open thread – January 2, 2017

Since it’s a holiday and I’m still on vacation, here’s a bonus open thread. The comment section on this post is open for discussion with other readers on anything that you want to talk about — work-related, non-work related, whatever it might be. If you want an answer from me, emailing me is still your best bet*, but this is a chance to talk to other readers.

We’ll be back to our regular posting schedule tomorrow.

{ 767 comments… read them below }

  1. AvonLady Barksdale*

    Did anyone else spend a good 20 minutes this morning checking calendars and out-of-office messages, just to be absolutely sure their office was closed today? Just me?

      1. MegaMoose, Esq*

        We are open, but much of downtown is closed, so I had a fun fun moment of panic walking to my building and wondering if I’d be able to get in without calling up (our offices are on the top floor of a smallish high-rise). I’ve got to say, the energy level is low low low today.

    1. LCL*

      No, because I planned on coming to work, but I am having a hard time getting oriented. The 24/7 part of the company is at work, as am I. Most of the company is still off because today is our official holiday. Traffic was very light, but Starbucks was open. And I don’t have any snacks because I ate everything last week and forgot to bring anything.

    2. Marcela*

      Not really, because I was told last Thursday that today was not a holiday. However, before I finished breakfast my boss sent me a text saying today IS a holiday after all. Good for them, because I’m pretty sure I’m sick, probably tonsillitis (my throat hurts, only one side), but our crappy PTO policy means that unless I’m dead, I’ll go to work, or I’ll never have enough days to visit my family in the other hemisphere.

    3. AdAgencyChick*

      I made sure to check the company Intranet before I left, but I’m still having anxiety about it.

    4. MashaKasha*

      We are open, so no. The commute to work was sad, though. Based on the complete lack of cars on the road, looked like we were the only ones open, even though I know it’s not the case.

      1. Windchime*

        I’m off today for the New Year holiday, but I worked last week and my commute was downright creepy. The train was nearly empty and waiting for my connection in the subway tunnel was a little bit scary. I’ll be glad when it’s back to the normal hustle and bustle.

    5. Lulubell*

      Ha ha – not 20 minutes but at least 5! Why does it feel so weird? Maybe because my office is typically stingy on PTO and this feels too good to be true.

    6. Al Lo*

      Last day of vacation. December is always a crazy month for me at work, so I typically take the week between Christmas and New Years off completely, and do my best to not check work email at all. I hit the ground running tomorrow, but it’s been a wonderfully lazy week.

    7. Mallory Janis Ian*

      State university employee, so we’ve been closed since December 23 and return to work tomorrow. I am not looking forward to it.

    8. Audiophile*

      I didn’t check anything. We were open on Friday, so I didn’t bother to set up an out of office message this week. Also didn’t check anything, since I knew for sure we were closed, our building is closed.

    9. Less anonymous than before*

      No, but I definitely was walking around thinking today was Tuesday and the 3rd for a good half of the day for some reason. Lord.

    10. Kim H*

      Good evening all, I have a question. I want to Georgia. I currently use my bff address on my resume for that is where I will be living when I move. In opinion, should I move to Georgia first, then look for a job or gain employment, then move. My friend suggests the later, however, I was turned down by a prospective employer due to the fact that I sayed I was in Ohio visiting for the holidays and will return January 5. They refused to do a phone/video interview :( . Now I feel down on my luck and not sure how best to move forward. Any advice, Please.
      Thank You.

      1. J*

        If there’s a way to be in Georgia for the job hunt, that’s probably going to be your best bet.

      2. Evie*

        Hi Kim! I don’t know the answer but I thought I’d say that I’m fairly sure Alison has answered similar questions to this so hopefully there’s something in the archives that can help (and is easy to find!), but also that you’ll probably get more responses if this question is its own individual comment rather than part of an imunrelated thread. To do this go right past all the other comments and use the “make a comment” dialogue box at the end. (Although you might have done this already!) good luck with whatever you decide! :)

    11. Misc*

      I actually showed up to work yesterday (day ahead in NZ). Course, I work from home… I’d have worked right through the week if my boss hadn’t told me, so at least I’m not working today XD (will randomly take some time off later to make up for yesterday)

  2. TheWaitingGame*

    So I interviewed for a job I really, really want right before the holidays, and the hiring manager checked all my references and ran the background check, but I still haven’t received an offer. This is for a position in another department at my university, and they typically don’t do background checks if they aren’t going to do an offer…but GAH. My stomach is is knots waiting. I’m pretty sure I’ve got the job, and the delay is just the holidays…the background check was run a day or two before the entire university closed down for the year, and most people go on vacation those few days before anyway (I was myself). GAAAHHH. It will be okay…just need to relax…

    I hope everyone had a lovely holiday!

    1. Cidney the mechanic*

      Best of luck! The wait always absolutely ducks. (I am sure it’s because the personnel involved are just on holiday(

    2. Artemesia*

      I have been there done that and the only way I can cope is with what I call ‘prophylactic pessimism’ i.e. assume the worst and turn away — and then if it happens you are thrilled.

      1. Rincat*

        That’s exactly what I’m doing, even though I’m like 99% sure it’s going to happen. I just have to tell myself nothing is certain until I’ve signed the offer! I had a job offer disappear once on me before, however if it doesn’t work out, I still have a fairly decent job right now so I’m not hurting to get out.

        1. Artemesia*

          Good idea. Both my husband and my SIL have had job offers that still fell through AFTER a verbal offer was made and accepted. So we now never ever count chickens. Job searching is just so incredibly stressful.

          1. Rincat*

            I had an employer tell me they were creating a position specifically for me, and just give them a few weeks, and then poof! They ghosted me. Oh well, turns out that place was not a good company to work for, but it felt crappy at the time!

    3. MissDisplaced*

      I wouldn’t worry too much. Most people were/are still off or getting back to business. Given that, you might not hear anything firm until next week.

    4. Eric*

      Oh, I know this feeling! Whenever I interview for a job I really want, I start obsessively checking my email afterwards. I’ve helped to curb it by putting two reminders on my phone to check my phone: one every day at noon and the other at 6. Unless there’s something that’s absolutely vital that I’m expecting, like for apartment hunting, I ignore it outside of those times.

      Don’t know if it’ll help you, because it sounds like you’re applying for a transfer and might’ve used your work email (?) but it helped me.

    5. Poster Child*

      People totally checked out two weeks ago! I wanted to make an offer to someone before the holidays and could not get the boss to pay attention, get approval from higher ups or care that there would be a long delay once we got to the third week of December. It’s just a super low priority from the employer’s side. It will happen in January!

    6. TheWaitingGame*

      Thanks for your comments everyone! It has helped. I just got a call from the hiring manager, and he said the background check was fine, but the last step is I have to meet with the CIO! I was unaware of this step. However everyone tells me he’s a really nice guy, so I’m not too worried about that. And surprise surprise…he’s on vacation this week! :)

  3. Thomas E*

    Hm… Now I know my boss is moving to a different location. Wondering what it’ll mean for me.

      1. Emmie*

        Any tips for remote bosses to better manage employees? I am one, and would love to hear your input.

        1. Biff*

          The biggest thing that worked for me was having clear goals for the week, and at least 24 hours for any “drop everything and do this” type of requests. E.g.

          “Okay team, this week is our teapot design review. I need all comments and quality control concerns emailed to me by Friday morning. We’ll have a staff meeting on Wednesday to confirm if there are any concerning design trends and discuss who will be taking on the additional work of the new line we are developing for Itty Bitty Tea House restaurants. I should be getting the clay report Wednesday afternoon, and when I send it out, I’ll need it back no later than 2pm on Thursday.”

          From my good boss, I had an email like this on most Mondays (sometimes Tuesdays.) Most of the time I knew exactly what was in it, but sometimes it had a surprise or two.

          The second biggest thing was having real conversations about how long something would or wouldn’t take. I used to have a boss for which everything took about 2 hours. Nothing too about 2 hours in my line of business. It was a nightmare of overloaded schedules and blown deadlines. If your team is ALWAYS behind schedule…. it’s very unlikely to be because they aren’t focusing or can’t stop chatting.

          1. Emmie*

            Thank you very much, Biff. My one struggle is getting a handle on folks workload, which I’m addressing. I hate to overwhelm people, and also to not give them enough work.

        2. Christy*

          My boss has one-on-one meetings with us every week, and he makes it so we can discuss in-depth stuff in them. He also tracks all of our work in a giant spreadsheet, which is cumbersome but necessary. We can all see the spreadsheet but only he and his EA edit it. He’s also ALWAYS reachable and likes it that way (and doesn’t expect us to be outside of work hours).

          He probably has a heavier hand gab he might if we were all colocated, but it’s useful since he doesn’t see us incidentally.

          1. Not the Droid You Are Looking For*

            When I managed remote employees, we edited their weekly check-in agenda a bit to have a section on workload. We would run down their client/project list, it definitely felt heavy-handed, but it was really helpful.

            The other thing (which may only apply to our work environment) was that when people would come to me with a question about one of my remote employees projects, I would direct them back to the remote employee, even if I knew the answer.

        3. Stephanie*

          Over communicate. Don’t micromanage if it’s not warranted, but since you can’t see your subordinate face to face, things can get lost if you’re not clear as possible about things.

        4. Mephyle*

          Alison has done several posts about this!
          Look for:
          • “how to manage remote employees” (Nov. 17, 2011)
          • “how to know a remote worker has checked out – and what to do about it” (Sept. 2, 2014)
          • “how to manage off-site employees” (Oct. 1, 2014)
          • “how to oversee a remote team’s work” (May 7, 2015)
          • “how can remote managers address problems they hear about secondhand?” (Sept. 29, 2015)
          • “how to overcome your worries about letting people work remotely” (Oct. 13, 2016)

      2. Thomas E*

        Thanks, Biff, I appreciate the offer.

        At the moment to be honest with you I don’t have many details. It hasn’t been shared publically, he told it to me in confidence. The company itself hasn’t made up its mind but I think that either he’ll continue working at my location a day a week OR if they can get the right replacement there is a good chance I’ll have a new boss at the end of the month.

        I’m a little concerned: I’ve built up a great working relationship with him.

        1. Biff*

          You might ask, as soon as you know, for the new boss to set aside a hour or so for a one-on-one so you can hammer out some sort of working relationship from the get go. That’s all I can really think of.

  4. Aurora Leigh*

    Anyone else watch Sherlock last night and want to talk about it??

    **Spoilers for Sherlock Season 4 below**

    1. SophieChotek*

      Yes I watched it. It was good – but not my favorite episode.
      (I wonder if that is what they planned all along or if they just decided to go in a different direction and leave the Moriarty section for later.)

      1. Aurora Leigh*

        It was good, but I’m still mad. I loved Mary! I did wonder if things were moved around a bit because of their real life split though. I want to know about Moriarty and also the mysterious Sherringford!

        1. SophieChotek*

          Oh I hadn’t heart they had split. Interesting. (And just last season I read something about how she was talking about how she was seeing more of her husband working on the show than before.)

          I loved Mary too. (And I’ve always been fascinated by the Sherlock Fanfic that makes Mary a more interesting character than one that keeps telling John “Oh, yes, go help your friend dear. I’m off to visit my cousins up North anyway.)

        2. Marzipan*

          I liked Mary but I can see why keeping her was an issue – it’s sort of the same problem as with Superman, where he’s so super that it’s hard to write a situation he can’t easily deal with. Plus, having her around diluted the uniqueness of Sherlock himself, because she could more or less keep up with him.

        3. Jen Erik*

          (All the spoilers.)

          I loved Mary too, but they have stuck reasonably close to the books, so it was always on the cards John would end up as a widower. (Did he have children, though? I can’t remember any.)
          But I didn’t really believe her death: she’s not – to my mind – heroic, so I don’t think she’d sacrifice herself as a knee-jerk reaction, and while I could see her dying for John, I can’t see why she’d die for Sherlock.

          Nitpicks: I was annoyed both John & Sherlock followed her, and seemingly left the baby behind for the assassin to kidnap if he’d felt like it – I was irritated by the plaster busts – the memory stick would have fallen out as soon as they were turned over. (In the books, the plaster is damp, and the pearl sticks to the damp plaster. Also, as my daughter pointed out – what kind of a production line only makes six of anything?) – and it was odd that Sherlock was convinced the arrangement of the table was significant – he didn’t need to go to the house because he’d already solved the case, and in a house where there has been a bizarre death things might be disarranged – why was he convinced there had to be an unconnected and noteworthy reason?
          Also, I really didn’t understand the aquarium, or who the merchant was in this world (Mary???), or why they thought we needed reminded of the tale so often…

          But overall, great fun.

    2. Elkay*

      I thought it was awful. I never liked Mary, I thought adding her to the mix was a bad idea and her ridiculous back story just made it worse. I’m hoping the next two episodes get back to the levels of the early series.

    3. Snorlax*

      Oh, this episode made me so mad. First, I’m upset about losing Mary. Second, I’m mad at John for flirting and/or cheating with that woman from the bus! What on earth! That seemed really out of character for him and I hate it and I’m just sure that woman will turn out to be someone nefarious in an upcoming episode.

    4. an anon is an anon*

      I heard about the big twist beforehand and didn’t watch for that.

      I was pretty indifferent to Mary, but I’m really tired of women being fridged so men can have emotions. Making a female character’s death more about male plot points than about the female character is something I’ve been over for years.

      Not that it’s like the show has a good track record with female characters anyway.

      1. Marillenbaum*

        Precisely. It’s a big problem generally, but also with Moffat shows in particular (ahem, Dr. Who). Honestly, nowadays there are shows that do better, and I’d rather spend my time watching those.

        1. an anon is an anon*

          Yeah. I also have issues with how Sherlock likes to poke at its fans and throw them a hint of a gay relationship only to pull back and be all, “no homo!” I don’t even have an opinion about Sherlock/John the way some people do, but I am tired of so many shows teasing gay content just because they find it titillating. I know Moffat has said some not so nice things about that in the past.

          I find the shows that usually fridge women are also the ones who like to pander to fans about gay relationships and then either kill off a gay character or go out of their way to reaffirm a character’s heterosexuality.

    5. TeaLady*

      As a Sherlock anorak, from the moment she was introduced I knew Mary was going to die but I’m not sure she would have sacrificed herself to save Sherlock – she was too hard nosed for that.

      The plot did seem a little jumbled but it was good overall. The interaction between Sherlock and Mycroft had all the best lines as the relationship between John and Sherlock still seemed a bit strained (did Sherlock know about the woman on the bus, I wonder). I would have liked more Molly and Mrs Hudson.

      Can’t wait for next week with Toby Jones as the baddie

    6. Marillenbaum*

      I’m SO ANNOYED. We have basically one amazing female character who isn’t defined by her relationship to Sherlock and they kill her off to make John and Sherlock angsty. There had better be a twist coming, or I’m really going to have to write off this show for not knowing how to deal with women and PoC like they’re, you know, actually *people*.

    7. Elizabeth West*

      She does go in the stories, but I hadn’t gotten to that yet.

      I know Moriarty is dead, but I can’t help wishing he weren’t somehow. He’s so much fun.

  5. Legalchef*

    Anyone have any tips for keeping energy up during pregnancy? I’m 16 weeks and through I have a bit more energy than I did during the first trimester, I’m still pretty tired and dragging. A lot of things online say to just give in to it and rest, but of course that isn’t always practical or possible, since things still need to get done. I try to eat as much healthy food as possible so I get some natural energy and am not as weighed down, but it doesn’t seem to be working.

    1. Rincat*

      Are you able to walk around or get up and move? That helped me, just being able to stand up and move around for a few minutes. If I sat for too long, I’d get sleepy. Also drinking tons of water.

      1. Legalchef*

        I try, but it doesn’t really help. The only thing that sometimes works is taking a walk around the block in the cold air, but I don’t always have time for that.

    2. Muriel Heslop*

      Congratulations! I found getting up and moving around helped, especially if I did some yoga stretches to get my blood flowing. I had gestational diabetes, which I think also helped with my energy – I couldn’t eat practically any carbs so my blood sugar stayed stable and my energy didn’t soar and crash. Also, lots of water and taking a walk in the evening seemed to help.

    3. Bonky*

      I’m afraid I’ve given up and gone for the “give in to it and rest” thing. I am 24 weeks now, and while I do have a bit more energy than I did in the first trimester, it’s a negligible improvement.

      If your job allows you the flexibility to work weird hours, which mine does, allowing yourself a gargantuan lie-in (or, if you’re a lark, going to bed very early) helps a bit. And if SPD or other ligament pain is an issue, PLEASE ask your work to get you a chair that’s comfortable for pregnant ladies; mine got me this thing, which is making an enormous difference.

      Re being weighed down: sadly, with the impact that progesterone has on the smooth muscles in your intestine coupled with the inevitable heft of the baby/placenta/uterus/all that extra blood, it seems that feeling like a sack of gravel is unavoidable. You have my commiserations. (You’ll start feeling the baby kick in a couple of weeks, though – and that makes up for a lot!) Congratulations!

      1. Bonky*

        Oh – forgot to mention – talk to your OB as well in case it’s an iron deficiency. (I was hoping it’d be an easy fix like that in my case; turns out I just find gestation exhausting.)

        1. Jessie the First (or second)*

          I second this. I had anemia for all of my pregnancies and so felt completely wiped out until that was under control. Of course, pregnancy can be exhausting even without anemia, in which case all I can suggest is to lower your standards for what needs to get done at home so that you can come home from work and *sit* (at work, of course, you don’t have that option).

          1. Legalchef*

            I’ll definitely ask my dr at my next appointment. I think so far my bloodwork has been normal though.

        2. Siberian*

          That’s a good point. It’s probably just a matter of being pregnant but I was especially tired early in pregnancy #2 and my obgyn caught an otherwise symptom-free UTI. I did perk up after that was treated.

    4. Nancy*

      The first thing to do is talk to your OB/GYN. Any advice you get might not be suitable for your specific needs. Ask about how to achieve a steady level of blood sugar. Fluctuations can make you feel energetic one minute and exhausted the next. That might mean eating more frequently or eating lower on the glycemic index. Building a new person is very hard work! It’s not surprising that you feel tired.

      1. Nancy*

        I just read my comment and realized it isn’t quite clear. I meant that any advice you get from non-medical professionals might not be suitable for you and should be vetted by your doctor.

    5. waffles*

      im about 25 weeks and honestly nothing helped except time. i was horribly tired the first trimester, picked up my energy a bit, and now seem to be getting tired again. giving in worked for me, but i havent enjoyed being pregnant much because i do feel like i have very little spare time between resting and going to work.

      1. Legalchef*

        So far my pregnancy has been pretty easy (knock on wood!) – I haven’t had much nausea or anything. My biggest problem has just been the constant exhaustion, which definitely does make the pregnancy harder to enjoy – both from a literal sense, because I’m too exhausted to be excited a lot of the time, and from a general life sense.

    6. Security SemiPro*

      Water, gentle stretching and a lot of self forgiveness. You’re spending a ton of energy building a new person. Figure out what things can be done by someone else or not done at all. You want the energy to go into the baby, as inconvenient as it can be at times.

    7. Data Mama*

      No tips for you, just commiseration. I’m 25 weeks, still throwing up, so exhausted and just generally hating life right now.
      I do what I have to and let everything else slide until I get a burst of energy. Also, I nap as much as possible and am in bed by 8:30 pm. Try to get up and walk around a bit, and stay active.

    8. swingbattabatta*

      Things that helped me were getting up and moving around, getting a glass of very cold water, or having a quick watercooler chat with someone to try to get my brain moving again. Some days, though, I was so exhausted and absolutely nothing helped and I’d just be zoned out at my desk. Best of luck!

    9. Jennifer Thneeds*

      > A lot of things online say to just give in to it and rest, but of course that isn’t always practical or possible, since things still need to get done.

      Maybe not practical, but it really is possible. Think really hard about what really NEEDS to get done, and about whether YOU need to do it. You’ll probably have better energy later, so maybe put off things for a month or two? If you can afford it, pay for ANYTHING that saves you effort (meals, cleaning, giving other people rides places), just for the next couple of months. I agree with what someone said about maybe letting your standards drop a little? Honestly, very little NEEDS to happen aside from work and eating food and sleeping.

      Look at it this way: if you were truly physically unable to do stuff (eg: broken leg), you’d manage around that because it’s temporary. And so is this. (And congratulations.)

    10. Mrs. Fenris*

      I got nothing, sorry. I felt great with my first, and felt like poop with my second, and nothing I did really made any difference.

    11. Legalchef*

      Thanks everyone for your tips, commiseration, and also for telling me that it’s okay if things just don’t get done!

      1. Jen*

        I was so tired with # 2 that one day when my husband was working lays, my then 2.5 year old put me to bed. Then herself. Really, I was lying in her full size bed reading her story..then she “read” one and I fell asleep. She turned off the light and pulled up the covers. It was like, 7:15pm.

  6. caledonia*

    I have no heating or hot water.

    As both the 1st AND the 2nd of January are holidays in Scotland I cannot get a hold of my letting agency or my landlord until Wednesday when I am back at work too. (They are both on voicemail).

    I am having a repair man come tomorrow and will get receipts from him to claim back off my landlord because this is not my repair bill – it’s theirs! So much for renting being less hassle than my own place when I am the one ringing around trying to find repair men to come out and fix it.

    1. Bonky*

      Commiserations. This happened to me a few weeks ago a few hundred miles south of you (when we were having that very cold snap); it took more than a fortnight to get it fixed because the boiler is of considerable antiquity, and the only oil boiler engineer in the area was completely swamped/had to buy parts in from China. While you’re waiting, those little blowy space heaters are your friend.

    2. SophieChotek*

      Oh no, I am so sorry! I can only commiserate from a far. This definitely is the downside to renting.

    3. Namast'ay In Bed*

      That sucks! This happened to my boyfriend a few years ago in the dead of winter, but his landlord didn’t want to pay the fee to have the plumber/electrician come out immediately and just told him “you can just stay at Namast’ay’s place until it’s fixed in a week or two”! I mean, technically he could, but that’s something you ask a tenant if they wouldn’t mind doing, not tell them to do or freeze because you’re a cheap bum.

      1. Overeducated*

        A week or two?! I hope he said “ok, at least I will only be paying rent for half the month.”

        1. Namast'ay In Bed*

          Ha yea that was the one good thing about the his lackluster landlord – he never fought the “I’m going to take this out of the rent then” statements, and fortunately the heat was fixed in under a week. I’m not sure if things just worked out that way or if the landlord finally realized that he would probably lose more money with a decreased rent payment than what the plumber was charging for expedited service.

      2. Observer*

        The last time a landlord told me something like that I said that if they couldn’t take care of it immediately, *I* would, and take it out of the rent – and good luck trying to get it back. The plumber showed up two days later.

    4. Stephanie*

      Uggggh, My pipes froze and I had no running water for about a day. I called maintenance and they promised someone was working on it. I ended up having to go over my friend’s place to shower and get water.

    5. Cristina in England*

      Oh no, that is rotten!! It is freezing today as well. I hope you are keeping warm. Sending you some virtual electric blankets.

    6. Username has gone missing*

      They should have an out of hours repair line. It’s dodgy if they don’t – maybe check with Shelter who can advise on your rights.

    7. TheLazyB*

      My husband is a letting agent. Everywhere he’s worked has always had either an emergency number or instructions on what to do if something like that happens. It sucks that yours doesn’t :( hope it’s sorted now.

  7. Cidney the mechanic*

    After a really difficult and chaotic year of leaving a long term job and leaving my second job within three months … I will be finally starting with a another company next week! I heard a lot of good things about this place. Hopefully 2017 will be a much better year for me! Wish me luck :-)

  8. Myrin*

    I’m sick and cranky. Have been for a couple of days and I’m actually already recovering but my head is killing me right now. :|

    1. Jessesgirl72*

      There is a lot of that going around. Mine has decided it wants to be a chest cold too. I know more people who have it or have had it than otherwise. I’m so over it!

    2. Jean who seeks to be Ingenious*

      Right there with you re being cranky. It’s enormously discouraging to have an immense to-do list of reasonable tasks for basic adulting (e.g. wash dishes, clean bathroom, vacuum crumbs off floor, prepare simple but nourishing food) and almost zero physical energy to propel any activity except lying around. Fortunately this passes….in about two weeks. Grrr.

      Try steam for your head. Or hot beverages. Or a neti pot or NeilMed bottle if you can stand it. Read a mystery or watch junk TV. You know, the usual.

      We can be cranky in stereo. ;-)

      1. Jessesgirl72*

        Over the past 3 days, I’ve watched the entire last season of both Chrisley Knows Best and Project Runway.

        Even just eating food brought to me made me tired.

        I know I’ve made a turn for the better today, since I was actually hungry and made and ate my own sandwich.

    3. Stephanie*

      I have the crud as well. It’s been two weeks. :( Went to the doctor once and debating whether to go back (but she thinks it’s viral, so idk if it’d be worth the co-pay).

    4. Nina*

      Same. I was hoping to ward this cold off, but I’ve been sick since Friday, so…no luck there. I’m mad because I spent all of Christmas running around, and I was hoping to relax for New Years.

      I hope you feel better soon! Especially when it’s a bad headache.

    5. AnotherAnony*

      Stay hydrated! I had a bad headache that even Tylenol couldn’t cure and after hydrating a lot with water and Gatorade, it seemed to help.

  9. Rogue Sixty Three*

    How was everybody’s Office New Year (or Christmas) Party? Any cringe worthy episodes?
    My company had a small dinner and dance before New Year, and three of the (old, male) directors gotten so drunk, they danced topless. Definitely didn’t need to see that much of my superiors, thank you very much.

    1. Bonky*

      Half our organisation is made up of very introverted engineers. Most of them didn’t come, because…karaoke. And there was a “food from food trucks!” plan, which ended up being chicken burgers from one food truck for 90 people. Several people got food poisoning.

      I think we can count this a failure on a pretty grand scale.

    2. AdAgencyChick*

      I ghosted at about 8:30 because I had another party to go to. I’m sure things got insane.

      Even the two hours I was there was enough for my account person to annoy the crap out of me. She kept grabbing me by the hand and dragging me to the dance floor. I realize it could have been a lot worse, but bleh.

    3. ink lover*

      This year my company had no holiday party, no small gifts that they usually give out, no bonuses – and the thing that got everyone the most upset – no Christmas tree! There was also no communication about any of this so we’ve all been left to wonder WTF. So I’m envious of anyone whose company is even the remotest bit festive around the holidays. The theme this year for us was “Bah, humbug.” :(

      1. Bonky*

        Has the person who used to organise stuff like that left in the last year? It’s amazing how dependent some things are on a single person; and sometimes when they leave it doesn’t occur to anybody higher up to assign tasks like Making Christmas Happen to anybody.

        1. ink lover*

          Actually it appears that the new management made the choice not to have any of these things. At least, that’s what we heard through the grapevine.

    4. Aurora Leigh*

      We had a comedian that totally flopped. We all just sort of States at him as he went off on this tangent making fun of small town people . . . in a small town. It was incredibly awkward.

      Also, the owner usually announces employees new babies, but there weren’t any this year, so he said like people there’s a way to make that happen, don’t want to get that graphic or anything but it’s not that hard. Again akward. But at least it was a short party and the food was good.

    5. DMouse*

      Our group (in a different city from the corporate office) became work-from-home in November, and we got no holiday party. I think they just forgot about us.

    6. Rincat*

      My department pushed our potluck lunch party to next week, it’s usually the week before the university closes down. I’m kind of glad, I think it will be more pleasant to have it at the start of the semester instead of at the end, when everyone is burned out and doesn’t want to be around each other anymore.

    7. costume teapot*

      Oooh mine was awful and it’s not even like anything HAPPENED. The planners were just completely obtuse. The bar didn’t have the capacity they claimed–they said 150 on the first floor and 150 on the second, but there are 275 people there and you could barely breathe. (They also expected a 25-50% attrition rate for some strange reason, even though they were planning for 3 different offices to have a joint party. So they figured space wouldn’t be a problem because 200 people were anticipated to be there. Bad juju.)

      There was no vegetarian food…or really, any food at all that didn’t have pork in it. I guess people who don’t eat red meat for health or religious problems are just as mysterious and non-existent as vegetarians are to our party planners. (Who apparently got vividly aggressive towards the one person who pushed back against the menu.)

      The new company has a muuuuch more laid back vibe, and the party was planned by old company. So it had the frat-party-binge-drinking vibe, because the only things you COULD do were drink alcohol and eat. And be squished up against the person next to you.

      We left hella early because I’m vegetarian, boyfriend-o can’t eat red meat, and we both have a little trouble with crowded places so there was no point in staying. I hear most people from new company were feeling real uncomfortable by the end of things.

      1. hermit crab*

        Yikes – we may have actually been at the same party (based on your description, I might work at the “new” company) – or maybe this is an unfortunate common thread of holiday parties this year. Ugh. Regardless of whether it was the same event, I also left early (though it took a LONG time to wade downstairs through all the people and out the door) and went out for Thai food with a bunch of other veggie types.

    8. Julie*

      My firm rented out movie screens for us to watch Office Christmas Party and we got a couple free beers as well as free popcorn and soda. It was kind of the best office party I’d been to.

      1. Audiophile*

        That’s a pretty cool office party. I saw that movie a few weeks back and enjoyed it, wish the movie theater had offered me free food and drinks.

    9. Cath in Canada*

      Our official holiday party is in a couple of weeks, but a subset of us had an unofficial one before Christmas. I have some really great coworkers who all enjoy regularly hanging out together over a few beers, so the biggest scandal was that I found out that I have a colleague who thinks Amelie sucked. However, this is the same guy who also thinks the Keira Knightley movie adaptation of Pride and Prejudice was better than the BBC series with Colin Firth (we have argued about this extensively in the past), so, whatever :D

    10. Honeybee*

      Ours was pretty nice – the division my team sits within (N=80) rented out a bar with indoor mini-golf for a couple of hours during the work day (hooray for work day parties). We started out with two drink tickets, but apparently we were under the budget and so most people actually got 3-4 drink tickets AND there was enough food. We just recently moved into this division, so I got to meet some people I’d never met before and hang out with my own teammates for a couple of hours. And as far as I could tell, nobody got super drunk! I was driving, so I stuck to two beers anyway.

    11. Anon 12*

      My spouse’s company had an in office party (pretty typical for them ) but then handed out envelopes with one movie ticket in each. The whole place stood there looking at the floor assuming the second ticket had fallen out when they opened the envelope. Seriously, why bother?

  10. caledonia*

    I graduate this year!!

    It has been 7 long years doing my undergraduate degree part time/distance learning – with The Open University – and it’s been a big part of my life.

    I am a bad student who is great at procrastinating so it’s a little crazy that I’m contemplating doing a Masters……

    1. SignalLost*

      Not really – school is comfortable and famiar! As someone with a relatively useless Masters (I love what I learned and I love the discipline it’s in, I just realized two-thirds through that I never want to work in that field – I’d say consider whether the Masters would benefit you, and whether the awarding institution would benefit you. I don’t know Open University’s rep, but if it’s at all perceived badly by employers, getting a Masters from a solid school might help. I speak with experience – I have a vocational degree from a CC, and I spent too much time in interviews right after I got the degree explaining what proved I had actually learned my profession. Bias against schools is very real, and often not deserved, though for-profits can go straight to hell. It turns into bias against the degree holder. So maybe bear that in mind as you think about a Masters.

      1. caledonia*

        My degree is in Humanities and my masters would be as well.

        I am in the UK, and whilst some postgraduate courses are useful and beneficial (e.g I have a friend who is in microbiology) for your job, I am purely doing it because I enjoy learning. I’m a career admin so wouldn’t be doing it to improve my job prospects as such.

      2. Marzipan*

        Employers tend to have a positive view of the OU as students are perceived as having worked extra hard to gain a degree alongside whatever else they were doing in life (and if that whatever else was working, then that’s a bonus). For some subjects there are practical limitations (eg science students get little lab experience) but the general perception isn’t a poor one so far as I’m aware.

    2. Overeducated*

      Congrats, that’s awesome! A masters just for personal fulfillment sounds lovely to me, but think seriously about giving yourself a year off on between just to relax, enjoy the free time, and get really excited to return to school!

    3. Jean who seeks to be Ingenious*

      Mazel tov! Three cheers for you from across the Atlantic!
      If you go on for your Master’s in Humanities, enjoy it. What’s your area of focus? (My AB was in English and History, with a specialization, such as it was, in how literature reflects the culture of the times.)

    4. Marzipan*

      Yay! Well done! My OU graduation was in September and it was so nice – there were so many people graduating who you could see it meant the world to. I kept almost crying. (The best was the lady with a guide dog and the guide dog had its own graduation gown.)

      I have taken the plunge and gone on to an MA, which is somewhat kicking my arse at the moment because I, too, am highly skilled at procrastination…

    5. Cristina in England*

      Congrats! well done. :-) Not crazy to contemplate an MA. You never know where it might lead, go for it! I work on digital humanities projects, and one reason I got my first job in this area was because of my history BA (there were other factors too but they did mention this specifically).

    6. Ada Lovelace*

      I am in a similar boat. I just started looking at grad school but my B.A will be in public administration and I don’t know what I’m interested in for a masters. My powers of procrastinating and bs’ing seem to get better every semester. However I like learning. I like being in class when there is a variety in the subjects.

  11. SignalLost*

    I’m currently applying to other jobs in my company. The type of roles I’m seeking are REALLY not related to what I’m doing for the company now, which is warehouse work when I’m looking for office work roles. I can’t decide whether to take up space I would otherwise use on my resume to list my current role, or if it’s pointless to do so because my resume should showcase my skills for the role I want, not the role I have. I worry that leaving it off makes it look like I don’t respect the role I’m in now. If it matters, in order to be considered an internal candidate, I have to apply via an on-site computer, which does flag you as an internal candidate. There is no other way to indicate that you’re internal.

    Any thoughts?

    1. Temperance*

      I think it would be unwise to leave off your current job, especially if you’re trying to transition to office work there. I think it would come off as strange.

      1. SignalLost*

        I do have the skills to support the office work roles – it was a bad situation where I was primarily freelancing for one company who gave no one a heads up they were getting out of that space and I needed money in a hurry and in a relatively niche role. I only mention that because my resume is exactly two pages as is and that’s with pruning and tailoring. Would it maybe be a good compromise to say “Job Title, Company X, Location, Dates” and then leave off bullet points, which I have for other roles? For irgwr companies, I have left my freelance role as “present” because I potentially could get a very small amount of income from other clients, (though I have been too busy with the holidays and the fact this is a my-industry slow time to take on any clients) but this company has a stringent no moonlighting clause, so I need to change the dates for these applications.

    2. Namast'ay In Bed*

      My quick two cents are that the people reviewing it might find it weird that you are a current employee but don’t actually list your/their current employer on your resume. Is there a way to highlight skills in your current job that would be transferable? Things like organization, accountability, consistency, people management, etc? I bet there’s something in there you could use. I think Allison has written about this before (I’ll post the link when I find it.)
      I’m not sure if it would be seen as not respecting your current role, I think it would just come across as a little weird, especially since you are applying for a job within the same company.

      1. SignalLost*

        Literally, I fold boxes all day and I’m applying to be an instructional designer. I’m not the fastest box-folder, and I haven’t been given any of the advanced roles available at my level in my department because it’s been chaos with the holidays, though I have asked to be trained in one of those roles soon. There isn’t anything applicable between what I do now and what I’m applying to do, not with all the will in the world. It is a very regimented setup so I really can’t even say I’m organized – it genuinely takes massive incompetency or promotion to demonstrate disorganization in this role.

        Previous commenter did make me think I could get by with the job title, company name, location and dates, just no bullet points; that might be a good compromise, but my resume is packed tight as it is, and I’m reluctant to lose actual supporting info. But I think you’re right that it’s weird not to acknowledge where I work.

    3. MC from NJ*

      A question for you, though it involves extra work: have you given any thought to creating a skills-based resume, rather than a chronological? That way, you can feature the skills applicable to the job that you want, rather than focusing on the job that you currently have. That way, you can highlight the strengths that would get you hired for this new position and lessen the emphasis on what you currently do for the company.

      1. Whats In A Name*

        I second this approach as I was going to suggest the same. These can really display work well in these types of situations IMO.

      2. Apollo Warbucks*

        Alison has mentioned functional resumes are a bit of a red flag for the hiring manager as it gives the appearance of trying to hide something and if you do manage to get a phone interview the first part of it will be going through your job history in chronological order.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Yeah, you have to be really, really good to overcome the use of a functional resume (at least in many fields). They’re so hard to read on the employer side — they require me to do a lot of extra work to understand what your job history has actually been and what you’ve done where and when, and I’m not likely to do that extra work if I have other good candidates in the mix. (Plus it really is a flag that says you’re trying to hide something.)

          1. SignalLost*

            And in my case, I am! I mean, not anything actually interesting like being on the lam for ten years or something, but I don’t really have too many roles that show growth in that industry or at that employer, so I’m trying to be as transparent as I can about my weird job history/title history, and how those skills translate to and support “Job I Am Currently Applying For”.

      3. SignalLost*

        What I’ve done is have a skills section on one version of my resume – I have a vocational degree in web dev, and I also have work experience as a teacher and an editor, primarily. For the web dev roles, I tend to have a 3-column section listing the technologies I’ve worked with, because that can vary so widely by role, and I really am a marketing-designer-developer-dba-of-all-trades, not a JS dev or a DBA, so I have a lot of relatively shallow experience with many technologies, and I tailor that block to the job. Like, if they say they want ASP.NET experience, I’ll put that back in, as I’ve used it and understand it, but it’s not one of my stronger languages, so my default for server-side is PHP. For other versions, I usually drop that and expand bullet points to encompass more of what I did in a given job, or I might add in a short-term contract that gives me a relevant skill, like when I took a three-month contract as a project and people manager last year. It then goes to a chronological listing of my roles with subheads to indicate Graphic Designer or Web Developer or Acquisitions Editor or whatever, and bullet points to explain what that meant and how I was awesome at it. But it’s definitely an issue that my resume is not aimed at one industry and does not show progress in that industry, so I’m trying to be as transparent about that up front as I can, and since I do have “something to hide” (ie, my lack of direct career progression) I think a functional resume would hurt me. I do get a fair number of callbacks and I do have good answers to “why did you go into this role”-type questions; I just haven’t nailed anything down to a final offer. It’s annoying repeatedly being the loser of two finalists.

    4. Sherm*

      I agree that it would seem strange to leave the current job off the resume in this case. Resumes don’t have to be limited to just one page, so I wouldn’t worry about the space it would take. Also, it’s probably going to be a big plus for you that you already work there, even if in another capacity. They know that you already understand many of the company’s general ways of doing business and its most important goals, you know the location and are a pro at commuting there, nothing about the company has made you run for the hills, and so forth.

      1. SignalLost*

        It’s exactly two pages, and that’s the version I send out. :) The full version that I crop from is about four, but I have had way too many jobs with big responsibility sets that support different potential career paths. I’ve tried to avoid being too funky with font sizes and margins, and I’m just really worried that adding this in will take up room I do need, but I think I’m liking the idea of JUST listing the job and the dates, not the duties, because … they know what the duties are, or can find out in a hurry. And I think you’re right; especially since I have to apply inside their computer domain to be internal, it’s probably really weird to leave off any acknowledgement.

  12. Anonny*

    My department director wants the entire team to go on a five day retreat. The location is a small town in New England in the middle of nowhere in the dead of winter (late January). Oh yeah we will all be sharing a house — around 10 to 12 people. I really don’t want to go. I like my colleagues but the prospect of a week with them in a remote location with no privacy and little opportunity for an escape to me is more than a little excessive. Add to that I am not really a part of the team (my role is akin to an in house web/IT consultant in a department of statisticians and researchers.) Yup I was hired to fill a role in a specific project and if I attend the retreat only a very small part of the retreat will be devoted to my project. The majority of discussion will be on topics I have zero knowledge or background about. I am five months into this new job. Is it appropriate if I talk to my boss and ask him if I can either skip the retreat, participate by Skype or if I absolutely need to be there to be in only a day or two? As the new guy I know this is an unusual request. But I think they are taking this team building retreat way too far out of my comfort zone.

    1. LCL*

      I wouldn’t spend five days on vacation in a place that is too cold to go outside with my immediate family, much less my co workers! How big is this house? 10-12 people is how many people per bathroom? You want to look like a team player, though. Can you plead some kind of responsibility that prevents you from being locked away for 5 days?

    2. Bonky*

      Wow – WHY do companies do this? It’s something that’s been covered by AAM several times (worth searching for her very nuanced suggestions on how to deal with it); it seems pretty clear that there’s a big corpus of people who really, really hate the idea of being closeted with coworkers for days on end with no respite. And yet it still seems such a popular idea: can anyone explain why?

      1. Biff*

        Not to mention people with second jobs, people who can’t fly, people who are sole caretakers for another person, people with pets, people who have detailed at-home medical routines that they don’t want to show to anyone else, or people who just plain can’t do a 24/7 ‘work face.’ Since these are often a flight, you also have people who are travel-phobic, people who ALWAYS get sick on planes, and people who can’t or don’t sleep well in beds that aren’t setup properly for them.

        Personally, I’m out of a job, but if I joined one and they dropped this, I’d happily tell them I have several medical issues that would make this impossible for me to do, unless they were prepared to pay me for a week of recovery time and 3, maybe even four visits to the chiropractor to sort my back after flying and staying in a hotel.

        1. Bonky*

          I remember the letter from the lady who was eight and a half months pregnant who was being made to go on one of these things – in a cabin in the woods in the back of beyond. It’s amazing how some people’s preferences (“Hey! Wouldn’t it be lovely to spend a week in the woods together!”) are imagined to be the whole group’s preferences, even in the very obvious, staring face of eight-and-a-half-months-pregnant reality.

        2. Anonny*

          I hear you. The worst part is the nearest airport is 60 miles away and we will not be staying in a hotel. It will be someone’s house where shared rooms are inevitable. Everyone is expected to fly in from various locations to the airport 60 miles away and make their way to the small town in the dead of winter. This is the most insane idea I have ever encountered in my working life

          1. Biff*

            That’s not even safe. What the hell. I’d highly recommend that you simply say “I’m sorry, that isn’t going to be possible for me. What would you like me to do while the rest of the team is out. This would be a great time for me to get caught up on Tiddlywinks, Solitare and that awful office fish tank, but I can focus on other tasks as needed.”

          2. MashaKasha*

            Doesn’t New England get a ton of snow?

            What could possibly go wrong??

            Wow, this retreat sounds awful in so many ways. I hope you find a way to get out of it.

            1. dragonzflame*

              Now all I can think about is that episode of The Simpsons where Homer and Mr Burns got snowed into the log cabin on the company retreat.

      2. Jean who seeks to be Ingenious*

        My guess is that the people who organize these kinds of retreats:
        – don’t have any of the entirely reasonable life circumstances listed by Biff
        – don’t know anyone who does
        – don’t have the imagination to envision that such circumstances might ever arise for anybody
        – and/or are also weirdly fixated on the idea that it’s perfectly okay to let “team-building” activities bleed way, way, too far over into the rest of people’s not-at-work time and energy.

        Kudos to Bonky’s recommendation to search the AAM archives. I’m sure Alison has some excellent suggestions for Talking Sense to Crazy Without Shooting Oneself in the Foot.

      3. DeadQuoteOlympics*

        Because some people think “if only people knew each other really, really well as people, they’d be more productive/get along better/be easier to supervise” despite ample evidence that it often is counterproductive to get to know your coworkers more intimately? That they come from really tight knit families and want to create a “family” at work because they think that’s the way to build a team?

        Or it’s the Ernest Shackleton theory of team building — make things so dreadful that you pull together against terrible adversity. That’s all I’ve got.

        Okay, now I’m laughing — I looked Shackleton up on Wikipedia before I posted and apparently it’s a thing: “In 2001 Margaret Morrell and Stephanie Capparell presented Shackleton as a model for corporate leadership in their book Shackleton’s Way: Leadership Lessons from the Great Antarctic Explorer. They wrote: “Shackleton resonates with executives in today’s business world. His people-centred approach to leadership can be a guide to anyone in a position of authority”.

        1. Mephyle*

          I’m slightly a History of Antarctic Exploration buff and the idea of Shackleton as a model for corporate leadership is horrifying and darkly funny. I want to make a comment tying that in with the fate of the ponies and dogs, but it is just too disturbing. You can use your imaginations.

          1. Beaded Librarian*

            I actually read a book on Shackleton’s leadership and how to use principles from how he kept his men alive versus what happened with the Scott expeditions both the one that Shackleton was involved with and the one that got Scott killed for a class on leadership for my library degree.
            The sad that my with the ponies is that was Scotts plan all along to eat them if I remember correctly.
            I was thinking that they actually managed to save several of the dogs on Shackletons expedition. I know that they kept them alive for as long as possible even when their own supplies were dwindling but that was partly for practicality. Gave the men something to do and also the dogs provided comfort.

              1. Beaded Librarian*

                It’s called Shackleton’s Way: Leadership Lessons from the Great Antarctic Explorer by Margot Morrell and Stephanie Capperall. It’s a pretty short read but it was pretty interesting. I’ve been meaning to pick up some more books about him to read since but have been too busy.

        2. JaneB*

          I once worked at a university where the VC (top level of active management, my 5 times grand boss) was a great fan of Shackleton as a perfect model of leadership. There was a small scandal when someone in the next tier down “accidentally” said loudly enough for an entire university wide meeting to hear that Shackleton did a good job f leading people OUT of a situation that he was stupid enough to lead them INTO, and those two things cancelled out in his book.

        3. Mephyle*

          Still, better the Shackleton model (they all survived) than the Scott model (they all died).

          1. JaneB*

            Very true! But neither is really desirable for a university or any other highly complex, long term oriented, multifunctional entity, imho as a mere “led”

    3. Anonny*

      Thanks everyone for the feedback and commiserating with me! I will talk to my supervisor and see if there is a way I can get out of this Winter Retreat from Hell

  13. Bomb Yogi*

    Just wanted to share some good news from this morning. I am super passionate about helping people learn about personal finance and teaching them how to create budgets. My church just asked me this morning to lead a personal finance class and become a trainer in the formal Budget Bootcamp class. As nerdy as it sounds, I’m really excited to help people how to handle their money better. As someone who suffered from math dsylexia and anxiety all through school, it is pretty cool to be able to overcome these challenges.

    1. Muriel Heslop*

      That is so cool! My dad has a passion for the same thing and he created his own nonprofit to do so. You will really be helping people – congratulations! Especially since you have overcome some real hurdles – way to go!

    2. LS*

      I wish I could attend your boot camp! I really struggle with this – not the concepts but the nitty gritty of making it work day to day

    3. Eric*

      This isn’t nerdy, it’s actually really cool! As a fellow bad-at-math in school person I gotta say I’m really happy for you.

      The unfortunate truth is that a lot of people don’t have anywhere to learn about budgeting and good financial sense. Some people have a natural sense for it for whatever reason despite that but it’s such a huge thing, in terms of asserting control over your own life, reducing anxiety about your future, and so on, that I love hearing about it.

    4. Kristen*

      That’s actually awesome and so important. There are too many people out there who are intimidated by money issues, because it seems overly complicated to understand budgets, investing, insurance, retirement, etc. Good luck! You have the chance to make a monumental difference in the lives of people. Not nerdy at all!

    5. Brigitha*

      Cool. Congrats. I taught a couple rounds of Financial Peace University a while back and really enjoyed it. It’s astounding how many people don’t even know where to start with budgeting, and how much they appreciate someone walking them through it.

    6. nep*

      That is fantastic. Great that you have that opportunity, and that you’re going to help people in that way. Keep us posted.

    7. Marillenbaum*

      That is amazing! I’m someone who reads intensely about money despite (or perhaps because of) never feeling good at it, so this sort of thing is deeply interesting to me. Good luck!

  14. Muriel Heslop*

    I am a teacher who goes back to school tomorrow. Spring semester = testing, ARDs, and the more testing. I love teaching and I love my kids but the administrative/bureaucratic part of my job is incredibly time-consuming. Forget the kids who are hungry, sleep-deprived, homeless, and worse. I feel torn in so many directions that it is increasingly challenging to get things done in the classroom. We really need to decide what we want schools to do and how we want them to function and then prepare teachers for that.

    1. Rob Lowe can't read*

      I go back on Wednesday and we start ACCESS testing the next week. I’m an ESL teacher and I teach the newcomers class for my grade band, so this is my stressful testing time of year. I have a few kids who I think are going to really struggle, and I worry that they are going to be hard pressed to put forth their best effort because the test is so daunting. (Most of my students are exempt from state ELA testing in the spring, and I couldn’t care less about test prep for those who aren’t exempt. Making my students take grade-level reading tests when they read 4-5 years below grade level [because of the language issue] is just silly.)

    2. Kj*

      I work with kids and know that struggle. Does your school have any partnerships with social services agencies? One thing that many schools in my area do right is they have partnerships with Boys and Girl’s Clubs, counseling agencies and the like and they let those agencies provide some services in school. It means the school can just refer and let the process run its course and the agencies get better access to kids. Teachers I know report this usually works well. Also, sometimes teachers don’t know about this partnership unless they ask the counselor. Maybe your school has a way for you to tell someone about your concerns for the kids and get them help? I know it puts the burden on you to ask, but if that is all you have to do, it could help your kids and get that load off your mind.

      I agree schools are asked to do too much, but as a society, we haven’t invested in kids like we should, so education becomes the catch-all for providing services for physical health, mental health, social skills, etc. It sucks- thank you for still caring though- burn out among teachers is INTENSE sometimes.

    3. Emmie*

      I wish standardized testing wasn’t such a key component of the classroom. And I also wish that all districts were not held to the same standards. It’s horrible.

    4. Alice*

      I think you’re doing great work. I left teaching a year ago, and I miss some parts of it, but the challenges you mention are very real and very daunting. Good luck to you and the students!

    5. Honeybee*

      There was an interesting article in the New York times written about/by a teacher from Finland who relocated to the U.S. with her spouse (I think Tennessee). She wrote how the profession she fell in love with in Finland was almost unrecognizable to her in the U.S. because of the lack of classroom autonomy and professional direction she had here. In Finland she determined her own curriculum and how and when she wanted to teach it; here in the U.S., she had little control over what she could teach and increasingly less control over how to teach it.

      I always feel like teaching is one of those careers where most of the people making decisions about the high-level about it have little to no experience actually doing it. State legislators and school board members don’t even have to have any educational experience, and most of them don’t. Moreover, many of them send their kids to private schools, so they don’t even have any skin in the game. They make decisions based on hunches and preferences and social/religious/cultural factors rather than any actual research or even crowdsourced input from the teachers in the classrooms. The poor teachers – the ones who do the most work – get the least amount of say in how they actually do the work.

      It’s frustrating as an interested outsider; I can only imagine how much more frustrating it is for a teacher.

      I wish there were more support/money for professional/administrative roles who can handle the administrative/bureaucratic aspects for a group of teachers (academic admin? academic assistant? I don’t know what the title would be). Maybe people who don’t necessarily want to be in front of the classroom 8 hours a day but love to work for schools and in education.

      1. Rob Lowe can't read*

        For me, it’s not really about bureaucratic or administrative functions that I have to perform that keep me from actually teaching, it’s more about the restrictions and requirements that, as you point out, are largely put in place by people who have never taught but that seriously impact what I do all day. (I mean, I don’t love making photocopies, but I have a really efficient system worked out that makes it bearable.) I feel lucky that at this point, in the district where I work, the laws and regulations are effectively sheltering my subject area (by requiring a certain number of service hours for ELLs) without imposing extra paperwork, but I’m starting to see signs that “higher” student performance expectations (i.e. standardized test scores, hence the quotation marks) might be something that will increasingly be demanded in the future. And that concerns me, because I see how the test dominates what my general education colleagues do.

  15. Biff*

    So, I’ve been funemployed for about nine weeks, and I’ve noticed a disturbing trend — I’m dodging a LOT of bullets. I see an unusually high number of ads with major red flags. The most egregious has been an entry level job that asked for 5 years of related experience (hint, that’s not entry level, but the pay sure is!) and another job that should by all rights be a remote type job that had no WFH option (this would have been odd a few years ago in my industry.) I realize that some of this is because unemployment says I have to apply for jobs, so on a week with few options, I end up applying to whatever is still open, which will be jobs that appeal to less people, but I’m kind of surprised to see so many red flags so often. Can anyone else comment?

    1. Shelly*

      A someone who has written job ads and had them totally mauled by HR, I’d remember that a lot of job ads are written using either really weird rules or are not written by the people actually doing the hiring. Just something worth considering. I certainly would pay attention to red-flags, but, on the other hand, I might take some of them with a grain of salt.

      Plus, people put in things that they would “like” which are sometimes not the same as what they will “accept.”

      1. Eric*

        Yup, this definitely happens. I’m not a manager and I don’t have to write job ads, but I know this happens a lot.

        My first post-college job I got (aside ones that were truly crappy, like a place with a 2 year contract where you had to pay them back $30,000 if you left early) came from me applying for an Assistant Manager position. I didn’t get an offer for a position at that level, but a junior level offer. It was about 6 weeks, and I think that was because they needed to do some other internal shenanigans to extend an offer for a different position.

        Unfortunately, this also means that potential offers can get nuked by someone outside, even when everyone on the hiring team likes the applicant. :( Stay strong buddy.

        By the way, I recall that Alison’s advice is that you should apply if you meet like 70% of the requirements. In-person red flags are a lot more important than job description red flags.

    2. Coldbrewinacup*

      Entry level jobs with the expectation of a lot of experience is very common where I live. Typical ads ask for a bachelor’s degree, several years of experience, knowledge of all Microsoft office programs, and they’re only paying $9-$12 per hour. It’s very disheartening.

      1. Chaordic One*

        This is so typical and so widespread. All this experience wanted and they don’t even pay a living wage.

    3. MissDisplaced*

      Yeah, I’ve noticed that too, and across ALL industries and jobs. I’m only “kind of” looking and so can afford to be picky, and there a just so many I pass right over. But my husband is now unemployed and in his field (construction related) it is crazy. These places want you to own all your own tools/truck/gas/ whatever, and the pay is like $10.00/hour.

    4. Chaordic One*

      Wouldn’t it be nice if newspapers had some standards (since so many employers don’t) about the employment ads they take and refused to list a job as being “entry-level” when it asked for 5 years of related experience?

    5. SeekingBetter*

      In my area, it seems like a lot of organizations are paying less than most other major metro areas in the US. I typically see lots of job ads that demand at least 30 job duties for a single position. I haven’t seen any major red flags other than going on an interview in early 2016 where the interviewer made me wait an hour for my interview to start and tried to con me into taking a much lower salary (10,000 dollars less!) than what I wrote down on my application.

  16. Miss Ann Thrope*

    For fellow academics out there, I have a paper that has been at editorial decision for a couple weeks, agh!! My pessimistic side says that they’re waiting until after the holidays because it will be a reject, though I’m sure that the holidays are the reason for the wait (it’s been about three/four months).

    1. AnotherAnon*

      How frustrating! I remember one of my papers was in a 4-month holding pattern before finally getting accepted. Have you followed up with the editors?

      1. Miss Ann Thrope*

        Not yet. I will by the end of next week. I’m waiting until then because I wanted to take into account the holidays and how hectic things can get. It’s an R&R, so I had hoped there would be a faster turnaround, but that’s not the case (likely due to the holidays, but maybe other factors).

        1. AnotherLibrarian*

          Yeah, I’d give them until the end of next week and then do a friendly follow-up. This stuff always takes twice as long as you think it should. Like many things in academic life. :)

            1. Bibliovore*

              Months and months. Follow up with an email at the end of week. It is easy to reject, therefore no news IS good news. And if this is your first submission, do not be discouraged by the review comments. Take them seriously, revise, and resubmit.

              1. Bibliovore*

                never mind. just read down. Just had a paper published that was researched and written in 2015.

    2. SophieChotek*

      I am sure it’s the holidays/everyone busy. Honestly, I’ve had papers in holding patterns for months before I get a decision. (I had one accepted and then 2 years later, after most of the edits, the entire project fell through. So frustrating.) Best of luck…

      1. Miss Ann Thrope*

        Eek! That sounds awful to have the project fall through, hope things turned out okay, and thanks for the well wishes!

        1. SophieChotek*

          Thanks. I was able to resubmit the paper later to a different editor and had it accepted; published last year in an essay collection published by well-known academic publisher, but it was frustrating at the time. That was my best paper (to that date) and it sat there for 2 years and I didn’t shop it anywhere else, because I thought it was being published.

          Best of luck…let us know what happens. (And definitely take it somewhere else if you get a no. Hopefully you’ll get a…yes or yes, with these edits.)

          1. Miss Ann Thrope*

            Definitely! This is one of the top three journals in my field, so while I’ll submit it elsewhere if I get a reject, I’m crossing my fingers for at least another R&R if not accept because it would do a lot for my career.

    3. Lee*

      I work for a scholarly publisher and see this a lot (more than we’d really like, to be honest). It could be a number of things, but the most likely is that the handling editor has submitted their letter, but it hasn’t been approved by the Editor-in-Chief, if the publication uses that hierarchy.

    4. Mephyle*

      It may be different in your field, but in my experience, reviewers who are also busy researchers may sit on papers for up to a year. In fact, they may sit on them forever, and the speed of reviewing only depends on how on-top-of-it the editor handling the paper is. If the editor is also a busy researcher with many other higher-priority irons in the fire, it can easily take a long, long time before anyone gets moving. The timeline for getting a paper through the process in the field I’m familiar with is much more drawn out than, say, any hiring timeline.

      1. Miss Ann Thrope*

        Thanks! Yes, the reviewer comments scores and comments are in, just waiting for the editorial decision

    5. Honeybee*

      I had a paper that took 8 months to get back. EIGHT. MONTHS. I had already left academia and started a new professional job by the time I got the decision back. (I decided to revise it anyway, since the revisions were pretty minor).

  17. Kj*

    I’m quitting my job! New job starts in April. I have three weeks of vacation stored and I’m thinking about asking to use it for the last three weeks before the new job (and adjusting the notice I give, I will give at least a month plus those three weeks). I’d make the deal with my boss that I’d respond to questions from the person taking my clients during that time-I know I would have loved a chance to talk to the person that had my job prior when I was new. Three weeks will be sufficient for all her questions. Do you guys think this is a good idea? Note, boss won’t fire me when I give notice- he’s going to be sad, but needs me too much to ask me to leave right away. I’ve been on the job four years if that information is important.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Is your vacation policy “use it or lose it”, or will you get a payout for those three weeks? If it’s the latter, then I would just give notice and leave a month before the new job started (i.e., March). Even if you give your boss a month’s notice (i.e., February), then that’s plenty of time to create new documentation or train a new hire, if they manage to do that before you leave. Your vacation is your vacation– and it’s a wonderful thing to take a break between jobs, so honestly, I would just use that time to unwind and reset, and I would certainly not offer to be available during vacation time. If it’s use it or lose it, then… in your place, I would just take the vacation soon and give notice upon return.

    2. CAA*

      Does your company pay out unused vacation? If they do, then just give them an end date that is 3 weeks before your new job starts and enjoy the time off.

      If they do not pay out unused vacation time, then they may or may not let you take it during your notice period. There are some companies that have policies against this, so you should read whatever policies and handbooks you have and take the time off before giving notice if necessary.

      1. Sled dog mama*

        Some companies have a no PTO that wasn’t scheduled before notice during the notice period policy.
        Definitely check on that. I tried doing exactly what you are proposing at old company and they wouldn’t let me since they pay out unused PTO.

  18. Louise*

    Is anyone here a paralegal? I’ve been working as an administrative assistant for a few years and I’m thinking that I’d like a job that’s a little more intellectually engaging. I have no experience with the legal field and don’t know much about what paralegals do beyond what I learned from a Google search, but a relative (who I should note also has no legal experience) mentioned it as a possible career path over the holidays and the idea stuck in my brain.

    1. SignalLost*

      My sister is! Do you have specifics I could answer (it was my fault she got into law in the first place)? I’m not certain she has time this week for more detailed questions, but I could try asking.

    2. MegaMoose, Esq*

      Lawyer here – being a paralegal can mean a lot of different things. If you think you might be interested, I’d recommend researching jobs in your region and start asking people to have coffee and tell you about their work/educational background. You’ll find paralegals almost anywhere you’ll find lawyers, so assuming you’re near a larger market, there will be a lot of options out there. Good luck!

    3. Pre-Paralegal*

      I’m getting my paralegal degree right now and I’ve learned a few things. 1) You’ll either be treated like any other lowly assistant OR you’ll do a lot of substantive legal work that your pay won’t necessarily reflect. 2) It’s a hard field to break into when changing careers, because everyone wants you to have experience. Where I live, in the biggest city of my state, I was told by a recruiter to call back once I’d done an internship because no one would hire me without one, even though I have seven years of administrative experience and am currently enrolled in a paralegal program. I’d be interested to known if it’s different elsewhere!

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        I started out as an admin, but started to concentrate more on the Corporate Secretary side of things, and now I work in a legal department with lawyers, if that’s any help?

        In my case, I have learnt on the job and in many cases, what I do does not require a law degree. Things like filing updated lists of Directors by deadlines, getting annual accounts signed off and sending out AGM notifications, which I always call Legal Administration.

    4. Julie*

      Sort of. I received a paralegal certificate and took on some legal assistant jobs. I am now an office manager for a satellite law office and I do legal assistant work and some specific paralegal billable work in intellectual property. A lot of my firm’s legal assistant work is very easily transferable from admin assistant work – think dictation, editing, binder creation, expense reports, client emails on behalf of the attorney. I think that would be the easiest transition point and then a great way to find out a firm’s paralegal duties and needs.

      My firm has paralegals for corporate work which means managing all signatures for closings, supervising the binder creation, registering companies with states, and minimal legal research; IP work which means managing all deadlines for trademarks and patents, drafting nearly all client letters and templates for office action responses, and filing the documents with the USPTO; we also have tort paralegals, real estate paralegals, healthcare paralegals, etc. I just don’t work closely with them. While our paralegals typically know how to do legal research we actually have an entire library department with staffers from admin to registered lawyer librarians that do most of our legal research these days.

      I never would have realized those positions existed except for having worked in the firm I do. When I worked in criminal law our paralegals did all subpoenas and trial prep but that likely varies by office. Every job I’ve worked offers tuition reimbursement for people wanting to move up so I’d really suggest starting to transition to legal work via admin and then finding the right place. I have found all my legal related admin work fairly stimulating but I’ve always pushed myself to prove I can handle the more legal-focused tasks.

    5. swingbattabatta*

      Work as a paralegal really varies, depending on the firm you are working at and the field of law. Like someone noted above, you could either be in charge of administrative tasks and filings, or you could be asked to draft some substantive work. I think it is a great career track, though. Our paralegals are amazing and worth their weight in gold.

    6. CM*

      You might consider starting out as a legal secretary / legal assistant and then if you like it, pursuing paralegal training. Depending on where you work, a capable legal secretary may start out doing basic filing, Word formatting, etc. (plus dealing with clients and their bills), but pretty quickly be asked to do more substantive work like keeping track of court deadlines and preparing materials for company board meetings or deal closings.

  19. AnotherAnon*

    So I’m in a really lucky position right now – I’m graduating with my final degree in May and will be starting my next position in June, but from now until May I basically have no requirements or responsibilities for school besides a few weeks of classes here and there. I do have other things to get done between now and then – selling my home and moving possibly across the country – and some other part-time work I’ve picked up (a paid freelance gig online, a paid tutoring position on campus) and current hobbies I plan to continue and/or ramp up (working out at least 1 hr/day, doing group fitness classes 3x/week, painting while listening to audiobooks). I’ve started organizing my stuff for the move and listing some stuff for sale on Ebay too. Thoughts of what to do with 5 months of “free time”?

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Honestly? It sounds to me like you’ve got it covered. :) I was unemployed for 4 months, and I did a lot of binge-watching, cleaned my house from top to bottom, started volunteering, met up with friends, baked a lot, took a retail gig… The one thing I wish I’d been able to do is travel– I kept saying that my dream was to get hired right away with a start date in the future so I could visit some friends.

    2. Ze Writer*

      Seconding the travel suggestion. Once you start work, it will be much harder to get time and money together for a long trip, so ticking something big off your bucket list now will be a great thing to do. I don’t regret risky decisions or mistakes I’ve made with money nearly as much as I regret missing opportunities to experience things.

      Don’t worrry about ‘goofing off’ – it’s all in the way you frame it. Trips and adventures look good to future employers, if you pick something impressive like sailing in the Cutty Sark Tall Ships Race or walking the Great Wall in China. Also, if you want to learn a language, a long immersive stay in a foriegn country can be a great way to do it.

      1. AnotherAnon*

        Thanks! I think travel is a great way to spend this kind of time, but probably not for me as I’ve spent the last three months traveling for interviews and spent $3500 out-of-pocket.

        1. blackcat*

          Do you like or tolerate camping? And do you have a car?

          If yes and yes, then you can probably find some really interesting semi local places to travel to for not that much money.

          1. AnotherAnon*

            I’ve been camping before but wouldn’t do it again. I think I’ll just be sticking around the city I live and trying to find cool things to do here before I move away. One good thing that came with all of my recent traveling was getting to spend a lot more time with family than usual, as they live close to a major airport where I flew out most of the time.

    3. Clever Name*

      I had 6 months off between getting my bs and starting my ms. I took some yoga classes and worked out a fair bit, and I volunteered at the humane society. I was a bit bored but it wasn’t terrible. Not as boring as being a SAHM for 2 years… :)

  20. MegaMoose, Esq*

    Well, another hiring season has come and gone, and I’m still doing document review. This time around, I interviewed for two legislative agencies and a city attorney’s office. It was my fifth time interviewing for one of the legislative agencies over the last four years. Earlier in the year, I interviewed with a small private law firm and two other state agencies. And that was 2016.

    I’m realizing that I just can’t keep putting my life on hold waiting for permanent work. Some things there’s no way to avoid – we don’t want to buy a house, for example, until we know where I’ll be working. But I’m not getting any younger, and we’re starting to talk seriously about kids. My plan had always been to give my career a couple of years before trying to get pregnant, but that was four years ago and the career continues to go to jack shit, even if the state appears happy to toss me interviews every few months.

    So happy new years to me, I guess – time to figure out how to start moving forward again.

    1. Overeducated*

      I am sorry that this year did not work out like you were hoping. It is a long and demoralizing slog. I hope luck hits in 2017.

      I know *exactly* what you mean about not putting off youe life forever. My experience is that on one income, no secure long term employment, and renting, we can handle one kid. Have to put off another until we are more settled and secure, but it’s worth running your numbers and thinking about what’s realistic. Of course everyone would love to own a hour and have great secure jobs before kids, but pregnancy has time constraints that those other things don’t.

      1. MegaMoose, Esq*

        Thanks Overeducated. It’s been a frustrating few years – I went back to school and discovered that not only do I love being a lawyer, I’m really good at it! Unfortunately, the niche I’m attracted to – public law – is very, very difficult to break into, and I’ve spent the last four years since getting my license almost there but not quite. It would be easier if I didn’t feel like I was so close, but I am regularly getting interviews and even second interviews, so I don’t want to give up! Plus the legal world is very niche based, and I’m not sure how exactly to shift tracks at this point even if I wanted to.

        Family is something that’s always been important but secondary to my career, but going into this year, I’m realizing that, like you said, pregnancy has time (and health!) constraints that I need to seriously consider – I’ll be hitting my mid-thirties this year and it’s time to start taking better care of myself all around. Luckily, my partner has had better luck career wise, so we do have options. I have an appointment with my GP tomorrow (FUN!) so I’ll have a better sense of what needs doing.

    2. Sydney Bristow*

      Ugh I’m sorry. I was doing doc review for 4 years before landing a permanent position….at a big firm doing doc review. It’s actually nice to have the stability and I really like my firm and don’t mind the work. Perhaps you can keep an eye out for a position like that? It’s not ideal, but you’d have stability and nobody would be surprised if you left for a public gig soon after. At least where I am (NYC) several firms have been moving towards hiring staff attorney positions and away from temps.

      Hang in there!

  21. BRR*

    Has anybody been able to recover from burn out at the job that burned them out? Between the awful commute and disorganization my current job is making me miserable. I plan on asking to work from home more and we’re planning on hiring more people but can significant enough changes be made, especially when the decision makers aren’t changing, to turn around a bad job?

    For what it’s worth I am keeping an eye out for new jobs but there’s been nothing and even if there was it wouldn’t be great for my job history.

    1. Bonky*

      I have…but it coincided with six weeks recovery from an operation where I was forbidden to do any work, and the firing of the CEO who’d caused the stress in the first place, so I don’t think I’m very typical! Good luck: it’s tough. I hope you can take some quality time off to try to recalibrate (I do not recommend having major abdominal surgery if you can help it); it makes a big difference.

    2. Temperance*

      I did, but my burnout was situational – it was entirely because SEPTA really failed over this summer, and my commute tripled. I was spending 3 hours/day commuting.

      Is there anything concrete that you can do now that might help with the burnout? Working from home could definitely help, and hiring some others could also help.

    3. costume teapot*

      Do you use public transit? The best I can suggest is figure out the best forms of self care that you can, and immerse yourself in it whenever you can. For me, I played video games on handheld devices for my entire commute and lunch breaks, and would leave the office for lunches (even if it was just to eat at the cafeteria in the building next door.) And I was very open with my partner that I needed a lot of physical affection like snuggling and hugging to help me feel recharged.

    4. cleo*

      Yes. Here are some of the things I did:

      – committed to actively developing interests outside of work (this was the biggest and more important thing)
      – got really serious about self care and stress reduction (2nd biggest thing)
      – came up with ways to be more efficient at work, especially w/r/t boring or unrewarding tasks
      – actively looked for ways to make work more fun and more interesting

      And it worked. Not only did I enjoy my job more but I earned an Exceeds Expectations for the first time.

      1. cleo*

        I want to make it clear that nothing else really changed – I still had a ridiculous schedule that changed every 10 weeks, an unpredictable boss and difficult upper management, etc. The only thing that changed was me – but that was enough to improve my situation and lift my burnout. I would say I had another 3 – 6 good years (I don’t remember the exact chronology) after my big recovery from burnout and then it really was time to leave that job. But I left on a much higher note than I would have if I hadn’t made the changes.

        It sounds like you’re doing the right things, trying to figure out how to make your situation more sustainable for you – that’s what I did and it worked pretty well for me. Good luck!

  22. Confused grad*

    So I just graduated with my bachelor’s in business management about three weeks ago, and I’m finding it hard to even find open jobs to apply to or know what kind of jobs I should be looking for. Most jobs advertised for recent grads are sales, commissioned jobs, and I don’t want to do sales. Obviously I’m not going to be a manager straight out of college so it’s hard to figure out what kind of entry level jobs someone with a management degree should apply to.
    So far I’ve applied to customer service jobs in big IT companies (the positions require a bachelors, and I can work my way up in a big company).

    Anyone have any suggestions about types of jobs to look for or the different career paths I can take with the degree I have? Right now I have no idea what, specifically, I want to do.

    1. Chickaletta*

      You have a lot of options, although you’re right that getting a management job without any experience is probably not going to happen. My advice is to look at the company and location first and job title second. Look for medium to large companies where you’re more likely to get promoted after a few years, or where lateral moves are an option if the first job isn’t the best fit. Also, if you’ve ever considered moving to a new city, now is a natural time to do that. It will help you build connections in the place you want to live so if you do need to job search again you’ll have a network in place.

      You’ll probably be a fit for anything with “assistant” or “junior” in the job title. If you enjoyed your finance classes, look for jobs in the financial or banking industry like underwriting, or associate banker, or even teller because that’s where a lot of banks start their entry-level employees before promoting them to something better.
      If you’re organized and shown good leadership skills, perhaps a project management track would be good for you. Project managers are at every kind of company and manage everything from IT to construction. Look for “project admin” or “project assistant” openings. Like tourism and customer service? Apply for a front-desk job at a hotel chain and, again, work your way up the management ladder. You get the idea. Good luck!

      1. Just Me and My $0.02*

        I would also add to look for project analyst or project coordinator roles. Those tend to be more entry level at my company.

    2. Zip Silver*

      Look for a promotion in the company you worked at during college. It’s what I did, and it’s worked out well. Professional position, great salary, all sorts of perks that you’d never think you’d get from a company that you started at as a college freshman.

    3. Persephone*

      Does the institution from which you graduated have a Career Services Office? If so, you might be able to get some advice and leads there. Also, you could get in touch with your university’s Alumni Relations office and ask to be put in touch with others who graduated with your same degree and who might be willing to talk with you and give you some information and recommendations.

  23. Not using my normal name today*

    I need this today.

    For those who will find this TLDR – subject is an increasingly special snowflake newer employee who works in an organization that has it’s fair share of special snowflakes, and I don’t know how to handle it.

    So, about 9 months ago, we hired an entry level worker to coordinate all areas of chocolate teapot sales and reporting and to push some improvements that we already had outlined but don’t have time to implement. He started off strong but his performance flatlined a few months ago, and now has decreased over the past month or so.

    At the same time, his attitude and ego have been increasing. He says things that usually come out of the mouths of managers, directors, or even VPs. For example, I proposed a small project to fix a software glitch. I wasn’t actually asking for permission or even approval, since it needed to get done and I was going to push it through anyway if my boss decided he didn’t want to pursue it (I would talk to him in that rare case). The entry level worker, my subordinate, then had to say in a meeting that he doesn’t think we should work on it because we need to ensure we prioritize projects according to importance and impact and not have overlapping projects.

    OK, fair point, if it is coming from someone higher up and we were discussing another project. But this entry level worker doesn’t have enough information or clout to make blanket statements like this. Where did this need to speak even come from? I felt like he was just parroting what higher ups say.

    I also think he is picking up bad habits from someone else in the office. We have someone who is at the Director level who at any other company would be a line-level employee. I’m not sure why or how they decided to hire him for the Director role, all I can do is comment on his work. He just does not do director level work. However, he speaks and acts as if he does. I think the entry level one sees the Director’s output compared to his attitude and ego and thinks that that is a what adulting looks like. But it is not. The Director is lucky that our firm doesn’t have alot of checks and balances or a cut throat culture because he would not survive.

    Speaking of which, our corporate culture is way too relaxed. No peer pressure to get work done, let alone go the extra mile. Minimal managerial pressure to get work done. I think part of it is the nature of our roles, not everything is visible so you can get away with slacking off for some time. But how certain people coast for months at “meeting expectations” or worse is beyond me. I think the other part of it is a desire to have a relaxed attitude in the office. This can be great when someone comes from a stricter environment where you need to clock PTO by the hour to go the doctor, for example. But this isn’t the best way to teach entry level workers discipline or structure I am seeing. He has come to expect leaving early on Fridays and doesn’t feel pressure to get in on time. I know, many AAM commenters are going to say “but does he get the work done?” to which I will respond – I am not happy with his performance.

    So why doesn’t I just talk with him? Two things. One, I saw an employee get coddled and then transfered to a cushier job by our upper management when the same thing happened to someone else a year ago. I fear this will be proposed again. We have no money to hire and fight to open positions, but once the person is hired and not really performing, we suddenly have money to keep them AND hire another person. I do NOT want that to happen. Frankly, I’m sick of working somewhere where mediocrity gets promoted and I want to treat this as a problem and not as a “fit” issue.

    The second and main reason I haven’t discussed this is because his entitlement attitude. I’ve shunned all millenials-are-horrible articles but now I’ve been reading them with the frame of mind that it is a subset of young people and not a particular generation, and many of the articles fit him to a tee. He is obsessed with technology to the detriment of actual work. His phone is permanently implanted in his hands. He can’t go more than a few hours without music (I know I’m going to get pushback on this one, but the last thing I want to keep seeing is a mediocre employee flicking through a playlist during the work day, even if its only for a minute). He takes advantage of flexible and lax office hours. He thinks his ability to learn new things trumps actual work results.

    He also has out of bounds salary expectations. Everytime money has come up, he cites ridiculously high salary numbers. I don’t evne know where half of them have come from. I think some are the max ends of Glassdoor ranges. For example, he said matter of factly that XYZ Managers at Big Teapot Competitor earn $80K – $100K. Actually, they do not, I’ve known folks there and interviewed there, and they pay low $60s – $70K, maybe a tad higher for someone overqualified for the role. Maybe you’ll max out around $80K after many years of good performance. But it is categorically untrue that you can just get hired there at an $80K minimum. He also said another type of Coordinator role must have close to $80K. I said, the person is only 5 years out of school, has no industry certifications, doesn’t even have the required degree. If they made $80K they would have been getting close to $10K in annual raises every year even though they do alot of process work and don’t have the opportunity for the type of big accomplishments one usually used to get a large raise.

    I don’t have the back of anyone else in the organization when I give these “reality checks,” and I keep learning new things that I thought were common sense, so I never thought to address them. Our office is so polite that saying “that role doesn’t pay that much and never will” is even seen as too harsh to say. So people just don’t “check” the crazy s*** other people come out with. Which is totally fine since most people don’t come out with crazy s***. But when someone does, it doesn’t get checked.

    I’m also concerned about how this will play out because everyone likes this employee. They don’t even know that his performance has been suffering. I’m a bit worried about the fact that he is tall and well spoken and smart in general, and we’ve already written reams here about how that can cause a conscious or unconscious bias when evaluating the person. I know for a fact that there is bias in this person’s favor because someone else who makes the same exact mistakes is viewed as incompetent while this guy is still seen as smart and full of potential.

    What I want to happen is to freeze any raise or transfer opportunties until he does xyz specific projects. And if he doesn’t like it, I get to replace him. (I want to freeze transfer opportunities not because I’m Mean Manager, but because I know he wants to transfer to cushy Sister Dept that we do alot of background work for. So, if he isn’t doing good at certain projects and isn’t interested in many of the other background work projects we now have pending for Sister Dept, I have no reason to believe that he will suddenly be interested in the same work when it is done from the other side. I think he just wants to be in the department with a better status and potential for slightly more money).

    1. Adnan*

      I have a similar issue but he is a co-worker. I have been in this dept one and half years and Mike about a year. We are a dept of 8 each with responsibility to support our own internal client departments. Some of work non-stop all week while others spend almost half the time socializing.
      Mike went off on vacation Dec 1 and I had to cover for him all month. Since June, we have all been working on a major annual report for our client departments which was due Dec 2. I had repeatedly reminded Mike that he needs to make sure the annual report was completed before he left as I did not have enough knowledge about his dept to be able to work on it.
      At 4pm on Dec 2 our boss Jane reviewed all the departmental reports and realized that Mike’s report was a mess and could not be submitted as is. Jane asked me to drop everything I was doing and spend the next week recreating Mike’s annual report from scratch – a report we were supposed to spend 6 months on, needed to be done in a week by someone who had very little knowledge of the dept. I completed the report to the best of my knowledge and then had a chat with my manager Jane – told her she should have made sure Mike completed his deliverables before he went on vacation. Jane says she expects all of us to be professionals not needing to be micromanaged and told what to do when. I told Jane, her assumption of professionalism from her direct reports obviously is not working and if she does not hold team members accountable, I will no longer agree to take on vacation coverage for co-workers that do not pull their weight. I also told Jane that she needs to be more involved with the new hires to make sure they are doing their jobs. Mike’s files are so messy & I needed to spend a lot more time helping his client, thus neglecting my one client. Mike will be back this week and I hope Jane has the chat wit him about expectations. I am looking forward to going back to helping my own client and catching up on the backlog of work. I am glad I had the courage to talk to my boss about setting expectations. We have a couple more new hires starting next month and I definitely do not want to be the person cleaning up their messes.

      1. Whats In A Name*

        FWIW there is a huge difference between being a micro-manager and making sure that someone gets their work done correctly and on time.

        Sounds like Jane is either so hands off and unaware that she has no clue what is going on or she has no idea how to manage Mike – or both.

      2. Biff*

        I have to admit, I’ve had a similar conversation with a boss and I got reamed for having a similar (and I think valid) opinion of what was going on. I would not be brave enough to do this again so directly, but I can imagine using different language to convey similar ideas.

    2. LCL*

      How much authority do you have over him? Can you write down what improvements you want to see, and make them stick? From y0ur post I see two basic problems.
      1. He is a slacker and not being held accountable for it.
      2. Your workplace is really squishy and nonconfrontational. Someone can say something totally unrealistic and it is considered bad manners to question it?

      I would drop all discussion of salary expectation for other jobs. What purpose do those discussions serve?

      If someone else is viewed as incompetent for the same mistakes he is making, maybe you should be speaking up and asking more questions. Who says the other worker is incompetent? When they say that, do you ask them why it is OK if special does it but not the other person?

      1. Not using my normal name today*

        The salary discussions came up about five times. He talks about money quite often even though he is paid well. I think he’s dropping hints he wants a raise. Part of entitlement attitude I guess, you think you should be paid more than everyone else.

        Some of the conversations come up normally (example, group lunch and someone junior mentioned Big Competitor and I say, not so fast, working there isn’t all rainbows and candy according to people I know, and new employee says “but they earn $X!” And I say “no way in hell, that is completely out of line”).

        So I don’t know what to do with the money talk. Each individual conversation has been fine and normal, but I’m noticing he discusses money more than other people I know.

        1. LCL*

          For the money thing, you could be mature and say ‘huh, that’s interesting’ and change the subject. Or you could channel your inner Wayne and say ‘Yeah, and monkeys might etc’

          I think, for understandable reasons, you are at BEC stage with this guy. If the company won’t let you impose the necessary changes, maybe you should encourage him to transfer. For your own sanity and continued employment. It sounds like you totally recognize what should be done, but you won’t receive the support to do it.

        2. Persephone*

          I think you are fighting the money discussions incorrectly. If he thinks he can make $80K by going to a competitor why not encourage him to do so (or at the very least be noncommittal).

    3. Whats In A Name*

      I am not sure I follow this entier story, but I did get the glaring impression that your issue might actually be with your company and not your subordinate. Or maybe I should say your subordinate is amplifying the issues you already have with your workplace.

      I get what you want, and I agree with the information presented it would be reasonable, but I also gathered that is it not likely to happen that way.

      While it sounds like you have the best interest of the company in mind it doesn’t sound like they are as worried, so why block the transfer? I would let him go; I know you are making assumptions that he won’t like the work on the other side but maybe he will be a better fit there? He certainly doesn’t sound like he is a good fit for you now and I don’t see things getting any better.

      1. Not using my normal name today*

        My concern with a transfer is precedent. Now we will have the second, or arguably third and fourth person who would be doing their job poorly and get promoted out of it. How can I motivate anyone else in this environment?

        Remember, I need actual stuff done. I’m trying to be vague for anonymity’s sake, but if the teapot sales aren’t booked or all incorrect teapots aren’t fixed, or if the past ten thousand teapot sales aren’t analyzed to spot a trend of faulty items or contracts or whatever, then I have to do it. Or we lose money and customers. So I can’t eternally let stuff slide.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          But if you’re in a company that won’t let you fire or otherwise impose consequences on problem employees, the problem is really the company, not the employees. You can only fix that by leaving.

    4. CAA*

      I’m going to be blunt here. You describe all the things that are wrong with the snowflake, but then you say others act the same way and your upper management is not bothered by it and has in fact rewarded people in the past for similar behavior. It sounds to me like the snowflake is fitting right in and doing exactly what works to get ahead there. Why shouldn’t he try to get into the cushier job with better status and more money? That seems like something most people would want and your organization hasn’t created any hurdles for him to jump in order to get there.

      I totally get that you want him to have a better work ethic, higher productivity, awareness of his place in the hierarchy, understanding that promotions and transfers are a reward for good work, etc. Believe me, I know how frustrating it is to have an employee like this, but I don’t see that your organization values these qualities or wants to develop them in its entry level people. Honestly, it sounds like you’re the one who’s in the wrong place and should be looking for something new.

      You may not be able to start a job search right now, so my hopefully more practical advice is to talk to the manager of the sister dept and make sure she knows exactly what problems she’d be inheriting if she accepted his transfer request. Then assign him the xyz projects with due dates and quality rubrics he’s expected to meet and check in with him weekly on progress. You’re probably going to have to work with your HR department on consequences when he doesn’t meet these expectations, but at least have them in writing so the requirements and the failure to meet them are clear.

    5. Tabby Baltimore*

      This sounds positively infuriating. I have no credibility on the advice-giving front (I’m a govt employee, and I don’t supervise anyone), so all I can offer are some questions, in no particular order. (Special Snowflake Newer Employee will hereafter be referred to as “Snewplo”)

      1. Does Snewplo need to attend *all* the meetings you’ve been having him attend thus far? I ask, b/c limiting his attendance might serve to limit his reach by shrinking others’ in-person exposure to him. Perhaps you can think of other ways to limit his communications footprint/profile in your organization?

      2. After reviewing (and by reviewing, I mean, going through the records with a fine-toothed comb) Snewplo’s project results, and his performance issues, is there anything in them that you think could make your organization legally vulnerable in some way? If so, is this something you could legitimately bring to HR’s attention?

      3. If you “don’t have the back of anyone else in the organization,” do you have any outside partners/clients/customers who’ve seen the same issues with Snewplo that you’ve seen, and who might be willing to mention them to HR, or to whoever it is who has the most throw-weight over Snewplo’s work boundaries?

      3. When you write “I’m also concerned about how this will play out…”–assuming by the word “this” you mean
      “the actions I need to take to discipline this employee”—are you concerned that you could not only damage your professional reputation within the organization but also endanger your own employment there? If so, then rather than putting Snewplo on what sounds a well-deserved PIP, would it be worth the effort to see if you could “lead through influence” by getting another employee to take Snewplo off your hands for a while for a “special project” so the other employee could see his problems up close and personal, too?

      4. What obstacles are preventing you from freezing any raise or transfer opportunities for Snewplo until he does xyz specific projects satisfactorily? Would surmounting these hurdles require organizational allies, whom you do not currently have, or could you still enact them on your own? At what cost to you professionally, though?

      I am sorry you are in this position. Lack of accountability is a real sore point everywhere. Please let us know what you decided to do.

      1. Not using my normal name today*

        Interesting…OK I’m going to try to answer

        1) This is a good tip. Yes I can de-invite him. No reason to have multiple people from one dept at some meetings anyway.
        2) Not legally vulnerable but financially vulnerable. Of course our company has gotten used to letting some employees lose $$ so I’m not sure how far it will get me. It started out as a “let’s not discipline every little thing or else no one will self report” mixed with “everyone good employee will make a mistake sooner or later” and then morphed into something else
        3) I am concerned management above me won’t support me in any sort of improvement plan or even goal setting for worker. We are really lax here……and I have a slight concern that they might want to transfer him. The issue with that is that Director of Sister Dept is sooooooo lax and forgiving and hands off that it will take months for him to see anything wrong
        4) I guess I don’t know this one. There is nothing preventing me now, I just feel like there is going to be pushback.

        1. Dislike Names*

          First comment ever, by a long-time reader. I’ll be blunt too – I’m going back and forth between thinking you really have your company’s best interests at heart in being worried about this guy being transferred, and thinking that you just don’t want him to succeed anywhere because he doesn’t deserve it. The first part is commendable but not your problem, and the second part just requires you to let it go and let the guy be transferred.

          Okay, back into my hidey hole!

          1. Mazzy*

            Hi first time commenter. I find it a bit crazy that this is the first situation that triggered you to comment, meant with love but a bit of surprise. I mean, I don’t go around hoping people don’t succeed. However, I don’t go out of my way to push people up the ladder when they don’t deserve it. I’ve wasted hours and weeks and maybe even years making up for such people when they failed at the higher level. I also did have a large cache of good candidates. Not all stellar, but solid. But that makes it harder. Its not like my guy is horrible and the other candidates are or were great. Nothing is black and white. Goodnight.

            1. Dislike Names*

              I’m sorry. I didn’t mean for what I said to be harsh. I am positive you’re a good person! I know that sometimes I feel that way, even though I’m a positive person who loves to help people succeed. I get so frustrated, especially if I can’t help the situation at all, that I find myself secretly angry at their success in any scenario. Not a great trait, though I like to think it’s just being human, but I was likely projecting my feelings onto you, and I apologize. I have no idea why this was the first thing I decided to comment on, probably because I’ve been in a similar situation – to the extent that I wondered if your place of work was somewhere I worked before! Sorry again.

      2. So Very Anonymous*

        Nothing meaningful to add here, but I love “Snewplo” and am amusing myself by imagining Peter Sellers’ Inspector Clouseau using it to mean “snowplow.”

    6. Not So NewReader*

      I am with Alison on this one. You’re pretty much hosed here. You want an employee to do a good job in a company where NO ONE cares if anyone does a good job.

      Tell the higher ups you are going to screw up in the ways these other people have so you can get promoted and get more money, also. NO. That’s snarky of me, don’t do this.

      When there is a problem that starts at the top and goes down through the company, one person in the middle is not going to fix all that is wrong.

      Have you looked at the company’s financial statements lately? Have you compared the current year to previous years? What trends do you see?

      Basically, your question is how do I get this person to carry on like a proper employee, when I don’t have upper management’s backing and there is plenty of precedence to believe this person will be promoted and/or get a raise? The answer is you don’t. You are fighting on too many fronts and all this will get you is a bed in ICU. I’m sorry.

  24. Kate*

    I’ve been having what I assume are migraines for the past couple of years. I get 1-2 a month, and they are quite debilitating. I have the visual disturbance followed by an intense headache and vomiting. Usually lasts the remainder of the day, but the next day I have what I’ve been referring to as a “migraine hangover”. The headache is mostly gone, but if I move too quickly it returns, and I feel very fatigued.
    I’ve been keeping a headache diary and plan to see my GP, but I am interested in hearing the experiences of others that have dealt with something similar. Namely, what steps/tests did it take to get a diagnosis, and what treatment, of any, did you end up with? I don’t want to go down a rabbit hole of expensive tests only to be told “yeah, those are migraines, but they’re not frequent enough to warrant anything stronger than excedrin migraine” or whatever. If that’s the case, or if most people don’t really find relief with meds, I’d rather save the money and keep dealing with them the way I gave up until now (dark room, cool compress, 800 of ibuprofen, and wait it out) but if there’s something that will truly shorten the duration or lessen the frequency, I would be interested in trying it.

    1. AnotherAnon*

      What you describe certainly sounds like migraines to me. Many GPs are satisfied with just a description of what you’re experiencing to prescribe you meds; a few might want to refer you to a neurologist if the migraines persist despite treatment. Many people seem to have success in taking a daily medicine to prevent migraines. The most common meds include topiramate and beta blockers (that can also be used to treat high blood pressure). There’s also medicine you can take early in a migraine episode that can work to dispel the migraine, such as medicines ending in -triptan (Imitrex, or sumatriptan, is probably the best known).

    2. Blackout*

      I only had to describe my symptoms to my GP, and I was given a migraine diagnosis. I now have a prescription for Imitrex, which works wonders for me, but it’s not perfect. You have to take it early enough, when you feel the migraine first coming on, for it to be really affective, and you can only take about 2 pills a month or you risk getting rebound headaches. But it’s still the best thing for my migraines that I’ve ever found.

      1. Bridget*

        Wait, seriously? Two pills per month? I take imitrex (well, generic sumatriptan) and I had no idea about that. Sometimes I don’t need any for a month and sometimes I need one a few days in a row…never heard about rebound headaches but it makes sense. Well shit.

        1. Blackout*

          Maybe it’s actually more than 2 pills a month, but that’s all my doctor has ever prescribed for me. And I know that the rebound headaches thing is a real possibility. You should probably ask your doctor if you’re unsure.

        2. Honeybee*

          Any pain reliever can cause rebound headaches if taken too often, but it seems the risk goes up if you need it 10 or more days a month.

          Frequent use of headache medications. Your risk increases if you use combination analgesics, ergotamine or triptans 10 or more days a month or simple analgesics more than 15 days a month — especially if this regular use continues for three or more months.

        1. .*

          Sumatriptan affects serotonin levels. You can take 2 per migraine, separated by 4 hours, but if you’re taking that much more than 2x monthly, it really messes up neuro chemistry. Badly. Like rebound migraines, pain syndrome, and serotonin storm possibility bad.

          1. Headachey*

            That’s just not accurate, nor a standard of care among headache specialists and neurologists. No more than two in 24 hours or three per week is the general guideline for most triptans, though that’s based on the dosing in clinical trials conducted to obtain FDA approval, not necessarily on evidence that more frequent use is harmful. Do you have a source for your limit of two times per month?

    3. Temperance*

      That sounds like a migraine to me. I have migraines, and my symptoms are pretty similar.

      The headache diary is what I needed to get diagnosed. I was referred to a neurologist because my preventative stopped working. I was taking propanolol and then using rescue meds as needed. My neuro did sent me for an MRI to rule out brain tumor, but that was as far as testing went.

      It’s absolutely worth it to pursue treatment. My quality of life vastly increased once I found a med regimen that worked for me. It might feel hopeless at first, or like this is just how your life is, but, IMO, excedrin migraine doesn’t work forever.

    4. .*

      If it is a migraine, you can get sumatriptan. It’s gone generic, and if you a few migraines, it works great as a rescue medication. You really can’t take sumatriptan more than 1x a month or so, though. However, with as often as you get them, you might be better off with a daily maintenance medication.

      Getting the meds, for me, was a straightforward visit to the GP (and I live in the land of the Mayo Clinic). No special testing needed. If you have any other symptoms though, you might get an x-ray to rule out fun things like tumors.

      You will probably want to do a food diary, too. For me, aspartame is an instant migraine, but it’s easy enough to avoid.

      Good luck.

      1. Kate*

        Oh, I hadn’t even thought about a food diary. I actually track all my food/drink on myfitnesspal, for weight maintenance purposes, so I can go back and see if there are any commonalities. Thank you for that suggestion!

      2. Elkay*

        Sumatriptan is a magic bullet for me. I have to take it just as the migraine is kicking in and it takes about an hour to work but it’s better than losing a day and night to a migraine. I know exactly what you mean by a migraine hangover, they’re nasty. It may be psychosomatic but I also dose up on caffeine and sugar to dull the pain.

        1. Honeybee*

          Which one, the caffeine/sugar or the hangover? Neither is psychosomatic. The “migraine hangover” has an official name – the postdrome. Many migraine sufferers get postdrome symptoms, which do feel very much like a hangover – lethargy, trouble thinking, some residual pain or stiffness, gastrointestinal symptoms and mood changes/depression.

          Caffeine’s not psychosomatic either – it helps a lot of people with migraines! That’s why Excedrin migraine has caffeine in it.

          1. Elkay*

            The caffeine/sugar, I wasn’t sure if it was just me using it as an excuse to drink coffee/diet coke and eat jelly sweets.

    5. SignalLost*

      My experience is that you are going to be throwing things at the wall to see what sticks, and what works for someone else very likely will not work for you. I’ve never had a formal diagnosis of migraines, but my mother, brother, and I all get them. My mother can treat hers with caffeine (usually a coffee) and it goes away and stays gone. I can sometimes treat with caffeine or acetaminophen, but generally I have about a two-minute window before it’s too late; after that I’m just having the migraine. I sometimes take ibuprofen if I really don’t have time for this, because it makes me vomit about half the time and that stops the migraine, but I usually get one the next day anyway. My brother also has the very short window but treats his differently. So they’re pretty personalized.

      Have you tracked what triggers them? That can be worth all the cure, honestly. And I agree, no doc worth their license would deny you have migraines, on less evidence it sounds like you’re recording.

      1. Kate*

        I’m not sure what triggers them, but most of them (but not all) occur when I am about 1-2 days out from the beginning of my period. Maybe hormones? That wouldn’t necessarily explain the ones that occur at other points in my cycle, so I’m not sure if that’s a coincidence or not.

        1. Kate in Scotland*

          I come from a family of migraine people, and hormones are a top trigger with us. (Everyone is triggered by dehydration, some by flashing lights, red wine, cheese, classic stuff).

          I don’t have a migraine diagnosis as such but when I was having bad headaches my doctor was very willing to try me on betablockers and would have given me the pills you take to stop a migraine, except at that point my headaches didn’t so much start and stop as increase and decrease from a baseline level of headache (that was about as much fun as it sounds). He also changed my contraceptive pill to one that you take continuously.

          I think the headaches I’m left with after fixing the neck muscle, TMJ, and hormone-based headaches are migraines but I haven’t pursued a diagnosis because I can reliably stop them progressing by taking over-the-counter ibuprofen and codeine asap.

        2. Nerfmobile*

          Hormones can definitely be a trigger. Look at the timing of the others – there are other times in your cycle when various hormones surge or drop, so see if you can find a pattern, based on time from beginning of cycle. (This may require beginning to track some dates more rigorously than you do now…)

        3. LPUK*

          That’s a classic trigger. I also get one around my period, but the others are mainly triggered by fatigue or breaks in routine ie up abnormally early or late ( my migraines like me to lead a predictable life!)’ so business travel and stress are key elements for me to control. I am on a combination of amitriptyline and Propanalol everyday, and this combination , along with lifestyle changes ( moved from corporate life to Freelance) has managed my migraine occurrence from 2-3 a week to the 1-2 a month. I also take sumatriptan at the onset of a migraine( and at my worst, I would be taking several a week). They get rid of the migraine in the moment, but in my experience merely ‘postpone it’ to the next day until I can get the rest I need ( at least 12 hours in my case). Also, the day after the migraine, I am utterly exhausted with every muscle aching – it’s as if an elephant sat on me, so I sympathise with that aspect of your migraine symptoms, though I’ve not heard many people discussing this particular symptom. It took me several years to find the combination of drugs and lifestyle changes that worked for me, so I echo the advice to track and carefully observe what’s happening in your life when you have these migraines – there are solutions!

        4. SignalLost*

          It’s possible to have have multiple triggers – I have light (flashes off a large shiny surface mainly, but it can be just a lot of daylight) as a main trigger, but also can get them if I sleep awkwardly, with my neck contorted, and, rarely, from exhaustion. It does sound generally hormonal, but do you have enough time at/after onset to consider what you’ve done and eaten since you woke up that day? Might help locate the second trigger.

          Good luck!

    6. ThatGirl*

      Just to sort of echo what others have said, they sound like classic migraines and I see no reason for further testing. My husband started having them and his doc gave him imitrex without much questioning. I think tracking triggers is very useful but there’s no harm in having rescue meds on hand (you can get antinausea meds too).

    7. ModernHypatia*

      You might be in the place of having multiple triggers – hormone changes are not uncommon ones, some people have food ones, I fairly reliably get noticeable twinges (sometimes a full-blown migraine, sometimes not) about 48 hours out from certain kinds of weather patterns. This can make it hard to figure out what is helping and what isn’t. The hangover stage is also really a thing – try searching on “postdrome” for more info.

      If you aren’t already tracking sleep, that’d be good to track, and looking at things like lighting / background noise places you often are / stress and tension (especially in your head and neck), plus the food, since those will cover a lot of common triggers for people. There’s a good book called The Migraine Brain by Carolyn Bernstein that does a really good job talking through what’s useful to track and why among other topics. It’s probably also useful to think of migraines as a brain thing that sometimes makes your head hurt – it can be easier to get at useful solutions that way.

      That said, diagnosis is usually a bunch of “Yes, that sounds like migraine symptoms” rather than invasive or expensive tests (usually those happen if you have symptoms that might be something else that would need different treatment.)

      Treatment usually starts with bunch of tracking to see if there are any patterns for stuff you can change, plus also trying medication, based on what seems to be going on. For example, I discovered I really do a lot better without extensive background noise, and that filters on overhead fluorescent lights(my current office) or using a desk lamp instead help me a lot.

      I’ve had migraines since I was 15 (25+ years ago), and I manage with lifestyle choices and the occasional sick day when I hit a combo of things I couldn’t control (hello, weather) sufficient to make me unsafe to drive. A lot of the meds work less well if (like me, these days, though this wasn’t the case for about 10 years) you get more aura symptoms and neurological glitchiness than headache.

      1. SignalLost*

        Oh god, yeah, I’d forgotten about the low-pressure trigger, I have that one too. Ugh. Super fun!

    8. Observer*

      Some things that MIGHT help, and can’t hurt to try.

      Try avoiding the most common migraine triggers.

      As part of your log, note what you have been eating (class of food, as well as specifics), sleep, light exposure, hunger, hydration and sleep. You may find a patterns (eg for me dehydration + overheating is a sure fire trigger. For some people exposure to fluorescent lights is either a trigger or makes them more susceptible to migraines.)

      Talk to your doctor about what medications you might be able to use, besides excedrin. Also, what might work for the hangovers – I think they are more common than many people realize.

      I have found that drinking something hot in the morning tends to be helpful. Also, for me when I have coffee in the morning, I tend to have fewer migraines. On occasion, if I catch a migraine at the beginning, popping some ibuprofen with a really string coffee can nip it in the bud.

    9. RT*

      I’m 32 and have had migraines since I was 12. I echo everyone’s suggestion to keep a headache diary. Besides food, you might also track your sleep schedule, big stressors, exposure to bright lights, and (if you get periods) menstrual cycle. I found that the day after my period was a “danger zone,” but so were other parts of my cycle.

      Do you clench your jaw or grind your teeth? That can also trigger migraines.

      Medication is the first line of treatment, and it works for lots of people. No treatment worked for me until my doctor suggested Botox shots (seriously!). Every three months, I get them in the back of my head, neck, jaw, temple, and one shot right between the eyes. It’s not for the needle-phobic, but it changed my life.

      Good luck!

    10. Kate*

      Thank you to everyone who has commented. I’ll use the suggestions as far as what to add to my headache diary, and will be seeing my GP. I was half thinking that 1-2 migraines a month would be dismissed as “not that many” so this helped me to see that it’s worth trying to get this under control. I appreciate all the suggestions and comments!

      1. Gung Ho Iguana*

        Check out the MIDAS test for migraines. You count up how many days you’re affected by migraines and it gives you an idea of how severe it is. I took it shortly after I was diagnosed and was surprised to find out that I was severely disabled. I think a lot of people with migraines think it’s not so bad because people don’t take headaches seriously, but it’s worth it to get treatment.

        I also recommend Migraine Brain to learn about it, especially triggers. I also found out that I have a sleep disorder, and now that I’m treating that I get fewer migraines and bounce back quicker. Any other medical conditions can cause migraines, so I work on my allergies too.

        Best of luck.

      2. Ismis*

        For me, it was exposure to bright lights. I was moved to a seat right in front of a window and even after I moved to a different desk, I kept the sensitivity. After going to my optician and being told that my eyesight was fine, I googled and got these glasses. As soon as I felt myself starting to squint, I would pop them on. They really helped but be prepared for a host of new nicknames.

    11. Bridget*

      I had slightly less severe ones (lots of nausea but no vomiting) and about a year and a half ago (after keeping an extensive migraine diary) I went to my doctor and showed it to her and she wrote me a prescription for imitrex. It works most of the time (I really have to catch them right at the onset, otherwise it takes a while for the meds to kick in) and we haven’t done much followup. I literally just told her I was having migraines and she wrote me the prescription.

      Now since yours are more severe they might want to do some testing, but I would bet they’ll prescribe you something first and then tell you to come back for tests if it doesn’t work. Good luck!! Migraines are the worst. Currently experiencing a migraine hangover at the moment (stress-related, I think, which aren’t always helped by the meds) so I feel your pain.

    12. LaurenR*

      Are you on a birth control pill with estrogen? If so, definitely get to a doctor soon since people who get migraine with aura shouldn’t be on a combo pill. They can increase both stroke risk and migraine frequency. I switched from a combo pill to an IUD and drastically reduced headache days. And definitely co-sign starting with your regular doctor. My PCP sent me to the gyno for the birth control change and was able to prescribe Imitrex. I also had a migraine at that appointment so he could rule out a few more serious causes through observation without further testing.

    13. Honeybee*

      I have debilitating migraines. Unmedicated, I get 6-10 a month. I don’t get the aura (the visual disturbance), but I do get an intense lateral headache, nausea and vomiting, vertigo (a weird loss of balance, and a sense that the world is spinning). My migraines were increasingly getting worse – they were lasting me 2 days and then I would have the migraine hangover. It was getting to the point that most days of the month I either had a migraine or was getting over one.

      Anyway, getting diagnosed was pretty simple – I went to my GP and described my symptoms, how long I’d been getting them (over 10 years, although they’d really gotten worse in the last 2-3 years), the fact that they had been increasing in intensity and frequency and that my original methods (Excedrin Migraine, dark room, sleep) were no longer working for me, and estimated how many I got a month. Originally, my estimate was far too low. I thought I was getting 2-4, which she said was enough for prescription abortive medication but didn’t rise to the level of daily meds. She prescribed me rizatriptan – you take it when you get a migraine, as a pain relief med. It works wonders for me, especially if I catch the migraine early. No expensive tests were necessary.

      The problem was the box had 12 pills and I was going through a box in 5-6 weeks, so I realized I was actually getting them a lot more often than I thought. I returned for a follow-up and told her, and she then prescribed me a beta blocker – nadolol – to take daily to prevent migraines.

      And it’s MAGIC. I hardly ever get migraines now – maybe 1-2 a month, and they are far less severe when I do get them. I still have the rizatriptan and just take that when I get a migraine, and it takes care of it – no more dark room and sleep for 4+ hours interrupting my days regularly. The nadolol has pretty much no side effects.

    14. Coffee*

      I have chronic migraines (15+ per month) and went to a headache center a few years ago. The first things they asked me to do were to try to regulate my lifestyle – exercise min. 30 minutes every day, go to sleep at the same time every night, wake up at the same time every morning, drink enough water each day, eat 4-6 times per day, and limit coffee to 1-3 cups per day. The idea was to make sure these basics were consistent without variation. From there they were able to determine if tests were necessary and work out a treatment plan. Good luck!

      1. Kate in Scotland*

        My doctor also recommended a regular routine. I don’t know how much it helped with the headaches because I was doing a bunch of other things at the same time but it had a fantastic impact on my lifelong insomnia!

    15. Not So NewReader*

      Please go for an MRI for your head. Please.

      Headaches/migraines can be anything.

      My family member had them and it was aneurysms.
      My husband had them and it was high blood sugar.
      I had them and it was too much junk food.

      My husband and I both quit eating refined sugar and stopped having headaches. My family member has a more complex issue.

      It’s probably nothing big, but please, get checked just to be sure.

      1. dawbs*

        Yep–the testing is worth doing–I have migraines but they make me do weird things (like, I spent a day last week unable to feel my right arm. This is ‘normal’ for me. whee!), which, if we’re all being honest, means that we would never know if I had a brain tumor–because “I can’t feel the right side of my body” or “I can see sounds” or “bread smells like metal” is just a part of life.
        Which means I get to do CT scans and MRIs more often than normal people–but Ihaev a family member who went with the ‘well, we know, so we don’t have to deal w/ modern medicine’ approach and it lead to some strokes that ultimately were devastating.

        PP, I would recommend you track *everything*–I used to use excel (and I tracked my pain levels and other symptoms 3x a day, morning, afternoon, and evening. I recorded pain, numbness, nausea, cycle, stress level, etc. And track all meds–like some folks mentioned, OTCs matter w/ things like rebounds, so track things like cold pills and advils!), I now use the app ‘migraine buddy’ which lets me deal w/ barometric pressures as a trigger too. You might find things are predictable–either by schedule or by the ‘auras’ (which aren’t always visual disturbances–mine involve numbness and weird things w/ blood pressure)and if they are, you might be able to do an interrupter med of some sort–I have meds I take during my cycle to try to head them off. (mixed results)

        And when you track stress, keep in mind that there are migraines triggered by changes in stress level–mine dont’ show up when I’m stressed, mine show up when an enormous stress goes away. So the week after Christmas, the day after the project is due, the moment I realize it was a dream, I didn’t go to work naked…*WHAM*
        (Explaining that was kinda hilarious. “well, I had this vivid dream that was awful…and then I realized it was a dream and I was so releived…so my head now hurts. I’ll be in after meds kick in, about an hour”)

    16. Chaordic One*

      Besides the headache diary and food diary, you might make a few more notes on what you are experiencing. I found triggers to be stress, not enough sleep, skipping meals and not eating enough, chocolate, too much caffeine, smoking (I quit years ago), and air pollution.

      My doctor didn’ make me jump through a lot of hoops or get a lot of tests, but instead gave me a prescription pain reliever with the caveat that if it didn’t work get back to him right away. The prescription worked wonders, but in the years since then I just deal with them by using Excedrin Migraine Formula and sleep.

    17. Nye*

      Do you get visual aura just before the headaches kick in? (Blurry, spotty, or tunnel vision – basically just something wonky with your vision.) I do, and as soon as my vision goes weird, I take an Excedrin migraine or Tylenol with codeine. Both will stop the progression to full migraine for me. I don’t feel great, but with the meds I’m functional whereas without I end up vomiting and curled up in pain.

      Sounds like you have migraines whether or not you get aura, I just wanted to share my strategy in case it might work for you. The aura is kind of an early warning system, and since I’ve figured that out, I haven’t had a full migraine in years.

      Good luck finding something that works for you!

  25. Myrin*

    I just went back to the (now deleted) letter from a few weeks ago by the teacher whose student had made up an email conversation that ended with her giving him and the entire class extra credit. I didn’t realise this when it was posted but I now saw that the student (or at least someone pretending to be him) commented on it as well. Ugh, the gall! Anyway, did anyone keep tabs on that story? I looked around a bit and the student still has the tweet pinned and I don’t see any of the “news” sources explaining that it was fake but maybe I just didn’t see something? Did we hear back from the OP at all?

      1. Myrin*

        It was one of five letters in one post and she just deleted that one as per the OP’s request. The comments and everything else are still there.

    1. vanBOOM*

      I doubt we’ll hear anything more on that after the OP asked Alison to delete the post. Unless, of course, her self-righteous student decides to grace us all with his presence once more.

  26. Sidestep*

    Can anyone share their experience deciding to go back to school?

    Background: I have a BSc and worked ten years in academic research before moving to an isolated area where I got clerical work in healthcare. I moved up to supervisor but there are no further opportunities for advancement or really even any more interesting work. I’m very seriously looking at doing a two year online diploma in a non patient care healthcare field. The work sounds interesting to me, pay is a bit better, and I believe this will open up some more options moving forward.

    My current manager is supportive but believes this would be a step sideways and thinks that I should do an MBA instead: that this world open far more doors and be instantly more money. I’ve never taken a business course in my life and don’t know that I would be happy long term. While more money would be nice, I think rewarding, interesting work, is more important to me. The job postings for MBAs I see locally don’t speak to me that much. I’m struggling with allowing myself to take the sidestep route that I think will make me happier when I’m being told that I would be really good at management and should as such aim higher.

    1. periwinkle*

      Here’s where an informational interview could be useful. Can you talk with some people currently in that healthcare field, including at least one person who hires such people? Find out if it’s something that truly will interest you and if the two-year diploma will help you make the move. If so, there’s nothing wrong with a sidestep if it puts you on the right path.

      MBA does not equate to piles of money raining down on you; it does equate to piles of money _from_ you. That degree can help a lot if your career path requires good financial understanding. I used to work in healthcare and noticed that the people with strong financial knowledge were the ones moving up the administration ranks at a much faster pace than anyone else. If that’s the sort of direction you have in mind, earning an MBA would be a good idea _after_ you’ve spent some time in healthcare administration. If you’re simply not interested in the administration side, an MBA would be a hideously expensive piece of paper.

      1. Sidestep*

        Yes, I’ve done a couple informational interviews and set up a practicum supervisor, so I was pretty confident in the decision until the ‘selling yourself short’ talk with my manager.

        1. LS*

          Take that feedback from your manager as just one more data point. Don’t give it more weight than all of your own research, preferences, etc.

    2. NoMoreMrFixit*

      Go with what will find you a job you can be happy in. Do you want to be management? Or are you more comfortable being in the ranks instead?

      After 25 years in IT I had enough and went back to community college for a 2 year diploma in Business – Human Resources. It’s been culture shock nonstop as the classroom is different from 30 years ago. Probably the biggest hurdle I face is dealing with kids who have a casual attitude about getting work done and are content to barely pass while I have the same work ethic I followed in my career and push to excel. Group projects are a real pita.

      1. Sidestep*

        I like the idea of affecting positive change, and enjoy being able to facilitate a better working environment for those I supervise, but I don’t have a need to be in management. I also suspect that management would take up more emotional energy than I’d like.

    3. moss*

      I did software, after my second layoff i went back and got a master’s in statistics. I am a statistician now. I work in pharma and it’s great. If you have any questions I’d be happy to talk (evangelize?) … you can email me at marjorie.sloan at gmail.

    4. Stephanie*

      MBA’s not necessarily instantly more money. If the jobs that are available with an MBA don’t sound appealing, I wouldn’t do it. They can be expensive and the degrees are a bit of a commodity at this point.

      I’m back in grad school for my masters in mechanical engineering–I was at a point where it made sense to leave the workforce temporarily. I had a couple of bouts of un- and underemployment and was making way under market at my most recent job. I was doing well at my last job, but I didn’t see a promotion to a better position or more money in the works for at least a couple of years. Regular commenters will also remember that I was having a hell of a time trying to get into a more stable and better-paying opportunity. I was also able to secure a full-ride fellowship, so it wasn’t much money out of pocket (aside from the opportunity costs and some living expenses). I’ll likely be starting in a role that’s more entry-level than what I was doing (my job pre grad school was like a first-level project manager role), but the increase in pay (and hopefully promotion opportunity) should be worth it.

      In terms of transitioning back to school, my work ethic was definitely better than it was in undergrad. Since I had been working, spending 8 hours studying didn’t feel that strange. Some software was rustier (like I hadn’t used CAD software since undergrad) and some technologies were way more prominent (3-D printing was much bigger–my undergrad had one 3-D printer when I was there in the mid 00s and my grad school has multiple).

      1. Sidestep*

        Thanks, I’m hoping for improved study ethic too, as I’m planning on holding my full time job as long as I can. This is the first time in a long time that something has piqued my interest enough to want to go back.

    5. Red Reader*

      I am in both healthcare administration and an MBA program — mind if I ask what the two year program is for?

      1. Sidestep*

        Health information management. I’d do my practicum on the local hospital coding department.

        1. Red Reader*

          I figured as much. I manage one of four coding teams for a large academic health care system. :) while I am in an MBA program and it is creating opportunities for me, it isn’t necessary to advance and it won’t be an immediate thing. (In fact, after I finish my MBA, my next educational pursuit is a BS in HIM so I can sit for the RHIA exam; right now I’m a CPC with a BS in public health.) My direct manager has her RHIT (2yr degree in HIM) but no bachelors degree, our director has her RHIA (4yr degree in HIM) but no masters. Our VP has an MPA, and another of our directors has her masters in HIM. MBAs are thin on the ground, and I’ve found that the MPA courses I’ve taken are actually a lot more relevant to my work than the MBA ones. (I’m actually getting two masters degrees at once by accident. It’s a long story.)

          Having only two hospital systems to judge from by my own personal experience, I’d say that having the MBA isn’t likely to get you very far up the org chart without some level of appropriate certifications, and the AHIMA ones (which require the HIM degree to even try to take the exam) are more rounded than AAPC’s.

          Not sure if there’s anything else useful I can add, but I’m definitely happy to answer any more questions. (Oh, I also work 100% from home, I haven’t had to go on site for more than the occasional meeting in almost three years.)

          1. Sidestep*

            Thanks, the advice about having some certifications in order to move up rings very true. My hope is with HIM certification I could start out in coding but perhaps still have some options to move into some kind of research.

            I would be curious to know what you think of the overall employment outlook is for HIM in general. The professional organizations and programs all say it is good, what with the aging population and retirement rates. If have to think that the electronic health record might change the field a bit though.

            1. Red Reader*

              We’re not going anywhere. :P They’re making the payer rules systems more and more complicated, and even with EHR systems (which, in over ten years, I’ve never worked anywhere that didn’t have one, they’re not new tech at this point) doctors and computer systems can’t code. The majority of the errors our scrubber system catches were never touched by human hands — they were auto-finalized after the EHR tried to interpret, and failed miserably — and about a quarter of what the system catches as errors aren’t necessarily errors, but need to be reviewed by human eyes to verify that.

              The ability to learn on the job is drastically decreasing though. More and more, you can’t get a coding position without a certification, which requires a certain level of education and/or experience, which you can’t get without certification/education, and the educational programs generally require practicums or externships, with the requisite difficulty that entails for people who are trying to learn while working other jobs or whatnot. My mom worked in HIM un-certified for 30 years, she just retired last year, but that’s really not a viable option for my generation and younger generations entering the field. We have a couple of uncertified coders on my team but they were grandfathered in after 20+ years of working for us, we don’t hire uncertified coders anymore and even the grandfathered ones can’t move to other teams.

              1. Sidestep*

                Yes, I’ve been told that certification is a must so that’s the goal. Again, thanks for your input, I’m feeling more confident than ever that this is what I’d like to do.

  27. many bells down*

    I got a job offer that I declined this morning. You guys tell me if it seemed as weird to you as it did to me.

    It was a small company that, let’s say, certifies teapot inspectors. I was asked to travel to a site before Christmas to shadow someone for an hour; afterward, I was told, I would be interviewed. But I wasn’t. The manager called me after my site visit and asked me a couple of questions about what I observed at the visit, and then offered me a job. There was no interview. She didn’t ask for references. She said I had “relevant experience” but my experience wasn’t in certifying teapot inspectors, it was in selling teapots. The job posting says you must be able to pass a background check, but the employee I shadowed said they never did one for him. You have access to people’s IDs and SSNs at this job!

    All that, plus the fact that my “supervisor” would be in another state watching me over a webcam made me feel really uncomfortable about the job. The company had okay Glassdoor reviews but the whole thing felt really off to me.

      1. Whats In A Name*

        I think you probably made the right call. Maybe the person you observed has some serious clout but if she didn’t specifically say that in the offer I would be suspicious.

        Plus watching you on a webcam? Like all day? Just sitting at your desk? That is so weird.

        1. many bells down*

          Probably not all day, and that’s even worse. Like, if I make a mistake, I’d expect my supervisor to correct me more or less immediately: “Remember, you need Document A if they’re taking Certification Exam Z.” Instead, I’d be getting a phone call … two hours later? Or the next day? Whenever she saw the footage? telling me I screwed up. The thought makes me really anxious.

          Honestly though that was a minor point to me compared to the lack of any real interview or reference check. And she wanted me to start training the day after Christmas. She told me this on the 23rd. I already had plans that week, obviously.

          I feel a little guilty because she implied she was holding the position open for me until after the new year, but it’s not a highly skilled job. It’s mostly automated. I’m sure she can fill it without any trouble.

          1. Whats In A Name*

            The deeper explanation definitely points to all signs being you did the right thing! Starting 3 days after an offer is usually unusual if not specifically discussed in the interview stages, which you obviously didn’t have.

          2. Jennifer Needs All The Thneeds*

            > because she implied she was holding the position open for me until after the new year

            That’s a common sales tactic, and it’s a “hard-sell” one besides. It’s right up there with telling you that this car will cost $2000 more next week, or this is the only X in stock right now so you’d better buy it right now.

            The fact that you’re having an emotional reaction just means that she’s good at manipulating people’s emotions, and that’s a good reason to NOT work for her.

    1. Chickaletta*

      Did you apply for my previous employer?

      I had a job last year that was similar, only I took it and it was a huge mistake.

      – Got an informal job offer after a tour of the place, no real interview other than the owner telling me about the company.
      – My experience was slightly related and he wasn’t concerned that I had never held the job title before.
      – Owners installed webcams in the office shortly after I started, one was in the corner behind me so that they could see my computer screen. The owners wife could see them from home and if someone was away from their desk for awhile she would call to ask where they were. His wife was meddled in the management the company in all sorts of ways even though she wasn’t registered as an owner and she wasn’t on the payroll either. You think it’s hard working for the boss? Try working for the boss’s wife.

      Sounds like you dodged a bullet.

  28. LawCat*

    Do any commenters here write a blog for fun? What about? I was thinking of starting one; I have a lot of areas of interest. Mostly interested in discussing personal finance (not *my* finances specifically, but the subject), my cat, cooking, exercise, pictures, cats cats cats. I realize this is fairly non-specific, but does a blog really need to be “niche”? Where do you put your blog?

    1. Bonky*

      I used to; I was working in educational publishing and wanted to move into writing about something I was actually passionate about, so I started a food blog on Blogger, then bought a domain and hosted it myself using WordPress. (This was around 2000, before everybody and their dog had a food blog – mine was a mixture of recipes and reviews; I tried to keep the focus on the former.) I did it for fun as well as work – it eventually got well-known enough that I was able to quit my job and start freelancing as a food writer, and some wonderful opportunities came out of it. At heart, though, it was just great fun, and the first job I’d ever had that I’d really enjoyed.

      Eventually I used the experience I had with that blog and its surrounding social media to move into communications and social media as a profession (it pays a hell of a lot better than journalism). I was then lucky enough to fall among a group of people I started a very successful company with a few years ago; I’ve been leading there on comms ever since. I had to stop blogging when I started this job because the job is a 24/7 thing – I miss blogging for myself, although I do maintain a blog for my company. But then again, I also love my current job more than I could ever have believed possible.

      TL;DR: start a blog. You never know where you may end up.

      1. Manders*

        This is such a delightful story! I’m currently in charge of a company blog too (in a much less exciting field), and blogging on my own time was great practice for my current job.

    2. Manders*

      I do! Mine was mostly an excuse to try out different writing styles with parodies of popular fiction and some hot (erm, maybe just lukewarm) takes on pop culture. In that sense, it worked: I learned a lot about the kind of writing I want to do, and I got retweeted by some authors I admire. I stopped blogging for a while during a creative slump, but now I have a big fiction project I’ve been working on and the blog is a perfect platform for it.

      My advice is to start thinking about the kinds of blogs you come back to over and over again. How much do you know about the personal lives and pets of your favorite personal finance bloggers? For blogs that combine information about cooking and exercise, how is that information presented so readers can find what they’re looking for quickly? Are you planning to tie the cats into one of these other topics somehow, or just post pictures whenever you feel like it?

      Also: start thinking early about the kind of functionality you need on the back end. I started with, which doesn’t allow plugins and blocks Javascript so I can’t even use Google Analytics. Transferring my hosting so I could have the full functionality of has been a huge pain and I’m still not done fixing everything I screwed up in the process.

    3. MsChanandlerBong*

      I just started a blog so I can write reviews of ridiculous movies and television shows (mostly the ones shown on Lifetime, LMN, Hallmark, etc.). My plan is to start by writing a post about the LMN movie “Stalked By My Doctor.” It was seriously the most bat guano LMN movie I’ve ever seen. I want to do a quick plot summary and then kind of make fun of each episode/movie (continuity errors, idiotic lines, etc.).

        1. MsChanandlerBong*

          I will in a future open thread. I didn’t even set up the back end of the site yet! (I bought a domain name and am using WordPress as a platform; I didn’t want to rely on Blogger or a similar site, as there are restrictions on commercial activity on some of those platforms.)

          1. Julie*

            I can’t wait to read! The ladies from Looks Good From the Back wrote a brief reaction post to The Spirit of Christmas from Lifetime and I realized I am missing some of the best/worst things ever.

        1. MsChanandlerBong*

          I loved that blog! Jillian at Crushable reviews some LMN movies, but not consistently.

    4. Franzia Spritzer*

      I had been keeping a vanity site since ’95 before it was called blogging, back in the internet dark ages being the lady who wrote about women in technology and had a streaming webcam (not a camgirl), made me a standout character. I did the work to learn front end development, UI and IA design, I really enjoyed the learning curve, skill building and where these skills took me in the workforce. I maintained my writing until I started grad school, my workload was too much to balance with a blog and my blogging died off.

      I do keep a couple tumblrs for funsies but I don’t write like I used to anymore.

    5. FDCA In Canada*

      I write a blog where I review YA historical novels from the past 30 years or so. I update weekly and I really, really enjoy it. It helps that I’m really passionate about history and books! It’s on WordPress, which I’ve found fairly straightforward to use.

      I think whether or not it needs to be niche depends strongly on what your target is. Do you want a fun blog to update occasionally so friends and family can see what you’re up to, social-style? Then I don’t think it needs to be niche. If you want a blog with the goal of a wider audience, niche probably helps–there are relatively few “lots of topics I’m interested in” blogs these days, I feel like the heyday for those was maybe 10-12 years ago?

    6. TL -*

      I have one (linked in my name) for photography. Mainly it’s an excuse to edit and showcase my photo sets, but it’s very fun and fulfilling for me. I don’t update with any sort of regularity. One day I’ll be better about it.

    7. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life*

      Yes, I’ve been writing for ten years now, on personal finance plus everything in life (linked to my name). I started on blogger and moved to WordPress after several years.

      It can be anything you want, and really should be, if you’re just doing it for fun. It’s why my blog will never be straight up PF advice, writing what’s been written a million times isn’t any fun and doesn’t interest me. Writing about my own personal situations is useful to me and interesting for my long time readers.

      Have a crack at it and see how you like it. You may love it.

  29. louise in hr*

    I fell in love with Good Girls Revolt on Amazon Prime but they canceled it! It had great characters and a compelling storyline. I’m disappointed.

    1. Honeybee*

      I’ve been meaning to watch this for a while. I was bummed that they canceled it – the premise sounds so good! Apparently the creative team is trying to find another network to take it on.

  30. IowaGirl*

    I would like to take this opportunity to note that I actually work with guys named Joaquim and Wakeem. (And yes, I’m sure they’re different people). It amuses me to no end that several of my coworkers CANNOT pronounce the former but have no problem with the latter.

    I can’t be too smug though considering I spent the better part of a year wondering why Ricky Rubio had so much to say about American politics…

    1. LS*

      I wouldn’t know how to pronounce Joaquim but could take a pretty good stab at Wakeem. I’ve never met or even heard of anyone with those names, where I live.

  31. BabyAttorney*

    Can I get some encouragement for cover letters?

    I found a job opening that fits my skills and interests exceedingly well, but I’m so exhausted with so much of life that I’m finding it hard to have a personality on paper or to feel very excited about it even though, cognitively, I know I should be. (I mean, the only things right now that are making me feel emotions are my cats and sappy romance video games. So there’s pretty clear evidence that something else is going on right now. Possibly SAD but it’s so rainy and cloudy out here I can’t really do much for that.)

    1. Bonky*

      High dosage vitamin D capsules and a good-quality omega 3 oil worked miracles on my SAD.

      As for the cover letters – this isn’t necessarily the most helpful advice, but keep plugging away at it. Small tweaks when you think of them over the period of a week or so can make a massive difference.

    2. Marissa L*

      My advice is to never refer to yourself as a baby. Seriously. You are now a grown adult and it’s best to leave that mindset behind. It can hinder you.

      1. BabyAttorney*

        Yeowza–this was a little much. It’s the handle I’ve used on AAM since I first became an attorney a few years ago. I have been rather laissez faire in regards to selecting a new one, but it does not reflect on my attitudes towards myself.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        If that’s the case there is a bunch of us who ought to change our handles for a variety of reasons….

    3. justsomeone*

      My happy light made a huge difference in my SAD. I use it year round since I don’t have a window in my office. I went without it for about 9 months after I’d had it a while and those were very terrible 9 months.

    4. Franzia Spritzer*

      When I’m stuck on cover letter writing for a job I really do actually want, I’ll write braggadociously, something that I’d never actually send and use it as a starting point. I found that the formal structure of cover letters is my block, if I blurt out something ridiculous to get it out of my system I can break the block.

      I have actually sent one of these letters in for a job I never thought I’d get, and I got an interview! That job would have been a major breakthrough for me but the org instituted a hiring freeze that day I interviewed (sad trombone) and was blocked from giving me an offer. le sigh, I still think of it as the one that got away.

    5. catsAreCool*

      Sometimes with something tough to write like this, I start with saying what I’m really thinking, like “Please give me this job.” and then I refine it until it turns out OK.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Variation: Please give this job to my friend who oddly has the EXACT same name as me. Let me tell you about my friend [insert good stuff here].

  32. Jen RO*

    I’m on holiday until next Monday, but I am sort-of working and having a blast.

    About once a month we have to generate a Word document formatted a certain way, but the input data is formatted slightly differently, so someone has to do the final steps manually. I already had some very basic VBA macros that did some of the processing, but I never had time to get into the more advanced stuff… plus the macros were mostly copied off Stack Overflow and I never had time to really understand how they did what did.

    But! I have been working on this for a few days on and off, and it’s starting to look like something! I haven’t dabbled in anything programming-related since I finished high school and it’s so much fun! I still don’t think I’d cut it as an actual software developer, but VBA is pretty simple and it will really save me some time at work. I am super proud of myself.

    1. Mockingjay*

      Cool! I don’t get to do Word macros anymore. The security on our network flags Word docs with macros as malware.

  33. MissGirl*

    I just spent eleven days teaching kids to ski. Today I have the day off so of course it dumps snow now. My heart wants to head up the mountain but my legs are shot. My knees aren’t as springy as they used to be. Upside is I had more advanced kids so we had a ton of fun exploring the mountain but now I need to sleep for a day to recover.

  34. Need Advice for This (regular going anon)*

    I need your advice on something. I haven’t really seen this come up on the site before, and if I missed it, my apologies.

    I left a bad job environment, and most of the reason was the manager. She was horrible to work for in many ways, chief among them was basing hourly compensation on factors like the job and pay scale of an employee’s spouse (she reasoned if someone’s husband or wife made “good money” and her employee didn’t have to carry the insurance cost, they didn’t need to get paid as much as someone else, regardless of ability or experience), allowing labor law violations and even encouraging them, that type of thing. She also yelled at us, cursed at us, threatened to fire us, told us that she could have 10 resumes on her desk in a matter of minutes, and could replace us with people who would accept much less money, and gave people a hard time about taking any type of vacation or bereavement leave. So, that’s the background. She’s also no longer at my former company, as she was told she was retiring after some of her nonsense came to light.

    Long story short, somehow she has become a religious leader at her church. She completed some sort of course schedule, completed written assignments, etc. and is now certified to give sermons, counsel people, go to hospitals to offer comfort, etc. For the life of me, I have no idea how she got through this, as the image of someone who would literally scream obscenities at and treat people so badly, and who can’t keep a confidence to save her life, could possibly get into a role like this. And no, this isn’t some sort of “I was a jackass, now I’m converting my behavior” sort of thing. The classwork was all done while she was still working, while these things were going on, and she went as far as having several of her subordinates proofread her assignments. She left quite frequently to go on errands, which turned out to be classes or meetings about this whole thing.

    I’ve been torn about reaching out to whomever runs this program to ask them, did you really vet this person? Do you know how she acts normally? But it feels stalkerish and as long as I never have to deal with her, I don’t care what she does. I do worry about her blabbing things that could be told to her in confidence, though, and as far as comforting people, the words to The Grinch song come to mind, about a seasick crocodile.

    My gut tells me I should just let this go, and that people will show their true colors in time, so this should take care of itself. Any thoughts?

    1. Jen RO*

      I think you should let it go. As far as I understand, you don’t personally know anyone involved with this program, so you would most likely come off as an employee with a grudge.

    2. MegaMoose, Esq*

      I’d let it go. She sounds awful and I’m glad you don’t have to work with her anymore, but I don’t think it’s your business what decisions her church has made and why. Although I absolutely appreciate the impulse – my jaw dropped at “based pay on spouse’s income” and didn’t come un-dropped through the end of your post.

    3. Coldbrewinacup*

      I am sorry you had to go through that. It can be so demoralizing to work for a supervisor who is verbally abusive.

      Unfortunately, however, contacting the church to “call out” your former boss, really isn’t a good idea. You might think you are saving them the trouble, but it’s best for you to just let it go and move on. Count your blessings you’re out of a bad situation, and forgive and forget, if only for your own piece of mind.

      Good luck.

    4. NoMoreMrFixit*

      Leave it be. If you were an active member of that church you might have a leg to stand on but as an outsider you really won’t be taken seriously. After working as an organist for several years in different churches I found that clergy are just as guilty of the same faults and flaws as managers we all too often read about here.

      1. MsChanandlerBong*

        My former pastor once told my mother she never should have let me get so fat. That’s on top of the nasty things he said about other parishioners and other pastors in our denomination. Just because someone is a church member or member of the clergy definitely does not mean they are a good person.

    5. Stellaaaaa*

      I’d feel differently if you knew anyone at this church and could pass the info along in casual conversation but I don’t think there’s anything you can do about this.

    6. periwinkle*

      Let it go. If she’s as bad at this role as she was as a manager, the church will have to deal with it.

      Who knows? Maybe she’s a different person outside the office. There was someone in my organization who was pure hell to encounter – backstabbing, sabotaging, stonewalling, and outright verbal abuse. If she doesn’t understand it or cannot completely control it, it must be killed off. No, she hasn’t been fired yet (WTF?) but at least she got moved elsewhere in the company so she’s not wrecking our projects anymore. It’s amazing how relations between her old group and mine improved instantly once she was shifted away, and how much we’ve accomplished since then. Horrible, horrible co-worker. And yet, in the real world she’s a generous community-oriented person. It’s weird.

      1. Need Advice for This (regular going anon)*

        Thank you periwinkle, and all the others – going to let it go. My feeling is this will take care of itself, and if she’s truly turned over a new leaf, I’m glad for it, and if not, it will become apparent in its own time.

    7. MissDisplaced*

      I would let it go unless you actually, personally know someone at this church and/or is seeking counseling from this person.

    8. LS*

      I also would normally let it go but the fact that she will be interacting with vulnerable people is a concern. Not really sure what you can do though.

    9. Mazzy*

      As I’ve mentioned before, I had issues with substance abuse, and I’ve met people in recovery who were in positions of power or in social work or psychology. They’ve admitted there was a certain level of hypocrisy in being in a mentor role to various groups of people in need and then having an out of control abuse problem.

      However, I see your case as being more acute, so I’m 50/50 on telling the church.

      Pros of telling:
      This could also be seen as a con, but I think it’s a pro. They aren’t going to “fire” her based on one call, but they will probably keep an eye on her. This will help hold her more accountable.

      Cons of telling:
      Indirectly supports the current culture of hunting people down on the internet to tell on them to their jobs. We’ve seen enough examples where it wasn’t warranted or someone got fired for one mistake outside of work to know it is not always a good thing.

      OK I could only think of one of each.

      If it helps, if she is going to be in a position where she needs to be consistently kind, soft spoken, helpful, and nice, she might get tired or bored of it pretty quickly.

    10. Chaordic One*

      I have to agree that you should probably stay out of this. You can’t really say anything without making yourself look bad or petty.

      In addition to holding a position in his church, my terrible ex-boss was also involved in state politics and a member of the local school board. The employer let him take a lot of time off for his political things because his influence on many issues benefited the company. (Yes, it was a conflict of interest, but it was rarely ever pointed out by anyone, including the local newspapers.)

      I know that he managed to screw over a few people in his position as a school board member, and there have been some questionable actions and positions he has taken within the political party that have alienated people. At one point he ran for the state legislature, and although he ran a surprisingly effective campaign, he was not elected. Anyway, there was some kind of a scandal at his church, and although he was not directly involved he ended up being on the losing side of the issue, was upset about it and he resigned from his church leadership position.

      If your ex-manager really isn’t good at being a religious leader, people will figure that out after a while.

    11. Not So NewReader*

      Try thinking of it this way, any of us can counsel people and go to the hospital to offer comfort. She does not need certification to do those things. As far as doing sermons, if she does a lousy job there will be plenty of complaints. If she does a mediocre job there will still be a few complaints. So if she is not doing the job she will slowly unravel herself.

      I have a friend who is a Recovering AH, his words. I listen to the stories and yep, he was a Professional AH. He is not any more. Once in a while, people do rehab themselves. If she remains a professional jerk, she will not be able to stay in the church environment. If nothing else she will find the “niceness” annoying and eventually leave.

      I am voting for letting nature run its course here. My suggestion would be different if she was violent or if she targeted children.

    1. SophieChotek*

      I personally have not had that happen. (I admit, on my grumpier days, there are certainly days when I would love to see lazy/special snowflake/annoying co-worker, etc. experience some karma.)

    2. many bells down*

      I was working as a preschool teacher in a small YMCA daycare. We had a staff of 6 plus the director; I taught the youngest kids and had an aide. The teacher (“Sally”) for the next-oldest group of kids was really difficult to get along with. She’d unilaterally decide to do things without checking with anyone else, so sometimes she’d leave her room without coverage because she just assumed another teacher would notice she was stepping out for something. We had a lot of confused parents once when I set up a room for an event and she went in after me … and put everything away again.

      Anyway, the director and the lead teacher were going to an NAEYC conference, and they told me they wanted to leave both me and Sally in charge. I said that I thought it would probably need to be just one of us in charge, because otherwise it might be confusing. I assumed they’d choose Sally because she had a master’s degree and I was still working on my AA.

      Instead, they left me in charge, and the next week was just Sally refusing to do anything. I was keeping a journal as a record for my bosses and she kept trying to get her hands on it, presumably to see what I’d written. She started badmouthing me to parents. She’d do literally the opposite of anything I asked her to.

      The last straw was when I watched her botch a diabetic child’s blood sugar test. Seven times. She refused to let me try because she claimed she was the only one competent to do it. She finally ended up calling the poor kid’s mom, telling her it was an EMERGENCY because his blood sugar was …6. It wasn’t low at all. The kid was fine. She just wasn’t doing the test right.

      She was “asked to resign” immediately upon the director’s return.

      1. Observer*

        It’s pretty obvious that someone higher up understood that Sally was a problem, if they left you in charge despite your lack of official credentials. And, in any reasonable place, botching a child’s blood sugar test, especially when there was someone who could actually do it correctly! would be grounds for termination. I’m also betting that the mother burned someone’s ear the second they came back from the conference, as well.

          1. Observer*

            I can imagine! I also imagine you would have enjoyed being a fly on the wall during that conversation ;)

        1. Not So NewReader*

          It’s just not that hard to work a blood sugar meter. This is someone who did not look at the instructions or the quick guide. Why she got a 6, I dunno, but at 6 that person should have been dead for a while. Am shaking my head.

          1. many bells down*

            I kept saying “It can’t be SIX, he’d be in a coma at least!” and she kept insisting either he was about to die or the meter was broken. I hadn’t actually had to do it before, but I knew how it was supposed to be done and you can’t press the kid’s entire finger onto the strip. Whatever’s on their skin will throw off the reading.

          2. Observer*

            Really. In most places failing to read instructions is a problem, especially when there is someone who is clearly willing and able to do so. When the instructions you won’t / can’t read are that significant, it’s just a no-brainer to get rid of that person.

    3. Random Dent*

      A colleague and I both wanted to work on a cool new project. She was picked for it – fair enough, except that she “forgot to mention” that she was going to be on a pre-planned vacation over the Phase I deadline. I was asked to cover for her at the last minute and had to scramble to come up to speed. I did such a great job that they gave Phase II to me, and I rocked that too!

    4. BBBizAnalyst*

      Left a toxic job due to the combo of horrible manager and a long term employee who would sabotage the team so she could jump in and save the day.

      A few weeks ago I found out bad manager “resigned” and the long term employee, though still with the firm, ended up being demoted. The former wasn’t surprising as the entire new team I started with ended up leaving the company, some to rival firms, throughout the year.

    5. Pennalynn Lott*

      I’ve told this story before, but I was once the Executive Assistant to the president of a software company. He sexually harassed me and my secretary, did cocaine at his desk, drank gin and tonics throughout the day, expensed prostitutes and trips to the strip club to the company, and had the head tech guy fix the office phone and intercom system so that the president could use all the speakers in the ceiling and the speakers on the desk phones as listening devices, so that he could spy on the employees. . . to try to find out which one of us told his wife about his mistress and all the prostitutes. (I don’t think any employees said anything; pretty sure his wife had hired a private detective). Oh, and he made all employees turn their business-related airline miles over to him so he could take his mistress and his 10 year old son (!) on a cruise. His reasoning was, “If it weren’t for me, you wouldn’t be taking those trips, so I own all the miles.” He was a horrible, horrible human being.

      A couple months after I quit (on the spot, with no notice), the company was bought out by an Australian software company. Part of the terms was that the president would stay on for a few years. He flew out to the NYC offices of the Australian company to sign the paperwork. While he was gone, all the department heads, VPs, and managers got together in a conference room and called the CEO of the Australian company. They had him pulled out of the meeting with the president, and told him that if they kept the president on after the buyout then every single employee (except maybe 3) would quit. All the coders, all the sales people, all the consultants, all the customer service folks. Basically, there wouldn’t be a company left to run. Once the Australian CEO understood that the managers were serious, and had been told about all the things the president had been up to, he thanked them and went back into his meeting with the president. . . where he promptly told him the terms of the deal had changed. The president would still get cash for the company, but as soon as he signed the agreement, he was out of a job. President needed the cash bad enough that he signed the agreement.

      His wife divorced him, he lost his house and his prized boat. When I last Googled him, he was “president” of his own trust fund. (And hadn’t held another management position since he got fired from his own software company).

    6. Seal*

      I had a boss who got promoted, then claimed he was putting my name forward to take his position. As we both agreed that I had been covering his ass for years and that I was infinitely more qualified than my coworker, I had no reason to think this wouldn’t go through. Imagine my surprise when a month or so later my coworker got the promotion instead of me. It turned out my boss had been lying to me all along; he never had any intention of putting my name forward. So I got nearly identical job elsewhere and left shortly thereafter. A year and a half after I left, my coworker was fired; a year or so later, my former boss was demoted after being caught lying yet again, only this time to the wrong person. Although he limped along there for a few more years in lesser roles, at that point his career was for all intents and purposes over; he was finally forced into retirement a few years ago, far earlier than he had planned. Even better, the department I would have headed imploded after I left and has never recovered. Meanwhile, I’ve gone on to have a very successful career elsewhere. I still feel bad about my coworker, who was put in an impossible situation with no support. But I still cackle whenever I think of my former boss – karma got him good.

    7. anon for this*

      I have a co-worker who bullies me at work. My boss has told me repeatedly that it is okay to stand up for myself and tell him to stop. I try not to because he is mentally ill and is seeking treatment. His karma is his day to day life that he has to live. I just can’t do a pile on with all the issues he fights all the time. So his meanness comes from a place that brings it’s own karma, sadly. I did push back at one point and he complained to our boss and she backed me up but, jmo, the resulting drama wasn’t worth it.

      1. Clever Name*

        You sound like a very nice person, and I’m sorry you’re being treated badly. I do want to say that mental illness isn’t a license to be a jerk to others.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Agreed. Because you have allowed it to go on, OP, there was and will be drama when you push back. However, if you set boundaries the drama will stop at some point. Additionally, if other people report him or tell him no, then all that has happened here is that you have gotten verbally beaten up when you did not have to. (I can’t think of when we would “have to” but in your setting you say you have to take abuse because his plate is overloaded. This is not true, there is no “good” excuse for abusing other people.) Left unchecked his abuse will get worse, because you have accidentally told him “it’s okay”.

    8. animaniactoo*

      We had a new traffic manager a few years ago. I was happy as hell because we seriously needed a traffic manager. And then she created an issue and went after me – going to the head of the company (I’d been there for a decade by that point, and they’d been my clients for 4 years before that) over my project requests before even talking to me. Now generally, it’s a “whoever gets there first” situation with him, and my boss had no info, it was after hours and I was on the train and couldn’t be reached by phone. So that day, she felt victorious. Not so victorious when I spent 2 hours the next day proving that what I was requesting was exactly the same as what had always been requested before, and done even when I didn’t request it for X, Y, and Z valid reasons that were a matter of practicality and long-term efficiency over short-term effeciency.

      And then she was nitpicking minor errors on my project requests. Stuff that should be “Hey, that color number doesn’t match the comp image, what’s the right one?” and making a super big deal out of it – it wasn’t every request, and if she’d been doing that stuff I would quickly have realized that I was dropping the ball and cleaned it up myself – in particular because I *known* within my company for being detail-oriented and superpicky myself. But she didn’t. Bringing up the amount of time I spend on the internet (some of my files are 5 minute saves, there’s not a lot I can do while waiting for that, but I try to be discreet because I understand the appearance of it and my boss is fully aware of it.), etc. even though all my work was getting done.

      Finally, my boss had enough and decided to investigate why she was having so many issues with me and nobody else in my department. OOPS! It turns out that the reason was because I was the *only* one who was continuing to try to run certain kinds of requests through her department (as they were supposed to be) instead of throwing up my hands in frustration over how long it would take/getting flack and pushback and doing it myself. And once that happened, my boss told the other 2 to cut it out and start feeding the requests back through her. I didn’t hold her antics against her necessarily but I did get a certain amount of schadenfraude from that. I kept it professional and continued to give her the benefit of the doubt and treat her civilly on the friendly side of civil while she was there.

      They restructured the departments while she was out on maternity leave and eliminated her position. Realistically, I would normally be upset about that, but she had been so offensive to so many people by that point that it was kind of ridiculous. Like when she told me that she’d found the well-known-to-be hardest working man in the company to be “kind of lazy”. A 20-year employee who anytime you asked him to do something he said “tell me what you need” and got it done. Always.

    9. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life*

      Only once but indirectly. A coworker who was incredibly underqualified was hired for a high level position, made a complete nuisance of themselves to everyone, and was finally fired after wasting 2 years of everyone’s time.

  35. setsuko*

    I am thinking of quitting my PhD (out of time/funds). What careers out there let you spend your days mostly writing code? I am hoping for something closer to anylysing data than creating software, which I have no experience/interest in.

    1. Rincat*

      Business intelligence analysts typically write a lot of SQL code and analyze data, but no actual software creation. Oftentimes you don’t even code, as you would use software like Tableau or another data analysis/visualization tool. I’d try looking there. What type of code do you know or are wanting to do?

        1. Anonymous_For_Comment*

          For bash scripting I’d be thinking of a sysadmin post with some kind of Unix. If you’re a mighty bash programmer you might find it very easy to pass a Linux certification exam.

    2. Elkay*

      Look into Data Science, it’s a growing field and from what I’ve seen uses a lot of writing code. If you have a background in statistics that would help but I don’t think it’s essential.

      1. blackcat*

        Yes, there are some data science programs that specifically take people with academic training and turn them into data scientists. They tend to be a 6-8 weeks long. I forget the names of these programs, but Google around.

        Another way to make the transition is to start learning stuff yourself and work on a data science project to learn. Then post it online. That can serve as a portfolio that helps you get a job.

        Most of my friends who do data science now often prototype code in Python, so brushing up on Python skills is probably a good idea. Depending on your PhD field, you may be doing a lot of programming in languages that are useless outside of academia, so make sure to do a portfolio project in a more widely used language.

        1. setsuko*

          I spend all day writing python to analyse large datasets. So I should be alright on that front.

        2. Honeybee*

          The Data Incubator is one of them – they have courses in New York and DC and also an online course. Low acceptance rates but great job placement. There’s also Insight Data Science Fellows (New York and the Bay Area). General Assembly offers one in data science, too.

          Here’s a list:

          I strongly considered doing one of these when I was doing my PhD in New York. I wish I had taken advantage of the relative free time I had over the summer to try the Data Incubator – it started when I was an advanced doctoral student and was originally a lot less competitive than it is now.

    3. Dan*

      Data science. Although writing code IS creating software, especially if you develop an analysis that actually gets used.

      I think what you are saying is that you don’t want to be a professional software engineer, and that’s fine.

    4. NoMoreMrFixit*

      Data science. Business Analytics. Government/Military/Law enforcement/Intelligence agencies occasionally look for people with these skills. Financial companies are all about this stuff.

    5. Marcela*

      Scientific startups. Most of them follow the academic way of life, so you’ll feel at home, as I did. I am working now in a biotech startup, inside an incubator with many other startups in different stages of life, and most of us need desperately data scientists who can code. In my company I’m doing the final code, working from a mockup made by the data scientist.

      1. setsuko*

        This sounds perfect. What sort of places would you advertise? (Although I am in the UK, so it may be different here.)

    6. Stephanie*

      Nthing data science. If you don’t mind working in finance, I regularly see postings on-campus for banks looking for analysts with quantitative skills, machine learning, programming, and similar.

      1. Alice*

        If you want to explore data science with a focus on medicine/medical research, there’s an excellent webinar series. I’ll post a link below, or you can just Google nih bd2k webinars. (That’s Big Data to Knowledge) Friday afternoons, and of that’s not convenient all the recordings are on YouTube.

    7. setsuko*

      Thanks for all the ideas! I should add that I am in a STEM field (climate type stuff). I mostly analyse large datasets using python, but am willing to learn new languages.

      1. Honeybee*

        Python is a great data science language to start with. I’d learn R, too. And some SQL if you can get access to it.

        Anyway, you sound like a perfect candidate to transition into data science.

    8. Clever Name*

      I would say software engineer, but my husband tells me he spends most of his time in meetings and doing flowcharts.

  36. Legalchef*

    Recipe help! I have a pack of cut up bone in chicken that I am planning on making for dinner tonight. I am thinking of browning it in a pan, then browning some onions in the pan and adding in some sort of liquid, and then cooking everything it in the oven. I want to use dried cherries in it too. Does that make sense? How much liquid do I use – can I just eyeball it until it comes part way up the chicken? Do I cook it covered or uncovered? Anyone have any other suggestions? I have wine and a fairly stocked pantry and fridge.

    I’m actually a really good cook, but not very confident cooking meat on the bone!

    1. SophieChotek*

      Do you have a crock pot? I don’t usually complete submerge meat in crockpot…seems to turn out fine.

      You could bake the chicken with bone in and then make some cream-based sauce with onions?

      still not quite sure what to do with the dried cherries. (Just had whole baked capon with cornbread stuffing that had apple and dried cherries yesterday though. That was good; traditional New Year’s day had my parents’).

      1. Legalchef*

        I do have a crock pot, but I don’t feel like dragging it out. Plus I got some really nice new pans as gifts that I wanted to try out!

    2. Overeducated*

      Maybe Google Persian recipes for inspiration? They might give you ideas for how to cook and season chicken and dried cherries.

    3. Whats In A Name*

      In my experience chicken on the bone puts off a lot of juice. I put just enough to cover the bottom of the pan and no more. Maybe 1/4 of an inch.

      I don’t brown my onion beforehand, though…I cut them into quarters and roast the chunks in with the breasts and thighs. They get sooooo good that way!

      If you are going to cover with a cherry sauce/glaze I would wait until the last 10 minutes so you don’t burn the cherries.

      Sounds good! I love bone-in chicken anything.

    4. CAA*

      Google “chicken dried cherries braise” and you will come up with some good recipes. Most of them use 1 to 2 cups of liquid.

      This one sounds particularly awesome, but may be a bit more work than you’re looking for:

    5. Ze Writer*

      Cut up pieces of chicken with the bone in cook almost exactly the same as chicken fillets. You may need to add a little more time to cook all the way through, but that’s mostly about the thickness of the meat over the bone, like the difference between a thicky chunky fillet and a thin one.

      I don’t know what to tell you about sauces. You could try looking up duck or poussin recipes with cherry sauces – I know I’ve seen lots of those around – and then adapt one you like by substituting chicken? For dried cherries, I might pre-soak them and then add more water to the mix and cook them a little longer to soften them.

    6. Legalchef*

      Ok – I made a mix of ground fennel, ginger, cardamom, coriander, salt and pepper and rubbed that on the chicken and then I browned the pieces on all sides. I took the chicken out and browned some onions, then deglazed with red wine and this mixed berry juice I got at TJs. I added a few sprigs of thyme, dried cherries, lemon zest, and a few sliced green olives, and put the chicken on top. It’s in the oven now!

      Serving it with honey mustard roasted fingerlings and steamed haricot vert

      1. Clever Name*

        Sounds divine! I prefer bone-in chicken to plain chicken breasts. I think it has so much more flavor. Chicken breasts are so easy to cook, though.

  37. Anons*

    Tips for overcoming intermittent, but intense feelings of self-loathing? Need tips for self-reliant strategies.

    1. MegaMoose, Esq*

      Therapy and medication has been the only thing to really keep me out of those holes, I’m afraid. But to the extent I’m working at it on my own, keeping a list of the things I’m grateful for has helped in the past – I would try and come up with at least one thing every day, and re-read my entries from better days when I’m feeling really down. During the worst of my mental miasmas, it’s easy to feel like it never gets better, and I need to remind myself that that feeling is my brain lying to me.

    2. Stellaaaaa*

      It helped me to parse the pop-psych speak and put a pin in what my issue really was. I didn’t suffer from self-loathing or even self-doubt. I’ve always known who I am, and I’ve always thought I was pretty great. What upset me was that I didn’t feel other people thought I was even sort of okay. I eventually realized that I was investing too much energy in a particular social crowd that, on the whole, didn’t treat anyone right.

    3. Ze Writer*

      I reduced those thoughts/emotions down to one sentence and set it to the tune of “I’m a Little Teapot” (no, really) so I made it sound stupid and and then I let myself be bored by it. For me, turning it into an irritating reptitive earworm put it at the same level as stuff like junk mail, which I find only mildly annoying:
      *INTRUSIVE REPETITIVE THOUGHT!* ~I’m~a~Little~Tea-pot~tra~la~laa~
      Me: Ugh, more boring junk mail from the brain weasels *ignores*

      Also, journalling or morning pages helps me, because for me, writing it down sort of fixes it in place, and stops it circling around so much. Seeing it in writng helps me switch to a more analytical mindset and start to deconstruct it. Sometimes (not always) I can say, ‘Self, not now. We will deal with the brain weasels when we journal later/write morning pages tomorrow’ and put it off.

      I hope that you find some tips that help you

    4. Kitty*

      I have those; I call them “cringe moments” because I am suddenly overcome by OMG THAT WAS SO EMBARRASSING I AM THE ABSOLUTE WORST EVERYONE HATES ME. But when I feel them start to come on, I say to myself (mentally or verbally, depending on who’s around) “Silly kitty. You’re fine.” just like I would to one of my cats who was startled by her own tail or something. It’s self-soothing and a way to reset and ignore the brain weasels.

    5. Clever Name*

      It’s super corny, but saying self affirmations in the mirror and when having those thoughts has helped me. Also, question your typical inner monologue.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      Random self-loathing:
      1) Look into vitamins and minerals. Assume that some of it has a physical basis. Start by making sure you are eating some healthy things, getting good rest and hydrating properly. A body that is low on any one of these can be prone to having lots of nasty thoughts.

      2)Affirmations, as mentioned. Set up go to sentences that you will use when you have a negative thought. This is HARD. If you get to a point where you can do this 50% of the time, throw a party. “I AM a good person.” or “I do good work.” or “I am a good friend to people.” Here’s stuff that is tougher: “I can chose to like me so, therefore I LIKE ME.”

      3) Why do you hate you? Check your basics- do you believe you are doing your best most of the time? Bills paid on time? Get to work in a timely manner every day? Are you fair with the people around you? Okay here’s a toughie: Do you insist that people be fair with YOU? Do you stand up for you when necessary?

      4) Watch your highs and lows. If you can go really high (be absolutely euphoric over something) then there is a strong possibility that later you will go very low over something else. The times I have seen this happen the most is when someone is in a relationship with an abuser. They have good days when the abuser is having a good day. Not saying this applies to you, not saying that you were abused in the past. I am just throwing this out there, sometimes we hit a spot in life where we feel life is wildly unfair for many reasons and we can have extreme highs and lows.

      Tips for being self-reliant:
      Figure out where your weak spots are, make a list, then go one by one and build a plan.

      When my husband passed it was like someone took my entire life and tossed it waaay up in the air. How would everything land and where would it land. My weak spots were EVERYWHERE. Oh boy. I went one by one.

      My first problem was money. So I did a bunch of money management stuff.
      While I was handling this my emotions were clouding my judgement. So I did stuff for my emotions- church, life coaching, reading, etc. I checked with other people for advice here and there. I did not use every piece of advice I received, but I used a lot of it.

      After I got the money “under control” more or less. I turned and looked at my physical health. I did some massages and had some chiropractic work done.
      Okay so that covered money, emotions and health.
      Now to the nuts and bolts of things. I have a house, car and dog to take care of. Since I can’t do house/car/dog repair I had to find professionals to help with those things. I paid/bartered for what I could not do myself.

      Define self-reliant. Sometimes being self-reliant is simply the willingness to seek help when we don’t know. We can rely on ourselves to admit we don’t know and find a professional to help with finances, emotions or canines. Some of the most successful people I know have a group of friends whose ideas they have copied.

      Sometimes being self-reliant means planning for problems. I carry a spare key in my wallet because I could lock myself out of my car. I put my oil bill on a budget plan so that I know it will be paid and I will have heat. In that fall, I stock my medicine cabinet with stuff in case I suddenly catch a cold over the winter. (It’s usually during a big storm.)

      Each time I encountered a recurring problem, I build a plan for it. I do the same thing at work. Something happens more than once, I stop and hammer out how to handle it. Can it be permanently fixed? Am I stuck just dealing with the recurrences? If yes, is there a way that I can make it easier to handle when the problem happens again?
      This all takes time. And you learn to be patient with you and you learn to forgive you when you don’t get it right the second/fifth/ twentieth time.

      Finally, sorry way too long an answer, try, try try to realize that there will always be times where you do not feel self-reliant. It’s a big world out there and it is impossible to know everything we need to know. I hope this helps some how.

  38. Rincat*

    For all who color hair (whether professionally or at home):

    So I’ve been jacking around with my hair for a while, doing a little bit of lifting but mostly using semi permanent dyes (like blues and purples). I’ve never had a problem with coverage until recently when I lifted my hair to a level 9. It’s naturally a dark brown, so maybe a 3 or 4 with lots of red/orange undertones. I did two lifting sessions – the first with a 30 developer for about 15 minutes, and then because it did not get light enough, I waited about 3 weeks and lifted again with a 7 developer for a few minutes. That got me where I wanted to be, but now my color application is patchy. The color deposits on the roots and ends, but not in the middle. I’ve tried about four times now (waiting a week or so in between applications, and removing color build up with a clarifying shampoo), and I think my technique is sound, as I watch the color go on to the middle part of the hair shaft, but still when I rinse, barely any color has deposited in the middle.

    So my question is…have I just messed up my hair too much that it’s really porous on the roots and ends, and the cuticle on the middle of the shaft is just not opening up? I don’t use any developer when coloring, it’s all the direct dye stuff. I did use a toner with 7 developer once and it went on evenly, so I’m thinking this is my problem.

    I appreciate any help and suggestions!

    1. AnonAcademic*

      Yeah, it sounds like you need a developer with lift for the color to take. I lift my hair with 30v developer from brown black to auburn, and the ends that have been lifted/sun bleached more over time take temporary color very differently than my roots do ( I like to use a lot of temp gloss treatments that deposit color to stretch between touch ups). However if I use a dye with lift it’s more even – not totally even as the roots vs ends start different colors, but more even.

    2. Clever Name*

      I dye my hair, but I’ve only ever done it at the salon. I’m sure a stylist would take lots of your money to fix it. ;)

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Same here–I did it myself when it was dark auburn, but bleaching should probably be handled professionally. I tried to touch up roots and home and it did not go well. I have an appointment on Saturday–and the cost is justified because I want to look decent at least while interviewing.

  39. Weeeeeeeeeeeee*

    My office manager told me that it’s company policy to present resignations in writing. As in, the CEO won’t accept a resignation unless it’s in writing. What’s the point of this? To have the date of last day to prevent confusion? We’re just a small 10-person business.

    1. caledonia*

      The UK has this as standard practice. I don’t see it as a big deal.

      Could it be for tax reasons? Pay reasons? Holiday entitlement? But anyway, just write it out. It will take 2 minutes and will cover your ass and let your CEO know exactly when your last day is. If you will be using anyone in this company as a reference, they can say that you employed from this month to that month.

      1. Weeeeeeeeeeeee*

        Yeah, not a huge deal. I was just very surprised. For some reason I thought I remembered that wasn’t an industry norm any longer.

        Interesting to hear about the UK!

    2. MegaMoose, Esq*

      My job requires resignations in writing as well. We do contract work so there are always lots of people coming and going, so I suspect the writing requirement is just to keep things orderly and official – admittedly that would seem less necessary in a very small office, but I don’t think it hurts anything to require a written record of when you put notice in and when your last day will be.

    3. Jessesgirl72*

      That is pretty standard, in my experience. It makes sure everyone is in agreement on the end date, and prevents word-of-mouth rants that were never meant to be resignations but were reported as such.

      I always want a paper (or digital) trail for things like that.

      1. Rob Lowe can't read*

        I don’t know if it’s been required at any of my previous workplaces, but I’ve usually been part of an email thread confirming the details of my notice period and last day following a phone or in-person conversation. Sometimes I’ve been the one to send the email, and sometimes it’s been my manager. I think the only job where there was no written record was a business that consisted of just the owner and two employees, and that actually ended up being kind of a mess for me to return keys/company property, so I wish there would have been a paper trail.

    4. CAA*

      This is a pretty common policy, and yes, it’s to have a written record that was initiated by the employee to show the resignation was voluntary and confirm the date. It’s useful in case the employee files for unemployment that they’re not entitled to, and also if the firm has their payroll done by a part-time bookkeeper or other 3rd party it helps them comply with state laws as to when the final check has to be ready.

      Your CEO can’t actually refuse to accept a verbal resignation though. You could just stop showing up on the day you said would be your last one. There’s no way he can force you to stay on the payroll or make you come to work. However, that’s kind of antagonistic, so I’d recommend you go ahead and write the 3 sentence resignation letter for him. Just say “I will be leaving firm X. My last day will be Y. I’ve appreciated the opportunity to work here and wish you luck.”

    5. MissDisplaced*

      It’s pretty common. I think it’s generally for record keeping and (in the US) for the unemployment office in case the person who is resigning decides to try filing for unemployment (which you cannot generally get if you quit).

    6. Mephyle*

      As everyone said … record-keeping … paper trail … preventing “he-said–she-said” or “Yes-I-did–No-you-didn’t” disputes.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        This is why I prefer to resign in writing.
        It’s not a big letter OP.

        Company address
        Today’s date

        Dear Boss/Interested Parties,

        I am resigning my position at Mash Potatoes, Inc. My last day will be X.
        Thank you for the [opportunities/encouragement/whatever] you have given me during my time here.

        Soon to be Ex-Potato Masher.

        Any time I have used this, I have never had something come back on me.

    7. Natalie*

      My last place required them to open up the position, so I did it basically as a nice thing for my boss. Obnoxiously, they wouldn’t accept my emailed resignation, so I just printed out that email, signed it, and scanned it to HR. Apparently that was fine.

  40. SophieChotek*

    Mini-rant (?) about my manager at side job at coffee shop.
    (Gosh hope manger isn’t avid reader here; I don’t think so though.)
    Summary~my manager is inconsistent…

    We had inventory last night.
    When we do inventory we have to count EVERYTHING.
    Every cup, lid, napkin bundle, gift card, tea bag, milk carton, pastry, etc.
    The store is divided into sections. So like back storage, front storage, etc.
    We have sheets that say back storage, front storage, etc. Then you count whatever your sheet tells you.
    So if the front storage says “plastic cups” you could any plastic cups you find in the “front storage” but you ignore any more “plastic cups” in the back storage or food prep area, because you could those on those sheets. So I was counting (let’s say) “tea bags” in the front storage…but I knew there were tons of “tea bags” in the “back storage”…admittedly, I started counting those too. So I kind of get why the manager wasn’t happy I put the on the wrong sheet. (Because she had the “back storage” sheet, so if she counted them too, it would look like we had 2x the amount.)
    But them, despite just getting yelled at over counting the “tea bags” in the wrong place…she was also upset they I didn’t just magically know that even though our extra “trash bags” and extra “to go containers” were in the “back storage” (literally), I actually count them as “front storage” because she ran out of room in the “Front storage”…
    Oh well..I go through this every time I do inventory…there is always some weird exception to the list…

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Inventory sucks so hard. My retail job did it on Thursday, and since I’m off from my full-time job, I went in for an inventory shift. Never done it before. Our store has things ALL OVER THE PLACE. Like, you have twenty thingamabobs in Section 1, but there are also similar things in Section 4, so while you think you have 20 thingamabobs, you really have 45. And the person doing Section 4 miscounted, so we have to go over it again. It didn’t take us long to do the counting (every single employee showed up, worked in teams, used scanners), but when I showed up for my shift on Saturday, there were sheets and sheets of things that needed to be reconciled. I also learned, while doing some of the reconciliation, that we had identical items with different SKUs, which threw off the count. Also, my co-workers who were doing one section behind me didn’t realize that different colors often means different SKUs, so their work had to be completely re-done.

      Apparently, it is never, ever, ever a standard process. Sigh.

      1. Retail Gal*

        We start inventory on Sunday. I work at a department store for a rather large chain. We’re issued stickers with a barcode. A sticker is affixed to each arm of every fixture, and nearly for every pile of clothing, and for every shelf/cube in our home department. You scan the barcode, then scan the UPC for each item on the arm/in the pile/on the shelf. The supervisors make a map to show what range of stickers are where in there department. Those maps need to be finished Wednesday. Three of us will do the stockroom(s) on Sunday, which shouldn’t take long. Then, on Mon, Tues, and Wed, there will be two departments inventoried each night. We haven’t had a lot of turnover in our supervisors, so it’s pretty much down to a science now…as long as the computers/software are working correctly.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      If you can muster a grin, next time ask her with a soft smile if there is anything special you need to know BEFORE you start.

  41. Soupspoon McGee*

    Foot update: I have a jones fracture, a break of the 5th metatarsal. It’s been seven weeks since I broke it and almost six weeks since it was casted. The cast was removed almost 3 weeks ago, replaced by a fracture boot. This boot is SOOOOO uncomfortable. I actually walked around the house on Christmas Eve getting things ready–I ditched the knee scooter and crutches for a few hours to make dinner and celebrate. My foot felt fine during the hubub, but it hurt for two days afterwards. I can walk around in my stocking feet with relatively little pain, but the boot seems to cause pain after walking in it. My fellow foot fracture folks, is this pretty typical?

    1. Jessesgirl72*

      Yes. The boot is forcing your foot to heal correctly. Walking around without it is a bad idea if you want it to mend straight.

    2. Legalchef*

      Yup. My husband had an almost-but-not-quite jones fracture and he felt the same way. I hope you heal quickly!

    3. Girasol*

      I liked it. I’d broken an ankle in college and got a plaster cast that had to be kept dry, so I’d have to crutch into the shower with a large trash bag banded over it. It had to be sawed off and replaced every two weeks in a three hour office visit, so I sat in a paper gown on the end of that same table for what seemed like ages. When I broke my foot later and got a boot, I could take it off for showers (still hopping on one foot, of course) and for bed, which was lovely. Office visits were infrequent and short. The doc had me off crutches (how come I never get a scooter??) and stumping around in the boot remarkably quickly. But my boot seemed very comfortable. I suppose I’d think worse of it if it hadn’t been.

    4. Anono-me*

      I hurt just thinking about what you are going through.

      Be good and wear the boot.

      Get a second opinion, if you are at all worried.

      The height of the boot can make your whole body off balanced. There is some sort of wedge thingy that goes on the opposite foot to make your footwear the same height. Your clinic should be able to provide one (and a more technical name).

      Best wishes for a speedy and complete recovery.

    5. Honeybee*

      Yes, because (at least in my experience) the weight of the boot puts extra pressure on your leg/foot/bones – it makes it harder to move around because you have to do more work to move the foot. You’ll get more used to it after a while, but I strongly suggest you use at least one of the crutches – the crutches will provide more support so you are putting less pressure on the healing fracture by trying to lift the heavy boot with a not-100% leg. That’s what they, and the knee scooter, are for. You’re really supposed to stay off it as much as possible.

      And for the love of god, don’t walk around on your stocking feet :) One wrong move – by you or someone else – can mean re-fracturing your foot and doing worse injury. And even if that doesn’t happen, your foot could heal improperly if it’s not casted/held in place, which at best can result in years of pain in that foot and at worst could mean your foot has to be rebroken and recasted to start all over. I remember the strong temptation to be free of the hot, heavy, itchy boot – I spent a total of around 4 months on crutches in a boot when I broke one ankle right after the other. But the short-term relief can lead to some long-term pain.

    6. Colette*

      I broke my ankle in April, and when I started walking again, my foot really hurt even though it wasn’t what I broke. Hav you started physio? My physiotherapist was a lot of help.

    7. Soupspoon McGee*

      You guys are so smart, and telling me what I know but don’t want to hear :-). I’ve listened and put the blasted boot back on. No PT as of yet–I get x-rays tomorrow and follow up with podiatrist on Wednesday. At work, I’m still using the scooter.

  42. C Average*

    If you had a day that contained no obligations and a budget of $100, what would you do for fun?

    1. costume teapot*

      Probably go on a hike with my dog at the park and toss the $100 at my retirement fund. But I’m a little zonkers about personal finance…

    2. Manders*

      This requires some advanced scheduling, but $100 is a perfect budget to take yourself and someone else to a convention or street fair, or to go alone and do a decent amount of shopping. I admit, I’m totally spoiled by living in a city with so many conventions for every imaginable hobby.

      $100 would also cover a zoo or museum day + lunch or dinner for two.

    3. caledonia*

      Get a return train ticket for somewhere that was no more than $60 (£’s!) and go explore (it would probably be south, since I’m from the North (of Scotland). And of course, not spending it all on the ticket = lunch and cake with the rest.

      1. MegaMoose, Esq*

        That sounds so gooooooood. I’d probably need a scotch more than $100 to get a massage in my city, though.

      2. Rob Lowe can't read*

        Oh, I like this idea! I think I need to treat myself to a massage in the NOT too distant future.

      3. Trix*

        Yep, I’m with you.

        If I could get a good deal on Groupon on something, I would add in an evening of drinking wine and reading anywhere with a fireplace (which is way too hard to find, btw, all I want is a glass of wine in front of a fireplace, why isn’t there a place for that!?).

    4. Sparkly Librarian*

      I’ve been meaning to take a day trip on the ferry. I’d stop by the fancy grocery to pack a picnic, buy the round-trip ferry tickets, and wander a street fair or farmer’s market to watch people, then settle on a bench or blanket with my book or a companion. Maybe buy an ice cream cone on the way back.

    5. Little Miss Cranky Pants*

      Take a two-hour guided trail ride by horseback. :) Didn’t even have to *ponder* that answer for a second! Money = horses!

    6. Temperance*

      I would spend the day at yard sales or thrifting. I would probably drive to the fancy neighborhood thrift shop and have at it.

    7. Anono-me*

      It is cold and snowy and icky outside. So for today, I would probably take a friend to lunch at this nursery nearby that has a French bistro in the green house, then head to the book store. Then home to read and read and read.

    8. NoMoreMrFixit*

      Museum trip! Find a museum/gallery you’ve never visited before and take your sweet time taking it all in. Cheap enough you can take a significant other or friend and have lunch too.

      Speaking from lots of experience on this one :-)

    9. Rebecca*

      I’d go for a long bike ride on our local rails to trails area, stop into one of the inns along the way and have a nice meal, and add a short hike to one of the nearby vistas. I’d take the balance and save it toward the next adventure!

    10. ginger ale for all*

      That is pretty much my day today. Cheap lunch out and read a book. Put the rest of the money in the bank.

    11. Franzia Spritzer*

      Without the slightest hesitation I’d get myself to a Korean Spa, for all day soaking and a full body scrub.

    12. Soupspoon McGee*

      I drive to the coast, have a luxurious breakfast, take a glass-blowing lesson, rent a horse if I thought it would enjoy a nice ride on the beach, wander through an antique shop, and enjoy an adult beverage while watching the sunset. I might even buy a piece of art if I had enough money.

  43. Lissa*

    I’m really struggling with energy levels and the winter blues. I always get three or four weeks off in December/January (I provide classroom support for disabled students and am not needed during exam week or winter break) and have completely failed getting anything done this break! It didn’t help that partner and I both got sick right at the beginning. I’m normally a morning person, up by 8 or earlier on vacation but now I am a slug until 10 and then without coffee still don’t boot up till 11, and it feels like the day kind of leaches away on me!

    I need to find some motivation to at least do a little bit of exercise, as well as send a bunch of work emails. Perhaps I shall find that motivation in extra espresso. :) Otherwise getting back to work for early classes next week is going to be a nightmare…

    1. MegaMoose, Esq*

      Have you ever been tested for vitamin D deficiency? I tested severely deficient a few winters ago and started taking supplements and it made a huge improvement in my energy levels. My GP said that much of the northern half of the US doesn’t receive enough sunlight during the winter even if you’re the kind of person who’s able to be outside during peak sunlight hours, which many of us aren’t.

      1. justsomeone*

        And if you’re like me and terrible at taking pills, the happy lights can make a significant difference!

      2. Ze Writer*

        Seconding this! And it is worth going to a doctor for the blood test, because they can prescribe you high-dose vitamin D tablets to get your levels up more quickly. (The over-the-counter supplements tend to be low dose pills)

    2. Chaordic One*

      I feel so out-of-shape and like I would like to exercise and get my blood pumping. But it is so cold outside right now. I don’t know what to do with myself until it gets at least above 20 degrees or so outside (and who knows when that will be?).

  44. discarvard*

    I’d love to hear some thoughts on unpaid internships from people who have done them. I have been in retail since shortly after college graduation (2014), and am really sick of it. A cool nonprofit employer in town is offering unpaid internships in a couple of different subfields. I am feeling really lost in terms of what industry/field I want to go into, but I have interviewed recently for a job at this place and seemed to hit it off really well with the people I met there. So I’m leaning toward going for the internship. It wouldn’t be a financial *breeze* for me to do it, but I could certainly pull it off. However, I can’t shake the feeling that I would be participating in a practice I find ethically messy, since this kind of experience heavily favors people with extra cash lying around or family members/partners who can support them. Thoughts?

    1. Manders*

      I did one at a nonprofit. The organization turned out to be pretty dysfunctional and it was not a very happy summer for me, but I actually do think having that office experience gave me a leg up when it came time to apply for post-college jobs. It also taught me that I don’t actually like working at small nonprofits, which prevented me from chasing after jobs I would have been miserable at post college.

      Buuuuuut I also wish my experience hadn’t been necessary. I didn’t need months of experience in a dysfunctional office to prove I could function in an office environment.

      This is one of those times in life that you have to choose between doing what’s best for yourself and sticking with your principles about the way things should be. In the end, it was worth it for me–maybe it’s worth it for you too.

      1. discarvard*

        Sorry you had to go through that! It must have been such a relief to get out of there.

        Great point about learning about your own desires in terms of a workplace, though. I’m hoping I can gain that kind of self-knowledge if I do this. At least I think I have seen enough to know that this place is not dysfunctional.

    2. Whats In A Name*

      I have never done an unpaid internship as an adult but but have friends who did. They would not fall in the “extra cash laying around” or “partners who support them” category. One friend basically did the internship full time and worked full time because she couldn’t give up the income but needed experience in a field she wanted to transition to. Another friend saved up money over a period of 6 months to have enough to be able to live off of savings for 6 months. She sacrificed a lot to save but says it was worth it.

      I did an unpaid internship in college my senior year. I was in school full time (15 credits), interned 12 hours a week and was a bartender 4 nights a week because I had rent, gas, car payment, etc. that I had to pay for on my own.

      I might be in the minority but I bring all that up because I don’t think unpaid internships cater to those with built in support but I do think you have to be methodical and work a little harder.

      And be prepared to get little sleep and do simple things like clip your fingernails while driving.

      1. discarvard*

        I have admittedly been pretty fortunate in life, but I wouldn’t call taking two full-time gigs or being a student/intern/bartender “working a little harder”- I would call that a LOT harder. I’m impressed that you were able to pull it off!

        If I do take the internship, I’m going to try and go part-time at my current job; they aren’t open long enough hours for me to, say, take the night shift and spend the day interning. Which means more sleep and less pay. I suppose now might be the time to take up Etsy crafting or busking on street corners.

        1. Whats In A Name*

          I think the sign that you are taking this so seriously is a good one – just make sure you have a plan in place and you will be fine! I hope whatever you decide it turns out for the best!

    3. Dan*

      I work for a non profit, and we pay all of our interns, and reasonably well. Most are in the $15-$20/hr range.

      I’ve also never had an unpaid internship, mine have always been paid.

    4. BabyAttorney*

      I’ve had several…state senator’s office, two nonprofits, judicial chambers. A lot of what I learned about what I wanted from a career came directly from those experiences. I wouldn’t trade any of them, because they all really helped to shape my career.

      Part of what makes an unpaid internship more of a benefit for the intern is that much of what you’re doing is paying attention to what’s going on around you. Generally speaking there is very little profitable work done by interns–especially given how much oversight is given to interns. Often what you end up doing is very useful work that is not necessarily high on the priority list but “is nice” to have done. The more substantive your work, the more ethically questionable…but the better the experience for you in the long run.

      It’s messy, I agree. I feel very fortunate I was able to do it while taking classes full time by working during the day and doing night classes. But if you can swing it and you’re really looking to get into something else, I think the experience is invaluable.

      1. discarvard*

        Thanks for the insight! This is good to hear. And thank you for validating my sense of unease about it- I was worried it was just me being out of touch. I know if I am ever in a position to hire interns, I’m going to look under every proverbial couch cushion for the funding to pay them (and I’m sure this organization has done so.)

    5. Stellaaaaa*

      I’m sure someone else is more knowledgeable, but I believe that uncompensated internships (whether you’re paid in money or class credits) are illegal. There’s no way around that. HOWEVER, adult internships are often the only way to get experience and a good reference for fields that are otherwise difficult to enter. I vote for biting the bullet and going for it if you’re sure you want to be in this industry.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        They’re generally legal at nonprofits, because nonprofits are allowed to use volunteers (there are still some restrictions but in general that’s the case). They’re legal in government. And they’re legal at for-profits as long as they meet certain criteria about learning and the work being to the benefit of the intern rather than the employer.

      2. Jessesgirl72*

        They wrote loopholes when they made unpaid internships illegal. The big one being that they are only illegal at all in for-profit corporations. There are other criteria under which they can be legal in for-profit companies.

      3. discarvard*

        That’s the thing- I’m *not* sure which industry I want to be in at all. It’s not a lucrative field, not that anything I’m interested in really is, although it does relate directly to my retail experience. I know the teapot metaphor gets overused here, but think of it like this: I am a teapot seller, and in most potential career paths that would be thought of as “retail” and regarded as not terribly relevant beyond “held same job for 2 years.” But at my most recent interview at the nonprofit, they were excited to see someone who works with teapots all day, since they deal with teapots as well. It is apparently very common for former teapot sellers to continue working with teapots, which is good because I like the merchandise itself much better than the retail environment.

        What I’m hoping I could do is get the most tech-focused internship and get some experience that transcends industry, since I see a lot of jobs posted where some basic tech skills are requirements or nice-to-have. But even something that was all teapots all the time would be fine with me.

    6. Temperance*

      Even if you ethically don’t like unpaid internships, you need some professional experience on your resume. Is it possible for you to volunteer parttime and keep your retail job?

      I’m totally with you, FWIW. I hire interns, and I only pick people who clearly didn’t come from rich families/privileged backgrounds. I’m lucky to have this ability, though.

      1. discarvard*

        I think/hope I could keep my retail job. The internships are meant to be part time; the only question is whether my job would let me scale back my hours. I am pretty sure they would, though.

      2. Whats In A Name*

        Curious how this works? If someone comes in for an internship and you think they would be a great addition/show a lot of promise in field but you perceive they come from a privileged background how do you vett that? And is that the only disqualifying factor?

        1. Temperance*

          I only hire one intern at a time, FWIW, so it can be fairly competitive.

          I can always tell who has had a ton of privilege because they’ll come across my desk and have experience that no law student would have unless they knew someone. Large firms aren’t going to hire you for internships as a college student or 1L unless you have an “in”.

          I honestly haven’t met anyone yet who has that background and a.) cares about charitable work as a career path or b.) show a ton of promise in my particular niche industry. When I’ve met these types, they’re just trying to resume build using my org’s name, which is something I’m not okay with.

    7. Soupspoon McGee*

      Not unpaid but close . . . I switched professions, from higher ed to health care, with hopes to become a physician assistant. Most PA programs require clinical experience, so I quit my job, took classes, became a CNA, then a year ago got hired as a medical scribe. The CEO apologetically told me the pay wasn’t much, especially considering my prior experience, but if I thought of it as an internship, it would be worth it. He was right. Pay is terrible, but the experience has taught me more than I could learn in most other settings–and I got into PA school thanks to what I learned (not just skills, but about underserved populations).

      Long story short, if you gain knowledge, skills, and perspective you couldn’t get anywhere else (and it’s stuff that helps you get a paying job), it’s well worth it.

    8. Raia*

      How many staff members do they have? I interned for a nonprofit that had less than 10, and you could say that I wound up doing work that was not educational and was for the total benefit of the org. The amount of staff they have is directly correlated to whether they have the ability to let you learn, or they need you to do real org work for free. More staff is definitely better imho.

  45. Kms1025*

    Good news post…diagnosed three months ago with type 2 diabetes, a1c at 6.4. Doc gave me three months with diet changes to fix before medicating. Went on strict low carb, low sugar diet and made major foodie, lifestyle changes. Three months later, woohoo, no more diabetes! a1c is 5.8 and blood sugar is down to 83. Doc said keep doing what you’re doing and all should be well, so fingers crossed :). Happy New Year!

    1. anonsydance*

      Congrats! Diabetes is scary, watched my mom almost die because of it. I’m glad you’re doing well!! Woot!

    2. lionelrichiesclayhead*

      This is so incredibly encouraging! I really like that your doctor gave you the chance to make some changes before putting you on medication.

    3. Tabby Baltimore*

      I’m impressed, so I have to ask: how strict was your low carb limit? I’ve read 20mg is one standard, but, wow, is that low! I mean, I can get that much in a small container of microwave soup (think Healthy Choice m-wave country vegetable or Campbell’s m-wave tomato). How did you maintain it? Please tell me your secret for making peace with giving up pasta, bread, rice and potatoes!

      1. Tabby Baltimore*

        Wish I had sat on this response a while before sending, so I could edit out the last sentence before submitting. There’s no “making peace” involved when it’s a health issue. Apologies.

        1. Kms1025*

          LOL! I actually read “making peace” and thought that described it very well :). I researched foods bad for diabetics and foods good for diabetics. That meant giving up bread, pasta, white potatoes, in general anything starchy. Then I researched what I could swap back in. Turns out gluten free can also be diabetic friendly. For pasta, I switched to quinoa, pearled barley, and buckwheat. Also discovered soba noodles…all very low carb. I don’t add sweetener to anything, but just got used to the natural sweetness of different foods, like carrots and sweet potatoes and yams and experimented with them in dishes that I wanted to be a little sweet. Gave up almost all sodapop, with the exception of diet ginger ale, I use that to cut all fruit juices with (half and half) to lower the sugar. That includes wine too! Eating lots of the crunchy vegetables, like broccoli and various greens. Using cauliflower in place of white potatoes and am amazed at how easy that particular transition was… I now eat bread very sparingly, usually go gluten free. I eat turkey, fish, chicken, very little beef. (Turkey burgers are actually pretty awesome.) I eat very little whole eggs, normally just have egg whites and most mornings I have steel cut oats for breakfast. It takes a while to cook so I make a big pot once a week and heat up during the rest of the week. It’s been a journey that my husband has willingly gone on with me. We’re looking at this way of eating as the new normal and enjoying experimenting to find dishes we like. Haven’t felt deprived in the least. Thanks for the well-wishes :)

  46. dear Liza dear liza*

    Gym/exercise class etiquette question/vent

    My workout studio offers a lot of group classes. My schedule can be all over the place, so I end up going to different ones through the week. Attendance can range from just a handful of people to jam packed, but most classes are full without being uncomfortable. However, now and then, I run into fellow participants with some serious space entitlement issues:
    1. People who have their favorite spots: under the fan, or this corner near the water fountain, etc. It’s not like we have assigned spots, so when I go to class I just take an area that’s available. And sometimes I end up inadvertently taking someone’s “spot.” They don’t ever say anything, but all of a sudden, a woman will be right up next to me, even though there’s room elsewhere in the studio. Sometimes I’ll just move to another area, but that new space can be somebody’s preferred space and I’m no better off!
    2. People who pay no attention to how much space they are taking up. When a class is fairly full, you might need to rein that grapevine in a bit, and or not march as much forward. Keep an eye on how you’re swinging out to do side kicks, please. Today, not surprisingly, class was *very* full and a woman in front of me kept drifting back to me. I had another row in back of me so it wasn’t like I could drift equidistantly.

    Usually I just hold my ground and get grumpy internally. Once, I asked the encroacher if she could move forward (this was in a class that had such room), and she said, “No” and just kept dancing. I left and wrote a note to the studio owner, who was aghast but offered no real action. I don’t know what I want- maybe to have the studio floor laid out like a chessboard so everyone has enough room but stays in their space? LOL.
    Anyone else deal with these issues? I’ve had similar ones at other group exercise classes- but maybe the common denominator is me and nobody else cares?

    1. Snow*

      This drives me nuts too – and I often go to varying classes too (it’s less schedule based with me and more that I hate everything but aquafit so only occasionally go to something else if I can’t make aquafit) – I sit in the changing room and read the kindle app on my phone until just before the class starts – if you are last one there everyone else has tended to claim THEIR space and you take what is left.

      With space encroachers (this is the worse at aquafit – there is so much pool why are you RIGHT beside me – but then you have the option to be splashy which tends to get people to back off. The amount of people who think they can do aqaufit and not get their hair wet is unreal.) I tend to not move out of their way as it seems to encourage them but I am nearly 6 ft and big so they aren’t going to knock me over? Sometimes I say Whups you’re in my space which gets me death glares but I don’t care.

    2. BBBizAnalyst*

      My gym has been pretty good at enforcing rules. No throwing the weights around and screaming like a goddamn gorilla. You need to clean up your weights. You need to wipe down the bench. You need to make sure that if the person doing a set before you has a heavier lift, help put the plates back on the bar for him/her. For the most part, people seem to be respectful.

      It should be interesting this week when the New Year’s folks roll in but we’re a welcoming gym and our members lead by example.

    3. TeapotSweaterCrocheter*

      I’m right there with you – these are some of my pet peeves too! I’ll admit, I have a “favorite” space in my Zumba and yoga classes… but if I walked in and you happened to have gotten to class before me and were in “my” space – I’d just move! Far enough away for us both to have space.

      I also feel your pain on people who have no idea of the proportions of their body and how it moves in a space. Especially with Zumba, where you can move a lot sideways/forwards/back, it works if everyone is doing the same thing; it’s awful if the person next to you is Not. Going. Anywhere.

      And the woman who just said “no” when you asked her to move? I am also aghast! But I am also the kind of person who would then have danced closer and closer and closer to her and been all up in her space the rest of class. And I would have made sure I was doing every move as expansively as possible.

    4. Lulubell*

      Ha ha, yes. I mainly take yoga classes at my gym, and there are some that get really crowded. I actually like crowded classes, because I think it’s better energy-wise, but some people can be a bit blind to how much space they are taking up. Recently, I was in a class and there was a man close behind me. There was no one behind him. The man used only the front half of his mat, plus a foot of space in front of him on the floor, approaching the back of my mat where my feet go. This man was sweating fiercely all over the front of his mat, the floor, and THISCLOSE to my mat. While he had a good two feet of unused mat behind him (he seemed to like standing in the middle?) and NO ONE behind him whatsoever. I could not move my mat up because I was in the front row, right up against the wall. So I spent the entire class RAGEY (yes, this is why I go to yoga) about the fact that he was inches away from sweating on my mat when he had about 8 feet of room behind him. I think about the chessboard thing all the time and wish we had assigned mat placements. I’ve even envisioned them color coded so you could plan for five people in a row, seven people in a row, etc. FWIW, I am one of those people who arrive early so I can get my favorite spot, which is up against one wall so that if I do get crowded, at least it will only be from one side. Yes, I am a bit of a control freak.

      1. dear Liza dear liza*

        I actually stopped going to a yoga class because it got too popular. We were so jammed in, the instructor would have to modify poses, like having us keep our arms at our side rather than in a T while on our backs. We were constantly reminded to “watch out for your neighbor.” It was the opposite of calming and relaxing.

        1. Honeybee*

          To me that’s a studio that needs to start putting a cap on how many students to let into the class.

    5. Mephyle*

      Is there an instructor you know a little bit or who seems that they would be sensible, whom you could talk about this with? You described the unhelpfulness of the owner, but maybe instructors could take a different tack. If they are conscientious about *all* their participants having a good experience, they might be good about nudging people to move apart when they see crowding going on.

    6. Temperance*

      1.) If you feel the need to be in a particular spot, get there early. There are some women at my gym who will roll into yoga as we’re warming up, and then sigh loudly and plop themselves right on top of someone else. I wouldn’t move, personally. That’s what these jerks are banking on.

      2.) I would have stepped in front of that woman, but I’m Philly. You are a nice person.

    7. AnotherAlison*

      This is one reason I dislike group exercise classes. I’m pretty picky about my personal space. I did boot camp and crossfit for a while, and the boot camp class just got to be too crowded. I had to laugh yesterday because my son was saying that he was doing some stretching in this open catwalk area, and then 20 people from the boot camp suddenly surrounded him and crowded him out. (They use the studio, the basketball court, the open floor spaces, and the track, depending on the WOD.)

      I think group classes should operate like elementary PE, with color-coded spots for everyone. I don’t really care WHERE my spot is, I just want dedicated space for me and to know I’m not squeezing someone else out.

  47. Turkletina*

    I’ve now been mostly unemployed for four months, and I am just so tired.

    I’ve been applying for several positions a day since November (the search was a bit more leisurely before that). No word from anyone, aside from two semi-automated rejections. I keep hoping that the holidays are delaying most people’s hiring processes and that I’ll hear some things this week, but it’s hard to sustain optimism.

    I don’t know how much longer I can do this. For now, I write more cover letters. Sigh.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Oh, I hear you. Was there myself until recently. The only thing I can say is keep pushing, but also do things that are not job search related. For me, it was Netflix, baking, and cleaning my house. I hope you start hearing things soon– try not to despair in the meantime. Easier said than done, I know.

      I also picked up a seasonal retail job during my unemployment, and that was a huge help. A bunch of people at my store (including me) quit at the end of the year… maybe try taking something part-time, just to get some structure in your days?

      1. Turkletina*

        I’m planning to hand in an application I picked up a while ago from a local grocery store tomorrow. I don’t have much retail experience (though I have been customer-facing in other ways), so we’ll see how it goes.

    2. De Minimis*

      Holidays are always super slow for hiring–both due to people being gone for the holidays, and December is often a busy time leading up to the end of the year. I’m posting a job at my employer tomorrow that we’ve known about for at least a month or two, but chose not to post until January.

    3. SeekingBetter*

      Keep plugging away! I’m in the same shoes as you except I’ve been out of work longer. If you can, try to do career-related volunteer work if you can so you’ll make yourself more attractive to employers. I’m doing volunteer work and it helps to do something besides just applying for jobs. Good luck!

      1. Turkletina*

        Good luck to you as well! I’m trying to switch careers, and I’m kind of stumped for relevant volunteer work, but you’re right that I should get more involved in my community.

    1. Aussie Teacher*

      I’m so sorry. There’s a lot of good advice on the Internet – from what I recall, tell them together with your (soon to be ex-) partner if you can. Emphasise that this is nothing to do with them, that you both love them, and explain what will happen (which one of you is moving out, who will have custody, how often will they see the other parent etc). They are old enough to have some input too, and you may need to take that into account (eg what if you’ve decided the kids will live with person A and they say they want to live with person B?) Expect them to not react well and be prepared. Hopefully it is a respectful breakup and you can work together to try and make it as smooth as possible on the kids.
      Again, I’m so sorry you’re going through this.

  48. Chocolate Teapot*