open thread – September 2-3, 2016

It’s the Friday open thread! The comment section on this post is open for discussion with other readers on anything work-related that you want to talk about. If you want an answer from me, emailing me is still your best bet*, but this is a chance to talk to other readers.

* If you submitted a question to me recently, please don’t repost it here, as it may be in the to-be-answered queue :)

{ 1,394 comments… read them below }

  1. Anon ymous Admin Assistant*

    I have a Friday morning laugh for everyone:

    I’m an administrative assistant at a university. I know this isn’t true of everyone who has a PhD but my boss constantly reminds everyone that he has one and how smart and knowledgeable this makes him. I don’t have a degree (though I’m currently earning a B.A. part time in the evening) and my boss talks down to me all the time. He does this to everyone who he thinks is not as smart as him and those without a university education get it the worst. I haven’t quit because 1) I get a discount on my classes because I work here so I can afford pay as I go without taking loans 2) I can work my schedule around my classes no problem and 3) I get along great with everyone besides my boss.

    Earlier this morning someone emailed my boss a PDF document. When he opened it the pages were upside down because of how the sender had fed it into their scanner. In order to read the document my brilliant, intelligent boss (who had a PhD) physically turned his computer screen upside down. It was all I could do not to burst out laughing in front of him and once I left his office I laughed so hard that my sides hurt and people were asking if I was okay. If my boss wasn’t a jerk I would have showed him the rotate feature and not laughed at him. But as he always points out, he has a PhD and I don’t have any degree at all so he must know better than I do.

    Happy Friday everyone!

    1. Audiophile*

      No! No way! That is a new one.

      There was a panic in my office the other day about a PDF being upside down. I said nothing, but no one turned their screens upside down. Though a few heads may have rotated to read it.

    2. CollegeAdmin*

      I too work at a college. Back when I was an admin assistant (now in IT), I came across 3 faculty members completely bamboozled by our coffee maker. I had been there 2 months and didn’t drink coffee, but I read the directions posted on the wall above it and lo and behold, got it to make coffee for them.

      I didn’t get a “thank you;” instead they all said to each other, “Wow you need a PhD to operate this thing!” I had to bite my tongue to not point out that each of them had one and I only had a B.A.

      1. Altobot*

        oh man, at last job there was one day where only two people were in the office: CEO and new guy (who didn’t drink coffee). CEO wanted coffee made and tasked new guy with it. This guy had literally never touched a coffee machine in his life. He figured it out thanks to google, but CEO advised they didn’t know how to operate this particular coffee machine, despite it having been in our office for about three years at that time, and making coffee at home daily for themselves.
        CEO also often bragged about their Masters degree. But couldn’t figure out how to print documents on their own, probably also rotated their laptop for .pdf’s that were sideways, etc. It was exhausting.

    3. Temperance*

      lol my friends and me have a code for that kind of behavior – we call that “going to Cornell”. As in, did you know that X went to Cornell?

      1. Apollo Warbucks*

        We’ve got a code at work which we say as ID Ten T, but is written Id10t and also picnic error (Problem in chair not in computer)

        1. LizB*

          I haven’t heard picnic before either! (I have heard of a pebcak error – problem exists between chair and keyboard.)

        2. Margali*

          I just shared the term “picnic” with the IT person at my office, and she cracked up and said she’s going to start using it immediately. (I told her that my providing her with the term would hopefully make up for a few picnics I’ve invited her to over the years. Got a grin and a wink.)

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Whoa, no, we don’t do that here — neither the grammar correction nor the rudeness. Please read the commenting guidelines linked about the comment box before commenting again. Thank you.

      2. Dave*

        OH! I worked with a guy who went to Cornell (a bit of a rarity as I am in Canada) and this was totally a thing. Every chance he got, it was, “Well, at Cornell…”

          1. Is it Friday Yet?*

            I’m re-watching The Office now, and can definitely picture his character behaving like this.

          2. Temperance*

            That’s totally the joke I was making. (ALSO, this morning, there was 100% a man on the bus wearing a women’s suit. I lost it.)

        1. Dez*

          Our vet went to Cornell. He never mentions it- I only know from his bio on the website. I’m in Canada as well.
          He’s super sweet and our dogs adore him. He gets down on the floor with them and utilizes a lot of treats. The boys think they go there for massages and snacks. He loves them right back and frequently comments on how he can’t believe such awesome dogs wound up at the shelter.
          So, some nice guys go to Cornell too!

      3. Hlyssande*

        Which Cornell, though?

        I kid, I kid – I went to the Cornell in Iowa, not the Cornell in NY. We get a little touchy about that sometimes. :P

        1. Rob Lowe can't read*

          I had a friend in high school (I went to high school in Illinois) who chose Cornell (NY) for undergrad. My mother was convinced that my friend was actually going to Cornell (IA) and that she (my friend) was just confused. I was like, “Lucinda said it took her family X hours to drive to Cornell,” and my mom says “Oh, she must be mistaken, it only takes about Y hours to drive there because it’s in Iowa.” “Right, but the one Lucinda is going to is in New York.” “Hmm, I don’t think that’s the case.”

          So there is at least one non-Iowan, non-Cornell alum who considers the Cornell in Iowa to be The Cornell.

    4. Apollo Warbucks*

      That’s hilarious!

      Also my sister has a PhD and literally set fire to the kitchen trying to boil and egg

      1. Rat Racer*

        Well – I like to joke that I got an 800 on the logic section of the GRE, and yet my dog outsmarts me every day. Too bad for me that there’s no university coursework in common sense.

        1. Kiki*

          For my Ag major, the professors were huge fans of common sense and always included “real life” questions as bonus points. Often the bonus was half the score, so 50 pts on a 100 pts exam. Questions included: what was Hopalong Cassidy’s horse’s name? how do you know when to turn the pancake, and what is the first line in of the song Red River Valley. They were really fun!

          1. Loose Seal*

            Wait, those are pop culture questions, not common sense (not the pancake one, but the others). So you’d know the pop culture ones depending on what kind of background you came from. I have to say I’m not much of a fan of that, especially for half the score.

            The first test in my theater history class for my MFA, the professor added a bonus “common sense” question. Paraphrased, it was “What building, known for its lions, is at 5th Ave and 42nd?” And that was it! I hadn’t been anywhere really at that point in my life and this was before the internet. I’m sure I had seen the building on TV or in movies but usually those media don’t point out the address. I’m not even certain I knew at the time that that street address was in New York. (I may have because I’m sure I had heard of 5th Ave. by my early 20s.) Most of the people in the class got the right answer but I guessed the Lion House at the Zoo. Then the professor mocked me in front of the class when he returned the exam for not knowing that it’s the NY Public Library. (I made full marks on the exam anyway, without the bonus, but it infuriated me that you had to have had certain life experiences to be able to know that.)

            And clearly, since I’ve typed all this out, I still have feelings over this issue…

            1. MillersSpring*

              Cultural questions like these are not fair to a lot of people. They assume that everyone has had the same experiences and been exposed to the same opportunities.

              1. Kiki*

                I get what you are saying, but if you want to be an ag extension agent, you had better know the same cultural references as the ranchers you are trying to get to work with you. Sometimes, it’s part of the job.

                I was a big city kid, not a rancher’s kid, so I didn’t have the same opportunities but I didn’t have any problem at all with the questions. (Topper, that’s the horse — and that is why, if, in a stables, there is a big red gelding, chances are excellent his name will be Topper. They will expect you to know something like that. Also, who won the Derby last year.)

                And it may not be fair, but you could get the same A with 100 pts as with 150. It’s a bonus, not an exam question.

                1. Honeybee*

                  No, it’s not part of the job. Or rather, it shouldn’t be part of the job – I shouldn’t get shut out of an entire field because I don’t read early 20th century literature or listen to folk music.

                  People in my field, tech, try to make the same arguments. It’s just another way to police the field and make sure only a certain kind of person works in it.

                  Also, it’s still not fair as a bonus…a kid with a 70 on the test who has been exposed to those cultural learnings could get a 120 (and an A) whereas a kid who studied harder but doesn’t know the culture could get an 85 and get a B.

            2. Gazebo Slayer (formerly I'm a Little Teapot)*

              According to a Massachusetts school employee I know, there’s a Massachusetts test for 3rd graders that includes, or included at some point, a question about who the statues on the Boston Common represent. A kid from Boston might (*MIGHT*) know that, but some kids in the western part of the state have never even been to Boston. I’ve lived in Boston for years and wouldn’t have a clue.

              (Also, who cares?)

              1. Kiki*

                I’ve never even been to anywhere east of the Rockies and I would guess Washington. Am I right ? And I care, that’s one.

                1. Honeybee*

                  One of the statues is of George Washington, but there are multiple statues. And you are an adult. This is for 8 year olds. It’s not a relevant question to assess their knowledge on a state test.

              2. HoVertical*

                Gazebo Slayer, eh? Your name wouldn’t be…*Eric*…would it? (As in, “ERIC! IT’S A GAZEBO!”) :D

              3. Isabel C.*

                I was gonna say: no clue, and I’ve lived here about ten years myself.

                The statues and other such things (Freedom Trail etc) are in the category where, if you live here but didn’t grow up here and take field trips to wherever, chances are you won’t have seen them: that sort of thing is what tourists do, and really a source of people the rest of us have to navigate around on our way to work. I’m given to understand native LA-ers feel the same about the Hollywood attractions.

              4. Rob Lowe can't read*

                That seems like a weird question to put on the MCAS (old MA state standardized test), since it doesn’t have a social studies portion and the language arts section is mostly reading-based (as opposed to based on answering factual questions that the test taker would need to know independently of the test material). I guess it’s possible, though, or might have been some test I’m not familiar with.

                A few years ago, there was an MCAS essay question that involved “an old trunk.” Lots of kids understandably thought it meant the part of a car (old, presumably) where you might stow groceries etc., rather than a type of box/case/container (a usage that most kids would have little reason to be familiar with). The essay is scored in such a way that you wouldn’t fail it simply for assuming trunk meant part of a car and responding accordingly, but that prompt is every English teacher’s favorite example of a poorly-thought out test question.

          2. Kiki*

            One of those same profs had an awful exam, I knew I had bombed it. My roommate took me out for a beer to help me over it. We walked in and there he was! With a stack of exam papers! He pulled mine out and started to grade it. We had a great laugh over it, and I learned a LOT that I’d missed in the lecture. He wanted to know where his lectures were going wrong and how he could do better. Started out bad, got worse, then it got awesome. One of the top 5 experiences, (and also the 2nd worst) of my 7 years there.

      2. TheLazyB*

        At uni one of my friends caught a guy cooking pasta by putting oil into a frying pan and putting the uncooked pasta in once it was hot. Luckily she smelled the smoke before the smoke alarm went off….

        1. Loose Seal*

          At least he didn’t put the frying pan in the microwave to “heat up” before starting dinner, which a resident from my floor of my college dorm did. Absolutely fried the microwave and our floor had to do without one until Spring when we threw a fund-raiser to replace it.

      3. nicolefromqueens*

        A former roommate told me of one of his former roommates who had a PhD and put leftover pizza in the oven, box and all.

      4. Dez*

        I assume her PhD is not in home economics (I don’t even know if they offer PhDs in that!) or the culinary arts.
        Physics? I know some physicists who are pretty damn clueless in life skills!

      5. Been There, Done That*

        Hey, I can do that too! But seriously, I saw a guy get his phd this weekend and he was uber nice (I was at checkout stand in the hardware store and he was buying a post hole digger).

        I’m so glad i tuned in today. These stories so funny.

    5. ginger ale for all*

      I work in a university library where a large percentage of our librarians have their doctorate in various fields. One day, a doctoral student decided to lecture my boss on how he didn’t know anything and was just a desk jockey and that he needed xyz to be done for him. My boss said that he definitely understood the pressures of being a student from when he had done his doctorate. JMO, if you need to remind people of how smart you are because of a piece of paper, then perhaps you aren’t as smart as you think.

    6. Pam*

      I’m in higher ed too, and am not surprised. Some people with PhD’s learn more and more about less and less and eventually know everything about nothing!

      1. Bibliovore*

        In which I am reminded that this is the place to let off steam and the commentariot would understand.

        Chair of a sister department whose work aligns with my own consistently talks down to me (as I am “just a librarian” and of lower academic rank) and explains the obvious. We rearranged 4 administrators schedules to accommodate his schedule (I so did not want to have a meeting this week as we are prepping for classes and I had back to back meetings that day) He did not show. He did not send a note saying he was unable to make it. He did not communicate in any way. I tried not to express my displeasure at the meeting. I did say his “no show” was not the first one that I had experienced and then moved on.

    7. jack of all trades*

      I worked for an engineering consultant firm where one of the partners had a PHD. The receptions asked me what that meant. I told her it means he knows more about one subject area than everyone else. Otherwise he was no different than the rest of the engineers.

      1. mander*

        That’s exactly how I’d describe myself. I spent a long time studying a tiny little bit of my field. So I know quite a bit about that part but otherwise I’m nothing special.

        PhDs who think it makes them extra smart of deserving of special treatment give the rest of us a bad name. But I do love the rare occasions when I come across someone who is acting like an arrogant twit about having a PhD and I can respond with something like “well, when I did *my* PhD, blah blah blah” and see their astonished reaction when they realize they are not the only person there with extra letters after their name.

        1. Southern Ladybug*

          I do take pleasure in introducing myself or making a correction that I am Dr. Southern Ladybug at times.

          1. Dot Warner*

            My mother once asked me if I tell people to call me Dr. Warner. I replied, “Only if they annoy me.” :)

      2. Elizabeth West*

        Otherwise he was no different than the rest of the engineers.

        My go-to when people are oohing and ahhing over someone like they’re the Second Coming (usually a celebrity) or if someone’s tooting their own horn is, “Everybody poops.”

        1. Hornswoggler*

          Ha ha! Me too! I once had to show a famous male conductor round our college. A couple of my friends were like ‘ohmigaaahd, he’s a GOD, aren’t you neeerrrrvousss??” etc., and I said, “he pisses like any other man”. I do remember that one of my friends was shocked at this that she replied, “Nooooo…. he doesn’t….”

        1. Bigglesworth*

          I love that comic! Anytime I post something about it on social media, my advisors like it and/or respond with funny comments of their own.

    8. Kore*

      I briefly temped in HR where almost all of the incoming employees had PhDs. You wouldn’t believe all the misspellings and obvious things people would miss when doing documentation.

    9. JOTeepe*

      I had a professor in grad school (who, by the way, was NOT like this AT ALL) when, relaying a story of when the painters came to paint her house and gave her the option booklet, she said to them, “I have a PhD.” The painter said, “Yeah, I know, you are really smart” and initially was kind of annoyed. She replied, “No, you don’t understand. I have a PhD, therefore I am incapable of understanding this.” (He laughed then. As did our whole class. Which was made up of primarily terminal Master’s students, NOT PhD bound!)

      1. Bob Barker*

        Ah, the “I’m helpless” button. A lot of PhDs are perfectly capable as doctoral students, are usually capable as tenure-track faculty, and then get tenure. And suddenly need someone to do eeeeeverything for them.

        do not even own an iPhone and yet know more about how to work one than my boss.

        1. JOTeepe*

          I should note, I think her comment to him was tongue-in-cheek, at least in that instance. At the time I think it was only her 2nd or 3rd year on faculty, tenure-track but not tenured yet.

        2. Honeybee*

          That’s true. I know several professors who conveniently don’t know how to operate a copier or file documents while their doctoral students and admins seem to be just fine at it.

      2. Tau*

        I totally drag out the old “I have a maths PhD, do not ask me to do basic arithmetic unless you want it to go terribly, terribly wrong” joke when I can. :)

        (For those confused: it’s a running joke in STEM subjects that mathematicians can’t count.)

        1. Cristina in England*

          I am a cluttery person and my husband is very very tidy. I regularly hear “librarian, you say?” When I am hunting for something in my explosion of a bag. The other day he said to me “were you in some sort of rehabilitation program for ex-cons, and they stuck you in a library science program?” That one made me laugh and laugh. We teach what we need to learn, I believe is the saying? Or, as I said to him, “I didn’t invent the Dewey Decimal system, I just know how to use it.”

          1. EmmaLou*

            And how would you use it in your bag anyway? “Hmmm I’m categorizing this concealer under Ancient Religions as I’m just praying it makes me not look undead…”

        2. East of Nowhere south of Lost*

          That’s because we didn’t learn counting theory until some time in undergrad school.

    10. Anonymous Educator*

      I know this isn’t true of everyone who has a PhD but my boss constantly reminds everyone that he has one and how smart and knowledgeable this makes him.

      I think how people relay their doctorate-ness to you says a lot about their character. I’ve known some extremely smart and well-educated and humble people who didn’t advertise their PhDs for years. Only later did I find out how officially educated they were. And then I’ve met others who put that as their first thing and insist you call them Dr. last name, Ph.D.!

      1. Anon for this one*

        I live in a college town and am therefore exposed to many PhDs, some of whom insist on using their titles not only socially, but in everyday things like printing their names on their checks. I was discussing this with a colleague whose husband is that type, and she said it’s important to recognize their hard work, because it takes SO MUCH time and effort to become a PhD. I pointed out that it takes a lot more time and effort to become an astronaut, but I bet none of them insist on printing “Astronaut Mike Kelly” on their checks to make sure everyone who works at the cable company knows they’re a freaking astronaut. :-/

        1. Whats In A Name*

          What if we all did, though?

          Electrical Engineer Nikola Tesla
          University President Joanne Boyle
          Marathoner Grete Waitz

          See, I’m important AND I pay my bills.

          1. Adonday Veeah*

            Middle Manager But Wistfully Dreaming Of Retirement Adonday Veeah
            (Do they let you use that many letters?)

        2. Ghost Town*

          At the university where I work, there’s a whole of degree inflation in administrative positions. I know this partly from experience and being here for 7 yrs, but also b/c there are a ton of people who include their various degrees in their email signatures. They are usually Master-level degrees. (I have an MA and totally peaced out before the PhD phase b/c I realized it wasn’t for me.)

          1. Rob Lowe can't read*

            This happens at my (K-12) school, too. A Master’s degree is basically required to work in my district, so it’s like, yes, you worked hard for your degree, we all did. There are some people who sign their emails “Lucinda Jones, M.Ed, M.A., Ed.S” and it makes me roll my eyes just a little.

        3. DragoCucina (formerly Library Director)*

          One of our deacons at church used to drive parents crazy when he preached. He often talked about being a D student and it took a while for him to find his focus. He now has a PhD. Then he told the story about the company he worked for that had everyone with a PhD wear a ribbon on their name tag. They also wore an additional ribbon for each patent they had. He made the bosses crazy because he refused to wear any ribbons. “But how will people know you’re smart?” “From the quality of my work.” He’s currently in a lawsuit with some big name companies because they stole something he invented. It’s something that many, many people load onto their smart phones. The only reason we know is because my husband was talking to him about how cool this thing was.

      2. Clever Name*

        I keep forgetting my dad is a Ph.D. I was looking at my wedding invite (been married for several years) and noticed that it referred to him as Mr. rather than Dr.

        He said, oh I’m so glad you didn’t put Dr. I would have looked like a complete tool. Only place he ever uses Dr. is on a professional bio.

        1. Anon for this one*

          See, that’s what I think. Socially, it really doesn’t matter than you have a PhD. And yet I know people who use it on EVERYTHING – invitations, holiday cards, etc. People who will meet you at your kids’ soccer game and say “Hi, I’m Dr. John Smith.” I DO NOT CARE. I don’t know if it’s worse because it’s a university town, or what.

          1. mander*

            I will admit to getting a tiny kick out of getting holiday cards addressed to Dr and Mr Ourname. It’s like a very tiny victory for feminism that old fashioned etiquette demands that the “higher” title goes first, regardless of gender. Even though I’m actually Dr Myname. Ah well, it’s only a silly thing to notice anyway.

      3. Anon attorney*

        I struggle with this. I have a PhD in a non legal field and I virtually never refer to it (the exception is if I get the “Miss or Mrs” question, which I loathe, and like being able to reply “Dr”) but it has been suggested that I should add it to business cards, online marketing etc. I don’t really see the relevance but maybe I’m selling myself short in the workplace? Idk.

        1. Honeybee*

          I have mine in my email signature and it feels weird. I am ordering new business cards soon and I wasn’t planning on using it there.

    11. Applesauced*

      This happened to me in college! They changed the curriculum, so freshman and sophomores in my program were all in a big lecture together for art history. The first week of class, one of the freshman in front of me was following along with a PDF of the presentation with his laptop open like a book because he didn’t know how to rotate the pages. I felt very smart showing him how.

    12. the gold digger*

      My husband’s father, who had a PhD, was complaining about his former colleague who had an EdD but insisted on being called “Doctor.” When I asked what an “e d d” was, Sly told me it was a doctorate in education.

      “So he was a doctor,” I said.

      “Yes,” Sly sniffed, “but it’s a lesser degree.”

      1. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

        I work around PhDs from a hard science and you should hear the way they talk about “soft science” professors…or gosh forbid…liberal arts!

        1. Cristina in England*

          Someone who was peer reviewing a paper of mine for an award (which would have been the only social sciences paper in a pile of computer science papers) posted on social media that if he was in social sciences he would kill himself. Wtf. I take no pleasure in the fact that he still hasn’t finished his PhD (it got sent back for being generally of terrible quality), because he is working in a dream job in a dream city. No justice has been served!

      2. Aardvark*

        To be fair…you can get a PhD in education, and it is typically considered a more rigorous and academically focused degree than an EdD. (The same distinction can be made between MA/MS Education degrees and MEds.)

        1. Honeybee*

          It’s a hairy distinction to make, because some schools grant an EdD but the process is very similar to getting a PhD at other places – including a rigorous research-based dissertation and an academic focus. I know that traditionally an EdD was an administrative/professional degree, but it’s not always that way anymore. (Same thing with the M.Ed – I’ve seen some M.Ed programs that require theses.)

    13. Kelly*

      I work in an academic library with a boss who is a degree snob. She is very proud of her Ph.D. in Library Science and the primary research area. She’s also not as intelligent as she thinks she is, but it’s not worth my job to correct her when she makes factual errors, especially in the collection area which she is supposed to be an expert.

      She had to have me walk her through how to scan a document and send it via email to another person. My coworker and I don’t share with her updates to some circulation procedures because she’ll just be confused more than she already is. To be fair, the latest update is one that confuses us and we’re supposed to be the knowledgeable ones.

      1. Hibiscus*

        A PhD in Library Science is one of the most worthless degrees out there. Like seriously, why get one? It was hard enough putting up with nonsense to get my MLIS.

        1. Cristina in England*

          Ha! Well, try getting a library science PhD in a specialist research area that pretty much does not exist in your country of residence (at the higher ed level anyway). Although to be fair, my PhD got me a contract job working for someone who has continued to look for and offer me contracts!

          1. DragoCucina (formerly Library Director)*

            Oh, I salute your fortitude. I put mine on hold because, silly me, I was doing research in an area that hadn’t been done before. The literature on the topic amounted to one article. I just couldn’t take the request for literature reviews anymore. ‘But, if we put topic A with topic B we get my area of research. Sorry, no one else has done this yet.’ I tried to eat the whole elephant.

    14. DG's gal*

      I absolutely love this!!! Oh what a shame nobody else saw that happen, but you can put it down in your record books for when your job gets stressful, and you can think of this and smile! :-)

    15. Dankar1208*

      I love it! In my experience, it’s a small set of PhD’s who must make it known that they are “Doctor of ________.” But those PhDs are always, ALWAYS the ones doing things like this. Thanks for the laugh!

        1. Sorrischian*

          I don’t know if that’s entirely true. My mother is a professor with a PhD in her field, and she’s sometimes insisted that students call her Dr. Lastname – because those same students called all her male colleagues Dr. Whatever but were calling her Mrs. Lastname and she just couldn’t let that slide. And this was less than ten years ago, too.

    16. Kittymommy*

      Omg, I love this. As an admin asst to someone like this (who has the exact same degrees as I do, only mine are from more well respected schools), this has made my day!

    17. Not So NewReader*

      Something so satisfying about walking away.
      I think this happens more often than we realized. It pays to be kind/respectful to others. People who can’t end sometimes up in a type of isolation that most of us will never know.

      I knew of a medical doctor who pretty much expected his family to do all the mundane chores for him. One morning he was ready for breakfast and there was no one available to fix his milk and cereal. (Yes, milk and cereal.) I understand the story went on for 40 minutes as he hunted for a bowl, tried to locate the cereal box and then tried to figure out where the milk was in the fridge without opening the door. (Yes, he had lived in the house for decades and no, he did not have dementia.) At least a good 15 minutes was used to figure out how much milk to put on the cereal.

      The people I have seen receive admiration from others are the people who have overcome whatever obstacles they face. Respect/admiration/etc is something we have to earn each day through our interactions with others. It is sad the misconceptions some people, like this PhD here and the medical doc, carry through life with them.

    18. Engineer Girl*

      Engineers viewpoint:
      It was a quick and dirty solution that accomplished the job with little effort. If the document only needed reading once then it was probably easier to turn the screen upside down than to reformat the docs.
      I would have done the same thing…

      1. mander*

        I guess I’m imagining a huge heavy monitor that had to be picked up off the desk, shifting all kinds of clutter and cables, versus a few mouse clicks. I’d spend half an hour googling the answer before I could be bothered to pick up the monitor.

      2. Trillian*

        Not an engineer, but I was thinking exactly the same thing. It’s either do that or figure out where the rotate button is on this particular software since the last UI redesign hid all the useful stuff. I’ve probably only been saved from people laughing at me because I can read upside down with reasonable facility.

      3. Honeybee*

        Many PDF reader apps (including Adobe, the most popular default) have a right-click -> rotate option. I can’t imagine a situation in which it would actually be easier to turn my laptop around (and anyway, my laptop has an auto-rotate because it turns into a tablet, so that wouldn’t work out for me either).

        1. Engineer Girl*

          The point is that he found a quick fix that worked for him. I’m not sure that should be ridiculed.
          He doesn’t sound pleasant to work with, but I wouldn’t ding him for flipping his screen.

        2. Engineer Girl*

          I’d also like to point out that someone that doesn’t create/format PDFs may not know about the right click option. So an admin would know about it and the pres may not.
          Making fun of someone for their lack of knowledge is the same sin as the pres.

    19. Nanani*

      Don’t most people working at a university have a PhD though
      Obviously roles like yours exist, but your boss’ peers surely have them as well so why on earth is he bragging about it so much?!

      Next time you have reason to be at his computer flip the display with ctrl-alt-downkey ;)

    20. Been There, Done That*

      Boy can I relate to your first paragraph. Just keep your eyes on the prize. As for graf 2, sounds like the universe evened the score for you. Best wishes for your studies! And thanks for a hilarious story! :)

  2. Anon Fishy*

    I’ve been job searching and I recently saw a job that very much appealed to me. However, it did not offer any medical insurance. It was full time with paid leave and all that, just no insurance. I’m only in my first full time job, where I was able to jump right from my family’s insurance to my job’s insurance so I have no experience of getting insurance on your own. My parents only said I should try to avoid job that would require me to get solo insurance because it’s so expensive, or at the very least, I’d need to go higher than my current salary requirements to cover the solo insurance.

    I’m researching now but does anyone have any tips they can share about getting insurance outside of a job? My parents made it sound like a really big scary hassle so I’m trying to track down some actual facts and firsthand accounts to guide me.

    1. Adam V*

      At my wife’s first job, she didn’t work 40 hours so she wasn’t eligible for company insurance. We have Blue Cross in our state, so we went online and filled out some paperwork and got a quote that way. It wasn’t that bad (as I recall; this was back in 2006 or so).

      Nowadays, most states seem to be affiliated with the Obamacare website, and if not, you can probably search “[state name] medical insurance” and find some options that way. I think they’ll either show you a brief form to fill out or give you a number to call.

    2. MegaMoose, Esq.*

      Depending on what state you live in and how much money you’ll be making, buying solo insurance might not be as big a hassle as your parents think – they might be thinking pre-ACA or those early days when the exchanges were all FUBARed. There’s been a lot of doom and gloom news around the ACA and obviously it varies by state, but we were able to get my mom and in-laws signed up for much cheaper than they expected and with relatively little hassle in two different Midwestern states.

      1. jm*

        My husband was on a single Blue Cross policy for a while, and it wasn’t too bad. At the time (pre-Affordable Care Act) pre-existing conditions weren’t covered for the first year. Also, the co-pays and deductibles were high, but the monthly premium was fairly affordable ($200ish).

        You will have to decide whether you want low coverage, with high co-pays and deductibles, at for a low monthly premium; or better coverage, with more affordable co-pays and deductibles, for a higher monthly premium.

        1. Jerry Vandesic*

          Be careful when comparing company provided insurance with insurance you get on your own via ACA. In order to lower costs, ACA policies sometimes significantly limit the doctor networks or otherwise remove features common found in company plans. The NYT had an article on this a couple weeks ago (“Think Your Obamacare Plan Will Be Like Employer Coverage? Think Again”).

          1. Whats In A Name*

            ACA actually cannot say Bronze plan offers XYZ to these people but Bronze is different to these other people. There is no magic check box that tells the insurance company that you chose Bronze as employee sponsored, ACA or on open market. Example: Cigna issues the same type of card to all people covered under Cigna – there isn’t a orange card if you sign up one way and a blue card if you sign up another.

            ACA can advertise options that appear cheaper but come with limited options or limited networks. This is where research comes into play and being sure you are comparing apples to apples.

            1. nonegiven*

              There are no providers closer than 50 miles for me unless I went with the highest cost plans. Gold, I think.

              1. Perse's Mom*

                Provider offices can select which plans they will take, I think. So the providers who will take your Gold plan are not necessarily also accepting the Bronze or Silver plan from the same carrier. It’s not unusual for a Bronze plan to cover ABC benefits while the Silver covers ABYZ and the Gold covers A-F and also T-Z.

                WIAN’s point was more that *how* you sign up for that coverage makes no difference. It’s the specific plan that changes things.

          2. Elle*

            My BIL got coverage through an ACA plan, but quickly realized that almost no providers accepted it. Definitely do your research ahead of time before you select anything!

      2. EddieSherbert*

        Same – when I started my current job, insurance didn’t check in for a couple months, so I had to get my own for that time, and it was MUCH easier than I expected it to be.

      3. JustAnotherLibrarian*

        It’s not a “big scary hassle”, but it can be a pain. I used to have to cover my own insurance. Shop around. Price check and then very carefully think about how much it will cost you per month. Things I would look at closely are the deductible and prescription drug coverage, also the dental coverage and vision, if you need it.

        The ACA marketplaces are okay if you live in a state with a bunch of different insurers AND if you get the subsidy, but if you don’t… it can be pretty expensive. Of course, you lose nothing checking it out yourself.

        I’d also remember that medical stuff can surprise you. I was diagnosed after grad-school with a medical condition. It was such a shock and suddenly I needed some fairly pricey medication, plus twice yearly blood tests. It’s nothing dangerous, but it is something I had to monitor. Moral of the Story: No one ever expects a sudden jump in medical costs. So, be prepared.

        1. Ife*

          It can be hard to realistically estimate medical costs! I used to think, “Oh I go to the doctor once a year and the dentist twice, so that’s like $100/year.” No, when I actually started tracking it, it was way more than that. And then there was the year where I needed to see the doctor every few months, followed by the year where I needed Expensive Test… so really it would not hurt to estimate based on your current spending and then maybe double it to take into account those unexpected expenses.

          Also, I do not know if this is an option on the Exchange plans, but my insurance comes with a health savings account that made the Expensive Test not a big deal at all because I had money set aside specifically for that kind of thing. Definitely an option worth researching because you get a tax benefit too.

    3. MelPo*

      When I moved to my current job, I had a 3 month gap between leaving my old job and coverage starting for my new job. I went to my state exchange and bought a policy that was plenty of coverage for my family. It was more than I pay for my company insurance but not as expensive as I was expecting and WAY less than COBRA.

    4. AvonLady Barksdale*

      My last company didn’t offer health insurance. I bought insurance through the Marketplace, and I’m lucky to live in an area with great medical care. Did I find it difficult? Personally, no– but I grew up in a family of doctors, have taken courses in insurance law (albeit 20 years ago), and am well-versed in insurance jargon. I knew I wanted a Silver plan with a reasonable deductible and reasonable co-pays, plus a wide network of doctors, and I found one. My former co-worker, however, had a hell of a time and I had to walk her through it.

      Overall, I’m happy with my health insurance, but I pay nearly $400/month for it. A lot of people would say this is a mistake and I should have gone for a Bronze plan, since I’m relatively healthy and all, but I’m nearly 40, have a family history of some cancers, and I have broken too many bones to face a high deductible.

      Here’s the big thing, though: find out WHY this company doesn’t offer insurance. In my company’s case, it was a big sticking point for a lot of people, because we were told the situation would change and it never did. The company never offered insurance because its first hires were all under 26 and on their parents’ insurance. It made them pretty unattractive to a lot of people. Also, keep this in mind when talking salary. My net effective salary was much lower than it should have been; I took what looked like a very small paycut when I took the job (different geographic location), but paying for insurance out-of-pocket meant it was, effectively, a nearly 10% cut.

      1. Dez*

        A LOT of things can go to hell when you hit 40.
        I was diagnosed a diabetic two months after I turned 40. Part of the protocol with newly diagnosed chronic illnesses is if the patient has a history of depression, the doctor offers to prescribe an antidepressant if they’re not currently on one. I also had some neuropathy and/or nerve damage (Lyrica is obscenely expensive).
        I also broke the crap out of my left ankle six months or so before I turned 40. Two weeks in hospital, plates, screws, no weight bearing and I had to move to my mom’s condo four hours away because we live in a townhouse with 38 steps between the front door and the bedroom and full bath. Nightmare. Took me five month to get back to work full time.
        Thank the heavens I am Canadian and my husband is a senior civil servant with a limousine benefits package (so much so that I used my benefits allowance as a health spending account which too care of my 20% copays on prescriptions and extra physiotherapy). Our system has flaws and there are wait lists for non-urgent stuff but nobody ever went bankrupt or lost their house because of cancer or broken bones. I am grateful.
        I follow US health care issues because I feel like health care is a basic human right. I wish it weren’t so complicated and expensive for you guys. I am so glad the got rid of being able to deny coverage from pre existing conditions.

    5. pandq*

      When I had to get my own insurance, I made sure my doctor took the plan I wanted to choose. So if you have a doctor that you want to keep, make sure she is in your network of the plan you choose. I agree with other comments that it’s less of a hassle then it used to be.

      1. EmmaLou*

        Yes, we stupidly thought since my doctor was in the same group as the insurance we chose, she’d be covered. She wasn’t. There was one doctor in my area that was covered. One. We instead paid out of pocket to continue with my very good doctor until he got a job with coverage and now we are well-covered again.

    6. overeducated*

      My spouse and I are both in soft money positions that don’t offer health insurance, only financial assistance to buy our own. In our last state we bought it through the state exchange and in our current one we had to buy through the federal exchange. For both, you have to enter some personal info on the health insurance marketplace website and then you can estimate what your cost and plan options would be. I recommend checking out whichever one is applicable in your state to see how much it would cost.

      It was annoying in terms of paperwork but we got it done within 2 weeks both times. The plans are unfortunately quite expensive (for a family of 3 we are very close to hitting four figures in premiums), but some employer plans are too, so run your numbers. Depending on how much the job pays and where you live it might or might not be a dealbreaker.

    7. Anonymous Educator*

      I don’t think buying insurance on your own is that scary, but it’s just another cost, so take that into consideration when you’re looking at the salary. It’s not just a salary—it’s a salary minus whatever you’ll have to pay for your own insurance.

    8. Sibley*

      ACA will actually help you here, but it is a pain. Google your state + health insurance marketplace. You can shop for insurance, and depending on your income, may be eligible for a subsidy. However, my experience is that it’s confusing and frustrating, so be prepared for that.

      Alternatively, you can go directly to the insurance company and buy an individual policy, but you wouldn’t get any ACA subsidies for that.

      1. zora.dee*

        I had to get a plan through my state exchange when I was unemployed. Granted, I’m in CA which is one of the best ones, but honestly, it was so much easier when I just called on the phone rather than figuring out everything online. And ACA has a 24 hour help line, I honestly would start with that, the people on the phone knew way more than me and it was much smoother that way.

        I would add all the cautions above about finding how much this is going to cost, and subtracting that from the salary they offer, and don’t forget to factor in the deductible and not just the premiums. You never know when something could happen, I found out the hard way. I thought I was super healthy and wouldn’t have to worry about it, until I ended up in the hospital.

        Honestly, as someone who has had surprise health issues creep up on me, I don’t think i would take a job that didn’t offer health insurance, that does not seem like a great company to work for.

        1. Natalie*

          Don’t forget taxes! Premiums for employer provided care are nearly always pre-tax. And while you can deduct health care expenses, they have to total 10% of your AGI and it needs to be worth it to itemize deductions in the first place.

    9. Viktoria*

      I don’t have health insurance through my job and I buy it on the ACA Marketplace (Illinois). It varies a lot by state but I pay $285/month for the highest tier of care and it’s a good plan ($0 deductible). I have an expensive chronic illness so I go for the best plan I can find- there are plenty of cheaper options if you don’t need as much coverage.

      The main downside is that so many companies are backing out of the Marketplace. Last year I had a BCBS plan that was cancelled, this year my plan is with UHC and they’re pulling out entirely in 2017, so I have no idea what options will be available next year. It’s a hassle to change insurance every year too but just takes a few irritating phone calls at the beginning of the year.

    10. Chickenmay*

      Open enrollment on begins November 1 there are special enrollment periods for qualifying life events that allow you to enroll outside of open enrollment as well. Depending on your income you can qualify for subsidies and cost sharing. There are people who are called navigators that can help you with the process. I am a new navigator and work in a grant funded position for a non profit. We aren’t selling anything and don’t make a commission or get any benefit from the plan you pick or if you decide not to pick one at all. You can google navigators in your state and find one who can help answer any questions you may have.

    11. Effective Immediately*

      It’s going to vary wildly depending on what State you reside in and how much money you’ll be making, honestly. If you live in a Medicaid Expansion State, for instance, and you’re doing entry level work it’s only a matter of filling in a few blanks and *maybe* providing proof of income.

      Your state should have designated Exchange enrollers; they can often meet you wherever works best for you and tell you what your options are/would be.

    12. Anxa*

      If you’re young, it shouldn’t be so bad.

      I had absolutely no interest in employer based healthcare. In fact, I find it incredibly frustrating that my hours are capped at 25 to make sure I don’t get too close to 30 in part so they don’t have to offer insurance, which would cost more than even an unsubsidized plan would (and if I had enough hours, I wouldn’t have to worry about making too little money to qualify for subsidies).

      Health insurance premiums have shot up a lot since the ACA (at least for my demo), but it’s still not as high as some of the employer based options.

      And even if your looking for a company to pay full premiums, the amount it saves may not be that huge.

      The horror stories are no joke, and I’ve personally dealt with a lot of the incompetence, but many people have no issues signing up.

    13. Anxa*

      Oh, and if your situation is at all unusual, make sure you do some independent research and avoid relying solely on a navigator. Some of them may be good, but I was routed to 2 navigators and they were beyond unhelpful. Things may have changed since the first few years, but I found that they were primarily trained to just relay information for the most common situations, when what many people could really use is a tax attorney or accountant.

    14. Bethlam*

      How old are you? You say you are in your first full-time job so I’m assuming still fairly young. If you are under 26, your parents can add you back on to their insurance during their open enrollment period, and you may only have to pay for a few months to bridge the gap. You can be on their insurance even if you don’t live with them. Depending on your age, you’ll have some time to look at insurance options that you’ll need when you turn 26.

      1. Anxa*

        Keep in mind that it may be less expensive to purchase your own than be added onto your parents, especially if they don’t have employer coverage.

    15. Candi*

      Late, but if you’re still following this: ask your current doctor/office, or the one you used to go to, about insurance companies. You don’t have to take their recommendations, but listen to who they don’t like.

      This comes an uncle who was a GP for his career and his ICU nurse wife, who also helped him at his clinic when he was between staff for reasons. Some companies are just pain in the patuckus to deal with, and the offices know who the current ones are.

  3. Beefy*

    What’s the best route to go if I’m interested in accounting/bookkeeping? I already have a bachelor’s in an unrelated field, and I’m contemplating returning to school for either an undergrad degree, or getting my MBA. I’d be looking for a decent online program, definitely not one of those for-profit colleges. I don’t know anyone who has done anything like this, and I’m kind of at a loss for how to proceed. Any and all related advice is welcome!

    1. Barbara in Swampeast*

      You would need an accounting degree, then. The MBA would not get you much accounting education, and it might even require you to take a couple undergrad accounting courses before you could get into the program.

    2. Emac*

      If you’re in the US, have you looked at accounting classes at local community colleges? The ones around here all have an accounting associate degree and some have shorter certificate options. I’m not in the accounting/bookkeeping field, but I know I’ve seen jobs that have accounting/bookkeeping as one part of the job, but not the whole thing. If you have a degree and then learn some of the basics of accounting, maybe you could apply for those types of jobs and then build your experience from there?

    3. Pam*

      Look for a Master’s of Science in Accountancy program. You may also be able to take Accounting courses as a non-student through a university.

      1. Rob Lowe can't read*

        This is what my husband did. His bachelor’s isn’t in accounting, but he got into the MS in Accounting program at our local branch of the state university with no problems. Originally, he thought he might end up taking one or two courses as a non-degree student to strengthen his application, but when he spoke with an advisor in the business school she advised him to just apply.

    4. bemo12*

      I am in this field and have an unrelated degree. The other commenters are suggesting college, which is, fine, but it is not the only option. You could try and get a job at a smaller firm where the office manager also takes charge of the bookkeeping. Look for Youtube videos or online courses on Quickbooks and you should be able to pick up the basics pretty quickly.

      From there, just work closely with your CFO and try and learn more and more on the job and you will pick it up in no time.

        1. Natalie*

          Same. I’m taking classes now but I was the bookkeeper in a field office for 2-3 years with no formal education.

      1. Kimberlee, Esq*

        Yep! Another person who jumped into bookkeeping by being an office manager at smaller org that rolled a lot of positions into the front desk (HR, compliance, bookkeeping, etc). If you want to be a full CPA, you’ll need to go to school, but if you want to be a bookkeeper I would not bother with any additional education at all.

      2. Rob Lowe can't read*

        This is what my husband did. He started off as a bookkeeper for a very small company, did that for almost two years, and then got a job in the accounting department of a larger company. Quickbooks was pretty much all he needed for the bookkeeping job, and he learned it through online tutorials and trial and error!

    5. AMT 2*

      It totally depends on what exactly you want to do. I did accounting classes at a community college, but didn’t complete my associates degree. It was enough to get me my first job in a CPA firm and there I was exposed to tax returns, bookkeeping, payroll, payables, etc – 3 years there and based on experience alone I’ve never had a problem getting the jobs I want without a degree. I am working on my bachelors now actually, but I’ve been doing accounting work for 13 years already. I’m getting an MS in accounting online via American Public University – it is for profit but doesn’t seem to have the stigma attached to a lot of others. It is also significantly cheaper than even the community college where I live so that is fantastic, and lends credence to it not being a scam school. If you are looking for other options I think that Penn State’s world campus/online school has an accounting program (I didn’t know about it until after I started my current program, at the time I couldn’t find any accounting programs that were fully online at any non-profit schools which is why I went with APU).
      Anyway, depending on what you want to do you don’t necessarily need a degree, a few classes at a community college or an associates may be sufficient. The other end of the spectrum is if what you want requires a CPA license in which case a degree is not only necessary but only the first step.

      1. Basia, also a Fed*

        Yes, Penn State has a master’s degree in accounting that is 100% online, and it is specifically geared toward taking the CPA exam. I agree with Master Bean Counter below – if you’re going to take a bunch of classes, you might as well get a master’s degree.

    6. Beefy*

      Thanks to all who have commented so far!

      Some more background:
      I currently have an office job that I enjoy, doing restaurant ordering analysis. I had never really used Excel prior to this, and I absolutely love it and am great at it. In my former life, I was an institutional foodservice manager, and (thanks to Alison’s excellent advice!) I was able to use my experience there to change career paths. After seeing some of Excel’s financial analysis templates, I realized that my love of organizing information would be a huge asset in an accounting/bookkeeping role, and it’s something I would almost certainly enjoy.

      In my current job, a business degree of some sort would be essential to any upward movement. I’m also in an area with a lot of small businesses who wouldn’t need a full time bookkeeper, so my thought was that I could possibly advance my current career while also having a side business as a contractor, doing bookkeeping from my own home on my own time.

      1. Natalie*

        Does your current firm have an in-house accounting department? Could you do any cross training or shadowing with them?

        And FWIW, a lot of accounting jobs, including the ones you’ll be starting in, have little to no analysis. If its the analytics you love, that’s a whole different field.

        1. Beefy*

          I work for a large corporation, but our satellite office consists strictly of people who do my type of work, and another non-financial department. Anything to do with the actual financials is housed hundreds of miles away. I hear what you’re saying about the analysis, which I do enjoy because I’m familiar with the practical application of it so I’m good at it, but I’m at my happiest when I’m pulling and organizing the data.

    7. Friday Brain All Week Long*

      My husband and I went a totally different route to get out of sales.. we have BAs but not in accounting, so we went back to school to build up accounting credits (local community college and other online community colleges) and sat for the CPA exam. After passing it, he took a job as a staff accountant at a CPA firm that just works in the industry we both have built our whole careers in, and in a week I’ll start a new job in the finance department of a new company, same industry we’ve always been in. Even though we are not licensed CPAs, it got our foot in the door.

    8. Master Bean Counter*

      There are programs out there that offer a bookkeeping certificate, which is a great way to dip your toes in and see if you like the area. If you are sure you like the area and want to get to a certification like a CMA or CPA, then you’ll want to looks for a master’s program. Most of the programs will require you to take some undergrad accounting courses to get up to speed on the subject. WGU now offers a Master’s of Accounting and their program is flexible.

      1. CPALady*

        No need for a Master’s degree to become a CPA. That’s one of the reasons it appealed to me so much. There is an education requirement to sit for the CPA exam. It was 150 hours with a certain number in accounting when I sat.

        1. Master Bean Counter*

          No need, but if you’re going to put in the hours, why not get a degree? Especially since most of the newer Master’s of Accounting programs are actually geared towards meeting the educational requirements for the exam.
          I hear you, but it was only like two extra classes for that master’s degree.

    9. Newish Reader*

      If you’re sure you want to be in the accounting industry, my experience has been that a degree with an accounting major is important. I have a bachelor’s in management and an MBA, but when I went looking for an actual accountant position, I was thrown out of the pool for lack of the right major. I was able to obtain a second bachelor’s degree, this one with an accounting/finance major, without having to start from scratch. Most of my general education courses transferred to the new degree program and then I only had to take the required accounting courses.

    10. Natalie*

      On the job experience is a great option, and it might not be as hard as you think. Every firm of every size has some kind of bookkeeping operation and plenty of them are willing to hire entry level people with no accounting education, especially as the job market tightens. In small firms, that might mean being the admin/office manager/assistant and spending part of your time doing bookkeeping. In a larger firm, it could be a quite entry level job in the accounting department, but you’ll get some exposure to other aspects of the field.

      School really can ease the way, so as its an option for you I’d recommend it. But don’t do a masters, in accounting or anything else. You end up in the standard trap of too much education for an entry level job, not enough experience for anything else.

      If your bachelors degree is pretty recent (>10 years) you might be able to get a second bachelors degree in 2 years worth of credits. Unfortunately if you have to work full time, that will take 4+ years. There are also AAs and certificate programs in accounting or bookkeeping that could get your foot in the door. And, in my experience at least, it’s easier to get hired once you’re about halfway through that educational piece than it is without it, so you may be able to get an accounting job before you finish your program.

    11. Tax Accountant*

      I was a history major. I thought I was going to be a history teacher. I ended up hating teaching so much I quit as soon as my first year was through. I had always enjoyed financial type stuff as a side hobby so I decided to take an accounting class to see if I’d like it. I’m a CPA now. I do not have an additional degree. If you are interested in becoming a CPA (which I would highly recommend, as it will open a lot of doors for you) this is what I did:

      – Looked up my state’s educational requirements. At the time, it was 24 semester hours in business topics (including math, econ, finance, computer science, business admin, marketing, business law, etc) and 24 semester hours in accounting classes. You may have already taken classes in the business topics that would count towards your requirement.
      – I took as many classes as I could online at community college (2 econs and 2 accounting)
      – I took most of the rest of my classes online through a local state university and the last couple in person, because I couldn’t find any more online classes in the subjects I needed.
      – I worked full time while taking 4 classes per semester. It was horrible, but I got through it relatively quickly.
      – I did all of this as a “non-degree-seeking student”
      – I started studying for the CPA exam using the Becker test prep system, which was expensive but worth it.
      – While I was in school I got a job temping as a bookkeeper through accountemps to get some actual real world experience.
      – The classes plus CPA test prep cost around $10k. My salary before I started working in public accounting was around $25k per year. My starting salary in public accounting was $50k per year. I’m in my 4th year of my career now, making around $65k.

      The main different between an accountant and a bookkeeper is level of education. You can get a job as a bookkeeper with just an associates degree. Unfortunately, the pay reflects that. If you want to get a job as an accountant, you can either work in “industry” (like in the accounting department of a corporation) or in public accounting. Public accounting is tax prep and audit work. I spent 3 years in public, and now I work for a law firm that has a tax prep section as part of their estates and trusts department. Its great and I really enjoy what I do.

      I have never felt the need to get an MBA or a MAcc since I am a CPA. It might be different if I worked in a corporation and wanted to be a CFO or something someday, which I decidedly do not want.

      1. Tax Accountant*

        Oh, and the fact that I am a history major never stopped me from getting interviews, because as soon as I started passing sections of the CPA exam, employers were very eager to bring me in. I had multiple offers going into public accounting.

    12. Wife and Tutor*

      I am a CPA and by husband (who has a Masters in Biology) has decided he wants to re-enter the work force with an accounting degree when our children start school in a few years. He is currently a stay at home dad. He found an online program through the University of Alabama at Birmingham that they label the “bridge program”. The program prepares you to enroll in their Masters of Accountancy program (also online). The bridge program consists of all the undergrad classes required to major in Accounting (8 or 9 classes). At the end of the bridge program, you do not have a bachelor’s, but you are eligible to enroll for their MAcc. My husband determined it would be faster to get his Masters than get a BS majoring in Accounting. After completing the program, he would be qualified to sit for the CPA exam if he chose to do so.

      The only issue is the pace of the program. He takes two classes per semester (7 weeks for one class, 1 week break, 7 weeks for the second class). That is due to how the material builds on itself. It will take him 3.5 to 4 years to compete the bridge and MAcc. He has just started the program this Monday, so we will have to see how it goes.

    13. AliceBD*

      I don’t think anyone has mentioned what my dad did. He was offered an accounting job when I was in preschool, and he wanted to take it because at the time he was in sales and traveling a lot, and wanted to stay home more with two small children. He quickly realized that he didn’t know enough from the accounting courses he had taken in undergrad for his econ major. He got his Masters in accounting (this was 20 years ago, so no online options) while doing bookkeeping part-time. (I think. I was little.) He did NOT prep at all or try for the CPA exam, as he knew he didn’t want to do that type of work. For the past 20 years he’s worked in the accounting departments of businesses. He’s been at his current company for over a decade and is still the accountant, but has also been promoted to a VP. (It’s a fairly small, family-owned company doing a specific type of professional services.)

  4. Christy*

    Applying for a part time retail job when you work in an office

    I’m interested in possibly applying for a part-time position in a clothing store this holiday season. I’m mostly interested in the employee discount, but I also have a fair amount of time to myself and would enjoy having pocket money to spend guilt-free. I haven’t worked retail in ten years though–since I was a teenager. How do I structure my resume? I’m planning on emphasizing the customer-service parts of my job. I work as a SharePoint developer, so I have to be responsive to customers’ needs, and I have to be very responsive to their questions. What else should I do? Should I include the decade-old retail experience on the resume? I was often the only person in the store in one of the jobs, and the store I’d be applying to is often the same way. I’m totally out of my depth on this application. I’m passionate about the clothes though.

    1. DevAssist*

      Oh my gosh! I commented below and am considering doing the same thing. I hope people will provide some good advice. I know working two jobs will become exhausting really fast, but I don’t get paid enough right now. haha

    2. Temperance*

      Not sure what store you’re looking at … but my MIL does holiday retail and you just need to fill out an application. No resume required!

      1. Christy*

        That would be pretty sweet! The place I’m applying has an online application system, with a required resume and “optional” cover letter. (I’m definitely writing a cover letter. I love this brand.) But maybe this doesn’t apply to holiday retail.

        1. Dawn*

          Fill it out, and write in the cover letter how much you love the brand and exactly why you want to work there. It seems like especially during the holidays it’d be hard to find people who were in it because they loved it, and not just because they’re trying to be a warm body earning a paycheck.

        2. SophieChotek*

          I think especially for the seasonal retail jobs, there might be fwer issues. But generally, I would emphasize the customer service experience, ability to handle cash/balance a drawer accurately, calmness under pressure (i.e. frazzled holiday shoppers).

        3. Becky*

          Higher-end retail positions, especially those that involve national brands but market themselves as boutiques, definitely care about cover letters and resumes because they are looking for people that are excited about the products and willing to evangelize to customers.

          Have you worked two jobs before? I ask because combining a second job with a very different function from your primary job can be more tiring than you initially estimate. Add in general holiday mayhem and you might need PTO from life for a week come January.

          1. Christy*

            I haven’t! I’m nervous about it but I figure it’s only a few months. I’m lucky that my FT job allows me plenty of PTO, so that’s definitely an option for me.

            And I would totally evangelize. It’s an international brand but there’s only about 10 stores in the US, and they’re definitely high-end/boutique, but not in a logo/brand way.

            Thank you for your tips!

            1. Candy*

              I had two jobs where I worked every day (except stat holidays, so I had about one day off a month) for a whole year while saving money to travel. My full time job was a regular 35 hour Mon-Fri job and then I had the part time one on the weekends. It was definitely tiring but the one thing that helped not burn out was having shorter shifts on the weekend. So I’d do just four hours, 10-2pm say, and it would go by really quickly and I’d be home early enough that I felt I still had a day off.

    3. Emac*

      I’d also suggest keeping an eye out for if they have an open house hiring event. A lot of retail stores seem to have those for temp seasonal jobs.

    4. May*

      I just did this in the past few months. At my store, it was an online application with a resume attached. I had applied in the past and kept my resume similar to how it was for my career, which was a mistake–no calls. This time, I updated it and made it clear that I was looking for a retail/customer service job. I don’t think you have to include the older experience if you don’t want to; I know my store doesn’t care if you’ve had experience before, just that you can do the customer part of the job and they’ll teach you about the retail-specific.

      Good luck!! It’s tiring having two jobs, but the guilt-free spending money is nice and the discount is even nicer :) Plus, the other staff (at my store at least) definitely understand that it’s hard to have two jobs, and have taken that into account when scheduling for me.

    5. Betty*

      I recently got a part-time job in retail. No resume required but you can upload one in most system, in my experience. I didn’t tailor it at all to retail and still was able to land a job pretty quickly. There are plenty of fill in boxes to explain your experience and/or why you’re looking for a job in retail. Good luck!

    6. Photoshop Til I Drop*

      I tried to do this as well a few years ago, for a higher-end brand that recently opened locally.

      The manager I spoke to made it clear that they were going for a certain look (every single employee I saw was tall, thin, early twenties) and that my experience and reliability was a secondary consideration (I’m a dumpy middle-aged woman). I hope you have better luck.

      1. Christy*

        Thanks. That would be a disappointment even beyond not getting the job–I’d be disappointed in the store/brand itself if that were the case.

    7. Kittens*

      I know this isn’t what you’re asking about necessarily, but triple check what your discount will actually be before you sign up for working anywhere. Holiday retail can actually be really fun to work (good vibes, funny stories, etc.), but for some major retail companies the employee discount is pretty small (lowest I’ve seen is like 5%?). It may be searchable?

      1. Renault*

        Yes, please make sure that the discount is worth the possible holiday retail aggravation.
        I work retail currently and our 10% discount does not cover much of what we sell in the store. Even our holiday coupons as a “thanks for working here” exclude the most useful/desirable products.

    8. Tookie Clothespin*

      If you are a regular at the store, it might be worth it to stop in and let them know you are applying. I work in retail and we love hiring good customers who are passionate about the brand (It is how I was hired). Sometimes when a regular customer mentions applying, we will have them fill out a little card of information so the manager can make that connection between the face and the application. It isn’t a guarantee obviously but may be worth a shot. I know it goes against most conventional career advice and I totally agree for all other fields but retail is a little different.

    9. Central Perk Regular*

      My husband is a retail store manager and is in charge of hiring. His store is a high-end mens store and they require a resume to apply. He hires a lot of part-timers, especially around busy times of the year, and many of them have a full-time job already, or at least another part-time job. The biggest thing to him is a.) fit (i.e. would you be able to appeal to his clientele and relate to them?) and b.) availability. If you have good availability, that will help a lot. If you do interview, I would focus on transferrable skills and relationship-building, especially if it’s a high-end or luxury store. Good luck!

    10. Simms*

      You may want to ask if you get the discount in a period where you would be able to use it as well. I’ve worked several places now where employees didn’t get a discount until they had been there 3-9 months (depending on the business). Also if you are just a temp/seasonal employee for just the holidays they may not even offer it.

    11. Rebecca in Dallas*

      I used to hire lots of part-time employees for the holidays, lots of them were doing it as a second job.

      You don’t have to go into detail in your resume (if one is even needed, most places will just have an application) but definitely emphasize any customer service skills you use in your current job as well as any money handling. It would probably be good to note your retail experience just so that they know you’re not completely new to it.

      The main things I looked for when talking to people in person was reliability, flexibility and professionalism.

    12. TL -*

      I work weekends doing kids’ birthday party shows (very fun!) and I do sports photography where I sign up for shifts when I want them. It’s actually quite nice – I like the extra money and both of those things are fun for me to do so they don’t stress me out very much. It can get exhausting – just start off small and ramp up or down as you’re able. I think the key is doing something that is flexible and fun.

    13. BobcatBrah*

      I work a 60 hour a week day job (that is thankfully only 5 days a week), and drive Uber part time. I have no life, but I moved 1400 miles for the FT job, it’s only going to last 18 months before they transfer me back to Texas, and I wouldn’t be doing anything on my off days besides reading our video games anyway. So far I’ve paid off my motorcycle and credit cards with Uber, now I’m throwing that extra into paying off my car, and then hopefully will have some time left here to knock out some student loans. It’s pretty great, because the tax break for mileage is fairly significant (even with putting all these extra miles on my car).

  5. Former Diet Coke Addict*

    I got the job!!! It’s a one-year mat leave contract cover, but the pay is great and it’s a great foot in the door to the organization. I can start next week, since I got notified today that my criminal check is ready to pick up on Tuesday. I went in for a day of training this week and I’m crazy psyched to start for real next week.

    I attribute all of this to Alison’s coaching on how to write a cover letter, spruce up a resume, and interview well. (Including the magic question!) I can’t wait to start and I’m really looking forward to starting a new job for real!

  6. Audiophile*

    I was recently rejected for a job I’d interviewed for earlier last month. In their rejection email, they said if anything changes they’d like to continue the conversation.

    I don’t have any other irons in the fire, although I did have a quick phone interview yesterday.

    Who else is excited for this long weekend?? I know I am.

    1. SophieChotek*

      P.S. I also got rejected for a job that applied for; I made a first round screening interview, but HR called me on Tuesday and said that they would pursue other candidates. (At least HR was nice enough to call and not leave me hanging.) I’m disappointed because I would like to break into admin/staff in higher education for a more long-term career, but also relieved because the pay is less than I would like and if I had been offered the job, that would have been a big issue for me.

      Keep looking Audiophile– hope we both get new jobs soon!

      1. Audiophile*

        Higher Ed jobs are a long and difficult interview process. I’ve applied to many and interviewed with a handful, every time it was long.

        One time it was four months between application and interview and then a few weeks to them rejecting me. I applied for two different jobs at the same college, they interviewed me two weeks apart. One sent a rejection, one just updated my application status in the ATS system.

        Fingers crossed for you SophieChotek.

        1. Amadeo*

          Re: HiEd jobs – I think that depends on which position you’re applying for and which university. I’ve held two civil service/staff positions as two different (albeit small) universities and was hired at each one after only one interview, and the position I held before my current one didn’t even seem to count as an interview – the chair mostly just talked about the math department and a couple days later sent me an email offering the position.

          Now, I wasn’t totally privy to the faculty hiring process there, but I was aware that it was far more involved. There were committees and votes and multiple interviews, so I expect it really just depends.

        2. Bob Barker*

          Yeah, it varies a lot, both by university and within a university. But 4 months between application and job offer is not at all unheard-of for a staff position. I’ve waited almost that long.

          Heck, I’m in the middle of applying to jobs, and one I applied to on July 10 just contacted me on August 20 for a screening interview. Sometimes it’s just difficult to get enough of the cats into one room at the same time. (And you should SEE some of the job descriptions. Let’s just say that many of them are written by committee. Several committees who don’t talk to each other.)

        3. Anxa*

          I work part-time in Higher Ed and applied for a full-time job at my current employer.

          My rejection email thanked me for interviewing. I did not get an interview.

          1. Audiophile*

            That’s just bad auto-emailing.
            I had a rejection email addressed to “Dear [Applicant Name Here,]”. I quite enjoyed that one .

            Sorry you didn’t get the job.

            1. Anxa*

              Yeah. I wasn’t expecting to be considered as I already work there, but I have to admit it stung a bit. I am sure it was the type of error that could happen to everyone and that I’m way overthinking it, but part of me was a bit hurt because I wonder if an email like that to an internal candidate from a more highly regarded position (one where the employees are regular employees) would be something they’d be more careful to avoid.

    2. Golden Lioness*

      Keep in touch! Continue the relationship. The same happened to me a couple of years ago, and when the job re-opened they immediately wanted to bring me back. It’s now on hold, but I know if it re-opens I have a great chance of getting it if I still want it.

      Who knows? you may be able to help other people who are looking as well.

      Good luck!

      1. Audiophile*

        It’s funny, I’ve often revamped resumes for friends and many managed to secure jobs after I revised their resumes. I haven’t figured out how to monetize their good fortune yet.

        1. Audiophile*

          I’d love to get the opportunity to interview with Google. I just applied for a job there a few weeks ago, but I doubt I’ll get interviewed.

          It’s great that the recruiter still keeps in touch.

    3. Bigglesworth*

      Sorry to hear that, Audiophile! I’m in the same boat, except I’m already in higher ed but can’t/won’t be promoted due to budget cuts and a hiring freeze. I’m trying to find a job at a different school, but the process is taking forever. Good luck!

  7. Bomb Shellter*

    Any suggestions for having a friend call to see what a former employer would say in a reference check?

    Some background: I was laid off recently under suspicious circumstances and I’m in the process of pursuing an EEOC complaint. I have not been in contact with anyone (except HR) at my company since my layoff, so I have no idea what my coworkers were told about my departure. (After the complaint is investigated, I’m intending to negotiate a positive reference from them, but I have a feeling that will take a while, and I’m obviously actively applying to jobs now.)

    I’m curious about what HR and my old manager would say in a reference check. It’s highly likely they will just give dates of employment and “layoff” as the reason for my leaving the company, but recently Alison said that savvy reference checkers can get around vague answers.

    I have a few “professional-sounding” people I could ask to do a mock reference check, but I’m also concerned that their area codes could raise some suspicions (the people that could call for me would be family or friends from other areas in the country where I wouldn’t be pursuing a job or are obviously from the state where I grew up but no longer live).

    What questions should I ask my friend to ask HR and my former manager that might help me determine if they are giving out negative information about me? Has anyone else done this type of thing before?

    1. Adam V*

      Area codes – I don’t see why it would be a big deal; you could be considering moving to be closer to family if you’ve been laid off. Plus, lots of people keep their old phone numbers when moving to new areas.

      Questions to ask – I think start with the basics (dates worked, final salary, reason for leaving, eligible for rehire) and then probe into why you were chosen to be laid off instead of other coworkers, as well as maybe “best and worst qualities” ? I don’t know what else though. (I’ve never done it before.)

    2. Joseph*

      First off, I wouldn’t worry too much about the area codes, since so many people keep their old cell phone numbers. My office phone list currently has 11 different area codes present among a 20 person office. Unless your friends/family are literally all the same area code (why does 317 keep showing up?), nobody is going to think twice about it.
      Secondly, I’d probably have them ask a bunch of general questions first “How was B at work? How was his professionalism?”, then a few questions about industry-specific skills. And make sure your reference checkers know how to drill down on vague answers. Notably, since you mentioned “layoffs”, many saavy reference checkers will ask something like “If your budget improved so you were looking to hire again, would you rehire B?” They may say “No” and there’s nothing you can do about it, but it’s good for you to know either way.
      Third, it’s probably good to treat this as though you were actually trying to hire someone and research good questions you’d ask if you were performing a reference check of Unknown Candidate. I’m pretty sure there are a few topics in the archives about how to do a reference check which might help.

      1. Bomb Shellter*

        Thank you, these are excellent suggestions, especially about the re-hire. If my friend hits a wall (something like “we can only verify dates of employment”), is there a way to drill further than that? Like asking why they are only confirming employment, which can imply a negative history at the company?

        1. NaoNao*

          I don’t think you can get around “we can only verify”. You *might* be able to ask “is this person eligible for re-hire?” or “Is there anything you can tell me about this candidate?” and you might get an answer, but….Most everywhere I’ve worked is under the impression (wrongly) that it’s “illegal” to give a negative reference and since it’s hard to tell if a “only verify” is a code for a negative or if it’s just really company policy, it’s rolling the dice to use places that “only verify” as a reference.
          You might want to consider going a different route: having a co worker or slightly senior person you worked with be your reference for detailed stuff and putting something like “to verify employment title and dates, please call 1-800-GNRLNMBR” (the general front desk line). With companies that I’ve worked for that can be a bit of a crap-shoot with what they’re going to say (hi, legal collections office!) I usually go that way.

        2. Ask a Manager* Post author

          If they say they can only verify dates, she should ask, “Is that your policy for all employees across the board or only some of them?” (“Only some of them” indicates there’s some issue with the person that they’re trying to avoid talking about.) But also, make sure she calls the manager and not HR; managers are generally much more willing to talk.

          1. Whats In A Name*

            Could they also be saying that because they won’t comment if they are in an active lawsuit with that employee? OP said they are pursuing a EEOC complaint. Thoughts?

    3. neverjaunty*

      Keep in mind that if you end up pursuing an EEOC complaint or a lawsuit, your friend may end up being a witness.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Ack, I just read the original question in full; had just seen the friend-checking-reference stuff when I responded but not the EEOC complaint. Yeah, in light of that, don’t do this. This is actually a (the only) reason to use a reference-checking company if you do it at all because you can get one that keeps their findings in a format that will work well if needed in court; your friend isn’t going to be nearly as credible. You’d want to talk to a lawyer before doing this, given the context here.

      2. Bomb Shellter*

        Oh, good point! The complaint hasn’t been filed yet but I will consult my attorney first before doing anything.

    4. Biff*

      I asked a friend who worked in HR to call my old boss to make sure he didn’t say anything that sounded like his usual self (everyone, and I do mean everyone, was stupider than him, incompetent and just barely hanging onto their job.) He didn’t, and that was a relief. I’m not sure what I would have done if he had said otherwise.

      I don’t think other area codes would be odd. I’ve talked to recruiters that live in one state, but are recruiting halfway across the country.

  8. KatieKate*

    I START MY NEW POSITION ON TUESDAY and I am absolutely terrified. And I have no idea why. I know the department and have worked with them before, but anytime someone asks me if I’m excited I completely freeze up. I don’t know a reason why this won’t be the easiest transition ever, but anxiety doesn’t play by the rules. UGH

    1. overeducated*

      I know what you mean! I just started a new job, people kept asking if I was excited and I was like “That’s not how my personality works….”

    2. Christopher Tracy*

      The same thing happened to me almost eight months ago when I finally transitioned to my new division from my old one. I’d worked with this group twice before during my training program (a rarity), and they loved me, so I shouldn’t have been so nervous – but I was. Try to relax as best as you can this weekend. I know that’s easier said than done, but once you get to work on Tuesday and refamiliarize yourself with the group and the work, you should start to feel better (and if you don’t – take a minute and breathe).

      1. KatieKate*

        I’m glad I’m not the only one! At least I’ll have a door in this new position that I can close if I get too overwhelmed :)

    3. Becky*

      Congratulations! It’s perfectly normal to have new job anxiety. Is there a chance that you’re telling yourself that you shouldn’t be nervous because you know the environment? If I do that and don’t acknowledge that I have a legitimate reason to be nervous (new jobs = new responsibilities = scary!), my anxiety goes through the roof.

    4. MommaTRex*

      I got anxious and nervous just reading this – thinking about what it would be like to move into a new department at my place of employment, which I love. Knots in my stomach just thinking about it. So I think what you are feeling is completely normal. I bet you will be feeling much better by Wednesday.

    5. Golden Lioness*

      Congrats! It will all work out. Show up with a big smile and a positive can do attitude and You’ll be great!
      Good luck!

    6. Jordan*

      When they did brain imaging studies of the brain during periods of anxiety and excitement, they found that the brain reacted to them both in the same way. So, its all a matter of perception. Maybe try to think of it as excited butterflies about starting the new position, rather than anxiety about starting it. Basically, try to change the conversation in your brain.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      There have been times when I have gotten something I wanted and instead of basking in the joy of getting it, I become loaded up with worry.

      Use affirmations. Deliberately tell yourself reassuring things. “I will do my best and I will succeed at this job.” or “I am willing to work hard so things will go well over all here.”

      Congrats. Take one day at a time and do your best each day. I think you will do great. In my years supervising, the most worrisome people were the ones who did NOT worry about their jobs.

  9. DevAssist*

    Hey! I’m here pretty early this week! Woohoo!

    Question for all- if any of you have experience working two jobs at a time, would you mind sharing what that was like? I’m considering applying for a PT Retail job on top of my current FT job, so that I can save more money and get to a financially stable place where I can quit my FT job and look for work that is a better fit. (Right now, I am so miserable I have physical symptoms of depression/anxiety).

    1. Muriel Heslop*

      I worked two jobs my first ten years of teaching (retail/restaurant) and I have two recommendations: have the evening job as close to home as possible since you will be more tired than you think and don’t overschedule. I usually worked 3 nights a week and I really enjoyed it (plus clothing discount or free food!)

      I am an extrovert who enjoys people so I found retail and cocktailing fun and relaxing. Find a second job that you would really enjoy (bookstore, pet store, coaching club sports) and I think you will find that the time goes by quickly.

      Good luck!

    2. Former Diet Coke Addict*

      Whew–it’s hard. I’d say the ideal scenario for something like that would be if you could have a fixed retail schedule, so if you work in the office from 8 to 5, then you work Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 6-10 and Saturdays 10-6 or something like that. For me, the hardest part was juggling a very changeable retail schedule, because it got really difficult to settle into a routine on top of the first job. I’d also be careful that your performance at your FT job doesn’t fall if you end up working weird hours or late nights at the second job, especially during the first part where you’re learning and trying to get used to the new schedule.

      If you’re already struggling with anxiety/depression, be really really careful to block out some time for yourself to unwind. I know it’s important to save up and be financially stable, but it can be really useful to yourself to block out at least one day a week–say, Monday nights or whenever–that you’re not available for the second job, so you can know for sure you’ll have some downtime to yourself. When I was in retail we had plenty of people working multiple jobs, and it’s really easy to get burned out quickly if you don’t make a deliberate effort to look after yourself. Especially coming into the hectic holiday season!

      1. DevAssist*

        Thanks guys! My work schedule now is 7AM-4PM, so the PT would have to be evenings and weekends (and the PT would be a shorter commute/closer to home than my current job!)

        1. WellRed*

          I’d figure out how many hours you think you can handle, and ideally, apply at a place you like what they sell. Oh, and it gets easier after the first few shifts! My first couple I was so exhausted.

    3. Christy*

      Go us looking for second jobs!

      For your anxiety/depression, have you sought out a therapist or perhaps medication? I only ask because really, nothing has helped with my anxiety as much as taking low-dose daily medicine for it. It doesn’t have to be a forever solution for you! It took me a really long time to seek out medicine, and I wish I’d tried it earlier.

      1. DevAssist*

        I was on a low-dose antidepressant for about a year or two in college, and it did help A LOT.

        I need to see my doctor and talk to her about starting medication again.

    4. Tuckerman*

      If you’re working FT, it may be hard to land a PT gig. Where I live, lots of businesses want full time (or near full time) availability for part time work. You may have more options if businesses in your area are open late or you’re willing to work both Saturdays and Sundays.
      Would it make sense to use the time you would work PT to job search aggressively for a new FT job instead? I’m all for having a side gig, but it sounds like getting out of your current FT job is your biggest priority right now.

      1. DevAssist*

        Totally. FT work in fields I enjoy/am well-fitted are kind of slim right now, and I think if I was able to pick up PT work for at least a little while, I can pad my savings so that I can leave my FT job to work on finding work/caring for my mental health.

      2. Anxa*

        “Where I live, lots of businesses want full time (or near full time) availability for part time work. ”

        I wish more people understood this before telling people to just get a second job. I’m only part-time and have a regular schedule and 3 consecutive days off, and yet I cannot tell you how many employers wouldn’t consider me.

        I tip my hat to anyone that not only works multiple jobs, but who manages to land those subsequent jobs in the first place.

        The funny thing is that before college graduation, I worked multiple jobs and don’t remember having this issue.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Annnd if you work full time for that retailer they expect 24/7 availability. If you have a doctor’s appointment or something, then you are not available therefore you are failing to provide 24/7 availability. Sigh.
          The best bet with retail is to stay under the radar by remaining classified as part time. Make sure that you tell them that you are not available one day a week. This will give you down time.

    5. Nicole J.*

      I have a main job now and an online job, but the online job is very very flexible, so I tend to put in an hour in the morning while I’m still in bed and then a couple of hours when I get home, while I watch TV or listen to the radio. But being flexible and online, it’s much easier than having to physically head somewhere else.

      A few years ago I had a main job and a part-time evening job as I needed some extra money. I worked as a waitress – prefer food service to retail – for an independent hotel/restaurant locally. It was only three shifts a week, two evening shifts starting at 6pm and a weekend shift that usually began at noon or 2pm. I had time to rush home after the main job, have a quick drink, wash and change, and head to the other job. I was tired all the time but it was worth it for the year I did it. I also worked double shifts on all the holiday days for the double pay – there was always a shift available then as so many people wanted that time off. It helped that the managers organised shifts for a month ahead so that I could plan my weeks, too, and that the nature of the work naturally fitted around my main job.

      One thing – although I was working a lot and on my feet a lot I found I actually put on weight as I ate so many rushed ready-meals and quick snacks to keep me going. I also felt I didn’t see my husband enough during that time and that did put a bit of a strain on the relationship. When I did have proper time off I didn’t want to do much, either – just rest.

    6. AndersonDarling*

      Find something you love and work at their store. I work a full + part time and I’ve considered picking up a holiday job at an Aveda Store or a few very special retailers where I love the products. When you love the products, it makes it so easy to go into work and easy to get past rude customers.
      I have a fixed schedule. I have to know that I go in every Tuesday and Thursday evening and that’s it. No calling the day before to get my schedule for the next day. That will drain you.
      And you have to be able to figure out when you will eat. It sounds silly, but if you are going directly from one job to the next, then you will get drained and cranky if you don’t get dinner.

      1. WellRed*

        Agree with all of this. I love books, so why not Borders? Se schedule, and pack lunch and dinner if going from one job to the other.

    7. EddieSherbert*

      Think carefully about it if you work overtime at job #1. If you travel, do events on weekends or in evening, are on-call, etc. it gets even trickier.

      I hope it works out!

    8. Venus Supreme*

      It’s pretty exhausting. I worked FT and PT in New York City and lived about an hour via train in NJ. My FT job was very toxic and draining (same as you, physical symptoms of depression and anxiety), and I was lucky to have supportive coworkers at my PT job who would lend a sympathetic ear or have a drink ready for me (when I was off the clock). They also were willing to increase my hours if I ever needed to drop my FT job at any time. Be ready for long days and not much time at home. I ended up finding a FT job closer to home with better pay and keep the PT job for weekends just to keep in touch with friends.

      1. Venus Supreme*

        Other jobs I worked on the side that I would do again in a heartbeat: dog walking, babysitting, housekeeping, bartending

        1. Venus Supreme*

          Oh also also: I’m not sure where you are located, but working box office in a theatre company is pretty fun for nights and weekends, and some companies pay a lot better than minimum wage. That was my PT job when I was at the bad FT job. It’s good if you’re into theatre and you enjoy customer service. I found working retail was somewhat mind-numbing for me. Just some suggestions! :)

          1. DevAssist*

            Theatre is my passion! I’m looking for FT development work for a creative (or preferably theatre-based) nonprofit, so that would be ideal! Where I live, however, there aren’t a lot of local theatre groups, so at the moment I don’t think there are any openings (despite my network of creative friends).

            I also love cosmetics, so I’m looking at PT/flex work for a beauty department.

            1. Venus Supreme*

              Awesome! I work FT development in theatre. I love it. It’s so rewarding. I’m sending you good vibes & positive energy you find a fulfilling and successful job in theatre. Playbill will show some good job postings (that’s how I got my foot in the door), even though the postings are 95% in NYC. Transitioning from Box Office/House Managing to theatre fundraising was pretty smooth too!

              Hopefully, some how and some way, you keep us updated, DevAssist!

    9. AdAgencyChick*

      I did this one summer back when I was in college — worked an admin job at my university during the day, and retail at night. It wasn’t easy, but it did give me a better cushion to buy books and have fun money the following semester than I would have if I’d just worked one job or the other.

      You might have to avoid some of the very large retailers that have very changeable scheduling nowadays? I’m totally not talking from experience here, just from having read about how big retailers now use algorithms to make quick staffing changes based on anticipated demand, and therefore they want you available all the time. A smaller or medium-sized store might be more willing to take on someone who has defined availability.

    10. HoVertical*

      I have actually worked up to four jobs at a time – one full-time, one heavy part-time, and two casual/on-call. The biggest problem for me was the disconnect between the FT, office, state agency, cool, professional demeanor at all times job; and the PT, retail music store, nights and weekends, friendly, warm demeanor at all times job. Oh, did I love the music store job, though. It made the drudgery of the day job bearable. It was a classic “do what you love and the money will follow” situation. If I could have stayed there and had the excellent benefits I had at the state job, I would have done so in a heartbeat. As it was, I was let go along with all the other holiday help, and the chain folded three years later.

    11. C Average*

      It’s doable, so long as a few conditions are met.

      Let’s say Job #1 is a Monday-Friday, 9-5 office gig and Job #2 is a 15-20 hour per week retail position. Here’s what you’d need from each of them.

      Job #1

      –reasonable expectation that your duties and hours won’t change.
      –plenty of advance warning about travel and/or off-schedule duties or functions.
      –clear understanding that your availability may be limited during your out-of-office hours (i.e., you may be delayed in answering phone calls or emails, and you may not be able to stay late if someone wants your help).

      Job #2

      –awareness of and respect for the hours you’re obligated to be at Job #1.
      –a culture that is understanding of your inability to be flexible, pick up shifts, etc. (I’ve worked in some retail establishments where declining to pick up a shift was no big deal at all. I’ve worked in others where, because everyone was generally willing to cover for each other as needed, someone who didn’t have that ability would’ve stood out and looked bad).

      1. ScarletInTheLibrary*

        Also consider if you will have to request shifts off at second job due to obligations with the first. For example, there may be a rotation at main job to cover Saturday and/or Sunday shifts. Make sure you request those days off far enough in advance (i.e. Before the schedule is published). If you are in an environment where you have to find someone to cover your shifts, then it becomes even more glaring to coworkers. And if it is happening a lot, coworkers can get jaded and decide not to cover shifts.

    12. SophieChotek*

      Like other have already said; it’s hard but potentially do-able
      Earlier this year I was working a FT day job (8am-4:30pm).
      And then I worked an evening job (5pm-9:30pm).
      I ate lots of leftovers; FT job was close enough to evening job (10 minutes down the road) so I never had to worry about traffic.
      And then on weekends I worked 1 day at the coffee shop.
      It was do-able because the evening job was consistent hours; it would not have worked with a retail job where they might schedule me weird hours that would conflict with my FT job. So make sure that is clear.
      Best of luck!

      Try to get as much sleep as you can, eat healthily (as possible, with virtually no time to cook), exercise if you can.
      For me, it helped knowing that the evening job was a seasonal (4-6 month gig) so I knew it was not forever; but useful and necessary to save up extra money to pay off student loans, etc.

    13. Namast'ay In Bed*

      I worked a (practically) full-time retail position the summer after I graduated college and then went down to part-time after I got a full-time office job in the Fall. I know the starting experience is different from your situation, since I had already proven myself and learned the ropes so they were happy to keep me on, even in a reduced manner, and it made the transition very easy.

      But as far as working a FT job and a PT retail job at the same time? In the beginning it wasn’t too bad, but my main job turned out to be incredibly stressful and terrible (should have known when orientation included proper procedures for when [not if] you had to excuse yourself to go cry in the bathroom), and it kinda sucked giving up my time off to work. I stuck it out working both for a couple years, mostly because I really loved going to my retail job way more than my office job. My PT coworkers were awesome, the customers were great, I had managers invested in my well-being and learning, and it was nice to go to a job where I felt valued and not a screw-up. The reason I stopped doing it mainly was how long it took to get to the PT job: I got a new FT job that made the commute almost impossible for me to work evenings, and made weekend days extremely long, but we were able to part amicably, since they knew about my other job (and supported their employees moving on to advance their careers). I still think very fondly of my time with the PT job, which is something I’m not able to say about my past FT jobs.

      To sum up this long post: a short commute to the PT job is essential, make sure they know about your FT job and are willing/able to work with it, and make sure you actually enjoy the PT job, because giving up your free time from a job you hate for another job you hate is a surefire way to make yourself miserable.

    14. Caity*

      I had three at one point; a full time 9-5 corporate job, a 2-3 Saturdays (14 hour days) a month wedding job, and an as needed occasional babysitting job. Because they were all so different from each other I genuinely didn’t feel hassled and drained. Plus, I wasn’t locked into a schedule.

    15. migrant worker*

      I did this – I worked a full time job M-F and then a part time job that was mostly 1 day a week (Sunday) but occasionally I got asked to fill the 5-8 shift in the evenings. It was tough! I only got one day off (Saturday) so crammed everything non-work into that time.

      It mostly worked because I had a fairly flexible FT job. So I would leave early the days I needed to work the PT job, and then stay late on other days to make sure my hours were covered and I got all my work done.

      I did this for about 8 months or so. Managed to pay off a lot of debt. :)

    16. Newish Reader*

      For about 15 years I worked a part-time job in addition to my full-time job. There are several banks in my area that hire for Saturday-only tellers, so that’s what I did. Because my FT job was Monday-Friday, I could work at the bank on Saturday and still have Sunday for all the myriad things that need to be done at home.

      At least in my area, banks pay their part-time Saturday higher than minimum wage as it’s cheaper than paying overtime to their FT staff to work on Saturday. In order to achieve a similar hourly rate in retail, I would have had to work many more hours per week.

    17. mskyle*

      I did this for 5+ years – I had a FT Sunday-Thursday or Monday-Friday job (first one, then the other) plus a Saturday job (9-5 at a museum). I was also in grad school part-time for most of that time.

      I liked the one-day-a-week job a lot, which helped. Working two jobs saved me money in two ways: #1, I was earning more money, and #2 I had no freaking time/energy to spend the money I earned! It was doable but my social life really suffered.

      Having a regular schedule at both jobs is almost essential.

    18. Elizabeth*

      I don’t have any tips on juggling two jobs (whew!), and I know that you’re looking for retail, but I strongly suggest babysitting. I did this while I was in grad school and then job hunting and it’s actually pretty great money — particularly if you are a bit older (read, not in high school) and have your own transportation. I marketed myself in Facebook moms’ groups, at the local library and co-op, etc. and found some great families with steady work. It took a bit to “get going” but once I did, I could count on 2-3 gigs per week. Depending on your location, you can charge $10+ an hour (I made $20/hr when I lived in DC, sigh). On an “average” week I’d make an extra $50 or $60 and on a “good” week I could clear $200. The best part about it was that I was able to make the call about my schedule — if I wanted to take a gig or not. Downside of course is that you’re not guaranteed a gig and you’ll likely give up a lot of Saturday nights. Just an idea — good luck in your hunt!

    19. jax*

      I worked two jobs, 60 hours a week for 9 months. It was exhausting but worth it. My full time job was in a university library where I talked to zero people each day and my part time job was at the public library where I talked to everyone and their mother each night. Three days a week I worked 8am-9pm, two days 8am-4:30pm and one day 8:30am-5pm. Luckily my jobs were a half mile from each other so I could walk between the two of them.

      I used my day off (Sunday) to cook all the meals for the week. My two crockpots were my best friends. I drank a lot of wine at night to wind down. That was probably not great for my health but I needed a release and wine and cheese at the end of the day is just so tasty. I have a partner that was willing to do a lot of the every day type things-cleaning, cooking meals I didn’t get prepped on Sunday, etc. But I would have managed if it was just me, I think (less meals to cook!). Otherwise it was just one foot in front of another until the day was over.

      Getting paid every week was a huge motivating factor for me. Also, I really loved both my jobs so that made it worth it to me. I wouldn’t suggest trying to do an ultra physical job if you are going to be working that many hours, but retail might not be too exhausting physically.

    20. Photoshop Til I Drop*

      I worked 7 days a week for a little less than 3 years.

      It drains you in a way it’s hard to articulate. Knowing that every single day of my life was work make me feel sick and hopeless inside, like there was nothing worth getting excited about or looking forward to.

      I gained a ton of weight because I had no time to cook to shop frequently for produce and other healthy things.

      Every time my first job ran a bit over, I was in a panic over whether I would make it to the second job on time, so I was constantly clock-watching, and it made me look like I was more concerned about getting out than about doing the job right.

      I do not recommend it, if you can avoid it. If it’s a necessity, try to find something that doesn’t require you to accept a revolving schedule. In PT retail or serving, that will be nearly impossible.

    21. Kittens*

      I have 4 jobs! I’ve had at least 2 on and off for years, and honestly I really like it! The absolute key for me is having an ironclad scheduling system. I color code the crap out of my Google Calendar app and really really make it work for me. That way I can go on scheduling autopilot. I think it’s fun to have more than one job because I’m a generally high energy person, I get bored easily so the variety works for me, and my partner is 100% freelance so a 9-5 wouldn’t do much for me anyway. Just watch for burnout!

    22. Yetanotherjennifer*

      Retail involves a lot of standing which can wear you out faster than you think. You’re going to have an adjustment period while you get used to the additional physical demand. Also, bring a second pair of shoes to change into. Even if you always wear flats at your day job, a fresh pair of shoes make a big difference.

      I’ve worked retail as a second job before but not for many years so I can’t speak to the scheduling challenges. At my last retail job I worked only Friday nights to close. It was just enough to get the discount and I enjoyed the change of pace to end the week. Retail is great because it doesn’t carry over from one day to the next; you can show up, do what needs to be done, and leave it behind when you go home. At my particular shop it was easy for me to set myself apart from the crowd simply by showing up on time as scheduled with a good attitude and I know I got a lot of flexibility in return.

    23. Anon13*

      I did this for about 2.5 years. Others have given great advice! It works best if the part time job is close to either home or your full time job. It also works best if your part time job is really only 40 hours a week. I had to stop the second (part time) job when: 1) I moved and my full time job was close to my new home, with my part time job being in another area of the city and 2) My full time job really picked up and I was working 55-60 hours a week there. I also agree that the part time job must be something you love! Mine was at Sephora and I have loved experimenting with makeup for as long as I can remember. I also love talking to people and helping women feel their best. (It sounds silly, but many women who had never worn makeup before left our store with a huge smile on their faces. A few even cried happy tears.) There’s no way I could have done another part time office job. Now, I work a part time work from home job in addition to my full time job and, though I miss the “talking to people” aspect, I absolutely love it due to the flexibility. On a side note, thought you can’t control this, having people you love working with at the part time job helps a ton, too! I would try to think of stores where you always seem to jibe with the employees. Good luck; you’ve got this!

        1. Bibliovore*

          It is only in the last 4 years that I haven’t had a part-time job while working full time. We needed the money to make ends meet living in NYC. I also felt like I was never not working as the part-time work was freelance that I could do from home. I was stressed and exhausted but looking back I am pretty sure I wouldn’t have my present position without the diversity of experience the free-lance gigs provided. Also the whole tenure bid was like working a part-time job so felt very familiar. I do have a fine sense of efficient use of time as well as knowing exactly what my time is worth.

    24. Nanani*

      I started freelancing on the side while working FT, and all I can say is expect to have ZERO free time or extra energy while you are doing this. That might actually help with your goals since you’ll be too busy to spend all that money you’re making.

      Good luck!

  10. Applesauced*

    I know this is a minor annoyance in the grand scheme of things, but someone at work keeps taking my coffee mug.
    There’s a cabinet in the office pantry where people leave mugs, bowls, cups, etc overnight after washing them. I brought a mug to work (OG mug) to work, wrote my name on the bottom, and kept it in the cabinet with other mugs.
    A few months ago, it was gone when I got in. It reappeared in the cabinet (dirty) about a week later. This has happened three times now, and this mug is the only one that gets taken. (I mean, it’s a pretty nice mug. It changes color when it’s hot/cold and has a photo of coffee plant on it. It’s a badass mug)

    I can leave OG mug on my desk instead of in the cabinet, but that’s inconvenient. Earlier this week, I put the mug in the cabinet with a note that said “this is not your mug” inside, but that seems like something a crazy person would do.
    I’m starting to feel a bit like Moss from IT Crowd…

    Any other stories about things disappearing in your office? Other little office things that irrationally bug you?

    1. Christy*

      From what you’ve described, it sounds like it’s a communal dishes area. I would assume that any dish left there is available for the taking, and the person is taking yours because it’s the best. When I’ve been in offices with a communal dishes area, I’ve just kept my mug on my desk, because I don’t want to share my mug.

      I might be off base in my assumption that anything in that area seems like fair game to your coworkers, but it also seems like an easy fix to leave your mug at your desk.

      1. Joseph*

        Yeah, most offices have a cabinet with just communal dishes in the break room so that people can just grab a mug and fill right up. IME, it typically runs about 50% mugs with the current company logo, 25% old mugs from with the old logo, and then a mishmash of other random stuff that people brought in at one time or another and just sort of left. I don’t think it’s a purposeful thing, your mug just happened to be closest to the front.
        That said, if you really, really don’t want to leave it at your desk, I guess your only other option is to put it way at the back of the cabinet (and/or on an awkwardly high/low shelf), so it’s a significant effort for someone else to grab it.

      2. Ella*

        +1. This is what I would assume, too, and I’d find the note passive aggressive. A better option would be your desk- then there’s no misunderstanding.

      3. neverjaunty*

        I’m with you on people thinking it’s a communal dish area, except for the part where the mug showed up again dirty. That’s just a jerk move.

        Applesauced, definitely keep it at your desk.

      4. Aca-Believe It*

        Yeah. At my work anything in the cupboard is communal and if it’s your own mug you keep it on your desk.

    2. ThatGirl*

      Someone took my favorite pen off my desk – I’m sure it was an absent minded “hey I need a pen oh there’s one” because it wasn’t valuable or anything. But it was a smooth-writing black gel pen that I loved and it’s gone :(

      Also, re: mug, someone here had a favorite mug that disappeared, and they posted a picture and sign in the coffee area, with increasing intensity. It finally reappeared.

        1. ThatGirl*

          That might be what it was?!

          I have a zillion pens, we actually sell them – it’s just none are quite as good as that one. (I have a few at home, too, so I could bring one back with me to work.)

          1. ancolie*

            Oh man, I totally get you. I’m an unabashed pen geek* and even if you have a favorite model, there can be individual pens (same model) that are just … extra awesome? Like the stars aligned and the gods smiled on that exact pen during manufacturing and it’s just a bit smoother and darker and stuff.

            * I write microscopically and I’ve discovered the wonders of Japanese gel pens made for the Japanese/east Asian market. Pilot, Pentel and Uni-Ball make incredibly fine-point pens that they don’t market over here. My Official Pen is the Uniball Signo DX 0.28mm in black-brown gel ink.

        2. Liane*

          That’s a very good one. Another very good, inexpensive one is InkJoy, which also has ballpoints, for people who prefer those. (It may be a Walmart brand, I haven’t seen them anywhere else)

          1. Chocolate Teapot*

            I spent a lot of my job taking minutes and the quest to find the perfect pen is never ending!

            Pilot gel pens are nice to write with, especially if they have the silicone finger grip, but at the moment, my ideal pen is a Uni-ball eye, which writes very smoothly.

          2. AliceBD*

            I just bought another box of InkJoy for at home. The ballpoint kind. They are GREAT. Definitely my favorite pens. (At work I get whatever the office manager gives out.)

        3. Kimberlee, Esq*

          G2’s were the standard pen that debaters used when I debated in college (this was true across like a 4 state area). :) Personally, I’m super happy my workplace got some Precise V7s, they are just tops.

    3. Muriel Heslop*

      I keep my mug on my desk. This morning I found a Twix in it! (Thanks, anonymous student/colleague!)

    4. Temperance*

      I keep my mug in my office for just this reason. It’s not that big of a deal, since I have to walk to get coffee.

    5. Lady Dedlock*

      A very similar thing happened to me. I brought a pretty mug from Anthropologie to work, and couldn’t leave it in the dish drainer without it disappearing for days at a time. I eventually hung a sign in the kitchen with a photo of the mug, asking if anyone had seen it. A coworker promptly returned it to me and said she thought it was a communal mug (really???). So now I wash it, dry it promptly, and keep it in my office. It’s a bit annoying to have to do that, but not nearly as annoying as my nice mug going missing.

      1. Jerry Vandesic*

        Yep, really. It was common practice at all my previous jobs for mugs in the kitchen to be communal. I usually kept my special mugs at my desk.

      2. Bex*

        I don’t think it’s weird that she thought that… thinks left in communal areas are usually up for grabs. For example, if I bring in lunch in tupperware, I make sure to wash it and dry it and bring it back to my desk otherwise it ends up in the cabinet for anyone to use.

        1. Lady Dedlock*

          Eh, I don’t know. The communal dishes at my workplace tend to be not super nice. They’re either really generic looking, or have a logo on them and were obviously a freebie from some conference or other. A more decorative mug like mine stands out as different and is, in my eye, unlikely to be the sort of thing someone would abandon to the communal property collection. Maybe if it were in the cabinet, I could see grabbing it, but when it was disappearing, it was being taken from the dish rack in the morning by someone who gets to work earlier than I do.

    6. Audiophile*

      I have no real advice, but I can commiserate with you.

      I’ve experienced this with things I’ve put in fridges at different jobs.

      If there wasn’t liquid missing from it, it grew legs and walked off.

      I’ve never had anyone take my coffee mug, to my recollection.

      1. Drew*

        We have a Sharpie hung inside the fridge so we can label our stuff. Not only does it reduce the “Who used up all my hazelnut vanilla cinnamon chipotle creamer?” questions, it lets the person cleaning out the fridge call out the people who leave leftovers in there for weeks at a time.

    7. MegaMoose, Esq.*

      That would drive me bonkers, so I don’t think you’re being irrational at all! I always keep stuff at my desk/work area, though, and in my current project work use a travel mug that I take home every day as we can be laid off at any time.

    8. Ama*

      Maybe store it in the cabinet upside down so people can see your name on it? But I don’t actually think it’s that bad to have a note on it that says “Applesauced’s Personal Mug – Please Do Not Use.” The only real explanation I can think of is that somehow a coworker is under the mistaken impression it’s either a communal mug or they have permission to use it (maybe Coworker A gave Coworker B permission to use Coworker A’s mug and they somehow got confused and thought your mug was the one they were supposed to use?). So a sign should help clear that up.

      Although speaking from experience, if your cabinet is a mix of personal and communal dishes, keeping it at your desk is really the only way to keep the most clueless of your coworkers from using your mug by mistake anyway.

      1. The Red Bowl Is Only On Loan*

        We have a collection of old mugs, dishes, and serving utensils at work and my assumption of something was in the cupboard with a name on it was that the name was written on it because of potluck a or other communal food-sharing events and that it was subsequently donated to the collection when the owner no longer wanted/needed it.

        If you have a specific mug that you don’t want others to use, there is no 100% guarantee of that happening in an office environment. The closest you will get is keeping it in your office/cube/desk drawer. Keeping it in a communal storage area signifies that it is communal property, whether that’s what you intended or not.

        1. Blossom*

          Yeah, I’d assume the owner might have moved on and left their mug behind. At my office we have the generic plain mugs that are bought by the organisation, freebies with supplier logos, photo mugs featuring employees past and present, with in-jokes that may no longer mean anything to anyone here, various other mugs that may have been someone’s once… I keep my own mug in my locker.

    9. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

      Ya, it’s a pain but I leave my mug on my desk for this reason. What is odd is odd is that your name is on it and they still do it.

      Has it been taken since the note was put in it?

    10. Venus Supreme*

      Definitely keep it in your turf. As someone with food allergies, I keep my favorite mug and such in my office so that people don’t take my mug, use it, then leave it dirty, then I use it and have an allergic reaction. I had something happen like that to me when I lived in college with 11 other people. Y’know?

    11. Isben Takes Tea*

      I’ll add to the anecdata that if the mug is in the communal cupboard, it’s implied it’s a communal mug. It may be inconvenient to keep it at your desk, but my sense is that private property is stored in private spaces (otherwise you have to contend with private property taking up communal storage space).

    12. Dust Bunny*

      I keep my mugs in my desk. We have communal mugs but they’re a mixed bag of hand-me-downs so people can’t be expected to notice that mine is special or remember which one it is. Slightly less convenient, I guess, but not THAT big a deal and better than losing track of them.

    13. Lily in NYC*

      I am irrationally furious that someone goes around to all of the fridges every morning and takes all of the ice from each one. I can’t figure out why she needs so much ice. On a less irritated note, there’s a doggie visiting the office today and I am in love with him. He is sleeping on my lap right now.

      1. Chriama*

        That’s bizzare! Are we talking 1 or 2 ice cube trays or one of those fridges with the automatic ice makers with big buckets of cubes?

        Also, on an unrelated note I really like ice in my water so I fill it up before I leave home, and it sucks that I can’t refill the ice at work :(

        1. Lily in NYC*

          They are fridges with an automatic ice maker and they aren’t very large. The woman goes to 7 fridges and fills up several large stainless steel water bottles with all the ice she can get. She must hide it in the freezer closest to where she sits and use it throughout the day.

          1. Chriama*

            That’s insane. I would love to go in one day and just beat her to it. I imagine both of you coming in increasingly earlier to beat the other to the ice.

            On a more practical note, have you thought about talking to her? Ask her if she could maybe fill up the bottles at the *end* of the day before she leaves so the ice cubes can replenish overnight and be available for the rest of the office to use? Overall though, that’s a very inconsiderate thing to do unless she comes in several hours earlier than the rest of the office and it only takes a couple hours to refill the ice.

            1. Amtelope*

              Yeah, I admit to using an entire ice tray’s worth of ice sometimes at work to make iced tea, but we have five or six ice trays (and I refill the tray I’ve used), so I’m not leaving everyone else deprived. Deciding I needed to use ALL the ice would not be okay.

          2. Joseph*

            Does she not realize that ice cube trays are a thing? For like $2 at Walmart, you can buy an ice cube tray, take 30 seconds to fill it with water at night, then you come in and have literally dozens of ice cubes immediately available.
            I’d honestly suggest you get one yourself to fix the situation, except there’s a 98% chance she’d take the ice from *that* too.

        1. Lily in NYC*

          He’s up for adoption and I think one of my coworkers is going to take him! Yay! I have gotten nothing done today because I keep visiting him.

        2. Ashie*

          I’m working from home today thanks to Hermine, and my puppy is sitting on my lap because she’s scared of the storm. Poor baby!

      2. Colette*

        I read this comment at work and it reminded me that I’d left an ice pack upstairs when my desk moved downstairs.

        (I clearly do not take all the ice.)

      3. Hlyssande*

        There was a puppy outside the office earlier this week when I went to lunch and I very nearly squealed.


    14. C Average*

      I have a Wheaties bowl that’s shaped like a basketball. I saved box tops to get it. It’s just a plastic bowl, but it’s cool and I like it. I used to keep it at the office for my morning oatmeal.

      One day it went missing. I sent out a “have you seen my Wheaties bowl?” email to my department, but no one had seen it. (Everyone was familiar with it. I got many comments from coworkers about how cool it was.)

      Fast-forward a few months. It’s Saturday. I’m the only one in the office, seizing some quiet time to finish a big project. I’m walking down the hall when a flash of orange on the floor catches my eye. It’s my Wheaties bowl under a colleague’s desk–and it’s full of DOG KIBBLE. He had been bringing his dog to work and he had stolen my bowl out of the kitchen to feed his dog.

      I grabbed it, took it home, ran it through the dishwasher, and have it to this day. I never mentioned it to the colleague in question, but I never thought of him quite the same way after that incident.

        1. C Average*

          I don’t think he was. He worked in an adjacent department with a lot of overlap with my department. I sent the email to a fairly short list–I didn’t want to blast the whole office with “have you seen my Wheaties bowl?”

    15. Purest Green*

      +100 for the Moss reference. I immediately thought of that after reading your first paragraph. And I agree with the other commentors that keeping it at your desk might be the only solution.

    16. PatPat*

      I’d be super annoyed by that, too. Can you hide it in the back of the cabinet? I think your note is good, though or put it in a ziplock bag and write DO NOT USE on the bag.

      My office refrigerator doesn’t have ice in it so I bring a ziplock baggie of ice with me. People keep taking my ice! I don’t mind too much if they take a little but I’m a germaphobe and I KNOW that they’re getting my ice with hands that were just on doorknobs or keyboards, plus they don’t seal my baggie back up so if I don’t check it, goodbye ice. So irritating!

    17. zora.dee*

      at a former job my mug and my spoon disappeared out of the drying rack within MINUTES of washing them a couple different times, and then would vanish for days before finally showing up again. I gave up and every time I washed my stuff: Dried it with paper towels and put it back in my desk.

      Even then, one time my mug actually disappeared off my desk overnight (we had a second shift that shared our desks) and I was livid. So, started putting it IN my desk drawer. I think you just have to put in the extra effort to keep it at your desk if you don’t want others using it, people just don’t know what belongs to people and what is up for grabs. They aren’t doing it to be jerks.

        1. zora.dee*

          Seriously. Gah, it still drives me crazy just thinking about it.
          To be fair, the second shift was high-turnover, lots of young people/first jobs, etc, so I figured it was someone who just didn’t think about it, and we reinforced the next shift that they shouldn’t touch things on desks that were not theirs. But it was so weird that it disappeared for a couple of days before it turned up again, it was a small office I couldn’t figure out where it was hiding!

    18. I'm Not Phyllis*

      I have a thing about other people using my dishes so I just keep them at my desk. Yes it’s a bit more inconvenient, but at least by doing this I have them when I need them!

    19. Purpensia*

      I recently received a framed five year award on my start date anniversary. It came with a gold pin that was taped to the corner. Someone stole the pin :(

      It is a cheap pin, but damnit, I earned it! And kind of crappy that someone stole it off my desk.

  11. Mazzy*

    More of a vent than anything. I am just at my wits ends with my job, maybe my career I feel like no matter what my successes are, they just don’t matter at my current job. No dollar value saved or brought in or hours worked or problem solved get any reaction. I work at one of those places where you do all your negotiating up front, and then there aren’t reviews or much feedback as to whether you actually deserve the title or salary you negotiated. I didn’t know this, so took what I was offered and then asked for a salary increase, which I got, however, I hate this system of having to go to management instead of the other way around. Given the complexity and dollar value of my projects, and seeing that I’m doing higher level work than other people who earn more, I’ve been feeling under-paid again. Not badly paid, but underpaid compared to my peers and the area we are in (think less than $100K in central SF being mid career, sounds good but when you’re living it its basically paycheck to paycheck + some savings but not much). This is ruining my attitude. They want wine on a beer budget. It makes me feel like I can misbehave. It’s like “dating down” and one feels, rightly or wrongly, that they can mistreat their partner because they know the partner won’t leave. That”s how I feel about work now. I just felt like job hunting the other day so went in a few hours late. I don’t care. What are they going to do? Fire me? It just doesn’t matter. This is bad when you are a manager as well. I’m supposed to be neutral or happy and I just can’t put it together, I keep slipping and being sarcastic or snippy because I don’t care. I feel like I can easily get a job at the same pay level easily, even though I don’t just want any job, but I don’t feel like I have to be perfect because I’m in a great situation. I miss the years when I used to rush out of bed because I wanted to impress my boss by getting in extra early and when I was afraid of losing my jobs because the pay and circumstances were better than the prior one. Now I don’t care. I want to earn at least $10K more.

    1. K-VonSchmidt*

      I am experiencing a similar feeling. Maybe it’s a middle management thing…your bosses are busy with higher level stuff and don’t make time to still coach or mentor you, there’s no “plan”, there’s no real growth opportunities beyond more work or managing more people and projects and for what?

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      That sucks. If I’m understanding you correctly, you’re both underpaid and underappreciated. I definitely think you should leave. Obviously, if you can get a job that both appreciates you and pays you well, yay! But if you can have at least one or the other, that still sounds better than what you have now. In other words, you can find a job that pays more but still underappreciates you in other ways or a job that pays about the same but at least appeciates you in non-monetary ways.

      Best of luck. I’m in SF, too, and making a lot less than you, even though you’re underpaid for your line of work. It’s tough here for everybody, even the people making “a lot.”

      1. Mazzy*

        Part of the issue is that I’ve made my career cleaning up business. That isn’t usually what I was hired to do though. The problem is that most companies think they do most things fine, so it’s only after I’m hired that I discover where the bodies lie and get down to the real work. I have no idea how to find those sorts of jobs unless through work of mouth. Certainly you can’t see that from a job ad.

        1. Jennifer*

          You’re creating expertise in a little-known and much-needed field! Write up a resume that highlights the “cleaning up business” aspect of things and make sure it emphasizes numbers of some kind. Hours or dollars or anything that can be measured and counted. And then post that resume on an appropriate job board and let recruiters who need your skills find YOU. Consider it a passive job search. And remember, it’s like with personals ads: you know who YOU are, but you don’t know who the COMPANIES are, so let them find you. (And consider doing contracts thru agencies if you don’t have the stomach for freelancing. You’re not self-employed for tax purposes, which keeps life much simpler.)

          FWIW, I’m also in the SF Bay Area. I do answer job ads but I have gotten most of my actual work thru people finding my resume online (sometimes recruiters, sometimes hiring managers).

          Places to post resumes: DICE, Monster, Indeed, LinkedIn — and Craigslist!

        2. Dynamic Beige*

          Or you could create your own job as a business coach/cleaner. “Most small/medium-sized companies/startups think that they do most things just fine… but when was the last time your business was audited? Have you ever had an employee send a complaint to the Labour Board? File an EEOC against you? Are you attracting the right talent through competitive hiring practices such as benefits and salaries above market?” Or whatever the main problems you see all the time with these companies. The trick is to hit on the hidden problem and that you are the person to provide the information this business needs to fix it. If you’re always finding where the bodies are buried, then you have a lot of things to pull from. “XCompany was audited every year for over 10 years. After working with them to improve their bookkeeping and reporting practices, they experienced their first-ever non-audit and threw a party to celebrate!”

          1. Mazzy*

            I love it. I never thought about that, maybe I will in 5 more years. I also have to think about how to phrase the “finding the bodies” part.

            I’m also curious how to approach short job stays. Not to toot my own horn, but I accomplished/knew more in a year or two at a few jobs than people who had been there for 5+ years, because I was getting my hands seriously dirty while everyone else was doing their same routine every day.

            But again, you can’t say that on an interview because then you look like you’re not a team player. And employers still want long term employees, even though it doesn’t always make sense….

    3. Chriama*

      I’m a little confused because it sounds like you got the raise when you asked for it. Why not ask for another one? Overall though, you sound really burned out. Can you take a long vacation or go on short-term disability or something? I think some time away from work will help you regain some perspective.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      I get the part about not being appreciated. If you can shift your focus, do you appreciate what a terrific job you do? Just my opinion, but once we lose our self-satisfaction the going gets reeeeally tough. Try to get yourself to the point where you feel satisfaction in knowing that you did a job well.

      Look at this from the opposite side for a moment. Let’s say you have a job where the bosses all say you are doing great. But you are pretty certain your work sucks. What is noticeable here is that it does not truly matter what others think, at the very core what matters the most is what we think of our own efforts.

      So going back to your situation, it sounds insufferable. One thing that I have done, YMMV, of course, is to remind myself of all the ways I am building myself up to be a GREAT employee for someone ELSE. I built an image in my head of an employer who said, “NSNR, boy, I so appreciate how you are will to tackle all these strange things that come up. And you know how to build solutions.” I used my awful employer to sharpen me into a better employee for the next person.

      See, it’s human nature to want goals. If we feel we have no goals in our immediate life we can really flounder and struggle. Take back your goals. When things are bleak it is hard to develop goals. That is why I suggest framing your current setting as sharpening you for the next employer. If this does not resonate with you, perhaps you can find something else to target that does make sense in your setting.

      Maybe your solution is “Hey this company is draining the life force right out of me and I am going to say ‘F! NO!'” Or maybe you can reclaim parts of yourself by reminding yourself of how hard you have worked to be able to get into and stay in your arena and you don’t want to throw that away. Or it could be time to move to some other type of work. Only you know what you need here.

      Let us know how you are doing.

      1. Mazzy*

        No I don’t feel satisfaction from doing good work, I think I do need some outside recognition every once in a while. I mean, hypothetically, I could be doing things horribly and no one is telling me.

        Yes you are right, some sort of goals or structure is needed in life. I don’t want militant, but someone noticing when I am not there or noticing when I’m working a lot (or not) or saved alot of money or something would be nice. Then at least I’d know where I stand in the world. Is saving a $1M over a year a lot? Was it not enough for you? Do you think I could have saved $2M because of information you have? That would be meaningful information to have.

  12. CeeCeeBalle*

    Hi all. I recently graduated from university in a little-known discipline. My school has the only accredited program in Canada offering it. I’m struggling to find a job now that I’m graduated, and I was debating reaching out to some of my professors to see if they know of anyone looking for a new graduate? Is that a good idea? And if so, is it better to email them or visit them in person at the university?

    If it helps, the program itself is fairly new and there’s only been a few graduating classes.

    1. Anony*

      I think that should be fine. Emailing would be better than asking in person: give them time to pull together answers for you.

    2. animaniactoo*

      Many schools have a department that collects job leads for current students and graduates, have you checked on whether your school has something along those lines?

      1. CeeCeeBalle*

        There is a career development center, though I don’t know if they do much in the way of assisting recent graduates. I don’t think the university did a good job of making its services known: their website seems to have a lot of broken links and I don’t think it was ever mentioned to me as a student. Though in looking it up I did find out that the university has an upcoming career fair, with a fair number of company recuiters coming. Alumni are welcome, I’ll see if I can attend that.

        There’s also the department’s Co-operative Education office, because we did co-ops as part of the program. I’m not sure if they’d be worth contacting?

        1. animaniactoo*

          What’s the worst that happens if you contact them and it turns out they don’t have any help for you?

    3. H.C.*

      A brief, one-time email is fine with your recent professors, but I also agree with animaniactoo that your major’s admin office or the college’s career center should be able to cull and provide some job leads for recent grads and alums – so you may want to check with those resources first.

    4. EddieSherbert*

      Absolutely email them! They probably get a lot of that kind of information – I keep my college department informed of open positions at my company, exactly for that purpose!

      1. CeeCeeBalle*

        That’s very encouraging, then! The program head seems to take a lot of pride in the program and cares about students, and all the professors do a lot of work with some of the major companies in the industry.

    5. migrant worker*

      also whoever runs the programme – admin or otherwise – probably gets contacted for people with this degree?

    6. James*

      Did the same thing–not many paleontology jobs out there!

      I would say that yes, emailing your professors would be a good idea. They’ve done this before, trust me, and are usually willing to help former students. Also, reach out to anyone else you met during college. Did you attend a conference? Give a talk somewhere? Have friends in the same field? Ask around; you never know what might come of it.

      I’d also recommend being willing to take work that’s only related to your field. You may not get in right away, and having work experience sort of similar to what you studied (ie, not stocking shelves at a retail store or flipping burgers) can offer surprising benefits. It can also position you to be able to take advantage of opportunities you didn’t know existed, should they arise.

  13. NarrowDoorways*

    I need some wording advice for a meeting with the CEO next week. This is about the new salary law.

    So the office manager told me that no changes will be made to my pay once the salary laws change. Right now I’m exempt and working 45-60 hours a week.

    I’m trying to navigate how I’ll handle my new schedule–on my own, as the CEO seems to think the new law doesn’t apply to our company. I plan pick and show up at a regular time, leave the building for my half hour lunch instead of working through it, and go home for the day after exactly 8 hours. This will bring me down to what my original job offer stated of 37.5 hours a week.

    The CEO is refusing to read any of the articles on this new law (taken by me from Alison’s posts and sent to HR, who is trying to tell her she should be addressing it). The CEO feels that because we’re a small company–25 employees–we don’t count under this new salary law due to our size. Not true though. We’re not a non-profit, though I think that exception if for way fewer employees. Also, the company I work for was purchased by a very large corporation at the beginning of 2016…

    But here’s where things get tricky. I JUST found out that I’m going to be receiving a raise in the next week or two, but unrelated to the new salary law. But it’ll be the normal type of cost-of-living raise. And I seriously doubt it’ll be large enough to bump me to meet the new wage minimum. When I sit down with the CEO to discuss my raise, should I mention the salary law then?

    I’ll thank her for pushing the raise through, but I feel this would be a good opportunity to also gently ask about the changes to my job in December.

    How in the world does someone transition from expressing gratitude for a raise to gracefully explaining it’s not enough and that in 3 months, I’ll no longer meet many of my deadlines?

    1. Dawn*

      If your company has to comply with the law, then it has to comply with the law- no matter what your CEO thinks. And if your company was bought by a bigger company, then presumably your company plus bigger company equals more than 25 employees.

      Just go to the CEO and lay out the facts- here’s the law, here’s what it says, here’s how it applies to your situation, here’s what you’re going to do *to make sure that the company is compliant with the law*. Don’t even mention getting a raise to be past the overtime threshold, just say “beginning at [date that the law says I have to] I will be working [this many] hours per week in order to ensure that the company stays on the right side of the law. This means [consequences].” And then wait for the CEO to respond.

      1. Ella*

        Or just ask how the CEO would like to handle it– either reducing your hours to the amount you’ve mentioned, or paying you overtime for the additional hours. You could say something like, given the law, I’m planning to reduce my hours, but if you prefer, I could also continue to work my current number of hours, if you are able to pay me overtime for the additional hours.

        1. NarrowDoorways*

          Oh I like this phrasing too, thank you. Ask how she would like me to handle it put the ball in her court and forces her to directly address the issue.

          1. Ella*

            I’d also be prepared with information (articles, etc) if she says she thinks your organization doesn’t qualify. And if she keeps ignoring the issue, you can either reduce your number of hours and see what happens, or maybe report your company to the Department of Labor.

        2. Natalie*

          I think offering to work the overtime is potentially more risky – what if the CEO says “yeah, yeah, sure” and then just doesn’t pay their OT? It may be harder to walk that back at that point, plus you’ll have worked a bunch of extra hours for no extra money. This CEO sounds incredibly obstinate, so I’m not sure I’d trust them to fork over the money.

          1. Bob Barker*

            Not no money — just money you have to raise hell to get paid. (For “hell” read Department of Labor.)

            And… I’d call that a pro! If an obstinate person won’t follow the law, by golly, the law will let them know about it.

            1. Natalie*

              Sure, NarrowDoorways can pursue legal options for their required OT, but that is a) not exactly a quick solution and b) going to seriously damage their relationship with their employer. Yes, yes, they’re legally forbidden from retaliating, but in reality there are all kinds of subtle forms of retaliation that are hard or impossible to prove. And if they go for the obvious form of retaliation, NarrowDoorways is right back at a) waiting for a legal case to wrap up while they’re unemployed.

              It doesn’t sound like NarrowDoorways is ready to move on from this job yet, so it’s high risk to work the OT assuming they can just have the DOL step in if needed.

                1. Natalie*

                  Yes, I’m sure their boss will be open to hearing that and then immediately change their behavior.

                  Workers rights cases aren’t easy to pursue under the best of circumstances. Pursuing a rights case while you’re still working somewhere is likely going to be unbelievably stressful. It’s perfectly okay for the OP to decide this is a battle they don’t want to fight, refuse the extra hours, and then probably look for another job because this CEO sounds like a nightmare.

              1. EmmaLou*

                DOL can act very quickly. Husband was injured at work (not his fault) and when he went back to work his very shady company said they were going to “cut his pay” for a short time while they “retrained” him (to do a job he’d been doing for many years) which was illegal. He made one call to DOL who confirmed its illegality and they called his work. That very day he got a call from his employers saying they’d “changed their minds” and he’d be restarted at his full wage. Of course from that moment on, they worked to fire him but
                it took years and eventually they did for a rule violation that they had to admit to Unemployment didn’t actually exist. So very glad to be done with that place.

          2. Observer*

            Actually, far less risky. The first time the paycheck doesn’t cover the hour worked you go to payroll / HR and say “You do know that we are legally required to pay for every hour worked, don’t you? And that it is absolutely illegal for me to volunteer to work unpaid hours? When will I see the overage covered?” And, they either get it to you by next payroll, or you call DOL.

    2. H.C.*

      You can try once more with the CEO by sending her the actual rule changes from the Dept of Labor’s site ( ) noting that nowhere does it specify exceptions for small size for for-profits.

      Also – with the large corporation purchase, will your company be folded into the larger corporation operations within the next 3 months or still run independently? If it’s the former, you can also check with your newly assigned HR rep and even if not, you can check with the larger corporation’s HR/compliance departments in general about this too.

      1. NarrowDoorways*

        I wish I had any idea how to even get in contact with the new company. We’re being largely kept separate and I am sure the only reason I’m getting my current cost-of-living raise, for the first time in 5 years, in due to the increase in funds after the acquisition.

        Thank you for the link. I will make sure to go armed with it.

    3. Zahra*

      How will payroll process your pay come December? Are they going to pay you overtime? If yes, I’d drop it. CEO is obviously not interested in hearing or learning about it. Maybe the additional OT cost will wake her up. Unless there’s a chance of her asking you not to log your time over 40 hours or firing you (or otherwise negative consequences) when she gets the sticker shock.

      1. NarrowDoorways*

        Haha, no, I wish! The CEO is the one who processes overtime. I don’t currently work from a time sheet so I’m paid the exact amount each week no matter what I work.

        1. Jerry Vandesic*

          You will need to talk to your boss about how you should be tracking your time in December. Do it in a matter-of-factly way and simply state that you understand that law requires non-exempt employees to track their time, and what form should you fill out?

    4. animaniactoo*

      “Thank you very much for this. I do have another concern I’d like to address with you – I understand you don’t intend to raise me up to new minimum exempt salary, so I’ll become non-exempt when the new law goes into effect. Do you intend to convert me to hourly so that I’ll receive overtime pay for my additional hours, or are you planning to hire an additional person so we can make sure to keep my hours under 40?”

      [bluster bluster bluster]

      “I’ve researched this very thoroughly, our company is not exempt from this because there is no exemption for size unless it’s a non-profit company. Businesses that have only 3 employees are subject to it. Please check for yourself, I’d hate for the company to get into trouble over a misunderstanding about this.”

      1. Anon for this one*

        But also figure out how you’re going to respond to “That’s okay, as long as you don’t file a complaint, no one will ever know.”

        1. Observer*

          Even if I never file a complain, someone else might. Or you might get audited by the IRS, and that tends to have a domino effect. Or someone in the acquiring company might complain about the acquiring company, and we’d get caught in the cross fire.

      2. Jerry Vandesic*

        “… I understand you don’t intend to raise me up to new minimum exempt salary”

        I wouldn’t say this. Too argumentative. Simply say “Given my salary, I’ll be non-exempt when the new law goes into effect.”

      3. Elysian*

        I think even for non-profits, the exemption is based on business revenue and not size. I don’t think any aspect of the FLSA changes its applicability just because you’re small.

    5. Zahra*

      Oh, do check that you are not in one of the professions that are exempt by default (teachers come to mind).

        1. Anon Just In Case*

          Ugh, teachers are criminally underpaid in this country already. What’s the rationale for excluding them from the law? (probably because, given the number of hours teachers work every week, they’d all suddenly start making overtime…)

          1. PeachTea*

            The thought process is that they are a “learned” profession. The law wasn’t written to protect lawyers, doctors, and teachers because presumably, they were not at as high of a risk to be exploited thanks to their skills.

          2. BobcatBrah*

            The rationale is that they’re salaried government employees paid for by local (and federal) taxes. Why on Earth would the Federal government raise their own operating expenses like that? I would imagine there’s also an exemption for military personnel, if they’re even subject to DoL rules in the first place.

          3. NarrowDoorways*

            Become a teacher in Massachusetts! All my teacher friends make damn good money and are well protected by their union.

    6. Natalie*

      At this point, if you don’t get anywhere with your CEO next week, go back to HR. Part of their job is protecting the company from bizarro managers like yours.

      1. NarrowDoorways*

        It’s difficult because oddly, in most cases the CEO functions as HR! She consults with an actual HR company to navigate almost all major issues. This is generally handled very well, as all the issues in the past have been taken in hand quite how Alison’s advice would offer.

        I can only hope that, when faced with my comments, she’ll once again consult with the HR company and proceed appropriately. It’s getting her there that is the trick.

        1. Natalie*

          Ah, so it’s a third party HR firm? That’s a bit different.

          In that case, personally I would go with the above suggestion of just presenting it as a done deal: “since they’re been no discussion of raising my salary to the new exempt threshold or paying overtime, starting December 1st I’ll begin capping my work week at 40 hours.”

          (Also, this is a fairly minor point but it might help with your boss. This isn’t a new law at all. It’s an old law, they just adjusted a number in that law)

        2. Natalie*

          You mentioned you were acquired by a larger company. Do they have their own HR department? If your company is wholly owned by theirs, they should be involved as its their ass(ets) on the line.

          As you don’t have the number, just google them and call through the main line.

    7. Anon13*

      Others have already given great advice, so I won’t rehash what they said, but, just as an aside, regardless of your original offer, they would only be required to pay you overtime for hours worked over 40 each week, not hours worked over 37.5. I actually worked somewhere with a decent number of non-exempt salaried employees that kept our work week at 37.5 hours for that reason. People often put in an extra 15 minutes a few times a week, but rarely enough to get overtime.

  14. intldevt*

    My horrible manager was fired this week! When my manager’s boss told me I had to fight down a smile… :)

    Apparently things have gotten quite sketchy since she was terminated, as she’s tried to contact multiple people within the organization as well as some of our external partners. It was serious enough that the Executive Director called an impromptu staff meeting to say “I know some of you have been contacted, please come and see me if you have concerns.” I was asked to change all of our corporate passwords as well. I have no idea what the content of her messages were (and I know it’s confidential and none of my business), but I’m SO SO SO curious!

      1. Marisol*

        “When my manager’s boss told me I had to fight down a smile… :)”

        Schadenfreude!! I know it well. When my awful coworker got fired, she came to my desk to tell me about it and say goodbye, and I think I my feigned look of concern was oscar-worthy. As soon as she left the building I gleefully emailed a friend who works at a different company (using my personal email account of course) the “good news.” It’s terrible, but satisfying. Of course, the situation with your manager sounds considerably worse and more dramatic.

    1. Waxworm*


      My office schadenfreude story: “Peter” was a huge jerk to me for the entire year I was on the same team as him. He even went as far one time as to go and change a source report that had been updated months ago, then sent an email to the entire leadership to say Waxwork messed this up, literally minutes after changing the report!He did a lot of other stuff too, such as encouraging all of us to complain as a group, only to be the first to announce “I completely disagree with this. I agree with management” as soon as we sent the group email to management.

      Well the rest of us got huge promotions one-by-one over the next year, and Peter never did! On top of that, he continually tries to connect with me on LinkedIn (I’m in a very senior position now) and I can’t hope but notice he is still in that abysmal dead end job!

  15. EW*

    I need some advice.

    I moved states in January without a job to join my husband before our wedding in April. I felt pressured to find a job quickly and accepted a job at a company that was extremely stressful, caused panic attacks, raised some ethically issues, and just generally made me miserable. After three months, I quit on good terms with my manager. He understood the working environment, and although he was trying to change it, the change was very slow.

    My question is this: since I was only there three months, I have left it off my resume so far. But what happens if it comes up in a background check? I’m even applying for jobs in a different field, so the experience really isn’t relevant. But I don’t want to feel like I’m hiding it. Any advice? I’m being very careful with choosing my next position so I can stay there for at least two years.

    1. Not a Real Giraffe*

      Your resume is a marketing tool, not a comprehensive list of every job you’ve ever held. If a hiring manager sees it and asks about it, you can simply explain that you left it off your resume because the experience was not relevant to the position, and that you left due to a bad cultural fit (or whatever). I doubt it will come up at all, though.

      1. EW*

        Thank you. I think I’m just overly concerned about “hiding” it from a future employer. What about the applications that ask for work history? Do I need to include it there since it’s not a resume? The language is not always clear, but most I’ve encountered ask to “list the most recent position first”.

        1. Natalie*

          If you’re asked to provide a complete work history for a background check, go ahead and list it. Don’t worry about it at all – no one expects you to list every job you’ve had on a resume, and your future employer may not even see the form you fill out. They probably use a third party background check service.

      2. Anonymous Educator*

        Yes, you’re not denying you worked there. You’re just not advertising that you worked there.

      3. Marisol*

        And what sort of background check is it? Unless it’s for the FBI or something where the research is extensive, I can’t imagine anyone would find out unless you tell them–how would they know?

        1. EW*

          This was what I was trying to figure out. I thought if you use a background check company they can sometimes get income information and see the company name that way. I don’t know for sure.

          1. Marisol*

            hmmm. I don’t know but it seems like a finding out where you previously worked would entail some sort of private eye investigation (cost prohibitive I imagine) since the only employment records generated would be the W2 and I9 and they are confidential. I had my background checked for prior arrests/criminal convictions and unbeknownst to me, there was a warrant for an unpaid parking ticket–I took care of that of course, once they asked me about it (very embarrassing), and was subsequently hired. My point being that a criminal record is public, and so not hard to access, unlike a tax record. But really, I cannot speak with any authority. It’s not like you did anything wrong simply by leaving an employer though.

  16. Not-So-Sad Grad*

    After a summer drought, I’ve finally started getting interviews! Alison’s guide was very helpful when thinking of answers to common questions and topics to inquire about with interviewers. It also helps that she has a calm, soothing voice throughout the entirety of the video guide, making the drive to the office far less nerve-wracking.

    I got rejected from two jobs this week but also had two interviews. One of them included lunch with the team I’d work with to assess cultural fit. Since as the hiring process takes a while, though, I’m really starting to regret turning down offers for part-time retail and adjunct jobs because I was interviewing for full-time positions in my field. I hope I’m not still unemployed in a few months, kicking myself for not stocking shelves or teaching a six-week class because I thought some interviews in my field would lead to a full-time job.

    1. SophieChotek*

      I’m sorry! I understand the feeling about wishing one had taken PT work, but not wanting to be tied up if a FT offer came through. Best of luck!

    2. SeekingBetter*

      Glad to hear the job interviews are picking up for you! I’m sorry to hear the rejections, and I hope you’ll find a job soon despite rejecting jobs that aren’t related to your field. I’ve turned down a couple of non-career related opportunities myself so far and I hope I don’t regret it either. I completely understand waiting out for the full-time positions over the part-time ones.

  17. March*

    This morning I found a job posting I’m qualified for (!) and it breaks down qualifications by mandatory, highly desirable, and nice to have. And items listed under each are actually reasonable (!!). After finding so many ads with frustrating requirements (I mentioned last week ones that wanted 5-7 years for entry level, for example), this is so refreshing to see.

  18. Nervous Accountant*

    Happy Friday! :)

    I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who gave me feedback and advice on my post last week :)
    Things have gotten considerably better the last few weeks. No BEC mode, no dropping the ball on anyone, keeping up with all my emails. Slump’s gone. I took the advice to heart. I wish I wasn’t so slow in processing things, but everyones been an immense help.

    It’s also our first payday reflecting our raises after our perf review in July, so pretty happy about that :)

  19. Tegdirb*

    I’m thinking of applying for a position in another department within my company. What I’m wondering is how to frame this to my current boss. I don’t think he’ll be bothered – especially as he is a transplant from another department within the company – but I just want to make sure it goes smoothly.

    Has anyone else gone through this?

    1. ASJ*

      This is extremely common, so (unless you suspect otherwise, which you say you don’t) I would approach it with the attitude that your boss will be cool with it, sorry to see you go but happy to see you moving on to better pastures. If you have the opportunity, maybe you could bring up that you’ve been thinking of applying to test the waters?

  20. AvonLady Barksdale*

    Four weeks unemployed and things are finally starting to get in motion. I have one confirmed in-person interview next week and am working on scheduling another (with another agency). I started one online class for fun and will start another next week for not-as-much-fun (career-related). A local media non-profit wants me to help judge a film contest. I’ve had a bunch of conversations with recruiters, both local and in NYC (my direct experience is much more applicable in NYC than it is here, and while I don’t plan to move back anytime soon, I’m not ruling out the possibility).

    At first, I was really wary of how people would respond to my story about leaving my job, but they’ve been so much more understanding than I could ever imagine. I was too in-the-weeds at that job, thrown in with very little training and expected to do so many tasks, and I had come from a place where I had a team and was expected to handle higher-level reporting and presentations. I want to get back into that. I’ve had nothing but positive responses.

    So that’s the good stuff. The hard part is figuring out exactly what I want. The agency I’m meeting with next week is small (fewer than 50 employees) and looking to expand its offerings and incorporate the type of work that I’ve done in my career. The agency I’m setting something up with wants to do something similar, but it’s bigger (~150 employees). I have to really, really sit down and figure out what I will need to avoid my last situation, which included: too few people (we worked as independent teams of 4 people, with the person in my role doing everything from project management to people management to execution to reporting), change for the sake of change alone (every three months, my job was different), too many projects at once, and upper management that was never on the same page. During my interviews, I plan to ask about management style and structure, vision for the role, what success looks like, and what they would expect my first 30 days to look like, but I’d love to hear from all my AAM-ers about questions you’d suggest I ask to avoid another massive career fail. (I exaggerate– but basically, it was a bad fit.) What say you fine people?

    1. zora.dee*

      something about how strategic/project planning is done for each year? As in, how many projects would you be working on at once, and how is that decided/when is that revisited? and maybe, how much say do you have in making those plans?

      what are their plans for staffing/growth? Are you going to have enough people on your team to do the work, how are decisions made to add staff if needed?

      And because I have had a bad experience with this in the past: how is reporting done for projects/how is post-project analysis done/lessons learned and incorporated into future planning? (I was somewhere where we just made the same dumb mistakes over and over bc no one would admit that that idea hadn’t worked the last 3 times, and it was easier to just do the same things every year).

      And also anything about collaboration and communication with other departments? Many problems I’ve seen relate to siloing departments too much.

      Just some things off the top of my head, mostly based on things I don’t want to go through again, haha. Good luck!!

  21. H.C.*

    So I’m finally starting my new government job the Monday after Labor Day — yay!

    To follow up from this earlier open thread query (July 1-2 , yep – it’s been a while) about the oddity of going from verbal offer straight to a starting date notice with said-government job, I did put a brake to that unexpectedly fast process and did wound up negotiating my salary, pre-planned days off & a few other things (using quite a few negotiation tips from AAM – thanks!). Thankfully, my hiring manager really went to bat for me on this with government HR and even though it took a while to approve, it eventually did & I’ll make 10K more than their initial offer (& modest bump from my most recent job).

    During this whole time, I’ve given a generous notice period with my former employer so left on really good terms with my supervisor & colleagues — so now just enjoying my “funemployment” until that 1st day. Tina Fey was correct about the bliss of being currently unemployed but already knowing where your next paycheck will come from (paraphrasing from her Bossypants books.)

    1. MissDisplaced*

      Federal or State/Local Government?
      Curious about how you got a federal job. I’ve been applying but it seems pretty hopeless.

      1. H.C.*

        Local gov’t – and the whole process took about 9 months (it was really a lot of stop and go, with lulls between submitting application, then sending work samples, then the interviews & finally negotiation/approvals)

        Funny enough, I also have a federal government job application “in process”, quotes because I sent the application in December and I barely got an acknowledgment that my application has been received and will be considered last month (I’ve also gotten a few “reject” emails from federal gov’t – same role but diff departments/locations – and even those took about 2-3 months).

        So yeah, my takeaway for fed job applications is be extremely patient and stay otherwise employed during the process. Good luck!

  22. MonkeyBusiness*

    I would like to ask everyone’s opinion regarding education. I am a US citizen, but due to family circumstances I had to get my degree in a different country. I have a BA in Interantional Economic Relations from the top university in that country. Now I am back on US soil.. Any thought/feelings regarding how this may effect me? So far it hasn’t. But I am wondering if it is perceived as worthless?

    1. Temperance*

      I think it depends on the country and the university. There are some really excellent schools in Canada and the UK, for example, that are well-regarded here.

        1. Gaia*

          I don’t think it would be considered worthless by most. But it may help to get an officially translated copy of transcripts and degree. Most people will likely be unfamiliar with Ukranian universities. But people go to university all over the world. As long as you are able to show your education, I’d think you would have no trouble.

    2. Emac*

      I agree, it depends on the country & university. If you’re really concerned, you could get it evaluated, though that would cost money. CED and WES are the two evaluation companies that most US universities use.

      I can say that if you plan to go to grad school or something like that, it might mean you having to take the TOEFL. Though if you have a high school diploma from the US (or other English speaking country), that might be waived.

    3. LisaLee*

      Unless you’re working in some pretty specific areas (academia or some government work) I don’t think anyone will care beyond noting it as a curiosity.

    4. Anonymous Educator*

      In addition to what country and what university, it may also depend on what kinds of jobs you’re trying to get. Some jobs just care you got a bachelor’s and not where from or what in. Others care very much about pedigree.

  23. Anony*

    Hurricane! Or is it a tropical storm again?

    How are you all dealing with the weather?

    (Should I ask to go home early?)

    1. ASJ*

      I’m close enough to work that I can walk. But for me, my moment of “yup, time to go home” is when the busses are pulled off the road. Because around here, they are only pulled when there is some Serious Shit going on outside (usually during a January storm).

      1. Drew*

        I live and work in a hilly area which tends to have flash floods if there are storms more serious than “look at the pleasant little shower that’s blowing over.” Office SOP is that if severe weather is in the area, people who are concerned about their ability to get home should leave. Nothing we do is so critical that it is worth risking your safety.

        (Part of this is because at our old office, the driveway to the street regularly flooded, and we once had to wait out a tornado warning in a leaky building because we literally couldn’t get to the street.)

        Worse than rain, though, is ice; I live in the South and we have no infrastructure to deal with ice on the roads. A couple of times a winter, the all-location email goes out that the office is closed because it’s not worth the risk to anyone.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Well, here’s the thing: it’s a Friday, it’s a holiday weekend… If things are slow anyway, just leave now. My direct report at my last job was a nervous driver with a 45-minute commute, and I always let her leave if the weather was predicted to be funky.

      It’s just raining here right now and I’m so happy, because my lawn and plants need it. On the other hand, my mother is in Florida and never takes these things seriously, and I don’t want to hear how upset she is because it’s raining too hard for her to get a manicure.

      1. animaniactoo*

        I’ve been seeing meme postings all week from the Florida relatives about how their hurricane preparations are so much more laidback than the rest of the country… to sum up “Don’t panic or do a single thing different until it actually starts to rain REALLY HARD”.

        1. BobcatBrah*

          I’ve had enough food and water for a month tucked away in a closet since April. It’s been 10 years since they’ve had a hurricane down here (and we didn’t get a drop of rain in Miami), but I went 3 weeks with no power or drinkable tap water after Hurricane Ike hit Houston, and it would have been a really terrible 3 weeks if I hadn’t prepared. These Floridians can do what they want, but I’m not going to play Mad Max at the grocery store with them the day before a storm hits.

    3. Ama*

      I’m in a place that could potentially be in the path of the storm over the weekend and my office is located in the first area that gets evacuated if there’s a real danger (last time we had a bad hurricane, no one could get into the office for a week), so even though it looks like it won’t be that bad by the time it gets here I’m going to take my work laptop home. I’m heading into my busiest and most time sensitive project so I will enjoy my three day weekend much more if I don’t have to panic that I might be stranded without the tools I need.

    4. Mockingjay*

      Teleworking. Although the worst seems to have passed us (coastal South Carolina). I’m concerned about after-storm flooding, though, especially after last October’s deluge. But hey, we have inflatable boats in the garage.

    5. JOTeepe*

      If there isn’t a major coverage issue in your role/your office, I say why not? I live in the northeast, and we frequently deal with inclement weather. Like ASJ, I also walk to work, so I have no problem trudging through the snow, but under no circumstances will I deal with ice storms. That’s my line. However when I had staff (took a new role recently, a “high level individual contributor” – I hate that phrase, it’s so pretentious, but it is descriptive), if they commuted from any kind of distance I *insisted* that they not put their lives in danger over driving in inclement weather.

      1. ThatGirl*

        I am totally stealing “high level individual contributor” :) I am at the bottom of the report chain, and fine with that, but still have a reasonably high level of responsibility…

  24. Callietwo*

    So, next week I’m interviewing for an internal Senior teapot maker trainer and though I feel like I’ve done what I can for the most part: Taking the job description line by line, elevator speech ready and answers to many of the general questions typically asked so that’s all good.

    But I’m nervous about the wacky behavioral questions that might be asked and then the “weakness” question. I cannot come up with a way to discuss what I’d consider my biggest weakness. I’m not saying I don’t have any, I just don’t know what to actually say.

    I am easily distracted and can go off tangent. How could I talk about that? Or, that being organized does not come natural to me but that using the tools that are available, such as outlook calendars, cell phone reminders, color coding, pomodoro technique, bullet journeling etc, I’ve have excelled at my job. People actually think that I’m highly organized! So, would that no longer be considered one? I work at it every day to stay on top of things!

    Any advice would be appreciated. I have been doing many of the tasks on that job description already but it would be nice to be doing those in an official capacity, along with receiving the compensation that comes along with it! Thanks!

    1. R.*

      I think the key with the biggest weakness question (which yes, dumb question and hopefully they won’t ask it) is to turn it into a story about how you’ve improved. Something like “In the past, I’ve struggled a bit with being easily distracted. I was so eager to get it all done that I would jump to a new task before I’d finished the first one. It’s something I’ve really worked on, and with the help of tools like color coding and calendars, I’ve gotten a lot better lately! In fact, my boss recently complimented me on my organization skills, which was great to hear.”

      1. Callietwo*

        That’s excellent, thank you! I am taking this weekend to practice, practice, practice so that it sounds natural without sounding rehearsed. Heh.

    2. migrant worker*

      I am also terribly disorganised but everyone at work thinks I’m detail-oriented and organised also due to tools and techniques taught to me by others. Though I don’t know pomodoro and bullet journalling – I will check this out!

      On biggest weakness – I think ok to say that you don’t have a natural inclination to organisation but having recognised it you’ve sought out tools that support you and work on it every day.

      Also in competency based questions (‘describe a time when…’), please don’t forget to give the outcome. :) I have sat through so many of these and it’s painful to hear this long story about this time when… and then I have no idea how it ended. Good luck!

      1. zora.dee*

        “On biggest weakness – I think ok to say that you don’t have a natural inclination to organisation but having recognised it you’ve sought out tools that support you and work on it every day.”

        Yes, this^^^
        That is exactly what they want you to do, show how you recognize something that has caused you problems, and the steps you have taken to improve.

        And I like how R phrases it above, not framing it as a positive exactly, but explaining why you have that problem, not just “I’m disorganized” that sounds bad, but something like: “I am easily distracted because I often see lots of different directions and tangents that can go off of the main thing I am working on. I have learned how to compensate with organizational tools” and talk a little bit specifically about how you like to organize yourself to stay on task. Practice describing some of the specifics but in about 2-3 sentences.

        1. Jaydee*

          Here to second this. You don’t just want to identify a weakness and then stop. All you’ve done then is give them a potential reason not to hire you. What employers are looking for is self-awareness and the ability to overcome or work around your weaknesses. So the organization example is great.

      2. Callietwo*

        I just love the bullet journal but it can become a time-suck if you’re not careful! I’ve learned that I’m not all that artistic but some of the bullet journals you see online are actual pieces of art.

        Used with the pomodoro technique, it has really helped me stay on task. Copied from Wikipedia:
        ~~There are six stages in the technique:
        Decide on the task to be done.
        Set the pomodoro timer (traditionally to 25 minutes). (I use my cell phone timer)
        Work on the task until the timer rings. If a distraction pops into your head, write it down, but immediately get back on task. (This is where the bullet journal comes into play)
        After the timer rings, put a checkmark on a piece of paper.
        If you have fewer than four checkmarks, take a short break (3–5 minutes), then go to step 1.
        Else (i.e. after four pomodoros) take a longer break (15–30 minutes), reset your checkmark count to zero, then go to step 1.~~

        As for the ending of a “tell me about a time”.. oh, I will need to keep myself on track there.. I tend to start a story and then go into the ‘uhh, why was I telling you this story?” so I can easily see myself falling into that trap. Ooofh.. I hope I don’t screw this up!

        1. zora.dee*

          As for the ending of a “tell me about a time”.. oh, I will need to keep myself on track there.. I tend to start a story and then go into the ‘uhh, why was I telling you this story?” so I can easily see myself falling into that trap. Ooofh.. I hope I don’t screw this up!

          Ha, I TOTALLY know what you mean, I have this problem, too. ;o) But don’t get all “I hope I don’t screw this up!”, that will get in your head!!! Instead, practice your responses and stories ahead of time. Some people like to write them out first, or create an outline. I have a harder time writing than talking so that doesn’t work for me. But still, practice getting to the point quickly. Another way to do it is to state the point you are making first, and then back up and explain the story. “My best example is when I worked with the team to write out the teapot plan as a checklist to help identify where the problems were. So, what had happened was X, and Y, Z problems were happening. I started by…” Etc.

          You can do it, I believe in you!! ;o)

        2. Not So NewReader*

          Maybe the thing to do there is to say the punchline first. “I found I was easily distracted so I collected up organizational tools. I have been using X, Y and Z.” Then you can say, “What happened initially was I found that if the phone rang, I would get so immersed in that call that I would forget my current task and inadvertently start another task once I was done with the call. I had not completed the task I was on when the phone rang.”

          I have been able to ask myself, “Is telling this story actually answering a question or is it just an interesting-to-me side comment?”

          1. zora.dee*

            Ha, I am irrationally excited that I thought of the same advice as Not So NewReader, you are so wise!! ;o)

        3. migrant worker*

          I just sat in another competency based interview where we got long interesting stories with no conclusion… want to stress again making sure you give the punchline. :)

          And thanks for pomodoro/journaling tip! I am super easily distracted so this is a great way to build in structure. :)


  25. SJ*

    My last day at this job is next Friday (I start my new job on the 12th) and I am so itching to get out. I’ve been trying to wrap up loose ends but no one has sent me any information I need to do so, and I’m finding it reeeeeally hard to care. I know I’ll get bombarded with stuff on Thursday, since “last minute” is pretty much the motto around here.

    1. Drew*

      Idea: can you send out an email letting people know that you’re planning to leave early on Friday, so please get as much to you early in the week as possible? And then if you need to stay the whole day, you can, but you’ve already set the expectation that you’re trying to get out the door so if someone really hits you with a last-minute problem, you’ve covered yourself if you can’t quite get to it.

    2. OhBehave*

      What Drew said! They need a reminder that you are going to be GONE!
      Is there any way to predict what Thursday’s urgent needs will be? That may help you get ahead of the game. It’s crazy that they like to wait until the last minute.
      Congrats on the new job ;)

  26. Kaitlyn*

    I was fortunate enough to have 2 interviews this past week. But now I’m going in to a long weekend with all this anticipation to hear back looming over my head. Oh the uncertainty!

  27. C Average*

    I have a new job! I just started this last week, and I think I am going to love it.

    I’m working part-time at a giant independent fabric store in my area. It’s a huge warehouse full of all kinds of wonderful stuff: silks and velvets, fake furs and Gore-Tex, upholstery fabrics and cotton prints of absolutely everything you can possibly imagine, bits and bobs and gadgets.

    I’ve been shopping there for years for materials for various projects, so when I saw the “help wanted” sign on the door, I thought, “Wait, I could get PAID to spend time here? Yes, please.” I love the product line and have always loved the customer service vibe there, too: helpful and knowledgeable, but never hover-y.

    I will be primarily in the notions department, which means that when strangers ask me what I do, I can tell them I’m a purveyor of notions.

    I’ll continue to work through the revisions of my novel and do some freelance writing and possibly editing as well.

    1. SophieChotek*

      Congrats on new job! Best of luck with transition.
      I guess you can do what you can do on Thursday/Friday, then be done. That sounds like their problem, not yours, since they had a heads’ up…

    2. AndersonDarling*

      I worked at a fabric store when I was a teenager, 15 years ago, and I just had to donate the mountain of fabric I purchased with my employee discount. So have a closet ready for all that fabric! :) And good luck!

    3. Anonymous Coward*

      Purveyor of Notions sounds so interesting! I had a brief time when I was a Financial Crimes Professional… which sounded amusingly like the Mafia.

    4. Eden*

      Congratulations! This is how I started working at my last job – which I left 13 years later :-) Hope you love it, sounds like a great place with good management also, I think customer service usually reflects that.

    5. ZSD*

      Sounds awesome. Congratulations!
      Relevant to the education vs. knowledge discussion above, my brother-the-Rhodes-scholar once made fun of a sewing store that advertised “notions” in its window. How funny! They call them notions! Yes, as does the rest of the world, Brother.

    6. PackersFan*

      Hooray! Just don’t bring your Wheaties bowl until you know you can trust everyone not to use it….

    7. Hlyssande*

      Is this the one in the land of so many lakes that also opened a smaller location last year? :) :) :)

      If so, I am jealous! I interviewed there years ago and didn’t get it.

      (also, I recently got some linen knit there that’s to die for)

  28. NotAngryBlackWoman*

    RANT. I just started a new managerial role in my company. I am trying not to be perceived as the “angry black woman”, but there is a person in my department (who is not my direct supervisor) who tries to dump activities and projects on me – or worst…my staff! I want to be assertive and tell her to stop, but I am also reluctant because I do not want to be “the angry black woman.”

    Also, when I told her my staff would not be providing a service for her, she went to my supervisor BEHIND CLOSED DOORS and complained about it. Luckily, my supervisor backed me up and told her that I was right.

    How does my fellow marginalized community deal with not trying to be a “stereotype” in the work place?

    1. animaniactoo*

      By staying completely calm as you give pre-rehearsed lines, and letting it be *okay* for her to go to your supervisor, and let your supervisor back you up. In fact, that needs to be one of your pre-rehearsed lines. If the first 2 attempts at rejecting the work don’t take, the 3rd should be: “This is not how projects are supposed to be handed off/not something my department does. Please feel free to take it up with [Supervisor] if this is a problem.”

      In the meantime, being assertive and telling her to stop “Jane, there seems to be a misunderstanding about what my department is here for. Our work comes from [Supervisor]. If you have something you want us to work on, please arrange it with her.”

      You stress being calm and civil and *firm*, even if she’s getting aggravated with you. Not because you’re trying to avoid “angry black woman” stereotype, but because you can’t control her or how she reacts, and beyond the basics you actually don’t even want to try. Because then it makes you more responsible for how she responds than she is, and you want to leave that responsibility firmly where it belongs. What you control here is your own behavior, in not reacting in a way that would be inappropriate no matter what your gender or color are (angry). So – you can be clear and assertive at the same time. The primary difference between assertive and angry is the tone of voice and the words used. But the message is the same. “No, we won’t do that for you.” or “Please bring that to [Supervisor] for approval” or “We can have that done next week.” “Yes, I understand, but no we won’t be working on that unless [Supervisor] approves.”

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      I’ve felt that (not exactly but with a different stereotype), and it’s annoying, but you may just have to find a way to act that seems appropriate to you for the situation, and how other people read it be damned.

    3. Menacia*

      Why not schedule a meeting with the person who tries to dump activities and projects on you and your staff to come up with a solution? Right now is the time to create an environment of understanding if these activities and projects are not the responsibility of your team. I don’t think being calm but assertive will perceive you as being anything other than what you are, a manager. Don’t bring stereotypes into this at all, it’s not warranted and could cause more problems than necessary.

      1. Observer*

        There is no solution, other than for OtherManager to stop trying to assign work to people she doesn’t have the authority over. What exactly would a meeting do? NABW already explained this, essentially, which lead to a complaint to her supervisor.

        In short there is nothing to “negotiate” here.

    4. migrant worker*

      to be fair, the ‘angry black woman’ stereotype is often not about being angry at all. so helpful to be calm and not get angry, but sometimes being assertive itself can be perceived as angry.

      It sounds like this is a situation in which maybe letting your supervisor handle it could be beneficial? Worth having that convo and asking her to take care of it? It depends on the level of that other person but if they are higher than you, this could be the politically expedient solution.

      As for how to deal with the stereotype issue – as a person of colour myself, I try to stick up for my colleagues when they get put in that bucket. Luckily I currently work somewhere where we’re too diverse for the stereotyping to take hold in a way that marginalises anyone.

      Good luck!

    5. Chriama*

      Ugh. I think you do it by being pleasant and friendly to people who are pleasant and friendly, and calmly assertive to people who aren’t. I wouldn’t change all my behaviour to deal with one unreasonable person. Also, maybe watch how other people deal with this person and bring it up with your boss proactively if you’re concerned. “Hey boss, this is how I’ve been dealing with Obnoxious Ophelia. I know she complained to you directly in the past, and I just wanted your confirmation that you’re fine with how I’m handling things or if you’d like me to do anything differently?”

      Also, as a black woman myself, I recently made a pact that I would never feel embarrassed or out of place because of my race or gender. I’m not the best at controlling my emotions, but every time I have a thought like that I remember my vow and I pull my shoulders back and stand up taller. I can’t control how people choose to perceive me, but I can choose how I perceive myself. I hope that comes across as self-empowering and not judgemental, it’s just something that was a bit of a revelation to me so I thought I’d share.

      1. Honeybee*

        Yeah, I also made the commitment to myself to be unapologetically black, *especially* in spaces when I’m the only one (and I very, very, very often am – I work in video games at a technology company). I never want people to be able to…almost ignore the fact of my race and gender, if you will.

        Interestingly, it’s usually worked out pretty positively, in that I think my coworkers notice and comment on things that maybe they wouldn’t otherwise. For example, I was having a conversation with a colleague from a product team I’d just met in front of a senior coworker on my team. The colleague was pretty much grilling me on my video game history and knowledge in a way to ‘establish’ my ‘cred’ as a gamer, which is pretty important to a lot of people in our field for better or for worse (eyeroll). At this point, I’m really used to it because as a black woman, I never read “gamer” to people just by looking; people are constantly asking me if I play and seem pretty surprised when they find out that not only do I but I’ve been playing my entire life.

        Later, the senior coworker commented on how sexist the conversation was from his perspective and how eye-opening it was for him to watch it unfold; he’d always HEARD that women had to deal with those kinds of challenges in the industry but to SEE it happen in front of him was something different. His mind was blown when I told him it happened to me so often I don’t even really bat an eye when it happens anymore.

    6. zora.dee*

      UGH! I don’t have any advice, but I just wanted to say I’m sorry you have to deal with cr*p like this in the workplace in the 21st Century! It’s ridiculous and it shouldn’t be happening. I can’t even imagine how hard it is to deal with stereotypes like that.

      I come off as “intense” to some people, and my last boss didn’t like my “tone” even when I was asking her questions, so I’ve come to terms with the fact that some people just aren’t going to like me and there’s only so much I can do. But I can’t imagine having to add so many other dimensions of prejudice on top of that. Again, I’m just sorry that our society sucks.

    7. J*

      Honestly, I just do it anyway. IMO, there are times when it’s legitimate to get angry about something. I mean, I’m not Hulk-smashing everything in sight, but when a department/co-worker/situation goes far right of where it should have been, I get upset. Being a black woman doesn’t mean I don’t get to feel a certain range of emotions in the workplace.

      I’m fortunate that I have worked with supervisors who will often back me up in those situations. I’m glad yours did as well.

      1. Christopher Tracy*

        Same here, J. I’m not going to act like a robot at a place where I spend most of my day out of fear of being perceived a certain way. If someone’s out of line, they get put back in it.

    8. Mazzy*

      Before you get to the point of asking that question I think its worth evaluating whether the work actually does belong in your department. Though I am complaining about my job up above, one area I was successful was absorbing work from other departments. I thought some of it was BS in the beginning because it looked like they were giving us secretarial or data entry work – which they were. Then I realized the information behind the paperwork was all wrong and there were all sorts of other problems and lost money being caused that we uncovered by taking over the paperwork. It took a few months to see why it was valuable to take over the work.

      1. Honeybee*

        Sometimes even not-angry-but-not-a-doormat is perceived as “angry” coming from black bodies. There’s a lot of research showing that the same exact statements and body language is perceived as way more aggressive and hostile coming from black people than from white people and people of other races.

    9. Honeybee*

      I’ve always countered the angry black woman stereotype (I’m also a black woman) by being perky and positive in pretty much every other area until I *need* to be assertive and shut things down. My personality is already mostly like this, but generally I feel like I have to carefully pick and choose my battles even when I do see something wrong to avoid being perceived as overly negative, angry, critical, etc. as women – especially women of color – often are. I know that it’s worked because I’ve gotten multiple comments from different coworkers that I’m consistently positive and pleasant and “when Honeybee complains about something, we know it’s a big deal because she never complains!” But I do sometimes wonder about the tactic.

      The other thing is pretty much what animaniactoo said – when I need to give feedback that’s not quite positive, I rehearse my lines over and over until I can deliver them in a calm way, and I try to deliver them in an emotionless, very matter-of-fact tone. (I’ve gotten comments on this, too.) Again, sometimes I wonder about this – I do hate working in a world where any expression of my emotions has the heightened chance of being stereotyped because I’m a woman AND because I’m black, and I wonder whether my actions and choices only perpetuate that to a certain degree. But fighting that fight every time I need to ask for something sounds interminably exhausting, and you gotta live in the world you’re in, right?

  29. so anon*

    Question for the masses – I can’t tell if this way of thinking is wrong or not.

    I work for a university that offers a co-op program (for those unfamiliar with that, it’s a program that gives students in certain faculties the opportunity to work with a department/office on campus for one term. Full time. They’re also paid for this, but they do get graded. It’s to give them experience.) For the past 2 terms, my office had a co-op student but I wasn’t their supervisor. I did, however, work closely with this co-op student, maybe even closer than her supervisor (who is my coworker).

    The student’s term finished, and she had her final assessment with her supervisor. The supervisor fills out a form grading the student (enthusiasm, promptness, did they ask for work, were they punctual, etc and there is a final ‘mark’ the supervisor gives) and that has a lot of input on the student’s final grade. Well, the student came to me afterwards upset because her supervisor ranked her as a B-. According to the supervisor (who seemed to think this was a really good mark??), anything above a B/B- means that the student came to the office and didn’t have to be taught anything, that the student could just be put to work right away. The supervisor was told that by the head of the co-op program.

    I just… this boggles me? The co-op program is, to me, kinda like an intern program. The students (most of whom have never worked in an office before) come here with the expectation that we’ll teach them everything they need to know about an office/what we do. Right? Shouldn’t they be graded on how well they retain information, how enthusiastic they are, etc…? Or am I way off base?

    I told the student that she should talk to the head of the co-op program and that, if me writing an email or filling out a form might better sway the student’s grade (or the head of the Co-Op programs’ opinion, because this could affect the student’s future chances of another co-op term), I’d be willing to do that. I didn’t feel that a B- was a fair reflection of how much effort she put in and how much she actually did over the eight month period. But then after our conversation, I wondered if maybe I overstepped and I’m in the wrong….


    1. MonkeyBusiness*

      Oh my.. this “old school” mentality.
      Personally, I am absolutely against it. What can be done about it?

    2. Zahra*

      Did the student speak with her supervisor and tell her the implications of that grade? Can you, on your end, get more information as to what the grades mean when the co-op program decides to place the student for another co-op term? Maybe a B- isn’t as bad as she thinks. Talking to a contact person in charge of the co-op program is a good idea. She can suss out whether she is overreacting or if she’s worrying for a good reason.

      Did you speak with her supervisor/your coworker? Would you be able/willing to write the bulk of the assessment or collaborate with her on writing it and deciding the grade?

      If you haven’t spoken to her, I’d approach it on a “I’ve realized that I worked very closely with the last 2 interns and that my appreciation of their work may not be the same as yours. Would you be open to me giving you input, or collaborating in any way to writing their assessment?” If she accepts, try to get a 1-pager with what each grade should mean. A+ means student didn’t have to be taught anything and was a stellar intern, B- means student still needs to learn more about workplace professionalism but was overall a good but not stellar intern, D means student was a disaster, that kind of thing. Get a new one every year or two, just in case the grading signification changes.

      Adjust my script depending on whether she is aware of the student’s dissatisfaction or not.

    3. JustAnotherLibrarian*

      Wow, I am surprised anyone would expect a student assistant to know anything when they come on the job and I’ve supervised a lot of student assistants. I’m sorry your student didn’t get the grade you think she deserved. As it happens, I am strongly opposed to grading interns, but that’s a whole different issue.

      As for what you want to do about it, it is more complex, because you don’t want to upset your coworker or the head of the program. Have you spoken to your co-worker casually about it? Maybe something like, “Student came to me and mentioned her grade and I really think she showed more skill in () and () than perhaps you noticed, because you were so busy with () and (). Would you mind if I wrote to Supervisor of the Program and offered my thoughts on her work on () and () which I worked with her on?”

      Or you might try, “I know the guidelines say () and (), but if she stays as at B than she won’t be eligible for () and () and I really think she did an outstanding job in () and (), would I be stepping on your toes if I emailed the Supervisor and mentioned what I saw on project () and ()?”

      The trick here is to not undermine the person who was her supervisor, because that wasn’t you. And there may have been things you never saw or standards you weren’t aware of. And then tell the student that sometimes life sucks and let it go, because you might not have much you can do. After all, you don’t run the program.

    4. Yup*

      Oh dear. Speaking from a faculty perspective, where grade issues happen all the time, I would strongly advise against weighing in on the student’s grade. I absolutely see that you’re trying to do the right thing, and it’s really kind of you to take this on.

      But I see two thorny issues: 1) it’s *extremely* common for students today to complain about their grade on often spurious grounds (which doesn’t sound true here, but matters for context), and triangulating on that issue – coming to you about a grade someone else gave – is especially problematic. Which is to say – I’m sure the head of the co-op program has dealt with these issues before, and it’s best to refer the problem to them.

      2) Getting involved puts you in a tenuous position. Granted, you also worked with intern. But making the student promises of intervening on the grade, I’m afraid, will not go down well and work against you. That’s because no one likes to have their judgment undercut (coworker), but also because the student should be talking to her nominal supervisor and program head, not you.

      I totally get that your coworker’s assessment may be off, but the best you can do is re-direct student to coworker and maybe dept head (but that’s student’s decision). If it comes to that, you could also speak to your coworker to mention the issue, as mentioned above. As a last resort / if needed, send a note to dept head mentioning that your assessment diverges from coworker’s. But I’d urge you NOT to directly influence the grade, especially without talking to the requisite people first.

  30. Fleur*

    Does anyone have suggestions on how and when to ask about work life balance during an interview without coming across as lazy? Long story short, my current job is pretty bad for that, but I put up with the 60-80 hour work weeks because it used to just be around crunch time/deadlines every few months. But now I’ve basically been told to cancel all my weekend plans going forward well into April/May next year, and I desperately want out.

    The caveat being of course, I don’t want to leap out of the frying pan and into the fire.

    How do I explain that while I am okay with a certain amount of overtime, a 7-day work week is a dealbreaker? In my dream scenario, I find a reasonable job at a 40-hour work week…

    1. JustAnotherLibrarian*

      I think something like, “Can you tell me a little about overtime expectations?” wouldn’t be out of line. Or maybe… “Are there busier times when I would be expected to work on evenings or weekends?”

      After all, a lot of people want to know if they are going to be putting in 60-hour weeks.

    2. Joseph*

      In this case, I think you can resolve this naturally while explaining why you’re looking around. You explain that you’re working 80 hour weeks without end, including no weekends until mid-next year – you’ve done it before during crunch times and been fine, but in normal times, you appreciate more of a work/life balance.
      That sends the message, but in a way that will get most people going “wow, current company is ridiculous” rather than “Fleur is lazy”.

    3. neverjaunty*

      I think you can phrase it as wanting a workplace with good staffing and workflow management – a company that’s always in ‘crunch time’ is not well-managed.

    4. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

      I often ask this as part of the “how would you describe the culture of the company and of the department/team?” question I ask. As they get into that, I ask follow ups and usually get into the work/life balance question there by asking about busy seasons, etc.

    5. TheCupcakeCounter*

      An easy opening is when they ask “why do you want to leave you current position”? At that point you mention a skewed work/life balance and that you would like to get closer to 40-50 hours (very reasonable) from the 60-80, 7 days/week that you are currently working. A good company will not look at you as lazy but as someone who doesn’t want to burn out. (also avoid the “they are a bunch of money hungry dickybirds” explanation when asked why you are working so much).
      If that doesn’t come up you can ask about work/life balance and explain your current situation a bit (again not too much detail). If you like their answer but feel a bit weird about asking it follow up with “that sounds much more manageable – I know that OT is a fact of most jobs and I am fine putting in the hours when needed but I don’t feel I am doing my best consistently working more than X hours/week.

      For what its worth I was in nearly the exact same position almost 4 years ago and the places that don’t respond well to this question are not places you want to work. At my job now I saw their faces when I mentioned my schedule and knew that this place was going to be very different. I have worked overtime 4 times in 4 years and 2 of those time were at year end when a coworker was out on emergency maternity leave. They bought me lunch as a thank you/I’m sorry. Still have never worked more than 45 hours a week at this job and I am paid 20% more than at LifeSuckingJob.

    6. DoDah*

      I find that the following questions are useful:
      -How do you manage projects? (If it’s all ad hoc you are going to have to work crazy hours)
      -Do you use a formal project management process/tool?
      -If not, why?
      -How do you prioritize projects? (This is more of a “feel” question–but your should be able to tell if they are BSing you)
      -How do you manage clients? (Assuming that clients drive the crunch/deadlines)
      -Have you ever fired a client? (Same assumption as above–looking to see if they will manage unreasonableness from clients)

      I wish you much luck! I wish I had done a better job sussing out the disaster that is my present employer. Essentially EVERYTHING is an emergency.

    7. Honeybee*

      I just straight asked about it when given the opportunity to ask questions (“What is your work-life balance like on the team?” with more detailed questions if necessary), but without qualifying it with anything about my personal expectations or experiences. My experience is that people usually expect that kind of question, and you don’t need to explain why you’re asking it. And quite frankly, if they think asking a question about work-life balance implies that you’re lazy, that might actually tell you volumes about their opinion of trying to have a personal life at all.

      They want you to work ALL weekends from now until May?

  31. Another question from your truly*

    Thinking about going to grad school abroad… (American, mainly considering the UK, but considering other locations as well)… Most of the programs I am considering are 1 year programs, so hopefully they won’t have a major impact on my life. The tuition seems to be very comparable to what is in-state US tuition, but I am concerned about cost of living.

    Any advice on…
    1. Managing Cost of Living
    2. Getting Scholarships/ Funding for Graduate Programs (I could probably pay out of pocket without loans, but it would be my entire life savings)
    3. Job searching after a 1 year program is finished
    4. Managing Homesickness or Culture Shock
    5. Most American-friendly locations for graduate school
    6. Moving
    7. Other things I haven’t considered?

    1. Jack the Accessibility Guy*

      Hi there,

      I did a one-year master’s in the UK which was really helpful for me. It was a great program. I’m mostly going to answer for the UK.

      1. It depends on where you live in the UK. London, Oxford, and Cambridge are very very very expensive, Manchester is expensive, elsewhere is pricy. Generally the UK is pricier than the United States, and there are a lot of reasons for that. If your program gets you to join the NHS though, then your healthcare is free.
      2. Scholarships depend. Some US programs can fund you, and there are some UK programs, but generally expect to pay out of pocket. Since many master’s are one year in the UK, generally your loan liability might be lower. I had a tiny partial scholarship aimed at folks from my other country of citizenship.
      3. I started job searching close to my program end in the UK. I work in government, so it was a lot of online applications, and people were impressed with the master’s and my performance in it. I actually scored my current job with Skype interviews, and got a period of time to return to the US and get settled. But generally expect to get your job only after you come back. Employers were quite impressed with “getting a master’s abroad” in my experience.
      4. Culture shock is a big thing, even in the UK. People talk differently, act differently, and there’s a whole different code of emotions. One thing that really helped me was to write it all down in a diary. The UK is different from the US or the other country where I have lived (being a bit cagey since not many folks working in my field from said country here in the US), and the US and the Homeland are closer in culture than either to the UK.
      Homesickness is made easier with electronic communications. I Skyped with my mom three times a week.
      5. The UK is pretty American-friendly, and so is Canada. Generally speaking most places should be OK as long as you’re not an Ugly American.
      6. Moving depends on how long the program is and how much stuff you had. I brought three suitcases to the UK and came back with six, two filled with books.
      7. If you are LGBT keep in mind that the UK is significantly more homophobic/transphobic on an everyday level than most liberal areas of the US.

      1. Another question from your truly*

        So helpful. Thank you so much!

        It’s good to know that going to grad school abroad was a plus for most employers! I’m so nervous about it, but I really regret not doing Study Abroad in undergrad and almost 10 years later, I recognize that this is something that won’t just go away. I’m terrified (in a good way), but I think it is finally time.

        1. Jack the Accessibility Guy*

          It totally is! And actually, this makes me think of something else: programs in the UK have a weird relationship with “mature students.” It’s much more normal in the UK to go from undergrad to grad, but that also means they really like students with some “real world experience” under their belts.

          1. Another question from your truly*

            Fascinating! I did notice one of the programs I was looking into over there asked for no more than 3 years of work experience (it didn’t seem like it was a hard and fast rule, but I thought it was strange), but there is no way I would have chosen the programs that I am looking at if it wasn’t for that work experience.

      2. mander*

        Really, on number 7? Granted I’m not LGBT but I thought it was a heck of a lot more accepting when I moved to the northeast of the UK from Colorado. There are plenty of very popular and openly gay TV personalities, for instance, as well as reasonably prominent politicians.

        1. Jack the Accessibility Guy*

          Interesting. I think a lot of the lad culture can make the UK kinda nervewracking in a lot of ways, especially if you’re coming like me from the Northeast US.

    2. EddieSherbert*

      Okay, I only did 6 months but I’ll try! I was located in Florence, Italy.

      1-3. Not much to offer :(
      I spent most of my savings to make it happen (couldn’t legally work while I was there). I was doing an unpaid internship through my US university, so they were able to help with scholarships/grants, and I had 5 months of school at the US university left after, so I was able to apply to jobs like you normally would.

      4. Technology is a wonderful thing! You don’t necessarily need an international phone plan… You can make calls on Facebook messenger now, Skype is a thing, messaging on iPhones is separate from texting. I also wrote in a blog every couple weeks with pictures and summaries of what I was up to, so “everyone” could be up-to-date even if I didn’t get a lot of time to talk with them.
      5. As long as you’re being a decent person, you shouldn’t have to worry too much about this… If you don’t do the UK, I would suggest going somewhere that speaks languages you know, or uses a lot of English. If you’re going to a university that has all or most classes in English, it’s probably a pretty “English-friendly” area. If you can, try to take a class or two in the local language anyways.
      6. If possible, try to find a fully furnished apartment. Your school should have some suggestions for you, especially if they get a lot of international students. It might cost more for rent, but (at least for me) it was way less than bringing more than a suitcase with me or buying everything there.

      7. Don’t be afraid to jump right in! Get out, explore, get involved. You have a lot less time to feel homesick if you’re doing cool things, making friends, having “activities.” Volunteering is a cool thing. Traveling is also a cool thing if you have a chance – and can be fairly cheap. One company that I liked for cheap travel, cool attractions, and meeting people was Bus2Alps.

      1. Another question from your truly*

        Great advice! Managing the costs of living are making me nervous, but I think it will be worth it. Thank you so much!

    3. migrant worker*

      I’m American and work abroad currently, but also spent a semester studying abroad in college.

      1. Ramen. :D More seriously, some countries are much cheaper than others. It kind of depends on where you end up. But worth checking into visa options that allow you to work part-time…
      2. If there are programmes you are specifically interested in, worth seeing if there is a professor doing research in that area and looking for a grant. Also worth asking the school directly what are the options.
      3. I think the same if did the programme in the US? Work the connections of your fellow classmates and faculty. Attend seminars, and other events, and network. Talk to Career Services. Depending on the field, you might need to look into internship programmes too.
      4. Read up a lot before you go. Otherwise, this is super dependent on where you end up… An English speaking country will be a lot easier to adjust to than one where you might need to converse daily in a different language… Also, skype, facetime, whatsapp, etc, are your friends. Also also, if you are a Democrat, Democrats Abroad is a great community. I don’t think there’s a version for other parties though…
      5. This is a tough one. I generally try to avoid Americans. :D
      6. Pack light. Stick everything you want to take in a room, and then cut it in half. Seek out the local version of Craigslist when you land – often it’s a group on Facebook. You’ll get lots of things you need at super cheap prices or free, from people who are leaving.
      7. Have fun and enjoy the adventure? :)

    4. Emac*

      I don’t know what other countries you’ve considered or what field you’re in, but there are English language grad programs in Germany and some Scandinavian countries that are tuition-free (even for international students). You still have to pay living costs, of course, and for many visas you’d have to show that you have enough cash in the bank to support yourself for a year/however long the program is.

    5. That girl*

      I did this, but it was over 10 years ago.
      Money: I worked in between the Bachelor’s and Master’s, and lived off a combination of loans and savings. (This is biting me in the bum now.)

      Job Searching: I had zilch luck with this., but in retrospect, I think doing what other commenters suggest would have helped. I also have an obscure degree, but if you start early, hopefully, you’ll land in a good place.

      My instructors did not pretend to care about our potential for employment. They were clear that they were just there to teach us now. I never picked up on whether this was cultural or just a personality thing.

      COL/Budgeting: I mostly bought store brand foods, and brought my own linens and toiletries. I pretty much went vegan, which was much cheaper than my omnivorous neighbors’ bills.

      Homesickness: I was very homesick. My cohort interacted with me as a colleague, not a trusted friend. This was very different than my undergrad experience. I missed some American holidays. I had a very large phone budget, and made traditional meals for the holidays. I also went home for Xmas.

      Locations: It really depends on what you are studying. My opinion is to go there with intention. If you are packing your life up for a year, find the best instructors in your field. I didn’t go for the UK-ness of it, I went for the program, and honestly didn’t have all that much time to do much of anything else.

      Moving: I lived in the second-best graduate housing. I was able to pay in advance for the year. I was with other MA students. I was in a relatively secure building. My floor mates had similar temperments and commitment to their studies.

      Other: I was very surprised with the accents. I had extreme difficulty with Northern/Scottish-type accents until about 2 weeks in, and even by the end of it, some were still too thick to understand. Not a huge deal, but disorienting.

      It rains. A lot. I packed a mini umbrella that lived in my school bag.

  32. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

    I am sure this has been discussed before, but what are everyone’s thoughts on blocking websites at work? This is based on a debate my friends and I have been having.

    I am against it. If an employee isn’t doing their job, it isn’t because of facebook (even if that is where they spend all their time). That employee needs to be addressed – more than likely they will find other ways to waste time once facebook is taken away.

    As long your employees are doing their jobs and getting their work done timely, why not let them give their brain a break for 5 minutes to read the news on Yahoo or check in with the kids on facebook or shop for a new comforter? If you find an employee is wasting too much time online, then address it with that employee.


    1. NotAngryBlackWoman*

      I agree with you. I would also add that I am someone who works with younger generations. It is not uncommon for newer professionals to utilize social media as a way to relay work information by creating groups, group chats, shared documents etc.

      1. Honeybee*

        People of all ages do that, too. My coworkers in their 40s and 50s use Facebook and Twitter far more often than I do.

    2. LisaLee*

      Frankly, I thought this was ridiculous even in high school. Most people are going to need a break now and again, and treating employees like children doesn’t help morale. From a work point-of-view, a lot of that automated blocking software blocks websites people actually use for work-related tasks (like looking up Excel tutorials on YouTube, or factchecking via news sites).

      1. blackcat*

        I used to be a high school science teacher. For a while, our firewall blocked all NASA and JPL (jet propulsion laboratory) websites as pornography. I found this out one day when I went to project details of the voyager space crafts and got the “This is pornography” error.

    3. ArtK*

      Websites that provide streaming content can have a *huge* impact on the company’s network. Even sites like Facebook that don’t (usually) stream can end up using a lot of bandwidth. That bandwidth costs the company money — sometimes a lot of it. They’re paying for work-related use, not personal use, so banning sites that don’t have work-related content is perfectly reasonable.

      That’s above and beyond not wanting to pay people for for doing non-work-related things while on the clock. This stuff can turn into a serious time-suck.

      1. AndersonDarling*

        Yeah, we had to block Netflix because folks were streaming movies and the lack of bandwith was wreaking havoc on our applications.

      2. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

        Well Netlfix I guess makes sense – I am envisioning 5 minute breaks not a binge-session at a desk.

        1. Observer*

          Sure, that is what you are envisioning, but that’s often not what’s happening. Also, in an environment where bandwidth is constrained, all those 5-minute breaks can add up.

          At one point, we were very draconian in how we filtered – we blocked ALL media unless someone could probe they had a specific need for that specific site. We actually had to jump through some hoops to make it happen, but our internet access was really bad, and we had some mission critical items that we HAD to do over the internet. (NOT by choice! Government requirements…)

          Once we got FIOS, I stepped the filtering way down. We still do some filtering, but much, much more lightly. I totally agree that it’s better to manage your people than to try to keep them on the straight and narrow by over-filtering. And, besides, what are you going to do about their cell phones?

      3. Honeybee*

        Who is streaming 30-minute long television shows at their desk? I’m imagining the vast majority of people take a 10 minute break to post cat pictures on Facebook or fire off a quick tweet or something. And with shorter videos, even people on my team have been known to send around a funny short video that’s sometimes tangentially related to our jobs. Employees who are spending a lot of time on streaming content that’s eating up enough bandwidth to drain the company of $$$ are probably not good employees for a host of other reasons, and that should be addressed individually, but I see no reason to ban EVERYONE because a small percentage of employees are abusing connectivity.

    4. Tegdirb*

      It doesn’t bother me but I agree for all the reasons you’ve mentioned above AND because most people have smartphones. So if they want to screw around on facebook, they can. And they won’t even be looking at their work computer.

    5. H.C.*

      Agreed and also, unnecessary site blocking is hardly practical nowadays in the age of smartphones – which may even impact productivity more by taking time away from their work computer/desk/office/etc.

    6. JOTeepe*

      I’m with you. Those filters are often buggy, too. I’ve worked at offices where news sites, for example, were blocked but certain blogs were not. All because of the platform they were published on. Plus, so many people have smartphones, it’s easy enough for employees to abuse.

      If an employee isn’t getting their work done, address that. You can even have IT do a trace as to how much time they are spending on personal business. (I wouldn’t do this unless I already had concerns about the employee doing their work.)

    7. Lily in NYC*

      I guess it depends on the company, but my company blocks certain types of sites (like gaming, porn, dating sites, anything dirty, etc) but not things like news or shopping. We have a “quota”, meaning we can use shopping sites for an hour a day before they get blocked. But I think much of the reason many sites are blocked are to avoid viruses, not just to stop employees from web surfing.

      I can’t believe we don’t block facebook because I always see people wasting time on it here.

    8. Former Diet Coke Addict*

      My old boss did this. However, he sucked at it (as he did with most things) and inadvertently wound up blocking everything and unblocking the stuff he thought we needed. However, he was terrible at this too, and so we’d waste hours every day sending him lists of websites we needed him to unblock for contact information and things like, you know, suppliers and business contacts! (And then he got pissy that we’d send long lists, and we had to send him no more than 3 websites per email to unblock.) And on top of all this he wouldn’t admit he was blocking them, he said “It’s an internet issue! I have to call the provider!” and…miraculously, everything would work after he unblocked it.

      It was a tremendous waste of everyone’s time and just made everyone look on their phones for stuff instead. I don’t see any point in forbidding your employees from checking the weather (blocked) or the local news for traffic updates before going home (blocked) or looking at the news in the morning (blocked–which was a pistol because we were supposed to be looking up news stories, FOR WORK).

      If an employee isn’t doing their job, address the root issue–don’t band-aid the problem and expect things to be better.

    9. Menacia*

      We block all the social media websites for users between working hours, they are free to browse from their own computers before or after a certain time of day, and we’ve also provided an Internet only computer from which they can browse during the day, but is not connected our network. The reason for all this being security, and avoiding people inadvertently downloading viruses that could affect our network. As it is, we get viruses with all of our security and web blocking in place, it would be far worse if we opened up internet access to the masses. Has nothing to do with productivity or treating people like children at all.

    10. Purest Green*

      I agree with you. It really bugs me that gaming sites are blocked at my work. Not just sites that host games (I get that) but sites that discuss or having anything at all to do with games. Trouble is, sometimes I need to look at those kind of sites or even the games themselves for the UI because it relates to the work I do.

    11. Anonymous Educator*

      I think it depends on how aggressively you’re blocking. If you’re blocking porn, that is not unreasonable, unless you work at a porn company. If, however, you’re blocking social media? Ridiculous, especially since most companies have a social media manager of some type.

    12. LCL*

      IT handles all that here, I don’t get to decide. We can contact IT and ask them to unblock sites, I (and some others) asked them to unblock Ask A manager.

    13. Bad Candidate*

      I think that some sites should be blocked, porn, streaming, etc. for obvious reasons. But my work recently started blocking A LOT of stuff that it wasn’t blocking before. Anything it considers entertainment for example. Which is broadly defined. One of the sites that Alison publishes to is included in that, though I don’t remember which one. Not Inc or Intuit. So that’s annoying. It’s also blocking Imgur which is seriously harshing my Reddit experience.

    14. Joseph*

      My view has always been that for most employees, personal internet use is really just time that *still* would have been wasted in previous generations, just differently. 30 years ago, employees would spend an hour over the course of the day at the water cooler or taking a smoke while chatting about baseball; now that hour is spent on Facebook/Amazon/etc.

    15. Mazzy*

      I think don’t block but lightly track (just pull the list of sites every once in a while). I know I use lots and lots of sites looking up industry related codes and how to do formulas and mail merges and all MS things all over the net, I never know what site I am going to need.

    16. Not So NewReader*

      While I basically agree with you, I see that many places do block and I expect that we will see more of that in the future. Some jobs are already super strict. I think it is wise not to fall into the habit of taking this five-minute-vacations around the net. For some folks once they start it’s a hard thing to let go of, if they have to let go.

    17. Christopher Tracy*

      I’ve told this story here before, but when I worked at Evil Law Firm, they blocked the Internet entirely except between the hours of 11-2pm (the lunch block). It was hella dumb because if we had legal questions, we’d have to have a law clerk go up to our library and research it in (usually outdated) law books, which could take hours when we typically needed the answer right that minute. And we weren’t allowed to work through lunch either – if you were caught, you could be written up.

        1. Christopher Tracy*

          No, that was considered a work tool, so that site and LexisNexis weren’t blocked thanks to our subscriptions. Everything else was on lockdown.

    18. DragoCucina (formerly Library Director)*

      We block some sights (Facebook) on some staff service point computers. Our student workers were so busy on these sites they weren’t paying attention to the public. The other staff computers aren’t blocked and we have two in the staff kitchen for lunch breaks.

      As they go through the semester we may unblock the sites. Sometimes the learning curve (no you cannot chat on your cell phone out front) is steeper.

  33. Anon City this time*

    I work at a very dysfunctional company and have been job searching for months. We have a fairly new manager who quite frankly isn’t working out. She is very abrasive/rude, makes insulting comments to be “funny”, is arrogant, but most importantly she is not a good worker. She doesn’t want to take on projects and the ones she does get stuck with she messes up. I know we all make mistakes but I’m talking pretty much every day. Everyone fixes them for her including me but I’m the only one who had the guts to show her what she’s doing wrong so she is aware. She gets defensive though (which is why others don’t talk to her about her errors.) I’m quite sure she’s been fired by several jobs (she told me!). How do I handle this with patience and an even temper until I get out of here? I’m tired of managing my manager which isn’t my job considering she is paid very well to do hers. I’m also sick of cleaning up her errors since I have my own work to do while she sits there twiddling her thumbs saying she’s bored. She is not a team player. She knows she messes up and doesn’t care. In fact, although others fix her mistakes, she sees the errors later. She even admitted that people review her work.
    Ps the owner is hands off & has a closed door policy. There is s history of bad management here which is why I’m trying to leave. I just am tired of trying to be zen while fuming at my desk.

    1. animaniactoo*

      2 suggestions

      1) Self-care self-care self-care outside of work. Find ways to very purposely create positive experiences for yourself, and release stress.

      2) Play with it. Create your own Bingo card of “mistakes that boss will make this week/month”. Pretend you’re an anthropologist doing research. Write sitcom dialogue in your head of “how this would look on tv”. Whatever gets you to detach from it some and be able to add some humor/composure about how bad this is.

      1. OhBehave*

        ^This! Why are you all rescuing her? Of course, if you don’t fix her mistakes and it looks bad for the team, then that’s not good either.
        If you do continue to fix her errors and attempt to educate her on them, do so by email so you have proof. It’s hard to understand how this person was hired as a manager. Apparently any warm body will do. It sounds like you would be a good manager.

    2. Marisol*

      I agree with animaniac and have 2 suggestions for specific kinds of self-care: 1) have a rage fest and 2) spring cleaning.

      You can’t *really* be zen while you’re actually fuming. Of course, you’ll have to fake it at work in order to present yourself well. But once you are in a place where you can safely do so, like your home, then go to town getting all your anger out. Beat pillows, scream, do an angry dance to loud percussive music, whatever. Go for a run and think about how much you hate this manager and pretend your feet are stomping on her, or whatever–the point is to honor and express your feelings instead of repressing them. There is pleasure in surrendering to your emotions, even the supposed negative ones.

      Spring cleaning. This is a technique I learned while attending a personal growth course taught by Regina Thomashauer, aka Mama Gena. You get a friend, and for ten or fifteen minutes, she listens to you get all your “stuff” out regarding a specific topic, using a specific format. She asks: “What do you have on [x]?” and you respond with what comes to mind, at which point the friend says, “thank you” and then again asks the question, “what do you have on [x]?” and this goes on until you hit the agreed-upon time. So if you wanted to spring clean on your manager, it would look like this:

      Friend: “what do you have on your manager?”
      You: “I hate that lousy, incompetent bitch.”
      “Thank you. What do you have on your manager?”
      “She insulted me today by telling my my dress was ugly, and then laughed as if she were making a funny joke. I really hate that bitch.”
      “Thank you. What do you have on your manager?”

      Etc. Usually the friends then switch places and the first friend does the cleaning while the second friend does the prompting. After the session, issues are not discussed; there is no post-mortem advice. The point is to get the stuff out, not to play therapist or mother to each other. You can google Regina Thomashauer and get a more detailed description in her books but hopefully what I’ve described is clear enough. Spring cleaning is incredibly liberating! If you do it once a day for a month, you’ll feel like a brand-new you.

      For the work situation specifically, unless it is truly unethical for you to do so, I wouldn’t try to fix the manager’s mistakes. I’d give her enough rope to hang herself and let her supervisors find out about them.

      1. nonegiven*

        I really love that. This one time my mom got really mad at my dad’s boss. Her house wasn’t dirty enough so she came over and cleaned mine.

    3. Op*

      You are all giving great advice. I am going to take this to heart this long weekend and do these things for real.

      Regarding just letting her fail, I’d like to do that & I’m trying, although it goes against my work ethic. Some of it just falls on me because mistakes have to get fixed one way or another. Honestly, not to brag, but I think I’d be a kick ass manager. I know how it’s done. It literally hurts me to not step in and fix things and get things moving productively, but more importantly, to solve the problem of why the mistakes are happening. Others fix her mistakes because it’s easier than dealing with her defensiveness. I’m the only one who points them out to her, because I want her to learn from them. She doesn’t though. She also doesn’t say sorry much (if ever?) or thank you for fixing her errors. It’s sort of expected that others will clean up after her.

      A large part of the problem is the fact that the owner sucks at hiring. Actually he sucks at a lot of things (like being a boss in general) but this one fault of his has affected our department before. He promised us (because of past bad hires) he would take his time hiring and he did the exact opposite. One thing I’ve learned is if your boss has a pattern of poor management and bad decisions, don’t expect that to change, thinking you can stay and work it out. I have no faith in his ability to manage his company or more importantly his employees who are the backbone of the company. There is zero accountability there. It ruins it for those who work hard and do good work.

      Did I mention she makes really good money (although she thinks she’s worth more and told us that) and I’m well below the starting market salary range for what my job should pay (after 5 years there)?

  34. LisaLee*

    It’s been a bit of a frustrating work week, and I’m not sure I made the right decision. I found out a few months ago that my department is being eliminated, and since then I’ve been looking for a new job. A couple days ago I got an offer–but at a 15% lower salary than the job ad had indicated. I tried to negotiate but was told there was no wiggle room.

    I accepted because I don’t have any other prospects at the moment (the field I’d like to enter is small and most positions require more education than I have) but now I’m having some buyer’s remorse. This is going to impact my finances quite a bit. The work I’ll be doing is interesting and my new boss seems like a nice guy, and I think someone genuinely screwed up in writing the ad because it DID seem like an unusually high salary for this position. But argh. This good news/bad news thing sums up my whole job search so far.

    This isn’t really a question, I could just use some commiseration.

    1. AndersonDarling*

      I wouldn’t get worried yet. Maybe the new job has lots of great co-workers and little perks that will get you jumping out of bed to go to work each morning. Or you could be picking up some specialized skills that will make you more marketable in the future. I know loosing out on $$ can feel depressing, but you won’t know the impact until you are at the job for a few months. At that point you can reevaluate your decision, but for now I’d look at the situation as an adventure.

    2. ThursdaysGeek*

      I sure understand. I was unemployed, and took a job near the end of my unemployment for $15K less than I was getting before. It’s discouraging. Other than that, however, I really do like my job.

      I hope this turns out to be a great job for you, and in a couple of years you can start looking again, for something that looks like enjoyable work, and for much better pay.

  35. Isben Takes Tea*

    A shoutout to Alison and all the commenters here…thanks to all the advice and information I’ve picked up at AaM, I was able to convincingly encourage my roommate to get a new job, since her old one was a hallmark “toxic” environment: the COO insisted on misclassifying her as exempt, the CEO continually rotated through “favorites” and screamed at everyone else, dubious claims were being made to insurance companies, and the supervisors were always calling out sick and then posting fun family adventure photos on Facebook.

    She now has a job where she is paid twice as much and she’s stunned to come back from staff meetings where nobody cried. She also got out three weeks before half the old job’s employees’ paychecks bounced.

    So, on behalf on my roommate, THANK YOU!

    1. Marisol*

      Wonderful news! You are a good roommate and I bet your quality of life has improved too, now that you aren’t exposed to someone in a miserable situation.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I think I just saw ten hands go up, volunteering to be OP’s room mate.
        Nice job on that, OP.

  36. XrPet*

    I was unemployed for a couple months, and I took a job I wasn’t thrilled about at a salary I wasn’t thrilled about, just so I can start working and make more than what unemployment paid. I’ve been here about 1.5 months. During unemployment, I interviewed at a huge company that would look great on my resume. I didn’t get that one, but I applied to another there and made it known to the recruiter that I was interested. During my first couple weeks here, they contacted me for that position. I interviewed (Took half a “sick” day) and got it. It’s better for my career in almost all the ways possible, and it literally pays almost 50% more. I have to give notice on Tuesday and I am wracked with guilt and the desire to keep everyone happy with me. I guess I have a little bit of the “disease to please.” Maybe it’s ingrained in me to be a nice, amenable, eager-to-please female.

    Everyone has been nice here, and they put effort into teaching me things and trying to help me adjust. But I just know I am not happy.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I’ve seen this happen enough times to know that sometimes, life works this way. You will likely burn this bridge, but is it a bridge you really want to cross again? Also, I think people will be annoyed, for sure, but I don’t think they’ll hate you for it, you know what I mean?

      1. XrPet*

        Yes, thank you. You make sense. I forgot to mention that another person on this team quit a couple weeks ago after being here a couple months. But she gave zero notice and did not speak to the manager directly. Didn’t even write an email. Hopefully they don’t equate me with her, because I plan on doing it more honorably. I think it speaks to the way they hire here.

      2. Callietwo*

        This happened to me once where I took a job that they insisted I wouldn’t stay as I was way over-qualified only to give notice 7 weeks later and felt guilty as heck. One thing I did to ensure I didn’t burn any bridge was to give ample notice- I’d promised someone I would cover their vacation that was coming up in two weeks so I gave 3 1/2 weeks notice. When I told my new employer that I absolutely was obligated to hold to my word, they felt that just solidified their belief that I was the right candidate.

        Then, because there was no training manual, nor any daily checklists or what have you when I started, I took that 3 1/2 weeks and created a training manual. What I said to the supervisor when I left was that I wanted to leave them in a the best possible place that I could. So to you, I’d say, give as much notice as you can feel comfortable doing, if you’re given the opportunity to wrap up your projects be as thorough as you can. Then, I cleaned up my space and prepped it so that it saved someone else having to do that.

        Good luck in your new position!

        1. OhBehave*

          How very honorable of you to do this! I imagine the next person in that job will appreciate the documentation in the training manual. Your supervisor must have been pleased AND sorry to see you go.

          1. Callietwo*

            Thanks. I felt it was the least I could do given the situation. That particular company rarely hired full time year around workers nor gave benefits but when I gave my notice, my supervisor said “give me a bit of time, I’ll be right back”. Left and then came back, offered me FT, benefits and a small raise. However, just before I gave my notice, I heard her telling someone else that they hadn’t had raises in 5 years! And the new company benefits were amazing! free health/dental/ insurance, great PTO schedule, etc, commute was 5 minutes, not 45. When I told her what I was offered, she says “Are they hiring anyone else!?” But I always want to leave things in a better situation than when I arrive. It’s important to me.

    2. Anxa*

      Aww, that’s a tough position.

      I feel similarly sometimes (also have the disease to please). On top of that, I feel like if I DO leave for a better opportunity, I’m only reinforcing the stereotype of people with degrees looking for better jobs, which has hindered my own job search.

    3. Marisol*

      Good for you for doing what is in your own best interest. You know that saying, “feel the fear and do it anyway?” I think this is a “feel the *guilt* and do it anyway” situation. As long as you take the right action, your guilt feelings will dissipate in time. Plus you’re giving two weeks notice, right? I see no problem with leaving after a short time. Business is business.

      1. XrPet*

        I’m not going to give a full 2 weeks. I just haven’t done that much here yet to merit it. I don’t have a lot to finish up, but I want to give a few days so I can wrap up the few things I did work on. One of the reasons I’m unhappy here is because it’s in an industry I previously knew NOTHING about. It’s very techie stuff but I’m in content marketing and I’m supposed to write as if I’m an expert. I’ve had to attempt to learn so much, and it’s not really working because I’m more right-brained and I’ve never been able to comprehend enough to write. For example, I’ve been asked to write a whitepaper on a scripting language that I know nothing about. I’ve been asked to write an ebook on our software. But I can’t even comprehend how to do that without pontificating every word. It’s just been almost 2 months of ramping up, basically. I don’t understand why they don’t look to hire people who already have some background knowledge. I’m a writer, but never claimed to be a technical one. I knew I would have a lot to learn when I started, but I didn’t realize I’d be asked to write such resources.

        Plus I’m getting married in 2 weeks and I would’ve taken unpaid days off before that anyway.

        1. Marisol*

          Well it doesn’t sound like leaving before 2 weeks will cause any actual problems for them, although it might not exactly help you with a reference either. But you might not need one from them given the short tenure. Good luck!

  37. krfp13*

    My husband recently completed his AS in Accounting. He is looking for an accounting clerk type of position, and he’s in his early 30s. He has a five year work history gap. His work history was Marine Corps, veteran of Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Fr