updates: the travel anxiety, the chilly interviewer, and more

Here are updates from four people whose letters were answered here in the past.

1. Can I refuse to go on a work trip because of my anxiety about traveling? (#2 at the link)

I went on the trip and (obviously) survived. The longer answer is I was pretty anxious the whole time and didn’t particularly enjoy myself, but I managed to get through it. I mostly took taxis instead of walking/using the tube and ate at the office and at my hotel instead of going out for food, so that helped me manage some of the anxiety and allowed me to focus on the work part.

I found some of the comments really helpful and appreciated the thought that you and the commenters put into the responses. I am dealing with my anxiety issues as best as I can, but it’s very much a work in progress and the trip did reinforce the fact that travel is too difficult for me right now, though of course I hope that I’ll be able to enjoy it in the future. Fortunately, it’s unlikely that I’ll need to go on any more work trips for awhile.

2. Chilly behavior at the end of an interview (#3 at the link)

I had a total of three interviews with that organization — one phone screen and two in-person interviews. The final round was the one where I got the chilly reception from would-be colleagues. I waited several weeks after the interview but was never updated about my status. I emailed their HR twice and no response. Eventually, a few months later, their website was updated and the position that I had applied for was filled.

So basically, this organization — after three interviews where I had devoted a major amount of time and effort preparing for interviews, meeting with them, researching their organization and needs, and even took time off my then-job to make appointments with them — ghosted me!

So perhaps it was a bullet dodged? I don’t know. If their hiring practices are any indication of how they operate as employers, then I get the vibe once they see you as not needed anymore, they feel free to treat you as a non-entity.

3. Should I let my ex-boss know he’s driving away new assistants?

Your advice was excellent and I was definitely ready to use it but I haven’t heard from my ex-boss again, other than him double checking his ex-assistant (he never told me anything about her quitting and I didn’t want to ask) sent over my payment. I did get one email from an assistant to ask if I remembered where a certain computer file was and I saw in the signature that it was the replacement I helped hire. I guess my boss asked him to come back and as far as I know, things are working out okay.

4. Should I send my old team a photo of my family and cookies?

I’m not sure if this counts as the type of update you are looking, but here it goes. I wrote on the June 30-July 1 2017 open thread. I was wondering if I should contact a former mentor and team from a college internship 20+ years ago, and was it appropriate to include a photo and cookies.

I had written a note to Jim, explaining who I was, detailing how he positively influenced my life, and sent my best to the team. The financial company was very secretive about who past and present employees are. I had found Jim on Facebook, but it turns out it was actually his son, Jimmy Jr. Thank goodness for whitepages.com. I ended up mailing the note and cookies to Jim’s home address.

I had just about given up hearing from Jim when literally the same day as you asked for updates, I received a reply. Jim emailed a very heartfelt sincere note. He said he remembered me and was very humbled by my note. He updated me on the team. Apparently the tight lipped response from the financial company was because the company had since merged and was now playing by a different set of rules. My team was laid off almost 10 years ago because of the merger but everyone landed on their feet in very positive next career moves. The team keeps in touch via emails, happy hour/ dinner once or twice a year. Jim wants me to call in the next time they all get together! Sadly one team member, one that I was closest to, tragically passed away. They do a toast to her memory at every get together and asked next time I call in participate via miles away.

The most surprising outcome … I went to school for accounting. When I was in college and took a marketing class, I wrote two marketing plans for “pipe dream” companies I wanted to start. I updated the plans when I got my masters a few years later. They were always out of reach for financial and confidence reasons. Anyway in the past year I had some side business opportunities. I had decided to put the money earned in a “maybe one day fund.” Somehow I unconsciously let it slip about my pipe dreams when corresponding with Jim. It turns out that when Jim was laid off, he started his own company. One of his areas of business he deals with is advising small start-ups. He liked my two ideas and said he would be honored to be my mentor when I am ready to take the plunge. He even had me email my proposal to him for a couple pointers. When I asked him some business questions for this initial meeting, he said $1 for a retainer and a batch of chocolate chip cookies would be sufficient for now.

Due to a chaotic personal family situation when I mailed Jim the initial package, I didn’t get time to print off a picture. I know the whole reason I wrote in originally post was wondering if it was respectful to send a picture. Jim gave me him and his wife’s personal contact info. With the holidays coming up, I will be sure to send them a Christmas card with a photo.

I’m very excited to be back in touch with the old team and looking forward to calling in during the December dinner.

{ 22 comments… read them below }

  1. Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws*

    #4 is so lovely! Best of luck with your startup when you’re ready to launch, OP.

  2. Amber Rose*

    Awww. My heart is positively exploding, #4.

    I personally accept all these happy updates as a gift of hope for the future. I’ll forgive you for all the tiny indoor rain showers and hordes of ninjas chopping onions as long as you all keep being so awesome.

  3. Kate the Teapots Project Manager*

    Hi #1 – Although obviously London is very big and you could work anywhere, I think there’s a possibility you work with me, because of the dates of this letter and the details of your training. If you do, it should be easy to figure out who I am from this pseudonym. Feel free to message me through work if you do. There are people within our team I can introduce you to who can give great advice about navigating London particularly and are empathetic about anxiety.

    1. Dinosaur*

      This is very kind. If you’re right and the LW does work with you, I hope they take you up on your offer!

    2. Papyrus*

      This is such a nice gesture, and I hope you do work with the Letter Writer. Otherwise, it would be kind of weird if she messaged a different Kate though, since it’s a common name. Maybe have a code? “I had a question, so I thought I’d… ‘ask a manager’ *WINK*”

  4. Say what, now?*

    That’s beautiful, OP #4. I’m so glad you took a chance and reached out. I hope that your professional chemistry with your old mentor turns into something tangible.

  5. Anon anon anon*

    #2 – That was rude of them. I agree that you dodged a bullet. To be fair, I could see a company doing this if someone said something really, really awful during an interview (which I’m assuming was not the case here!). But even then, the right thing to do would be to say something and then follow up to let the person know they were not selected. These people sound unprofessional. It’s good, in a way, that they ghosted and you didn’t have to deal with them further.

    #4 – Yay! Good news. I really enjoy these happy updates.

  6. SC Anonibrarian*

    I think December Update Days is my favorite new tradition. It’s really satisfying to hear back from so many people, and SOOO MANY of the updates are positive and uplifting! Even the ones that aren’t traditionally successful or ‘happy’ endings are generally positive and upbeat. It’s just such a nice feeling to know about and be part of such a wonderful community of fellow working people.

  7. Cassandra*

    OP #1: Congratulations for getting through that trip! It must have been really hard, but you did it and good for you.

    (I had to deal with flying anxiety for a time. Not the same thing, nor was mine as severe as yours sounds, but I sort of get it, I think. And I can fly now with only endurable jitters.)

  8. All Hail Queen Sally*

    OP#1: Congratulations on successfully surviving your trip. I remember when I was young and was transferred from the USA to an overseas job in Istanbul, Turkey. I was soooo nervous that I was so sick to my stomach on the whole flight over. I don’t know how long the flight took, but it seemed like it was three days long.

    The more you do it, the easier it will get. Just keep in mind: If it doesn’t kill you, it will make you stronger.

  9. Emily S.*

    OP #4: Such a great update, nice job! I have a recommendation. Check out the podcast How I Built This, from NPR, with Guy Raz. It’s all about people who built their own companies, and a lot of the interviewees are discussing events many years before — so there’s a lot of interesting perspective, tips and wisdom. Here’s a link; it’s available wherever you get podcasts, e.g. iTunes. https://www.npr.org/podcasts/510313/how-i-built-this

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