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 Freedom, honorable discharge, and then he was an apprentice electrician for five years. He got his journeyman card when he quit. He quit because the physical nature of the job was exacerbating his service-connected (40%) disabilities, and he strongly disliked the people in the industry (construction). He then went back to school, but it took him a little time to figure out what his aptitudes and interests were, and what was most practical to pursue. He has been trying to address this directly in his cover letter, using the language Alison recommends saying that his medical issues are now resolved and adding that he’s excited to get back into the work force full time. He hasn’t been invited to interview yet, despite applying to about 30+ openings. He is going to go to a job fair this month. He was also advised by an acquaintance of ours that CPAs will start looking for clerks at the end of year for tax time, so that is hopeful. He has also only been searching since he graduated just over two months ago.

    Any advice for his situation? Words of encouragement/hope? Tips for job searching after a gap? Is he approaching the cover letter and addressing the work gap the best way? How can he get some interviews and interest? Are job fairs helpful (can people really get hired as a result of attending?)? I really don’t want him to get discouraged. I know that he has not been looking for long and I’m trying to keep him grounded in the reality that job searches can take many months, but he really wants to get back to earning.

    1. MissDisplaced*

      Well, I do think the fact that he went back to school helps a lot. I mean, that is particularly good reason to have an employment gap. Plus, he could mention that he was injured, but then after taking the time to fully recover, he decided to pursue college and a career change and so did not initially return to his old field of employment.

      As a veteran, he has a better chance of applying to and getting a federal or state government job, so I would encourage him to apply for those. Also, any type of civil jobs, such as police, fire, universities, etc. They all need accounting specialists too!

    2. JOTeepe*

      Not sure how exactly to incorporate this in a cover letter, however you state that “the physical nature of the job was exacerbating his service-connected (40%) disabilities.” I am assuming that this would not be an issue with a desk job. Maybe something to the effect of his health issues were related to the physical nature of his previous job, hence why he went back to school to pursue this degree?

      Another avenue, see if your State labor department has any employment resources for disabled veterans. I know for a fact New York does, and the NYS Civil Service department actually has a pathway for disabled vets to get employment with the state without having to take an (initial) exam, if you meet the min quals.

      (Dunno if this will apply to you, but may be useful for others. Link here:

      1. Jack the Accessibility Guy*

        Can confirm – most state and federal agencies have preference of some kind for veterans and people with disabilities. Many cities do as well, and there’s always a need for clerks.

        Oftentimes financial management departments will be looking for folks with his qualifications too.

        1. RR*

          And its not just the government agencies, but also their contractors. There are a lot of organizations required to give preference to vets and would likely be very happy to hear from your husband if they have accounting vacancies

      2. krfp13*

        Yes, exactly, his physical issues would not be a factor with a desk job like an accounting clerk. He can do normal physical stuff, but a job where there is lots of bending, kneeling, reaching overhead, etc. he just can’t do anymore. We are in California, and he is the VA vocational rehab program, and has a CA employment counselor, but aside from the VA paying for school and two months’ living expenses stipend after graduation, they’re really not that much help. I will have him look into the CA civil service, maybe CA has something similar to NY. Thank you!

        1. Longtime Manager*

          I want to strongly endorse the advice Garland Not Andrews gave below. For Federal accounting jobs use It has a special section for veteran hiring information for Federal jobs at I have not checked out CA government preferences for veterans but the state is generally very disabled veteran friendly (children of disabled veterans who live in CA save serious $$$ when attending Cal State and UC colleges). For the USA jobs web site don’t simply use “accounting” when doing the key word search for positions, use “budget”, “finance”, “financial” “analyst”, etc. as well.

        2. Jbean*

          Go on and put in your location or even locations where you’d like to live. I forget the percentage, but something like 90% of federal jobs are located outside of the DC area. (If he’s interested in federal employment.)

    3. JLK*

      Hello hello! I’m an Air Force Veteran and I dislike job fairs, if not those that suppose to cater to military/spouses. They ‘ghost’ meaning they take all the information, perhaps a resume, give the attendee all their ‘contact’ information and rarely are a point of contact once the attendee leaves the fair. However, the job fair company gets to say they made contact with # of Veterans and ‘yeah them’! The best thing job fairs are for are learning how to talk to people, over and over again, how to ask questions and answer possible interview questions.

      Gapping the gap: I would strongly encourage a skills based volunteer opportunity (not answering phones or lickey chewys) but doing some type of financial work with a non-profit. That will be challenging to convince with a non-profit (I’ve been in non-profit for 15 years) so I would get his school/professors behind him as references for his work. He could be good on a finance committee, or reviewing income-based service applicants (like Habitat for Humanity- I’ve worked for them) that requires determine financial stability and ability to receive services.

      I left my full time non-profit career to start a business, but kept a part time non-profit seasonal job to gap. I volunteer 5 times a week, with different non-profits, using different skills in my wheelhouse. That alone took 5 months to organize.

      He will get discouraged and you’ll have to be the patient, loving cheerleader that you know you can be. But also encourage non-work activities that takes his mind off the ‘job of getting a job’. Sadly, Veterans are not as heralded as they are on t.v. and commercials.

      I also recommend tracking every application timeline and create taskers for follow-up. That makes one feel that they’re at least keeping tabs on their future, and not leaving it up to the HR gods.

    4. Garland Not Andrews*

      Please check out jobs on www. usajobs. gov . With his military service he has a higher hire ability than non military. Many agencies have accounting tech positions. The application process can be a pain in the backside, but the work is good and benefits really good.
      I also agree to look for tax season jobs, fyi some may be available right now as the final tax deadlines in October are close. A tax season job can really get you an in with a CPA’s office, especially if you are a hardworker and don’t mind the long hours.

    5. Natalie*

      If he isn’t already, he should work with a staffing firm (in addition to looking on his own). Accountemps/Robert Half is the largest in the US, and there may also be smaller firms in your area – just google “accounting staffing firm”. They have temp, temp-to-hire, and direct hire opportunities and some of them are jobs that won’t be posted on any job board. (Mine wasn’t.)

  38. Jack the Accessibility Guy*

    Hi guys, two email-themed questions here.

    1. I am working on a project with several folks, one of whom uses an incredible number of emoji in every email, including serious ones. (I once got an email that said “Thank *smiley**smiley**smiley* you*smiley**smiley*!!”) A new person who joined the team is blind and uses a screenreader, and the emoji basically make the email unreadable. I asked Mr. Smiley to stop and he basically said “yeah yeah” and then “but it makes the email happy!” and has continued. My blind colleague is the only person in the entire agency with a certain skill needed for this project to succeed, and I personally find the emoji in serious emails extremely annoying. (One smiley is fine. I do not need ten.) Help?

    2. On another project a junior colleague insisted on including a PS directed to me in our common native language. (I’m leaving out the language since I’d like to stay anonymous, and it’s not one of the more common immigrant ones. There aren’t many accessibility folks who speak this language at home.) I translated it in the response to everyone (it was basically a holiday greeting) but how should I explain to her that this is not great?

    1. LisaLee*

      #1 seems fairly straightforward to me. Don’t make it a request. “Bob, emojis make emails unreadable for John, so you need to stop using them. Thanks.”

    2. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

      On #1 – are you senior to this person in any way or on the same level? If you are senior, don’t ask. Tell. “Your use of emojis makes it difficult for Steve to do his job. You need to stop. X will happen if you don’t.” If you aren’t senior, and you are *sure* this is an issue for Steve, I think addressing it with Mr Smiley’s supervisor might be the best course of action.

    3. NW Mossy*

      #1 is giving “guy who can’t stop commenting on his colleague’s prosthetic leg” a run for his money in the ablist department. I think you need to say bluntly “Mr. Smiley, your emojis make it impossible for Fergus to know what’s in them because they conflict with the screenreader. He’s a critical part of this project and needs to know what’s going on to do his job effectively. You need to stop using emojis so that he can do that. You can express your happiness/enthusiasm with words instead.” After that, you know the AAM drill – determine who has the authority to take corrective action against him and bring that person in. Since this is a disability-related item, HR may also need to be involved. But he needs to knock it off.

      The advice to #2 is similar. “Hey, when you write things in [language] in emails that include more than just us, other people can feel excluded or worry that you’re saying mean things about them. You aren’t doing that, but they have no way to know that. I know you want to have good relationships with everyone here, and part of that is seeing how this looks to them as outsiders and respecting them enough to use our shared language.” If you were OK with her using the language in emails just with you, you could say so, but definitely nip it on the group stuff.

      1. Jack the Accessibility Guy*

        Thanks! Drafting a similar thing to your suggested response in 2 now. I’m generally cagey about speaking [language] at work generally, since I would rather have everyone included on the water cooler topics too.

        On #1, my blind colleague and I are probably going to draft a very direct email to Mr. Smiley explaining that he needs to knock it off. If that doesn’t work, I can go to Mr. Smiley’s manager, with whom I’m on fairly good terms.

        Thanks friends!

        1. Mimmy*

          Does Mr. Smiley know that your colleague is blind and uses a screenreader? He genuinely may not be aware. But yes, a direct email is the way to go. I like NW Mossy’s wording. If he continues to disregard the request after that, I would take it to a manager because it is preventing him from doing his job effectively.

          By the way, I love your screen name!

            1. Dawn*

              That seems like it’d make it easy then: “Fergus, Samuel cannot read your emails due to the smilies. Stop using the smilies so that Samuel can read your emails.” Because, at that point, it’s getting into discrimination territory and runs into accessibility issues.

    4. Bruce H.*

      #2 Several other commenters have offered good advice on this one. If she does it again, I’d be tempted to mis-translate it something really nasty.

      1. Jack the Accessibility Guy*

        Oof, that would be funny.

        Update on #2: I spoke to the colleague and she got it. She’s pretty young, so I don’t think she quite got that info. Waiting for the email on #1 to come back.

        1. ThursdaysGeek*

          Ooh, update us on #1 too. (I’d put a smiley in here, but I think we’re limited to text. Perhaps for accessibility reasons!)

          1. Jack the Accessibility Guy*

            Will do! We’re off for the weekend and Mr. Smiley does not check his email during the weekend.

  39. AliCat*

    Question for Higher Ed folks:

    Does anyone know that the equivalent of Institutional Effectiveness is in the UK? And, as someone working in an IE role at a US institution, do you think the skills are transferable to a similar position in the UK?

  40. Sera*

    Today is my last day at my current job. It’s my first proper job (ie in the field I’d studied) after graduating university and I’ve been here just over 5 years.

    It was a good starting point for my career, and I was quite happy the first three years or so, but I’ve known for quite a while that I’ve gotten pretty much all I can from this role. Staff turnover here is relatively high (3 years seems like the average) and while I’m not /unhappy/ it’s definitely time to move onwards and forwards.

    Weird thing is, even though I’ve been thinking (and planning) this for so long, the closer it got to my final day the more I didn’t want to think about leaving. There were times I actually /hoped/ to have a bad day at work so I’d feel more eager to leave. (But then when people know you’re leaving they tend to make more effort to be nice).

    It’s normal to feel this apprehensive, right? If I was offered the chance to stick with the status quo (or to delay my departure by even a week) there’s no way I’d do it, because I’m sure leaving is right and that my next destination is more in line with the path I want to follow. But I don’t think I’ve ever been so unsure (in the moment) about something that feels so right.

    Don’t know if any of this makes any sense, the anxiety is making me ramble.

    1. R.*

      I can relate. I’m not leaving yet, but I had a third interview today for another job and it seems like there’s a very good shot I’ll get it. At first I was thrilled—I want to leave for the same reasons you list—but now that it seems like it might actually be happening, I’m getting scared! In the last few years of knowing it’s time to move on, I’ve often wished that things would be worse so that my decision would be easier. I think that the better and more comfortable you have it at your current job, the scarier it is to leap into the unknown. Definitely normal.

    2. OhBehave*

      This makes so much sense. You are moving from the familiar to the unfamiliar. Your coworkers are nice and that may make it hard to leave. Humans have a hard time with change sometimes. You have exciting changes ahead of you, embrace that adventure.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Yeah, this is normal. Leaving a job is usually a mixed bag of emotions and there is no one certain way you “should” feel. And yeah, no matter how bad a job is, at least it is familiar. But you will become familiar with the new place, too. You have been with this place for five years, so it’s safe to assume you work at your job and you work at getting along with folks. It will probably be okay at the next job,too. You will have to write in later on and let us know how it’s going at the new place.

  41. Myrin*

    I know there are fellow Germans here and I wondered if any of you guys know of a work advice blog that is similar in quality to Alison’s, but pertaining to Germany? A lot of AAM advice can be used here without problems as well but there’s always gonna be stuff that is just different/doesn’t apply here and I don’t really know how to find blogs that are actually good (especially with regards to legal work stuff).

    Also, AAM readers of different countries altogether – are there AAM-like blogs or advice boards in your country/language as well and would you like to share them?

    1. Ariel*

      I’d be really interested in job advice blogs that are more tailored to the UK.

      Most of the advice here is probably applicable, but I wouldn’t know which are and which are not. For a while I wrote thank you notes after interviews before someone mentioned that’s really not done in the UK.

    2. Tau*

      I can’t help, but if anyone else can offer one up I’d be really grateful as well! I’ll probably be job-searching in Germany next year and considering I haven’t lived in Germany since high school I am a little worried about how this will go.

  42. MacGirl*

    Does anyone have any experience with jobs through I work part-time, and am actively seeking full-time/additional part-time work. I got the idea that I could walk dogs in my neighborhood and maybe house sit through the website, but I am curious to know how effective it is in terms of landing side jobs and/or if any AAM followers have tried it out. Thanks in advance!

    1. Lemon Zinger*

      I tried it when I was unemployed for a month. DO NOT put your phone number on your profile! I got spam calls/texts for months after I closed my profile. Only coordinate with clients via until you get to know them.

      I only did one babysitting gig and remembered how much I dislike babysitting. But it seems like a good site overall. Care doesn’t seem to be that popular in my area, though.

    2. FoodieNinja*

      I haven’t tried it, but my husband’s aunt has developed a pretty steady clientele through it. She retired about 9 months ago and has found enough work through Care that she hasn’t needed to find permanent part- or full-time work (which had been her intention after retirement). She’s in a large city, so obviously that helps. I haven’t had a chance to talk to her in detail, but I gather that she’s very happy with the variety and flexibility.

    3. Shoe Ruiner*

      I don’t have personal experience with this but there is a similar site for pet sitting.

        1. Natalie*

          I’ve used it as a client and it seems pretty good, FWIW. The interface is easy to use and there are lots of options for the sitters to indicate what they do, when they’re available, if they’ll feed cats, etc. You can book out for sitting, walking, 30-minute visits, boarding in your home, and probably some other stuff.

    4. OhBehave*

      My daughter was part of a year or so ago. She got spam calls and had some contact with a few creepy situations. She did get one job through them, but that’s it. I’m not sure how well screens their clients based on the spam and creepy people trying to set up babysitting.

    5. Honeybee*

      Two of my friends in graduate school found medium-to-long term babysitting positions through to earn supplemental income while in school. Both of them ended up caring for some kids after they came home from school until their parents came home from work, and occasionally on date nights or whatever for their parents when they needed care.

      If you want to walk or care for dogs, another website to check out is I use that site to house my dogs over vacations all the time; I’ve used it for the 2 years I’ve had a dog in the various locations I’ve lived. It’s marketed as an alternative to boarding your pets in a kennel, which I love – I’d rather Zelda stay in the home of a pet lover who will fawn over her than put her in a boarding facility where she’d be in a cage all day long :( My current long-term carer is a stay-at-home dad who takes in a bunch of dogs at the same time and has a gigantic backyard, so she’s basically at the dog park the entire time she’s there, lol. He also takes semi-professional pictures of Zelda romping and having a great time. She loves him – she whines when we get close to his house and jumps all over him when we get there. And she’s pooped for days when she comes home!

      Rover also allows you to find people who want someone to both dog and house sit – a lot of people prefer that you come and stay in their house for XX days while they’re away to care for their pup in the pup’s home environment.

  43. Bluesheart*

    I need some advice.

    We have a temp to perm executive assistant, she can do the work but I think her personality is going to be a issue, I have heard from several people some with whom she works with that she doesn’t seem approachable which is an issue because I am trying to transition some on my responsibilities to her and she needs to deal with our internal people. Do I let my boss know that she isn’t going to be a fit? There has been a recent issue where she become defensive when I mentioned that she missed something. I can see this becoming an issue if she became defensive on a minor issue. Our department is small and we all get along with each other so having someone standoffish is not going to work in this department.

    1. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

      Do you feel it is something that could be fixed if addressed? I’d try that first before deciding she isn’t going to work out. Let her know the role requires X, Y, Z and does she think she can work on that?

      1. zora.dee*

        I agree with this, and would also add ask her agency (if she is staffed through an agency). The person who placed her is a good person to go to with concerns like this, and they can also talk to her about where she needs to improve. If it’s a good agency, they are used to things like this and are good at handling it.

        And after giving one chance for her to improve, I think you definitely go to the boss and say she is not a good fit for X and Y reasons. This is exactly why to do temp to perm placements, so that you have an opportunity to find the right person to offer the job to.

        Do this all quickly though, the longer you drag it out, the harder it will be for everyone.

        1. Marisol*

          I agree with this 100%, and also want to underscore the need for quick action. I would also see going to the boss with potential problems as erring on the side of caution, rather than seeing it as being unfair to the temp.

          Additionally, if you are not making the hiring decision, then you are not really the one deciding whether or not she will be a good fit; however you can and should report what you have observed. If you have reached the conclusion that she isn’t a fit, you can give your honest opinion, but if you can’t definitively say either way and are still mulling it over, then you can say you haven’t reached a firm conclusion, but that you have concerns.

          I think it would be natural to see potentially rejecting a candidate as sort of a risky move, because you are influencing someone’s fate in a way, and because you yourself don’t want to seem difficult, and that therefore not offering criticisms about the temp would be a more conservative way to handle the situation, but actually the opposite is true. You have more to lose by endorsing the wrong candidate than you do by looking like a “mean girl” who rejects the temp. Because once she’s on the staff, there *will* be consequences to voicing concerns about her, and it will be harder for the company to let her go.

          Not sure if any of that addresses how you view your situation, but I recently had to work through a similar thing so I thought you might feel the way I did.

  44. Anonymous Educator*

    Did anyone else read that story about the woman who got scammed by a startup? It was quite horrific, especially the fake wire transfer. Yikes! I’ll link to it below.

    1. Lily Rowan*

      Yeah, that was terrible. The effed up thing is, I bet similar things happen all the time! (Although with probably less actual fraud.) I’m thinking of that “gig” company for housecleaning? [googles] Handy! There were a ton of terrible stories about them.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        Yes, the worst comments on her piece were ones like “What did you expect? This is very common for startups!” Like that makes it okay? Nope! And, really, it may be common for startups to be unstable or to not pay people on time, but it isn’t (or definitely shouldn’t be) common for CEOs to lie about already having paid you.

        1. neverjaunty*

          Back when The Consumerist had a more active comments section, they actually had to change their comments policy because so many people treated every story as a competition to brag about how THEY wouldn’t have fallen for that and THEY would never have had that bad thing happen because they always do X, Y and Z. Some people just love to crap on other people’s misfortune in order to brag about how smart they are.

          1. Anonymous Educator*

            I think this author has shown a lot of courage in even admitting to having been scammed. That kind of vulnerability is hard to show in public. You already start to doubt your own judgment, and then random strangers on the Internet start attacking you.

            I’m glad to hear The Consumerist changed its comments policy.

            1. alter_ego*

              I’m happy to hear it to! I stopped reading after every comment thread either turned into how can we blame this on the victim, and, if the victim was also fat, how can we blame this on the victim for being fat. It wasn’t worth it any more.

            2. nonegiven*

              Consumerist changed its comment policy to restrict comments so much that very few articles have any comments and then it’s usually just one. There is a very small list of ‘ß commenters’ and no one else can log in.
              The articles I clicked on were mostly just to read the comments and now they’re gone. I hardly ever read any of it, now.

        2. Lily Rowan*


          But seriously, that story was VERY DIFFERENT from knowingly gambling on a small business that isn’t making money yet.

          1. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

            Agreed. I have worked for startups. And while they were perhaps overly optimistic about future funding, they were always clear about current funding. And never perpetrated fraud to get around paying people.

    2. Honeybee*

      I did! The article was so good – so well-written – but the story was horrifying. And satisfying. It’s good to finally see some people writing about the truth about start-ups. They’ve been feted as universal positives and most people thin of Uber or Snapchat when they think of start-ups, not the many many other small startups that mostly crash and burn pretty quickly. I have nothing against them but I think a more nuanced look is required.

  45. AndersonDarling*

    My husband started a new job yesterday! He has been unemployeed for 2 years and we have been on so many rollercoasters of interviews (he interviewed at one company for 9 months and then they lost the job opening!) and financial grumblings. I was really getting hopeless because it had been so long and his work history beforehand wasn’t the most solid.
    It’s like I can breathe and we can start enjoying life again!

  46. Manders*

    Does anyone have advice about how to prevent stress outside of work from affecting your work performance? I’m dealing with some really tough stuff at home right now (not, alas, solveable–my mom has been diagnosed with ALS) and I feel like stress about that is starting to change the way I act at work.

    I’m still getting praised for my creativity and hard work, but I feel like I’m not as sharp as I used to be and it’s harder to feel enthusiastic about new projects. I get distracted by random internet things more easily and I’m not as bubbly as normal. I’m also having problems getting enough sleep or not feeling rested after sleep, and on the worst days it’s like trying to think through fog. It’s hard to tell sometimes if I’m being too hard on myself or if my work output really is suffering.

    I don’t have an EAP, but will be able to use my future husband’s EAP in January. Taking a vacation just for myself isn’t an option, since all my time off will go towards visiting her or to my upcoming wedding (we’re having a sort of “emergency wedding” closer to her so she can be there, which is an added layer of stress because I am planning it long-distance with the help of sometimes-difficult relatives). I’ve told my direct bosses about the situation and they’re understanding, but the head of the company is a yeller and I’ve already burst into tears at work once. I really like this job and I want to make sure I leave in another 6 months or year with a great reference, since it’s the perfect stepping stone into a career I’m enthusiastic about.

    1. Collie*

      First, I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this. Illness really sucks. So, I posted a couple weeks ago about how my brother died recently (he was 22) and I’m back to work and it was hard and how do I deal with it and all that. While all the advice in there was great (and I highly recommend being really adamant about carving out time for self-care outside of work time), I think there are some key things: 1. Acknowledge you’re going through some crap. Accept it. Own it. Know it. 2. Trust your coworkers/supervisors to be reasonable about it. 3. Understand and internalize that it will take time for you to mentally get back to where you were. I know illnesses are a little different in that it will be ongoing, but I strongly believe that you will be able to take this into your life as “the new normal” (something I’ve been clinging to lately) and soldier on. But with the caveat that part of soldiering on is resting when you need it and being protective of You Time. Wishing you all the best.

      1. Manders*

        You’re right, I’ve been stretched awfully thin these last few months and I haven’t set aside much time for self-care. I thought it would be good to keep up my normal social schedule, but it does mean I rarely have time to myself.

    2. EddieSherbert*

      I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this.

      I think it’s great that you looped your bosses in. I also think that means you can/should be able to check in with them once in a while, just for general “check ins” and to alleviate your concerns about your output. Let them know, “hey, I’m still adjusting to this personal thing, and trying to keep it out of my work, but I can’t help being nervous that it’s affecting my work. Do you have any concerns (and will you tell me if you do)?” It might feel weird, but at least that’s one stress off your shoulders.

      With yelling boss… can they be looped in? Do you want them looped in? Not that I think it’ll stop the yelling but – they might be more sympathetic if you need to excuse yourself from a conversation. “I understand your concern / that you’re upset, but can I have a minute before we continue the conversation?” You should be able to walk away and get composed before it comes to tears (or at least public tears). Bathrooms, your car, a quick walk in a remote area of the building or outside are all great for composing yourself.

      Good luck, I hope your wedding is wonderful, and you got this!

      +1 for Collie’s self-care comments.

      1. zora.dee*

        In addition to the boss, are there any other coworkers you feel like you could tell and ask for their help for a bit? If I was your coworker and knew this was happening (or just “something major” I don’t need to know the details) I’d be happy to help out where i can: do an extra proofreading run over your work, back you up to other coworkers, even represent you/your team in meetings so you can have less interactions with the yeller, etc. Think about ways you might get some backup from coworkers in the short term, at least while this all is so fresh.

        I’m so sorry about everything that is happening, and hope you find some ways to get through it. Big Hugs.

        1. Manders*

          Something I’ve been struggling with a bit is that there’s a lot of turnover in the office, and the people who do stick around don’t really understand what I do or care about my work (I am in marketing at a law firm, most other staff are paralegals and legal assistants who work in a different room). My two direct bosses have been understanding, but I was already feeling a bit cut off from the rest of the staff and I don’t want to overburden my already busy bosses by needed them to pick up my slack.

          I don’t work directly with the yeller much, fortunately. I don’t know if he’s been looped in or not–one of my bosses is his wife. When I did cry, I think I did a good job of staying professional around him and I didn’t lose it until the meeting was over and I was in the bathroom. But once the tears started it took a reeeeeeeally long time to stop.

          1. zora.dee*

            Awww, I’m so sorry, Manders, this sounds so hard :o(

            One more idea to get you extra help, can you ask your boss if there is anyone else (an admin or assistant) who would have a little extra time to help give you some backup in the short-term? That way they know that you might need a little extra slack, but you also aren’t assuming they will do it themselves. Again, if I was an admin even for another department, I would be happy to help for a while. Answer your phone line, and take messages? I don’t know. But put some thought into tasks that either someone else could help with or that you could let drop for a few weeks without being a major problem. I’m sure your boss would appreciate having some solutions in place that would help make sure things will keep running mostly smoothly.

            But best wishes on everything.

    3. Lily in NYC*

      Manders, I’m sorry about your mom. My dad died of something very similar (but no one’s ever heard of it). I was lucky to have an amazingly accommodating boss but I also made sure to let HR know. My parents live 1000 miles away, so I arranged to take a week off every three months to help (I get a decent chunk of vacation here and I did this for the entire 7 years he was sick) and took two months of FMLA near the end of his life because my mom was at her breaking point.
      This is the type of thing that employers are generally very decent about (not always, but usually).

      What I never did and wish I had was take care of myself. I put my life on hold for 7 years and now when I look back, I realize I was depressed and stressed but I was too worried about everyone else to do anything about it. Allow yourself to be sad. Join a support group for ALS caregivers if you think it might be helpful to vent to people who are going through the same thing. Keep up with normal things like getting your hair cut and going to the dentist. And try to enjoy the time you have left with your mom. Again, I’m so sorry – it’s such a terrifying diagnosis to deal with and it’s so hard to watch the disease progress. My sister and mom were active on message boards for people with my dad’s disease, but I found that they really depressed me so I stopped reading them.

      1. Lily Rowan*

        Shoutout to caregiver support groups — if you can find the right one, I think it’s incredibly helpful to not only vent, but share tips and recommendations and etc.

      2. Manders*

        I’m so sorry about your dad, that sounds incredibly difficult.

        The feeling of putting “normal things” on hold is definitely something I’m struggling with. I’m normally all right at adulting, but I keep getting overwhelmed at simple things like managing my social calendar and keeping up with my hobbies. I think I’d be at least a little stressed out by everything going on even if my mom were healthy, this is a year full of life changes like marriage and a new job and a huge change in my partner’s job, so I feel like I’ve lost my sense of what “normal” even looks like.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Oh wow, that is a lot of changes. Yep, you probably would be building a new sense of normal without your mom’s illness.

          Allow extra time for everything. If it takes you 20 minutes to get to work, allow 25 or 30. If takes you 40 minutes to fix dinner, then allow 50 or 60 minutes. Padding your time estimates will help give you some slack and help to lighten some pressures. It will also give you some slack if something comes up that you must deal with.

          Prioritize. You may have to let some things go. Let’s say your goal is to bathe the dog one a week. Of course, getting the dog fed is more important. Lower the priority of bathing the dog with the idea that feeding him is the most important thing and bathing him is more optional. Other things you may find ways to make less labor intensive. I always make two lunches at a time, that way two days are covered.

          And you sound like you may have some grief symptoms going on –being overwhelmed by your calendar, keeping up with things you enjoy, foggy brain, distracted, less enthusiastic etc. Please do some reading about grief. It’s not just for funerals. We can mourn a loved one’s loss of health, sometimes even heavier than say, a funeral.

          As I read the list of changes you have here, the thing that jumped at me is “the passage of time”. Sometimes events in our lives puddle up and we suddenly become aware that “hey, I am not 17/25/38 any more, everything around me has changed so much.” Invest in your self care. If you are already doing a few things, maybe add something or switch something. Our routines can carry us and our routines can comfort us. When my husband passed, I WANTED to the dishes. It was one of the few things that seemed to remain the same. I did some of my clearer thinking while I was doing those stupid dishes.

          Which brings me to my overall point, as you consider what to do, keep it simple and keep it doable. Let’s say you decide to read up on grief. With the idea of keeping it simple this means selecting one book, not ten. Bring the one book home and read it. Keep it simple so you will successfully accomplish what you start out to do. With this approach, in months to come you will start to see that you have helped yourself to move toward your new normal.

    4. DG's gal*

      I am so sorry you are dealing with all this. Self care if VERY important right now. Could you talk to your doctor about prescribing a mild sleep aid maybe? If you are adverse to that, could you find some time to schedule a weekly massage? A friend of mine did that after she lost her husband and couldn’t sleep, and it helped so much. Sleeping better could help with the distractions, the “fog”, the stress, etc. Exercise is also wonderful helping with stress. If you aren’t a runner (like me) and can’t join a gym, there are some wonderful exercise videos by Leslie Sansone (you can buy them on Amazon) that you can do right in your own home.

      In the mean time, do you have some resources to help with your mom, any other family members that could pitch in? If not, I’ll bet you could find some advice from the ALS Association: Even her community or religious organization may have some resources, such as meals on wheels, transit, home health care, etc. I wish you much luck, and best wishes to you!

    5. Bye Academia*

      That really sucks. I’m sorry you’re going through such a hard time.

      I know you said you don’t have an EAP, but how is your health insurance? Have you thought about seeing a therapist through your healthcare plan? Or possibly your GP for temporary help and/or a referral? It’s normal to feel less sharp than you used to be when you’re struggling, but perhaps therapy and/or temporary medication could help you as you work out your grief.

      1. Manders*

        I do have health insurance and I want to see a therapist, but the insurance limits me to a very small pool of providers and I’m having a hard time finding one who will see me outside of work hours. I don’t want to take time off work right now because I need to save up that time and money to travel out to see her, she lives 3,000 miles away from me.

        I’ve been looking into some apps that connect you with a therapist online until I can access that EAP.

    6. OhBehave*

      So very sorry to hear about your mom’s diagnosis. You’ve got a lot going on right now so it’s understandable that you feel you are performing at less than peak capacity. I’m not going to diagnose you but I would urge you to try and find a therapist. Would your boss allow you to increase your lunch time to work in an appointment? Or work through lunch to make a late apt? Lunch therapy appts may not be the best thing to do at first. If your bosses are supportive, keep them informed as much as you are comfortable doing. They may very well forget momentarily that you are dealing with so much.

      Being so far away, you are not your mom’s direct caregiver and I’m sure that is wearing on you. My mom was diagnosed with COPD 10 years ago. I live an hour away and have a family as well as a job. Thankfully my brother and sister live and work nearby so they can see to her immediate needs. We’ve been operating on a ‘new normal’ for about 15 years since my dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s (he passed13 years ago).

      Others have suggested self-care time. This is essential to your overall health. What is your favorite thing to do? Knitting, reading, journaling, coloring, etc. Whatever it is start doing it if only for 20 minutes a day.

      Let yourself know that it’s ok to feel like your life is out of sorts because it is. You cannot ‘snap out of it’. Be sure to talk with your fiancé’ about this too.

  47. Future Assistant*

    I’m currently in a program to become a legal assistant. In my country, that can either be a paralegal or a legal secretary, but it’s more likely that I’ll start out as a legal secretary and eventually be promoted to a paralegal.

    If you have an assistant (or even if you don’t) what does a good assistant do? What does a terrible assistant do?

    1. Christopher Tracy*

      I spent most of my working life as an assistant, and what made me good at it was my ability to be flexible, anticipate my boss’s needs, and my attention to detail. I was also a paralegal, and the thing that made me good at that was volunteering to assist wherever I could throughout the firm. I learned so much by doing this (and I had no formal paralegal training) and that work led me to an even better career later.

      Good luck with your studies.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Just a couple ideas from my own experiences:

      My boss wants me to do what she asks first, she does not want me deciding that some random thing is more important than what she is talking about.

      Sometimes my boss needs me to step in and take over a problem. For example, if her computer does not work. She wants me to just take that concern off her hands. Most bosses have something that they just are not great at and would prefer you to handle it. They usually tell you directly or you just notice that they need you to do it for them.

      Keep track of dates, names, phone numbers, etc.
      Be accurate.
      These two things mean saying “I don’t know” if you really don’t know. Then you figure out how you will find the answer for the question.

      A terrible assistant does the opposite of these things here.

  48. Savannah*

    Can anyone tell me if they think New York’s new paid family leave laws will affect out of state branch offices of NY based companies where the parent office in NY has 500+ employees and the branch offices (all located in New England) have 10-12 employees? All employees have the same benefit policies as of now.

    1. bb-great*

      The NY family leave is paid for by a state fund made up of employee taxes, so I would assume it wouldn’t cover employees in other states unless you were paying NYS income taxes. Or unless your employer took it upon themselves to offer that benefit to other employees at their own expense.

    2. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

      You are subject to the laws of the state you live in. So, the paid family leave won’t apply UNLESS your company makes it company-wide.

      1. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

        I worked for a company headquarted in California – it would have been amazing to be protected by their laws, but alas….

  49. Not My Job?*

    To put it bluntly, I need some help figuring out how much of my boss’ job I should do for him.

    I work as one of two staff that run a program within a larger department at a nonprofit. My boss is the director of the program; I manage program outreach.

    My boss is great at some parts of his job, but fundamentally lacks management skills – both in terms of managing his own to-do list (he has, and I’m not kidding, 10,000+ unread emails in his inbox, going back over 5 years) and managing his staff. He just… doesn’t do things that are basic parts of his job: short-term to-dos like responding to requests from other departments who need information about our program or writing thank you notes to donors; but also bigger-picture things like signing off on a fundraising strategy or managing a problematic relationship between two other staff members.

    Because he just doesn’t do this stuff, the responsibility for getting it done falls to me (or, I suppose, I could let it just not get done, but that would be a road to ruin for the program). On the day-to-day to-dos, he seems to have an unstated expectation that it’s my responsibility to catch the balls he drops. On the bigger-picture issues, I bring him proposals for how to handle the situation (sometimes he asks for this, sometimes I just do it as a strategy to get something moving when I know it’s off track).

    I am not his assistant and it is not my job (unless it is, and he just hasn’t formalized that) to track his workload and help make sure that he’s getting done the things he needs to get done. I am also explicitly not responsible for overall program management (were I classified as a program manager, I would be paid significantly more).

    I’m increasingly frustrated with all of this. So my question is this: do I need to recalibrate my understanding of the kind of support I should be providing my boss? Or, if my boss is acting unreasonably, what other actions should I take?

    1. AdAgencyChick*

      I think you have to talk to your boss about what you’re picking up from him and how it’s affecting your ability to do your job. He probably doesn’t notice that he’s dropping balls, because why would he? You’re picking them up and he’s not hearing any complaints. But if you tell him, “I have less time to do XYZ because I’m picking up ABC,” then he knows that he needs to start doing ABC again or else be okay with the fact that XYZ isn’t going to get done well.

      Would you be okay with it if his answer is, “Yes, I need you to do this administrative stuff, at the expense of what used to be ‘your’ job”? (If his answer is, “Just find a way to do it all,” then I think it’s time to think about a new job, or at least push back hard with “doing both is unsustainable, so can we talk about getting another person to handle ABC?”) If you would be, you can approach the convo with the angle of, “I can’t do both ABC and XYZ, which one should I focus on?” and if not, you can come at it from, “I can’t do both ABC and XYZ, what can we do to get ABC back off my plate?”

      But if you don’t explicitly state it’s a problem, he won’t know it’s a problem.

    2. Lillian McGee*

      I’m so sorry. This sounds like my former boss but 1000x worse! I just threw up my hands and leapt at the very first opportunity to switch from program to admin (away from him!).

      Good advice above. Hope it works out!!

    3. zora.dee*

      Ugh, I’ve worked with these people in npos as well, it is not fun.

      I would say either ask for a promotion and raise (Assistant Director, Deputy Director, Program Manager, etc) so that you get credit for taking these things on, or start job hunting now. It is not going to serve you well to stay in the long-run, doing the director’s job as well as your own, for lower pay. Don’t do this forever. But then again, I have a short fuse these days, so I’m quick to go for the nuclear option. But that’s my advice. Good luck!!!

    4. Marisol*

      Personally, I would go ahead and do his job and mine, and see that as a “de-facto” promotion where I develop my management skills and other skills, and I’d keep a list of all my job responsibilities. I would then leverage this in one or all of the following ways: 1) present my accomplishments at the time of performance review and make my case for a generous raise and/or promotion; 2) use my knowledge of my boss’ tasks to my advantage by networking with members of the broader department, especially higher-ups, with the goal of expanding my position in my department or transferring to a role of greater responsibility in a different department; 3) discuss my extra responsibilities at external job interviews, making it clear that I fulfilled the management role regardless of what my actual title and pay was.

      At no time would I badmouth my boss in any way or even imply anything negative. At no time would I appear ungrateful. If promotion is what I want, then acting like I hate doing the tasks inherent to the position I want would not look good.

      Basically, I would just see this for an opportunity for a power grab. If done well, then his status will erode while yours increases. And not through any unethical action on your part–you’re not sabotaging him, you’re stepping up to help the company. Everyone will treat you as the point person for all kinds of things, which will lead to greater responsibility in decision making, and eventually the company will have no choice but to reward you or lose a star player.

      One other thing I’d do that I forgot to mention, is be as proactive as I could in making *decisions* for the big-picture things. I wouldn’t countermand him, or undermine him in any way, but if you think you can make decisions about things without him objecting, I’d do that. I’d push it as far as I could. If there was any ambiguity, then I’d fall back on plausible deniability of, “well, I thought you wanted me to handle that since you didn’t take action.” And then I’d dial it back if necessary.

      1. zora.dee*

        Basically, I would just see this for an opportunity for a power grab.

        So Machiavellian and brilliant. I bow to you. Would you give lessons in aggressive self-interest skills?? I think I need it ;o)

  50. Karo*

    For anyone that needs another “don’t be friends with your reports” caution story:

    My boss used to be my peer. We are certainly not as close as we used to be, but he is still probably more friendly with his direct reports than Alison would approve of. He recently had to have a talk with another employee that also used to be his peer about her attitude and she is not taking it well. I’m proud of him for speaking to her – it was well overdue – but she seems to feel personally betrayed by it [and I only know what happened because she told me; he hasn’t said anything].

    So, even if you’re sure that you can handle being friends with your employees and still having a managerial relationship – can your employees handle it too?

    1. Drew*

      I’m in much the same boat and I told my boss, “Don’t shy away from giving me feedback because you’re afraid of hurting my feelings — I need you to be my boss first and friend second if we’re going to work together effectively.” Luckily, we have a really informal office culture in the first place, so this hasn’t caused too many problems.

  51. anonymoose*

    I have a job interview tomorrow and was wondering about how to address the question of why I want to leave my current job (or a similar question). I’m planning on saying something along the lines of how the org I’m interviewing with is more in line of what I want to do for my career and how my current office culture/boss’ management style isn’t a good fit, but I was wondering if anyone had any suggestions on how to address this. Mainly asking because I’ve only been in my current job for about 10 months (it’s my first full time job out of college) but my boss is terrible and I hate everything about my job, and I’m at the point where I need to leave so it doesn’t affect my work ethic/health any further.

    1. MissDisplaced*

      I don’t have advice here, being in something of the same boat.
      I’ve been in my job just over 2 years, but recently got a NewBoss and it’s just not working out. Under OldBoss I felt valued and rewarded and trusted. Under NewBoss, the vibe is suspicion, micromanaging, and conflict. Plus, NewBoss is trying to bring in his own crew, by throwing me under the bus.

      How to explain this? I don’t hate my job, but people don’t leave bad jobs, they leave bad managers.
      I recently had an interview, and I don’t think I answered very well using a reason of finding a closer commute (true!) and also that my job duties had changed from what was originally intended (but I think they sensed it being a management issue).

      1. MissDisplaced*

        I mean, if only we could just tell the truth!
        “I love what I do, but my new manager and I are not a good fit style-wise, so I am searching for other opportunities.”

    2. Anon for this one*

      If NewJob is different enough from OldJob, you can say “I wasn’t actually looking, but I happened across NewJob and it’s something I’m so interested in that I decided I couldn’t pass it by.” (Assuming it was advertised, of course.) You don’t really need to mention being dissatisfied with OldJob.

      1. anonymoose*

        Duties of new job will be similar to old job, but the organization is different in its mission/what it does (current job is with policy based org, new job is nonprofit that does more social work stuff). I loved my internship which was helping others/case work, so new org is more similar to that. I’m very seriously now considering going to grad school for social work, so new org aligns with that more. Most of my complaints are with my boss and how the org is structured (i interact with almost no one, no real collaboration with my one coworker, and I’ve been taking on duties for another job in the office because it’s taken my boss the entire time I’ve been here to hire someone for that position so my main reasons for leaving are based on that. I could probably get away with just saying I’m looking to change the field I’m in to avoid saying I’m dissatisfied with my current job if that’s a no go for interviewers.

  52. Dzhymm*

    I wasn’t sure which free-for-all thread this should go into, because it mixes both work-related and family stuff. It also happened many many years ago, but for amusement’s sake let’s tell it in the first person present tense. Here goes:

    My employer is operating their business out of their home, in violation of local zoning regulations. It’s a direct mail business, and it includes machinery for folding inserts and addressing and stuffing envelopes — all of which is very much Not Allowed in a residential district.

    I have been sworn to secrecy on this point, and have been ordered not to tell ANYONE about it. Not friends, not relatives, nothing. The owners are paranoid that somehow word will get out and get back to the town officials and they’ll be shut down.

    Oh, and I’m seven years old, and my employers are my parents. So they’re also paranoid about that whole child-labor-legality thing (yes, I’m sometimes operating the machinery).

    Needless to say, this whole arrangement wreaks havoc on my social life. The business soaks up nearly all of our time and energy which I could instead be using to run and play with my friends like a normal kid. It also creates a whole huge swath of my life that I can’t talk about with anybody.
    “What did you do this weekend?”

    I’m so frustrated that I’m sometimes tempted to drop a dime and spill the beans. After all, ironically enough, my parents are authoritarian law-and-order types: when other people get in trouble, Dad’s attitude is “Good, he had it coming. If you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime”.

    So: How would you handle this in my situation?

    1. Manders*

      Oof, the terrible thing about this situation is that your parents chose to exploit a kind who was completely dependent on them. I’m not sure there was a good way to resolve this without running the risk of making your home life worse or being taken away from your family.

      I don’t think you can blame yourself for not handling the situation “right,” because you were just a kid in a really tough situation.

    2. EddieSherbert*

      I totally would have blabbed to someone. Not on-purpose or to get them in trouble or to get out of work (!!! work! machinery!? Seven yrs old?!) but because I am seven and an idiot and I do this crazy machine stuff that could be a good story and get me attention for a few minutes.

      Side note: In kindergarten, I also told my class I was allergic to pizza (which I love and not allergic to) and then didn’t eat pizza that whole school year because I got a lot of attention from my classmates for it.

      Thank goodness I mellowed out.

    3. Collie*

      Me personally as a child and afraid of authority as I was, I’d keep my mouth shut.

      But that’s not the “right” answer to this. The right answer is to tell and adult you trust, who can then go to the appropriate people. I don’t know much about child abuse laws, but this must be at least borderline. And if Dad’s attitude is “Good, he had it coming. If you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime,” then he should be perfectly understanding when he gets caught and has to “do the time.”

      1. Dzhymm*

        Basically I dropped a dime where it would do little good except to make me feel better. I kept my mouth shut until about two weeks ago, which was 47 years after the fact. My parents are both deceased now, and I’m sure any relevant statutes of limitations expired, so I made a public facebook post naming my parents and the address of the house and stating for the record that they operated a business there and employed child labor illegally. Not much response except for one niece who took me to task for taking it public. Kids these days don’t even respect their elders anymore (grumble, growl, get off my lawn)

        1. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

          You know, since you are family, I am not certain child labor laws apply. I know kids are allowed to work in family owned stores legally.

          But good for you for getting it off your chest!

          1. Dzhymm*

            Family or no, operating machinery is a no-no. But by age 8 I was keeping multiple Heidelberg letterpresses humming…

        2. Not So NewReader*

          I am with you on this one. If your parents did not want it blabbed all over what they were doing then they should not have been doing it. Period.

          Here’s the deal, if we are doing something illegal/unethical it is foolish to think that no one would ever blab about it. Someone will rat us out and it’s only a matter of time. Wait for your niece to get some more life experience under her belt and see if she changes her stance.

          In reply to her, I would want to talk about how no one, no matter what the relationship is, should ever be forced to cover up another person’s illegal/unethical behavior. The fact that an adult thinks they can do this to a child, is just so outrageous.

          I am figuring that you are about 54, so we are close in age. The 60s was a different era and a lot of the protections for children that we have now were not in place back then. I can remember my friends at school talking about being beaten with belts and hair brushes. Nothing was done. When I was very little my parents took me to a doctor because I got bruises where anyone held me. The doctor said, “Stop beating her and the bruises will clear up.” I am here to say, my parents did not beat me. And the doctor did nothing to report my parents even though he clearly believed they were beating me. Again, nothing was done.

          I had random things come up, so my experiences were different and I could handle it differently. My mother used to make me light the pilot light on the gas stove. I was four. I had to stand on tip toe to even SEE the pilot light. I could barely reach it.I have stopped being afraid of matches long ago, but I still hate, hate, hate gas stoves. Unwittingly, i solved my dilemma. The deal was I had to light the stove or spend the rest of the day in my room. One day I took the latter option and I did not light the stove. It was not long after that my father bought a new stove. It was electric. It took me years to figure out that I should have said no sooner. But this a very different setting than what you are talking about.
          I ended up being a sometimes contrary and difficult kid because of stories like this one. I like myself better now, but I also know that I did not have a lot of choices back then. Please hold on to that thought. You made the best choices you knew how for that time frame. And because of this experience you know to extract yourself from certain types of problems, ASAP.

    4. BobcatBrah*

      What good is having kids if not free labor?

      Sweeping the floor, mowing the lawn, weeding the garden, taking out the trash, doing laundry, stuffing direct mail envelopes.

      No big deal.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Tasks should be age appropriate.
        Tasks should have close adult supervision.
        Hours worked per day should be limited and number of days per week should be limited.

        Since this is a child’s first view of the world of work, parents should be showing lessons about ethics, safety, legal compliance and so on.

        It sounds to me like OP was working in a pressure cooker. It’s too much responsibility to ask a child to cover up adult lies. A child has no clue what will happen if the parent gets caught. And it sounds like OP had to work longer hours than s/he could physically do given the age.

        A family member said to me, “The whole reason you have kids is to get them to your work for you.” I would describe the relationship this family member had with his kids as “superficial”. The adult children put in obligatory face time with the parent when they had to and that time was measured down to the second.

        A kid will do anything to please a parent. So the parent can think of their kid as a workhorse. This goes well until the kid reaches adulthood. From what I have seen the kid leaves the nest and never really returns.

      2. N.J.*

        Those are chores and opportunities to teach responsibility and are part of the household tasks that keep a family running. Not performing work that a paid employee should be doing, running heavy machinery at the age of seven! My niece is seven and she still has trouble tying her shoes, much less running a press. I hope you are being facetious, because if you aren’t joking with this response I have no words, no words!

  53. stelmselms*

    My husband recently interviewed for two positions – one with his current employer and one with an organization out-of-state. The out-of-state job would have been amazing, but the cost of living there is quite high, we have school-age kids and for various reasons decided to stay put in our town so he accepted the new position with his current employer. When he let the out-of-state organization know he was declining the position, they were very disappointed and told him if he ever wanted to work there, they would make it happen. What are some ways to keep that door open/maintain contact in case we/he decides he would like to work for them in the future. He’s already connected with the different individuals on LinkedIn, but that doesn’t seem like much.

      1. stelmselms*

        I don’t think he will be attending any conferences, but connecting on social media might be a great way to stay connected without it seeming planned/forced.

  54. Tris Prior*

    Boyfriend has some interviews coming up. His current job is awful in many ways, but one thing that he really hates is how, in his words, “they treat us like 5-year-olds.” Like, having to lock away their phones because “you’ll just play with it all day otherwise,” and having their desks inspected regularly for neatness. I literally cannot reach him in an emergency because he would get in trouble, if not fired, for taking a personal call or reading a text. And, well, not exactly having their bathroom breaks monitored, but if a boss feels that you’ve spent too much time in the bathroom, you’ll be paged over the intercom to “please return to your desk.”

    This is companywide; everyone is treated this way regardless of performance or longevity with the company.

    What questions can he ask in interviews to screen for whether a company treats its employees like grownups who can be trusted? I tend to be better at wording things than he is, so I’m trying to help, but I’m coming up short on a non-antagonistic way to ask about this. The “describe your corporate culture” and “what’s your management style” questions seem not quite specific enough (especially because at his company this has nothing to do with his manager; the entire company is like this.) And you can’t really ask “do I have to keep my phone locked away and never ever take a personal call” without sounding like a slacker….

    1. Tegdirb*

      I worked somewhere like that! Do they also prohibit music and how many “personal items” you can have on your desk? It might be the same place.

      I’d ask for a walk through the office, especially where he will be working. He may have to wait until the second interview/they make an offer though.

      1. Tris Prior*

        He actually JUST got the OK to wear headphones. In one ear. At a reasonable volume. (insert “Office Space” mumbling here)

    2. Manders*

      That’s so far from normal that I seriously doubt he’s going to end up in the same situation again.

      Can he ask to take a look at the space where he’d be working? That might give him a better sense of office culture. He might also be able to ask some questions about whether his future boss prefers an employee who can work independently and how management works with employees day-to-day.

      (Also: the cell phone rule is SUPER WEIRD if he doesn’t work with confidential information, but if he’s in a field where he has access to customer credit card info, social security numbers, or medical records, that may be a security standard he’ll have to live with.)

      1. MegaMoose, Esq.*

        I agree, this is way beyond the pale, and I think asking too specifically about it would come off as weird. Getting a more general sense about the culture is a good thing, of course, but I think if you focus too much on screening for something that’s a real outlier you risk coming across badly.

        As a side note, the closest I’ve gotten to an environment like that was one project where we had to leave our phones at the door and the client installed webcams to watch our work. To be fair, we were contract workers and there was some defcon levels of security going on with that particular issue, so I kind of get it. Thankfully it was a short project.

      2. Tris Prior*

        That’s a good idea.

        He does not work with confidential info. The phone rule is literally because “if employees have it out and accessible then they’ll just play with it and be texting all day long.” To be fair, he does have a couple co-workers like that, who hide their phones in their laps. But then why not address THOSE employees rather than punishing everyone?

        I think being in a company like this for as long as he has will mess with your brain to the point that you start thinking, “oh god, what if I get a new job and they do this to me too?”

    3. Yetanotherjennifer*

      And wouldn’t it be nice if companies that did that would answer the right questions honestly so you could screen for that sort of thing? Not work related, but the state where we used to live had bad schools and our town had some fairly draconian punishments. When we were looking for a school in our new state I learned not to ask too many pointed questions about discipline because I came off as the crazy one.

    4. Garland Not Andrews*

      The ONLY place I have ever seen that phone rule is either when working in a situation where it would hurt the process or put someone in danger (clean room or factory with dangerous equipment/chemicals) or where super high security clearances are needed.
      I think the walkthrough of the office or other work area is a good idea.

    5. Marisol*

      I don’t have exact phrasing in mind, but something like, do employees tend to work independently…how much freedom is allowed regarding xyz…can employees be trusted to manage their own time without being monitored…

      Is it really a problem to say you “once had a job” where phones had to be locked up, etc. without specifically naming the company, and that you were looking for a company that…trusted their employees to have the good judgement not to need such rules? I mean, his objection is understandable, and the reason he doesn’t want that level of monitoring is because he IS a responsible, hard-working adult. So saying something like that might make a favorable impression, no?

      again, no precise suggestions but maybe that little bit of brainstorming will have a useful nugget in there.

      1. Tris Prior*

        I like the idea of “trusted to manage one’s own time.” I’ll play around with wording in that vein. Thanks!

        1. Marisol*

          “I take my work very seriously and am responsible. I once worked at a company where they [made us lock our phones, etc.] and I felt I wasn’t being treated like an adult and that was quite demoralizing. I promised myself I wouldn’t get into another situation like that again. What is your company’s stance regarding [time management. etc…?]”

  55. Nicole J.*

    Any tips on how to deal with an unfire-able but terrible employee when you are supposed to be in charge of them? It’s a difficult situation – the current owners of the small business I work for have brought in a chap, let’s call him Ramsay, to learn the business, with the intention of selling out to him at the end of this year. He had worked for the company previously and I knew it wouldn’t be a great experience for me running it. It’s put me in a horrible position as Ramsay is just not reliable work-wise in various ways – yet I’m not able to say anything other than the mildest reproof, as the owners don’t want to jeopardise the sale. Every criticism and suggestion is met with huffiness and no improvement at all, anyway, so I just go along and pick up/plan out any issues. It just creates extra work and stress for me, and it’s a stressy business anyway (events). I plan to leave before he takes over but there’s at least two months to go, and it’s got to the point where I don’t even want to be in the same building as him. So, I’m looking for some advice on making it through the next few weeks!

    1. MissDisplaced*

      Wow! and Ramsay is actually going to own this business? Sounds like he will run it into the ground.
      Get out. Start looking and interviewing now.

      1. SophieChotek*

        I agree. Start interviewing and have a new job in place before Ramsay takes over. For sake of old owners, hope they sell, get their money, and get out too. As MissDisplaced said, sounds like Ramsay can ruin this business fast.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Agreed, you need to get out. But in the meantime, consider him like an inept intern that’s the son of the owner — give him little of consequence to do, nothing that can’t be redone, or even stuff that you’re doing in parallel, and don’t use his work. That last one is probably easier than fixing his work. Just act as if it’s all on you, because it is. (Until you get out , and we’ll be rooting for you!)

    3. Chriama*

      Just focus on the fact that you won’t be there long. Clean up after him quietly, document everything you can, and imagine him sitting in the office with his pompous attitude while everything is in flames.

    4. neverjaunty*

      In addition to getting out – you might want to have a serious sit-down with the owners to lay out the situation (and maybe follow up with email). “I understand that you want to avoid upsetting Ramsay and make sure that the sale goes through. In light of that, I’m going to be unable to supervise his work or try and correct his mistakes. If there’s a serious issue that needs to be handled immediately, I’ll forward it to you so that you can handle it appropriately.”

      There’s really no other way to deal with being told to manage without authority other than to say “no, YOU manage.”

  56. Horse Lover*

    Can I just say I hate Fridays like today. My office is closing 2 hours early. I probably should’ve taken today off because I CANNOT FOCUS ON ANYTHING >.<

    My mind has been clock watching, planning labor day weekend activities/which sales to hit, and basically doing anything but pay attention to work.

    It is a real struggle on these days. Ugh.

    End vent.

    1. Jack the Accessibility Guy*

      On days like that I sometimes do the more drudgey work to get it out of the way. I have a giant data entry thing open right now.

      1. Horse Lover*

        I’ve tried. I’ve also tried taking practice exams for a class I’m in from the company. It’s still not time to go and I just wanna beat my head against the desk.

        Wasn’t there a gif of that somewhere? A rabbit beating it’s head into a wall….??

    2. SophieChotek*

      I feel that way too. I am hoping we close early; generally manager sends email around 2pm to close up early…I hope he does — but cannot count on it.

    3. Sinus pressure*

      I was so excited about today because NO MEETINGS GET LOTS DONE but see my name. Can’t focus because I need to take a drill to my head before my sinuses explode out of my eyeballs. :-(

  57. literateliz*

    References when leaving a long-term job: I’ve been at my first “real” post-grad job for 4 years (before this I did two internships and taught English abroad). I don’t plan on leaving any time soon, so this isn’t a pressing question, but I sometimes idly wonder who I would user as references if I did ever decide to apply for another job. I’m on good terms with two bosses from one internship, but it feels weird to have all my references be from internships when I’m no longer entry-level (and both from the same internship, no less; I’ve kinda lost touch with the people from the other one). I don’t feel like I could ask coworkers from my current job (it seems like such a big, vulnerable ask!), and although I do some freelance work I don’t think my clients would be great references (they send me stuff and I edit it, but weirdly my contacts there don’t seem to be editors and I’m not sure they could speak to my work). Should I find other outside pursuits (freelance or volunteer work) that might produce people better able to act as references? Get closer with my coworkers? What kind of references would an employer expect of someone who’s been in their first job for 5-10 years?

    1. Delyssia*

      Bosses and internal clients who have left the company are my major source of references. I’ve been at my current job for 8 years, and I have two direct managers who have left in that time, as well as several internal clients who have left the company (in my case, my internal clients can more directly assess my actual work than my managers, so they’re good references).

      1. literateliz*

        Oh, duh! This is why I ask questions here – I was thinking to myself “I’m just hoping for a perfect solution when there probably is none” and yet lo and behold :) Brilliant, thank you!

  58. Sad (Jerk) employee*

    Thank you to everyone who commented on my last post. I feel very touched with your comments and I find all of them useful! Thank you so much!

    I want to give you an update that I had gone to my first meeting with the psychologist (the day off before I started work). I hope it can be the first step to something good. The next meeting will be next year because I cannot take any day off when I am so new to the job.

    I had started my new job and everybody is so nice! I feel so happy. As mentioned, I got reunited with my ex-colleagues in the new company (we are teammates again, under the same boss, same job scope, and the same position). What makes me feel so sad is that they are giving me the cold shoulder. I have never yelled or hurt them and I have always thought I have a neutral relationship with them. I was hoping to have a friendly relationship with them. However, I can certainly feel that they don’t like me much and it can potentially make thing very awkward. To make things worse, I have more ex-colleagues jumping into my new company in the near future! (my industry is extremely niche and everybody pretty much know each other). These incoming ex-colleagues are also giving me the cold shoulder because they have been ignoring my attempts to socialize or be friendly with them. I feel so sad about the possibility of getting ostracized in my new workplace eventually. Part of the reason I left my last job was because I couldn’t stand the ostracization….. What should I do? Brush it off?

    Also, this company highly values interpersonal relationship and expects everybody to be civil with each other. They won’t be happy with my history of bad behavior and yelling. I am concerned that someone will tell my new boss about my past bad behavior! How badly will past bad reputation affect somebody in a new workplace?

    1. Temperance*

      The best way to overcome your past bad reputation for screaming at your colleagues and being difficult to work with is by not doing those things. Be pleasant and cordial, and people will come around. Don’t try to force things right now. Even if you didn’t scream at these particular people, they saw you doing that and mentally filed it.

      If I had a former colleague who had a history of bad behavior, that I personally experienced or witnessed, I probably would give my boss as well as friends a heads up.

      1. Sad (Jerk) employee*

        Thank you for the comments! I regret my past behavior and would like to turn a new leaf. Now, assuming that my new boss or new colleagues receive a tip-off about my past and decided to question me about it, what should I do? I am thinking of humbly admitting that I had crossed the line and behaved irrationally in the past for the sake of completing an objective. I will say that I regret my past actions and am currently taking steps to rectify it.

        I am not sure how would a manager feel upon hearing this, because I have no experience of being a manager myself.

        1. Natalie*

          ” for the sake of completing an objective.”

          Leave this part off – it sounds like a justification. Stick to “yes, I have behaved badly in the past and I regret it. I’ve been working on it so it doesn’t happen again.”

        2. neverjaunty*

          If I were managing an employee with that reputation, the thing I’d want to hear is exactly what you say – an unapologetic acknowledgement that yes, this was a problem, and the employee understands it’s a problem, and they’ve committed to making changes so that it won’t be an issue going forward. That would give me confidence that you had, in fact, turned over a new leaf.

        3. Temperance*

          I wouldn’t use your phrasing – to me, that would sound like “this is how I act when other people don’t do what I want”. I would just say that you are ashamed of how you acted in the past, and that you’re working on it.

          I agree with the others regarding socializing with your coworkers. Try showing them that you’ve turned over a new leaf and you want to do a good job as your priority. I’m very much trying to be gentle, but it’s entirely possible that at least some of these people are a little afraid of you or they may expect you to blow your top at any moment. I personally hate being yelled at, and when people yell, I shut down and then avoid them.

    2. MegaMoose, Esq.*

      I think you need to take it slow, be patient with your ex-colleagues, and really build up a new reputation as someone civil and friendly and reliable. It makes sense that former colleagues might be cold around you for a while (maybe a long while) and I think the only way to change that is to prove to them that you’ve changed. Assuming that you keep your head down and continue to build that reputation, I’m not sure you need to worry too much about someone going to your new boss with your old behavior, but if they do, you should be able to explain to your boss that you recognize it was inappropriate and have taken past criticism to heart. Ideally, your new reputation should speak for itself. Good luck!

      1. MegaMoose, Esq.*

        Also, you said that your old reputation was “good worker, bad attitude” and here you said that you’re worried about being ostracized again. Is it possible that the two things were feeding each other – ie. you were angry because you were ostracized, and the angrier you got, the more people avoided you? It might be a good idea to shift your goals away from “be friendly/socialize with my coworkers” to “build a reputation as a good worker with a good attitude.” It might take time for people to accept that change and it would stink if your good work was undercut by your frustration that people aren’t coming around.

    3. Aurion*

      Your reputation precedes you, so even if you’ve never blown up at these particular colleagues, it makes sense that they’re wary around you. I would be. I would warn my new boss about your old reputation were I in their place. I don’t think you can avoid that.

      The only way out is through. Be extremely pleasant to everyone whether or not they’ve worked with you before, and prove to them that you won’t lose your temper at anyone no matter the circumstance. People who have never seen the previous you will probably be warmer, but even those who had known the previous you may eventually turn around.

    4. Chriama*

      I don’t think you can do anything about them hearing about your previous bad attitude so your focus should be on proving it to be untrue of you currently. Your bosses will probably start watching you more closely and might view minor conflicts from you more negatively than they would from someone else because they’re seeing it through the lens of your previous history. So you need to be *better* than other people, and recognize that you won’t get as many free passes as others would.

      Secondly, I agree with MegaMoose, Esq. that your first goal should be building a reputation as a good worker with a good attitude rather than being able to socialize with your coworkers. I would not socially engage with someone who had previously yelled, scolded and berated me unless I saw a *clear* and *sustained* difference in their attitude plus a personal apology. Even when they’re willing to work with you professionally it will take more time before they’re willing to let you back in their social circle and you really need to be ok with that. Be pleasant, but don’t force your way into friendliness with people who don’t want it and have reason to be cautious around you.

      Finally, I’m also wondering what people think about offering an apology. I think it might be premature at this point – I wouldn’t believe it unless I saw real change, especially if you had a history of apologizing but then having outbursts again. On the other hand, you’re in a new job and making an effort to change, and it might be worth it to speak pre-emptively to people and say something like “I know I’ve been badly behaved in the past. I wanted to apologize to you and let you know that I’m looking forward to working with you and showing you a better side of myself.” Then if you continue to be pleasant but don’t try to get too close (as in, understand that everything isn’t resolved with just an apology), they’ll hopefully be willing to be professional with you instead of totally freezing you out.

      1. catsAreCool*

        I would also avoid “someone who had previously yelled, scolded and berated” other people, figuring that I might get that treatment if I’m around that person. It’s going to take time and a lot of patience and dedication to your new path before people who knew you then feel safe around you.

    5. Dynamic Beige*

      I have never yelled or hurt them and I have always thought I have a neutral relationship with them.

      But you yelled at other people and they saw/heard you do that. So of course they don’t want to be treated that way and they give you a wide berth. If you had a manager who would hit people who did something wrong, would you try your hardest to avoid that person? Of course you would! They haven’t forgotten, and are unlikely to forget it for a long time. Have you ever heard the phrase: “Trust takes years to build, seconds to break, and forever to repair.” That’s where you are.

      Aside from the psychologist (and congrats on that!), there are tons of resources online, books that you can get to work on your anger issues. It sounds like this may not be an anger issue, but a stress issue. When you’re under a lot of stress, you blow your stack — and that’s not cool.

      Also, you should look into developing a social life outside of work. It’s all well and good that the company wants everyone to get along, and at the very least you should all be polite and civil to each other. But, you can’t live at work. Having friends and activities and just stuff you do outside of work will help you not only to manage your emotions, but also your expectations of the people around you (because you can’t be friends with everyone). If your job is stressful, then something outside of your job that helps you relieve stress will help you overall. Running, martial arts, learning to box, axe-throwing, riding bikes off road, there’s got to be something. Or go the other way, Tai-chi/yoga, walking in parks/gardens, meditation, photography.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      Everyone here has covered a lot of great points.

      One thing that I would like to say is that from what I have seen people who fear their colleagues do not like them, have not taken the time to figure out if they themselves actually like these people.

      The short answer is “decide that you like these people no matter what”. See, when we decide we like people, it shows in the way we interact with them. It shows in our thoughtful gestures towards others. Just decide that you like them, no matter what they think of you. Give it time. Let nature do its work.

      You are letting go of a part of you, that angry person who lives in side your mind. The surprise is that you will find other parts of you that are waaaay bigger than that angry person could ever hope to be. It’s a process. As you find these new parts to yourself, you will find your concern about your cohorts’ feelings about you dwindling down. It will be less of a deal.

  59. Alley Don't Read This*

    I FINALLY got an offer for this place I’ve been trying to move up in — it’s PT and I applied with the understanding from others that it was possible the job would become FT or I could keep my current PT job in that system (which works more like an on-call system where I’m free to accept or reject shifts as they’re offered) to build an almost-FT schedule without being deemed FT on paper. They’re offering it at PT now, and the duties of the job are really things I’m interested in, but no one has given me any numbers yet as far as salary goes (the range was listed but I’ve been told it’ll depend on my pay history with them — no idea when I’ll get this information and I have to make a decision by early next week).

    I’m desperate to get out of my current FT (I have one FT and two PTs, one is just 4 hrs/week and the other is the on-call situation), but I’m terrified of accepting this PT job when there’s no guarantee of almost-40 hours/week and the status isn’t FT on paper (which I need for the PSLF program). All of this seems silly to me because if I’m able to do 20 hours for the permanent job and tack on another 19 for the on-call job, why not just make it FT when the need is clearly there and the pay rate/hour is the same? (Apparently this has something to do with the type of benefits and the cost to the agency of calling the job FT — ughhh, bureaucracy!)

    I talked to someone in the system and she indicated if I talked with one of the directors (Jenn) and got in good with her, Jenn might be able to bend the rules for me and make this FT. Jenn was in the second round of interviews (which lasted five minutes and was described more as a conversation) and seemed to like me enough but I can’t imagine a basically-cold email about this would go over well. I could also talk to the supervising manager (Holly) about this when I call Tuesday to give my answer, but I’m fairly certain she won’t escalate the request/question to Jenn and I’ll still have to decline. The only way around this I see is being more direct and asking if Holly thought Jenn might be able to swing something to make it work. I’d much rather do this all via email but it’ll have to be by phone.

    I really want this job. I do. I applied hoping that either it would be FT or I’d be somehow otherwise able to make it work with on-call hours, but my student loans repayment begins in November and I’ll have to buy a car to maintain this job, and I just don’t see how it can work when there isn’t a guarantee of those hours and my benefits will be cut from what they currently are. I’m hoping no one feels I applied in bad faith, because I really do want to try to make this work. I’m heartbroken because I really also want out of my current job which I’m pretty sure is a big reason my hair is literally falling out.

    On the one hand, I feel like you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take so I should ask about FT (but who?). On the other hand, I don’t want to sully my reputation in the system because (a) I’d still be working for them and (b) I’d hope they’d consider me for something else FT in the future. At this point, I’m leaning toward just declining and saying that I really did want to make it work, but just don’t see how I can and I hope that they’ll keep me in mind for things that come up in the future. Does anyone have different advice? Something I’m not considering? TIA

  60. bassclefchick*

    Well, I start a new job on Tuesday. wish I could be excited, but that last job messed with my head. Don’t want a self fulfilling prophecy, but I sure hope I make it out of the probationary period this time.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      “I will give them the same break they give me. I want them to hope I am a good employee. So I will do similar, I will hope they are good employer.”

      Too long for a chant, I know. Maybe you can go with, “I want them to trust me, so I will trust them to have adult-like behavior.”