I got. And yes everyone did tell me to be careful and to be careful of racking up lot of student loans.

      I want everyone to know that the people who are going to or have graduated from UofP are human beings. There are people really trying to get a degree to better their lives and trying to make it work depending on their situation.

      So if you are a hiring manager, don’t just scoff at a resume just because you read that they graduate from University of Phoenix because there are a lot of other for profit schools out there with different names. Truly look at the candidate and their background, their other education and skills… and bring them in for an interview to learn more about the person. Don’t just rely on your company’s applicant tracking system. Because a lot of us didn’t go to the best schools or have the ability to go to top expensive schools and are trying to do our very best to support ourselves and our growing families.

      I understand that I posted on here to ask for advice and I appreciate everyone’s input. But I have to admit, I felt offended and winced at the sentences of taking off my MBA in Marketing. I worked hard for that degree and have created marketing strategies and improved a lot of the business side of my non-profit MBA Marketing internship because of what I learned. Even my professors that I made friends with thru UofP were very nice to take time out of their schedules to teach me how to code with HTML, learn MegaStat software in my statistics class, showed me some cool stuff on Adobe Suite, and added me to their LinkedIn or facebook profiles. I was able to do all of this while working in Apple retail and Sprint retail. So I really reject that idea of taking it off my resume because I do get interviews with it on my resume.

      I do like the idea of doing volunteer marketing work to help beef up my resume with experience in marketing so I will definitely do that. I will also do more research if I do make the decision to get a 2nd Masters degree cuz I don’t want to rack up too much debt. Some good news, I am about to do my third in-person interview for a paid marketing internship with a tech company so I’m really looking forward to sealing the deal for that position.

      I just felt compelled to really write about my story and why I went to UofP because it wasn’t an easy decision. Especially trying to figure out my next move in a recession with constant negative news about the job market at that time.

      On a personal note.. I am a proud father of twin girls who recently turned 2 years old. When I look back I know things could have been a lot worse but I’m glad I went back to school to try to better my life.

      So please.. have compassion if you do meet someone who did go to a for profit school. Because a lot of people are still going to that school trying to better themselves and I really do mean a lot. So don’t be surprised if you are at work and meet someone going to or has graduated from UofP.

      If I could do it all over again, I think I would have gone to Cal State Fullerton cuz i found out that they do accept students with mid to low gpa because I was scared at the time if any school would accept me with my 2.8 gpa.

      But please feel free to contact me. I really do appreciate positive input and advice. And sorry for being angry and emotional. I just really wanted to tell my story.

      Thank you again.

      1. Giselda*

        The problem is, no matter how sympathetic we may be to your story, the fact remains that the UoP degree will hurt you far more than it will help. That’s just reality. It’s up to you to figure out how to manage your career in the light of that.

        You can reject all the advice you like, but the question is: do you want to position yourself as well as possible for a job, or not? I know the advice here can sting when you realise that you’ve done something that isn’t a good idea, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad advice. You wrote in. You know you need to change this. Hopefully once the initial discomfort of seeing it laid out like this fades, you’ll be able to make better choices. I wish you well.

  26. Bee Eye LL*

    #1 – I work in IT and it is a fairly regular thing to keep an email account open for a little while after an employee leaves for whatever reason. I know your situation is a little different, but I do have a suggestion. One way to avoid this sort of thing is to use group emails like or so that you can change the group membership without having to give out individual email addresses. It all depends on how many people you have in each department, and so on. You could even go by job title if that helps.

    1. TootsNYC*

      One thing the OP could do is to simply blithely act as though that’s what the company is doing, and then set up first a signature, and then an auto answer, as soon as she gives notice, that says:

      “I’ll be leaving XYZ Company on September 31. This email will be monitored for a while until the company finishes reassigning the case load; please feel free to continuing sending work issues to this email until further notice from XYZ Company.”

      Then they’d have to go to some work (OK, not hard, but still…) to undo it, and they probably wouldn’t care (and might not even notice), since they’re still getting contacted by clients.

      And that would protect her reputation while still serving the company’s main purpose.

  27. KWu*

    #3 – seems like from the other comments that I might be alone in this, but I actually don’t think that emailing the CEO was all that out of line, provided the wording was deferential enough. The company was described as a new startup, so it could be a place where the CEO is CEO of 10 people. Also, there are enough stories of startups where initiative/pluckiness is rewarded, particularly if they pride themselves on having a flat culture. And what was there to lose from a simple email?

    But yeah, the Glassdoor reviews are something to be checked before interviewing as well, to consider screening that kind of company out.

  28. AMT*

    Tangentially related to #3: what is with the sudden influx of useless master’s degrees? I have a clinical degree that’s necessary in my field, but I see a lot of friends getting random, unnecessary master’s degrees with only a vague idea of what that job market in that field looks like. A lot of them are in fields that, as AAM said, don’t require a master’s. Others promise careers (homeland security? international management? forensic psychology? sure!) that just aren’t realistic with that degree, especially with no experience outside the degree.

    Just to throw out an example, my wife is in academic publishing and, over dinner with some of her work colleagues, the consensus seemed to be that having a master’s in publishing could take you OFF the list of potential hires. Having recently supervised a terrible employee with a master’s in publishing who seemed to have learned nothing from his degree, my wife agreed. Your degree says a lot about your judgment re: what is and is not a waste of your time and money.

    1. TootsNYC*

      Because people are having trouble finding jobs, and “getting more education” is often seen as a way to force something to change. Retraining *is* often a way to move from a moribund field into a lively one.

      I know a lot of people who dealt with unemployment by taking out loans and going back to school.

      1. De Minimis*

        Also, if they have undergraduate student loan debt they can put off payment while they’re in grad school. I can see the appeal of it, if you’re having trouble finding a job after undergrad, then taking on more debt in the hopes that you’ll find a job after grad school might seem to be a gamble worth taking.

          1. Susan*

            Yeah. I went to grad school (only for two quarters, and I guess the silver lining it the classes I took are directly related to my current job) and all I did was make my monthly payments $600 instead of $400. If you have federal loans, you can get unemployment forbearance for, like, 3 years while looking for a job, which is probably preferable to adding to your debt. Just in my experience, being in two industries now, getting internships/work experience seems so much more valued to employers than more education.

      2. AMT*

        Retraining is totally legit when it’s an in-demand degree and you’re crystal clear on what the job market looks like. I was referring more to those “you can do anything with it!” types of master’s degrees. Hell, even law schools are starting to market themselves to people who don’t want to practice law. It’s gross.

  29. eduardoleonidas*

    I disagree with the answer to #2, at least in this specific situation. The CEO was obviously closely involved with the decision and he was on the schedule to interview the candidate. It’s a start up, so most likely not a huge organization where he was jumping 5 layers of management. At the giant mega bank that I work at emailing the CEO would be ludicrous, but at a company small enough or a position high level enough that the CEO is going to be interviewing the candidate, it seems odd that emailing them would be so out of the question.

  30. JTM*

    #1 – Talk to a lawyer as soon as possible (and not the corporate lawyers). Depending on where you live and the specific industry you work in, what your company is doing could be seen as fraud, an unfair business practice, or a violation of the regulations governing your profession. Because you know about the practice, you might have an affirmative obligation to report the misconduct.

    I’d ask a lawyer what your legal rights and responsibilities are, what kinds of whistleblower protections might apply, and how to make sure your company doesn’t say you still work there after you leave. I wouldn’t pursue this with your employer again until you have legal counsel and know your rights.

  31. Susan*


    I work as a copy editor in a marketing department, and I can’t think of anyone in the department that has a higher level degree, except maybe in the executive tier. Our marketing coordinator recently got promoted, but I think when she took the job she was 1 year out of school (undergrad!). I wonder if it’s not really the UofP name that’s hurting you, but the fact that you have a masters degree for positions that are going to offer you 30-40k for entry level (you mentioned “marketing coordinator” etc.). So if these positions are where you’re thinking about getting an “in,” I’d almost leave off the masters degree all together, and instead of getting another degree, volunteer for a nonprofit in email marketing, SEO, social media, or whatever your interest is and get experience that way. I think marketing is a field where people very quickly forgive if your undergrad degree is in literally anything else, as soon as you get 2-3 years of real work experience.

  32. Biff Welly*

    I’m going to go back and read comments, but also wanted to post my question here. My MBA is from Keller Graduate School of Management (DeVry). I wonder if all for-profits have the same “reputation.”

    An MBA isn’t really a requirement for my field but it certainly looks good. I did the work, sure its not Harvard, but it is still the same level that I would get at a CSU or something. I’m already dealing with the debt, I would hate not to have anything to show for it. Appreciate any thoughts someone would like to share.

    1. Rob Lowe can't read*

      A friend of mine from college was a couple courses into her Keller MBA when she decided to look for a new position. (She was already employed in her field, which is business-related, but with a liberal arts BA.) She ended up getting a great offer from a major employer in her field, but they did tell her that her Keller degree-in-progress had raised some red flags for the hiring manager. Personally, I’m not sure how fair that was (of course, she’s my friend, so there’s some bias there!), since she had work experience in her field and good performance reviews (it’s not like she was trying to use the MBA to break into a field in which she had no experience or qualifications), but that was the employer’s reaction. That was over three years ago, and she still happily works for that employer, but the combination of that feedback and dissatisfaction with the Keller program led her to leave it for a more traditional MBA program at a brick and mortar school.

      One person’s experience with one employer, so take from that what you will! I view this as evidence that work accomplishments are the most important aspect of someone’s candidacy, no matter where they went to school, but I don’t think it makes a case for choosing for-profit schools, either.

  33. Erin*

    #1 Couldn’t this be construed as false representation? Someone claiming to be someone they are not? There is no law against someone pretending to conduct business as me? Or how would they prove the person wasn’t in fact working undocumented, which can be illegal, depending on the country. (Sorry, not from the US so I’m not sure.)

  34. Adam's Off Ox*

    #2 – I’m picturing the CEO whacking OP with his walking stick and snarling, “Know your place, *boy!!*”

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