open thread – December 16-17, 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 :)

{ 1,264 comments… read them below }

  1. Anon Interview*

    I’m usually pretty good at judging how to follow up with my own interviews but the holidays have messed up my normal timeline.

    I had an interview for an administrative job at a college on Nov 17, exactly a week before Thanksgiving (I’m in the USA). They said they had more interviews to do up until Thanksgiving, that they were hoping to make a decision by the end of the following week, so by Dec 2, and that they wanted to get the new person in right at the start of the year. I did the usual thank you email after my interview which they responded back to, again reiterating that they’d be in touch after Thanksgiving.

    So we’re now two weeks past the expected response date. This would normally be about the time I’d think of sending a follow up to find out the status of everything. But given that it was Thanksgiving between my interview and now, I can understand that messing up the timeline, with days off for vacations and holidays. With all that, should I still send a query email or should I chalk it up to holiday slowness and not give it further thought until after New Year’s, since now we’re closing in on Christmas?

    1. Murphy*

      I think it would be reasonable to send a follow-up sometime before Christmas, given how long it’s been, and that otherwise you’d have to wait until the new year. It probably IS holiday slowness, but I can understand wanting to follow up.

    2. Collie*

      Definitely the latter. If you still haven’t heard by the week after New Year, I’d say maybe follow up then, but otherwise either pretend you didn’t get it and keep applying (if you’re actually job searching as opposed to this-looked-good-and-why-not-apply) or go with your second assumption. Good luck!

    3. Lemon Zinger*

      I work in higher ed, and that delay is TOTALLY normal. Any number of things could have happened, and I’m sure the department is short-staffed since a lot of people take off big chunks of time in December.

      That said, it’s a good idea to send a quick follow-up email asking about the status. Just don’t be alarmed if you don’t get a response right away.

    4. CC*

      I work at a university and we aren’t allowed to send out the official rejection letters until the selected person’s first day in case we have to go back to the pool. Sorry to be a downer….it could just be my university

      1. Artemesia*

        I worked in a setting that operated like that too. They may be slow; it always takes longer than it takes, but they may also be negotiating with their choice. I can’t see how contacting them improves your odds, so I’d probably write it off. But nothing horrible about following up once now for closure — it is well after the time they indicated and maybe they will let you know something one way or the other.

      2. Michelle*

        Quick funny/weird story: When I got my current job, I had to write the rejection letters for the other candidates. I made it as polite as possible and had my executive director approve it. Instead of a form-type letter, I personalized each one with the person’s name & address. 30 (or so) people had applied so I spent about an hour personalizing the letters, printing them and printing envelopes. I quickly came to love Avery clear address labels- type all the address in , hit print, slap on them envelopes.

    5. Jessesgirl72*

      Since it’s (almost) two weeks past the time when they told you to expect to hear from them, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to follow up.

      But it also wouldn’t be surprised to hear the process was just slowed down by the holidays.

    6. Lia*

      I work in higher ed, and yep, I would bet a large sum that it’s just that a lot of people are out of the office now. I’d send a query email anyways. I’ve been on several search committees that were during the end of the year and delays are the rule, not the exception/

      1. SJ*

        Definitely – I’m also in higher ed and there was a delay of several weeks during my hiring because it was the middle of the summer and vacations for the involved people abounded.

    7. BRR*

      I think you’re fine sending a follow up if you want but in general I’ve moved towards the opinion that follows up almost never do much (the main exception I can think of is if you have a pending offer). But you’re not going to trigger a response of “oh yeah we forgot to extend you your offer.” I personally would just assume you didn’t get the job and move on mentally.

      This timeframe does not seem out of the ordinary at all. Then add in that it’s in higher ed (double if it’s a public institution), and between Thanksgiving and the end of the year.

      1. Anon Interview*

        My follow up wouldn’t be to suddenly trigger a job offer; I just want to know if there was a true delay in the process or if they picked someone else. I have more faith in a larger university to be honest with not hiring me than other places that dropped off the face of the Earth after my interview which is why I’m hoping its a delay.

      2. Ayshe*

        I feel like she is not necessarily reaching out to expect an offer but as Alison always says, shes “asking if they have an updated timeline”

    8. JHS*

      I recently got a new job. I had two interviews in August and they said they would let me know “after Labor Day.” Radio silence. I got a call about references the first week in October and got an offer the first week of November!

  2. Tableau Wizard*

    Does anyone have any suggestions for how to organize a job search? I’m someone who likes lists and keeping things organized, and I want to do the same with my job search. I don’t want to forget to come back and actually submit an application for a job I just happened upon, and I don’t want to accidentally double submit myself. I’m sure I could just whip up a quick spreadsheet, but I was curious if anyone else had suggestions for methods that have worked well.

    1. Audiophile*

      I found it really useful, I think someone here suggested it, to make a spreadsheet in Excel. In my case, I just listed jobs I applied to. I included a title, link to the website of the org, if there was an interaction with the company, etc.
      I stopped when I surpassed 200 applications. I found it really good motivator though.

      1. Future Analyst*

        Yes! I used an Excel sheet, and it was marvelous. It also helped me keep track of the job descriptions, since they don’t always keep the job posting up.

        1. T3k*

          If you don’t mind me asking, how do you put in the job description? I’m trying to wrap my mind around posting a huge amount of text in excel without it looking unwieldy.

          1. the gold digger*

            I make a pdf of each job posting and save it along with a copy of my cover letter. I don’t have a spreadsheet, but I will have a list of files in my “job search” folder that start with the company name and then have other information.

            For instance,

            ABC company marketing manager job description.pdf
            ABC company marketing manager cover letter Dec 12 2016.doc

            Teapots United marketing manager job description.pdf
            Teapots United marketing manager cover letter Dec 3 2016.doc

            1. Audiophile*

              I usually kept a pdf of the job post as well. I have the cover letters and resumes in my email account.

            2. AnonAnalyst*

              I did this during my last job search as well. I also kept the resume I sent to each job so I could review it before going in to interview. But I highly recommend keeping a copy of the job description because it might be taken down. I like to review the job description when preparing for the interview, and I tried to go back to one after I was contacted for an interview and found that the company had removed it from their site. Lesson learned!

              1. ArchiveUser*

                The internet archive (very old page) and google cache (recently removed) are wonderful in this sort of situation.

          2. Future Analyst*

            I just kept each JD in one cell, and referenced it on the main page by linking to that cell. Unwieldy, yes; but I didn’t need to reference the JD unless I was asked to interview, so out of 30+, I only needed to re-look at 4-5. I do like the below (above?) idea of using PDFs, but I personally like having everything in one place, and since the JD doesn’t need to look “pretty” for any sort of presentation purposes, it didn’t bother me too much.

          3. Blue_eyes*

            I did pretty much what Future Analyst and Audiophile did, but I used a table in google docs. The spacing is better for writing more text and I didn’t need to use any excel functions or anything. I tracked the name of the org, position title, and any contacts I had with them like “Submitted application 9/15/16, phone interview 10/5/16”. I book marked the job postings to a bookmarks folder (it’s also a good idea to copy the job posting to a document and save it to your computer since sometimes the posting is taken down by the time interviews are happening and it’s nice to review the posting before an interview).

            1. Blue_eyes*

              In addition to the google doc table I also kept a folder on my computer with all of my resume versions and cover letters for each application (with the org and job title in the document name). I sorted the application materials into a few folders bategory of job/organization.

              Every time I submitted an application by email I bcc’ed myself and then filed that email and any responses from them to a job search email folder.

      2. Engineer Woman*

        Like Audiophile, I created and added to an Excel file which summarized the search: date, company, job title, first follow-up (screening call, interview), second follow-up action and last action (if any).

        Somewhat like the gold digger, I also have individual word files for each application, including both job description and my cover letter, and any other info, such as screen shots of relevant info from company website. I sometimes had to create temporary cover letters to actually send since I obviously couldn’t send this compilation but I have each application in 1 file rather than separate ones. However, it works out when they want you to type in your cover letter in their web-based system since I just copy-paste then and have a copy of what I had submitted.

    2. Murphy*

      The last time I had to do this, I kept a Word document with everything that I applied to, the job description, where I found the listing, what date I applied, and what information I gave them (i.e. some asked for references, etc.) so I knew what I applied to and when.

    3. Belle*

      I just Google Drive to keep a spreadsheet going with the status of each job I applied to. I like using Google Drive though because it is accessible from my phone or desktop.

    4. anonny*

      I kept a word doc of all the postings that looked interesting to me (I’d print them out while working on cover letters, etc), and an excel spreadsheet for all the jobs I’d applied to and their status/dates.

    5. Awkward Interviewee*

      I’ve used spreadsheets. Columns for pertinent info such as title, organization, closing date, date I applied, etc. I also used color coding for various things, such as the job title cells for jobs I really wanted to apply to I made one color, and jobs I was lukewarm about but put on the spreadsheet so I could think about it further I made a different color.

    6. Hermione*

      I made a folder for my job search in my dropbox and gave each job applied to a subfolder labelled with the company and position and date the position closed (if given, otherwise the date I submitted my application). Then in the subfolder I would put a copy of the submitted cover letter and resume (which were personalized) and screenshots of the application and any confirmation screens.

    7. Job Seeker*

      I have been using Evernote – one folder to clip job ads into and another folder that I move the ad to after I’ve applied. I find it helps when I get calls for interviews, too.

      You could probably use your web notepad of choice, but I like that Evernote will clip straight from the webpage (most of the time).

      1. Sheepla*

        +1 for all things Evernote.

        AAM, I’d love to see a “how do you use Evernote” thread some day if there are other Evernote lovers like me on this site.

    8. Venus Supreme*

      I used a physical binder and tabbed off every section with each job I applied to. I printed out the original job post, my cover letter to the company, and any significant correspondence. I also kept track of dates/time stamps as available. It was a little bulky but I preferred the physical organization versus getting lost in my mail.

    9. Cruciatus*

      This isn’t a list, but as I’m searching, if there’s something I’m interested in I print it out. That way if I can’t apply right then I have all the information for later. Eventually I write the date I applied and when (if) I heard back and when my interview. I actually keep them if I’m hired so I have a list of job duties, starting date, etc. When I apply for other things later it can come in handy. I could probably do this in Excel/Word as well but I do better actually seeing/touching papers. Then I just keep them all in a folder for about a year so I can see what I’ve applied to.

    10. TheCupcakeCounter*

      Yes spreadsheets.
      I would do one tab per company and note all pertinent details such as date of application, materials sent, and make a note of each contact by them, dates of all interviews and people met along with their contact info. Color the tabs based on the status. Blue of application submitted, red for any rejections (to avoid reapplying for the same position multiple times if it is re-posted to get a better pool of candidates), green for ongoing interviews or discussions, etc… I also saved all of my materials to a “job search” folder and then linked the appropriate documents into the spreadsheet for reference in case of a phone interview question referencing something I said in my cover letter.
      As an accountant I believe I cannot survive life without a spreadsheet.

    11. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

      I did a spreadsheet as well. Mine included: name of the company, job title, location, contact, where/how I applied (LinkedIn, Monster, Company Website, Recruiter, etc), any salary information, link to the original post, and the job description itself in case the original post is deleted. If I am using multiple resumes, I indicate which one I sent as well.

    12. Mints*

      I do it in Gmail, which seems unusual reading through replies. I’d have a label “2016 job hunt” of jobs applied to, where I’d put the automated “Thanks for applying” and I’d also print to PDF the job description (or copy and paste into an email if the formatting was weird). I’d usually forward the automated email to myself with the job description so that they’d thread together.

      I also had a sublabel for “interviewing” where I’d move all the relevant emails for something I got a call back for.

      Oh and boomerang to remind myself a week or whatever when I planned to follow up.

    13. BRR*

      In addition to a spreadsheet I keep folders with my materials for each job and a copy of the job description.

    14. super anon*

      Seconding the excel spread sheet. I also save a copy of the JD and the resume & cover letter I submitted for the position.

    15. SS*

      I had a master excel spreadsheet that listed the company, position, link to the posting, application date, any follow up dates (I.e. interviewed on 11/2, followed up on 11/10), and personal thoughts (I.e. company is really small, interviewer seemed bitchy, etc). I also kept a folder for each application that had a copy of the cover letter and resume I sent them (since this varies by position and should an interview come up it was helpful to see exactly what I sent them), and a pdf of the actual posting (as these sometimes get taken down). I have these backed up after each job search, so if I start looking again a couple years down the road I can refer back.

    16. Mike C.*

      I made a folder for the skeleton materials (general resume, cover letter, etc) then a folder for every job I applied to. Sometimes if it were multiple jobs from the same company I would have a company folder with the job folders inside. Inside those folders I would have the customized materials. Those folder names could also have requisition numbers in them or at least dates to ensure you aren’t double submitting.

      Also, for the job search itself I would create a folder of bookmarks for each job search engine (multiple for different types of searches on the same site), company site and so on. Then when I got home from work I would right-click that folder and open them all as separate tabs. That way I could quickly see if new jobs had been posted or if the same job was appearing in multiple places. Either way I could look through a bunch of different places in just a few minutes.

      Best of luck!

    17. Zahra*

      Spreadsheet all the way.

      For some inspiration, here are the columns I used:
      Current status (Applied, did not get job, follow up by X, next interview on X) -> used to easily find where in the process I am, instead of looking at the other columns
      Position title
      Organization
      Found where (LinkedIn, Indeed, etc.)
      Found when?
      Last day to apply
      Day I applied
      Interview #1 date
      Interview #2 date
      Decision (With the date of the decision)
      When to follow-up
      Points to discuss at next contact
      Notes

    18. One Handed Typist*

      I had an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of each job that caught my attention. The main sheet was a Summary of each job with basic identifying information (Company, Job Title, Posting Date, Source of Posting, Posting ID#, Action Taken, Reason). Each job had a more detailed sheet linked with expanded job descriptions and any other notes. I made sure to note Action Taken and Reason in case I encountered the job as a reposting or with slightly different information on different sources. For instance, if someone in my network mentioned the company was a client or vendor and was late on payments or what not, I’d want to factor in potential solvency into the consideration for posting. Or if I decided not to pursue because the physical location of the job would result in a huge commute, I’d include that. When applying for a variety of jobs, that was the easiest way to keep it organized.

      For some jobs the postings were PDFs, so I’d link them in the spreadsheet as well.

    19. voluptuousfire*

      I used to keep an Excel sheet, but found I didn’t keep it up as I would like. I kept track of jobs I applied for by keeping two folders in my email inbox–one for automatic replies and one for job descriptions. I’d copy and paste the job description into an email with the company and job title in the subject.

      It made things a lot easier for me when I went on interviews because I had everything on my phone.

    20. CMT*

      Semi-related: I copy and paste and email myself the job descriptions of jobs I apply to and ones I am even just thinking about applying to. This has come in very handy for updating my resume, because I have the original job description wording for the jobs I’ve had.

    21. MJ (Aotearoa/New Zealand)*

      I use a Trello board! I have lists for Applied, Interview Scheduled, Interviewed, Offer Made, No Reply After One Month, Rejected, Declined By Me. Every time I apply for a job I create a new card under Applied with the job title and company as the title, dump the job listing details in there, and attach my cover letter. Then I just move cards around as I get responses (or not, as the case may be).

    22. Anxa*

      Don’t worry about it so much.

      I say this as someone who put off my job search for 2 weeks in a new city because, among other factors, I was too hung up on optimizing the perfect system.

      That said, I have two ideas:

      1. Don’t just dive in. If you’re in an area with very few opportunities, prioritize which jobs from a company you want to apply to first if they are major employers in the area.

      2. Save a copy of the job ad!

    23. AliceBD*

      I am currently job searching. My method may be too complex for someone else, but it works for me.

      The main things I use are Evernote and Google Docs (Excel would work as well). The job posting is saved to Evernote in case it comes down. I also make a note in the same Evernote note about things in the online application — for example, if it forced me to give salary expectations I note what I put down, or who I put for references, etc. A copy of the cover letter and resume I used for that position are also put in the note after I apply, so I know what I told them.

      In the spreadsheet in Google Docs, I list the status of the application (need to apply, applied, rejected, etc), the company, the title, the date applied, the date of the interview, the date of rejection, etc. All that info is in evernote as well but the spreadsheet makes it easy to see what needs to be done next.

    24. Elizabeth West*

      I do a spreadsheet too! I also use a color key:

      –Bright yellow means it’s active (i.e. I have an upcoming interview)
      –Light purple for no reply (which I do after a week or so)
      –Light orange for other (ex. if they called me and then never got back to me, etc.).
      –I also added brown for no (as in my application was rejected or my interview bombed).

      I have columns for the date of application, where I found the listing, name of company, address, city state zip, phone, website, interviewer, result (Yes or No), and notes. It’s very similar to how I organize my querying spreadsheet. I typically don’t stop until I get hired somewhere. That row I highlight bright red!

      I have a folder for Jobs 2016 (I had one for jobs in 2012 also). In it, I keep subfolders:

      –Resumes (different versions)
      –Interviews (a list of questions I tweak for each interview and print out and take notes on during it)
      –Applied (job descriptions to which I submitted an application; I ALWAYS save it as a PDF so I can refer to it later if I get an interview and they’ve pulled the job description)
      –Cover Letters (duh)
      –Unemployment (this is where my weekly requests for payment receipts go)
      –Portfolio (anything I think I could put in one. This is a new folder. Also, it’s practically empty. :\ )
      –Listings (any job listings I saved but didn’t do anything with for some reason. They get moved if I apply.)

      The rest of the folder is random stuff, including my spreadsheet and my copies of Alison’s How to Get a Job and How to Prepare for an Interview. :)

  3. Murphy*

    I’m not sure how worried I should be about something my boss said the other day.

    I gave him a heads up thatI’d been compiling a list of things that will need to be taken care of when I go on maternity leave in the spring, and I was thinking we could sit down and go through it after the holidays. He said OK and then said “Yeah, what ARE you going to be doing about that? Are you going to be sitting and approving things from home?” O.o

    I recovered fairly well and said “Well, maybe some of the time, but there IS going to be some time where I’m unavailable…” I’m not worried about getting my allotted FMLA leave, because they have to give it to me. (Although you do need your supervisor’s approval for intermittent leave, and I was hoping to do 2 weeks part time when I first come back. It will be a slow time of year for me anyway.) I just wonder if I’m going to be having a very uncomfortable conversation explaining that yes, I will need some time off, and no, I will absolutely NOT be working during that time.

    1. Sadsack*

      Congratulations! It sounds like you will have to explain that you will not be available to work at all while on maternity leave, based on what your home as said. I think it would be less stressful for you to get that out of the way now than to wait until you are close to giving birth or just had your baby.

    2. CM*

      FMLA leave is not part-time. You should explain to your boss that when you are on maternity leave, you are really on leave and will not be available until you return to work. Don’t try to soften it and say that there’s going to be “some time” when you’re unavailable. Approach it from the standpoint that he doesn’t understand how maternity leave works and you need to explain it to him, not that it’s a negotiation.

      Tell your boss about the concept of FMLA interference — your employer is not allowed to interfere with your FMLA leave, and if they try to make you work during it, this exposes the company to legal risk. For instance, see this website: http://www.fmlainsights.com/fmla-faq-does-an-employer-violate-the-fmla-when-an-employee-answers-e-mail-or-telephone-calls-while/

      If you’re concerned about emphasizing the “leave” aspect, you can combine this with a conversation about a transition plan when you do return to work.

      1. Murphy*

        I only said that in the moment because it wasn’t a formal conversation. I had just run into him in the kitchen while I was heating my lunch. I was previously unworried about discussing this with him, but now I’m wondering if I should be steeling myself for a tough conversation.

      2. Is it Friday Yet?*

        This. I took FMLA once after I had a surgery. I tried to do some work from home, and my employer absolutely would not allow it. A few emails or phone calls here and there is fine as this article explains (Hey Jane, we need to find X document for the Y presentation. Can you tell us where you put that?), but they cannot rely on you for work.

    3. anonny*

      My baby is due next month and my boss (who normally I love but has issues with boundaries) made a similar comment. I think it’s important to be firm in that fact that you will not be available. Otherwise you could end up with ‘just’ 5 emails a day and that time is really for you and baby.

      1. kms1025*

        My thoughts exactly when I read that comment!!! Only someone who has never had an eight pound or so human extracted from their body and then had to physically recover from said extraction as well as now taking care of this brand new person’s every need and whim would ever say such a thing :( Three rasberries for this boss Pfht Pfht Pfht!!!

      2. Murphy*

        Yeah! I wanted to be like, “Uh, NO! Are you insane?” Pretty sure I’m going to have other important stuff to do.

    4. Pearl*

      Congratulations!

      It sounds like he might not understand exactly what FMLA leave entails. If he hasn’t dealt with it before he might not know how it works. I would definitely bring it up. Maybe you could say something like, “And I’m reminding everyone that during FMLA I’m not working. Otherwise, it doesn’t count as FMLA time because XYZ.” (I don’t actually remember exactly how FMLA states it.)

    5. TheCupcakeCounter*

      Definitely put that on the list of things to go over. If you can think of one lay out a plan otherwise it is his job to make sure things get approved (as in he does it).

    6. Elle*

      Hopefully they will allow you to take intermittent leave afterwards, but they are not required to. Intermittent leave for pregnant women must be allowed, but companies can say that FMLA time after the birth must be taken in one block. That doesn’t mean that they can’t or won’t let you, I just wanted to bring it up so you are not caught off guard if they do know about this and insist on it. I don’t think too many people know about this, so hopefully they don’t either. Anyone feel free to correct me if this has changed.

      1. Murphy*

        You are correct. Like I said, I know I need his approval for that, but it’s been done by several women here recently, so I won’t be asking for anything unusual.

        1. Ama*

          You know, this might actually be part of his confusion, if the other women weren’t being managed directly by him so he was only seeing the part-time work and not the part where they took full time leave he may not be aware that those are two separate phases.

          1. Murphy*

            That could be. I’m hoping he was just having a brain fart moment, because he previously seemed so supportive.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      Maybe he meant who would be taking your spot while you were gone? In other words, the question was actually, “What will you do? You can’t expect to be approving things from home!” He could have said, “Have you given thought to, or told someone to do the approvals you usually do?” But instead he used a different set of words and it did not convey the message he had in mind.

      When you reopen the conversation assume he meant to ask you what your thoughts were on coverage for your work. I would use this assumption until I was proven wrong. Then I would go into the explanation about not working on family leave. I have used the milder assumption approach even in cases where I knew I was walking into a conversational minefield. I found it a good way to redirect the conversation toward remaining legal/ethical.

  4. Clemmy Clue*

    My job has really run me to my limit lately. Every evening and at the end of every week, I feel so drained, tired, put out, overwhelmed, etc. recently this has been so bad that I can’t even combat those feelings with time spent with my hobbies, friends/family, getting into the spirit of the winter season. Every spare moment not on chores and life essentials like feeding and sleeping go into my job searching. I have little left to give to other things in my life, which makes me even more unhappy and frustrated with work, knowing they’re dragging me down so much.

    Other than finally landing a new job and getting out of the current suck-fest I work in, how can I fight back from letting my job drain so much from me? I’m naturally a very positive person but I’ve truly hit my limit at work and can’t seem to protect myself from the work miserableness following home. Any tips would be much appreciated.

    1. Dawn*

      Hello fellow unhappy at work person!

      I’ve found that I have to really PRACTICE not thinking about work when I’m not at work- it takes time, like training a puppy. Be gentle but firm when you guide your mind away from work when you’re not at work; you don’t hit a puppy when you’re training it- you gently pick it up from wherever it’s wandered off to, put it back down where you want it, and say “stay!” Keep repeating until the puppy starts learning :)

      Another thing that helped me a lot is envisioning a Dyson Sphere surrounding work (google it), sometimes even envisioning multiple Dyson Spheres surrounding work- one around my office, one around the whole office inside of the building, one around the building, and one surrounding the parking lot around the building. When I left to go home I would visualize walking through the border of each Dyson Sphere and would mentally close it behind me- close it so tight that nothing could escape- and then reminding myself of how closed up it was if I was at home thinking about work.

      1. Marillenbaum*

        I do something similar, but not with Dyson spheres. My image is that I have a secretary in my head (her name is Josephine), and when it’s the end of a task or set of circumstances, I imagine Josephine rolling up that day’s papers, putting them in a little case, and sending it whizzing away via a series of pneumatic tubes, like the ones they use at the bank.

    2. not so super-visor*

      I guess that it depends on the work that you do. When work is really getting to me and sucking me into the pit of anxiety and depression, I try to remind myself that I am not defined by my life and that I am more than just my job. I will try to spend some time writing a list of things in my life that I am truly grateful for (work related or not).

    3. Venus Supreme*

      I’m so sorry! I was in your situation last winter and it truly does suck your soul out. I tried hard to list positive things that happened that day, such as taking in the scenery or hanging out with a pet. Music helped me SO much, too. I also read past AAM stories that would be applicable to my situation and wrote down phrases that really stuck out to me. I hope you get a new job soon! By any chance can you take a day off to decompress?

      1. TheCupcakeCounter*

        I second the music suggestion. It really can change moods. I have several playlists that I put on depending on what is going on. For when I am burned out and just need to be mentally soothed I have a classical playlist that really helps (and I pretend to conduct it which is a whole other issue entirely and drives hubby nuts…maybe why I do it???) and when I am pissed off I have hard rock/metal that I blast and a super fun sing-a-long playlist for when I need cheering up. Usually by the time I get home I have a song stuck in my head and can no longer focus on work.

    4. Gladiator*

      I struggle with this too! Some things that have helped are:
      gentle yoga/mindfulness/meditation classes
      decorating my cubicle (and re-decorating so it doesn’t become stagnant)
      hobbies that are really low-key and unlock the creative part of your brain (think adult coloring books)

      I’m also prone to seasonal depression from the lack of light which just makes these awful feelings worse. But acknowledging that it’s just a temporary thing helps sometimes.

      I’m sorry your job is a suckfest! I hope you find a new one soon!

    5. Emac*

      I’m in the same situation and it sucks. One thing that has helped me is changing my schedule, though I know that’s not possible for everyone. I’ve been working 7 am-3 pm, which really makes a difference to me. It’s dark when I leave in the morning, but usually light by the time I get to work and light when I leave in the afternoon. Plus, when I get home, I feel like I have more time for myself and out of work stuff.

    6. pathos*

      hey! Are you reading my thoughts???
      Me too. Still having melt-downs on a regular basis again, can’t get into a non-pathetic mood so I can job hunt, just burnt beyond hope. Haven’t had a break in 2 weeks (working Mon – Sun) and most of those days are 10+ hours plus an hour drive each way.
      Need to find a second job to make ends meet but have no time that I could actually work a second job.
      I’m just done.
      Hoping someone has some good suggestions.

    7. Is it Friday Yet?*

      I take natural supplements to help with stress and anxiety. These help me to turn my mind off. Tryptophan is one, but there are lots of them out there. Do you research, and definitely check with your doctor before taking anything, but this really helps me relax at night without any side effects that prescription medication often has.

    8. BRR*

      I’m in a similar situation and I recently download the headspace app for guided meditation. 10 min a day. It’s been helpful.

        1. BRR*

          Headspace. The first ten sessions are free and you can listen to them as often as you want. You have to pay for the others but it’s moved me from utterly miserable to slightly less utterly miserable.

    9. adminrat*

      Try incorporating exercise into your routine! I know it’s hard to do, especially when you’re already feeling so drained, but it has helped me through some especially challenging work situations that were affecting my home life and personal relationships. If possible, I suggest early morning before you have realized your emotional exhaustion, or mid day to wake yourself up and recharge you for the remainder of the day. I have been lucky enough to have gyms in my office spaces, so the lunch time workout has been possible for me. I worked in customer service for a year and it got so bad I turned into a crazed workout monster trying to sweat away all the garbage that was piled on me day after day. It was probably over the top, but hey! I got into shape, survived a year in CS, and maintained relationships with the people who mattered! Huzzah!

    10. TootsNYC*

      can you be active? I mean, really really active? Sweating and breathing hard active?

      A dance/exercise class right after work a couple of times a week might really h elp with that.

      1. pathos*

        I’ve debated this but can’t seem to work up the energy!
        I used to teach Tae Kwon do to 7-17 year olds twice a week after work but there aren’t any dojos of my association in this area. Can’t run a class myself (timewise) because I am only a 2degree black belt and haven’t studied for a few years (thanks to no class nearby & no time!)

        Still at my desk now after 7pm on a Fri. trying to finish up all the things I didn’t get done in the past 2 weeks despite having worked 100+ hours in that time period….

    11. Not So NewReader*

      Others have good suggestions, usually with problems of this size it’s a good idea to pick more than one thing to support ourselves.

      I had a deadline for bed time. At x time I was in bed, period. I liked this because I knew my day would end, so no matter how long and dragged out everything was, I knew it was finite. I could go to be by x time. Some days it was the only thing that went right.

      Another tool that kind of helped me was to remind myself that it takes strength to get through this stuff. I told myself that I would learn just how much “muscle” I had put on later. And I did, things that used to seem difficult I found I could walk right through them after having been in tighter spots.

      You’re making an investment in yourself and your life. I always think that investments are not without some pain. For example, to put money in our IRAs we have to stick to a budget and forgo some stuff. Likewise with buying a house, we can have this lovely house but give up the nice trips. It’s temporary, nothing lasts forever, even though it sure feels like it.

    12. Anono-me*

      In addition to previous posters suggestions about how to keep work and down time separate, I find it helpful to change clothes.

      Also, consider a check up please. Sometimes part of the problem can be medical. I would suggest asking about your iron, vitamin B and especially vitamin D levels.

  5. Fingers Crossed*

    Has anyone successfully negotiated a public librarian salary? The job I’m interviewing for is a bit on the low side and, in case I get an offer, I wanted to start putting together a case for it now. It’s relatively low for market value around here and I’m an internal candidate. Anything else I might use? I’ll go for PTO if they really won’t budge, but I did want to at least try. Advice/anecdotes appreciated!

    1. Penny*

      My friend is a librarian for our county (I’m guessing that’s what you mean by public?). She just assisted with some hiring and told me there’s not much room for salary negotiations. They were given a pretty strict budget for a new hire and told to stick with it. Still, no harm in asking, just wanted to provide that bit of info. Good luck!

      1. Fingers Crossed*

        Yeah, unfortunately that’s the case for most public/county librarian positions. They’re limited by what the local government will let them work with, but I have heard of the occasional success story. Hoping someone with such a story will have a tip or too. Thanks!

    2. Lemon Zinger*

      My mom was a public librarian for many years, and she tried to negotiate a higher salary a few times. She was always turned down because they had a very strict budget and could only bump the salary for people with advanced degrees/years of experience. Even then, the higher salaries were only marginally better.

      It’s worth asking, but if I were you, I’d anticipate being told “no.”

    3. chilleh*

      Yeah, unfortunately it’s true there isn’t much wiggle room with salary. Something you probably already thought of but is worth mentioning: have you had a librarian position before? You may qualify for a higher classification (Librarian II) with a higher scale of pay. Sometimes librarians (i.e. me) forget about those divisions.

      1. Fingers Crossed*

        I was rejected for a Librarian II position last month at the same location, so I don’t think it’ll fly. I’m a Librarian there now (on a super-part-time basis — one day/week for half a day), but I don’t think that’s enough to make a case for Librarian II. But good suggestion!

      2. EmilyG*

        Definitely pay attention to this detail. In my experience these jobs have basically no leeway on what the salary is for a certain grade, but you may be able to negotiate for a slightly higher grade. That would do you a lot of good in the long run because getting those grade promotions may be the only way to ever get a raise other than a small COLA. It would help to understand the position grades of the place you’re applying and make sure that you can make an argument for what you’re asking for. But this may be a good case to go out on a limb because it’s so hard to get a raise otherwise.

        1. Fingers Crossed*

          Hmmm. Maybe approaching it from a grade-perspective without including the title is an option. I’ll have to give that more thought.

          1. Snarky Librarian*

            Can you check the pay grades for different titles online? In my county our salary and pay grades are public record, so if you visit the county website and click on HR you can see a published list like “Librarian I = pay grade 23” and so on. If you see a range like Librarian I, pay grades 20-23 I don’t think it would count against you to simply ask for the higher pay grade if you can justify it. Good luck!

            1. Fingers Crossed*

              I took a quick look earlier and found the grade scale but not with associated titles. I’ll have to look more deeply later. There is a salary range and it’s possible I’ll get offered the high end (but unlikely), so maybe I’ll just rely on that. Thanks!

              1. kt1*

                Check also in the job description. Ours is listed at the bottom of the job description. With our county there’s is a small potential of negotian allowed – HR and the hiring manager can go up to 5% (I think that’s the number) without having to go back to the elected officials (any pay grade changes for a particular job and anything above the already allowed negotiation percent has to be voted on during public meetings). And PTO is set in stone (well also has to be voted on in a public meeting), so there’s no wiggle room on that either. Sometimes you can find out in the employee handbook what, if any, the allowed negotiation amount is.

    4. Fingers Crossed*

      If I start negotiations acknowledging that they don’t have much wiggle room, am I sabotaging it from the start? “I realize salary is typically fixed for this position, but I’m hoping for something closer to X because market value and experience.” Yay, nay?

    5. Snarky Librarian*

      I work for a public library system and have always been told salary is non-negotiable. Regardless of when I first came in as an external candidate and through several internal promotions. The county HR department handles all of our hiring and negotiating with them is like talking to a brick wall. PTO is also non-negotiable, everyone gets the same. Sorry to be a downer! I also don’t think it hurts to ask, and who knows, the system you are interviewing with might be open to it.

      1. Fingers Crossed*

        No worries! I know pretty well how tough it’ll be if it’s possible at all. I can’t imagine they’d rescind the offer for trying, though. Worth a shot. :)

    6. just another librarian*

      I have successfully negotiated to start on a higher step of the classification, so I believe it was Step 3 of Librarian II so I would still be getting a raise. I very politely asked if that would be possible given that I knew the new job was a union position and sometimes there is less lee-way with that. Good luck!

    7. Joa*

      My answer is that you probably won’t be successful, but try anyway. Any decent library administrator is probably aware and unhappy that the wages are low and are likely to be on your side. However, they probably don’t have much wiggle room in their budget. They are likely limited by local government rules regarding starting salaries and pay grades. Depending on circumstances, they might be able to start you off at a higher step in that pay grade. If there is an end-of-probationary-period pay increase, they might be able to start you at that rate.

      I’m a library director for a county that underpays its staff terribly. I negotiated a high salary simply by saying, “I can’t work here for less than X,” but I was fortunate to be in a position where they wanted me but I did not *need* the job. I really would not have taken it for less than that amount and I know they ended up paying me $10k more than they intended. I’m constantly fighting for more pay for my staff, and (unfortunately) evidence that our pay rates make it difficult to fill positions is helpful.

      Actually, at the libraries where I’ve worked, you would have been more likely to be successful negotiating increased pay than PTO, which was so strictly defined by policy and seniority.

      1. Fingers Crossed*

        I wondered if PTO might be under similar circumstances. How frustrating! I knew all this getting into the field, but, y’know, passions and all.

        Anything else I might consider negotiating on? I know budgets for continuing education/professional development/conferences are similarly limited and there’re only so many local government perks they can give (discounted public pool access, etc.), so I’m at a loss as to what else I can ask for, but feel like I should, on principle.

        1. Joa*

          Moving expenses wouldn’t apply for an internal candidate, but I’ve seen that be successful before. You might also have success arguing for a more flexible or specific schedule or specific desirable work projects/committees/responsibilities. As an internal candidate, you have an advantage because you have a better sense of how your library system works and what those sorts of possibilities might be.

        2. Sparkly Librarian*

          A colleague with several small children negotiated that she could use her sick time during the 90-day probation (usually it accrued but was not usable), because she anticipated having to care for them if sick or taking them to doctor appointments. I negotiated unpaid leave for the vacation I’d had planned for a year that happened to be soon after my start date before I had accrued enough vacatioon. If I’d had more experience in libraries, I would have tried to see if they’d start me at Step 2 of the pay range for my classification; this was suggested by seasoned librarians in the same public system.

    8. Cari*

      Do you have any way of finding out what their budget is? In Ohio, all that data is on the State Library of Ohio website.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Board member here. Definitely try to find out about their budget. Look at where they get their income from and how stable that income is. (Hint: Almost all sources of revenues are considered unstable. They could get pulled at any time.)

        Honestly, if you push too hard you are going to look like you “just don’t get it”. Look over the monthly statements and the annual statements, if you can find them. Board members work hard at trying to keep the money flowing for what they now have. Just from where I sit, people who make out well are the folks who have ideas about how to stretch what is there.

  6. Sunflower*

    I’d really like to give my boss a card and let her know how much I appreciate her and with the holidays around the corner, I thought now is a great time. Only thing is I can’t find a card that seems to work. ‘Thank you’ cards seem kind of odd or the ones I’ve found are too personal and ring more for a friend rather than boss. A lot I’ve found are for ‘Boss’s Day’ which I obviously don’t want. I googled some and got some weird hits like ‘I appreciated you bossing me around?’

    Should I just send a generic holiday card with a message inside or maybe a blank card with a generic picture?

    1. Collie*

      No harm going with a blank card with a generic picture. If she cares to display it in her office, she won’t have to “worry” about any seasonal images, either.

    2. anonykins*

      TBH I glaze over any card in which the text is much too long. I’m much more interested in reading a personalized message, so I’d go generic + your thoughts.

    3. Berry*

      I think a holiday card with a heartfelt message inside works – it’s more about what you write than what the card companies have written.

    4. Lemon Zinger*

      Use a blank card. Whether it’s holiday-themed or not doesn’t really matter– it’s totally up to you.

    5. TheCupcakeCounter*

      Yeah go with a blank card. I like the ones with funny animal pictures as they usually make people smile.

    6. Artemesia*

      I’d use a notecard, the kind with a picture, print or photo on the front and that are blank inside and write a short note. Alternatively, there are holiday cards that are pretty neutral that have lots of space on the inside and since this is the season for cards, it can be quite graceful to just include a nice note as part of that. I know when I tip the doormen and the garagemen this time of year, I give the check in a holiday card with a note about how I appreciate their service and I think the note is a bigger hit than the expected check.

    7. Lillian Styx*

      My boss is nuts for Papyrus cards and they usually have blank ones with a classy, nonoffensive image on the front.

      They will always get my business because they are the only ones I could find who carried wedding cards specifically for same-sex couples (I went gender-neutral in the end, but still!)

    8. Central Perk Regular*

      I just did this. I sent a general card (had a pretty picture of flowers or something) that was blank inside. I had already sent a holiday-themed card, thanking her for a gift she had sent (we’re all remote), so this card was really about thanking her for leading us this year, for always being our advocate, and so on.

    9. Chaordic One*

      If you can’t find a blank Christmas card, in my local stores I see a lot of blank cards with pretty winter scenes of landscapes and wild animals. Something like that would work.

  7. New-ish Grad*

    How do I approach my boss about being transferred into another position? To set the scene: I graduated college with my bachelor’s this past May. About 4 months ago, I started my first post-grad, full-time job. I work at an event production company with less than 10 employees. I was hired to assist with the program/educational planning for our events. The goal is to promote me to have full oversight of the event’s programs within a few years. A few weeks ago, I had a performance review to mark the end of my probationary period. All went well, and my boss checked in to make sure I could see myself in this position long-term. I said I was enjoying it so far, but since then, I’ve come tor realize the answer is no, I don’t want to be in this job long term. The company is great and I love the events we put on, but I just don’t think the job duties themselves are a good fit for me (it has nothing to do with my degree, I find the 85% of the work incredibly mindless, etc.). To make matters more complicated, another job opening at this company was posted the same week I started and hasn’t been filled yet. This job is in communications, and is much more in line with my future career goals, my personal interests, and my degree. If this job had been posted when I applied to my current one, I would have applied for it over my position. I’ve decided I want to talk to my boss about this, because I genuinely do want to stay long term with this company, but I do not know how to approach her. She is a very good manager, so I’m not worried about anything crazy happening, but I still can’t help but feel that I’m letting people down. I feel incredibly guilty that they’re putting all this training into me in hopes that I’ll one day take a job I now don’t want. Does anyone have any scripts or other ideas that may help?

    1. thehighercommonsense*

      So, four months is really not a long time, and 85% of the work being incredibly mindless sounds like it might actually be about right for a position right out of school. And, having significant background in the nitty gritty of event production may perhaps help in the communications office in the future, because you’ll have a real sense of what folks on the ground need to do.

      I’d say you’d need to stick this position out for a while, at least a year. That will give you a better sense of the work, you’ll have had more time to prove yourself as an excellent employee, and you’ll be able to observe the communications portion and decide if it really is for you–you may find that despite your long term goals, you like what you’re doing now better, for example. Looking to move this early is going to take some explaining.

      I do think it’s reasonable to talk about your interest in doing work that’s closely related to your degree to your boss. Is it possible you could liaise with the communications person or take on related projects, while staying within your scope?

      Also, how common is it for folks to move around in the company, trying out different roles? If it turns out it’s really common, that would change your calculations.

    2. Lemon Zinger*

      Honestly, I think you’d be burning bridges if you expressed a desire to apply for the other job, but it depends on your relationship with your boss. Maybe frame the conversation in a way where you talk about what you’d like to be doing more of, maybe in your own role. Mention aspects of the open job that seem appealing.

      It’s your first job! Nobody expects people to stay forever at their first post-college job. I lasted four months at mine, then moved into a better industry where I can excel. :)

    3. CM*

      Your company has so few employees that you may be able to transition over to a new role without a lot of drama. In a larger company, going to a new group can mean basically never working with your old group again. But that’s unlikely to happen with 10 people. I think you could go to your boss and say, “I’ve been thinking about the conversation that we had at my performance review. While I’ve been enjoying my role here, I think I would prefer to be using my degree and developing skills in […]. I know the job opening in communications has not been filled yet, and that seems like a better fit for my skills and interests. What do you think about me taking on more communications work, and potentially transitioning over to that role?”

    4. anonny*

      4 months is a REALLY short period to try and get a new role at a company. If you were to ask about it, you’d likely come across as unprofessional. Think about it this way: they’ve spent 4 months training you, you’ve just ended probationary period, and they are finally about to see a ‘return on that investment,’ to use business speak. Especially with your first job, I think you need to give it a year.

      That doesn’t mean you can’t make a move towards the communications team eventually, -and that desire is worth sharing with your boss, but if still hold off on having that conversation for at least a few more months. Show that you can handle what’s in front of you before you are itching to move onto the next thing.

      Also, for what it’s worth, most first jobs are 85% mindless drudge work. I know it’s boring, but that’s just what putting your time in looks like at a lot of places. If this communications job is entry level, it honestly is probably similar.

    5. Christian Troy*

      I don’t think you should pursue the other job. You’re a recent grad and you’ve only been there four months. If you had been there a year, then I would say it doesn’t hurt to reach out, but in the context of what you’re describing, I don’t think it would reflect very positively on you to apply.

    6. TheCupcakeCounter*

      I echo thehighercommonsense in that what you describe is typical entry level job duties. Even at higher levels you will still have some of this so you might want to reset some expectations.
      Have a conversation with your boss but frame it as a followup to the earlier conversation. Such as “hey boss when you have some time I would like to continue our earlier conversation about my future at this company. I have no plans to leave as I really think this place is a good fit but I would like to discuss my long-term goals with you and see if we can lay out a plan for the future.” Bring up what you like about your current position and then move into your degree and where you see that taking you and what internal positions you think would be a match. At 4 months I wouldn’t ask about moving into that role (although you could say that reading the job description sparked an interest but understand that is too early to look into moving positions) because there is a lot you have yet to learn about professional culture and norms. Maybe you will get lucky and they will ask if you are interested in moving to that role now as opposed to the future (don’t hold your breath) because your role is easier to fill.

    7. NK*

      I’m going to disagree with the others and say you should bring it up, especially since you’ve told the boss you don’t want the job they want to train you to take in the next couple years. I’d just be very careful in the wording. Frame it as a follow-up to your prior conversation and mention that the communications role is the type of work you’d really like to get into. I’d tell them you want to uphold your commitment to this job, but wanted to know what you could do to be a candidate for that type of job in the future. That way it doesn’t look like you’re trying to jump ship and you realize you have some obligation to stick in that role for more than a couple months. But in the event they are open to it, that conversation should open the door to it.

    8. fairyfreak*

      I would talk to your boss about what skills/experience you would need to eventually get a job like the open position. That gives her the heads up that you are interested in that path without asking to get it after only 4 months in your current position. You could get some good career advice and guidance out of the conversation.

    9. BRR*

      As others said four months is not that long and I don’t think you should have the end goal of switching jobs. You’re likely around the point where they’re starting to get a return on their investment.

      The only approach I can come up with is if you truly have some capacity to take on additional responsibilities you could frame it as you noticed this job has been open for a long time and you can offer to help with some of it and mention you find it interesting in addition to it being for to help the fill the company’s needs. But you then have the possibility that you get more tasks related to your current position.

    10. H.C.*

      Normally I’d agree that 4 months is way too short to think about a job transfer but event production is an area with a really high turnover, especially for entry level roles. So this depends on your company’s culture and your rapport with your current boss, especially considering that it’s such a small company – meaning you’ll have regularly interact with this boss even after the transfer.

  8. Dawn*

    Happy Friday everyone, happy week before Christmas, and happy owners out of town for the next two weeks to me!

    I’ve realized that I really am not going to go anywhere in this job and am going to start looking as soon as the holidays are over. A big THANK YOU to everyone who’s ever posted in these open threads about how they never thought they’d ever find another job again and then *whoops* they land a great new job! Those stories will keep me afloat as I job search.

    It’s sad that my best job moment/accomplishment of 2016 was realizing that I really need to get a new job in 2017….

    1. HeyAnonny*

      Honestly, the realization that you need to get out is a HUGE first step. I realized that around this time last year and I cannot tell you how much my mental health has improved since leaving. I quit in February without anything else lined up because it was that or getting myself institutionalized. (No sarcasm. My mental health and my grip on reality/normalcy had gotten that bad) I was unemployed for four months and then found a job in my desired field with an amazing supportive manager. It’s not a dream job, but it’s a good balanced place for me right now. Best of luck in your search! You’ve already made huge strides.

      1. Ama*

        Yup. It’s really amazing how a job that’s overwhelming or a bad fit can make you feel trapped until that moment when you finally realize leaving is the only option.

        For me things started to improve as soon as I started looking (my former job wasn’t so bad that I couldn’t stick it out until I found a new one), because I had finally convinced myself that I wasn’t permanently stuck in the awfulness.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Or you get pushed out. :P
          But it is kind of nice to know you can break free, even if you know it’s going to take a little bit of time and you might have to get a dumbjob in the meantime.

    2. periwinkle*

      Having that moment of clarity is a celebratory accomplishment!

      No need to wait, take this holiday quiet time to update your resume and prep for the search.

      1. Dawn*

        That’s the plan! Resume updating next week because work is gonna be slow, then start looking beginning first thing in 2017!!

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Deciding to leave is half the battle.
      I believe Alison says now is actually the best time to look because no one is paying that close attention.
      Whatever way you handle it, best of luck. I hope you find a new and happier place for the upcoming year!

  9. Muriel Heslop*

    My fifth period class, made up of 8 students with HFA (High Functioning Autism) of varying degrees, would like the world to stop randomly assigning autism diagnoses to people who “act weird.” Please stop it.

    ( I read this site with them a lot as we are working on social skills and communications. They are annoyed/confused.)

    1. Lemon Zinger*

      I love that you read the site with your students! And yes, the armchair diagnosing on AAM’s comment threads is ridiculous.

      1. paul*

        particularly as anyone with any interaction with people that have actual mental health training knows that’s exactly what you’re not supposed to do! It’s one thing to say “do you know if the person has a diagnosed issue” or something, but the “hey that sounds like XYZ disorder” pretty much immediately tells me you’re probably not qualified to make that statement because someone that was qualified would know better than to tender a diagnoses off a letter to an advice column!

    2. paul*

      Obligatry +1. I know a few folks on the spectrum, and it annoys me when it becomes people’s go to assumption for anyone that’s a bit socially dense/has a hard time exhibiting empathy, etc. It simultaneously gets used to excuse crappy behavior AND marginalizes a group. Lose/lose

    3. Liz2*

      Ditto! And I hijack for people to stop calling themselves OCD just because they need their sock drawer or kitchen counters perfect!

      1. VolunteercoordinatorinNOVA*

        Yes! This is a pet peeve of mine because I have OCD and I wish it was just about having your socks organized by color. It also keeps the idea alive that all people with OCD are uber-clean/organzied which is not the case for many of us.

    4. Princess Carolyn*

      This is an unfortunate side effect of increased awareness. I hear similar comments about ADHD a lot, especially when someone is sort of disorganized or distracted by things that are pretty generally distracting. (And, lately I’ve been fascinated by the overlap between ADHD and Autism when it comes to tactile and sensory stuff.)

  10. AVP*

    I was just watching Gringo, the documentary about John McAfee, and one of his original McAfee Security employees talks about how the office had a club called “Little Foxes” where they’d get points for having sex on various office surfaces. I can’t believe the Duck Club idea has been in existence for decades without my knowledge! (um, not that I’d want to join, but it’s fascinating. Also not surprising that soon after, his investors bought him out because they wanted to raise the company profile and didn’t trust his culture.)

  11. I-don't-want-to-become-Milton Waddams*

    I’ve been at my job for about a year and don’t have any work friends – everyone is nice, and I get along well enough with my team, but I haven’t clicked with anyone yet, and I’m starting to feel like a weird loner.
    The office is kind of a rah-rah, “work hard, play hard (with your coworkers)” place, which isn’t really my style (I prefer small groups and one-on-one interactions); I reluctantly go to office parties/events, but then I dread them beforehand and at the events get overwhelmed by there being so many people and end up standing around awkwardly and chuckling nervously.
    I like having my social life separate from the office, but I want a few people at work I can grab lunch or a coffee with, or have a buddy to walk into these big parties together.

    How did you make friends at work? Any advice particularly for introverts at large extroverted offices?

    1. Lululibrarian*

      I am an extrovert with an introvert best friend who I made (forced myself upon) at work. If it makes you feel better, even as an extrovert I find large gatherings exhausting. Having at least a single buddy you can huddle with helps. Have you just tried asking? I know this is a lot and introverts can find it very hard to approach people, but do you notice other introverts at work? Anyone you’d feel comfortable just saying “hey, do you want to grab coffee before/after/on lunch?”

    2. Lemon Zinger*

      Honestly, I didn’t jive well with an office like that. My first post-college job was in a similar workplace and I hated it. Everyone was so fake and slaved away for a company that treated us like numbers, while “rewarding” us with parties and happy hours where managers and employees alike got WAY too drunk.

      I left after a few months. It just wasn’t the right atmosphere for me, and it’s pervasive in that industry anyway. I work in a much calmer, less competitive field now.

      1. paul*

        When I “party hard” it usually inolves 2-3 friends, pizza and either a gun range, football, or animated discussing (alcoholic beverages optional). I’ve never understood companies that want employees to “play hard” with each other. Ew, no. If that’s someone’s thing great but soooo not for me, or a lot of other people

    3. Lily Rowan*

      I have had one job where I really didn’t click with anyone and kind of was a weird loner, even though I am not that person in the rest of the world! I later worked with someone from that job somewhere else, and she had apparently warned the rest of the staff that I was very quiet…. which I was not at all in that workplace!

      TL;DR – It’s not you, it’s them, and some places are just a bad social fit.

    4. AAAANONNNN242*

      I’m in the same boat! It’s particularly difficult because I was well-liked and had a lot of work friends at my previous job.

      I asked a very similar question a few months ago in this open thread and someone suggested that I make small-talk in the kitchen area in the morning and talk about shared interests. I failed miserably at that, but maybe it will go better for you.

    5. BRR*

      If you know certain people who grab coffee or lunch either by themselves or with others I would approach them and you could ask them if they could let you know the next time they run out or if they are running out for lunch and can you join. If you’re doing this in person I like to build in an excuse so people aren’t put on the spot like “hey if you’re running out for lunch can I join you? I understand though if you *easy option for them to opt out*.”

    6. Artemesia*

      Have you tried spotting the other introvert like yourself standing and chuckling in the opposite corner? If there are others and usually there are, make it your mission to seek them out and chat them up so that both of you have a positive one on one experience amidst the wild frivolity.

      1. Artemesia*

        To elaborate, I am an introvert and although I have no trouble socializing at an event where I know people, I find big parties exhausting. In my younger days if I was at an event where I didn’t know many people, I felt exactly as you do. Double this for big professional conference events. I was so grateful for people who sought me out either because they were trying to welcome people not fitting in or because they were fellow introverts. So I learned from that and I I found myself at a function where I was not with people I knew or was not clicking then I looked around and found someone who was isolated and joined them. It was often interesting and fun and occasionally it was an act of mercy that was appreciated; win win.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Acts of mercy. Yes, this.

          I have had some one rescue me and I have been the rescuer. Very seldom do I go somewhere and not find this. There are lots of people looking for someone to talk with and kill time. Keep looking around you, you will spot them.

    7. Liz2*

      I don’t really except one awesome place. Work is work, friends are friends.

      That being said, what got me over my work anxiety and relaxing socially (and yes, introvert) is realizing I actually am a pretty interesting person with cool things to say. It doesn’t matter what really gets talked about but I’m intelligent, well versed and my views on things are worth piping up about.

      Sometimes I still get twinges of “How can no one here not know who Joss Whedon is?” and like I’m obviously not on the same cultural plane, but I realize they have the same twinges and really, how can they not know who Joss Whedon is?

    8. Princess Carolyn*

      I second the advice to just kind of ask: Wanna sit together at the all-hands meeting? I’m grabbing coffee, wanna come? Even something like “I’m gonna need a buddy for the party, can I cling to you?” might be appropriate with the right person.

      Look for people who don’t seem to be in the thick of a close-knit group. There are usually a few people who are “in” with the crowd but not central figures who do everything with the same people. Those are your targets.

  12. Adam*

    RE: Keeping up with email

    How do you stay on top of your work email? My organization REALLY loves the email. Every old joke about email you’ve heard we do: the reply all, being on email lists you really don’t need to be, sending emails when a one minute conversation would suffice. The works. Keeping up with it is driving me crazy. I can spend a whole day cleaning out my email and spend half of it cleaning up incoming messages.

    How do you stay on top of it? If you use Outlook, what sort of archive practices do you use so your inbox isn’t bursting at the seems?

    1. Venus Supreme*

      I use GMail and I have folders upon folders upon folders. They’re color-coded and I have a filter on them so that the mail is automatically organized and coded as it comes in. I hope this helps a little bit! I’ve actually never used Outlook.

      1. Sunshine*

        You can do similar things in Outlook. Filters will automatically file/color code/delete messages as they come in. My company is also very email-centric, and this was a lifesaver for me when I was on several group lists. Also, for those “reply-alls” and various conversations you don’t need to see? The “ignore” button is life changing. Also helps clear out the inbox once the discussion is over. One click and all related messages are gone!

        1. Jenbug*

          The coolest thing you can do with gmail (IMO) is add “+SOMETHING” to your email address and then filter emails that come in that way to a specific folder or apply a label. For example… if your email address is adamworker@gmail.com and you have accounts on Monster, Indeed, and Careerbuilder coming in, you can set it up for them to filter individually.

          1. Log in to Monster and edit your email address to “adamworker+monster@gmail.com”.
          2. Create a label called “Monster” in your gmail settings.
          3. Set up a filter so that email to adamworker+monster automatically gets the Monster label

          Repeat as necessary for each site.

        2. zora*

          Which part?
          You can create filters that send specific emails to a certain folder. Click on Settings, then Filters/Blocked addresses.
          I have filters by subject line for certain emails that get sent out regularly that I can look at later, like a daily “Media Clips” or “Today’s Headlines” .. and it’s really easy to set filters for mailing lists, you can set the filter by sender. And I turn on conversation threading to deal with reply all situations, so they are all showing in one email and I don’t have to expand the conversation if I know I don’t need to know all the replies to the original message.

          Also, Lifehacker often has good posts with additional tips for managing gmail, try their search box. I’ve learned lots of little secrets and cool tips from them.

    2. Future Analyst*

      I move every email that comes in into folders (or delete). If anything can be auto-routed, I set up rules. I try to zero out my inbox every day, keeping only my current “to-do’s.” I also delete with abandon– it feels scary at first, but it’s so freeing!

      1. Harp+Dash*

        Yes, I do this also! I’m a fanatic about keeping my inbox manageable and use lots of folders to keep it cleaned out. If it’s in my inbox, I need to take some action on it. If no action is needed, it needs to be trashed or filed. When I see people’s inboxes with 1000 emails I get hives.

    3. Not a Real Giraffe*

      I rely on subfolders and mail rules a lot. For any listserv I’m on, I’ve set up a rule to automatically move that message from my inbox to a subfolder specifically created for that list. (I create the rule either by subject line, if the listserv name is always included in that line, or by sender, if the sender address is always the same). It doesn’t get marked as read, so I see that eventually I need to address it — but it doesn’t overwhelm me as much by sitting unread in a subfolder.

      I try to keep my inbox as a to-do list. Everything else gets moved to a project-specific folder that eventually gets archived.

    4. SaaSyPaaS*

      I delete everything I don’t need (which is a lot since most incoming e-mails are logged to another program anyway). I use rules to organize mail that comes in. For example, if I’m CCd on a message, then it’s most likely not as pressing as something sent directly to me so those messages go into a separate folder, if a message is sent to a distribution list I’m a part of then it gets moved to a folder named the same as the distro list. I don’t use my e-mail as a document repository. Attachments get saved to the server and then the message gets deleted out of my mailbox. If you’re a heavy mail user, turn on auto-archive. There are options within auto-archive that you can set to fine-tune what gets moved out of your mailbox and what stays.

    5. Jenbug*

      Set Rules for certain things to be delivered into specific folders instead of your inbox. For example, Quill loves to spam me multiple times a day. I am responsible for making office supply orders, but I don’t need 95% of the emails I get so all emails from Quill go on a special folder and I just look at it when I get a minute instead of having it clog up my inbox. I also have rules for emails from CareerBuilder, Monster, and Indeed set up to go into their own folders so I can review resumes/applications at specific times.

      I’m also a big fan of color coding things. There’s a little box to the right of the subject line that you can right-click and assign various colors to different tasks. At OldJob, everything was color coded and then I would sort my inbox by Category so that I was going through all Teapot Orders at once and then all Teapot Inquiries and then all Tea Tasting Invites. It was easier to plow through 10 of the same kind of thing at once instead of bouncing around constantly.

    6. CM*

      I have ONE archive folder. I put everything in there and only keep stuff in my inbox that I need to respond to or refer to. I also have a “quick step” set up to move stuff to my archive folder. So stuff leaves my inbox, but I don’t have to spend any time filing it.

    7. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      Google “Revive Your Inbox.” It’s a 21-day program focused on getting control on email. It’s amazing. Sign up for it.

      1. Gingerbread*

        OMG, I love this. The reason my inbox gets out of control is because I have about 80 different folders so sorting emails takes forever. I never even refer to the different folders and instead always search for emails, so just adding everything to one “old emails” folder makes more sense.

    8. TheCupcakeCounter*

      I have rules set up for certain emails (daily reports that I only need when I am providing coverage, system generated “notification” emails, etc…) that I really don’t need to look at exactly when they come in. I also have a couple of folders with names like announcements, long convos, and stuff like that. I have the pop-up notification so I can see the sender, subject, and first sentence of the email and decide if I want/need to open it now or it can wait until later. I usually run through the new emails after completing any task so it doesn’t get out of hand.

    9. paul*

      I actually devote 3-4 hours on the last Friday of the month to culling old emails (it eventually bogs down Outlook if I don’t) and filing/archiving them. I have senders automatically assigned to folders too, but there’s still…more…always more that needs to be done.

    10. SophieChotek*

      Yes, at my work we have to CC pretty much everyone which means with various replies it gets full very fast.
      I don’t personally love the “thread/conversations” option, when it bunches all the emails (re>re>re) together, because they I have to read backwards, but that might help keep things together.

      Also I’ve found sorting by sender — I do this every other day — helps me spot emails I might have missed that are important and similarly, I see have 20 emails from Company X and we’re not buying from them, so I just delete them all at once.

    11. Annie Moose*

      If you use Outlook, this won’t help you, but for anyone who uses Gmail, check out the new Inbox by Gmail that Google has put out. I LOVE it. There’s some neat features like automatically bundling related emails together (which you can customize or turn off if the defaults aren’t working for you), convenient integration with Google Calendar, to-do reminders in your inbox, the ability to snooze an email so it will only pop up again later, and by far my favorite thing…

      It makes it REALLY REALLY easy to archive stuff. Just click the little checkmark, and it’s goooone. It is so psychologically satisfying to have an inbox with, like, six emails visible. (and of course your other emails are always accessible if you search for them)

      So in short: it does a bit of organization for you, plus it makes it very easy to clean out the cruft (without having to exert much effort) so you can see just what’s important.

    12. beachlover*

      I hate it when my inbox gets out of control.

      I set up rules to move a few reoccurring emails, reports etc to different folders. I also use outlook and love the ignore feature. We have some depts that copy everyone on information, even if it does not apply to you, so use that quite often. I color code certain people, my boss and grand boss etc. so that I can see those as I am scanning. I will often resort my inbox, by conversation, so I can see the trail and zero in on the latest email. I make it a habit of using any slow time to thru my inbox and clear out anything that is extraneous.

    13. Sibley*

      1. I delete anything I clearly don’t need immediately.
      2. Anything I need to read, I read (not mgmt, so not really a problem for me) and delete or file.
      3. Anything I need to do something with, it stays in my inbox until I’ve done it then it’s deleted/filed.
      4. Sometimes I just pick up the phone and call the person rather than sending an email. Just cause they emailed, doesn’t mean you have to!

      #1 makes a HUGE difference. Just delete the crap, don’t try to work around it.

    14. TootsNYC*

      command-shift M

      My life was revolutionized when I discovered the keyboard shortcut to move an email.

      And then I carefully wrote the names of my folders to that the most common ones begin with a symbol, or a letter/number pattern. So that I can type only 1 or 2 letters to choose the folder.

      The monthly-project folders begin with “01,” for example.
      The important subfolder begins with *, and I move the * from month to month as part of an organization.

      And so I can rapidly move a message into the right folder.
      Being able to do that fast, without a lot of thought (and without the mouse, which I find slow), has made it WAY easier to keep my in-box trim.

      I also set up a filter to move some “just in case” things into a folder; it helps that most people use a common protocol for those emails.

      1. TootsNYC*

        Oh–I always keep my email box sorted “by conversation,” which greatly reduces the number of emails, and it also eliminates the number of times I might actually need to read something. I just read the last one.

  13. Venus Supreme*

    Our entire company is moving to a new building. Everything about the new place is great except… It’s an open-floor plan!! I absolutely love my office now and I’m a little bummed about this change. I also have an issue with sounds, I can’t stand the sound of people chewing/eating/smacking their lips.

    Any tips or tricks to deal with this? If it helps, I’m a grant writer and concentration/focus is key to me getting work done.

    1. Murphy*

      If you have any say in where you sit, try to stay out of a high traffic area (I’m in the main hallway near our front door, and whenever the receptionist is away from the desk, I have to help direct people, sign for packages, etc., so you wouldn’t want my seat!) And headphones. Definitely headphones.

    2. anonymoushiker*

      Good headphones that help block sound, I think. I’ve seen suggestions on here about ‘available’ or ‘busy’ signs if there’s a way to make it visible to people wanting to talk to you.

    3. SaaSyPaaS*

      If your company doesn’t mind, I would use headphones. I worked somewhere where they didn’t want you to use headphones, and it made for a miserable work day when sitting elbow-to-elbow with coworkers. Now, I’m in a semi-open space where the company doesn’t mind the use of headphones, and I use them whenever sounds start to irritate me.

    4. Hannah*

      OH trust me I know how you feel about smacking chewing eating etc! I was born deaf in my left year so I am extremely sensitive to those noises (especially when they’re on my right side).

      When I sat in a cubicle type atmosphere I used ear plugs (well, ear plug haha) and head phones. The ear plugs helped mask out sounds that bothered me.

      Maybe you can request to sit in an area that’s not right next to everyone? Or, have everyone sit in front of you so it sounds out more noise?

      Also, white noise machines are the shiz.

      1. Venus Supreme*

        When I go to see theatre or movies I wear earplugs!

        I really want to request something like this, but I feel like because I am very junior on the team and space is limited, it’ll sound like I’m asking for too much. However the nature of my job requires somewhat peace and quiet. I’ve joked around that they can throw me in the storage room and I’d be happy!

        I might make a comment to my supervisor about it.

        Thank you for the suggestion to sit in the back!!

        1. Artemesia*

          To be productive you need peace and quiet; your job is intricate and you need this; so go to your supervisor and say something like ‘I want to be productive in this new space and I find that when I have to XYZ I really need to be able to concentrate and noise is a distraction. Can we look into locating my space away from the traffic flow so it is likely to offer as little noise and distraction as possible?’

          Note you lead with ‘wanting to do a great job for the company’, you indicate what would contribute to that that the boss controls, you are not asking for a prime particular space. Using this approach I once got offered the prime corner office; I actually turned it down gracefully because I knew that I would have a target on my back if I had that space. But I was able to get the kind of office I wanted that was also not threatening to ambitious people. The whole focus was on what I needed in order to do what they wanted me to do. (not my status needs, or desire for THAT particular office or whatever)

        2. Hannah*

          You’re welcome! Maybe your manager is also a hater of noises and will sympathize :) I was upfront with my old manager and he moved me to a location that was best for me to not be irritated by noises 24/7.

          I would LOVE to sit in a storage room! lol!

    5. Lemon Zinger*

      Get some good headphones, and find out where the conference rooms are so you can escape when you need a break. I’m sorry! Open offices are the worst. I adore my cubicle.

      1. Venus Supreme*

        Although it’s totally necessary this building be torn down, I’m going to miss my office. It’s bigger than my college dorm room. There’s a vent overhead that drowns out noise. And I have a lock on my door! It’s perfect! I wish I could bring it with me!!

    6. Emac*

      Headphones are definitely key, especially wireless ones. I sympathize on the food sounds – I had a coworker who sat behind me who chewed with his mouth open. He left last week, and though I’ll miss him as a coworker, I’m kinda glad I don’t have to listen to that anymore!

  14. Hermione*

    I mashed some words together yesterday during a meeting and said “do you think they were taughting…” instead of “teaching.” My boss cracked up, as did the rest of us. Anyone have any favorite verbal workplace flub stories they want to share?

    1. Venus Supreme*

      My coworker was trying to describe duct tape and couldn’t think of the word so she called it Kidnapper Tape! It’s been a running joke with her for a little while. One time I couldn’t think of the word pitchfork so I called it Pick-Up Prongs! Haha

    2. Yas Queen*

      Hasn’t happened to me yet, but I’m terrified that instead of saying “best practices” during upcoming training, I’ll say “breast pactices” and all of the field guys will snicker.

    3. Batshua*

      One time I almost said “copulate” because I couldn’t decide between “collate” and “compile”.

      I caught myself before I said it, but just barely. >.<

    4. Mints*

      Context: this was a construction company where I was trying to tell a customer he didn’t need to be home but we needed access to the outside and please leave the gate unlocked.
      Not a word mash but I forgot the word “gate” one time. I was like, “You don’t need to be home but please leave your…door…unlocked…not the house door but the outside door…” He was really nice and we figured it out eventually lol

    5. Retail Gal*

      Not a mash-up, per se, but the other day I tried to say Fossil wallet, but instead said “Fossil wossil”.

      I was tired.

    6. Susan*

      I was talking to my boss + his direct reports about new computer hardware. I was talking about specs, including ‘big disks’. Although I didn’t say disks…

      1. WhichSister*

        My son and I were watching a baseball game on tv… it was the local MLB teams sports channel. They were discussing the player up at bat and his injury the previous season… a bulging disc. They didn’t say disc either. So it could have been worse, it could have been on tv…. (and yes there is a youtube video of the clip as well.)

    7. sometimeswhy*

      Once, trying to use replacement swears in a work setting, my dad meant to say, “Fooey! Shucks!” but transposed the initial sounds. Woops.

      1. Camellia*

        The Ohio River is crossed at one point by the Brent Spence Bridge. Which, in local parlance, is the Bent Sprence Bidge.

    8. TootsNYC*

      Someone once said, “we even sweeped.”

      I used my little sister’s pronunciation of the word “magazine”–she said, “mazagine,” and my family simply always used it ever after–in front of the editor in chief of a magazine I worked on.

      And I deliberately use “sidestracted” at work, actually. My daughter’s mashup.

    9. Amy the Rev*

      One time back when I was a teenager I was babysitting for a neighbor and the dog had explosive diarrhea on their new white carpet. She called to check in and I let her know what had happened and that I had done my best to clean it. She profusely thanked me for dealing with all the ick, and just as I was about to hang up when I tried to say “You’re welcome,” my brain switched halfway through to “No problem”, and it came out as “Your problem!”…

    10. strawberries and raspberries*

      I said “fart time” once when I was trying to say part time and full time at the same time.

      1. strawberries and raspberries*

        Maybe thinking unconsciously about this, I just got off the phone with a client where I tried to say “daily” and “basic” expenses at the same time and it came out “baily expenses.”

    11. Cam*

      Not quite the same, but one time my boss was asking me about escapees at an all staff meeting (in reference to fish jumping out of their tanks) and I kept hearing it as SKP’s. So we had a whole conversation that went “how many escapees did we have?” “What are SKPs?” “Escapees” “SKPs?”

  15. Future Analyst*

    My manager announced yesterday that our team will have to move to our company’s other office by Jan 3. My commute will change from 20 mins round-trip to 60-90 mins round-trip. I’ve been with the company for a bit over a year, but started my current position 4.5 months ago. I legitimately can’t afford to commute that far (gas and childcare cost alone would decrease my take-home by almost 20%). Will it look terrible to look for a new job at this point? And how do I explain only being in my current role for 4.5 months? (I know in an interview I can explain it well, but I worry that I wouldn’t get interviews without addressing it in advance.)

    Also, a 2 week turnaround for a significant move is awful. :(

    1. Belle*

      First, that timing is awful! That isn’t much time and it is around the holidays.

      Second, I would definitely start updating your resume and job hunting. Most companies will understand that a significant change in your work environment and commute is a good reason to job hunt — especially if you don’t have a history of job hopping.

      I would also encourage you to talk to your manager about possible work from home days (if possible) to temporarily offset the increase cost. That is a huge loss of income to anyone!

    2. J.B.*

      Go ahead and apply. Can you list your entire time with your company as one block on your resume with the different job titles underneath? I think that would make it clear you’ve been in the same org longer. And right now can you ask to telework one day a week to at least cut down that day? Sorry that is really short notice for something that significant!

    3. Mariah*

      Since your new role is at the same company, maybe you could group the two roles under one time frame? That would show your longevity with the company.

      So instead of:
      Teapot Manager, Teapot Company (August – Present)

      Teapot Assistant, Teapot Company (January – August)

      it would be:
      Teapot Company, (January – Present)
      Teapot Manager (August – Present)
      Teapot Assistant (January – August).

      1. CM*

        Yes, it makes sense to group together all your roles at this company. At first I thought you were really there for 4.5 months, and was going to suggest that you mention in your cover letter that you are looking to leave your current job due to a change in office location. But you’ve actually been there for over a year, so I don’t think you need to explain anything until your interview — it’s reasonable to start looking for a new job after a year.

        It sucks that this company decided to spring this on you with so little notice. Best of luck finding something new!

    4. Trout 'Waver*

      One short stint won’t disqualify you from getting interviews. It would take several in a row to do that. It’s also likely that other employers in your industry would know of the move and put two and two together.

      It’s perfectly reasonable and understandable to start looking for a new job.

    5. Zooey*

      My last company’s office relocated. The move was favorable for me (and a lot of other employees) but some people were in your situation. My understanding is that they did receive compensation increases. You should talk to your manager and make it clear how serious the situation is for you — especially on just 2 weeks notice!

      Otherwise, in interviews you can just say “While I enjoyed working for Acme Corp, our team was relocated to another office on short notice, and unfortunately I wasn’t able to make the new location work.” I think most interviewers would understand this.

    6. VivaL*

      Is it possible to ask for a couple of work from home days? Or a 10-7 to avoid traffic? Those might be other solutions.

      I’d definitely take it to your manager the hardship this will cause – you might be surprised.

    7. One Handed Typist*

      That 2 week turnaround is a big deal. I think jump hunting is an excellent idea, but in the meantime you should speak with your manager regarding options. Explain that the increased drive will cause tremendous difficulties for you and see if an alternate schedule is available. If your partner has traditional 8-5 hours and a brief commute, would it be possible to stagger your hours so one of you does drop off and one does pick up? If you can present a few options to your manager, I think it would go a long way toward getting approval to work from home or what not.

    8. TootsNYC*

      Check your state’s unemployment laws. When an employer relocates, you might be eligible for unemployment if the distance is far enough away. I don’t know what it is–it’s often not very generous–but you should investigate so you know.

    9. Chaordic One*

      No, it would NOT look terrible to look for a new job at this point. You had no knowledge that the your office would be moving when you accepted the job. Based on what you’ve said there were no job-related issues while you worked there. You certainly have every right to start looking for a new job and the long commute, as well as increased transportation and childcare costs are all legitimate reasons to find a new job.

      Belle’s suggestion about asking about working from home might be worth a shot. TootsNYC’s suggestion about checking to see if you would be eligible for unemployment is also worth pursuing as these kinds of things vary from state to state, but I’m aware that in some states a move of this sort would be grounds for you to quit and to receive unemployment compensation.

  16. leftout*

    Hi everyone,

    Update on my issue from last week — the Airbnb fiasco: https://www.askamanager.org/2016/12/open-thread-december-9-10-2016.html#comment-1291977

    I took the weekend to digest everyone’s thoughts and come up with a game plan. Honestly, it was a tough call to either go talk to my boss and get ready to for a hard conversation (dropping the phrase “gender discrimination”) or let it go. The idea of not rocking the boat can be very alluring sometimes.

    I let this simmer all week while coming up with a plan. Last week, my boss made an Airbnb reservation. And Junior Colleague (the main guy who keeps talking to everyone about how awesome it’s going to be) has made a few more references: “Airbnb, it’s gonna be awesome!” We even had a conference call this week that ended with him signing off with an uppity “Airbnb, yeah!”

    Yesterday, I went into my boss’s office and had a chat with him. “I’m uncomfortable with the Airbnb thing. When we initially discussed it, I was seeing it through the lens of what it can do for the business — save money on hotel rooms, offer a space for client dinners*, etc. But I keep hearing people talk about how awesome the experience is going to be, and I feel like I’m missing out on valuable opportunities to bond with the team, as well as inevitable work conversations that are going to take place.”

    *This was a big reason my boss advocated the Airbnb in the first place. In lieu of restaurant dinners, which everyone is all-too used to, we could hold more informal, homemade, intimate dinners at the Airbnb. In our first run of this a couple months ago, it was a big success — the guests couldn’t stop talking about how great the Airbnb dinner experience was. The way it fortifies our relationships has been impressive.

    My boss said that he wished he knew before he made the reservation — indicating that he wouldn’t have done so, and that everyone would have stayed at a hotel.

    I proposed this — “I know how great this Airbnb has been for our customer relationships, and I totally support that. And I know you booked the house, so let’s do this: we continue this time the way things are — you at the Airbnb, me at the hotel, and next time, since I anticipate this coming up again, we’ll need to discuss doing it differently.”

    He liked the plan, and suggested a few other measures we can take: Giving me a key to the house so I’m welcome to pass through, having some big hangouts with just the team at the house (that was part of the problem the first time — I went to the house for the first time with customer guests, and I didn’t know where anything was. How can I, say, help get a customer a glass of wine if I don’t know where the glasses are? It’s a small thing that alienated me further.) He’s also going to have a chat with Junior Colleague to nip these bro-like comments in the bud. And after the trip, we’re going to access how I felt about the situation.

    Now, here’s where it gets interesting. I asked why BigBoss was uncomfortable with having me stay there, and I again got the “he’s worried something will happen” response. So I asked him to clarify.

    “You read the news, and you hear these stories of things gone wrong. Say, for instance, that a customer made some serious advances at you, and it got way out of line. How would it look, through the lens of a news story, that you were in a house, with all men, at a party with lots of drinking?” BigBoss would be liable, in the news, in a lawsuit.”

    I said I didn’t see the issue. “There’s always going to be angles like that; it’s the kind of thing I just glaze over.”

    “And besides,” I added, “doesn’t it look worse to have all the men in a house, with the only woman on a team at a hotel?”

    He was a tad surprised. “That’s debatable,” he said. (I’m still steamed about that.)

    I also mentioned that those kinds of things can happen anywhere, at any time. In fact, a customer once got hands with me DIRECTLY IN FRONT OF BIGBOSS’ FACE at a bar. According to my supervisor, the difference is that THAT happened at a bar, where BigBoss isn’t liable.

    He reiterated it’s about risk and risk management, and he doesn’t think it’s wise to carry on the risk of me staying at the house. (Which I think is out-of-this-world stupid. If I had time, I would have mentioned the risk is greater that something happens to me while in one of the several Ubers I’ll be taking to get from the house to the hotel.)

    In the end, my boss said this: “I’m the one who launched the Airbnb idea, and I can end it if I want to. And it’s not worth continuing if it causes you discomfort.”

    So we’ll see how this goes.

    Thanks to everyone for commenting on my thread last week; there was a lot of helpful advice there.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I’m really glad you raised it! The next time you discuss it with him (since it sounds like there is going to be a next time), you probably need to say something like this to him: “Liability or not, legally we really can’t treat women differently like that.”

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Besides, wouldn’t the company be liable if they had an incident at a WORK meeting (not a happy hour kind of thing, but meeting clients, for which their presence is pretty much required) at a bar? Especially since the company chose to have it at a BAR. Ugh.

      2. leftout*

        Thanks, Alison! I think that language will really help counter the “risk” aspect BigBoss is trying to argue.

      3. Gaara*

        The boss is going to cancel it instead of letting her join in — is there any way to stop that? Because that’s really crappy and positions her to be the “bad guy” that made all the fun end!

    2. Mustache Cat*

      Congrats, but also, wow, what a….a…I can’t think of any word to describe your boss’ perspective except that it’s so male

      1. blackcat*

        He just has no clue that if you don’t want mixed company in a situation, that situation isn’t appropriate for the workplace.

        leftout, have you thought about sending an email to him summarizing the discussion? You can frame it as, “Just so that I remember what we’ve covered so that we the discussion before the next trip goes smoothly…”

        I know you don’t want to, but I do think you should look for a new job. Not in a “I need to get out of here, now” sort of way, but in a “I won’t be able to grow/develop in this position like I could somewhere else” sort of way. Given your boss’s insistence that it’s right to treat you differently because you’re a woman, you’ll be limited at this company.

        1. Emac*

          “if you don’t want mixed company in a situation, that situation isn’t appropriate for the workplace.”

          This needs to be in the employee/manager/everyone who works handbook.

        2. leftout*

          I really am thinking about it. I’m in a niche field of publishing, and it’s hard to find work in that field. I’d have to consider making a swap to a related, but new line of work, which I’ve been considering anyhow, but is pretty scary at the same time.

          In the meantime, when I get really angry about this, I do scan job boards with a glass of wine. :D

      2. Alex*

        I disagree. The perspective would be better described as sexist . I feel at times that word gets thrown around rather carelessly at times but not this time. It definitely fits and they need to stop treating you differently and start treating you like everyone else.

      3. Temperance*

        Yep. He probably even considers himself a feminist because hey! he has a chick on his team and she’s not the secretary!

      4. leftout*

        Yeah, this is something I’ve run into before with him. He means well (I think?), but in our first conversation about this Airbnb idea, he said, “I know its hard to be the only woman on an all-male team. Sometimes there’s advantages, but other times there’s disadvantages.”

        It took all my willpower to keep my hands in check, lest they start flipping tables. WHAT F-ING ADVANTAGES HAVE I EVER HAD?!

      5. leftout*

        Also, BigBoss is the kind of guy who, after I leave a get-together on the road, asks me to text him when I get back to my room. He’s openly said he doesn’t ask the men to do this. “It’s probably a little sexist, huh?” he said.

        Uh, yeah dude.

        1. Camellia*

          Hopefully you refused to do that.

          Also, home-cooked meals at the house? If they do start including you, be very careful about the ‘cooking’ things. Attitudes like this could lead to them trying to get you/expecting you to suddenly take that over, ’cause, you know, it’s wimmins’ work.

    3. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

      Good for you for talking to him!

      And ya, he is so wrong. BigBoss is way more liable for a discrimination claim right now than he is should something happen. Also, why isn’t he afraid of your coworkers getting groped against their wishes? :sigh:

      1. leftout*

        When I made that comment to my supervisor, “Doesn’t it look worse to have the only woman on the team at a hotel while everyone else stays at an Airbnb,” I think that lit a small lightbulb in my supervisor’s head. I really think they hadn’t considered before the idea that they were party to gender discrimination. Which is CRAZY.

    4. Venus Supreme*

      He’s “worried something will happen” if you stay at the Airbnb? What if, *godforbid*, something happened to you at the hotel where you’re all alone? BigBoss will STILL be held liable because it was HIS decision to keep you away from the team. Pair that with the overall gender discrimination issue and he’s still not helping his case. Gender discrimination is NOT debatable. I’m steaming too.

      BigBoss is a buttface, and I’m so glad you’re sticking up for yourself. I hope the trip goes well!

      1. TL -*

        I think BigBoss is seeing it as if something happens in a bar, ect., it’s not his responsibility to deal with, morally. (OP shouldn’t be drinking, men at bars just get handsy, whatever…) But if it happens in a house than he has to actually deal with the theoretical assaulters. And that’s probably compounded by the fact that there are beds in a house but not in a bar, so to him, worse things can happen in a house.

    5. Alex*

      I’m trying to make sense of your boss and Big boss’s reasoning. So he is worried about the liability of “something will happen” but not the liability of treating an employee differently solely on the basis of gender. No matter which way I look at it the dots aren’t connecting. This is definitely a problem.

      1. TL -*

        I mean, I’m not impressed by the people he’s hiring/working with if that’s a concern.

        One of my brothers hosted a drunken party and at the end of the night, told me to go sleep in his room with the door locked. My other brother held one and didn’t worry at all about me passing out on the couch. I’m much more comfortable with one group of friends than the other.

    6. Ann Furthermore*

      Good for you for speaking up and saying something! Your boss though, is just….such a guy. Not necessarily a bad guy, but a guy. He may well think that he’s being considerate of you, your feelings, and your safety, and doesn’t get that it amounts to you being treated differently because of your gender, which is not OK.

      Even his closing comment of saying it’s not worth continuing with the Airbnb thing “if it causes you discomfort” implies that he feels that it will be your fault if he decides not to do it again. And even if he doesn’t explicitly say that to your other (male) co-workers, it’s quite possible it will be implied, which will then make you the wet blanket for complaining about the bro-time.

      At least he agreed to try and include you more, which I guess is *something.*

      1. leftout*

        Yeah. It’s definitely not perfect. I mentioned this before, but it’s not the first time I’ve run into weirdly gendered things here; this is just the biggest.

        BigBoss likes to ask me to send him a text so he knows I got home safe after a work event, and has admitted he doesn’t do that for the men. My supervisor has asked me if it’s flattering to be hit on at work events. My coworker dragged a networking contact to a party bus we were on (she was tired and didn’t want to come), and Junior Colleague openly called her a slut.

        I looked him dead in the eye and told him to shut the fuck up for that.

        1. blackcat*

          The more you say about this workplace, the more I think you need to just get out. You are being actively discriminated against, repeatedly. More power to you if you want to stay and fight, but this really seems like a no-win situation.

    7. CAA*

      Glad you had the discussion and I think you arrived at a reasonable outcome for this year’s event.

      I do think you’re missing one thing in what the boss’ and big boss’ are saying though. You keep talking about how something could happen to you at a hotel or bar or wherever, and the house is actually more safe for you than anywhere else. But the boss and big boss are talking about what could happen to themselves or the company if something happened to you at the house. Even if the odds are lower, they have more to lose if something happens to you at the house than if something happens to you in a public place. You are thinking mainly about your personal safety, while they are also factoring in their professional safety.

      1. CAA*

        I am not saying this is right, just trying to translate what I think they’re saying so you’re not talking at cross purposes in future conversations.

        Also, don’t you guys have any female customers? How come they are not concerned about how it looks to bring them to a house?

        1. leftout*

          You’re totally right. When my supervisor mentioned it to me, it SOUNDED like it was a matter of my personal safety, but it’s not. As you said, he thinks he’s protecting himself.

    8. STX*

      What if something happens to one of the male employees at the AirB&B? Wouldn’t the boss be just as liable? This idea that only women are vulnerable to assault is common, but it’s plain wrong and it leads to this kind of discriminatory behavior.

      1. Amy the Rev*

        Truth! Recent studies have shown that when the definition of rape is amended from being ‘forcibly penetrated’ to also include ‘being force to penetrate’, the number of reported (not necessarily to police, but to the study) male rape victims becomes equal to that of reported (not necessarily to police, but to the study) female rape victims. This is why I can’t stand it when people frame sexual assault as a “women’s issue”

        1. Alex*

          +1000 I couldn’t agree more. I feel like it is very invalidating to male victims to frame it as a woman’s issue. People should be working to find ways to help more people, not find ways to exclude them from services, protection, etc.

    9. Temperance*

      I’m so proud of you! Seriously, advocating for yourself in a dude-run environment with no other women to back you up is one of the hardest things to do, and you DID IT.

      1. leftout*

        Thank you! That means a lot. For realz. And thank you for your comments last week, they really helped me develop a plan.

      2. Trix*

        Seriously, this.

        Honestly, I am totally inspired by you. You are handling a shitty situation like an absolute badass, and I am going to remember you next time I encounter some bullshit at work that just feels to exhausting to respond to.

    10. BabyShark*

      I missed this in last week’s open thread but wow. wow wow wow. You are an impressive woman, and mad props for sticking up for yourself.

  17. Lunch Meat*

    When doing a vendor RFP, is it okay to reject someone just because I don’t like how many times they called me during the process and don’t feel like we’d work well together? And if so, what is the best thing to tell them? They were one of the finalists last time, so I feel like I owe them more than a form rejection.

    1. Anon for this*

      YES.

      “Isn’t the right match for our needs” will work, and thank them for their time and effort.

      1. the gold digger*

        You don’t owe them a detailed explanation at all, especially if they are already getting on your nerves. Anon for this has a great response. Do not feel guilty! You owe them nothing – it’s just bidness.

      1. caligirl*

        Absolutely! I’ve taken a vendor out of the running before because if they are this annoying in the beginning… in 3 months it could be unbearable.

    2. anonny*

      Honestly, you should feel free to say that the level of communication was too much during the RFP process and you’re going with another vendor.

      I work as a sales manager (fwiw my style is to barely call my customers because no one likes that!) and getting feedback is so hard! A lot of times I know my customers don’t want to hurt my feelings, but if they just say ‘x product doesn’t work because of y’ or ‘we hated z feature’ or ‘we were disappointed in the level of communication’–none of that will hurt my feelings and all of it will make it WAY easier for me to do my job, not just with that customer but with other customers, too.

      Obviously you’re not obligated to share your feedback, but pleas don’t feel like doing so would be unkind. Getting feedback-especially negative stuff–is the often hardest part of sales, in my experience.

    3. DCGirl*

      You are also free to put something about communications in any future RFPs. It’s not unusual in government RFPs to have it stated that questions can only be asked via email (and frequently to a mailbox address like procurementdept@agency.gov) and that phone calls are not permitted.

      1. Brett*

        When I worked on grading RFPs from the gov agency side, vendors would occasionally be disqualified for excessive or improper communication with evaluators. Limiting communication to formal channels was treated very seriously, and vendor-initiated phone calls were considered particularly egregious (no written record).

    4. SophieChotek*

      Yes, totally.
      I work with B2B and B2C and it’s frustrating to have vendors call all the time when you’ve been clear you will let them know decision, etc.
      I also know a lot of sales wisdom says people won’t decide until sometimes 4th of 5th contact, so (sales) feel like they need to keep being persistent and reminding the buyer that they are an option — but I agree, it can really turn one off.

      1. anonny*

        I work in sales, and I’ve never heard this theory! It just sounds like an excuse to badger people to me.

        I have found that it’s important to follow up, but it’s just as important to have a reason to follow up (ie one of us has new information for the other)

        1. SophieChotek*

          I read this theory all the time! Even my manager subscribes to this theory. I tell him people find it annoying, but he keeps telling me that we need to contact people…he always talks about how it took 2 years to land this huge account…which is still our biggest account…

    5. Artemesia*

      We dropped someone from the penultimate round for a job because he hounded the secretary constantly about when he would be interviewed (we had a few other reasons, but his resume alone put him in our top ten and because he was local and we could hve interviewed him without flying him in, we would probably have interviewed him). The problem with explaining to someone like this is they are already aggressively annoying and will take an explanation as a reason to continue to protest, complain and go over your head. Our guy did all of this and our only response was a bland, ‘we decided to go with another candidate; it was a great field and we had many qualified applicants’. Then he threatened an age discrimination suit; we just ignored that because the person we had hired was 55 year old woman and the person on a similar search before that was a 60 year old man.

  18. Audiophile*

    I think I committed a cardinal sin, so to speak. I told my direct boss that I was job searching. She was supportive, offered to be a reference and we discussed my frustrations again. A few days later, she hit the panic button. She proposed telling big boss and giving me a few months. We didn’t settle on anything and it hasn’t been discussed since but I imagine it will come up again in our weekly chat.

    I’m thinking about just promising to stay for the next 4-5 months, putting me at a total of 9-10 months in the job. Thoughts?

    1. T3k*

      Yeaaaah, sounds like you shouldn’t have mentioned it. I made the same mistake (needed time off to take GRE in the winter, stupid me didn’t just say “doctor’s appointment” and 3 months later I was laid off… nope, not still bitter about that, nope). Depending on your work history, would it be possible to try and stretch out the time so you could be there for at least a year? Of course, if you’re lucky and find a new job soon, you could just leave this one off your resume if there isn’t a huge gap between your last job and a new one. And sorry about the sucky situation :(

    2. Lemon Zinger*

      Ooof. Not good. You shouldn’t have mentioned it. Like T3K mentions below, it might be good for you to try and stay at least 12 months for the sake of your resume’s appearance. But keep applying for jobs. Just protect yourself.

    3. Audiophile*

      I normally wouldn’t have mentioned it but I had a moment of weakness and blurted it out.

      I can’t really leave it off my resume since I’ve been in the job almost six months and I only added it so I didn’t look unemployed and could state that payroll issues were my reason for leaving.

      I understand her concerns since there’s a big fundraiser coming up in a few months and she’s worried that I’ll leave her in a lurch, so I’d be willing to stay through the fundraiser but probably not much longer then that.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      “Giving you a few months”? That is really odd.
      “putting me at a total of 9-10 months” This is also very odd.
      So it must be that you told her in a few months then she wanted you to add a few more months and this is how you got these numbers?

      All you owe her is two weeks notice. That’s it.

      At this point you have to do what you think is best. Only you know the relationships involved. I have had a couple of bosses that I would work with on planning my last day but most bosses just get the standard two week notice. Don’t let her keep extending this day more and more into the future. Remember part of being a manager is planning what to do if any one of the employees quits all of the sudden. So it’s a part of her job to figure out what to do.

      1. Audiophile*

        Let me clarify: I mentioned the interview to direct boss because I said something like “I might take Friday off” and then said “well I’m scheduling interviews and I have one on Friday”. When I ended up not taking Friday off, and went into work at a later time, direct boss naturally asked how it went and I said it got canceled, but had other possible interviews. (In hindsight, I’d say this was my biggest blunder, I think I gave the impression that I had “tons” of interviews in the coming weeks and it would only be a matter of time before I’d run into her office and give my two weeks notice.)
        She then admitted she was panicking about my admission that I’m interviewing. She said she was open to transition plans and wants me to be happy, but that her concern is heightened because we have this upcoming fundraiser and the two of us will be doing a majority of the planning and coordinating of the event. She’s afraid I’ll quit in the middle of this planning and leave her to plan it on her own. This is where the “few months” comment came from. The event is in May, and if I left right after, I’d be two months shy of 1 year. Obviously, if I make it that far I might as well stay the two months so I hit the one year mark. We’re both new to the org and we have a pretty relaxed and friendly relationship because it’s such a small department.

  19. Red*

    I’m currently a pharmacy tech, but I’ve been thinking lately about what I really want to do for the rest of my life and I’m mostly decided on going back to school and becoming an actuary. Are there any actuaries here that would have any advice to me?

    1. Dennis*

      I don’t think you HAVE to go back to school as long as you have a Bachelor’s degree. You can self study to pass a few tests and start applying (which may be easier said then done).

      1. Red*

        I don’t have a bachelor’s degree, just an associate’s. In general studies. That helps with nothing, career-wise.

    2. Paul B.*

      You could also look at the website http://www.beanactuary.org/
      It has helpful information about being an actuary.
      It’s possible to pass exams by studying on your own, but you’d have to be really discliplined. And you need a Bachelor’s degree anyway, so you may as well enroll in a college that can help you along this path. The website lists schools with actuarial programs.

  20. Anon for this*

    So I work for a large company in the middle of merger turmoil–have been here for 5 very happy years. I love the people I work with and the organization I support. I hate the way the culture of my newly merged team is shaping up (everyone fighting for territory), the need to have butt in seat at the office to be visible even though the company is pro telecommuting, and the fact that my boss and I both got screwed in the reorg.

    So I have an opportunity that appears to be heading toward an offer with a Fortune 50 company that has been my career holy grail for awhile. I also have feelers out with a couple of groups inside my organization.

    I’m started to panic about leaving my team/company. I’m a single parent and my current situation is a known quantity for work/life balance and a great commute, plus they know I do a great job.

    Is this normal or is my gut telling me to pump the brakes?

    1. Jessesgirl72*

      Totally normal. Change is scary!

      I mean, make sure that the new company is a good fit for you- sometimes dream jobs don’t live up to the dream- but I don’t think your fear of change is a sign that you should stay where you are.

    2. CM*

      Normal! Plus, while it’s completely normal to fear change (especially when work/life balance is at stake), in your case, change has already happened. The awesome situation you had is already in the past.

    3. Ann Furthermore*

      Totally normal. I am 2 months into a new job, and left a job/company I’d been with for almost 12 years. I was freaking out about leaving, but I knew it was the right thing to do. The situation had some similarities to yours. The company is a subsidiary of a huge corporation, and the parent company essentially forced out the old (and much beloved) CEO and sent in a guy who is essentially a hatchet man, who is cutting things left and right and in general making everyone miserable.

      I’m in a great situation now, and I’m so glad I made the move. I really miss all the friends I made at my old company, but that’s it. I don’t miss the backstabbing, the political maneuvering, and having the constant worry of the axe falling at any minute, since there was/is quite a bit of outsourcing happening, with no end in sight.

      Put aside all the worries of leaving the familiar, because change is a scary thing for most people. Focus on the job itself. Will it be a good career move for you? Do you get a good feeling about the people you’ll be working with, and who your manager will be? How do they feel about working remotely?

      As an example, during my interview, I asked my (then future) manager about working remotely, because the one drawback to this job was the commute. OldJob was 15 minutes each way, this one is 45 on the days I’m in the office. Conventional wisdom says that you shouldn’t be asking about perks early in the interview process, but it was a big factor for me, and if I was going to have to drive to the office every day, I wanted to know that. So I led into it by saying that I’d read the reviews on Glassdoor, which were all very positive, but there were a couple comments about how the company was outgrowing the current office space. I said something like, “I live in [southern suburb], so the drive here wouldn’t be too bad, but you’re not going to up and move to [suburb way on the north end of town], are you?. That would be quite a haul.” I kept my tone kind of light, but threw the question out there. My manager chuckled and said no, that the company founder (CTO) lived nearby, so the office would probably always be somewhere in the area it was located now. Then I said, “My husband does not have a job where he can work from home or flex his hours, so when there’s a snow day or late start at school or some other kind of issue, I’m normally the one that has to handle that. Will that be a problem?” She said no, that most people work from home at least a couple days a week, and then said something (I can’t remember now exactly what) that made me think that she was worried I’d be asking about the same thing when talking to the CTO and CEO. I said, “Well, companies have different expectations about time in the office vs. time spent working remotely. I would hate to start assuming something would be OK and then find out that it’s not. That wouldn’t be good for either of us, so I just wanted to put it out there.”

      1. Ann Furthermore*

        Also — I’m almost 2 months in, and working from home 3 days a week, which is fabulous. If you have a good sense about the company (which it sounds like you do), your manager, and co-workers, as well as the work you’ll be doing, go for it.

    4. Trout 'Waver*

      It’s just like any other change. When you finally make it, you’ll realize you should have done it earlier.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Panic is sometimes lack of information. You don’t know where you are going to be specifically or how much it will pay and so on. So along comes panic and the brain latches on to whatever random thing it can. In your case your mind went to the photo in your head of you leaving. “I know this place, I am safe here. I don’t know what is over there.”

      Right, you don’t know what is over there. But you have been reading AAM, you know how to ask great questions on the interview(s) so you can collect of lots of facts. Once the facts are in place THEN you can decide.
      See, simply applying and interviewing is NOT the same as a decision to leave. Go one step at a time, do reality checks each step of the way. If you still are worried talk to a trusted friend/relative and ask their inputs. Or ask questions on the open thread here. Once you have your facts you can make your final decision.

  21. Paloma Pigeon*

    Just a quick update on my party wear angst of a few days ago – Betsey Johnson to the rescue. God bless her, used to run around in her stuff all the time in my 20’s.

    It’s also just rained in LA, so all bets are off on shoe wear. Just going to drink wine and have a politely good time.

  22. Tuckerman*

    If I do reporting with another staff member (as in, we’re both responsible for annual reporting and often do it together), how do I list that on a resume?

      1. Tuckerman*

        I think that would be good if that was my job title, but it’s really just a small part of my job (I want to include it because it’s a relevant skill for my new field)

    1. NK*

      I don’t see any reason to indicate on a resume that you did it with someone else, unless what you’re trying to demonstrate is your teamwork skills. When you talk about it in an interview, sure, you can discuss that angle, but in a resume I’d just say you did the annual reporting on XYZ, which is true.

      1. Tuckerman*

        Ok. I wasn’t sure if that was dishonest (making it look like I’m the only person at the org responsible for reporting by not indicating I was one of two people).

  23. Rowan*

    I’m curious if Alison (or her readers) have noticed the new “Survey Says” feature at FiveThirtyEight, which answers work questions partly by surveying people and analyzing the results. (link to follow in separate comment)

    1. CAA*

      Yes, I’ve been reading them. I actually took one of the surveys so it was interesting to see the aggregate results.

    2. zora*

      I think we talked about the first one in an open thread, the one about the Gum Chewer, and I REALLY didn’t like the answers from either of the “advice-givers”, plus I thought the choices they provided in the survey weren’t good and left out the ‘right’ answer, which is just talk to the gum chewer first! But maybe I should check out a couple before I decide how I feel about the column in general.

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I think it’s sort of like the problem with Zagat guides — you don’t know who you’re getting your advice from, and crowd-sourcing advice isn’t always going to give you the best results.

  24. Folklorist*

    HO-HO-HAPPY ANTI-PROCRASTINATION POST! There HAS to be something you’ve been putting off this time of year. Go do it! And come back and tell us! Naked Gold Barbie trophies for all who do!

    1. Junior Dev*

      Telling the unemployment office I found a job. (All my interactions with them have been so aggravating, but at least this one will be the last one.)

      Calling the bank about Car Loan Business.

      Extra bonus if I have time: rearranging my clothes so the summer clothes are in storage and the winter clothes are easily accessible.

      1. Cristina in England*

        High five! I sent mine off today despite running out of envelopes and trying to use up a random assortment of monetary value stamps for my international cards (for instance I had 2x 5p stamps, 6x 42p stamps, and 1x 47p stamp). Phew!

    2. Elizabeth West*

      Not work-related, but I did get my oil changed today. It was overdue and my interview was cancelled today because the interviewer was sick. So after I took care of my 401k rollover paperwork at the bank, I made an appointment. While waiting for my appointment, I got the last two windows in my house done that I needed to shrink wrap. So I did two! Two things! Ah ah ah!

  25. AMD*

    How on earth do you deal with morning sickness at work? I am nauseated 24/7 right now, way too early to tell my coworkers, and I work in retail pharmacy so calling off or retreating to an office are not options. I have a few days off right now which is nice, but I don’t know how to deal with this at work.

    1. Pixel*

      Ugh, not fun at all. Make sure to get plenty of R&R when not working, stay hydrated and rest even when not tired (but if it’s you’re first trimester, you’re always tired). Nibble on raw almonds, saltines and crystallized ginger, drink some ginger ale if you can keep it down, take a deep breath and wait for the 12-week mark. At work you can say you’re coming down with some bug, since it seems like everyone else is sick. All the best!

      1. GigglyPuff*

        Second ginger ale. I started a new medication last month and the main side effect of nausea hit me hard. I literally couldn’t keep anything down, none of the nausea suggested stuff was working. Only thing I was able to keep down and actually help was ginger ale, but it had to be flat, the carbonation actually made it worse. Eventually I was able to move on to applesauce, but the ginger ale was the big help that let me get thru the worst 24 hours.

        1. AMD*

          Thanks! I will try those things, and try to keep some flat ginger ale around. (Awesome husband bought me a packet of candied ginger today which is also useful.) Fortunately (?) a bad stomach virus has been going around with my coworkers, so I might be able to pass it off as that. Thank you!

    2. Bend & Snap*

      Have you asked your doctor for Zofran? It really helps. I was really nauseated until the second trimester and this usually kept me from puking at work.

      1. One Handed Typist*

        Zofran is no longer the primary medication given for pregnancy sickness. There have a been conflicting studies that it may cause cardiac abnormalities in the baby. Which sucks because it literally saved my life when I had hyperemesis gravidarum.

        1. PackersFan*

          Interestingly enough those studies were sponsored by the main competitor of Zofran. My husband who is a physician also found this study when I was needing it (5 months ago) but it was after I had already taken it. It is still classified by the FDA as a Class B medication.

          In general though I do agree it is worthwhile to note the studies about medications and decide if the potential for risk outweigh the benefit.

    3. Murphy*

      Do what you can to minimize it for your own comfort (saltines and ginger ale like Pixel said, vitamin B6 can help). I know it sucks to have to tell people earlier than you want to, but maybe at least give a heads up to your supervisor, letting them know how you’re feeling and that you’re doing all that you can to manage it, but these things can happen. They can’t help you if they don’t know what you need. And hang in there! I’ve been there recently and it sucks.

    4. TheCupcakeCounter*

      My coworker used those magnetic brackets for motion sickness and citrus water. I drank a lot of peppermint and ginger tea.

    5. paul*

      Not from pregnancy but I have bad ulcers that flare up sometimes.

      I just try to clean up the stall after I’m done puking and tell them I’ll be OK in a few minutes. Is there a bathroom nearby at least?

    6. just another librarian*

      I have:
      -taken Zofran (also could try an OTC mix of B6 and half of a Unisom)
      -drank ginger ale
      -drank lemonade
      -ate hard candy
      -downed my rate in crackers

      All are worth trying! And congratulations! :)

    7. Artemesia*

      Not easy. The key for me was blood sugar and keeping something in my stomach. So I had grapes to nibble and saltines and for me cokes were good. But I also had some privacy and my own office. Congratulations, by the way.

    8. DaBlonde*

      What worked best for me while pregnant was to not let my stomach ever get too empty or too full. I nibbled on carbs constantly, mostly crackers and toast, and sipped water or tea almost constantly.
      I also avoided most greasy foods, except french fries, the baby loved french fries.
      Keep trying different types of bland comfort foods and see what works for you.

    9. One Handed Typist*

      My last pregnancy I had to start with diclegis at 4 weeks – literally two days after I confirmed my pregnancy. My first pregnancy I was on zofran from 14 weeks until 6 weeks after I delivered. The diclegis really helped the early pregnancy sickness, but to be fair diclegis is just B-6 and Unisom! Literally, it just a blend of those two, so you can get dosing information from your OB and take it yourself.

      1. AMD*

        Did you find the Diclegis/Unisom made you sleepy? I worry about checking people’s medication while taking a sleep medication.

        1. Harp+Dash*

          I was prescribed Diclegis, and my main dose was before bed so I wasn’t extra tired from the medication. I could take an extra in the morning as needed.

    10. kw10*

      My coworker told everyone she had a “lingering stomach virus” and blamed the throwing up on that. It was also a good excuse for explaining the doctors appointments and not joining people for happy hour.

    11. Sophia in the DMV (DC-MD-VA)*

      Zofran worked for me but it made me (TMI) so constipated my spouse had to give me an enema. Nope. After that I just dealt with it

    12. Jubilance*

      I found that keeping my blood sugar steady helped immensely. I started having a snack in the middle of the night, and once I did that, I didn’t wake up with morning sickness. Also I had smaller meals or snacks throughout the day. For the days when I didn’t plan well, the Preggie Pops that are basically ginger candies were a lifesaver. Also you could try taking 1/2 a Unisom tablet + 1/2 a Vitamin B6 tablet before bed – that’s also a safe & effective way to prevent morning sickness the next day.

      Best of luck!

  26. T3k*

    I’m starting to feel frazzled at still not having a job, or even an interview, since June. I’ve actually created a “denied” tag in my inbox just to mark how many I’ve applied to and never heard anything *sigh* It doesn’t help that there’s no way for me to go “I got laid off from the first job, that’s why it’s only 7 months!” on some applications. Second job stayed a year, but the duties were changing drastically and the abysmal pay wasn’t worth it, or the hellish commute, so I finally quit (though I stayed there far longer than past designers, who were only there for 3-5 months). In the meantime, I’ve been working on my portfolio, adding more designs, and sold some on design sites (think like Etsy, but just a design, and you get paid a small amount for each sell you make of the design, and it’s all free on your part). But I’m not sure if I can add that part to my resume, as it’s not really freelance, is it? And the amount I’ve made isn’t enough to cover anything, just pocket change.
    I just hope 2017 has something better in store for my life.

    1. Jenbug*

      Have you considered signing up with a temp agency? It might at least get you out of the house and earning a little money. And sometimes those jobs can lead to long term/permanent employment.

      1. T3k*

        I have started to look around for some in the area, but have decided to wait until after the holidays to apply (I don’t want to get caught up in all the craziness of holiday hours). We do have specialty agencies for my line of work, buuuut… they suck. From what I hear, the only way to get a job through them is to basically call them everyday and I don’t think that’s a good way to go. I’m also debating using a trial with a virtual assistant job site and see if that will be better for me.

    2. anonny*

      Definitely add your current design work!! The amount if $$ is irrelevant. It’s about showing your commitment to working and your skills.

      Also it might be time to have a new set of eyes review your resume and cover letter.

      1. T3k*

        Yeah, I’m dreading having a set of eyes to look over my stuff, mainly because the person I know who’s well qualified for such is a parent (they help with the hiring process for their department’s residency every year). But I guess it won’t hurt to ask anyways while I think of others to look it over.

    3. Batshua*

      It’s totally freelance! Add it to your resume, it’ll show you’re not sitting on your butt doing nothing.

    4. Karanda Baywood*

      You can definitely add freelancing as your current position on your resume. It’s not how much you made or how many clients you had. It’s that you are currently doing design work for others.

    5. Erin*

      From the description, you sound like you’re talking about Redbubble or Society6. Definitely add those to your resume! Simply say that you’re doing design work for “T3K Designs” and add the links to where you’re selling them. You’re basically saying that you’re occasionally running your own little business, which is pretty normal for lots of designers/illustrators, especially the full-time freelancers! And I agree with the other commenters about getting a second set of eyes to review your cover letter, resume, and definitely your portfolio. They might be able to give you a second opinion, like maybe your portfolio is great but for the jobs you’re looking for you need to show…idk, more vector work, or a more streamlined brand, or something. Best of luck to you in 2017!

      1. T3k*

        Thanks! (and thanks to everyone else’s suggestions). I actually go through TeePublic right now, but the more sites I can post my designs on, the better, so I’ll definitely look into those 2.

    6. Franzia Spritzer*

      The design side hustle you’ve got going on is freelance and it’s ok to put it on your resume as such. Work is work and you’re working, so it’s work, even if it’s side hustle. Every designer I know works a combination of freelance and contracting. Does your area have a design specific agency like The Creative Group or any local agencies you can get in with?

      1. T3k*

        I mentioned it further up, but we do have a TCG in the area, but they really don’t do anything. They have a high turnover rate with reps, so I could get a call from one who wants to update my info, then 6 months later, another call from a new rep. From what I’ve heard, to even get a real shot at any jobs they get, you essentially have to bug the hell out of them everyday and I’m not comfortable with that tactic.

    7. Chickaletta*

      As a fellow designer, yeah, it’s rough out there. (Kids, don’t become designers, the field is over saturated enough already, kay?) If you’re selling work in an online store then include it on your resume, just be sure to point out that’s what you’re doing as it’s very different from designing for a client. If you’re earning income and paying taxes, then it’s freelance (as opposed to designers who are just playing around on Photoshop in their parent’s basement, or beginners who do everything for free to “get experience” or “build their portfolio” – those are hobbyists).

      I think most people hiring designers these days know it’s hard to find work and they’re not going to blink at a gap in employment. Showing that you’re staying busy and up to date by selling work online is a good way to demonstrate commitment to the field, I’d think.

    8. SeekingBetter*

      Hope that 2017 starts the balling rolling for you. It’s good to hear that you’re still doing something design-wise, even though it’s not financially viable. Good luck!

  27. NASA*

    I will be speaking at a conference in a few months and had to turn in a Speaker Bio. I am a young professional and I didn’t have much to say. I ultimately wrote three sentences: NASA is a Jupiter Specialist with Gov Agency. Previously NASA did XYZ with the same agency. She now specializes in QRS.

    It didn’t feel right to include my undergrad and grad institutions so I left that off. (And honestly, why would anyoe care where I went to school? Sorry I didn’t get my graduate degree at Yale…)

    What does one put when they have only been a professional for a few years without many accomplishments? I should have just wrote, “NASA is low on the totem pole and yet is here to speak to you today at this national conference.” :)

    1. thehighercommonsense*

      Honestly, what you put sounds fine. It’s really just to give folks a sense of “yes, I’m qualified to speak on this topic.” I’ve done the same: “thehighercommonsense is Position at Gov Agency where she specializes in Thing.”

    2. Jersey's Mom*

      You can put in a couple of sentences about areas of your expertise that you’re especially interested in, or expect to be working toward in the future:

      Throughout NASA’s career s/he has been interested in Sirius, and hopes to learn more about the dog star in the future. NASA also expects to be focusing on Jupiter’s rings at work.

      It’s ok to mention personal areas of interest if they dovetail with the conference. I wouldn’t put something like “NASA is interested in the behavior of giraffes.”

    3. Nye*

      I usually look at bios from previous conferences/seminars and base mine on that. If schools are typically included, include them – if not, don’t. If there’s some area of research you are particularly interested in, describe it. Presumably the bios are just to give attendees a general idea of what you might be talking about.

      Also – don’t agonize over it! It’s unlikely anyone will give it a second glance, and it’s expected that early-career professionals won’t have the same list of accolades as industry silverbacks.

      Enjoy the conference!

    4. Gladiator*

      I’m early in my career and I include my undergrad degree in those type of things, even though I went to a state institution. I feel like if nothing else it raises the visibility of the school I went to, and may help people connect with me (i.e. “you went to UCLA? My daughter is going there next fall,” or something). I would certainly include a masters degree. Maybe it’s field specific, but I see even older folks in my field citing masters degrees at all kinds of institutions in their bios.

    5. Rat Racer*

      I see people put their alma maters on their bios all the time. Maybe convention varies by industry, but I have my undergrad and graduate degrees on my speaker bio.

    6. Student*

      Try to put yourself in the shoes of the person who is trying to decide whether to come to your talk or not. They don’t know you at all, and they may be from a wide variety of technical backgrounds. They want to know a basic, high-level description of what type of work you do. So, what’s a Jupiter Specialist do? Does that mean to research Jupiter’s moon geology, look at Jupiter’s chemical composition, track its gravitational effects, try to figure out how to get a satellite there, search it for water, or send out tweets in the name of the big red spot on social media?

      If you now specialize in QRS, what does that mean if you are talking to somebody with a good general science background but isn’t in your field – what is a basic description of what you do and what you’re trying to accomplish?

      Nobody is sitting there deciding to go to your talk based on your grad school or your awards list on your CV. They want to know what kind of cool tech stuff you do, and whether you can write a few sentences that they both understand and find interesting. You’re selling how interesting your talk will be to fellow nerds, not setting yourself up for a job interview or a brag-fest.

    7. Artemesia*

      I had to do this a lot. What I did was look at the bios on previous programs, or if I couldn’t find the ask the organizer for a link or example from previous programs. Mostly they don’t want a lot of words but often indicating where you graduated is considered relevant news. Usually you just provide you highest degree. After completing her MS (or PhD or whatever) in electric molycoddling at Yale, she . . . Your three sentences are fine. When they include this sort of thing in programs, usually they want it to be short and sweet.

    8. Rache*

      My boss actually does have to submit a bio often, and even though she graduated several years ago her college is still listed (helps that she’s alumni) as well as her degrees. It seems to be the norm and she’s a C-level executive.

  28. Anon, but not a bad person*

    Any suggestions for not-mean Secret Santa presents for a coworker you’re at BEC level with, who’s been with the org four months but has done absolutely no work and is generally disgusting?

    1. Stephanie*

      Starbucks gift card–easy to get (assuming you’re in a large-enough metro area) and they’re inoffensive. Even the person doesn’t drink coffee, he can usually buy a baked good or a mug or something.

      I’ll say Target for similar reasons.

      1. Anon, but not a bad person*

        I should have added that there’s a no gift card rule, because the organizer is a sadist.

        1. Ann Furthermore*

          No gift card? WTF? Probably some sort of misguided attempt to make things feel more “personal.” Ugh.

        2. Nanc*

          Starbucks anyway! This time of year they almost always have little sample packets of stuff and it looks nice. They can always regift it. Alternatively, is there a local chocolate shop where you can get a pretty little box for them and a big box for yourself?

    2. Adlib*

      Dollar Tree? They generally have knick-knacks that are pretty generic, and you definitely won’t break the bank if you are not feeling it with this person.

    3. Red*

      Many people like food gifts. I think some nice crackers and cheese would be both secretly hilarious and well received. Barring that, it may just be the really dry air where I work, but everyone likes lotion, so that makes a good “I don’t know you or like you but here’s a thing” gift.

      1. Anon, but not a bad person*

        This is actually an amazing suggestion, because I can be sure no one will get it except me, which will make it kind of like a Secret Santa present to me too.

      2. Artemesia*

        Food gifts are great around the holidays as they are both consumable and regiftable. Lotion is too personal. I can’t possible guess at what scent won’t give someone a headache or that they would like and scentless is well, just too utilitarianly personal.

    4. Collie*

      Do they get lunch from a particular spot nearby? Maybe a gift certificate there? Stationery with their initial? USB mug warmer if they drink coffee/tea? Tea selection? Mug with chocolate?

      1. not really a lurker anymore*

        I found a set of 3 wooden ornaments to paint at a well known toy store (they have an issue with the letter ‘r’) for $4.99. I got both different sets and will be painting them with the kids this weekend. But it’s not a gift card and it’s something different.

      1. Ama*

        Yup, mugs are my go-to. Easy to find, relatively inexpensive, and almost everyone can find a use for it (even if they just put pencils in it or something).

        1. Pineapple Incident*

          That’s the truth- even us not-coffee-drinkers like mugs. I’m too cheap to buy wine glasses and use my fun ones for that. My favorite mug is one from “Initech” with the company logo.

    5. SaaSyPaaS*

      What’s your price limit? I’d try to set aside your personal feelings about your Secret Santa match and buy something this person might like. Maybe a set of headphones for the office, a bottle of wine, a new coffee mug, etc. Maybe a “workplace care package” with a new mug, hot chocolate, hand sanitizer, gum or mints, or whatever may help your SS match be less disgusting?

    6. Girasol*

      Go to a big box store like Target. They’ll have displays of bargain priced popular gift items ready to pick up and go: fancy flashlights, mug sets, thermoses, and the like, all nicely packaged for holiday giving. There’s a whole industry designing for the situation of obligatory gifts for people you don’t know. They’re acceptable and so bland that they send no awkward messages.

      1. Venus Supreme*

        I was just at Target yesterday. They have amazing deals going on for holiday gifts- if you use their free Cartwheel app, you can get a coupon added to the Ghirardelli chocolate gift set- it’s an assorted variety of wrapped chocolates. Starting price is around $10. I got that for an in-law I’m not the biggest fan of. Go go go!

    7. NASA*

      Did we get the same SS? :)

      Same rule at our office too, no gift cards. What did BEC co-worker who is my SS ask for? A gift card. Lawd have mercy, you haven’t done sh-t in months and on top of that you can’t follow simple instructions.

      Thankfully she just put in her two weeks. BYE FELICIA!

      Anyway, yes based on the amount keep it as generic as possible. Travel mug, socks, gloves, a scarf, bookmarks, chocolate, tea, tea infuser.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          The idea works for me. [snickering]

          Seriously, OP, take the high road. You won’t regret it.

    8. Ayla K*

      I’ve got this one! May be too nice if the coworker in question is a real BEC, but this is my go-to for Secret Santas/White Elephants/etc. A gift-wrap kit! Go to the Dollar Store/Walmart/Target and pick up a small roll of wrapping paper (they often have ones that are half the length of the usuals), a box of ribbons, some tape and scissors. It’s super useful – everyone needs more gift wrap! – and fun to buy. And it’s not too personal.

      If you hate that idea, just get them some crackers.

      1. Artemesia*

        You know that BEC is not necessarily a secret code; lots of people including this gift recipient probably are aware of it.

        1. Cristina in England*

          Yes but no one likes to think of themselves as the annoying person, so I can imagine it would be surprisingly easy to miss.

    9. Annie Mouse*

      I’ve bought a scarf (or actually a really lovely snood) for one secret santa, and got a set of coffee, mug and suitable cake bites (recipient was gluten and dairy free) for a colleague who loved it and it definitely didn’t break the bank.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        I got a giant 1kg box of chocolates 2 years in a row. (The local supermarket had them on offer) Knowing what the mug fairy is like in my current office, mugs/glasses would be a good idea.

  29. Mockingjay*

    So, first hurdle at New Job. (I say hurdle, not obstacle, because I know I can get over it, with help!)

    When my manager offered me the new project, he assumed I have some project management skills that I don’t. (Not sure where he got that from?) I was asked to be the lead tech writer, coordinate assignments among the new team members, track deliverables, and run the SharePoint library. Perfect.

    Unbeknownst to me, Manager also signed me up for PM support: doing the project schedule, not only for the internal team, but for the entire multiyear effort; doing the monthly reporting; and handling the financials. Now, the overall big program has several project analysts doing these type of tasks (and doing them very well). I assumed one of them would be assigned to our new project. Hmm.

    I met with my manager last week (this was part of the scheduling meeting I mentioned in the How to speak “boss” thread on Monday). The answer was to learn MS Project, in a hurry.

    I am not adverse to learning new skills; I welcome these opportunities. I do have concerns about the amount of time these additional duties will take – both to learn and to do. The engineering writing support is already a full-time task. PM support is at least a half-time task right now; when the project goes into production in another year, it will need full-time support.

    My interim solution is to learn what I can, quickly (I’ve already started online training), and also speak to the other team members about what they can help with. Some of these tasks should be theirs, anyway. The systems engineer should be doing the overall project schedule. The project lead should be doing the monthly reporting and financials in coordination with one of the analysts.

    Am I right to push back? Alison always recommends the conversation: “I can do A and B, but that will impact C and D. What do you want to trade off?” Unfortunately the answer seems to be that I do it all, which is not sustainable.

    I have the feeling that my manager painted himself in a corner by representing me to the customer as something that I’m not.

    TL/DR: Manager promoted me into a role, with extra duties that I’m not trained for. How do I approach him to figure out how to staff the new project adequately? (New project does have limited funds available).

    1. Jen RO*

      It sounds sucky :( I don’t think there is much you can do here except come up with some numbers – documenting X Y Z will take me n man-days, the PM tasks will take me m man-days, and I only have p <n+m man-days available; who can help me handle all this?

      (As another tech writer without project management skills, this sounds like the opposite of fun.)

    2. Ann Furthermore*

      I’m also learning Microsoft Projects in my new job. What online training have you been using? I’ve found some good videos on YouTube that explain the basics, so I’m able to do a very, very rudimentary project plan, but not much more than that. At this point, that’s all I need so I’m OK for now, but I’d like to learn more.

      1. Hillary*

        Fast Forward MBA in Project Management is a great book – we even used it in my MBA project management class. I don’t think I’ve worked at any company without a couple copies floating around. He takes you through smaller projects that are easy to relate to, looking at both the project management process and MS Project software.

    3. Red lines with wine*

      Tech writer here. I had this happen to me – my boss said that everything’s a priority and must get done. Period.

      So, I put the “If I do A and B, C and D will suffer and Z won’t get done at all” in an email to my boss as CYA. If it were me in your situation, I’d also explain what tasks you’re delegating to whom. I’d give your boss regular updates on what is and is not getting done because you now have 1.5 jobs. And if your team fails, you have a record of it. Also, I’d BCC your home email juuuuuuuust in case.

      Learn MS Project, focus on the PM role while delegating as much as you can, and let the chips fall where they may. Ultimately, this will be on your boss for not setting you up for success.

      1. Lucy Westenra*

        I agree, esp. about the CYA. Document. Everything. Numbers, reports, progress, everything. That way if you come under scrutiny later you can point to your documentation, which clearly shows that you were given an impossible job. As far as accomplishing that impossible job, all I can say is that I sense caffeine and overtime in your future. Also, reach out to people inside and outside your company who do project management and see if they have any tips. A little advice can go a long way.

    4. Elizabeth West*

      This is why I’m not applying to tech writing jobs. They want people who can do everything AND are SMEs in whatever the company does. Stupid, because I’m a writer / editor, not an SME and I did huge amounts of copy editing in a subject I knew nothing about for nearly four years (sadly, I have nothing to show for it because proprietary material).

      Ugh, I’m glad you posted this. I guess it might be a good thing for me to find a sale on this software and try to learn it.

  30. Stephanie*

    First semester of grad school done! I still read here, I promise! Actually, it hasn’t been that crazy, just by the time I remember to read the posts, there are hundreds of comments already.

    Also, some positive news on the summer job search (my program’s two years)–in the final stages in an interview process. Filling out the official employment application now.

    1. AnotherAlison*

      Glad to hear you made it through Sem1 and are still around here! Good luck on your summer job search. Fingers crossed for you.

    2. Jillociraptor*

      Congratulations on finishing your first semester and sending you good vibes in your interview process!!

  31. LO*

    It’s been a wild month and a half for me.

    On November 1st, I went to the emergency room for surgery to treat a life threatening infection. I also found out I’m diabetic on this hospital visit. After a 4 day stay at the hospital, I was put on bed rest for the remainder of November and part of this month for recovery from the surgery and wound healing and getting my blood sugar levels under control.

    The job that I hate and had anxiety just thinking about going back to, laid me off after I expressed interest in going back. (I did not qualify for FMLA leave, so that left the door open.) I sat in a meeting with my former bosses who felt it appropriate to lecture me about my “absences” and remind me about how few people they have to cover my position and that they had to hire someone since I was gone.

    But the bright side is I never have to go back to this awful place, I have all my fingers toes still attached, and I have the chance to take Alison’s great job search advice and apply it to find a new job for 2017. I have 3 interviews scheduled for the next week and am feeling optimistic about my chances at landing something by January.

    Life sometimes gives you a kick in the ass, but I’ve wiped off the dust and am going to do everything in my power to bounce back!

    1. zora*

      Wow, those people are &#%^$)@$#’s, I’m sorry you had to deal with them. But YAY for never having to go back and best of luck in finding something a bajillion times better!

    2. Artemesia*

      I would be annoyed as a boss with a frequently absent employee out for vague reasons repeatedly. Someone who was hospitalized for a life threatening infection and then our to recover? Where do these yoyos come from? Glad you see the positives in the layoff though — sounds like a great place to escape from.

    3. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      Sometimes I think our bodies DO know whats best for us and if you are in a bad place, throws a handy little wrench. Take it as a giant red flag that you need to do the right thing for your health, because it truly is all you’ve got.

      Something similar happened to me this year due to all the stress from my last workplace (herniated disk but something is impinging on my spinal cord so one leg doesn’t function right and I am waiting on neurosurgery appt now). I considered taking a new position at the old company that wore me down physically and mentally, but in the end went with a different org – its so much calmer, quieter, organized, sane, AND they are fully stress and posture supportive with bouncy sitting balls everywhere, posture assessors, very nice ergonomic chairs, telecommuting supportive etc. Its night and day and will give me the space to heal (this injury is going to probably take a year to recover from). Consider your options carefully, but I bet you land in a supportive place as well!

    4. Not So NewReader*

      You have a great attitude and I am sure that will show and you will be hired quickly.

      I am glad you got away from these idiots you mention here, but I am sorry it was in such an abrupt, life impacting manner.

  32. justsomeone*

    There was a thread a while back about going into Technical Writing and I am so glad for it – I just registered for a tech writing certificate through a local college. AND I got my company to pay for half of it, since there’s a surging need for that skill set here, and it ties reasonably well into my current communications position.

    That being said, I hope to search for a new position soonish after getting my cert – other than Technical Writer, what are other job titles to look for?

    1. lionelrichiesclayhead*

      I would suggest the following:
      Content writer
      Business Analyst-may involve other aspects of project management but I’m a business analyst and I do a lot of technical writing as part of my job. Just depends on if you want to do 100% technical writing or are interested in doing some project management as well.

      1. justsomeone*

        Actually, that might be perfect – I’ve always been interested in project management but haven’t figured out how to make that switch. I’ll look for business analyst roles. Thanks!

        1. lionelrichiesclayhead*

          Good luck! That’s exactly why I took my business analyst role! My boyfriend recently got a job as content writer and he will also be working on projects but I don’t know that he will be managing them. More a contributor. Though it will probably eventually lead him into a more project focused role down the line.

    2. Red lines with wine*

      Here are the search keywords I suggest:

      Technical editor
      Editor/editing
      Information architect
      Information designer
      Information developer
      Content manager
      Content strategist
      Content curator
      Communication manager
      Communication director
      Communications specialist
      Consultant
      Documentation
      Publishing

      1. NoMoreMrFixit*

        instructional designer
        course content developer
        e-learning developer/specialist
        Yes, these require some additional study in adult education but it can be worth it. I’ve also seen where tech writers deliver training in-class as well as online.

        From a marketing/PR angle there’s copywriter/copy editor too if you have some background in that area.

  33. Adlib*

    Discovering that my usually detailed and awesome team lead left a LOT undone after her last day last week. I have high regard for her, but this all seems very out of character for her. She was burned out, but it still leaves me in a lurch. I have a rule of not pestering people after they leave even if we personally talk. Still, I’m just bummed/really put out.

    1. Lemon Zinger*

      Ugh. My former teammate did that when she left. There were a number of tasks she promised to complete and then… poof, she was gone and there was a bunch of stuff left hanging. It certainly altered my impression of her.

      1. Adlib*

        That’s pretty much where I’m at. I at least expected her to tell me, “Oh by the way, I ran out of time to do all of this stuff, but…” and then give me a quick jumping off point or something so that I could take over at least with some information. To be fair, everyone bugged out when they heard she was leaving and suddenly wanted ALL THE THINGS from her. (They need to trust me a little more, but that’s an ongoing thing.)

    2. NarrowDoorways*

      Could it be a misunderstanding?

      I know when I went on vacation in October, my boss spent the week complaining that “Narrow PROMISED to schedule A and B for the whole week she’s out and DIDN’T.” And I came back and heard about it, and said, “Oh you misunderstood. I did schedule A and B for Monday, but it’s impossible to schedule further out than than so I put the material together over here and emailed you. See the email I sent before I left?”

      Or the lead was just burned out and it’s all very disappointing… :'(

      1. Adlib*

        It could be, but I am trying not to bug her now that she’s out and starting her new job. (I know I would be really annoyed if people did that to me.) It’s not looking good since my new boss (formerly my grandboss) asked me for stuff I thought he would have from her.

    3. AcademiaNut*

      From what you’ve said, she was burnt out but still high performing, had a new job to go to, was (presumably) working out a notice period, *and* had everybody dumping a giant pile of new tasks on her to be finished before she left. I can completely see a reasonable person deciding that they’ll work conscientiously from 9-5 during the notice period, get what they can done, and leave the rest, particularly if they were looking for a new job in part *because* they were burning out.

      It would be nice if she had said “There’s no way I can do this – give me a list of priorities and I’ll do what I can”. But in a burn-out situation, there has often been past attempts to do this without success.

  34. Mints*

    I found out that one of the managers at my company sends out a weekly email with “super stars” & “rising stars” employees. Which is probably cheesy but not terrible. HOWEVER, she rates every employee in her department (about a half dozen) including “falling stars” if they’re doing poorly this week.

    I’m not involved at all (and I’m fairly certain the manager’s boss knows). I just heard about this and had a “yikes” reaction and thought I’d share on the open thread for y’all to share in the “yikes.”

    1. Nico m*

      Yikes

      Thats really stupid

      The publicness is stupid

      The judginess is stupid

      The weekliness of the judginess is stupid

      The

    2. Manders*

      Yikes indeed. I’d be eyeing the exits if I was publicly called out as a “falling star” every time I had an off week.

    3. Leatherwings*

      Are you sure your manager isn’t a teacher and her reports aren’t third graders? Because that’s the only acceptable scenario for that nonsense. I mean, I’d even be pissed if a teacher was doing that to my kid, but yikes.

      1. Mints*

        Yeah I think the “super star” thing is juvenile but not terrible, but “falling star” would be terrible for kids too

      1. Pearly Girl*

        Picture the scene from Love Actually and it will be far more enjoyable. Unless you hate Christmas.

    4. Windchime*

      At my previous job, our managers decided that our overworked and stressed-out team needed a “failure wall”. It was presented as if it was an awesome thing; the idea was that if we aren’t failing sometimes, we aren’t innovating. So the idea was that, if you worked on something and it failed or didn’t work, you would post it on the failure wall for all to see. Which would be OK (I guess?) if we had healthy environment, but the managers ruled by fear and intimidation, and would crack down on any project that went over the estimate or had problems.

      So yeah. They’d have probably done Falling Stars, too, except it didn’t occur to them.

  35. Gene*

    My primary work vehicle since I started here over 25 years ago has died. Well, at least they aren’t going to fix it this time. So a new work truck is going to be ordered for us. It will be nice to have a new rig, but I’ll miss it. My butt has spent a lot of miles in that seat.

    On a better note, everything that has to be done this month is done. A three-day week next week, a five-day weekend, then two four-day weeks in a row. I could get used to this.

    1. Mockingjay*

      If you have a bulletin board, maybe you can post pictures of the truck over the years, as a fond farewell and retrospective?

      1. Gene*

        The only appearance change was when it got a chrome bumper to replace the body-color one after I hit another vehicle with it. So its photo will go up on the board, and I kept the tag from one set of keys.

        It will be nice to have air conditioning and cruise control, though.

    2. One Handed Typist*

      Oh man, after 25 years that seat is shaped like your butt. Now you have to break a new seat in! However, think about the new upgrades you’ll have.

  36. AMT*

    I was reading over the AAM archive and happened on a column that made me think about a former workplace. The column I’m thinking about had a much different situation, but relevant: https://www.askamanager.org/2014/08/my-boss-makes-us-all-keep-kosher-for-passover.html

    Anyway, I worked briefly at a nonprofit that prohibited employees who were not observant Jews from bringing food into the office during Passover. This caused inconvenience and expense for non-Jewish employees, who were basically forced to eat out. Am I right in thinking this was technically illegal? Would it have been legal for them to say “non-Kosher for Passover food is prohibited in this office” rather than “only observant Jews can bring food”?

    1. animaniactoo*

      Yes, and yes.

      However, the stringency of kosher-for-passover food would still have risen to a level that meant that most non-observant employees would eat out. This is one of those places where, for me, it’s a question of “It’s a week. They’re doing the best they can the rest of the year, this is a big thing in their religion, let them have it.”

      (I am a bacon-eating Jewish-by-family-culture woman in a company whose owners are Orthodox Jewish. They work hard to overlook all sorts of stuff, but some stuff really falls under “a bridge too far” for them)

      1. Cat*

        Eh, forcing your employees to incur extra costs really doesn’t seem right to me. Catering in a kosher for passover lunch for everyone seems like a better solution to me . . . .

        1. animaniactoo*

          They incur lots of extra costs by paying our salaries to close for the high holidays (they pay everyone, including non-exempt employees). I can stand a week’s worth of having to pay some extra for my food.

          And truly, so many non-observant people are not going to be happy with what might be available at a kfp lunch. Lack of any form of bread or any other leavened item to start with. Trying to cater to people’s tastes would be such a headache within the restrictions, that it’s a nice idea in theory and in practice is unlikely to be a success.

    2. Natalie*

      I would think so, provided they were big enough for the law to apply (15 employees or more). It’s pretty clearly singling people out based on religion, rather than behavior.

    3. Junior Dev*

      IANAL but yeah, if they were really making the call based entirely on your religious affiliation that sounds like discrimination. (Why did they even know everyone’s religion?!?!?)

  37. Pixel*

    I’m a strong candidate for a one-person-department position in a small company. The phone interview included questions such as “how do you approach messy files?” and “how do you work with constant interruptions?”, as they don’t have an admin and if the two other people I will share an office with are out, I’ll be covering the phones and answering the door. Should this be a deal-breaker? The position actually has a lot of responsibilities, ranging from low-level data entry to higher level tax and financial stuff, the salary is a big step from where I am right now, and the location is great, and seems like a fantastic second job after my first entry level job that I have right now.

    1. CM*

      Well, how do you feel about those things? It sounds like they’re telling you this is a chaotic environment. If you can deal well with chaos, you’ll probably be a good fit (and you can emphasize this in your in-person interview). If messiness and interruptions (and probably poor organization, last-minute requests, putting out fires, etc.) would drive you crazy, this probably is not the job for you.

      1. Pixel*

        Honestly? Not that much. I’m an accountant, and can deal with messy files like the best of them – it’s actually very gratifying to start with a terrible file and end up with everything reconciled beautifully. Weirdly enough, when crazy hits the fan, such as personal taxes and T-slip seasons, I can deal with constant interjections and putting out fires, as long as they’re directly related to my job and not general office stuff – and in public practice, putting out fires is essentially part of the job. On the other hand, I had to cover the phone and front desk on a few occasions when all our admin staff was away, and was not a happy camper.

    2. Karanda Baywood*

      It might feel chaotic to them but may be less chaotic that it sounds, too… especially after someone (like you!) comes in and streamlines activities. Can you ask some follow-up questions to clarify day-to-day tasks?

      1. Pixel*

        I’ll definitely do that! In-person interview is next week, and I will ask the interviewer for more details on how often am I expected to do general admin.

    3. zora*

      For a second job, that’s probably not a deal-breaker. I wouldn’t like a job like that now, but I’m mid-career, I had jobs like that earlier in my life.

      I would, however, advise asking some more questions about how coverage works to be prepared. It doesn’t sound like you would be the only one responsible for answering phones/door, but I would ask that directly to clarify. And then ask about how much flexibility there is for you to take time off, leave early/come late for appointments, etc. It sounds like there are three of you there, and you would have to coordinate with each other to make sure there is coverage, but ask if there is a seniority system, or how it is decided who gets time off for holidays, etc. And, I would also ask about how much of the time you will be the only one providing coverage. It’s just good to get a sense of whether they really want it to work for everyone, or if you will be pulled away from your job a lot to handle these other things.

      I had a similar list of questions when interviewing for a job where I would be the only admin at my location, but they were very forthcoming about how the admin team across the country handles coverage for each other, so I am able to take time off when needed without it being a huge hardship. And the main phone line here isn’t really used, so I’m not answering phones all day, I get a couple calls per week, if that. It’s nice to not be 100% chained to my desk, and I can even work from home once in a while if I really need to.

      1. Pixel*

        Thank you so much – I actually wrote down your list of questions. I’m concerned about spending the day covering the front desk and phones, and only getting to my actual designated accounting job at 4pm.

        1. zora*

          yeah, this is definitely something to pay attention to, and to track if it starts to feel like it’s happening more and more, so you can go to your boss with specific numbers and ask to revisit. Just because it’s been clear before you took the job that this was part of it, if it starts to impact your primary job duties, it’s perfectly reasonable to revisit or to figure out with your boss if there are small adjustments that can be made to make sure your job is getting done! Don’t wait until you start dropping the ball on your job, if you wait too long to bring it up to your boss, it could bite you in the ass. Especially since it sounds like your boss will not be on site with you, make sure you keep them in the loop on how things are going periodically.

          Good luck, hope it all goes well, and becomes a good stepping stone into a non-front-desk-related job! ;o)

    4. BRR*

      It’s not a universal deal breaker but they gave you a clear picture of what it will be like. It could easily be a potential deal breaker for many people.

      1. Pixel*

        I’ll be wiser next week after the in-person interview. If they offer generous benefits and decent time off then it makes the admin coverage pill easier to swallow – or so I’d like to think

    5. AliceBD*

      Definitely see how often you’ll be expected to do things. In my current position I have some specialized knowledge that we get calls from the public about. It is not in my everyday job description, but when the person whose job it is is out of the office, I take over and field the calls. I’m not expected to do it if she’s just out for the afternoon for the doctor or something, so it works out to be about 3-4 weeks total a year, split up mostly into a few days at a time — her vacation time (when it doesn’t overlap with my vacation time), plus when she has her quarterly trips to another location of ours and is in meetings all day. I would not want to do it as my main job, for it’s fine 4 weeks a year.

  38. Mints*

    So I have a question for the group. My friend started a new job that’s going pretty well. The structure of the job is that he’s primarily fixing stuff for a group. I’ll pretend like a mechanic, and he has a regional fleet of trucks he’s in charge of. There are some days where everything is falling apart and he works on several trucks that are complicated and he works a lot of overtime. There are some days / weeks where everything hums along and he doesn’t have much to do. There are some maintenence opportunities but it’s still pretty much a half week. He also works from home when he’s not out on calls, so he might be playing video games all day with his phone nearby waiting for calls.

    When he started, the other employees assigned to other groups told him they always claim 40 hours every week regardless if they work more or less. I know that legally, the answer is they need to claim overtime. But the employees prefer having 40 hours to count on, and it ends up being close enough in the long run that this is what they prefer over nickel and diming in either direction. It’s also the kind of job where they’ll answer ten minute calls all the time outside of normal hours and those are annoying to track anyway. I don’t know if management doesn’t know or is looking the other way.

    What do you guys think? I think this is ethically not a problem (even though I realize it’s not legal). My friend fwiw, felt really guilty about it and that’s why he brought it up.

    1. WS*

      My company sort of works like this. We’re all hourly and everyone typically claims 40 hours, unless they took unpaid time off or worked a noticeable amount of overtime. No one tracks time for calls or emails outside of normal business hours, but our managers are also really lenient on letting us manage our own time during the work day. If you want to leave the office to grab lunch or run a quick errand you’re allowed to take that time paid, because the understanding is that people are putting in time for calls/emails outside of normal work hours so over the course of a week it all evens out.

      My bosses were really explicit about this when I was hired, though, so that uncertainty about “if management doesn’t know or is looking the other way” doesn’t really apply to my situation. And we have a lot of freedom with what hours we work- if someone knows that they’re going to hit 40 hours around, say, 1pm on a Friday because they worked longer days earlier in the week, we’re allowed to take off at 1pm to avoid putting in overtime. But on the flip side if Friday rolls around and you need to stay late again, you can claim overtime without a problem (just with a gentle reminder to avoid working overtime as much as possible).

      It’s a set-up that works for my office, but I’d be uncomfortable taking this approach anywhere where it wasn’t explicitly okayed by my boss.

      1. Mints*

        Yeah the uncertainty is mostly mine, as a second hand person. I think at the time he asked all his coworkers but I’m not sure if he’s asked his boss since then.
        Thanks!

    2. jamlady*

      Eh, this is the norm in my field, where our techs work a ton of unofficial overtime and keep track of it so they can use it for credit hours (all unofficial). I never really cared when I was at that level because a) I couldn’t do my job in just 8 hrs a day (CA) and b) I loved using the comp time. When I moved up to mid-level (not a manager), I was salaried and it was the same deal for the techs. Only the company I was with never let them use the unofficial comp time. I pushed my manager to push the big bosses on this issue, but it went no where, and my manager and I end both ended up quitting with in weeks of each other (for that reason and many other sketchy things). Now that I’m a manager, I never let my techs works overtime and I work for a company that would never follow the sketchy norm of my field (we’re the first Field specialists they’ve ever had, so I just never told them about the norms).

      Long story short, I’ve been there and I didn’t care because I wasn’t overworked, but then I saw it burn someone else who I really cared about, and I’m really strict about following the law now that I’m a manager. I think it’s sketchy, but I also think the 8hr a day thing in CA put a lot of companies in our field in a bad spot. It wasn’t much of an issue when I worked in TX.

      1. Mints*

        I am in California, good call! I know this is in favor of employees, but if I work 7 hours one day then 9 hours the next day I don’t really feel like I should get paid more than a coworker who worked 8 & 8. (I do think mandatory over time is a good law but at a higher threshold.) That’s probably a big detail, you’re right

        1. jamlady*

          I am totally in favor of 40 hr weeks or even 80 hr pay periods – we are government contractors and the 80 hr pay period/flex time thing works really well for them. I noticed another contract (all techs) are pulling unofficial 4/10s – they seriously can’t do their job in 8 hours! But the gov client never allows them to work more than 40 a week. I think if/when the company starts taking serious advantage, that’s when the legality of it should be brought up (if not beforehand, because I totally get people being uncomfortable with fudging timesheets).

    3. Clever Name*

      Well, is he exempt or nonexempt? Is he paid hourly or salaried? If he’s salaried exempt, this sounds okay to me, not being a lawyer. If he has to track hours he works and/or is eligible for overtime, this might not be okay.

  39. Down Home Auditor in SC*

    Small celebratory post! I had a rather uncomfortable meeting this week with my new supervisor, who was formerly a peer until 2 weeks ago… I revealed some things that had gone on before she was our supervisor, and was pretty frank about the fact that I’m generally disengaged with our ‘grand-boss’ level of management in our department. She took everything in stride and it was a very productive discussion. The best part? I DIDN’T CRY!!!! I’m a happy/mad/sad crier, and we were discussing some things that had happened with our clients recently that felt very much like a personal attack on me, and I did nearly tear up a couple of times, but I held it in. I’m 27, and have held professional positions since graduation in 2011, and I still struggle with maintaining my composure in the workplace (whether the issue is professional or personal), so it’s been something I’ve been actively working and learning to manage. :-)

    1. CM*

      Not crying during a difficult conversation is really hard. (If you are a crier.) Congratulations, and I’m glad the discussion was positive!

  40. Manders*

    This is something I’ve been curious about for a while now: papers keep publishing articles about how my generation isn’t hitting work and income-related milestones at the “right” times, but there’s rarely any discussion of when previous generations actually hit those milestones (and whether there were similar moral panics about Kids These Days doing everything at the wrong time). Informal poll time?

    * What generation are you considered a part of?
    * When did you get your first job? When (if ever) did you get your first full-time job?
    * Did you feel pressure to move away from your home town to an area where the job market was better?
    * When (if ever) did you get your own office with a door?
    * When (if ever) could you afford to move out of your parents’ house and pay for housing with your own income?
    * When (if ever) could you afford to live alone, without roommates?
    * When (if ever) could you afford to buy a house or a condo?
    * When (if ever) did you have benefits like health insurance and a 401k or pension?
    * Did you ever consider delaying marriage, kids, or other major life changes because you were waiting for a higher income or more job security?
    * Did your parents or mentors ever tell you that you were hitting these milestones too slowly or too quickly? Did you feel like your peers where progressing at a different pace than you, or that you never saw depictions of people with your lifestyle in the media?

    1. Anon for surveys*

      * What generation are you considered a part of?
      Technically Millennial, but I’m Oregon Trail – that weird middle
      * When did you get your first job? When (if ever) did you get your first full-time job?
      First job – at 15. First full time job – when I graduated high school. In a law office
      * Did you feel pressure to move away from your home town to an area where the job market was better?
      No
      * When (if ever) did you get your own office with a door?
      Still haven’t had that
      * When (if ever) could you afford to move out of your parents’ house and pay for housing with your own income?
      This is on and off depending on what was going on – I moved out at 19, back in, back out, back in. I haven’t lived with a parent out of necessity in 8ish years. I just bought my first home, at 32, and needed help to do so
      * When (if ever) could you afford to live alone, without roommates?
      I probably could have but never did
      * When (if ever) could you afford to buy a house or a condo?
      Just bought my first home this year – had to have a higher interest rate to get a lower DP amount and still needed help
      * When (if ever) did you have benefits like health insurance and a 401k or pension?
      I have had insurance on my own since I was 22
      * Did you ever consider delaying marriage, kids, or other major life changes because you were waiting for a higher income or more job security?
      Yes – absolutely. All of it
      * Did your parents or mentors ever tell you that you were hitting these milestones too slowly or too quickly? Did you feel like your peers where progressing at a different pace than you, or that you never saw depictions of people with your lifestyle in the media?
      No my parents get it and are very helpful.

      1. Anon for surveys*

        I know I am not a previous generation technically, but I am that weird kind of Gen X kind of Millennial so I thought I would share

      2. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

        Lol to the “Oregon Trail” generation — me too. So:

        * What generation are you considered a part of?

        Between Gen X and Gen Y (born in 1979).

        * When did you get your first job? When (if ever) did you get your first full-time job?

        I got my first job with a regular paycheck (i.e. not babysitting or raking leaves or whatever) when I was 15. My first full-time job came right after college; I stayed at the part-time job I’d had during college and was promoted into a full-time role.

        * Did you feel pressure to move away from your home town to an area where the job market was better?

        No. I happen to grow up/go to college in a metropolitan area that has been outperforming the job market of the country overall.

        * When (if ever) did you get your own office with a door?

        My second job after grad school (so around age 30), after the organization moved into a new building, I had an office with a door. That’s the only time, though; my next job was working from home and now I have a cube.

        * When (if ever) could you afford to move out of your parents’ house and pay for housing with your own income?

        I probably could have moved out after college, but I was saving up for grad school. I got my first apartment on my own after grad school (when I was 26 or so).

        * When (if ever) could you afford to live alone, without roommates?

        When I was 26. I haven’t had roommates since finishing grad school.

        * When (if ever) could you afford to buy a house or a condo?

        My husband and I bought a house when we were 34 (him) and 36 (me). 11 years after I finished grad school; 1 year after he finished business school. If I were single I couldn’t afford to buy — yay for husbands with lucrative careers.

        * When (if ever) did you have benefits like health insurance and a 401k or pension?

        First job after grad school (age 26).

        * Did you ever consider delaying marriage, kids, or other major life changes because you were waiting for a higher income or more job security?

        Kids, yes. I still don’t really feel like we can afford it. We make plenty of money at this point, but the expense of child care would be financially devastating for us.

        * Did your parents or mentors ever tell you that you were hitting these milestones too slowly or too quickly? Did you feel like your peers where progressing at a different pace than you, or that you never saw depictions of people with your lifestyle in the media?

        No, I never got that kind of static from real people in my life. I chose a career that isn’t well-paid, so many of my peers were “outpacing” me, but that was to be expected. And, yeah, of course there’s nobody with a nonprofit lifestyle in the media.

      3. Isben Takes Tea*

        The Oregon Trail Generation is the perfect descriptor–technically Millennials, but we remember before there was the Interwebz. I will steal this henceforth!

        1. zora*

          One blogger named it “Generation Catalano” (after Jordan Catalano from My So-Called Life), and I feel like that’s super apt for me ;o)

    2. Hannah*

      *Millennial (born in 87)
      *First real full time job was when I was 24, 6 months graduating college, I was a paralegal at a law firm
      *No, I didn’t feel pressured. I lived in a suburb of Dallas – Fort Worth, lots of opportunities
      *My paralegal position had an office with a door
      *I was paying my own rent after college, working part time at a law firm and part time at a busy bar on the weekends
      *I lived alone during my first full time job
      *I could have bought a house with my second full time job, my salary jumped from 37 – 52k
      *I had benefits during my first full time job
      *I don’t want kids and marriage isn’t a rush for me
      *I feel like I have advanced more in my career/income than most if not all of my friends who are my age. I’ve always been lucky and have known the right people. I’m also not afraid to take risks, apply for new positions, and negotiate salary.

    3. all aboard the anon train*

      1. Millennial (older end, since I’m 30)

      2. I was 14 and it was at McDonalds. Part-time during the school year, but I worked full-time during the summer months. My first non-retail and non-part-time job was right after I graduated college. I worked at least two jobs throughout high school and college.

      3. I knew even when I was in high school that I wouldn’t stay in my hometown. The only good jobs there are public service. Unfortunately, I graduated college in 2008 when the economy exploded and couldn’t find a job, so I was forced to move back to my hometown. But everyone knew the goods jobs were in the city.

      4. Never. I had a cube with a sliding door, though. I was 27. My last two companies moved from cubes and offices to open office space.

      5. 24. Though, I had to pick up a second part-time job in addition to my full-time one to pay for rent + bills + loans.

      6. 24. See above. I wanted to live alone, so I picked up a second part-time job and also did freelancing on the side so I could live alone.

      7. Never. I’m still bitter about it. I live in one of the most expensive cities in the US for housing. If I wanted a chance to buy anything, I’d have to go about 1.5 – 2 hours outside the city. I grew up in the sticks and was miserable, so I don’t want to live or buy there. Based on income, debt, and housing prices, there’s no way I’ll ever be able to afford on my salary alone. There aren’t many starter condos or houses in my city since lately it’s all luxury condos. Or the starter homes are in areas with no public transit and I can’t afford a car (parking spaces can go for half a million), let alone a mortgage and a car.

      8. Second full-time job. My first, as an admin in a doctor’s office, didn’t have either. I get nervous when I read those articles that say, “you should have X much in your 401K by 30” and I don’t have nearly that much. I put in the max percentage the company will match.

      9. I don’t plan to get married and can’t have kids, but I’ve always thought that if I did want either of those things, there’s no way I could afford them. But that’s my salary alone. A partner’s salary with mine, maybe. Even then, marriage would be city hall and that’s it. I don’t have the money for a big ceremony (and wouldn’t want it either).

      10. My parents did in the beginning, but they’re both in public service jobs (police and teacher), so they quickly realized that the private sector is really different in terms of money and stability. They’re cool about me not getting married or having kids, but they argue with me about my desire to buy a condo in the city (they think I should go to the suburbs). My dad does like to try to convince me to get a job with a pension instead of a 401K, though.

      I do feel like my peers are progressing at a different pace, but I have to remind myself that they have partners and two incomes makes certain things easier. I’m doing everything on one income and in an expensive city, so there’s a difference to my friends who have two large incomes in the city or two normal incomes in the suburbs. I’ve rarely seen depictions of people with my lifestyle in the media. I’d like to know how people who make my salary and live in expensive cities can afford to go to bars and clubs and out to eat every night, but never have student debt or worry about rent or bills (unless it’s a Very Special Episode or a one time episode storyline). I think maybe Broad City has been the most accurate in some respects, but other than that, I can’t think of many.

    4. Yas Queen*

      1. “Millennial” (ugh), now age 30
      2. First part-time job at age 14, various full-time seasonal jobs/internships from age 17 to 22, first permanent full-time job at 23
      3. Yes. After college, ~2009, the job market for my industry was not good in my area. But I wanted to get out of the region for non-job-related reasons also.
      4. No office yet. Wish otherwise due to suspected misophonia.
      5. First moved out for about 7 months at age 21, moved out permanently at age 23 when relocated for FT job.
      6. Never had roommates.
      7. Bought first house at age 28
      8. Health insurance & 401k & pension at age 23, 1st FT job
      9. Yes
      10. No, thankfully. Yes.

    5. Hermione*

      * What generation are you considered a part of? Millennial – born late 80’s.
      * When did you get your first job? When (if ever) did you get your first full-time job? First job at 14, first full-time job, 22.
      * Did you feel pressure to move away from your home town to an area where the job market was better? N/A I live in a major city in the US
      * When (if ever) did you get your own office with a door? First full-time job at 22.
      * When (if ever) could you afford to move out of your parents’ house and pay for housing with your own income? I could have stably done so at 23, but with scrimping, probably at 19.
      * When (if ever) could you afford to live alone, without roommates? 27
      * When (if ever) could you afford to buy a house or a condo? Hahahahaha we’ll see.
      * When (if ever) did you have benefits like health insurance and a 401k or pension? 22
      * Did you ever consider delaying marriage, kids, or other major life changes because you were waiting for a higher income or more job security? Yes, I am currently (but due to SO’s milestones, not mine).
      * Did your parents or mentors ever tell you that you were hitting these milestones too slowly or too quickly? Did you feel like your peers where progressing at a different pace than you, or that you never saw depictions of people with your lifestyle in the media? No. Somewhat – my closest friends are all weirdly successful in their fields. It does annoy me that in the media, even the low-class apartments seem glamorous unlike real life. Otherwise, I feel appropriately represented.

    6. Tris Prior*

      * What generation are you considered a part of?
      Generation X

      * When did you get your first job? When (if ever) did you get your first full-time job?
      First job at 16. First full-time job at 21 – was hired directly from an internship I had during senior year of college.

      * Did you feel pressure to move away from your home town to an area where the job market was better?
      No, I was from a big city. Actually had to move to a smaller town for my first job (not uncommon in print journalism).

      * When (if ever) did you get your own office with a door?
      Never.

      * When (if ever) could you afford to move out of your parents’ house and pay for housing with your own income?
      I had to at 21, as my first full-time job was in the town I went to college in.

      * When (if ever) could you afford to live alone, without roommates?
      Also at 21, but again, small town. Rent was $400/month.

      * When (if ever) could you afford to buy a house or a condo?
      Bought a condo at 36. Lost it at 42. :(

      * When (if ever) did you have benefits like health insurance and a 401k or pension?
      I had insurance at my first job at 21. 401k – I think in my mid-20s, but by then I’d moved back to the city and my pay was so low, I couldn’t afford to contribute and still eat. Have never had a job with a pension.

      * Did you ever consider delaying marriage, kids, or other major life changes because you were waiting for a higher income or more job security?
      I chose not to have kids because I don’t see how I could support them financially.

      * Did your parents or mentors ever tell you that you were hitting these milestones too slowly or too quickly? Did you feel like your peers where progressing at a different pace than you, or that you never saw depictions of people with your lifestyle in the media?
      My parents thought I was doing well. I looked around at my peers and it seemed like I was very underpaid until probably my mid-30s, but that has more to do with the field I chose (journalism) than my generation. I did roll my eyes at TV shows and movies that showed journalists having huge apartments and living fancy lives.

    7. Manders*

      I should also answer my own questions:

      * What generation are you considered a part of?
      Millennial, born in 1989.

      * When did you get your first job? When (if ever) did you get your first full-time job?
      I got my first job the summer after high school. My first full-time job was after I graduated from college at 21; it took about 6 months to find steady work.

      * Did you feel pressure to move away from your home town to an area where the job market was better?
      Yes. I moved from Nashville to Seattle, partially to follow my partner, but there were also way more jobs available in Seattle when I graduated in 2011.

      * When (if ever) did you get your own office with a door?
      I’ve never had one, and in my industry, it’s possible that I never will.

      * When (if ever) could you afford to move out of your parents’ house and pay for housing with your own income?
      I moved out right after college. I have always split rent 50/50 with my partner.

      * When (if ever) could you afford to live alone, without roommates?
      I couldn’t afford that now. I’m not sure if I ever would be able to do that without moving far outside Seattle city limits.

      * When (if ever) could you afford to buy a house or a condo?
      I can’t really afford it now, but I might buy one eventually with a lot of help from my partner and parents.

      * When (if ever) did you have benefits like health insurance and a 401k or pension?
      About 6 months after graduation. Until then, I was freelancing and I was on my parents’ health insurance.

      * Did you ever consider delaying marriage, kids, or other major life changes because you were waiting for a higher income or more job security?
      Most definitely. I still absolutely cannot afford to have kids in my area–daycare alone would be more than my salary, and we don’t even have space in the apartment for a crib. I’ll have kids in my late 30s, if I ever have them. I’m getting married earlier than most of my peers at 27–I would have delayed it longer, but one of my close family members is ill and I wanted to have a ceremony while she is able to attend.

      * Did your parents or mentors ever tell you that you were hitting these milestones too slowly or too quickly? Did you feel like your peers were progressing at a different pace than you, or that you never saw depictions of people with your lifestyle in the media?
      My parents have been good about not criticizing my lifestyle, but some older people I’ve known through work have said weird things about my generation. Seattle has a giant income gap between people in tech and people in other industries; I feel like I’m ahead of my peers outside the tech industry in terms of moving up in my career and building a nest egg, but I’m falling further and further behind my friends in tech. I often find myself annoyed by the way I see my generation depicted in the media: there are lots of people with creative jobs and giant apartments, and those characters rarely struggle with challenges that affect me and my friends like paying for healthcare or student loans.

    8. justsomeone*

      * What generation are you considered a part of? Millenial
      * When did you get your first job? When (if ever) did you get your first full-time job? First job at 16, full time job 5 months after graduating college, following a full-time summer internship.
      * Did you feel pressure to move away from your home town to an area where the job market was better? Yes, but a lot of that was me wanting to leave my hometown behind.
      * When (if ever) did you get your own office with a door? Second full time job, 9 months after graduating college
      * When (if ever) could you afford to move out of your parents’ house and pay for housing with your own income? 1 year after graduating college
      * When (if ever) could you afford to live alone, without roommates? 3 years after college
      * When (if ever) could you afford to buy a house or a condo? Still can’t, but that’s because I live in Seattle.
      * When (if ever) did you have benefits like health insurance and a 401k or pension? second full time job, 9mo after graduationg college.
      * Did you ever consider delaying marriage, kids, or other major life changes because you were waiting for a higher income or more job security? Short answer: Yes. Long answer: Yes, we were engaged for 2 years to wait for secure income before getting married. Still waiting on that higher income to buy a house. Kids aren’t on the table, but adoption might be if we can ever make enough to afford them.
      * Did your parents or mentors ever tell you that you were hitting these milestones too slowly or too quickly? Did you feel like your peers where progressing at a different pace than you, or that you never saw depictions of people with your lifestyle in the media? No, my parents have always trusted me to do what’s right and feasible for myself. Some of my peers are progressing faster, some slower, but I feel like that’s pretty normal. I feel like my generation is mis-portrayed in the media constantly. “Why don’t millennials buy cars and houses?” Because we can’t freaking afford them. Talk to me about my student loans and graduating into a business market that’s learned to function running lean! Even though the economy is recovering, businesses have learned to function with fewer bodies, so they’re not replacing all of the jobs they lost in the downturn.

    9. Not Karen*

      So…. there’s a giant problem with these so-called “milestones” (not just you, I hear them all the time): They assume there is one and only correct path in life that everyone should be on and wants to be on. Not everyone wants to work full-time, live alone, buy a house, get married, have kids, etc. Does that mean you aren’t progressing if you haven’t done those things? Some people want to do those things, but not in that order. Some people move out of their parents’ because they have to, not when they want to.

      1. Manders*

        Oh yeah, I’m definitely not trying to imply that these are things that everyone should want! I was trying to list the ones that are most commonly brought up in American media. I have a lot of friends from other cultures, and even my own culture, who’d give a very different list of milestones they’re personally working towards or consider meaningful accomplishments.

      2. Blue Anne*

        I think that’s part of the question, really. Notice the quotes around “right” time. i’m hitting most of these milestones at the “right” time, moreso than many of my friends – but a lot of that is because many of them have different priorities. These milestones aren’t milestones for them, they’re options.

    10. the gold digger*

      What generation are you considered a part of?
      – I think late Baby Boomer/early Gen X (born in 1963)

      * When did you get your first job? When (if ever) did you get your first full-time job?
      – I started babysitting when I was 11. Was certified as a lifeguard and got a job as a lifeguard at 15. Have worked pretty steadily since then, including temp and project work when I was laid off from a corporate job.

      * Did you feel pressure to move away from your home town to an area where the job market was better?
      – Many times.

      * When (if ever) did you get your own office with a door?
      – First job out of college, one year after I started. I am now at a desk in an open space. My career has not gone as planned. :)

      * When (if ever) could you afford to move out of your parents’ house and pay for housing with your own income?
      – I paid for my own college, so does 17 count? If not that, then when I graduated from college and had my first job, which paid $20K a year. I had $13K in student loans.

      * When (if ever) could you afford to live alone, without roommates?
      – First job out of college. I had a studio apartment and almost no furniture. My mom and dad gave me my bed and I bought a used table from Aaron Rents for $30. I still have that table. It’s great.

      * When (if ever) could you afford to buy a house or a condo?
      – I bought my first house in 2001, when I was however old – late 30s. I could have afforded it before then, but was dumb and kept renting.

      * When (if ever) did you have benefits like health insurance and a 401k or pension?
      – First job out of college.

      * Did you ever consider delaying marriage, kids, or other major life changes because you were waiting for a higher income or more job security?
      – Nope. I married late just because it took a while to find someone I wanted to learn to share living space with.

      * Did your parents or mentors ever tell you that you were hitting these milestones too slowly or too quickly? Did you feel like your peers where progressing at a different pace than you, or that you never saw depictions of people with your lifestyle in the media?
      – Oh honey. My peers are CEOs and partners at major law firms and on the NYTimes bestseller list. I AM A FAILURE.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        “I am a failure.”

        We could start a club. ha! Or we could get a different yardstick to measure our successes.

        We don’t know until our last day what all our life story will touch. It ain’t over yet, GD. ;)

      2. Jean*

        If you start a Failures Club, please save me a seat. :-)
        I agree that it’s not over until it’s over and we never know exactly how we’re going to positively impact someone else’s life or lives.

    11. Natalie*

      Older Millenial (early 30s)

      First job was 13 is babysitting counts, 16 for a job with a W2. First full time job at 19 while going to college part time. First professional job with bennies at age 24, after graduating from college.

      I’ve had a solo office with a door once, but we were understaffed at the time.

      Ive never felt pressure to move away, but I grew up in the Twin Cities which has a strong economy and strong safety net.

      I moved out of family housing when I graduated from college, with roommates initially. I didn’t live alone until age 29, but that was because I lived with a partner prior. I probably could have afforded to around age 26.

      Bought my house at age 30, with family help for the downpayment.

      Marriage and kids were delayed for me because of the relationship I was in, but if that hadn’t happened we probably would have delayed for financial reasons. My husband and I are getting to the point where we need to fish or cut bait, and we’re strongly considering only having one kid because of our finances, even though I’d like 2 or 3.

      I’ve never felt pressure from my parents because they aren’t assholes and they can read a paper. I don’t personally feel super behind because I’ve been lucky to have family money, but many of my friends from college are not in the same position and it’s definitely a strain.

      I really don’t see any of our currents reality portrayed in the media, but I’m not a big TV watcher so it’s entirely possible it is and I’m just not seeing it.

    12. Pebbles*

      1. Gen X
      2. Not counting babysitting, first job was when I was 16. First full-time job was right out of college after interning with the company my senior year.
      3. No, I was born in a suburb of the large city I currently work in.
      4. Right out of college I moved into an apartment. Had all my stuff packed up at graduation, quick stop at my parents’ house for the rest of my things, and then went straight to the apartment.
      5. Lived alone to start with, moved in with a friend for almost 2 years to save some money, then moved out when I bought a townhouse.
      6. Bought previously mentioned townhouse when I was 25.
      7. No pension, but I have had health insurance and 401K with employer match since I was 21.
      8. Not because of a job/income. Married late because I hadn’t met DH yet, still no kids but getting to the point where it’s soon or never.
      9. ALL.THE.TIME. (from parents) First it was to get married, and that whole “no kids yet” I mentioned? I have two brothers, yet they’ve called me their “best hope for grandkids”. No pressure there.

    13. SophieChotek*

      * What generation are you considered a part of? (Gen X).
      * When did you get your first job? When (if ever) did you get your first full-time job? First job – worked part-time at church on Sundays and helped serve cookies (I think I was 15). First full-time job (depends a little on how one defines it — I worked 40 hrs/week at university library in the summer; otherwise after grad school was over, I worked FT in a coffee shop).
      * Did you feel pressure to move away from your home town to an area where the job market was better? Yes, but I’ve resisted because the COL is so much cheaper where I live compared to major metropolitan sites, it all evens out. Rather resigned myself to not working in the field that I got my degrees in.
      * When (if ever) did you get your own office with a door? Never
      * When (if ever) could you afford to move out of your parents’ house and pay for housing with your own income? Well, this year (about 2 months ago) I finally got my own apartment. (I did live off-campus and away from my parents during grad school too.)
      * When (if ever) could you afford to live alone, without roommates? Well, this year (about 2 months ago) I finally got my own apartment. (I did live off-campus and away from my parents during grad school too.)
      * When (if ever) could you afford to buy a house or a condo? Never. I’ll probably die with student loans still unpaid first.
      * When (if ever) did you have benefits like health insurance and a 401k or pension? When I worked FT at coffee shop we got health insurance and we could opt into a 401K; current job also has health insurance, but no pension or 401K.
      * Did you ever consider delaying marriage, kids, or other major life changes because you were waiting for a higher income or more job security? Yes — still am.
      * Did your parents or mentors ever tell you that you were hitting these milestones too slowly or too quickly? Did you feel like your peers where progressing at a different pace than you, or that you never saw depictions of people with your lifestyle in the media? Yes — hitting them too slowly and compared to my peers (friends I went to grad school with) who have jobs in the field, and are married w/kids and have houses, I probably am.

    14. the_scientist*

      *Millennial (born in the late 80s)
      *First job at 16, first full-time job out of undergrad (not counting co-op terms) but went to grad school
      *Nope, I grew up in the GTA where most of the jobs in my field are
      *I had one at my first post graduate school job, but everyone had an office because of the way the space was set up so it doesn’t count :)
      *I struggled to do this after grad school despite being employed full time but made it work
      *Never- lived with roommates and then moved in with my partner
      *HAHAHA I live in Toronto, partner and I have been condo-hunting for 5 months without success
      *I left my first job out of grad school (after 1.5 years) to transition to a perm job with benefits and pension, which is a real rarity nowadays
      *Think about it all the time- partner and I make a good income but I have no idea how we’ll be able to pay a mortgage + daycare fees and still be able to save
      *I feel like my partner and I are in a better position than many of our peers. I have a lot of friends who are hardworking, ambitious, and professional, many with advanced degrees, who are still struggling to find stable employment in their field. Most are working in their field but are temporary, on contracts, or casual employees– meaning variable weekly incomes, no job security, no benefits and no paid vacation. It’s tough.

      1. Felicia*

        I’m from the GTA and live in Toronto and am of a similar age to you ( born in 1990) and I so related to your reaction at buying a house. I will never be able to buy a house here, and neither will any of my peers. I don’t want to move elsewhere,and am hoping to but a condo some day but can’t afford that now. My parents didn’t buy a house until they were about 40, and I was 13, so I never grew up around the idea that buying a house was something that people under 40 even did.

    15. CAA*

      * What generation are you considered a part of?
      – I am the last of the baby boomers.
      * When did you get your first job? When (if ever) did you get your first full-time job?
      – First job age 17. First full-time career job was offered after an internship between my junior and senior years of college. (I worked full-time during school breaks at a non-career job.)
      * Did you feel pressure to move away from your home town to an area where the job market was better?
      – Yes, but I also wanted to live where I moved to.
      * When (if ever) did you get your own office with a door?
      – First job, but we were in a temporary trailer on a large plant site so everyone got their own space. Other people my age who worked in perm buildings got their own offices after about 5 years. I’ve also had other jobs since that first one where I had a shared office or no office.
      * When (if ever) could you afford to move out of your parents’ house and pay for housing with your own income?
      – Junior year of college.
      * When (if ever) could you afford to live alone, without roommates?
      – After college graduation.
      * When (if ever) could you afford to buy a house or a condo?
      – With spouse, age 27.
      * When (if ever) did you have benefits like health insurance and a 401k or pension?
      – First perm job (no pension)
      * Did you ever consider delaying marriage, kids, or other major life changes because you were waiting for a higher income or more job security?
      – No
      * Did your parents or mentors ever tell you that you were hitting these milestones too slowly or too quickly? Did you feel like your peers where progressing at a different pace than you, or that you never saw depictions of people with your lifestyle in the media?
      – No

    16. AnotherAlison*

      * What generation are you considered a part of? Gen X (tail end)
      * When did you get your first job? 16
      * When (if ever) did you get your first full-time job? 21 (post college)
      * Did you feel pressure to move away from your home town to an area where the job market was better? No
      * When (if ever) did you get your own office with a door? Age 31. . .but lost it at age 37. . .but should get it back next year
      * When (if ever) could you afford to move out of your parents’ house and pay for housing with your own income? Moved in w/ my husband when I was 20
      * When (if ever) could you afford to live alone, without roommates? Age 20 and up
      * When (if ever) could you afford to buy a house or a condo? 23
      * When (if ever) did you have benefits like health insurance and a 401k or pension? 20 through my husband, 21 from my job
      * Did you ever consider delaying marriage, kids, or other major life changes because you were waiting for a higher income or more job security? I had my first kid when I was 19, so no.
      * Did your parents or mentors ever tell you that you were hitting these milestones too slowly or too quickly? Too quickly
      * Did you feel like your peers where progressing at a different pace than you, or that you never saw depictions of people with your lifestyle in the media? A lot of my peers were independent at a young age. People didn’t move home after college, and could get jobs. Not many got married and had kids like I did, but they did other adult things.

      1. AnotherAlison*

        (Also – on my last comment that my peers did other adult things, that was not meant to say that people who are moving home with parents or struggling to find work *aren’t* doing adult things, too. I just meant that my peers were meeting other milestones, other than kids/marriage, which was rare at 20 for my gen.)

    17. Ann Furthermore*

      * What generation are you considered a part of? Generation X

      * When did you get your first job? –Summer after high school — phone sales (ugh). When (if ever) did you get your first full-time job? When I was 19. I did not do well my first couple years of college, so I dropped out and started working full-time. Went back another year or 2 later and completed my degree by 25.

      * Did you feel pressure to move away from your home town to an area where the job market was better? –No, I’ve lived in the same large metropolitan area since graduation from high school, and there have always been jobs out there in my field when I was looking.

      * When (if ever) did you get your own office with a door? –First “real” job after getting my college degree. That lasted about 2 years, and was the last time I ever had my own office. In that job our department moved, and I ended up sharing an office with someone. It’s been cubicles from then on out.

      * When (if ever) could you afford to move out of your parents’ house and pay for housing with your own income? –Moved out when I was 19, got myself into all kinds of debt and blew my credit score up, moved back home at 21. Stayed for a year, paid everything off, and moved out again when I was 22 or 23. I’ve been on my own ever since.

      * When (if ever) could you afford to live alone, without roommates? –When I started working full-time. I was in a couple of roommate situations, but I could have afforded to live alone if I’d needed to.

      * When (if ever) could you afford to buy a house or a condo? –When I was 30. I was lucky though; I was working for a private company that went through an IPO, and I made some money on stock options. The proceeds from that are what I used to make that first down payment.

      * When (if ever) did you have benefits like health insurance and a 401k or pension? –When I started working full-time. My last company is one of the few that still has (or had) an actual pension. I didn’t think that was actually still a thing. They stopped adding new people to it a few years ago, and then at the end of last year current participants stopped accruing additional benefits, but the benefits you had accrued at that point were yours to keep.

      * Did you ever consider delaying marriage, kids, or other major life changes because you were waiting for a higher income or more job security? –Didn’t get married until 37, but that was because it took me that long to meet the right person, not because of any financial reason.

      * Did your parents or mentors ever tell you that you were hitting these milestones too slowly or too quickly? Did you feel like your peers where progressing at a different pace than you, or that you never saw depictions of people with your lifestyle in the media? –My father was absolutely horrified when I dropped out of college to work full time. He was convinced I’d never go back. Then I did, and got my degree. Since then, my career has progressed pretty steadily. Where I did feel that I was lacking was in my personal life….not many serious, long-term relationships, and certainly none that had ever come close to marriage. In the perfect world, I would have met my husband 10 years before I did, because we probably would have had more kids (we just have 1, he has a daughter from another relationship as well). But all in all, I’m very lucky to have a job I enjoy, a husband I love very much, and 2 beautiful daughters. I’m very thankful for what I have, and overall I’m very fortunate, so that is what I focus on.

    18. Twenty Points for the Copier*

      Really interested questions. I’m kind of hoping someone turns this into a data set of AAM readers.

      * What generation are you considered a part of?
      old end of the millennial generation

      * When did you get your first job? When (if ever) did you get your first full-time job?
      I worked part time one day a week when I was 12 or 13 for a while and full time over the summers when I was 18 and 19.

      * Did you feel pressure to move away from your home town to an area where the job market was better?
      I really wanted to leave the suburbs – the major city near where I grew up had lots of jobs, though.

      * When (if ever) did you get your own office with a door?
      at 32 when I started working from home full-time.

      * When (if ever) could you afford to move out of your parents’ house and pay for housing with your own income?
      I moved out at 23, but to be totally honest my parents were helping :/. I probably could have afforded something on my own (farther out, with roommates), but I think my mom was worried I’d end up somewhere she felt I was unsafe.

      * When (if ever) could you afford to live alone, without roommates?
      I moved in with my partner at age 25 and at that point, we were able to pay rent on our own.

      * When (if ever) could you afford to buy a house or a condo?
      I have lived in a succession of really, really expensive places. We could afford a small place now (mid-thirties), but are waiting until we have a little more income certainty and can afford a place with room for a home office.

      * When (if ever) did you have benefits like health insurance and a 401k or pension?
      just before I turned 25.

      * Did you ever consider delaying marriage, kids, or other major life changes because you were waiting for a higher income or more job security?
      I mean, we are delaying buying a house now, but I think that’s just the nature of the fields we’re in (I am self-employed and spouse spent a lot of time in grad school). Other than that, I have always felt that I don’t really want kids and we didn’t delay getting married.

      * Did your parents or mentors ever tell you that you were hitting these milestones too slowly or too quickly? Did you feel like your peers where progressing at a different pace than you, or that you never saw depictions of people with your lifestyle in the media?
      I used to get nagged a little about not having kids, but I think that’s more about there being no grandchildren in either family at this point. I feel pretty good about where I am right now, but until I was 25 I felt like I was WAY behind. I didn’t get my first job out of college until October (I graduated in May) and that was seasonal retail. After that ended, I was unemployed for a while, then got a yearlong pseudo paid internship. After that, more unemployment and then temping for several months. When I finally got my first full-time job with benefits, I was ecstatic – I felt super behind and like a failure until that happened.

      1. Piano Girl*

        1. I am a baby boomer (born in 1959).
        2. First job (besides babysitting) I cleaned house for my cousin, my piano teacher. First full-time job was at 18, between first and second year of college, for three months.
        3. Pressure to move away from town – I grew up in a bedroom community. Most people commuted every day.
        4. First office with a door – at 20, when I went to work for an accounting firm as a data punch operator. The room was soundproofed, since the keypunch machine made a racket!!
        5. Pay for my own housing? I got married at nineteen, while in college, so I’ve never truly lived on my own. My father-in-law helped us with the downpayment, we lived in the basement, and rented out the upstairs to students. I was the main breadwinner of the family while my husband was in school.
        6. Live alone? See above.
        7. We bought our first house when I was nineteen, and my husband was 23.
        8. Benefits – at 20 at the accounting firm. I remember that I didn’t qualify for the retirement plan because I was too young.
        9. Delaying marriage or children? We did not delay getting married, but delayed having our first child for a few years, as I was still pretty young, and had been encouraged to wait by my doctor. We delayed trying to have a second child until my husband had finished college.
        10. My parents (who married at about the same ages) were not thrilled at how young I was when we got married, as they knew what a sacrifice it was for me to quit school. After a few years, though, they were anxious for grandchildren. Most of my peers got married young, struggled through college, and graduated with multiple children. It’s just what we did.

    19. Lemon Zinger*

      * What generation are you considered a part of?
      I’m a late millennial. In my early 20s.

      * When did you get your first job? When (if ever) did you get your first full-time job?
      I was 17 when I got my first job. It was my senior year of high school and I worked 32 hours/week. I started my first full-time job a few months after graduating from college. I’d lined it up well before graduating.

      * Did you feel pressure to move away from your home town to an area where the job market was better?
      Yes. My parents moved away from my hometown while I was in college and their new location has a TERRIBLE job market. I never considered living there after I graduated, and gladly moved to a state with a lower COL.

      * When (if ever) did you get your own office with a door?
      I don’t have one yet, but I like my cubicle a lot more than an open office plan!

      * When (if ever) could you afford to move out of your parents’ house and pay for housing with your own income?
      Immediately after graduating from college.

      * When (if ever) could you afford to live alone, without roommates?
      Probably a year after entering the workforce, but I decided to move in with my SO and we have a lovely place. If I were living alone, it would be in a studio apartment in a run-down complex.

      * When (if ever) could you afford to buy a house or a condo?
      Not yet. I’m not really interested in buying a home or condo since I don’t intend to live here forever. Maybe as an investment property someday, though.

      * When (if ever) did you have benefits like health insurance and a 401k or pension?
      My first job out of college.

      * Did you ever consider delaying marriage, kids, or other major life changes because you were waiting for a higher income or more job security?
      No. I am not planning on having children and my SO and I are in no rush to marry. When we do decide to tie the knot, I will have to be making more money than I am now. And our wedding will be very small to save money.

      * Did your parents or mentors ever tell you that you were hitting these milestones too slowly or too quickly? Did you feel like your peers where progressing at a different pace than you, or that you never saw depictions of people with your lifestyle in the media?
      My parents are displeased with my decision to live with my SO before marriage, and they don’t think my job is really legitimate. It’s funny though, because I’m in a much better position than most of my peers. I also don’t have any student loan debt.

    20. Grayson*

      * What generation are you considered a part of? Millenial, as I was born in ’87.
      * When did you get your first job? When (if ever) did you get your first full-time job? I had my first full time job when I was… 19.
      * Did you feel pressure to move away from your home town to an area where the job market was better? No.
      * When (if ever) did you get your own office with a door? Never.
      * When (if ever) could you afford to move out of your parents’ house and pay for housing with your own income? When I joined the Army in 2008. I had previously been living with lovers.
      * When (if ever) could you afford to live alone, without roommates? Army, 2008.
      * When (if ever) could you afford to buy a house or a condo? I could probably buy one… now. (2016.)
      * When (if ever) did you have benefits like health insurance and a 401k or pension? 2008.
      * Did you ever consider delaying marriage, kids, or other major life changes because you were waiting for a higher income or more job security? Nope.
      * Did your parents or mentors ever tell you that you were hitting these milestones too slowly or too quickly? Did you feel like your peers where progressing at a different pace than you, or that you never saw depictions of people with your lifestyle in the media? No. Yes. No. My peers were definitely progressing at a different pace than I was. A lot of that had to do with their ability to take advantage of opportunities I couldn’t.

    21. LawPancake*

      * What generation are you considered a part of?
      Older millennial (’85)
      * When did you get your first job? When (if ever) did you get your first full-time job?
      16 – grocery store cashier
      * Did you feel pressure to move away from your home town to an area where the job market was better?
      Nope, left the state for law school and never once considered going back to the Bible Belt.
      * When (if ever) did you get your own office with a door?
      2nd job out of law school at 28.
      * When (if ever) could you afford to move out of your parents’ house and pay for housing with your own income?
      18, I lived in a small city with cheap housing costs and worked more than full time through community college then the commuter college. Staying at the parents’ house wasn’t an option for me though.
      * When (if ever) could you afford to live alone, without roommates?
      Housing costs were cheap enough that I was able to live without roommates except for helping out friend’s between housing situations.
      * When (if ever) could you afford to buy a house or a condo?
      29, with my dad helping on the down payment.
      * When (if ever) did you have benefits like health insurance and a 401k or pension?
      28, my first job out of school was contract.
      * Did you ever consider delaying marriage, kids, or other major life changes because you were waiting for a higher income or more job security?
      If I wanted kids in the future I would absolutely delay that decision until I had significantly more savings and less debt. I’ve never wanted kids so it hasn’t actually delayed anything. But I have 200k in student debt (thanks law school!) and have no realistic hope of ever paying it off (thanks financial crisis gutting the legal market!). It it weren’t for income based repayment programs I wouldn’t be able to afford my payments. As it is now, I can’t even afford to make a full interest payment so, even though I paid nearly 30k in the last two years, I owe $4ok more than when I graduated (my interest rates, like many other folks out there range from 3-9% and unfortunately the big ones are 7-9%).
      * Did your parents or mentors ever tell you that you were hitting these milestones too slowly or too quickly? Did you feel like your peers where progressing at a different pace than you, or that you never saw depictions of people with your lifestyle in the media?
      No to the first but I know that I’ve been extraordinarily lucky to get my current position and have numerous friends who are still struggling to find a job with a living wage.

    22. Collie*

      * What generation are you considered a part of? – I’m a Millennial. Just turned 25.
      * When did you get your first job? When (if ever) did you get your first full-time job? – My first-ever job I got in fast food at age 16. My first full-time job (aside from a two-month internship which was full time one summer) I got about five months after I graduated from undergrad in 2014. I was about to turn 24.
      * Did you feel pressure to move away from your home town to an area where the job market was better? – Yes and no. I had wanted to live in the area where my SO at the time was living for a long time before I even met my SO. But I don’t know that I would have moved here without feeling relatively confident about the job market.
      * When (if ever) did you get your own office with a door? – Not yet. Probably never, in my field. We tend to have a more open-office situation.
      * When (if ever) could you afford to move out of your parents’ house and pay for housing with your own income? – I couldn’t do it now, but my SO and I split rent. He pays a more significant portion as he makes more (and the same is true for groceries, etc. He owns the car but lets me use it and I chip in for gas now and then. It’s not terribly equal, but I’ve got student loans like you wouldn’t believe and he’s very understanding of that. It doesn’t escape me how lucky I am there.)
      * When (if ever) could you afford to live alone, without roommates? – Nope. Can’t now, probably couldn’t ever. Especially here.
      * When (if ever) could you afford to buy a house or a condo? – With my SO, probably a few years from now, but maybe not very near where we currently live.
      * When (if ever) did you have benefits like health insurance and a 401k or pension? – Starting when I got my first full-time job.
      * Did you ever consider delaying marriage, kids, or other major life changes because you were waiting for a higher income or more job security? – Yep. I haven’t purchased a car yet in large part because of that (I also am able to rely on public transit and the occasional use of my SO’s car meanwhile, but it would be more convenient to have my own). And if my mother asks me once more time about when I’m going to get married…
      * Did your parents or mentors ever tell you that you were hitting these milestones too slowly or too quickly? Did you feel like your peers where progressing at a different pace than you, or that you never saw depictions of people with your lifestyle in the media? – See above. But also, I’m really tired of the “lazy Millennials” narrative and the “entitled Millennials” narrative. They’re simply not true. I have three jobs and I did all three of those very well while going to grad school full time, earning a 3.9 GPA. I may be one anecdote, but I can say similar things about just about every Millennial I know. Sorry. I’m exceptionally bitter about the whole Millennial-shaming culture.

    23. Lillian Styx*

      * What generation are you considered a part of?
      So many Millennials, here’s one more (age 30)
      * When did you get your first job? When (if ever) did you get your first full-time job?
      First: age 16, First FT: age 23
      * Did you feel pressure to move away from your home town to an area where the job market was better?
      Nope. College notwithstanding I’ve always lived in the suburbs near a big city.
      * When (if ever) did you get your own office with a door?
      Age 28, after being at the same employer since 23.
      * When (if ever) could you afford to move out of your parents’ house and pay for housing with your own income?
      Age 24 but not alone; cohabitating with future-husband.
      * When (if ever) could you afford to live alone, without roommates?
      I could have squeaked by at age 23 but chose to stay home.
      * When (if ever) could you afford to buy a house or a condo?
      Age 27 but jointly with future-husband. I could never save a down-payment on my own.
      * When (if ever) did you have benefits like health insurance and a 401k or pension?
      Obamacare let me stay on my parents’ insurance plan until 26 I think but my 401k started with the first FT job at age 23.
      * Did you ever consider delaying marriage, kids, or other major life changes because you were waiting for a higher income or more job security?
      Not really. We delayed getting married because we wanted a house first and that took some time to save up for but that’s all. Delaying kids because Do Not Want (right now).
      * Did your parents or mentors ever tell you that you were hitting these milestones too slowly or too quickly? Did you feel like your peers where progressing at a different pace than you, or that you never saw depictions of people with your lifestyle in the media?
      The people we care about have never told us we were doing things wrong. They definitely have raised their eyebrows at us, but we never really cared about anyone’s opinion but each others’ (me and Mr. Styx that is). Many of our closest friends are doing the same thing we did. House, then marry, then kids maybe in some abstract futuretime… I’ve seen lots of peers marry when they “should,” have kids when they “should” and some seem to be completely miserable but most seem to be happy. To each their own. I only judge when someone has obviously only gotten married, etc. because they thought they had to. Can’t think of anything stupider.

    24. NacSacJack*

      Thank you for doing this. You’re not alone. I’ve heard this my entire life.

      * What generation are you considered a part of? Gen X’er *woo hoo*
      * When did you get your first job? Other than baby-sitting? 14.
      * When (if ever) did you get your first full-time job? 20 – dropped out of college for lack of $ (I don’t consider summer jobs full-time). Did night time schooling while I worked full-time, finished up my Associates degree, went as far in night school as I could until I had to go to day school.
      * Did you feel pressure to move away from your home town to an area where the job market was better? Yes, my home town was a bedroom community for a large metro area. I expected to find work in that area. My first post-college job was 250 miles away in a smaller metro.
      * When (if ever) did you get your own office with a door? Haven’t yet
      * When (if ever) could you afford to move out of your parents’ house and pay for housing with your own income? Had to do so right after college since my job was 250 miles away – would have been required to do so by parents once I had a job even if I had stayed in the area
      * When (if ever) could you afford to live alone, without roommates? I started out alone because I knew no one in town, then when I moved back to larger metro area, after a year had to get a roommate – higher COL
      * When (if ever) could you afford to buy a house or a condo? I probably could have afforded sooner, but then-bf didn’t want a house, probably 5-7 years after college – it comes down to what do you want. I wanted a dog and eventually kids. Back then, big dogs weren’t allowed in Condos
      * When (if ever) did you have benefits like health insurance and a 401k or pension? My first job at 21, didn’t know what it was, when I left to go to university, I cashed it out(might have been too small to keep anyways), 2nd job might have had 401K, I was living poor then, third job didn’t like that their 401K was mostly in company stock and matched with company stock, 4th job at 30 signed up right away
      * Did you ever consider delaying marriage, kids, or other major life changes because you were waiting for a higher income or more job security? Yes, house, kids, bought my first house 6 months after 9/11
      * Did your parents or mentors ever tell you that you were hitting these milestones too slowly or too quickly? I was way behind my parents and so were my older siblings. My parents were married at 21, done with kids by 25 and their first house by age 29/30. Also, being gay I knew my life would be different. What’s interesting is my parents never wanted me to have a house…until I met my first long-term bf, then it was like okay, now buy a house. I kinda went “Huh?”
      * Did you feel like your peers where progressing at a different pace than you, or that you never saw depictions of people with your lifestyle in the media? Yes and yes. My peers all graduated in 4 or 4.5 years. I was 4 years older than everyone else in my peer troup when I started my first post-college job.

    25. Girasol*

      What a great post and great comments. I always wondered if I did it right!
      Generation: Late boomer (born mid-fifties)
      First job: not counting babysitting, 16 (legal age in my state)
      Pressure to leave town: N/A, I wanted to move to a new place.
      Door: Never. I’m a cube farmer.
      Afford to leave parent’s home: Immediately after college, as my parents had made that expectation. I’d saved the equivalent of three months’ rent on a cheap studio apartment and was shocked to see two thirds of it go at once on security deposits for room and phone. I got the first dishwasher’s job I could find and barely survived the first few months before starting a real job search.
      Live alone: Since I’d moved to a new town, I was alone right off the bat. My best buddy joined me later.
      House or condo: When I married six years later.
      Benefits: Two years after college, at 24. Just basic medical, no retirement.
      Delayed marriage or kids: Yes. Good thing, too. I lost my opportunity to marry the wrong guy and start a family before either of us was ready.
      Hitting milestones late: Dad was appalled that after him helping me through college I was washing dishes and warehousing. But I didn’t feel bad compared to my peers because all my graduation cohort was equally disadvantaged for those first few years before the market went up again. Our situation was different from millennials’ in that college debt was not the albatross that it is now, housing costs were steep but not completely impossible, and it was still possible and rather expected for a college grad to get a liveable blue collar job to start out, although I did run up against “overqualified” sometimes. Can you even do that anymore?

      1. ThursdaysGeek*

        Right. The no college debt was a big advantage for me. I didn’t even know debt was an option!

        1. Manders*

          Oh yeah, not having college debt has very much shaped the way my life has played out so far. I lucked out and got a very rare form of financial aid (both my parents are tenured professors, their university has a benefit that pays most of a kid’s tuition for any undergraduate institution, public or private). Things would have gone very differently if I had to deal with a heavy debt load in my early 20s, or if I’d had to choose a college and major based on what I could do that would pay off those loans.

        2. Jillociraptor*

          Yes, I would peg this as the determining factor in my financial success as an adult. I had much less than average debt with small enough payments that I basically never had to plan financially to cover them, and my partner has no debt from any of his education (BA, JD, and now PhD). We’ve been able to have a lot more lattitude as we make choices because of the lack of debt.

    26. Blue Anne*

      * What generation are you considered a part of? Millennial. I am 27.

      * When did you get your first job? When (if ever) did you get your first full-time job? First job? Regular babysitting gig when I was 13. First job with a W2, summer camp counselor when I was 19.

      * Did you feel pressure to move away from your home town to an area where the job market was better? Not really. I got out because I wanted to get out, but the job market has been pretty good everywhere I’ve lived. I’m lucky that I’m in a high demand profession. (Accounting.)

      * When (if ever) did you get your own office with a door? Haven’t had one yet. I think if I didn’t job hop as much, stayed with the same company for a few more years, I could ask for one. Not a priority.

      * When (if ever) could you afford to move out of your parents’ house and pay for housing with your own income? I paid all of my own monthly expenses for the first time the month before I graduated from college. I had picked up a terrible call center job while writing up my thesis.

      * When (if ever) could you afford to live alone, without roommates? I just started living on my own for the first time 6 months ago, but I probably could have afforded it a few months ago. It’s nice, but I don’t like spending my money this way, and I’ll probably go back to roommates/sharing with partner ASAP.

      * When (if ever) could you afford to buy a house or a condo? I’m aiming to buy in about six months. Property is very affordable in my city. I’m going to buy a duplex, rent out one side of it, and maybe ask my boyfriend if he wants to move in with me. I’ll be 28.

      * When (if ever) did you have benefits like health insurance and a 401k or pension? I just got health insurance yesterday! I’ll get a 401(k) in a couple of months. This is deceptive, though – I only came back to America 8 months ago, and health insurance was unnecessary when I lived in the UK.

      * Did you ever consider delaying marriage, kids, or other major life changes because you were waiting for a higher income or more job security? My ex-husband and I delayed kids until he was happy with our income level. Thus, we ended up not having kids before we divorced. Thank god. Beyond that, though, I’m not interested in delaying life plans any more. If I want to do it, that’s the right time to do it.

      * Did your parents or mentors ever tell you that you were hitting these milestones too slowly or too quickly? Did you feel like your peers where progressing at a different pace than you, or that you never saw depictions of people with your lifestyle in the media? My mom is shocked that I’m interested in buying a house. My grandma thinks I’m right on target and doing great. I’m “progressing” faster than most of my friends, but that’s partially because I’m a very privileged person (debt free white lady in a sensible profession) and partly because my friends value the house/pension type deal less than I do.

    27. Mimmy*

      I’ll play!

      * What generation are you considered a part of?
      I think Gen X (born in 1973)

      * When did you get your first job? When (if ever) did you get your first full-time job?
      First job was during high school as a church rectory receptionist. First truly FT job was in 2001.

      * Did you feel pressure to move away from your home town to an area where the job market was better?
      No, though because I can’t drive, I did feel limited in my options. Still do.

      * When (if ever) did you get your own office with a door?
      Temp position in 2010 – it was actually a small conference room.

      * When (if ever) could you afford to move out of your parents’ house and pay for housing with your own income?
      Moved away from home in 1999 when I got married.

      * When (if ever) could you afford to live alone, without roommates?
      Same as above – never had roommates.

      * When (if ever) could you afford to buy a house or a condo?
      We bought our first home in 2002, which we still live in to this day.

      * When (if ever) did you have benefits like health insurance and a 401k or pension?
      From 2001 – 2005 in FT job noted above

      * Did you ever consider delaying marriage, kids, or other major life changes because you were waiting for a higher income or more job security?
      No

      * Did your parents or mentors ever tell you that you were hitting these milestones too slowly or too quickly? Did you feel like your peers where progressing at a different pace than you, or that you never saw depictions of people with your lifestyle in the media?
      I’ve definitely been progressing too slowly – no one has ever said so overtly, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s what people are thinking. I met many great people when pursuing both my Masters and graduate certificate, and they definitely have progressed more than me, which is disheartening.

    28. aubrey*

      What generation are you considered a part of?
      * Millennial (1987)

      When did you get your first job? When (if ever) did you get your first full-time job?
      * I started working at 12 (babysitting) or 15 (regular retail job). I was in grad school until age 25, worked a string of freelance and part-time contract jobs, then got a full-time job at 27.

      Did you feel pressure to move away from your home town to an area where the job market was better?
      * I wanted to get the fuck out of of my hometown since I was a preteen. I moved 6 hours away at age 18 for university and never lived in my hometown again. It wasn’t primarily for job market reasons, but the job market in my hometown is pretty much farming or retail or drug dealing, so. That contributed.

      When (if ever) did you get your own office with a door?
      * Never. Only open floor plan offices and briefly a cube farm. I do have a home office now though!

      When (if ever) could you afford to move out of your parents’ house and pay for housing with your own income?
      * 20. I lived with my boyfriend, and he did pay a larger share of the rent since he had a full-time job and I was a student working part-time minimum wage jobs. But I did pay my share.

      When (if ever) could you afford to live alone, without roommates?
      * 20 was the last time I lived with roommates, but I lived with the boyfriend until we broke up when I was 26 and I moved into my own place, alone. I couldn’t afford it comfortably for a couple years, but I loooooooooove living alone so I took the gamble and made sacrifices in other areas.

      When (if ever) could you afford to buy a house or a condo?
      * I’m hoping to be able to in the next 5 years… but really it might be more like 10 since I want a house not a condo and to live in a fairly expensive area.

      When (if ever) did you have benefits like health insurance and a 401k or pension?
      * I had benefits for the 5 months that I worked in a job I hated. I’ve chosen to freelance and work for a startup and so not having benefits is part of that choice. I’m Canadian so I don’t need to worry as much about health care expenses, thankfully. As a note, I’ve never considered having a pension to be a possibility, and I only know one person my age who has one (government). I’ve always been aware that my retirement was going to be my own responsibility to save for.

      Did you ever consider delaying marriage, kids, or other major life changes because you were waiting for a higher income or more job security?
      * I don’t want kids and don’t care that much when/if I get married. But I would love to live in a different city, travel, and own a house, and I’ve delayed all those things for financial reasons.

      Did your parents or mentors ever tell you that you were hitting these milestones too slowly or too quickly? Did you feel like your peers where progressing at a different pace than you, or that you never saw depictions of people with your lifestyle in the media?
      * For me it’s more about the milestones I’ve opted out of, which is another thing that people have moral panics about. I’ve never been that concerned about hitting milestones, and my parents and friends have mostly not made a big deal of it either. I do feel like people are starting to really judge me/be concerned about me for being an unmarried 30 year old woman though. I also feel a lot of pressure to be successful in my career – both in an achievement way and in a financial way – to justify the choices I’ve made (like freelancing instead of finding a steady job, and living alone instead of saving more money by living with roommates or at home). My parents were already established in their careers, owned a house, married, had me, and got divorced by the time they were my age, which is weird to think about. But my friends are all over the map in terms of milestones.

    29. Temperance*

      * What generation are you considered a part of? Millenial

      * When did you get your first job? When (if ever) did you get your first full-time job? First job besides babysitting: 16 at a movie theater; first full-time job, 23 in shared office space

      * Did you feel pressure to move away from your home town to an area where the job market was better? Pressure? I mean, I guess, but I’m from a terrible area with a crap job market, nothing to do if you’re not into going to church every day of the week, and I didn’t fit in because of my education/cultural preferences. (Scranton, in case you’re wondering.)

      * When (if ever) did you get your own office with a door? Two years ago.

      * When (if ever) could you afford to move out of your parents’ house and pay for housing with your own income? I don’t know how to answer this? I paid for my own housing in college and never looked back.

      * When (if ever) could you afford to live alone, without roommates? Not sure how to answer this, been living with Booth since college.

      * When (if ever) could you afford to buy a house or a condo? 2014

      * When (if ever) did you have benefits like health insurance and a 401k or pension? First “real” job

      * Did you ever consider delaying marriage, kids, or other major life changes because you were waiting for a higher income or more job security? yes

      * Did your parents or mentors ever tell you that you were hitting these milestones too slowly or too quickly? Did you feel like your peers where progressing at a different pace than you, or that you never saw depictions of people with your lifestyle in the media? So this is one of those class marker things. My family is blue collar. They wanted me home until marriage. They wanted me to be a teacher, nurse, or secretary.

    30. Annie Moose*

      1. I am a Millenial!

      2. First job… I did some seasonal retail work in high school. Aside from that, a paid internship in college (when I was 19). First full-time job was after I graduated college, when I was 21.

      3. Definitely. I didn’t end up having to for my first job, because it was with the same (locally-headquartered) company that I interned with, but when I was laid off from there, there just weren’t a lot of options in my area. I may not have NEEDED to, but my options basically came down to “move and have a job with a higher salary now” and “don’t move, don’t find a job for awhile, and probably don’t make a higher salary anyway”.

      4. Still waiting! I’ve downgraded, actually… when I was an intern and for the first year of full-time, I had a cubicle with high walls, for the rest of my full-time I had a cubicle with low walls, and now I’m in an open office. (which I actually don’t mind THAT much; I zone out easily when I’m working on something so I don’t hear the noise when I’m focused)

      5. A few months after I started working full-time. I lived at home during college, so I saved a ton of money from my internship, plus the first couple months of my full-time salary. My internship was surprisingly well-paid, so I likely could’ve moved out while I was still in college, if I’d been willing to get roommates (which I wasn’t!).

      6. See above–I’ve never lived with roommates (aside from my immediate family, of course), because I just don’t think I could deal with it.

      7. I could now. I don’t really want to (the maintenance and extra costs of home ownership outweigh my annoyance at neighbors, thus far), and I only just moved to this area for a job so I don’t know how long I plan to stay here.

      8. The aforementioned first full-time job. No pension, though–they got rid of that long before I came on the scene.

      9. Hasn’t come up for me. :)

      10. My parents are really good about not interfering, so they haven’t said much like that. In comparison to my peers, I definitely have been very blessed. How many people go out of college straight into a nice full-time salaried job with decent benefits, these days?? I know I make more than most people my age, and because I’m pretty frugal, I have a very comfortable savings fund. Part of this is my degree, part of it is that internship in college: not only did it pay me, but it gave me experience AND turned into a fulltime job. That gave me a huge leg up that other people didn’t necessarily have. (but was more about being in the right place at the right time than me being exceptional, in my opinion!)

    31. Emilia Bedelia*

      – Very Millenial.
      – First job: 17, senior year of high school. Full time: Internship, if that counts, at age 19. First full-time/full year job: 21
      – I had no location preference for jobs. I moved out of state for college so I mostly focused on finding a job… anywhere. Location wasn’t too important.
      – Haha, not yet! Director level and above gets the offices at my job.
      – 21, when I got my full-time job. (not counting college)
      – 21
      – Haven’t yet
      – 21
      – Haven’t really hit that point yet, but I am certainly holding off on making choices like that until I pay off student loans.
      – Not really. I wish I had waited to move to my own apartment and had lived with roommates, which was suggested to me by a lot of people, but I didn’t know anyone in the area of my first full-time job and finding a roommate never panned out.

    32. Annon2016*

      * What generation are you considered a part of? Millenial
      * When did you get your first job? When (if ever) did you get your first full-time job? 16 (had graduated HS and was in college)
      * Did you feel pressure to move away from your home town to an area where the job market was better? Yes, but didn’t.
      * When (if ever) did you get your own office with a door? 20
      * When (if ever) could you afford to move out of your parents’ house and pay for housing with your own income? Moved out at 16 and had roommates until 18.
      * When (if ever) could you afford to live alone, without roommates? Since 18 I lived alone in CHEAP, CHEAP housing for several years. Lived with S/O for past 5 years, but *could* have afforded to live in extremely cheap housing ( barely scraping by) alone since around 21.
      * When (if ever) could you afford to buy a house or a condo? I bought a house at 21. It is much cheaper than renting an apartment in my area.
      * When (if ever) did you have benefits like health insurance and a 401k or pension? 16 (really translates to 18 because I was graduated, in college, and working in a professional firm)
      * Did you ever consider delaying marriage, kids, or other major life changes because you were waiting for a higher income or more job security? Yes, currently early to mid twenties and not planning on children because the cost of childcare is too high to be currently feasible and I feel like the opportunity-cost would be damaging to my career.
      * Did your parents or mentors ever tell you that you were hitting these milestones too slowly or too quickly? Did you feel like your peers where progressing at a different pace than you, or that you never saw depictions of people with your lifestyle in the media? My parents encouraged me to continue on the path I was on. Objectively I would consider myself to be more successful than what I see portrayed in the media for my generation. Although, I do think it happened really early and I feel like I missed out on some fun relaxing years and jumped straight into a career campaign.

    33. Hear you*

      I am a baby boomer. Children are 21, 27, 31. things are different. They always are. Times change, economy changes. The oldest 2 are on their own. Neither married but so what? One will make more money this year then his father ever did. Does that make him ahead of the curve or fortunate to have a job he loves that pays him well (including overtime which he is very willing to do). The 27 is breaking even but does that put her behind the curve? Or is it just that she first tried to make a go of it in a dying field? (some one has to make the last buggy whips). None of them are married but then I was 28 and their father was 29 when we got married (that was old), we, like our parents, didn’t have our first children till they were 30ish. Does that make us outside the norm for our generation? What does that make our parents?
      All this does is make us doubt ourselves even more. The question is are you where you want to be? If not you have to figure out how/what to change.
      The reality is there is a limit to how much better then next generation can do compared to the earlier ones. There can’t always be giant steps.

      1. Blue Anne*

        The big concern for a lot of people my age isn’t that we’re not going to be ahead of our parents, but that we’re taking a big step back from the previous generation.

        It isn’t true for me, but that’s really because I’m from a pretty wealthy family.

        I have a lot of pretty heated talks about this with my mom. She’s 64, I’m 27. We skipped a generation in the middle there. Both of us look askance at the other’s views on these questions.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Yeah, my parents were 40 years older than me. They just missed so much stuff because of the age difference. Conversations took a loooong time and even once we finished they still did not get it. Actually, I felt protective of them for this reason. I worried about what they did not understand, was their lack of understanding going to hurt them? (Yes it did. But so does mine. That’s how life goes.)

      2. all aboard the anon train*

        Like Blue Anne said, it’s not so much that my generation is looking to get ahead of our parents, but the realization that we’ll never be on even footing with them and we’re several steps behind.

        Most of my generation won’t have as much money saved up in personal savings, 401Ks, IRAs, or pensions because we have so much debt. And most of us won’t have assets like homes or condos because we can’t afford them with housing costs being so high and salaries being so stagnant.

        I make more than my mother does currently, but I also have less in terms of retirement and personal savings than she did at my age. At my age, she had a house, a car, and kids. I can’t afford any of that because I’m bogged down with debt, high COL, and a stagnant salary. She had a better economy when she was out of college. I had the economy tank. We went to the same alma mater. She graduated in 1978 and paid $1,500 a year. I graduated in 2008 and it cost me $18,000 a year. And this was an in-state four year public university. My parents bought a three bed home when they were 27 that cost $35,000. A three bed house in the same area today costs between $350,000-$400,000.

        So, for me, it’s not so much wanting to do better than my parents, but the realization that I don’t even have the same opportunities based on financial situations. Everything has drastically increased in price, except salaries.

        1. Natalie*

          The general condition of a generation, say, Millennials, has broad effects on the overall economy, too. A lot of people of all ages have “wealth” tied up in their homes – what happens to that asset if the largest group of homebuyers can’t afford the price? It can’t be liquidated and doesn’t function as an asset anymore. If a lot of people who otherwise would have had children delay or forbear children entirely, our next generation of workers will be smaller. And so on.

    34. Crylo Ren*

      * What generation are you considered a part of?
      Millennial (late 20s).

      * When did you get your first job? When (if ever) did you get your first full-time job?
      First full-time job about 4 months after I graduated college. I was REALLY lucky, though. Many of my peers didn’t find jobs until 6mos+.

      * Did you feel pressure to move away from your home town to an area where the job market was better?
      No pressure from a job standpoint, because jobs pay very well here. However, there is a lot of COL pressure. I’m open to moving, but it’s hard to find that balance of equivalent pay + lower housing prices.

      * When (if ever) did you get your own office with a door?
      Only the Cube Life for me. I’m in a hybrid cube / open office plan in my current role.

      * When (if ever) could you afford to move out of your parents’ house and pay for housing with your own income?
      I moved out about 2 years after getting my first “adult” job, after saving up a good emergency fund.

      * When (if ever) could you afford to live alone, without roommates?
      I’ve always lived with my fiance, and have had some years where I had an additional roommate.

      * When (if ever) could you afford to buy a house or a condo?
      I live in an area where housing prices are ridiculously high. I have $30k saved but will likely need to scrimp and pinch for the next 3 years before I can afford to put a down payment on a minimally acceptable condo.

      * When (if ever) did you have benefits like health insurance and a 401k or pension?
      Always.

      * Did you ever consider delaying marriage, kids, or other major life changes because you were waiting for a higher income or more job security?
      Yep – I got engaged in 2013 but we aren’t getting married/having a wedding until next year because I was waiting until I had a job that paid me as much as I am making now.

      * Did your parents or mentors ever tell you that you were hitting these milestones too slowly or too quickly? Did you feel like your peers where progressing at a different pace than you, or that you never saw depictions of people with your lifestyle in the media?
      From my parents’ perspective, not necessarily too slowly…more like I’m just not working in an exciting enough field because I’m not working in the entertainment industry, am not a doctor, not a flight attendant, and not a PHD-level teacher like my cousins. However, I probably have the best salary and most stable job out of all of them so I’m not too concerned that I’m not exciting enough. ;)

      From my peers’ perspective: Many of my peers seem to be progressing much more slowly than I am in terms of my career. They’re still working minimum-wage, hourly, low-level jobs at tiny family-owned businesses whereas I’ve been working at progressively larger, multi-state corporations, make a great salary and would be considered manager-level.

    35. Imaginary Number*

      * What generation are you considered a part of? Millennial (very early edge of it)
      * When did you get your first job? When (if ever) did you get your first full-time job? 14, 23
      * Did you feel pressure to move away from your home town to an area where the job market was better? No
      * When (if ever) did you get your own office with a door? 25 (But I don’t think that’s a good indicator because so many companies are moving to more open floor plans, even for higher level positions)
      * When (if ever) could you afford to move out of your parents’ house and pay for housing with your own income? 21
      * When (if ever) could you afford to live alone, without roommates? 23
      * When (if ever) could you afford to buy a house or a condo? 30
      * When (if ever) did you have benefits like health insurance and a 401k or pension? 23
      * Did you ever consider delaying marriage, kids, or other major life changes because you were waiting for a higher income or more job security? No. Just didn’t go that way for me anyway.
      * Did your parents or mentors ever tell you that you were hitting these milestones too slowly or too quickly? Did you feel like your peers where progressing at a different pace than you, or that you never saw depictions of people with your lifestyle in the media? I went the military route first, so generally I think I hit most milestones much earlier due to the financial stability that provided straight out of college.

    36. Friday*

      * What generation are you considered a part of? – Old Millennial (35)
      * When did you get your first job? When (if ever) did you get your first full-time job? – First job at 15, first FT job at 18 (first summer after first year of college)
      * Did you feel pressure to move away from your home town to an area where the job market was better? – Yes, ended up picking a geographically-bound industry
      * When (if ever) did you get your own office with a door? – Cubes, open office desks, still no office with a door
      * When (if ever) could you afford to move out of your parents’ house and pay for housing with your own income? – 19, sophmore year of college (lived in dorms freshman year)
      * When (if ever) could you afford to live alone, without roommates? – 21, right after college
      * When (if ever) could you afford to buy a house or a condo? – 27 first home, in escrow for 2nd home right now
      * When (if ever) did you have benefits like health insurance and a 401k or pension? – 21, first job after college onward
      * Did you ever consider delaying marriage, kids, or other major life changes because you were waiting for a higher income or more job security? – yes, waited until 30 to have first kid due to $$
      * Did your parents or mentors ever tell you that you were hitting these milestones too slowly or too quickly? Did you feel like your peers where progressing at a different pace than you, or that you never saw depictions of people with your lifestyle in the media? – Not about work or housing, but I’ve been harassed about making baby #1 and now if there’ll be any more since early 20s.

    37. Soupspoon McGee*

      I love this idea, and I love reading everyone’s answers!

      * What generation are you considered a part of?
      -Gen X, flannel and all.
      * When did you get your first job? When (if ever) did you get your first full-time job?
      -I started mowing lawns and babysitting for neighbors at about age 11 or 12. I got my first FT job with benefits at age 26 or 27 (after realizing the thing I want to grad school for would leave me in PT adjunct hell).
      * Did you feel pressure to move away from your home town to an area where the job market was better?
      -I never ever wanted to live in my home town after high school. Even if I wanted to, it would have been very difficult to stay unless I wanted to commute to the nearest Big City.
      * When (if ever) did you get your own office with a door?
      -Age 27.
      * When (if ever) could you afford to move out of your parents’ house and pay for housing with your own income?
      -This is tricky. I moved out when I went off to college, got married in college, we bought a house, then I got divorced and got into debt trying to live solo and recalibrate for a few years. I bought my own house and lived alone at age 27-28, but was barely treading water for a long time.
      * When (if ever) could you afford to live alone, without roommates?
      -Honestly, it would have made financial sense to have roommates after the divorce.
      * When (if ever) could you afford to buy a house or a condo?
      -It depends on what “afford” means. See above–bought a house at age 27-ish. I didn’t get in more debt, but took forever and a career change to pay it off.
      * When (if ever) did you have benefits like health insurance and a 401k or pension?
      -I was PT faculty at age 22 or so, and I think they started paying into retirement when I was about 24 or 25. I didn’t have a job with insurance until a career change at age 27.
      * Did you ever consider delaying marriage, kids, or other major life changes because you were waiting for a higher income or more job security?
      -Sort of? I dove into marriage way too young. Post-divorce, I dated and really wanted kids, but delayed marriage/children until I felt like I was with the right person to raise kids with, yet made enough money to take care of them on my own. I met someone great when I was about 41, but by then, he had teenagers and didn’t want babies, and my eggs told me to f*ck off anyway.
      * Did your parents or mentors ever tell you that you were hitting these milestones too slowly or too quickly? Did you feel like your peers were progressing at a different pace than you, or that you never saw depictions of people with your lifestyle in the media?
      -My parents didn’t bother me about milestones, but occasionally make concerned noises about life. Mentors have been few and far between, but have not made me feel like I’m doing it wrong. On the other hand, I am frustrated by broader cultural/media depictions of single women. I spent my 30’s lamenting that although I owned my own home and had a decent job, I was not fulfilled because I didn’t have the whole man/baby/white picket fence package.

    38. SomeoneLikeAnon*

      * What generation are you considered a part of? Millennial
      * When did you get your first job? When (if ever) did you get your first full-time job? 15; first full time was military at 18, post-military 29.
      * Did you feel pressure to move away from your home town to an area where the job market was better? Nope
      * When (if ever) did you get your own office with a door? Not as of yet
      * When (if ever) could you afford to move out of your parents’ house and pay for housing with your own income? Immediately
      * When (if ever) could you afford to live alone, without roommates? Well, I was authorized to live without roommates at 19, but they were dorm rooms. My first apartment without roommates was at 22.
      * When (if ever) could you afford to buy a house or a condo? With all the traveling I never gave it a serious consideration until I left the military. Bought my house, with husband, as co-signer at 28.
      * When (if ever) did you have benefits like health insurance and a 401k or pension? Immediately – go military benefits.
      * Did you ever consider delaying marriage, kids, or other major life changes because you were waiting for a higher income or more job security? Nope.
      * Did your parents or mentors ever tell you that you were hitting these milestones too slowly or too quickly? Did you feel like your peers where progressing at a different pace than you, or that you never saw depictions of people with your lifestyle in the media? Nope

    39. Chickaletta*

      * What generation are you considered a part of?
      Gen X

      * When did you get your first job? When (if ever) did you get your first full-time job?
      16 (part-time), 22 (full-time)

      * Did you feel pressure to move away from your home town to an area where the job market was better?
      In general, yes, but not directly from people I knew.

      * When (if ever) did you get your own office with a door?
      24.? It was in an espestos-ridden basement though, and I haven’t had a proper office with a door since about 27.

      * When (if ever) could you afford to move out of your parents’ house and pay for housing with your own income?
      22

      * When (if ever) could you afford to live alone, without roommates?
      22

      * When (if ever) could you afford to buy a house or a condo?
      32, with the help of a down payment from my parents.

      * When (if ever) did you have benefits like health insurance and a 401k or pension?
      What’s that? JK. I’ve had health insurance for awhile, but it was never very good and I was on an expensive HDHP by 2007. I’ve had a 401K since about 2007, but it has been very hard to contribute to it. Retirement will be a struggle and it’s one of the things that keeps me up at night. I don’t know what else to do though, our paycheck is finite.

      * Did you ever consider delaying marriage, kids, or other major life changes because you were waiting for a higher income or more job security?
      No. I got married at 29, had my son at 34, because that’s just when it happened. In hindsight, I would have waited longer to get married though because I think I settled. But at the time I felt like my chances of having a traditional white wedding were running out. It was stupid. I’ve spent years paying for the chance to walk down the aisle in a beautiful white dress, and it’s not in dollars.

      * Did your parents or mentors ever tell you that you were hitting these milestones too slowly or too quickly? Did you feel like your peers where progressing at a different pace than you, or that you never saw depictions of people with your lifestyle in the media?
      My dad used to lecture me about saving for retirement all the time when I was in my 20s. I kept explaining to him that I couldn’t afford to save money like that: everything went to rent, food, car, etc. He just didn’t get it. I finally told him that I was an adult and my money wasn’t his business anymore and he stopped.

      In my 20s, I felt a lot of self-imposed pressure to achieve more life goals. That is a time in life when friends and classmates start getting married and having kids. It’s the first time in your life that you’ll see people your age buy a house, get master’s degrees and go to med school. You probably know a handful of really successful peers who start doing big things in their 20s like start companies, become executives, become doctors, become semi-famous, or receive a high award or recognition. It is a hard time of criticism if you want to do those things too but haven’t yet. It is like this for everyone of all generations. It is even harder now because social media informs you on a daily basis what everyone is doing. It’s like going to your 10 year reunion every time you turn on Facebook. So, as a 39 year old who’s been through that, let me let you on a few secrets: 1) Most people are where you are at. All those high-achievers are just a few years ahead of where you will be in a few years. Stay on track, you will get there before you know it and you’ll probably enjoy yourself a lot more anyway. 2) Life isn’t over at 30. This idea that all the good stuff happens in your 20s is a load of crap. You don’t become another person or feel any different when you get older. In fact, you feel exactly the same as you do now and have the same personality, you will just be a different number on paper. That’s it. Stop believing that there’s some kind of expiration on getting married, finishing your degree, meeting your soulmate, or achieving career success. You will be a lot happier if you can. Oh, one thing that’s different in your 30s: you’ll get all this; you’ll learn to stop comparing yourself to other people and meeting other people’s expectations, and you’ll be a lot fucking happier for it.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Love this, because it’s true that time can be very kind. The stuff that we think is important becomes less important and other stuff emerges as a priority. Some stuff is wildly over-rated and we can eventually decide that life is just fine without it.

        Honestly, I thought that my 20s were the second hardest period in my life. That expectation, “well you SHOULD KNOW!”
        “Well, I don’t know, get over it and tell me what it is I should know!”
        It was hard to tell if an established adult was talking down to me because I was in my 20s or if the established adult was honestly assuming that I actually did know.
        I always had a sense that established adults were waiting for me to fall on my face.
        I got into my 30s and my give-a-damn died.
        I remembered my father saying he was around 40 when he stopped worrying about every single darn thing that people thought or said.

        Punchline, I relate to 20 somethings who are floundering. I remember and I get it. It was awful, one particular thing that stands out for me was the medical people and the lawyers thought they could tell me anything and I would believe them. Now I walk in with my gray hair and I do not get treated that way. If you are 20ish and you think you are getting treated differently, that is not your imagination. But it will pass, which does not make it right but maybe it will help make it bearable.

    40. ThursdaysGeek*

      *I think I’m a boomer, but just barely (born 1961)
      *I had jobs in high school and college. I worked after I got my degree, but it was about 4-5 years after I got my degree that I got my first full time job relating to the degree.
      *I had already moved for college.
      *I’ve only had an office with a door with one job (my first)
      *I was paying for my own place on part time work while I was in college. Minimum wage was about $3/hr but I had no costs for a phone or car. I also worked as a nanny and got room and board (while in college), and roomed with 2 others in a house. I got married right before graduation, so I’ve never been alone since then.
      *With my spouse, we bought a house shortly after I got my first real job using my degree. And then we put his entire income on it, because the interest rate was 10%. We paid it off in about 2 years.
      *My jobs have always included health insurance and 401Ks, but never a pension.
      *At my 10 year high school reunion, I felt like I was behind my peers (and didn’t attend), because I was still struggling to get my first real job.

      I have empathy with today’s young graduates, because I see the same struggles I had. And I don’t see a lot of slackers, just people trying hard in hard situations.

    41. zora*

      * What generation are you considered a part of?
      Generation Catalano (GenX/Y cusp)
      * When did you get your first job? When (if ever) did you get your first full-time job?
      Delivering papers at 11, babysitting at 12/13. Professional theater tech while still in HS. First ‘day job’ right after HS graduation(18) while in college part-time.
      * Did you feel pressure to move away from your home town to an area where the job market was better?
      No, but left the area because I wanted to live in other cities.
      * When (if ever) did you get your own office with a door?
      29. Nonprofit program director, small office. Then downgraded on my next job at 31, haven’t had my own office since.
      * When (if ever) could you afford to move out of your parents’ house and pay for housing with your own income?
      20. While in college, but part of that income was student loans. But started working enough to pay rent right after graduating.
      * When (if ever) could you afford to live alone, without roommates?
      34.
      * When (if ever) could you afford to buy a house or a condo?
      Still can’t
      * When (if ever) did you have benefits like health insurance and a 401k or pension?
      27. But then on and off since then, I have had jobs that did not include health insurance into my 30s.
      * Did you ever consider delaying marriage, kids, or other major life changes because you were waiting for a higher income or more job security?
      Yep.
      * Did your parents or mentors ever tell you that you were hitting these milestones too slowly or too quickly? Did you feel like your peers where progressing at a different pace than you, or that you never saw depictions of people with your lifestyle in the media?
      Not the first one. But the second one definitely, I have definitely felt behind my peers many times in my life.

      1. zora*

        And I’m lucky that my parents are awesome, and also had hiccups in their lives and married each other pretty late. My mom was already years ago loudly annoyed at people writing about ‘lazy millennials’ and feels like the Boomer generation screwed up the economy for everyone and has no right to be judging younger people for not being able to afford homes and kids on stagnant wages, and has said exactly that to me and my sister many times. It’s helpful having my parents being so supportive when I feel so far behind, and have many times had to resort to temping or retail to make ends meet.

        1. AnotherAlison*

          I wanted to comment in response to the comment about boomer generation screwing up the economy. I don’t think any one generation is responsible for screwing up the economy for another, but the game keeps evolving and our ability to play lags, since we don’t know the rules ahead of time.

          – My grandparents (deceased, would be in their 90s) retired comfortably off their CDs, which earned 8% interest. (!?!)
          – My parents started out in the early 1970s and dealt with high unemployment, high inflation, and high interest rates, and they had to save for their own retirements in the stock market.
          – Nothing generationally bad happened to me (gen x), but I graduated at a time between recessions.
          – My millennial sister was subject to the crappy economy and high education debt after getting 3 degrees to finally find a job.

          None of these things make it easy to win or doom you to lose, but the problem is that the rules change and you may be in front of it or behind it. I think the upcoming gen (my son is one – 19) sees what the millennials are going through and can change how they play the game, but something else will change for them, too, I’m sure.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Boomer generation screwing up the economy. We did. And so did our elders and so did their elders. But the beat goes on, because most generations will do something to screw up the economy.

            “Every generation blames the one before and all of their frustrations come beating on your door.”

            I can give credit for that song/artist as soon as I remember who it was.

            The best thing to do is to remember WHY each generation made the choices it did. Copy the good choices and ditch the bad choices.

            1. zora*

              of course. But also, the previous generation should stop calling the new generation of adults ‘lazy’ and ‘slackers’… because they say that every time, too, and every time it’s not true.

              1. Not So NewReader*

                Yeah, it’s embarrassing that boomers do this. They, of all people, should freakin’ know better. I have tried talking to some of my peers about their attitude, some listen and let their compassion win out and others… not so much.
                I’m with you, it ticks me off.

          2. zora*

            I was writing quickly, but my mom’s point is much more specific than that. The people in charge of the banks that did questionable things and actually hurt the economy were mostly Baby Boomers. And yet, there is a narrative mostly from Boomers that Millennials are lazy and it’s their fault if they don’t have a job/salary/house, etc. She thinks that specifically is bull, and that Boomers should be aware that Millennials are dealing with a much different economic set of circumstances than the Boomers had when they graduated college.

            Trust me, she knows things are different for every generation, her parents lived through the Great Depression. I was just talking about the “lazy millennial” narrative and how the very people who keep saying it have absolutely no business throwing stones.

    42. Ihmmy*

      Caveat: Canadian answering
      * What generation are you considered a part of? – Millenial! 1985
      * When did you get your first job? When (if ever) did you get your first full-time job? – Age 16 for any work, age 22 for first Full Time
      * Did you feel pressure to move away from your home town to an area where the job market was better? – not yet
      * When (if ever) did you get your own office with a door? – My own where I was the only person? Hasn’t happened yet
      * When (if ever) could you afford to move out of your parents’ house and pay for housing with your own income? – I moved out at 17 to go to university, but my parents split so my mom and I moved back in (more roommate like than parental after a year apart though), and then I moved into my boyfriends place at 21
      * When (if ever) could you afford to live alone, without roommates? 30 (it’s tight mind you)
      * When (if ever) could you afford to buy a house or a condo? 23
      * When (if ever) did you have benefits like health insurance and a 401k or pension? Uni had benefits for students, first job had extra health like dental and prescription but it was employee paid (which sucked), my second FT job had employer paid extra health. Doctors visits etc. always n0-fee because Canada. Started having auto withdrawals around 25 that will eventually become retirement savings but it’s a rather small dollar figure still because life keeps happening
      * Did you ever consider delaying marriage, kids, or other major life changes because you were waiting for a higher income or more job security? – planned a long engagement (twice) so we had lots of time to save, ended up breaking up before spending more than $500. No kids. I’d like to downsize but I’m not willing to deal with the financing and all that jazz involved in getting a smaller place right now.
      * Did your parents or mentors ever tell you that you were hitting these milestones too slowly or too quickly? Did you feel like your peers where progressing at a different pace than you, or that you never saw depictions of people with your lifestyle in the media? – my family was super impressed I bought a house at 23

      1. Ihmmy*

        bonus clarity – bought my house while I was with my then partner, though the mortgage was and is fully in my name. Living alone without roommates or spouse type person as of 30 (have lived a few years with partners and no roommate starting at 23). Milestones: I don’t want kids and I’m pretty meh on marriage so the housing was the main one, I think my grandma is waiting for me to ‘settle down’ but she hasn’t really said anything overt about it.

    43. KR*

      *I’m millennial (22).
      *I got my first job when I was 16. I have never had a full time job but I’ve been continuously balancing 2 part time jobs since I was 17.
      *The job market is better here then it is where I’m moving, actually. I haven’t felt any pressure, but I have felt wanderlust.
      *I share my office with my manager and my team who all come in at different times. Rarely are we all in at the same time.
      *I could afford to move out of my dad’s house when I was 21 and wasn’t pouring all of my money into school.
      *I could afford to live on my own (without my husband’s income) now, but given the current housing market and my pets it’s nearly impossible to actually find a place.
      *I cannot afford a house or condo.
      *I am under 26 so fortunately I can stay on my dad’s insurance as long as he continues at his current job. I also qualify for insurance through my husband’s job. The only insurance I’ve qualified for through my work is too expensive and not very good. I haven’t begun saving with a 401k or pension since most of my cash goes to bills.
      *It’s really hard actually because I’m turning down a really high paying full time niche job to move across the country to live with my husband. I was delaying living with my husband for the longest time because I was scared of risking my economic well being and security. I will get other job offers though and be okay.
      *My parents have always praised me for working so much and I feel like they think I’m more advanced in my career than I actually am. I have been gainfully employed and have an associate degree whereas many people I went to school with have bachelors degrees already but don’t have well paying jobs. I feel like I took the path a lot of people take when they can’t afford college and don’t want to be in debt and I think for me it was the right choice, but I wish I had that piece of paper.

    44. Princess Carolyn*

      * What generation are you considered a part of? Millennial, but kind of an old one
      * When did you get your first job? When (if ever) did you get your first full-time job? First job was when I was 16 in fast food. First full-time was right after college.
      * Did you feel pressure to move away from your home town to an area where the job market was better? Yes; I graduated 6 years ago and still haven’t been able to move back to my home town – but my husband’s situation has been a factor; might have been easier if it were just me.
      * When (if ever) did you get your own office with a door? Never have and probably never will – the industries I’ve worked in have never been big on private offices
      * When (if ever) could you afford to move out of your parents’ house and pay for housing with your own income? I did it as soon as I got my first job out of college (~6 weeks after graduation) but a grandparent paid my initial expenses like an apartment deposit, and I’ve been struggling to make ends meet ever since.
      * When (if ever) could you afford to live alone, without roommates? Probably never. I went from roommates to married but I know I couldn’t afford my (rather modest) apartment without my husband or a roommate.
      * When (if ever) could you afford to buy a house or a condo? I’m guessing never, even in my rather affordable location.
      * When (if ever) did you have benefits like health insurance and a 401k or pension? Had 401(k) since my first job out of college, and started paying for my own health insurance when I was 25.
      * Did you ever consider delaying marriage, kids, or other major life changes because you were waiting for a higher income or more job security? Job and financial issues are the primary reason I’m 28, married, and childless for the foreseeable future.
      * Did your parents or mentors ever tell you that you were hitting these milestones too slowly or too quickly? Did you feel like your peers where progressing at a different pace than you, or that you never saw depictions of people with your lifestyle in the media? I grew up poor so my parents don’t bug me about the milestones except for the kids part. I definitely feel left behind by my peers, who all seem to own houses now.

    45. Marcy Marketer*

      * What generation are you considered a part of? I’m a millennial
      * When did you get your first job? 15– I had to apply for a special permit since you normally have to be 16.
      * When (if ever) did you get your first full-time job? I went to grad school after college (I was 22), but it was free and I was paid a stipend to teach. I didn’t get a “real” 9-5 job until 24.
      * Did you feel pressure to move away from your home town to an area where the job market was better? yes 100%.
      * When (if ever) did you get your own office with a door? 25
      * When (if ever) could you afford to move out of your parents’ house and pay for housing with your own income? 24
      * When (if ever) could you afford to live alone, without roommates? I went from roommates to married, so never :)
      * When (if ever) could you afford to buy a house or a condo? 26
      * When (if ever) did you have benefits like health insurance and a 401k or pension? 22
      * Did you ever consider delaying marriage, kids, or other major life changes because you were waiting for a higher income or more job security? Yes, definitely.
      * Did your parents or mentors ever tell you that you were hitting these milestones too slowly or too quickly? Did you feel like your peers were progressing at a different pace than you, or that you never saw depictions of people with your lifestyle in the media?
      I think my parents feel like I’m moving too fast in terms of marrying and getting a house– they’d like me to stay young forever I think, but I feel behind some of my peers who married and bought houses right out of college. I’d certainly say I’m progressing faster than what we see in the media (Girls, etc), but I’m kind of an older millennial.

    46. EP*

      * What generation are you considered a part of? Millennial
      * When did you get your first job? When (if ever) did you get your first full-time job? I was babysitting from age 12 – but I worked at Blockbuster in my neighborhood when I was 16 (was fired from that job because I had strep and wasn’t going to have a voice {very hard to check people out when you can’t talk to them} and was still contagious{perfect person to be surrounded by other people})
      * Did you feel pressure to move away from your home town to an area where the job market was better? I live in the “extended” DC metro so nope
      * When (if ever) did you get your own office with a door? I had a door at my first job (I got placed into a closet/work room from my hire date (Thanksgiving) til the 1st of the year because technically my department didn’t’ exist yet & we didn’t have space) then again during a temp job, but I’ve mostly been in cubicles
      * When (if ever) could you afford to move out of your parents’ house and pay for housing with your own income? I lived out of my parents house for 3 years (with roommates) until I was unemployed and I moved home – now the SO & I are looking to buy
      * When (if ever) could you afford to live alone, without roommates? Never – I work in associations/NFPs I have come to expect that I will always have roommates
      * When (if ever) could you afford to buy a house or a condo? Hopefully by this spring – with the boyfriend
      * When (if ever) did you have benefits like health insurance and a 401k or pension? Always – after going 18 months without I won’t take a job that doesn’t offer them
      * Did you ever consider delaying marriage, kids, or other major life changes because you were waiting for a higher income or more job security? nope (they haven’t happened for other reasons – not for job reasons)
      * Did your parents or mentors ever tell you that you were hitting these milestones too slowly or too quickly? Did you feel like your peers where progressing at a different pace than you, or that you never saw depictions of people with your lifestyle in the media? My job type is not typical – I have only worked in 2 jobs that weren’t Non-Profits/Not-For-Profits and then I was a government contractor – while slightly more typical for my area I know I’m not making money like some of my peers – which is why I’m considering getting a certification in project management or something similar

    47. LuvThePets*

      * What generation? Gen X
      * First Job? Summer Job at 15 When (if ever) did you get your first full-time job? 21 when I graduated from College.
      * Did you feel pressure to move away from your home town to an area where the job market was better? I’ve never necessarily moved just for work/job market. I’ve moved to be close to family. When I lived in a small town, there was a metro area an hour away, and we did eventually move to be closer to work.

      * When (if ever) did you get your own office with a door? One of my lowest paying jobs at 24 had the nicest office. My highest paying (Director level) job 20 years later currently has me back in a cubicle because there is just a space premium. There is a $60,000+ difference in pay.
      * Living on own: Got married and were living on own immediately after college graduation (early 90’s), with two very low paying incomes (less than $40,000/yr combined).
      * When (if ever) could you afford to live alone, without roommates? See above.
      * When (if ever) could you afford to buy a house or a condo? Purchased first house, married, around 1998, 5 years after college graduation and marriage, with very little down payment, making about $55,000 combined income.
      * When (if ever) did you have benefits like health insurance and a 401k or pension? Off and on over the years, as I have worked in non-profits organizations. Husband has usually been able to provide health insurance if my organization did not. Have personally had consistent benefits for past 8 years.
      * Did you ever consider delaying marriage, kids, or other major life changes because you were waiting for a higher income or more job security? Have not delayed BIG issues (marriage, kids), but we have lived comfortable but frugal for years (no vacation or short, long weekend vacations). paying for bills before stuff.
      * Did your parents or mentors ever tell you that you were hitting these milestones too slowly or too quickly? Did you feel like your peers where progressing at a different pace than you, or that you never saw depictions of people with your lifestyle in the media? No. But then again, I don’t pay attention to this type of stuff. Not on facebook or social media with VERY few exceptions.

    48. Adlib*

      * What generation are you considered a part of? Gen X – I think? (1980)
      * When did you get your first job? After graduating high school. When (if ever) did you get your first full-time job? 3 months after graduating college.
      * Did you feel pressure to move away from your home town to an area where the job market was better? No, but I had always planned to do that so I did.
      * When (if ever) did you get your own office with a door? When I was 25.
      * When (if ever) could you afford to move out of your parents’ house and pay for housing with your own income? When I was 22.
      * When (if ever) could you afford to live alone, without roommates? Age 22
      * When (if ever) could you afford to buy a house or a condo? Age 31
      * When (if ever) did you have benefits like health insurance and a 401k or pension? Age 22
      * Did you ever consider delaying marriage, kids, or other major life changes because you were waiting for a higher income or more job security? Not really.
      * Did your parents or mentors ever tell you that you were hitting these milestones too slowly or too quickly? No, not really. I was always pretty self-motivated with regard to moving out/my career so I was always working hard whatever I was doing so nobody bothered me about it. Did you feel like your peers where progressing at a different pace than you, or that you never saw depictions of people with your lifestyle in the media? No, but keeping up with them was somewhat of a motivation for me to keep improving. Now I’m 36, and I feel like I’m finally where I want to be, and it seems like it didn’t take that long. I think about it, and I’m like “Wow, that really was 14 years that passed!”

    49. Manders*

      I wanted to chime in again and say that this discussion has been AWESOME. Thank you to everyone for sharing your stories.

    50. Danae*

      – GenX
      – First job was at age 14, providing childcare for ten hours a day for a couple of little girls during the summer. First full-time job was in college, doing data entry. (I had a light class load that was all in the evenings my last year of college.)
      – I hated living in my home town, and even 25 years ago San Jose was too expensive for anyone making less than $50k a year to live alone, so I moved to Seattle. My parents pressured me -not- to move.
      – I got a shared office with a door about 4 years into my adult working life. A non-shared office with a door came about 2 years after that. Then my company moved and I have not since had my own office.
      – I started living alone immediately after moving to Seattle, so when I was 22.
      – I bought a condo when I was 26. I sold it (and have not owned real estate since) when I was 31.
      – I started getting health insurance and 401(k)s when I was 24. My access to health insurance over the years has been intermittent, though.
      – I’ve never had kids, because I don’t want them. But I’ve also never been in a place where I could afford them, even if I wanted them.
      – My parents never brought it up with me but I can FEEL THE JUDGMENT from here. Most of my peers own real estate of some sort, and almost all of them are married. I don’t want to be married, and without two incomes owning property is a pipe dream.

    51. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      * What generation are you considered a part of?
      I guess X (’77) but I really hated Reality Bites and didn’t get any of their angst!
      * When did you get your first job? When (if ever) did you get your first full-time job?
      I think 12 for first job – paper route to help pay expenses for my traveling competitive soccer team. Full time work from 16 in the summers (specialist factory work)
      * Did you feel pressure to move away from your home town to an area where the job market was better?
      I’ve moved a lot in my life, but when I was 27 I felt the need to leave my college town and go somewhere with better, broader prospects and not limited by one or two industries and the federal govt
      * When (if ever) did you get your own office with a door?
      I’ve never had a door
      * When (if ever) could you afford to move out of your parents’ house and pay for housing with your own income?
      I moved out at 18 to go to school and paid for my own housing from then (dorm included), however I had almost free tuition in-state because my father is a professor. I have paid for my own housing since, but mom and dad have let me stay at home for a few month here and there when I was bouncing between moves/countries
      * When (if ever) could you afford to live alone, without roommates?
      When I was 27
      * When (if ever) could you afford to buy a house or a condo?
      I have never bought a house/condo but I could have afforded one when I was 27/8
      * When (if ever) did you have benefits like health insurance and a 401k or pension?
      From the age of 27
      * Did you ever consider delaying marriage, kids, or other major life changes because you were waiting for a higher income or more job security?
      I have never considered having kids OR getting married, but I am in a long term relationship (just hit 12 years last week. Yes, 27 seems to have been my inflection point!). They were never important to me. What was important was moving internationally and that I DID delay until I had more skills/savings. Right now we need to move apartments but had to wait until I had a permanent contract locked down.

      * Did your parents or mentors ever tell you that you were hitting these milestones too slowly or too quickly? Did you feel like your peers where progressing at a different pace than you, or that you never saw depictions of people with your lifestyle in the media?
      None of the above but I remember being very sad on my 30th birthday that I had failed somehow in that I didnt have some fancy city job, my bigger goals were further away, I didn’t own a house, etc etc. My father went back to school at 40 in a non traditional career and really, there wasnt much path following in our house. But still the media made me feel, especially at the peak of the bubble, that I didnt have what I was supposed to have (namely, a house)

    52. Emac*

      * What generation are you considered a part of?
      -Tail end of Gen X (1975)
      * When did you get your first job? When (if ever) did you get your first full-time job?
      -I think first job was at 14, first full time job was at 21
      * Did you feel pressure to move away from your home town to an area where the job market was better?
      -No, I’m from the Boston area; the market has always been pretty good here
      * When (if ever) did you get your own office with a door?
      -Still trying for that
      * When (if ever) could you afford to move out of your parents’ house and pay for housing with your own income?
      -First moved out at 21 after working in my first full time job for several months. But like others I’ve seen, I’ve been back and out, and finally got out for good in my early 30’s
      * When (if ever) could you afford to live alone, without roommates?
      -I was able to for a year or two in the early 2000’s, I think, when I was in my early 30’s. But I had to move about an hour out of the city for that then and I wouldn’t be able to do that at all now – traffic seems significantly worse, so the commute would probably be at least 1.5 hours now, plus housing and transportation prices are higher, so I couldn’t afford it even if I could stand the commute.
      * When (if ever) could you afford to buy a house or a condo?
      -If I stay in my current job and location, I doubt I will ever be able to (at least not until I win the Powerball!)
      * When (if ever) did you have benefits like health insurance and a 401k or pension?
      -In my first full time office job when I was 22. My company paid 100% of our health insurance, which at the time I assumed was what all companies did. I had no idea how good I had it! I should have stayed in that job longer.
      * Did you ever consider delaying marriage, kids, or other major life changes because you were waiting for a higher income or more job security?
      -Pretty much everything; buying a house/condo would be my first life change if I had a higher income.
      * Did your parents or mentors ever tell you that you were hitting these milestones too slowly or too quickly? Did you feel like your peers where progressing at a different pace than you, or that you never saw depictions of people with your lifestyle in the media?
      -My father is pretty supportive, as long as I’m happy and not stressed about money; my mother thought I moved out too quickly (and still thinks I should be living “at home”), but doesn’t really consider what I do a ‘career’, so she wouldn’t even think of the other milestones. I have definitely thought others were progressing faster than me, but am starting to be okay with it since I’ve had the opportunity to do a lot of different things, which actually helps me a lot in my current job.

    53. SeekingBetter*

      * Millenial
      * I got my first job at 14 at a restaurant working super part time. I got my first full-time job at said restaurant when I was around 22. Got my first full-time office job two years ago.
      * No, I never felt this pressure. I also thought it would be harder to find a job across the nation due to the economy all these years so I never tried to either.
      * Three years ago
      * I currently (and always have) live with my folks. I would need a reliable roommate if I ever were to move out. But if the next job gives me enough money, I have no problem living on my own.
      * With the way things are going, I’m not ever sure if I could live alone without any roommates.
      * Probably never.
      * I had health insurance at my last position.
      * As for marriage, I never cared or worried about it. I’m not a kid person so it’s not in consideration for me.
      * Most of my peers are all married, have kids, and have careers and financially stable jobs (including some close friends). I guess I’m the sore thumb sticking out!

    54. Cass*

      * What generation are you considered a part of? Millenial – I’m 28.
      * When did you get your first job? When (if ever) did you get your first full-time job? I got my first part time job when I was 11…and I just got my first full-time job 3 months ago. :( I was searching for 6 years, supplementing with part-time jobs in my field.
      * Did you feel pressure to move away from your home town to an area where the job market was better? A little bit, my adopted home town is really only home to a big university and that’s where I wanted to work.
      * When (if ever) did you get your own office with a door? YESTERDAY! (Sorry, very excited.)
      * When (if ever) could you afford to move out of your parents’ house and pay for housing with your own income? I moved in with my boyfriend after college so we were able to make it at age 22.
      * When (if ever) could you afford to live alone, without roommates? Probably now, if I wasn’t married. (To above boyfriend.)
      * When (if ever) could you afford to buy a house or a condo? Age 27.
      * When (if ever) did you have benefits like health insurance and a 401k or pension? Just got them 2 months ago.
      * Did you ever consider delaying marriage, kids, or other major life changes because you were waiting for a higher income or more job security? Yes, it’s something I considered delaying so I could start my career and feel more secure in my ability to return if I decided to stay home for longer than the employer-given time.
      * Did your parents or mentors ever tell you that you were hitting these milestones too slowly or too quickly? Did you feel like your peers where progressing at a different pace than you, or that you never saw depictions of people with your lifestyle in the media? I absolutely felt like a failure for not getting a full-time job. It may have been amplified in my own head because of anxiety issues but I ALWAYS felt less-than, subpar.

    55. Curtis*

      1. Millennial (25)
      2. 18 for first job, 23 for first full-time job
      3. No, but I never had any interest in staying so I didn’t pay much attention to the local job market. There are limited opportunities in my field in my hometown, but I moved out before I even had a field.
      4. I haven’t and it’s not something I’m really looking for on my current career path, except maybe on temporary assignments.
      5. 22
      6. 22
      7. I guess I could get a mortgage? One of my coworkers was looking into this recently and it seems very easy to buy houses. But I was raised by parents who didn’t think you should buy a house unless you could write a check for it and so even though I know that it can sometimes make more sense to have a mortgage than pay rent I’m not ready for that yet, psychologically speaking…
      8. 23
      9. I definitely wouldn’t have kids now for income reasons, but I don’t want to have kids in my 20s anyway.
      10. I feel pretty average financially. Most of my friends my age either live alone in small apartments (like me) or with a roommate in larger places. Almost nobody has houses or kids and nobody who doesn’t have them really wants either at this point. The only thing that makes me feel somewhat unusual is that most of the people who are very dedicated to a particular career track knew what they wanted to do pre-college, or at least during college. I’m the only one I know who had zero idea at graduation and figured it out within the next year. Once I knew what I wanted it was pretty easy to get a job in the field and I’m looking at a 75-100% pay increase when I move on from my current company (just starting interviews now). I don’t really see many depictions of my lifestyle in media but I’m in a niche industry and my non-work life is kind of tied to that, so I wouldn’t expect to.

    56. Headachey*

      * What generation are you considered a part of? Gen X
      * When did you get your first job? When (if ever) did you get your first full-time job? Age 17
      * Did you feel pressure to move away from your home town to an area where the job market was better? No, market was good in home town
      * When (if ever) did you get your own office with a door? Age 28
      * When (if ever) could you afford to move out of your parents’ house and pay for housing with your own income? Age 18
      * When (if ever) could you afford to live alone, without roommates? Age 28
      * When (if ever) could you afford to buy a house or a condo? Hahahaha
      * When (if ever) did you have benefits like health insurance and a 401k or pension? Age 25
      * Did you ever consider delaying marriage, kids, or other major life changes because you were waiting for a higher income or more job security? No, but I never planned to do those things anyway
      * Did your parents or mentors ever tell you that you were hitting these milestones too slowly or too quickly? Did you feel like your peers where progressing at a different pace than you, or that you never saw depictions of people with your lifestyle in the media? No, I felt pretty much on track with my generation, if not independent at an earlier age.

    57. Rache*

      What generation are you considered a part of? Gen X
      * When did you get your first job? When (if ever) did you get your first full-time job? Worked under the table for a friend of my mom… full time summers thru jr. high (big-time illegal, but making $5/hour was phenomenal at that time) First “official” full time job was two years after HS graduation.
      * Did you feel pressure to move away from your home town to an area where the job market was better? no
      * When (if ever) did you get your own office with a door? I had one about 10 years ago – because we had extra offices. It literally was big enough for my desk and one visitor’s chair. And I never closed the door. :)
      * When (if ever) could you afford to move out of your parents’ house and pay for housing with your own income? 1997 when I moved 1200 miles away
      * When (if ever) could you afford to live alone, without roommates? I’ve never lived alone – moved in with my boyfriend after leaving home
      * When (if ever) could you afford to buy a house or a condo? 10 years ago, but lost it due to changes in jobs as well as the housing market tanked
      * When (if ever) did you have benefits like health insurance and a 401k or pension? I’ve had benefits since my first official full time job – never a break in coverage (22+ years)
      * Did you ever consider delaying marriage, kids, or other major life changes because you were waiting for a higher income or more job security? no
      * Did your parents or mentors ever tell you that you were hitting these milestones too slowly or too quickly? Did you feel like your peers where progressing at a different pace than you, or that you never saw depictions of people with your lifestyle in the media? no

    58. Sophie Winston*

      * What generation are you considered a part of?
      Young Gen X (1975)
      * When did you get your first job? When (if ever) did you get your first full-time job?
      Paper route at 10, then baby sitting, first W2 was fast food at 16. Full time temp job at 21 while out of college for a year, first professional job after BA grad at 24
      * Did you feel pressure to move away from your home town to an area where the job market was better?
      No, happened to stay near my college that had a similar economy to home town.
      * When (if ever) did you get your own office with a door?
      Had one for a year in my late 20s, but it was a converted utility room I only got until they renovated me back to a cube. Still in a cube, but a nice one.
      * When (if ever) could you afford to move out of your parents’ house and pay for housing with your own income?
      18? When I left for college I never looked back. School housing was paid during the year, but I worked to pay for a shared apt with shared bedroom summers.
      * When (if ever) could you afford to live alone, without roommates?
      Rented a crappy place on my own when I temped at 21.
      * When (if ever) could you afford to buy a house or a condo?
      Early 30s, but only because I had a spouse with an equally good income.
      * When (if ever) did you have benefits like health insurance and a 401k or pension?
      24 with first professional job.
      * Did you ever consider delaying marriage, kids, or other major life changes because you were waiting for a higher income or more job security?
      Waiting on buying a house to be sure of location, and scraping together the down payment
      * Did your parents or mentors ever tell you that you were hitting these milestones too slowly or too quickly? Did you feel like your peers where progressing at a different pace than you, or that you never saw depictions of people with your lifestyle in the media?
      Parents, concerned about my life? Not familiar with the concept.

    59. Anon for this*

      Gen X, roughly (born 73)

      First job – part time job at age 15 (before that, library)
      First full time – summers in university, first non-term job after grad school.
      Moving – left the country one week after defending my thesis for a job, never moved back (in a given year there are maybe 3 or 4 jobs in my field in my country). As an adult, I’ve lived in seven cities in three countries.
      Office – still share (three person office)
      Moving out – left my hometown for university, never lived there again, so living with parents no an option.
      Roommates – except for one year, I’ve always lived with roommates before marrying. High cost of living cities, where what I could get living alone was too expensive.
      Buying – stops hysterical laughter, picks myself off of floor. We have two professional incomes, and can’t afford to buy a place we’d want to live in.
      Benefits – Canadian, never been without health insurance. No pension plan, though, because I work abroad.
      Delaying – not so much deliberately delaying as not having the opportunity due to job path (grad school, post docs, constant moving, being female with a STEM PhD are not conducive to relationships. Am married, but lost the fertility/age lottery.)
      Expectations – I came from an academic family, so my parents weren’t surprised, but extended family were really puzzled by beign in my 30s and not married. I’ve never really seen people like me depicted in the media, and yes, my peers fast outpaced my financially and in things like marriage, kids, houses, etc. But that’s academic life more than anything else.

    60. Not So NewReader*

      * What generation are you considered a part of? Boomer

      * When did you get your first job? When (if ever) did you get your first full-time job? 18. My father had his first job at 7, he did not want me going through what he went through. Yeah, we argued A LOT.

      * Did you feel pressure to move away from your home town to an area where the job market was better? Yes, I felt pressured to leave my town, but just for the sake of leaving. As it stood, living just about anywhere else would mean more available work, except for the place that I actually moved to. Whoops.

      * When (if ever) did you get your own office with a door? Doesn’t apply, would not really be expected.

      * When (if ever) could you afford to move out of your parents’ house and pay for housing with your own income? HA! Still can’t, yet here I am. I left home in my early 20s, it wasn’t until I hit 30 that I could resume breathing.

      * When (if ever) could you afford to live alone, without roommates? About 30, but I had been married a while by then. If I had been on my own, I might have made it if I watched every penny.

      * When (if ever) could you afford to buy a house or a condo? Early 30s but not on my own.

      * When (if ever) did you have benefits like health insurance and a 401k or pension? 30

      * Did you ever consider delaying marriage, kids, or other major life changes because you were waiting for a higher income or more job security? No. Had hard pressing issues to deal with such as dying parent and so on. We were focused on that stuff. We got married and just decided to live very modestly.

      * Did your parents or mentors ever tell you that you were hitting these milestones too slowly or too quickly? Did you feel like your peers where progressing at a different pace than you, or that you never saw depictions of people with your lifestyle in the media?
      My father was super supportive, always told us we were hard workers, etc. Inlaws were the opposite, they questioned everything. My peers were progressing faster than me, this was not a matter of feeling or guessing! Nope, I never saw depictions of people like me in media. Work 4o hours a week and run between hospitals for sick parents for years on end. Nope.
      The tv shows I did watch cracked me up. No one wore the same garment twice. I usually keep an item for years and years. I would notice the china/dinnerware. Yeah, odd, I know,but it just something I picked up on. People in sitcoms especially, always had different dinnerware practically each week. I have had the same dishes for 35 years. I wondered how they could afford all this stuff. When the characters talked about money being tight, I would laugh. I could not relate to constantly buying clothes and dishes then complaining about not having money.

      Magazines were another dream land thing to me. Beautiful homes, beautiful gardens. I used to scrutinize the pictures. I would figure out that no one could actually sit in that chair because the coffee table was pushed up against it. Or the lamp could not be plugged in because there was no nearby plug. I concluded that some rooms were staged just for the shoot. Nice pics though.

    61. Survey Monkeee*

      * What generation are you considered a part of?
      Gen X, the slacker generation, LOL

      * When did you get your first job? When (if ever) did you get your first full-time job?
      I got my first job at 16 but I was in NO WAY ready for it. After that, I didn’t work until I moved away, then again when I moved back home at 23. I’ve had lots of jobs–I’m not very good at keeping them, however. Which makes the recent changeover a bitter pill because I could have kept that job for a long time.

      * Did you feel pressure to move away from your home town to an area where the job market was better?
      I do now; the pay here is abysmal.

      * When (if ever) did you get your own office with a door?
      I’ve never had this.

      * When (if ever) could you afford to move out of your parents’ house and pay for housing with your own income?
      Not until I was older, and I still need help from time to time.

      * When (if ever) could you afford to live alone, without roommates?
      When I moved here to where I’m living now; before that, I lived with a bf, and then at my dad’s (rent free–he was driving a truck and wanted someone to keep the house safe)

      * When (if ever) could you afford to buy a house or a condo?
      In 2002, because anybody could buy a house in 2002. I was smart and got a fixed-rate mortgage, but dumb because I bought a POS house.

      * When (if ever) did you have benefits like health insurance and a 401k or pension?
      Health insurance through most jobs but I have never had enough in a 401k to roll it over after leaving a job, until now. And this was from not contributing anything, which infuriates me about the recent job loss even MORE.

      * Did you ever consider delaying marriage, kids, or other major life changes because you were waiting for a higher income or more job security?
      No, my delay has been because of a severe lack of suitable partner. :(

      * Did your parents or mentors ever tell you that you were hitting these milestones too slowly or too quickly? Did you feel like your peers where progressing at a different pace than you, or that you never saw depictions of people with your lifestyle in the media?
      Parents or mentors–no, though my dad did nag me for a while about having kids.
      The rest–definitely. :(

    62. Red Reader*

      * What generation are you considered a part of? — Oregon Trail (1980) (I still have my Apple IIc from 1983 in my home office and YES it still works)
      * When did you get your first job? When (if ever) did you get your first full-time job? — 15, 18.
      * Did you feel pressure to move away from your home town to an area where the job market was better? — I moved away at 19, but it had nothing to do with the job market.
      * When (if ever) did you get your own office with a door? — I had one at 18, but I worked in a 4-person business, we all had one. I’ve never had one since.
      * When (if ever) could you afford to move out of your parents’ house and pay for housing with your own income? — 18
      * When (if ever) could you afford to live alone, without roommates? — I got my first solo apartment at 19.
      * When (if ever) could you afford to buy a house or a condo? — a year and a half ago right before my 35th birthday, i bought a 4 bedroom house solo.
      * When (if ever) did you have benefits like health insurance and a 401k or pension? — 24
      * Did you ever consider delaying marriage, kids, or other major life changes because you were waiting for a higher income or more job security? — nope.
      * Did your parents or mentors ever tell you that you were hitting these milestones too slowly or too quickly? Did you feel like your peers where progressing at a different pace than you, or that you never saw depictions of people with your lifestyle in the media? — no, no, and I didn’t but I didn’t worry about it.

    63. SharedDriveUser*

      * What generation are you considered a part of? Early Boomer (b: 1947)
      * When did you get your first job? When (if ever) did you get your first full-time job? (June 1964)
      * Did you feel pressure to move away from your home town to an area where the job market was better? Yes, although not for first jobs.
      * When (if ever) did you get your own office with a door? 1974
      * When (if ever) could you afford to move out of your parents’ house and pay for housing with your own income? 1966
      * When (if ever) could you afford to live alone, without roommates? 1971
      * When (if ever) could you afford to buy a house or a condo? 1068
      * When (if ever) did you have benefits like health insurance and a 401k or pension? 1967
      * Did you ever consider delaying marriage, kids, or other major life changes because you were waiting for a higher income or more job security? No
      * Did your parents or mentors ever tell you that you were hitting these milestones too slowly or too quickly? Did you feel like your peers where progressing at a different pace than you, or that you never saw depictions of people with your lifestyle in the media? No to both; I did wonder at some of my peers choices – a new car every year was never on my wish list!

    64. hermit crab*

      * What generation are you considered a part of?
      Millenial (born 1986)

      * When did you get your first job? When (if ever) did you get your first full-time job?
      I had the same summer job throughout high school (started when I was 15). I had full-time jobs in the summers in college, and was fantastically lucky to land a “regular” full-time job only a couple months after ending my last summer job (in the fall after college graduation) despite it being 2008. I still work at that company.

      * Did you feel pressure to move away from your home town to an area where the job market was better?
      It was always just assumed that I would move away. I am not from a depressed area, per se, but there are only good opportunities there in a limited number of professions. I would like to move back, actually, but my family is like “why in the world would you come back here?”

      * When (if ever) did you get your own office with a door?
      A brief, wondrous time around 2013-2014, after a promotion but before the company shifted to an open office plan.

      * When (if ever) could you afford to move out of your parents’ house and pay for housing with your own income?
      After graduating from college and getting my first full-time permanent job, age 22. There were three of us living in a two-bedroom apartment in an outlying neighborhood of our city and I found it very affordable — but I should note that I am hugely privileged to have no undergrad debt and am a total homebody so my expenses were minimal.

      * When (if ever) could you afford to live alone, without roommates?
      Around age 27. I lived alone for about three years and now live with my husband.

      * When (if ever) could you afford to buy a house or a condo?
      We could buy a place now, but it would either be much smaller than our current apartment or really far from my job. So we are saving up instead.

      * When (if ever) did you have benefits like health insurance and a 401k or pension?
      First full-time job at 22. Again, super lucky! I had a major medical expense in 2010 and was so, so, so lucky to have had good insurance at the time; it ended up not being a financial hardship at all.

      * Did you ever consider delaying marriage, kids, or other major life changes because you were waiting for a higher income or more job security?
      Not really, though my husband and I have lived apart for most of our relationship so far because our jobs were in different cities. We got married before we lived together, actually. We are currently delaying kids (possibly forever) but it’s because the world sucks right now and not specifically for financial reasons.

      * Did your parents or mentors ever tell you that you were hitting these milestones too slowly or too quickly? Did you feel like your peers where progressing at a different pace than you, or that you never saw depictions of people with your lifestyle in the media?
      I’m “behind” on child-bearing compared to the cohort I grew up with — I’m from a fairly conservative/traditional area and (at 29) was the last of my female high-school friends to get married; most of them have at least one child by now. And I am definitely an outlier because I’ve been at one company my entire professional career so far. That is NOT the picture of millenials being shown in the media. :) It is working out OK for me so far, but I realize I am prioritizing stability over the potential for growth. Mostly I feel like I was so lucky to start out with compared to many of my peers, and I don’t want to screw things up!

    65. KJ*

      * What generation are you considered a part of?
      I’m an older Millennial-I’m in my early 30s.
      * When did you get your first job? When (if ever) did you get your first full-time job?
      I got my first job at 13- totally illegal, but it was a small summer camp and I was good at working with kids. My first full time job was in grad school, before that jobs were always part time since I was in school as well as working.
      * Did you feel pressure to move away from your home town to an area where the job market was better?
      I moved for other reasons- the MA I wanted I couldn’t get within 500 miles of the town I grew up in. So I ended up far away. The market for jobs isn’t better here, but it is a city that suits my lifestyle better. I was planning to move back after I got my MA, but I found a job and a spouse who has a job in this town, so we stayed.
      * When (if ever) did you get your own office with a door?
      I’m in a bullpen office now. But this year, I will get an office with a door!
      * When (if ever) could you afford to move out of your parents’ house and pay for housing with your own income?
      I moved out in college, but my parents helped me. When I went to grad school, I paid for housing by myself.
      * When (if ever) could you afford to live alone, without roommates?
      In grad school, I found a tiny, possibly illegal studio. It was great.
      * When (if ever) could you afford to buy a house or a condo?
      Last year, at 30, with my husband.
      * When (if ever) did you have benefits like health insurance and a 401k or pension?
      My full time job in grad school had both, although I was young enough to be on my parent’s insurance at that time.
      * Did you ever consider delaying marriage, kids, or other major life changes because you were waiting for a higher income or more job security?
      No. My job isn’t high paying, but I have a spouse who makes more and I have the potential for a higher paying job anytime now, as I passed some markers that will let me get better jobs. I also have no student loans.
      * Did your parents or mentors ever tell you that you were hitting these milestones too slowly or too quickly? Did you feel like your peers where progressing at a different pace than you, or that you never saw depictions of people with your lifestyle in the media?
      My family acted like I was an old maid when I waited until 29 (29!!!) to get married. I’m from a conservative region and most folks from my area get married straight out of high school or college. My parent, and all my aunts and uncles were HS or college sweethearts. One cousin got married the month she and her husband graduated college. Waiting to 29 made me an old maid and they were shocked anyone would want me at 29. Of course, I was the second of the cousins to get married, so I think it is safe to say they are going to have to get used to us being “old maids” before we get married. And, of course, I haven’t had a kid yet, which means I’m “too old.” Not really, I’m not even 35! I think I’m the norm for people in cities my age, but my family thinks I’m really outside the norm.

      1. KJ*

        Oh, I should add that I am considered by some at my job to be a “young” employee- hired at 26, still the youngest person my boss ever hired. I mentor interns who have kids my age, which is interesting. My field places a lot of emphasis on having authority and gravitas, so I am a bit outside the norm. I find myself considered too old by my family and too young at work (although, a couple years in to this job, everyone thinks of me as an old hand and is shocked if it comes up that I wasn’t born when they graduated high school.)

  41. an anon is an anon*

    If I have to listen to coworkers and directors in my department make any more snarky comments about saying “holiday party” or “Happy Holidays” instead of Christmas, I am going to scream. Sorry (not sorry) that not all of us celebrate Christmas. It’s pretty alienating to have people tell me that if I eat cookies at a holiday party, then OF COURSE I celebrate Christmas and it’s not really a religious holiday so decorating with Santa hats and Christmas trees isn’t religious in nature and something everyone can enjoy. Which, no. It’s still holiday iconography for a holiday I don’t celebrate.

    A good 10% of our large department doesn’t celebrate Christmas, so it’s not like it’s an uncommon thing for our company, but the few coworkers I have who won’t stop snarking about “having to be PC” are making me miserable. I just want to eat baked goods and drink hot chocolate at a party. I don’t want to be made to feel guilty or unusual because I don’t celebrate a major holiday.

    1. animaniactoo*

      “I’m sorry, you have to act like the holiday you’re celebrating is not the only one that falls at this time of year? That must be really difficult for you.”

      Combined with “If there were a tray of Dreidel cookies here, would you be celebrating Chanukah by having some? I mean, Dreidels aren’t particularly religious, so you’d be celebrating Chanukah, it’s just iconography, right?”

    2. Arielle*

      Ugh, if I never have to have this conversation again with that one person who just Does Not Get It, I would be so happy. I literally saw someone on a message board the other day making the argument that SANTA CLAUS was a generic holiday symbol “no matter what holiday you celebrate!” I wonder how these “it’s a secular holiday!” folks would feel if suddenly the main social occasion of the year was a Passover seder or a Sukkot party – but everyone can enjoy it because it’s just a secular feast of thanksgiving/harvest festival!

    3. Pebbles*

      I am of the opinion that you (general you, not you you) should just say whatever you feel so inclined to say as a greeting this time of year. If you celebrate Christmas, just say “Merry Christmas”. If you celebrate Kwanzaa, say “Happy Kwanzaa”. If you celebrate (or don’t) something else, say whatever else you prefer as a greeting. The snarky comments and “war on Christmas” is uncalled for BS. Take comments in the spirit they were given and assume good intent. The people who get so uptight because they were greeted in some other greeting than what they wanted are really missing the boat on what “holiday spirit” means.

    4. ket*

      Tell everyone they’re solstice cookies. I mean, they’re usually round cookies, right? They look a lot more like the Sun than a baby Jesus or a donkey! And if you start telling them about astronomical events most of that type will just back away….

      1. Weeeeeeeeeeeee*

        Semi-relates:

        I went to the doctor and as I was leaving, the doctor asked my plans for the holidays.

        Me: “Oh, I’ll nap. Maybe do some reading.”

        Doctor: “Oh but … aren’t you also traveling to visit family?”

        Me: “No.”

        Doctor: “Why not?”

        Me: “My family doesn’t really celebrate any of the religious holidays coming up.”

        Doctor goes back into the exam room to find my chart, opens it to check my name, and then comes back to me.

        Doctor: “Your last name is eeeeeeeeeeee. That’s a Christian name.”

        Me: “How interesting.”

        Long pause while we stare at each other.

        Doctor: “…..Well, have a happy New Year.”

        Me: “Thanks, you too!”

        Bahahahahaha. I don’t think he meant anything by it and quite frankly I wouldn’t have guessed he was Christian. It’s just another example of how everyone is so focused this time of the year on Christmas. The war on Christmas thing drives me nuts. It’s a very privileged position and builds on the assumption that everyone celebrates the same way.

    5. Gene*

      I say to find a list of December “holidays” and every time someone gets on the War on Christmas high horse, wish them a Happy fill-in-the-blank Day! For example, today is National Chocolate Covered Anything Day.

      Happy National Chocolate Covered Anything Day to all AAM readers!!

    6. Twenty Points for the Copier*

      ugh, YES.

      I am fine with people saying Merry Christmas, even though I don’t celebrate it, if it’s what they celebrate and what comes to mind. Hell, if it is actually December 25th I may say it to people myself if I know they celebrate it in one way or another.

      What is not fine is saying it as if you’re saying something “naughty” or revolutionary, or accompanied by a snide comment about how you’re talking about CHRISTMAS. Hell, yeah, it’s naughty, because you’re being an a-hole.

    7. Survey Monkeee*

      I get tired of being pitied because I’m not going to see family at Christmas. Dude, we just did the family thing at Thanksgiving; we alternate because people have in-laws. I don’t want to spend that much time driving back and forth this time of year. I do wish I had in-laws, but I also plan to enjoy my pajama day and I’m going to make myself a good dinner.

      People act like it’s the saddest thing ever. But they never invite me to have Christmas with THEM, either. >:(

    8. manderw*

      So, for all you non-Christians: do you ever actually get offended if someone wishes you “Merry Christmas”, even if they know you don’t celebrate the holiday? (I hope this doesn’t read as snarky — I’m genuinely curious here.)

      There’s been a lot of talk about this on the more, ahem, right wing side of my social circles and I find it odd. I’m not exactly religious but I do come from a generic Protestant background, so my experience is of course skewed. But many of my friends and acquaintances throughout my life have not been Christian (a range including Buddhists, atheists, pagans, Jews, Muslims, etc.) and I’ve never known any of them to be actually offended by someone saying Merry Christmas. If it’s someone they know, they might gently remind them that they don’t celebrate Christmas but it’s not a big deal. Heck, my husband’s Sikh colleague even gave out Christmas cards every year!

      Anyway I just find it a bit baffling. Obviously arguing about the real nature of the day, whether or not you are participating by eating cookies, etc. etc. is a load of nonsense and that stuff is actually offensive. But if a cashier says Merry Christmas, or the mall decorations include that phrase or other Christian symbols (stars, angels, and so on) is it actually offensive to you?

      1. manderw*

        Sorry, I expressed that badly. What I mean is that I find the concept that people complain about it being offensive to be baffling because I have never heard anyone be offended by “Merry Christmas”. Where does this notion that you can’t say that because it’s not PC come from?

        1. hermit crab*

          No, I get it. I am not a Christian, personally, but many of my friends and relatives and coworkers are, and I hear and say Merry Christmas a lot and have never been offended. I mean, I think the Christmas Consumerism Industrial Complex is pretty out of control, but I personally have no problem wishing or being wished a Merry Christmas. I plan on having an enjoyable day on December 25th, and I hope you do too! I have experienced antisemitism, but being told Merry Christmas is (in my opinion) really, really, really not on par with that.

          I actually feel weirder when people go out of their way including Hanukkah as though it’s on the same level as Christmas because yeah, not really that big of a deal.

  42. Blue Anne*

    Small vent: I’m three months in to my new job at a small accounting firm, and I’m finally starting to realize that the senior partner is a jerk.

    He just likes yelling at people and putting them down. My favorite comment so far is “Your training before this job was obviously deficient. But you have a degree, so I thought you were going to be pretty smart.”

    (I am pretty smart, and he knew exactly what my training was before he hired me.)

    Luckily he’s not a controlling partner any more and my colleagues have given me a pep talk. Apparently the best thing to do when he starts ranting is just completely zone out and think about something else until he runs out of steam. He wants a reaction and if he isn’t getting to you he won’t bother.

    Everything else about this job is great, so I can deal. But maaaaaan. Someday I’ll own my own business and never have to work for jerks again.

    1. LCL*

      …and when you own your own business the jerks will be some customers, and you might not be able to fire them depending on how you are doing financially.

        1. Lucy Westenra*

          But hearing customers going off, to me at least, is kind of amusing, because I’m the one in the position of power here. Chin up, buttercup, and don’t let anyone make you afraid to do your job.

          1. Blue Anne*

            Yeah, I can definitely deal with angry customers better than I can with an angry boss, that’s true.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        The best bosses I had were able to tell the customer to take their business elsewhere. I think part of the solution is not to allow one customer to make or break your biz. If a customer is big, then consider that the one customer maybe too big for your set up. Giving up many customers to satisfy one is a trap. Watch out.

  43. Emi.*

    I just realized that my sweatshirt today (it’s casual Friday) says “Class of 2016” in big letters. Is it a mistake to wear things that highlight my Youngest Person In The Office status? Am I overthinking this?

    1. T3k*

      Not that big of a deal, but probably best not to wear it again to work. Anything with “class of” on an adult comes off like you’re still trying to relive your college years.

  44. Question About References/ Anon for This*

    I need advice about references. I’ve been working in another field this past year part-time because I couldn’t get a job in my “real field”. I haven’t spoken to my references since last summer but I had a job interviewer yesterday who wanted to speak to them. I’m feeling a lot of anxiety to the point of dizzy panic attacks about forwarding my references because part of me isn’t sure what they’re going to say and part of me is embarrassed/ashamed of what my life has been like the past year. I want to get a job in my “real field” and there’s a lot riding on these references. But my references are also physicians and have never experienced unemployment or a job search. I don’t want to color them as being critical, unprofessional people but i think they tend to be more abrasive and on the unprofessional side. I don’t know. I’m just really anxious and stressed out.

    1. JHS*

      Why don’t you call them up and ask if they’re still willing to be a reference for you and explain the position you are interviewing for? You can also say, do you think you will be willing to give me a positive reference? I am very interested in this position and you being a reference would mean a lot to me. Then see what they say. Then after that, if they say they will be a positive reference, you have to just let it go and see what happens. If you don’t get the offer, you can ask the interviewer whether it had to do with references and then you’ll know.

      1. jamlady*

        I agree. I lose track of people a lot and I had one reference be pretty snarky about not talking to them in half a year (btw I reached out a few times and he never responded). It’s smart to reach out and catch up, and to verify they are still willing to be a reference.

      2. Question About References/ Anon for This*

        I guess i’m resistant to reaching out to them because I don’t want to annoy them and they get annoyed very easily. They both said in spring 2015 they had no problems being references and I believed them. But then a hiring manager contacted them in August 2015 unbeknownst to me and prior to the interview and then spent the interview complaining how she couldn’t get a hold of them. I sent them both emails and left voice mails about the situation and never received a response, so I didn’t know if that meant yeah we get it or no this is annoying. I got rejected from the job but didn’t think to ask at the time about the references because there was a whole other part of the position involving animal experiments that I had no experience doing and wasn’t disclosed until a third interview.

        Anyway, the point to my dumb response is that I think I’ll see what happens. If I get rejected again, then I’ll ask about the references. Unfortunately, I don’t have any others even if these are bad.

        1. jamlady*

          I don’t think spring to fall is that big if a jump, but I have had a reference tell me before that they wanted a heads up before being called with details about the job and what I’ve been up to so they could make time. Maybe that would help?

        2. JHS*

          I would still call them. You can just frame it in a way that is sort of like “I know you are tremendously busy and I really appreciate your time, so I’m sorry if I’m bugging you, but I just wanted to check in and make sure you are still willing to be a reference for me.” I think it’s totally appropriate to tell them to expect a call.

  45. The Moving Finger*

    Well, despite my boss believing me that I didn’t scream at some stranger on the phone…I got written up anyway. Not firing-level writeup so I’m not quite boarding the firing train yet, but they decided they still had to punish me somehow. Apparently my officemates said that while they never heard me scream, they all hate my voice and said I suck at talking, and between that and my past history of people not liking my voice…I was deemed mildly guilty and must be punished. Boss was extremely nice about it, mind you (I get the feeling this wasn’t entirely his call), but I’m still ticked off.
    At this point I hate my officemates or at the very least don’t trust them for shit, and I’m afraid to speak in front of them, and they are not getting gifts. Fuck ’em.
    Thank god this is my last day for the year and then I am out for two weeks. Let’s hope they actually do my job while I’m out, preferably in such a way that I don’t get in trouble for it. I’m going to have to check up on everything I’ve had to wait on to make sure everything gets done though.
    On the one hand, I can’t stay here: on the other hand, sure as hell can’t seem to get another job anywhere else. Boss loves me but everyone else hates me. I don’t know what the hell to do any more.

    1. SophieChotek*

      What? Your officemates “hate your voice”? What kind of attitude is that?
      I am glad to hear your boss has your back (sort of) but that’s nuts.
      Sorry you’re dealing with this.

    2. LCL*

      What’s ‘wrong’ with your voice, according to them? Do you have a different accent than the rest of the pack? Does boss think there is anything wrong with your voice? Why isn’t boss sticking up for you more (I realize you are the wrong person to be asked that question.) Even if you have Gilbert Gottfried voice, you have a right to talk the way you talk. I read your post from last week and it made me mad. Now I am even madder for your sake.

    3. MissGirl*

      You’ve got a lot of anger here and there’s no way for us to know if that’s justified or not. It could be you work with jerks or it could be you have a harsher tone than you realize. You may be coming off defensive or angry without realizing it. Ask yourself some tough questions and listen with an open mind. You could be saving a better tone for your boss but not your coworkers. Even if you are completely in the right, introspection can be helpful.

      1. Mazzy*

        Look at the story from last week. Sounded like coworkers were making false accusations about OP and now management seems obligated to go along with them anyway.

        1. MissGirl*

          Of course, but it never hurts to have some introspection of your own behavior. You may still decide you’re right but you will have grown during the process.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Eh, I work at controlling my voice. It might be unnecessary but OTH not many people get really angry with me. And I am in a job where people could get really angry with me.

            I try for a flat tone that sounds like I would use for reciting statistics out of an almanac. Again, my peeps could get really upset really fast so I have to project calmness and understanding.

            I will say that years ago I did not really think about how I sounded. I had a couple comments and I decided I better watch and see how I could be appearing to others. Maybe I went to far worrying about it, or maybe not. I know it has served me well to be able to say important things with a matter of fact or dull tone.

  46. anonymoushiker*

    I had a new hire start (first time really managing, start of hire to finish/having support for becoming a manager) this week and she is fantastic. I’ve never managed this job and there was no clear on-boarding process because the previous person built the role and she has documentation on a lot of stuff but you have to dig to find it and there’s no clear outline of daily/workflow responsibilities.

    Anyways, I am so thrilled with my choice so far and I hope it continues!

  47. Bianca*

    Anyone have suggestions on how to make sure your boss knows that you had to pick up the slack of your coworkers due to their lack of time management without throwing those coworkers under the bus?

    Long story short, we’re all supposed to contribute equally to this project. I finished my section with lots of time to spare, and everyone else missed the deadline and now the project lead (not my boss) is asking me to pitch in. I’m OK with pitching in, but I want credit for doing more than my share (especially since I already have the second largest workload of all of us in other areas of our work). I regularly see my coworkers spending time on facebook or taking care of personal business during work, and I don’t want to tattle on them for doing these things because I do them too. But…I also finish my work.

      1. Bianca*

        It is not at all the first time. In fact, the last time this happened, the person who was supposed to be doing the bulk of a project in which he missed the deadline and I ended up finishing (and fixing) won a big monetary award for his work.

        I will never get any credit unless I bring it up.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      If you have a good boss, then she already knows. Keep track of your accomplishments and use them to bargain for a nice raise. No need to mention what others are doing.

  48. JKP*

    My boyfriend received a threatening call at work yesterday. He owns his own business and received a voicemail from a total stranger: “I’ll be flying out from [opposite side of the country] to pay you a little visit at [address of business]. Thanks for the photo [presumably from website], now I know what you look like. Be talking to you real soon.” When you listen to the voicemail, the guy sounds like a mobster out of a movie and the words are stressed such as to sound very menacing. No mistaking that it was meant to be a threat.

    My boyfriend works in a larger industry that is typically very corporate and meets clients face-to-face. But the specialty niche that he works in never meets clients in person, and all work is done over phone and email. So he returned the call, proceeding as if this was a potential client who mistakenly wanted to meet in person. But even after explaining that his business only works with clients over phone and email, the guy wouldn’t tell him why he was calling and doubled down on his threat, insisting that he would be flying out to talk in person very soon.

    After the call, we googled the guy’s phone number (which wasn’t spoofed because the guy answered the phone when my boyfriend called back after the voicemail, and the guy also texted back and forth with more threats), and it was the business number for a Guns N Ammo type website store (the physical address listed on the website was just a PO Box).

    My boyfriend has no current or past clients that are upset with him. He hasn’t worked with and doesn’t know anyone in that city. It’s not personal, since the guy misprounounced his name worse than the worst telemarketer. The only thing we could think of is that a few months ago we discovered that BF’s name & business were listed on a hate site that had collected info on all the Jews who had placed advertising with a certain media outlet.

    If the guy does actually fly across the country, he’ll discover that the business address is a PO Box (since BF has no need for physical office space). If he’s determined enough, he could find a home address through deed records, but there are already motion activated wifi cameras all around the house that send to BF’s email and BF will be staying at my place for now, so the house would be empty. BF also conceal carries and is very well trained.

    Not really sure whether we should just wait and see if it was an idle threat, make a police report, or take any additional safety measures. He’s a bit nervous about going to the PO Box to get his mail and plans to call the manager to give them a heads up in case someone shows up at his mailbox looking for him.

    1. Manders*

      That’s awful. I’m so sorry your boyfriend is being targeted.

      I think that even though your boyfriend’s probably physically safe, it’s worth contacting the police and other organizations that track hate crimes. Getting this kind of information on the record is important–organizations like the FBI and the Southern Poverty Law Center need to have access to aggregate data so they can track whether problems are getting worse. This article has some resources: http://www.hrc.org/resources/what-to-do-if-youve-been-the-victim-of-a-hate-crime

    2. Hermione*

      I would definitely make a police report. This is terrifying, and it’s far better to be proactive in keeping safe.

    3. Sadsack*

      I’d make a police report! Include whatever info you found online and that you gleaned from the conversation. Also provide copies of the text messages. Be careful, and good luck!

    4. Emi.*

      I’m so sorry! Definitely make a police report–it’s good for your PD to have a heads-up in case this creep does try to make good on his threats, and they can give you advice on what other measures to take.

    5. Sunflower*

      I would talk to the police- not sure if they can do anything but it would make me feel better if I was in this situation. If your BF doesn’t know this guy and this isn’t personal, it’s likely he isn’t the only person to receive this threat.

    6. Ann Furthermore*

      That is really horrible, not to mention scary! Be on the safe side and file a police report so the paper trail is started, in the event that it becomes necessary. Also, save that voice mail somewhere, document all the conversations, and keep screen shots of all the texts. Also, keep the information about the hate site where his information ended up (which is also awful).

      I’m sorry you’re having to deal with this!

    7. Temperance*

      You should file a report both in your jurisdiction, and the one where this psycho hatemonger lives. I’m so, so sorry that your boyfriend is going through this.

      1. Emmie*

        I second this. It sounds like you might be questioning whether this is something worthy of a police report. It is. That’s so creepy, and scary.

      1. Mreasy*

        Well that ended up in the wrong thread. Sorry about that. And I’m sorry you’re dealing with this horrible scary situation.

    8. catsAreCool*

      I think talking to the police and the manager about this is a good idea. The police might not be able to do anything but give advice at this point, but that could be helpful.

      What is wrong with racists, anyway? That hate site stuff is seriously messed up.

    9. Not So NewReader*

      Loop in as many people as possible. Police, upper management, neighbors, the post office.
      You could probably go to the FBI with this one. I would seriously consider it. I have gone to the FBI with much lesser issues. Ask authorities to check with authorities in his state.

      Don’t sit there by yourselves and try to deal with this.
      Let’s say this is mistaken identity, he thinks your BF is someone else. Or let’s say this is an idyll threat with no back up. None of this matters! It’s BS and you should not have to live in fear or put up with it.

      Let us know how you are doing and I wish you the quickest resolve on this problem.

  49. Amber T*

    I’m being a bit petty here, but this is making me laugh more than it should.

    When I first started at my current job, I was hired as an admin to the admins – any overflow of filing, printing, general admin tasks fell to me. Honestly it was a really great way of learning a little bit about everything in the business. I got along great with three of the four admins, but for whatever reason, the fourth admin (let’s call her Jane) took an immediate disliking to me. As a recent college grad I know I definitely tried to “fix” a lot of “problems” (“it would be more efficient to do it this way!” the overeager noob would say) but the other admins would point out that there was a reason they did things that way, and eventually I learned.

    About a year ago I was promoted into a different department and now I rarely work with the admins (we’re an office of 40ish people and casual, so there’s lots of stopping by desks and chatting – I’m still close with the other three admins). Occasionally I’ll have to work with the admins to get information about the partners they support (availability, personal information, etc). I swear Jane goes out of her way to be as unhelpful as possible! It’s ridiculous… I always cringe when I have to work on a project involving one of her partners, because that means working with her and the feeling of wanting to pull all my hair out. (The second my boss emails her for any information, she provides an overload of info, so it’s not as if she doesn’t do her job. I think she just likes providing me with one word answers and making me ask 500 questions to get a simple answer.)

    So for the past couple of years our professional relationship has been strained. It’s honestly fine, nothing worth complaining about or bringing to management, and honestly I get a chuckle out of her antics after the fact. But here’s where I get to laugh hysterically – a few weeks ago I had surgery and was out of the office for two weeks. During that time I received plenty of emails from coworkers wishing me good luck and a speedy recovery, checking in to see how I was doing, etc., including from the other three admins. Nothing from Jane. That’s okay, really wasn’t expecting it. My first day back I was stopped by everyone and asked how I was doing, which was amazing and made me feel missed. I stopped by one of the admin’s desk (Lucinda) and chatted with her for a while. Jane walks right by us and says “Good morning Lucinda,” completely ignoring me. So, super sweetly (to the point where it was obnoxious, I admit it), I say “Good morning Jane!” She kind of smiles and nods and ignores us, even though her desk is right next to Lucinda’s.

    I don’t know what I did to make her dislike me this much, but at this point it’s pretty funny. I chuckled all the way back to my desk.

    1. Kai*

      Ha! That is funny. There’s a kind of freedom in realizing someone will not like you, for seemingly no reason, and just accepting it without trying to change their mind. Sounds like you’re handling it just right.

  50. NotMe*

    A coworker is expecting her annual review to go poorly for two reasons: 1) she has missed a lot of work this year and 2) her work output has suffered and she has fallen behind. The thing is, maybe 75-85% of her absences were covered by FMLA (having a baby). And the work that she fell behind on was because A) she was out on FMLA and the temp she trained to cover her did not do much of the work she was hired/trained to do. And B) since she came back she has been covering a vacant (unrelated) position which greatly hinders her ability to do her real job.
    Assuming her review does bring up her FMLA-related absences and productivity problems (in addition to her other absence and possible productivity problems), what answer can she give?

      1. NotMe*

        OK, I DID mean to post that here. I thought I did a response to someone.
        Can you tell I’m a first time commenter? So sorry.

    1. animaniactoo*

      Has she been clear with her supervisor/boss about the overflow and amount that the temp did not cover that she’s been trying to catch up on? Has she been clear about how the additional position that she’s covering has been getting in the way of her own position?

      If the answer is “No” to either of those, then I think the answer she gives is “Due to X factor, I have more work than I can reasonably handle and have been trying to prioritize the most urgent matters. I should have made you aware of this before, can you help me figure out what I need to focus on the most, and what might be redistributed to be taken care of by someone else?”

      If the answer is “Yes” to both of those, then I think the answer she gives is “The majority of these issues are due to coverage problems, both while I was out on leave, and because I’m covering for another position. I’ve raised the concerns about my workload before, I can’t do everything that has been assigned to me because of these issues. Part of the protection of FMLA is supposed to be that I am not penalized for my covered absence, but that’s what this overload feels like. Can we revisit the amount of things that I am responsible for accomplishing?”

    2. orchidsandtea*

      1. Go in prepared with what she HAS accomplished.

      2. Don’t take responsibility for anything that’s not hers. No apologizing for FMLA (“Well, that was an FMLA situation, so we as a company were just following the law there.”) or for the temp’s inadequacy (“Yes, Petronella let X, Y, and Z lapse significantly, and since I’ve been back I’ve been able to do _____ to mitigate that.”).

      3. Point out that she’s been doing two jobs since she came back. Again, list all the accomplishments she can think of.

      4. Be proactive about what she’s doing to mitigate the non-FMLA absences and other productivity problems. “I’ve made this modification to my process to help with X, and I’m looking for a solution to Y in these ways.”

      5. Have suggestions handy to prevent this sort of dumpster fire in the future. Like a competent temp…sheesh.

    3. BRR*

      A) She should point out that she was out on FMLA. If her manager keeps considering FMLA excessive absences I would ask in an inquisitive tone why her FMLA time is being counted as missing work.

      B) I would probably point out what I accomplished in that other position or say something like “Vacant position requires X hours a day which means I can only get to A and B/only make 10 teapots a day.”

    4. Not So NewReader*

      She could take preemptive steps and go in to talk to her boss about this instead of waiting for her review. This would depend on her relationship with her boss. I have done things like this with bosses that were not great bosses and still got good results. Never underestimate the power of showing awareness and concern.

  51. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

    My wife is finally going back to work on Monday! So we’ll finally have full paychecks again, rather than disability, and I won’t feel resentful because she gets to sleep in, haha.

  52. Rat Racer*

    I have a new best practice to share: whenever I am on a call with a frustrating co-worker (someone who interrupts, rambles, yells, or otherwise gets my back up) I’ve started writing notes to myself:

    Dear Rat, this is the better, kinder, more evolved part of your brain writing to you to remind you to take deep breaths and don’t let your lizard brain take the wheel. You can do it!

    It is remarkable to me that this actually works, but it does.

    1. Epsilon Delta*

      That is such a good idea! I’ve had a few of those calls this week. Mostly I pretend that I’m on stage in a play, and my role is to be cool and level headed while coworker is being ridiculous, and the audience’s role is to feel outrage on my behalf and laugh out loud.

      1. Rat Racer*

        I like this idea, but think it would give me too much permission to cave to my baser self if I thought I had the support of a large audience of supportive fans.

        I could see the theater strategy working really well in a customer service roll, where getting mad is not an option, and you deal with more blatant crazy.

    2. zora*

      ooooo that’s really good!!! I’m totes stealing it, thank you for sharing! I have a couple of people that do that to me.

      Also, now I’m wondering if it would work for negative self talk. I’m going to give it a try.

  53. trapped by my house*

    My husband has been offered his dream job several states away. We own our home, a small 2 bedroom. It took the prior owners nearly a year to sell it and now we don’t know what to do. Realtors we’ve spoken to have advised us that it will likely take a minimum of 3 months to sell unless we list it for well below what we paid for it 4 years ago. We need to move but we can’t afford to lose money on the house. We have a 15 year mortgage, so our payments are double what would be expected of a home at our price, which means we couldn’t even get in rent what we pay for our mortgage. The new job is not paying for any moving expenses (ah, industries where you “do what you love”, so exploitative!). We also have the problem of not being able to rent in the new city because we have four small dogs and two cats and would get laughed out of the office by any rental agency. So we really need cash out of our house for a down payment. I would hate for him to have to turn down this opportunity just because of the house. Any advice from homeowners or people who have been in similar situations?

    1. Amber Rose*

      An equity loan maybe? We get a lot of ads on the radio for “Need cash now? Own your own home? Call XYZ Acceptance!” Those places are probably shitty but your bank may be able to help you out with a short term or bridge loan of some sort.

    2. Jax*

      Are you for sure unable to rent? I know it is way more difficult to rent with many pets, but maybe offer private landlords (not companies) higher deposit or slightly higher monthly rent? Then, maybe you can refinance your current home to a 30 year to lower the monthly payments, then rent it out until you can afford to sell it for what you need it to be? It’s not a super great solution, but might be workable?

      1. SophieChotek*

        Yes, my thought too. Try to rent.
        (I know being absentee landlord is a pain and it can cost money to subcontract the landlord/problems that arise…but it might end u being cheaper, then selling below-market rate.)
        Also what JAX said — about pets. Do places charge higher for pets sometimes?
        I have some friends that purchased a house in Boston at height of prices and then had to move for her husband’s job; initially they rented it out for the same reason, but know they’ve actually kind of gotten into it, and have made enough to buy other properties (fix them up) and rent out — I actually think they have a pretty good side income from this now.

        1. Jax*

          In my town (a college town) companies charge an extra monthly rent for pets ON TOP OF the non-refundable security deposit. It is ridiculous and a practice I hate.

    3. TCO*

      Are there any improvements (beyond a price cut) that you could make to the house to make it sell more quickly, or is the time to sell just typical in your local market? Realtors should be able to help you decide what the improvement/sale tradeoff is.

      I’d also recommend looking into refinancing if you can. I’d also have a conversation with a mortgage broker about your options for a lower down payment on your new home, if the cash is your most immediate problem.

    4. Karanda Baywood*

      Have you considered having him find a short-term rental out in New State while you stay in your current home?

    5. No Name Yet*

      What about living apart until your house is sold? That is, you stay in Old House (with pets) and at your job if you’re working, and he gets a tiny apartment/room in New Place. That can really suck, and traveling costs can add up, but I know multiple couples who’ve done it, bc of selling a house or waiting to find a job in the new location.

    6. NacSacJack*

      I’d recommend refi’ing into a 30 year bringing your payments down while you take the time to sell it. And if you have equity, take out an HELOC.

    7. Academia Escapee*

      Can your husband move ahead of you and rent a cheap room to start his job, and then you can follow with the zoo and buy a house in the new place once your house sells? That way he still gets to take the job and the stress of the timing is lifted somewhat. The long distance thing will suck for a while, but it might be the best financial route in the long run.

  54. Junior Dev*

    After being laid off in October and job searching for two months, I got a job! Better yet, it’s one I’m fairly excited about. It’s the kind of work (web development) I want to do, it’s in an industry that actually interests me on a personal level, and the commute is actually reasonable! Yay!

    Two things I’d like advice on, if anyone has any:

    * any tips to do well and make a good impression? I’ve already read Alison’s excellent article on how to do well at a new job–I’m wondering if anyone has anything to add. I’m in my mid-20s, have a year of software/web dev experience in two different positions, and I don’t have a CS degree. Also, I think I’ll be the only female engineer there (there are a lot of other things the company does so my department may not be representative of the company as a whole).

    * I’ve had bad experiences with toxic workplaces, emotionally abusive bosses, and abruptly losing my job before. So I’m feeling a bit skittish coming into this one. How do I handle anxiety about this job that’s carrying over from past bad experiences?

    Lastly, I want to say thank you, Alison, for all your great advice–I think it’s one of the reasons I was able to get this job, and negotiate salary for the first time in my life!

    1. Emmie*

      Congratulations! New, positive experiences will reduce your anxiety. Approach new experiences assuming positive intent. You have to be vigilant so you do not carry that toxic environment forward. It’s also pretty common to have a learning curve at a new job, and to be a bit mentally exhausted when you’re starting a new job – especially after being laid off. Make sleep a priority to recharge your mind. It has taken me about 6 months to feel confident at my job when I was at entry and mid level positions. Very good luck to you!

  55. Nervous Accountant*

    I’m being super curmudgeonly today, but….shit I hate when people drink so much at the company party they call out sick the next morning which makes us understaffed and therefore more overloaded with work. ugh.

    1. Rhys*

      Everybody drank too much at the company holiday party this year and we all came in and worked through our hangovers together. It was as much of a bonding experience as the actual party!

    2. Lemon Zinger*

      My SO’s all-staff holiday party was last night. Apparently the entire office is hungover and one guy came in wearing clothes he bought at Walmart because he never went home… yikes.

    3. Hear you*

      The one place you should drink less than normal is at the office party. I never can understand why people think this is the time to get hammered.

      1. Nervous Accountant*

        Cz its’ free.

        And for me, this is the only time I do it. I don’t do it with my family or friends.

      2. Posting anonymously today*

        Just FYI, I’m not saying I do that or condone of getting so shitfaced you can’t make it in to work. But it’s just a reason why they do that.
        I’m OK with happy drunks. It’s the ones who get mean or nasty that are a problem.

      3. Rhys*

        Agreed. What happened at our party this year is that we were told there would be food but it ended up being just like a few tiny fancy hors d’oeuvres which did nothing to defend against the unlimited free booze. So we all got drunk by accident! Luckily nobody embarrassed themselves.

  56. SophistiCaitlin*

    What’s the best admin assistant you’ve ever had? Were they just amazing at taking notes? Distributing info? Keeping track of the office coffee habits?

    I’m switching jobs in January for a role that was just created, supporting a team of civil engineers in a growing office. They’ve never had anyone in this position before, so it’ll be largely up to me to make myself as useful as possible. I’ve been doing admin assistant and customer service for several years now, but always as part of a team, and never without a manager directly in charge of my department. I’m worried that I’ll fumble with the lack of existing structure, so I was hoping to hear from some of you about what you most appreciate in an assistant, for some ideas of where to start. I realize it’s sort of a boring question, and that I’ll of course be working closely with my coworkers to develop a rhythm–I’m just hoping to hit the ground running. Thanks!

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Uptight about details. I don’t mean being uptight to other people — I mean in the sense of caring passionately about getting details right, with a healthy paranoia about the ways things could go wrong (which leads them to head that off from the start). That’s a make or break characteristic for an assistant.

    2. AnotherAlison*

      Definitely get clarity on what their priorities for your time are, and focus on that. What did they tell you during the hiring process?

      Our admins have a wide range of duties (SharePoint management to ordering lunches) and are fantastic, but we have had them get pretty peeved when asked to do some typical admin duties — people asked them to proof documents, and their reaction was almost “how dare you ask me to do that?” How is the 40-person team supposed to know that they aren’t available to do that? So, yeah, my main thing is to know what the manager wants from you, make it clear to the team that those are the top 5 things you’re focusing on, and that they can ASK you to do other things and you’ll consider if it’s something you know how to do and can fit in, or you’ll elevate it to your manager for final direction.

      1. Isben Takes Tea*

        Oh–this is important! Also, be really clear from your boss exactly who you should prioritize assisting–especially if it’s a new role, other people in the office may start asking you to do things–even small things–that are much harder to shut down once there’s a precedence. When I was first hired, my boss told me to tell anyone who asked me to do something “Boss asked that all my tasks be routed through her first, so let her know!”

        This was important because I have that innate inner drive to be helpful, and it took a long time to learn to tell people “You should ask Jerrica for that” or “that sounds like a job for Kimber” or “Sorry, Rio, that’s not something I can help you with”. But it’s really important for your efficiency to know your lane and stay in it! (And people don’t actually think less of you for it!)

    3. Gaia*

      Anticipate a need and a problem before it is realized by others – and have a solution in place. If it can go wrong, anticipate it and solve it before it does go wrong. Have backup plans. Be exceptionally organized. Understand the people you support as individuals and their preferences.

    4. zora*

      Since this is a new position, definitely keep your eyes open for what questions to ask. My current boss was really good when I was new at telling me exactly how she wanted me to do certain things, but if these folks haven’t had an assistant before, they might not be aware of those things.

      Keep an eye out and keep a running list of things you start taking over, or see need to be done, and then semi-regularly, maybe every two weeks, when you are face to face with people bring them up. “By the way, I’ve been opening all the mail and putting it in your inboxes, is that working for you? Is there anything different you want me to do with the mail?” Don’t do this every day, they might get overwhelmed with too many questions. But definitely figure out what things need to be brought up. These logistical/operations things are the kinds of things many people don’t think about intentionally, I find it is often my job to think of things they are just taking for granted, and often it makes them realize there is a change that would actually make their job a million times easier.

      Also, start documenting immediately. Create a resource guide either electronically or a hard copy, that is easily accessible to everyone. This will be useful if you ever need to be out, and eventually when you leave in training the next person. Great, neatly organized resources are huge, and people freaking love them when they are done right.

    5. Trixie*

      Adding on to Alison’s comment regarding details, I would add follow up on anything handed your way. Meaning, if you haven’t heard back on something, continue to track progress. When my boss asks me about X, I will reply back to let him I know I rec’d request and will circle back. And then I do, rather than wait for him to ask me about. Similarly, when I am asked to follow up with other departments or businesses, and they haven’t replied back, I follow up again. If I assume they received my request/inquiry despite the radio silence, this usually leads to problems.

    6. Owly*

      Engineers love efficiency, precision and functionality. If my admin takes too long or does something that isn’t straightforward, I get annoyed and sometimes just do the task myself. And like Alison said, details are key to making sure everything is precise and working right.

  57. Allison*

    Job hunting is stressful >_<

    That's not news, but I need to vent about all the things.

    I spent a few days this week internally flipping out because I was sure I'd been ghosted after what I thought had been a fabulous interview. Thankfully, this morning I got an e-mail from the hiring manager/recruiter (I work in talent acquisition, the hiring manager and recruiter are often the same person), saying her meetings keep getting pushed back due to some important people visiting the office, so I feel better now. And I have a couple phone screens today!

    But gahhh, contract ends at the end of the month! Yesterday was my "panic day," or the day I'm officially allowed to be nervous. I can't afford to spend more than a month or so without a job. I had an emergency fund, but then I had to use it and I haven't been able to rebuild it yet. I'm supposed to find out about unemployment and COBRA eligibility today. I don't wanna move back in with my parents :(

    Also, I finally announced on Facebook that I'm job hunting. And as I expected, someone told me about some MLM scheme. Of course. This is why I avoided going public about it. Why does everyone think the answer to a stressful job hunt is SALES? Not everyone wants to be a sales person, not everyone is cut out for it. But I said nothing, no use getting into an argument about it. At least no one has mentioned retail or food service. Yet. My contract is up AFTER Christmas so trying to find a retail job for January doesn't make sense right now.

    So yeah, not fun. It's never fun. I had trouble following the plot details of Rogue One last night because I was so distracted. But it's a good movie, go see it, the ending will blow your mind! Anyway, fingers crossed this will come to a swift and happy ending by new years so I can enjoy that weekend free of stress.

  58. E*

    I just got a very prestigious government internship offer for next summer – however, they placed me in an office that I’m not particularly interested in and is only tangentially related to my long-term career goals (though the federal agency itself does). How should I balance the prestige of the agency itself with the actual work I’d be doing? My instinct is to stall and apply for other things in the meantime but I’m not sure how that would fly with the agency.

    1. misspiggy*

      I’d have thought the prestige of the agency is crucial, if you want to work there or somewhere similar. Don’t underestimate the value of getting to know how the place works, who everyone is and the subtle nuances of how decisions get made and money gets spent. Use every opportunity to explore the organisation and the internship will be well worth it.

    2. SophieChotek*

      I would think some of the networking you can do with/in the office and just learning the ins and out of government job/that specific agency would be worth not being as related to your long-term goals.
      So often, it seems to be about “just getting your foot in the door”…

    3. Rat Racer*

      That happened to me – my advice is that government experience is a key that unlocks lots of doors. It’s very hard to get into the government (in some offices anyway) and many of the more selective divisions make government experience table-stakes for getting in the door. So, I’d say: take the internship, learn what you can, and parlay it into the direction you want to go in when you’re applying for full-time work.

    4. Grits McGee*

      Are you interested in potentially working for the government in the future or is it one of any number of employers you’d be interested in working for? If you do want to work for government, any federal experience you have is a huge stepping stone, no matter what the job actually entails (many people in my agency have started their gov careers this way). If there were other internships that offered better experience (and I mean looks-good-on-a-resume experience, not just more interesting) and gov employment isn’t a goal for you, then it might make more sense to continue to discretely apply for other internships.

  59. AnotherAnony*

    I had a job interview and they said that the person who used to be in the position “left abruptly.” Is this a red flag? I was just in a toxic environment, so I’m being extra cautious.

    1. just another librarian*

      Not necessarily but I would pay attention to any other red flags you might sense. Sometimes people really do leave abruptly without it being the company’s fault.

    2. Murray*

      I would say it’s a red flag but not for the reasons you think. I interpret “left abruptly” as either fired, walked out on the job, or left for a medical reason. Either way, I would caution you to be aware that this means they probably left behind a mess without clear documentation of what they were working on and where they were with the project, who their contacts were, etc etc. I don’t think it’s necessarily a sign of a toxic environment, though.

    3. NaoNao*

      Could be anything!
      Could be “parents became ill, had to move home” or “person had health issues that flared”.

    4. Ama*

      It isn’t necessarily. My predecessor at my current job left abruptly, after only eight months, but it was largely because the job was a poor fit for her (the position is a 50/50 split between two somewhat disparate skillsets and she just couldn’t get comfortable with one of them). It didn’t really have anything to do with the employer, boss, or environment at all.

  60. Poppy*

    Interested in a vote on this one! Company policy says that when you reject a candidate, you should call them to give a personal rejection. Some find this very respectful. Personally, if I were to get a call from a hiring manager, I’d assume I was getting an offer, and then be devastated when it turned out to be a rejection. So I would prefer a thoughtful rejection email. I’ll follow company policy, but interested what people here think about this! Seems like it would vary a great deal by candidate which method was preferred.

    1. trapped by my house*

      I agree with you. The one time I got a rejection phone call I was far more devastated than if it had just been an email because call usually means good news.

    2. CM*

      Any personal communication, either email or phone, would be very welcome. In my experience, many people don’t bother to inform rejected applicants at all, or send them a form letter. I agree with you that email is better because the person doesn’t have to react on the spot, but I’ve appreciated calls too.

      1. Sadsack*

        Agree with this. The rejected candidate can take their time to mentally process the rejection and then follow up if they want feedback. Phone or in person is pretty terrible when you are the one being rejected.

    3. AMD*

      Email. I go at a rejection phone call for a promotion, and the boss explained to me what I had said wrong during my interview that made them pass me up, which was helpful but totally embarrassing and hard to process while at work. Worse, it was kind of a misunderstanding, so I wanted to argue that it wasn’t what I’d meant but couldn’t.

    4. SophieChotek*

      I would think an email would be better. Less chance for candidate to argue.
      If it’s personalize and even gives any feedback (useful) that would be more awesome, but I think a phone call could lead to undue excitement.
      But I agree with CM that so many companies never get back to one, that any follow-up is better than none.

    5. Lemon Zinger*

      What? Don’t call people to tell them they’re rejected! That’s what email is for. Good heavens.

    6. Betty*

      Yes, I agree with you. I was phone interviewing with a company & I received a phone call from the hiring manager. I thought she was calling to invite me to an in person interview. Nope, she called to say they were pursuing someone else.

      I would have preferred an email rejection.

      Phone Calls = Something positive!

    7. Annie Moose*

      What do you even say if someone calls to tell you you’re rejected? “Thank you”?? I think in the moment I would just be like “Uhhhh… okay” and hang up, for lack of anything else to say.

      I guess the “right” thing to say would be something like “Thank you for letting me know” or try to sell yourself for the future, “If you ever have any other jobs open up, let me know…”

    8. BRR*

      I prefer email. I know some people have commented previously that they prefer calls but I think more people prefer email.

    9. SeekingBetter*

      As a candidate who did receive a rejection phone call after two in-person interviews for a role I was really interested in, I greatly appreciated that over no response or a VERY generic “thank you for applying” email. And even if it was a form email that goes like “thank you for interviewing blah blah, but unfortunately we chose a stronger candidate blah blah” is still better than a no response.

    10. Elizabeth West*

      Email for a rejection; call for an offer. Follow up offer with email so details can be in writing. I do not want to talk to you if you are rejecting me, unless you’re recommending me for something else you think I’m perfect for, but even that can be covered in email.

    11. Not So NewReader*

      If I had to make calls because of the policy, I would let people know that this was SOP, so they would know my call was on the horizon either way. There’s not much else you can do here. And it is a polite thing to let people know what to expect.

  61. Addison*

    Hey all, OP from the crappy clerk saga…

    I had my annual employee review on Wednesday. It went… shockingly well. I was bracing myself for a lot of horsecrap about me having a bad attitude and needing to play better with others, or maybe a sucky work output, or who knows what. I was expecting to get slammed. Instead my boss spent the whole time telling me how good I am at what I do and that she was especially pleased with how I’ve “grown thicker skin” this year (I started to Fry Squint at that phrasing until I realized what she was getting at–I am definitely an emotional person, I don’t always take stress well and in the past I know I tended to blow up occasionally when pressure got to be too much for me; I also tended to take things personally, and this was all stuff I wanted to improve on this year). She was super into all the communication studies I’d done which included some how-to books from our learning library… and I also cited several posts on Allison’s blog along the lines of taking criticism, how to stop softening your language, controlling your emotions at work, etc… I even printed out some of them and showed her (she’s not super computer savvy but I took the url off just in case she happened to want to log on and see for herself… I thought she might recognize the posts about Clerk so ehhh, I’ll wait until those are a little older and then tell her, I think. lol). She just kept saying how much I’d improved and how much more assertive I am – and also that I acknowledged and recognized my problem areas and was actively working on them.

    I did lead from that into the problems with Clerk and how utterly bamboozled I was that this was allowed to go down the way it went down and she said she had talked to Clerk about it already (has eval was a few hours before mine), and said that because of the whole “running to mommy” thing she really thought it would be better for me to handle it on my own (some kind of training exercise?!?!). I said while that’s all well and good it just really bothers me that I explicitly said “I’m being harassed” and she called it “children squabbling.” She apologized for mishandling it and asked if there was anything she could do now. I said that I had mostly taken care of the worst of it – I put on headphones and ignore him if he’s being obnoxious and if he gets mean I tell him “don’t be rude” really sternly and that takes care of it but in the future if things get out of hand it would be nice to know that she’d take it seriously, and she said she would.

    I also brought up the derogatory way she’d talked about my mom after the holiday party (mentioned it further down in the comments on that update post- basically they said she was acting trashy and suggested they thought she had cheated at our casino games to win the big prize of the night, both of which were very not true) and she apologized for that too, insisted she had just been relaying feedback from the higher ups and that it wasn’t necessarily her, and I said it didn’t matter who it was, the fact that it was said at all was really petty and gross. Like… it’s my mom for crying out loud. I got a major apology for that one.

    She asked me if I would be candid and tell her whether I was looking for other jobs and I said that I had looked a bit but the fact that I felt I needed to really bummed me out because I never wanted to leave. We talked about my desired career path (which included my boss’ job as it were) and she was really supportive of it and said it was important that I wanted to grow and that while she couldn’t promise me a promotion right now (or any time in the immediate future) she said I should definitely apply as soon as the opportunity arose, and that she hoped she could continue to facilitate me wanting to stay here and move up the ladder.

    So… yeah, really bizarrely good. It doesn’t necessarily re-endear me for life, I’m still skeptical and I’m VERY interested to see what my annual wage increase will look like this year (hopes not high). I think what kind of a raise I wind up with will dictate whether I stay or go, ultimately. I’ve just been let down so many times here, my pay isn’t great, and no amount of love for what I do can surmount the sheer amount of stress I’ve been under for the last couple of years. At this point it would take a really WOW increase to cement me in this place and that’s… almost a guaranteed not gonna happen no matter how great my review was, so.

    I really appreciate the advice and support you all offered. No matter what happens it’s heartening to know there are people on my side. Maybe someday I’ll send in a finale where everything is happy and exciting and Clerk-free but for now I guess I have to just keep swimming :)

    1. Junior Dev*

      They insulted your MOM? Oh no no no no. “Just relaying feedback?” That’s the biggest load of BS I’ve heard in a long time. Nope.

    2. not really a lurker anymore*

      This is another update from the poster of “my coworker responds to everything I ask him to do with profanity and “your mom” jokes”

    3. Annie Moose*

      Well, hey, some happy things coming out of this! I guess time will tell whether boss takes all this feedback to heart and if anything actually changes in the future, but it’s a start.

    4. Jenbug*

      I am glad your manager seems to be taking things a bit more seriously. Hopefully things will improve while you are looking for something else!

    5. Sherm*

      Wow, that was admirably brave of you to take your boss to task like that! I know it can be so intimidating — this is the person that could fire you, after all. It seems that she has an unlimited supply of excuses as to why she won’t deal with Clerk. And I wonder whether she is the type that likes to stir up some drama and then watch the aftermath from the sidelines (hence “relaying” the comments about your mom). She is not a winner, but you just had a win.

    6. Elizabeth West*

      If nothing else, perhaps you can get a good reference from your boss when you leave. Because this place still stinks on ice. The fact that they never did anything about this rude clerk speaks volumes. No raise on earth would make me want to stay there past the point of amassing enough to facilitate running like the wind.

    1. SophieChotek*

      In your field? Or just any job to make a little extra money?

      I work at a coffee shop for extra money (and free coffee).
      Luckily the manager has known me for years, so doesn’t care I only work a little bit. But I’m on the list to fill in during emergencies and I do my best to do that too, so other staff know I want to support them and am not just working “when I feel like it”…

    2. Grits McGee*

      If you have teaching experience, I have a friend that grades SAT essay questions for Pearson in her off time. She can do it from home and the pay is pretty decent ($18/hr I think?).

    3. MissGirl*

      I make fairly decent money as a ski instructor and get ski benefits for me and all my dependents. All the workers at the resort no matter the position get the same perks. Do you have a hobby you could turn into a few bucks? Usher at a play or sporting event?

  62. SJ*

    I was the commenter who asked for advice for her possible-Asperger’s postdoc brother last month.

    I wish I had great news to share — but we just found out a few days ago that he has stage 1 oral cancer. Chances are he’ll be okay, but he has to have tongue and lymph node surgery next month, and when I was on the phone with him last night, he kept coming back to worrying about what his jerk boss’s reaction will be and what he’s going to do about some important work meetings in January when he’s recovering. Recovering from cancer surgery and his work is the first thing on his mind because it’s all he’s been programmed to care about.

    My heart just breaks for him. All of this work and personal mess and now he’s got a super random cancer when he has zero risk factors for it. This has honestly and truly been a terrible year.

    1. Blackout*

      Oh wow, that’s really tough. I don’t have any helpful advice, but I’m so sorry that this is happening.

    2. Jean*

      Sorry to hear your news. May your brother’s health care providers be wise, skilled, and kind and may his boss find some reason (holiday season? unexpected personal happiness?) to become a nicer person.

  63. CompletelyFried*

    Any advice on dealing with a severe case of burnout? I’ve been working on a massive project for over a year which is finally complete but has left me just drained. I hate coming into work and cringe every time my phone rings. Unfortunately I’m on call 24/7/365 so disconnecting from work is near impossible. Seems like every day off, nights, vacations, doesn’t matter there’s always an issue they need to bother me about. I haven’t been able to make it through a round of golf this year without spending at least two holes on the phone. I’m struggling to find a way to recharge my batteries, any advice?

    1. Junior Dev*

      Stop answering your phone off hours.

      If you think that would cause problems you can have a meeting where you lay out that this situation is not sustainable and you need to work with them to find a solution where you aren’t constantly taking calls and emails off-hours. They don’t own your every second just because they pay you to do a job.

      I have a friend who finally started setting boundaries on this–before, he would be bombarded with work questions literally every hour he was awake. I’m so glad he is finally trying to stand up to them. You need to do the same, and if you can’t, find another job.

      1. zora*

        It sounds like the job requires being on call, so I don’t think this is realistic.

        But can you put ANY limits on the on call? Like say you need to be off for x hours per week, even if it’s just 6-8pm on Friday or something? Is your boss at all supportive, will they be upset if you leave, do they think you do a good job? Can you say “this is not sustainable for me right now. Can we come up with some kind of backup for at least a set amount of time per month? Because otherwise, I will burn out completely and have to be committed to a psychiatric facility, seriously, I’m that close to the edge.” Any halfway decent boss will understand this and come up with at least a short-term plan to give you a break.

        The only solution to burn out that has ever worked for me is taking a set amount of time off and completely turning off my brain. It took me a few months to de-burnout from one job, though, so just a 2 week vacation might not be enough.

        Can you at least put your phone on silent for 15 minutes every other night and just sit in the quiet and meditate? Would they be able to wait for 15 minutes for a call back, even if something major happened?

        My therapist recommended a phone app “Calm” that has timed guided meditations that are hugely helpful right now. They even have 3-minute or 5 minute options. That is really helping me when I am having anxiety and my brain is totally freaking out, to have a few minutes of quiet and breathing, and I feel much better getting back into work.

    2. AliceBD*

      Can you go somewhere on vacation where you won’t (or “won’t”) have phone service? Doesn’t even have to be out of the country or on a cruise or anything — I know the phone service in the rural areas near where I grew up is super crappy, so when I go on vacation there I make sure my boss knows I’m not available on these days for emergencies because I won’t have service.

  64. AAAANONNNN242*

    Yesterday I spent $80 (which I really couldn’t afford to spare) in Uber fare to attend a holiday party that I didn’t really want to go to. The office always holds parties in restaurants pretty far away from the office and I’ve previously declined invites to the two other parties the office put on in the last six months that I’ve been working here because I don’t have a car and there’s no easy or affordable way to get to these events. I’m the only person in the department who doesn’t have a car. Previously I made up lame excuses about why I couldn’t come because I didn’t want to tell people about my financial situation. For the holiday party I felt extra pressure from people in the department to come (because I hadn’t attended any of the previous events) and my manager even called me to make sure I was going. Would it be reasonable to ask to be reimbursed for the Uber fare?

    **If you’re curious, it logistically wasn’t possible to hitch a ride with coworkers to/from the event